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

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Cultivating the blues tradition in Central Iowa

The concertgoer does not need to venture out of central Iowa to hear great blues music. Anyone from the experienced blues connoisseur to the casual listener would be completely floored by what they could have experienced last weekend at the Iowa Blues Championship hosted by the Central Iowa Blues Society.

The contest featured artists from across the state that competed for a spot in the state championship this summer. Each of the bands was judged based on several criteria that included originality, blues content, instrumental and vocal talent, interpretation of cover songs and overall presence. The bands were competing for a cash prize and the opportunity to compete at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tenn.

The bands chosen for the championship were Trouble No More, the Bob Pace Band featuring Steve E. George, Bella Soul Blues Revolution featuring Tina Haase Findlay, Stoney Ground and the Steady Rollin’ Blues Band.

Each of the five performing bands showcased its versatility by playing a variety of repertoire that included both blues standards and original tunes. Although they were all playing within the same genre, each band brought a distinct and unique sound to the competition.

They artfully incorporated styles that ranged from soul and spiritual music to funk and hard rock. Of course, the idiomatic boogie woogie and Delta Blues influences were heard as well. Such subtle references to diverse styles are unique to contemporary blues and suggest an interesting antithesis because, after all, the blues influenced American popular musical styles greatly.

The championship opened with the band Trouble No More, a Delta Blues band from Ames. Trouble No More allied itself with the Delta tradition more closely than the other bands because of its predominant use of the slide guitar and harmonica as lead instruments.

“It’s really cool to be a part of Central Iowa Blues Society. They do a lot about preserving the blues, and its just great to be a part of it,” said Greg Bruna, bass guitarist of Trouble No More.

Bands like these are essential to the survival of local and regional exposure to the music that exists below the radar of mainstream listeners.

Not all of the groups present played Texas blues with organ and over-driven guitars, or the Delta style with the harmonicas and slide guitar. However, they did embrace the subtle nuances of the blues.

Bella Soul Blues Revolution featuring Tina Haase Findlay took the stage and introduced an artistry that incorporated rarely seen dramatic vocal and instrumental interaction into its original compositions.

The Blues Challenge provided an atmosphere of kinship among the performers.

“Just seeing everyone is great,” said Findlay, lead vocalist of Bella Soul Blues Revolution. “To be in a room with everyone is like a big family reunion.”

The Steady Rollin’ Blues Band was ultimately chosen as the winner of the contest.  It will receive $500, eight hours of studio time with Junior’s Motel and will perform at the International Blues Challenge.

The band will also be presented with numerous performing opportunities that include the Mississippi Valley Blues Festival in Davenport and BBQ’Loo and Blues Too in Waterloo 2011.

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