"My suggestion for improving the music scene around here: Go to more shows!!!"
Before I arrived in Des Moines, a little more than a week ago now, I asked a few people involved in the local music scene "five questions" just to find out what I should expect. Derek Lambert makes indie folk music influenced by the likes of Bob Dylan and Elliott Smith, and he has an EP out on Barely Bias Records called The Forest Floor. He's also a sound engineer at the Vaudeville Mews, which is where I managed to catch his set opening for the Poison Control Center. In fact, you just might be able to catch a glimpse of him jumping onstage in this great video of the PCC rocking out with Pavement's Bob Nastanovich to finish the night.
Anyway, I forgot to post my e-mail conversation with Derek until now. A transcript follows. Hope to see you at the Mews tonight for Josh Ritter!
1. I've been listening to your MySpace, and it sounds like you have a nice little lo-fi folk thing going on-- I notice you mention people like Iron & Wine and Leonard Cohen as influences. What have you been up to lately musically? Anything new we should be looking forward to? (Sorry, I guess that's two questions.)
DL: Currently, I've just been playing and recording by myself (I recorded my first 8 song EP on a four-track tape recorder in my basement), but I have plans to possibly get a band together for some shows and maybe some recording, hopefully by the end of the summer/fall. Right now, I've been messing around with a few new songs, so hopefully I can gain some momentum soon and get another album's worth written.
2. More generally, what's the Des Moines music scene like?
DL: The Des Moines music scene... it's all over the place. Working at the Vaudeville Mews, I see a ton of different styles of music every night, and some do better than others, but overall, there is a pretty decent energy building around music in Des Moines. At times in the past, I've definitely thought that the music scene was lacking around here, but there are some really great bands and people contributing a lot right now, in all styles of music.... and since I am the type of person that appreciates good music in any form, I think that Des Moines is a pretty great place for music.
3. What are your favorite shows coming up this summer?
DL: Gogol Bordello, July 22nd @ Peoples
Gaiden Gadema's CD Release, July 24th @ Vaudeville Mews
Theodore, July 30th @ Vaudeville Mews
The Daredevil Christopher Wright, August 13th @ Vaudeville Mews
4. Any other local bands we should be watching?
DL: Oh man, there are a ton of local bands to watch. The Poison Control Center, Tyborn Jig, Druids, Gabe Cordova, Maxilla Blue... just a few favorites that immediately come to mind.
5. What would you change or improve about what's going on musically in Des Moines?
DL: My suggestion for improving the music scene around here: Go to more shows!!! Some of the best bands that I've ever seen have been playing to some of the smallest crowds. If you are a music fan in Des Moines, go to the website of one of the local venues (Vaudeville Mews, Peoples, House of Bricks) and just click around and listen to some of the bands that are coming through in the near future. I GUARANTEE that no matter what kind of music you are into, you will find something good. Then, whatever you find that you like, show up and support it so that these places can continue to bring in quality acts. Okay, one more suggestion, this one is for local bands... promote your shows! A lot of bands around here are great at promoting shows and getting people to come out and have fun, but there are also a large number of bands that are lacking in this area. If you are a local band opening a show for a touring band that doesn't have a huge draw, it is YOUR job to bring out your friends, family, whoever you can convince to show up and shell out 5 bucks to see some music. This will also strengthen the overall music scene around here and keep great music coming back to our city.