Crossposted from peacetown, USA, a website celebrating the progressive community in Fairfield, Iowa, where Ames Progressive editor Nate Logsdon is participating in a monthlong residency program at DIY venue The Beauty Shop.
I came to this community with a vision of hustling. My first week as a participant in the Beauty Shop Music Residencies program has made that vision into a sweaty reality.
It is truly an honor to be living here in Fairfield this month. I have a deep respect for — and fascination with — this community and its unique arts scene. The Beauty Shop is my window into the multidimensional world of Fairfield’s culture, and my collaborations with the artists who run the Beauty Shop create the foundations of my residency.
Appropriately, my very first night in town culminated in a performance at the Beauty Shop alongside the May resident Doo Crowder, an excellent songwriter and singer from Colorado. It was great to cross paths with him as he finished his residency, which ended with a big group hug at the climax of his performance. The artists with whom I am sharing the June residency performed as well. They are Gryph and Nate, who played together in the great band Dovekins, and who came to Fairfield to branch out beyond their folk roots and experiment with new sounds, new concepts, and new equipment. I have nothing but the highest respect for them as artists and experimenters and I am excited to continue collaborating with them. I also learned that Gryph plays trombone and that can only mean one thing…impromptu brass band!
The show was great, I played almost all brand new songs during my set and the other artists played fascinating original music as well. Another important feature of the evening was that I set in motion one of the primary goals of my residency: meet, network, and book shows with local artists. I met two such artists on this first night in town.
The first was Mitch Goudy, a local country singer. He told me about his view of Fairfield and his inspirations as a singer. We exchanged contact info and determined to play music for one another during the month. I’m excited for this because I love country music and have a set of country songs that I love to play but rarely do — I definitely will do so this month!
The second artist I met was Erin Pillman, a Fairfield singer and organizer who runs the newsletter Fabulous Fairfield. We immediately recognized that we needed to collaborate and we set up a meeting at Cafe Paradiso for the next morning. At that meeting we crafted an incredible idea for a concert and then immediately booked it: A Capella at the Orpheum! This show is going down on June 14 at 8 pm, it will be the first ever show at the Orpheum, and it will feature an all-a capella lineup of Fairfield singers. Erin and I will perform short a capella sets and we have invited other Fairfield artists to join us.
The next two days in Fairfield I spent working with my longtime friends and collaborators Dominic and Philip Rabalais. They are two of the best friends I’ve ever had: we’ve toured the country together, played countless shows together, slept on endless dirty floors together, and truly built a lifetime’s worth of inexpressible memories and feelings together. We feel one other as artists and we live through one other as brothers.
Our collaborations continue to thrive. Dominic (who is the outlandish, illegal and ingenious Little Ruckus, a huge influence on me) and I had been working on a new project called Beef Cake, a dramatic electronic drag act. Beef Cake was nearing the end of work on a new five-song EP that Little Ruckus produced. We finished up recording the EP and took it over to Philip’s house. Philip is a brilliant producer and artist; you know him as the beatmaker for Trouble Lights and Utopia Park, two of the best bands in Iowa. Philip often works under the name of Dr. Globe. He mastered the Beef Cake EP for us and it really amped up the whole feeling and volume and tone of the record.
Immediately after we officially finished mastering the EP, Dominic and I drove across town to help the Music Residency’s leader Taylor Ross (who is herself an excellent musician, creator, organizer, and hustler) move a refrigerator over to Castle Grey Skull. Nate (of Gryph and Nate) was there to help too, along with Julia Ross and some other strong folks. It felt really good to do a few minutes of manual labor together, accomplishing a small concrete goal. These small accomplishments build empires of art.
The next day I drove back to Ames to accomplish Ames-based hustling for the music business I run called Maximum Ames Presents – a local events and promotions company. We hosted the incredible West African ensemble Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars at a local venue called DG’s Taphouse and the show was a big success. During their set the band talked about how music creates love and community, which is exactly why I am in Fairfield right now.
The next night I stayed in Ames and was joined by a fearsome faction of Fairfield’s Finest known to the spirit world as the Sandwich Eating Crew. The Fairfield artists Little Ruckus, Slaydrien and Kid Cutie were all on hand for the epic release party of the Beef Cake EP “Beef on a Leash” that we had just finished two days before! I spent all of that day making packages for the CDs with my partner in art and life Lesbian Poetry, who runs the label that released the EP. The show went extremely well and Ames truly felt the power of human Beef, an Iowa force of tremendous embodiment.
The next day I returned to Fairfield in the company of sassy Slaydrien and spent the afternoon hustling with Dominic before we headed to Iowa City with Kid Cutie to play yet another Little Ruckus/Beef Cake show at Gabe’s, a legendary rock club in downtown Iowa City. It was a great show! We played with two punk bands from Illinois who loved our set and even came to Fairfield to spend the night and feel a touch of the otherworldly power that emanates from Castle Grey Skull.
So, my first week as a resident of Fairfield has confirmed my suspicion that Fairfield is a magical land of mystery, freedom, art, consciousness, and Beef. Thank you so much to everyone I have met and hustled with/upon during this first week, I am eager to hustle and collaborate so much more with so many more of the artists in this great community. Fairfield Forever!
The Beauty Shop Residency Program Celebrates Six Months of Solid Art