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Englert's song project has locals singing about Iowa City

BY EMILY BURDS | NOVEMBER 01, 2012 6:30 AM

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Strings, gasoline, short walks, and the summer Sun — these are seemingly unrelated items for 31 local musicians associated with Iowa City. But they are song titles from the new Iowa City Song Project album, which celebrates the thriving music scene of Iowa City.

The album will be released this weekend in conjunction with performances featuring the various artists. The first of the performances will occur 7 p.m. Friday at the Englert Theater, 221 E. Washington St. Then, performers will host a brunch at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Motley Cow Café, 160 N. Linn St. The release celebrations will continue with a show at the Mill, 120 E. Burlington St., on 8 p.m. Saturday.

The Song Project was a large undertaking and began as part of the Englert’s Centennial Celebration.

“We’re really focused on the culture that we’re cultivating here,” said Andre Perry, the executive director of the Englert. “We wanted to have some events that really spoke to Iowa City.”

To accomplish this, the Englert dug into its database with the help of Flat Black Studios producer Luke Tweedy and came up with 31 local artists who were more than willing to write songs about their time and experiences in Iowa City, commenting on why they love the town.

Luke Tweedy

Twenty-four of the 31 artists then spent some very rushed time in Tweedy’s Iowa City studio to record songs for the album.

“Each band I recorded had four hours total to complete its tracks from initial set-up to mixed and out the door — no exceptions,” he said. “Everybody did a fantastic job, especially considering the extreme time constraints.”

The album covers a wide variety of genres and styles because of its large selection of musicians.

 “If you support local arts and listen to any kind of music, there will be something on this album for you,” Tweedy said.

He has lived in Iowa almost all of his life and said he moved to Iowa City specifically for the music scene.

“I feel Iowa City has been extremely good to me over the years,” he said, “Through Flat Black Studios, I have gotten to work with the most talented artists in the region. This project was no different.”

Colin Ritchie

Tweedy had help with the album from one of the band members he’s worked with: Emperor’s Club member Colin Ritchie mastered the Song Project album.

“Mastering the entire compilation was challenging and fun,” he said. “To get 31 songs in various genres to work together on a compilation is also quite a task.”

Ritchie said the band knew this was going to be something special from the beginning, so Adam Halvin — another Emperor’s Club band member — took on the task of writing the song for the album, then took it to the band for collaboration. The end product was “Strings,” a song commemorating the many police-busted house shows the band has experienced.

“It’s an amazingly well-organized project with 31 great Iowa artists,” Ritchie said. “No-brainer for me.”

Chasing Shade

Although Elliot Beenk had not planned on heading to Iowa City or the University of Iowa, he and bandmate Griffen Harris are certainly glad he did.

The two men are members of local band Chasing Shade, which is featured on the album; it will perform at the Englert release show on Friday.

“I’m incredibly excited. It will be our first theater show,” Harris said. The band will play alongside the likes of Caroline Smith & the Goodnight Sleeps, Brooks Strause, and the Gory Details, to name a few.

“I’m very grateful that we got asked to do it,” Harris said, “We are honored to be on any part of that compilation.”


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