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Concert to raise money for Iowa groups

BY ERIC HAWKINSON | DECEMBER 03, 2010 7:20 AM

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Pieta Brown is coming home this holiday season. She spent some of her formative years here in Iowa City and feels inspired to give back to the community she calls "home." The folk singer/songwriter is back from a recent tour in Australia, and she is excited to play back-to-back Saturday shows at the Mill. Proceeds from the show will go to Friends Hickory Hills Park and Iowa Public Radio.

"The shows at the Mill are fun for me because it's where I try a lot of stuff out. I'm gonna try a bunch of new songs," she said. "You know, it's kind of my home turf, so I can let down and try some stuff out here, which is fun for me."

The show will be Brown's first time playing in Iowa City since the release of her latest album, One and All. The Mill, 120 E. Burlington St., will host Brown in a two-part installment titled "This Land is Your Music II" at 8 p.m. today. The show will continue Dec. 11 at the same time. Admission is $10 in advance, $12 at the door.

"It's kind of my end-of-the-year check-in with my town and give something back," Brown said. "So I hope some people will come out."

The artist, who is continually trying to keep things fresh in her performances, said her upcoming show at the Mill will be different from what some people may be used to. During the performance, the audience will notice visual art installations Brown has selected for her show, allowing listeners to experience the music in a different way. Stan Crocker, whose artwork has been on display at Cornell College, will offer his work to enhance the environment of the concert, and he is excited to join Brown's vision of giving back.

"Her heart is very much in the right place, raising money for Iowa Public Radio and Friends of Hickory Hill, while bringing together a wealth of Iowa City area musical talent and visual artists," Crocker said. "It's pure pleasure being involved in such a creative community effort."

The singer/songwriter recently released One and All on vinyl, which is a first for the artist. The record sends a message about all kinds of love, Brown said, and the connections people have with each other. It is a product of her ceaseless inspiration to write.

"There doesn't seem to be any real process to it for me. I think I feel inspired most of the time," she said about writing songs. "For me, songwriting and music is really just a way of responding to the world and dealing with the world. I feel it most of the time."

Growing up, Brown was surrounded by music from her family. A deep family tradition of songwriting instilled in her the desire to create. She took on influences from different music as she moved around, and she is still stirred by new musicians.

"I got really into Muddy Waters and country-blues records when I was a teenager, so that was a big part of things early on for me," she said. "I raided my mom's boyfriend's record collection and found some Led Zeppelin and got really into those guys. There are so many people that have had a big influence on me. So many great songwriters."

In whatever she creates, Brown tries to better herself as a musician. She believes music is "expansive" with no end and that "there's no way to stop chasing the muse."

Much of her focus is on people and how they interact in life. Using the universal language of music, she is able to communicate her feelings to listeners in a cherished way.

"It brings people together in a different kind of way, you know, where you're having a conversation on a different level." Brown said. "I love that, even more maybe now than ever, just with as computer-oriented as everything has gotten. Everybody's walking around on their gadgets."


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