The Workshy: the Ames-based eclectic jam band

The Workshy
Jiho Han – Bass Guitar
Brant Williams – Guitar/Vocals
Danny Kratzer – Guitar
Evan Cokeley – Drums
Peter Neel – Keyboard/Vocals

“We just want to play the best show we can.” says guitarist Brant Williams when describing his aspirations for his band The Workshy and their performance at 80/35 this weekend.   The members of The Workshy, an Ames-based jam band, are pleasantly laid back individuals with a friendly, positive attitude akin to most college students their age.

Onstage, their lively, high-energy performance might evoke references to the Grateful Dead or Phish, but in person, they’re average guys who “just want to make music.” They come from many different majors and still hope to earn a degree eventually, but for now are just going with the flow that comes with being a college-aged musician.  Although Williams said the name of the band means lazy, they also hope to snag a tour or a contract one day.

“It might sound cheesy, but we’re playing it by ear. No pun intended.” says guitarist Danny Kratzer when describing their ambitions as an ensemble.

The group first began playing together in their junior high years as an alternative rock band with a repertoire that consisted primarily of Nirvana and Green Day covers.  They continued to make music into their high school years at Valley High school where they acquired their current drummer, Evan Cokeley. They hope to snag a tour or a contract one day, but for now are content with focusing primarily on their studies.  However, one may want to disregard their humility and take a look at their prolific history and performing schedule to fully appreciate their ambition as a band.

The band migrated to Iowa State, (except for keyboardist Peter Neel) and Danny and bassist Jiho Han continued to make music in the Maple Willow Larch music room.   After a long winter of practicing in the dorms, the group finally got their first gig at the Ames Progressive in the summer of 2008. They officially became a band after their next gig at the Bali Stay House. “The Workshy came from an old band name that Jiho was in.  We liked the sound of it and used it, it means lazy.” said Williams.

After officially becoming a band, they proceeded to book gigs like D.G’s Taphouse, Pappa’s Corner (now Headliners) and the Bali Stay House.  They soon expanded beyond the Ames circuit to Des Moines venues and the Iowa City circuit  .The Workshy booked many of their out-of-town shows through exchanging gigs with the friends they have made through shows they’ve played. The guys brighten up when they talk about the help they’ve received through the connections they have made.  “We’ve been making friends with bands…we might play with them in Des Moines or they came to Ames to play they might ask us to play with them in Iowa City, so it kind of helps to make connections and do a little gig swapping.” said Brent enthusiastically. The guys of the Workshy stressed the importance of maintaining relationships with other bands and helping one another out to form a community of supportive musicians.  One of the best benefits of this relationship is this occasional gig swapping.

They have also been establishing a following in the Ames and Des Moines area. They are very proud of their success and even threw in a plug for their sandwich that was once served at Planet Sub called The Workshy. It included a free demo CD with every sandwich order. The network of communication they broke into opened up many opportunities for the band. Their first big show with the Des Moines Music Coalition was Little Big Fest. This show exposed their talents and caught the attention of some of the influential members of the Coalition, which landed them one of the 5 recommended spots on the local band list for 80/35.

Inspiring a sandwich is not the only unique feature of the band. Perhaps one of the reasons that The Workshy stands out among local bands is their unique sound.  Each of the members allies with a different style of music and they work as an ensemble to create a unique amalgamation of influences.

Initially, when asked how to describe their sound, each member had their own opinion on the influences and direction of their music. It appeared as if each of them had a different contributors that ranged from the soulful funk of Earth Wind and Fire, jazz, blues, and even some driven marching percussion influences. Eventually, the general consensus that the group used to described their musical style rested on what Danny called an “eclectic jam band.”

The group works to incorporate all of the different styles and influences of each of the members and craft a distinct sound that carries relics from almost every mainstream musical style. The term “jam band” refers to the method of organization and composition of their music.  They focus primarily on improvisation over a specific musical form, rather than some of the more traditional methods of song structure. One of the most apparent features of the style is the length and development of instrumental solos. They are a far-cry from the shredders like Angus Young and Eddie Van Halen, and instead are more closely allied with the jazz masters who articulate extremely intricate chord progression and counterpoint. Overall, they are still a musically accessible group that “wants to make serious music” but not too serious.

Their set list for their 80/35 debut consists primarily of original tunes, but may include a cover song or two to spice things up. They even hinted at a surprise song along the lines of “something patriotic, we just don’t know yet.” as Jiho stated when probed about their set list.

80/35 will present the band with unprecedented exposure and organization that they would not be exposed to through most of the local shows. On top of being a part of a show produced on such a huge scale, they will be performing on the main stage along with the likes of the alternative giants, Modest Mouse and Spoon. Major shows like this one often help to catapult musicians into the mainstream and provide exposure and resume building experience that are few and far between. Although they hope to pursue a career as a band, they also have their degrees to fall back on, they often referred to jokingly.

80/35 is one of Iowa’s largest music festival and will take place this Saturday and Sunday at Western Gateway Park in Des Moines.  The Workshy is playing at the Wellmark Main Stage at 12:00pm Sunday July 4th.

After the festival this weekend, the Workshy will continue to perform throughout the summer and the fall with gigs that include the Uniphonix CD release concert, Camp Euphoria, and a tailgating performance at the Iowa game.

80/35 is here!

Source: 80/35

Compiled by Kaleb Warnock

80/35 is a summer music festival hosted by the Des Moines Music Coalition that features prominent regional and national musicians.  The festival is a celebration of musical culture in Des Moines that incorporates a wide variety of acts including rock, blues, punk and hip-hop.

There will be 3 different stages to showcase some 40 acts that will be performing 12 hours of music on both Saturday and Sunday of this weekend.

Along with over 40 other acts, the headlining acts at the Wellmark Main Stage will include:

Saturday

–       Slightly Stoopid

–       Spoon

Sunday

–       The Cool Kids

–       Modest Mouse

–       The featured Ames band, The Workshy

Check online for specific performance sequences and times.

The festival will also feature attractions like local art, food and drink vendors, band merchandise, and resting places for weary attendees.  Western Gateway Park is in the heart of Des Moines and within walking distance of shopping, food, and Grey’s Lake Park.

As always, Des Moines has an astounding variety of food to offer.  80/35 will have everything from corn dogs, steak, Mexican food, pizza, and barbecue along with a sweet variety of cold drinks and alcoholic beverages.

If you’re looking for a place to park, there are garages and lots nearby and there are also places for free bike parking as well.

Anyone who still needs tickets can get them online at $35 and $60 for one and two day passes respectively.  The ticket prices go up the day of the event, so be sure the get them early.

Can we Survive the Internet?

By Kaleb Warnock

It seems to me that despite our immersion in the media and technology, people of my generation are afraid of what social change technology may bring. From my short examination of technology and media and its reception in the classroom, it is very apparent that many students here at Iowa State University approach emerging technology and change with skeptical trepidation.

Why does such a “wired” generation such as my own fear this change? One theory I have is that we are caught in the middle ground between the older, more optimistic generation, and the technological natives of the youth. “Kids these days” is the archetypal term for young people that are riding the wave of change that seemingly ebbs and flows with the coming of every new generation. These “kids” are often referenced by my colleges here at Iowa State, although most of us lie within the 18 to 21 demographic.

How has this drastic difference emerged? It seems that there is a major gap between children born just a decade apart. As you may have guessed, technology is to blame. As pejorative as that may have sounded, this examination is not to condemn it, simply hear me out to the end of my discussion.

It seems that children have a touch screens thrust into their hands at a very young age and information titans like Wikipedia have liked their little minds directly to an immense wealth of information not previously available to their parents. This user-friendly phenomena is at the finger tips of anyone with access to a computer and is accessible to anyone with an internet connection, a library card, or even a cell phone.

How then has this gab between kids emerged? Well, young people (very young people for anyone over 25) have been born into this touchscreen world; he internet is commonplace. For people my age, we were introduced to the internet when we were young (10 years old myself) and have been around to watch it evolve and can even remember a time before it existed as a staple in household communication.

However, these children may not be able to remember a time without the internet and could even go as far as to believe it as a necessity to human interaction and existence. This, of course, is purely speculative. I am not an authority on social technology or a child psychologist, so I cannot be completely certain. I was a child much more recently than many of those addressing these problems, so I feel that I have some sort of an unobstructed frame of reference.

Do I have a solution? No. Currently many journalists like myself are scrambling to get ahead of this and ride in the revolution to avoid being trampled by the youth that is already ahead of myself and more perhaps even more literate in the world that is to come.

Ames on the Half Shell hosts family-friendly entertainment

By Kaleb Warnock

Ames on the Half Shell is one of many events featured at Bandshell Park this summer that offers a friendly, upbeat atmosphere programmed for the whole family.

Ames on the Half Shell is a summer concert series that features both local and regional artists every Friday night from the beginning of June through the end of July.  This summer marks the 8th season of the event and the venue is looking for bands for next year as well.

The Ames Junior Chamber, a group of young professionals aimed at improving the Ames community and providing leadership opportunities for young people, organizes Ames on the Half Shell. The Junior Council or Jaycees are also responsible for the 4th of July fireworks display, Sandboxville, the annual Easter egg hunt, and many other community events.

George Micalone is the chair of Ames on the Half Shell with the Ames Jaycees and is responsible for organizing the weekly concerts. He coordinates with the bands and the City of Ames along with the local food venues to provide a casual and inviting experience to provide “a diverse mix of sounds.”

“People come to hang outside and have a few drinks… it’s a very fun and lighthearted atmosphere.” says Micalone.

Although there is alcohol at the Half Shell, Micalone hopes to gather a diverse crowd encourages all ages to attend the show. The lighter rock music and casual environment of the concerts are intended to appeal to everyone and Micalone hopes to reach out further than the current 25-40 crowd.

The bands apply through the Ames on the Half Shell submission page and are chosen based on their family friendly factor and authenticity or original music.

Dazy Head Mazy was the headlining band for last Friday’s concert. Dazy Head Mazy is a pop rock band based out of Mankato, Minnesota. Their sound allies closely wit the late 90s music of Hootie and the Blowfish, Barenaked Ladies, and the Dave Matthews Band and their primary focus in their music is to provide high-energy fun.

The group formed in 1995 in Mankato and has produced multiple albums that have earned them many local and independent music awards with the award for “Best Pop Album” from Independent Music Awards in 2000 among them.

Since their conception, they have played many noteworthy venues that include the MTV “Choose or Lose” tour, the House of Blues in Chicago, Iowa State Fair, and over 30 college campuses. They also have a slid local performance history having performed on numerous occasions at DG’s Taphouse, the Machine Shop, and VIESHEA.

These numerous performances have forged a strong bond between the band and the city of Ames. Aside from the food, the guys from Dazy Head Mazy have established a unique personal connection with the people of Ames.

“People in Iowa appreciate original music. We get a really good response when we come down.  We always want to come back because it’s like a second home.”

Ames on the Half Shell is open to all ages, but those under 21 are required to be accompanied by a spouse or guardian because alcohol is being sold. The cost of admission is $3 and does not include food and beverages.

The event will continue to be every Friday evening from 5pm to 8pm through July 23. In the event of heavy rain, the concerts will be held indoors at DG’s Taphouse on Main Street.

Check out the track Never Forget Dazy Head Mazy’s award winning album, They’re All Wearing Pearls, recorded at Iowa’s Junior’s Motel.

Never Forget on Youtube

Michael Giles and his Central Iowa Jazz All-Stars

ISU faculty member Michael Giles has been stirring up the jazz scene in Ames this summer with his big band, the Central Iowa All-Stars.

“It takes someone to take initiative and get the ball rolling. [We] just get together and play.” says Giles in regards to his big band, the All-Stars.

He emphasized the importance of taking initiative to make things like the summer band happen. He hoped to be “the great facilitator” and inspire local musicians to take advantage of their resources and take initiative to do something great.

Musicians often have difficulties organizing ensembles in the summer time because of logistical and financial issues, both of which the performers of the summer big band don’t have to worry about. Giles’ familiarity with the local jazz community and his students enabled him to use his connections to bring to life something that is rarely present between semesters.

The Central Iowa Jazz All-Stars offers a cross section of musicians from both ISU bands and members of the community. Overall the intention behind the group is to offer students and alumni the opportunity to perform in a structured group and work with a wide variety of jazz music.

“It’s a nice opportunity because we can get some graduates, and people form Jazz 1 and 2. It’s fun to kinda mix it up and get some different players; which is more like in the real world. It’s good for the students to get that community.” says Giles.

The big band plays a variety of tunes that range from jazz standards to popular arrangements and other lesser-known pieces by great composers.  Everyone in the band gives input to the repertoire; the selection is based on three basic criteria; important charts or standards, charts by famous composers, and good arrangements.

Aside from helping decide the literature, Giles is the conductor, roadie, personnel manager, and chief organizer of the operation.  There is no money exchanged on behalf of the ensemble because Giles works with local organizations to coordinate performances.

The group rehearses weekly from 6pm to 7:30pm until the end of the summer and have even booked one “gig” so far. It’s more of a community group than a professional band, and therefore are no membership or studio fees.

The big band will be performing on Thursday evening, July 1st at 7:15 at Bandshell Park here in Ames. It will be a joint performance with the Ames Municipal Band, directed by Michael Golemo.

Giles is the director of Jazz Studies here at ISU and also conducts the Jazz 2 big band and leads the jazz combos at the Department of Music. He is also maintains the saxophone studio and teaches saxophone methods and literature classes.

Giles is often featured at the Maintenance Shop has multiple recordings and a few albums under his belt with his combo, the 3×5. He also teaches clinics and seminars in jazz saxophone and piano.

During the school year, the Iowa State Department of Music offers students numerous opportunities to perform in jazz ensembles. There are two big bands that rehearse weekly and perform concerts and contests throughout both the fall and spring semesters.

Iowa State hosts Iowa Music Teachers Association annual conference

Iowa State University Department of Music  hosted the Iowa Music Teacher’s Association State Conference last weekend. The conference is a three-day symposium that offers Iowa music teachers the opportunity to attend master classes, seminars and performances.

The Iowa Music Teacher’s Association is an affiliate of the National Music Teacher’s Association made up of more than 400 Iowa music educators. Nearly 100 Iowa music teachers were in attendance.

The IMTA State Conference has been active for more than 120 years, and has grown since its conception. Different music schools in the state host the conference each year, and the last time Iowa State hosted was 1999.

The conference brought in both local and national educators and performers that included ISU faculty and the featured artist, Brian Ganz, who appeared as the guest artist the last time Iowa State was host.

Ganz has performed with such notable symphony orchestras as the St. Louis Symphony and the St. Petersburg Philharmonic. He has also established himself as an international champion in many prestigious piano competitions.

Ganz is also an established teacher, a member of the piano faculty and Peabody Conservatory and also the artist in residence at St. Mary’s College in Maryland. Ganz taught a seminar on performing Chopin’s “Preludes,” and a master class for advanced students.

ISU faculty members Michael Giles and Mason Conklin led presentations that included new technology innovations and jazz piano techniques that can be incorporated into the classroom.

Conklin is an innovator in utilizing advanced classroom technology in his piano classes at Iowa State. Giles is an active clinician, educator and performer in central Iowa and is often featured at the Maintenance Shop with his combo, the 3×5.

The conference featured a performance of the IMTA State contest winners Deborah Austin, and ISU graduate Rachel McCoy. These performers were the winners of the annual IMTA state auditions.

There was also an evening recital featuring pianists William David and Mason Conklin, and percussionists Matthew Coley and Corey Hills, which featured a performance of a newly commissioned piece by Erin Gee and Bela Bartok’s famous “Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion.”

This conference followed the National Music Teacher’s Association Conference in March, and the next one will be March 2011 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Largest mural on campus tells more than one story

Photo by Bob Elbert

Iowa State University’s largest mural The Healing Tree by Minnesota artist Michaela Mahady was recently completed at the new Lloyd Veterinary Medical Center.

The project was set into motion in fall of 2007 and was completed this May under the Art in State Buildings Committee. The mural was part of the Art in State Buildings law that requires that .05% of all funds for public buildings be set aside for public art, according to the committee chair Kevin Flaming.

“One of my goals was to be able to not be ashamed of our artwork. I feel good about this artwork… I want to have something we can be proud of.” says Flaming.

The Healing Tree is an etched glass portrait that covers much glass in the front of the Lloyd Center and depicts the history of the veterinary medical School.  The largest image is in the front window of the animal hospital and takes up over two stories of glass and continues down the window of the front corridor.

The artwork is based on what Mahady calls the “web of life” and the circular motif that dominates the form stems from the idea that the sun is the giver of all life through photosynthesis and the transfer of its energy. The circle is completed by the consumption of the plant life by the animals, and their eventual return to the soil from which they came.

The mural is an intricate piece of art that draws in passers by and poses questions about the nature of the images. As the mural continues down the front corridor to the small animal hospital, it progresses backwards in the history of the school concluding with an old horse and buggy veterinary ambulance.

Along the bottom of the corridor is a series of detailed etchings that depict photographs of medical instruments, x rays, and views through a microscope that not only draw in viewers for a closer look, but also lay the foundation for the artwork to reaffirm the responsibilities of the profession. The larger images above the small etchings depict the different aspects of veterinary medicine and progresses backwards in the history of the school. The mural concludes with an old horse and buggy veterinary ambulance.

Although Mahady was the primary designer of the work, she also collaborated with faculty at the College of Veterinary Medicine and the student body. Actual photos from the school, and some suggestions from the faculty inspired many of the images in the mural.

Michaela Mahady was chosen as the artist because of her previous artwork at Iowa State and her sensitivity as an architect. Mahady has also done the etching at LeBaron hall and the dairy barn here on campus. The windows at Lloyd, Lebaron, and the dairy barn was all done through sandblasting. The process was done through a series of overlaying stencils that were then sandblasted layer by layer to create the different textures and designs.

Mahady also has an appreciation for the work of Christian Peterson, the sculptor of the Fountain of the Four Seasons and The Marriage Ring in front of Mckay Hall along with many other human sculptures on campus. He is known for his lifelike sculptures and emotional depth within his works that inspired the characters and detail in Mahady’s artwork.

“Petersen sculptures are people… the figures speak to people because they are so emotionally reverent.” says Mahady.

Her admiration for the work of Petersen is apparent in her works on campus and helps to contribute to the emotional depth and personality that maintains the strong public art tradition here on campus.

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