Iowa musician to perform at the Englert


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Individuals crowd inches away from Chris Ford as he swiftly moves his fingers across a keyboard.

Some watch in awe, while others appear confused by the musician's obscure dance movements.

As the chorus begins, Ford picks up a tambourine and marches into the crowd, followed by an entourage of trumpeters and saxophone players.

The scene does not resemble an average show but a group of friends simply having a good time.
"Music is not created by a band but by the entire room," Ford said. "If we sang songs in an empty room, we would not be making music. We would be making sound."

The Des Moines-based band Christopher the Conquered will perform at 9 p.m. today at the Englert Theatre, 221 E. Washington St. General admission is $6 at the door. Unlike most shows, Ford predicts that tonight's performance will focus more on artistic expression of music in a subdued environment.

"Sometimes, our show is compared to a big tent revival," he said. "This will be more calming than frenzied."

After being part of the band Stuck with Arthur, Ford began working on solo projects in 2005. At 20, he described himself as a "confused youth," who was moving away from home and altering his belief structure. His lyrics were about the struggle of identity, opposed to ordinary love songs.

"I found that music is a very powerful tool not only for yourself but for other people it can provide a lot of redemption," he said.

With the release of I Guess That's What We're Dying For in 2007 and You're Gonna Glow in the Dark in 2009, Christopher the Conquered became better known across the Midwest. Earlier this year the band traveled across the United States and Canada, playing sold-out shows at New York City's Mercury Lounge and San Diego's the Casbah. Next year, Ford hopes to regularly play outside of the Midwest, however, he will continue to be an influential part of the Iowa music scene.

Over the course of 10 years, he has noticed the growth in talent in Des Moines, Ames, and Iowa City. He believes that to continue creating positivity in the community, local bands need to better support each other.

"If another local band has a show or performance, using my ability to help promote that is something I should feel obligated to do, whether it has to anything to do with me or not," he said.

In order to further tie the music community together, Ford decided to give the horn section of his band its own entity: the Black Gold Brass Band. Member Nate Logsdon had been a fan of Ford before playing trumpet in his band. He believes that Christopher the Conquered concerts are more of a theatrical experience, full of monologues and numerous performances.

"It's a very interactive show," Logsdon said. "It's a success when the audience is having as much energy as the band is having."

By incorporating the audience with each performance, Christopher the Conquered hopes to break down barriers among people, creating an equal boundary between band and listeners.

"When you combine the actual technical skill in with the soul of expression of music, then you can [get] something so much more powerful," Ford said.

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