Intimate at Englert Series to host Ark Life, featuring Iowa native Jesse Elliott


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Though songwriter, guitarist, and Iowa native Jesse Elliott has performed nearly 1,000 times, been praised by National Public Radio and the New York Times, and taken stages everywhere from Europe to Lollapalooza, his newest band formed in the most modest of ways.

"It's a new band that I started in Denver just two months ago, [and] it was kind of a surprise," Elliott said. "It wasn't meant to happen. I had just accidentally moved to Denver and started playing with some folks, and we just hit it off and thought we should start taking it around on the road."

A former These United States member, Elliott's newest band Ark Life will play at the Englert Theater, 221 E. Washington St., on Friday. Elliott plays guitar and writes the music, Ben Desoto plays drums, Lindsay McWilliams plays piano, Anna Morsett plays bass and sings, and Natalie Tate — who also plays guitar and sings her own music — will open the show.

"[The music is] pretty influenced by classic rock stuff, a little bit of Motown and R&B, like the early rock and roll [music]," Elliott said.

Although the band has only recently started performing, it has been on tour this spring and has a big tour planned this summer.

"This [tour is] definitely our biggest to date by far, so that's exciting," Elliott said.

The band will start in Denver, head to the Midwest, then the Southwest, and finally up West Coast.

"We're going to hit everything," Elliott said. "Iowa City is actually going to be just our second show … so it should be super fun. We'll [still] have some energy."

The performance at the Englert was originally not planned. The band had that night open, but after some catching up with old friends involved with the Englert, they filled the night with another gig.

"When [Elliott] was planning the tour for Ark Life, it kind of worked out in his schedule to be able to play at the Englert," said Nathan Gould, the Englert marketing director. "They're pretty fun to see [because] they're high-energy. Jesse's a really fantastic song writer, and so I'm excited to see his new songs."

This particular performance is part of the Intimate at the Englert Series, a special program that has the audience and performers on the same stage. Only 100 tickets are sold for the event.

"It's a different concert experience than you have in the full theater," Gould said. "It [allows an] intimate environment that might not be as present with the regular seats. I think Ark Life will be a really great band for the series, so we're excited to host them."

Elliott said he is equally enthusiastic about adding this performance to Ark Life's tour.

"I love coming back to Iowa City; it's a great town," he said. "It makes me feel young again; [it's] very exciting."

What: Intimate at the Englert Series, Ark Life
When: Friday at 8 p.m.
Where: Englert, 221 E. Washington
Admission: $10 in advance, $12 the day of the show

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