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Blue Moose celebrates fifth anniversary

BY ISAAC HAMLET | MARCH 26, 2015 5:00 AM

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Traditionally, a five-year anniversary is celebrated with gifts of wood or silverware rather than a drag show, new albums, and beds of nails. The Blue Moose Tap House seems to favor the last group, and it will feature all three over the course of its weekend anniversary.

The Blue Moose, 211 Iowa Ave., will celebrate five years of open doors with two nights of performances. At 8 p.m. Friday, the 7 Sins Sideshow and the IC Kings will claim the stage. The same time on Saturday, the venue will welcome musicians Michael Shynes and William Elliott Whitmore.

“Friday’s show is more of a theater, shock-and-awe kind of show,” said Cole Nedved, a Blue Moose employee. “Saturday is more acoustic and home-grown in its tone.”

Based in the Quad Cities, the 7 Sins Sideshow will return to Iowa City with new acts and stunts since its last visit, in August 2014.

The added material includes two Iowa City locals appearing in the group’s burlesque show, an updated version of its human pin cushion, two more beds of nails, and a new whip act performed by Dr. Cipher.

“The whip act has been in the works for about five months and has been planned to première at the Blue Moose,” said Nicole Adams, one of the group’s performers.

The IC Kings has opened for 7 Sins in the past; Hugh Jindapants, a member of the former, describes the combination as “members only.”

“Both 7 Sins and IC Kings appeal to a wide variety of audience demographics and seem especially appropriate in Iowa City nightlife and culture,” Jindapants said.  

The Kings, formed in 2009, has been hosted by the Blue Moose before, and it performs monthly at Studio 13, 13 S. Linn St.

“[We’ve] worked hard to establish ourselves in a relatively unknown space in this area,” Jindapants said. “When we started performing years ago, even solo drag kings were hard to find on stage, let alone a rehearsed and polished drag-king troupe.”

Since being hired five years ago, Nedved has seen 7 Sins and other groups, and he worked at the bar during the last week the establishment was still called the Industry. Consequently, he witnessed the first performance the Blue Moose hosted: a sold-out New Year’s show featuring returning artist Whitmore.

“I’ve been playing at the Blue Moose since it opened in 2010,” Whitmore said. “They’ve always treated me well, and I’ve seen some of my favorite shows there.”

While performing for the Blue Moose’s anniversary event, the folk/soul artist will also celebrate the release of a new record, Radium Death.

“I was excited to try some new things on this album,” Whitmore said. “It’s always fun to switch things up a little, to challenge myself as well as the listener.” 

The record is partially inspired by an article describing how a group of women painted watch dials with a radium paint, beginning in 1917 and continuing during the 1920s, so that the watch faces could be seen in the dark (they glowed, because they were radioactive). After realizing the radium was making them sick, five women, known as the Radium Girls, filed a suit and reached a monetary settlement against the U.S. Radium Corp. in the autumn of 1928.

“They became known as the ‘Radium Girls,’ ” Whitmore said. “To me, it represented speaking truth to power.”

Opening for Whitmore will be Minnesota performer Michael Shynes. Both artists focus heavily on acoustics, though Shynes’s music tends toward a soft-rock sound.

“My favorite shows are the ones where all the acts sound different,” Whitmore said. “[Shynes] will do his thing, and I’ll do mine. I think it will mix nicely.”

Presenting a combination of stunts and musical premières, the Blue Moose wants to pull the community into the celebration. Beer specials will be offered as well as a fundraiser; if patrons bring in two nonperishable items during the week, their names will be entered into a prize raffle.

“We have a glass sign, signed records, and a Saturday-night raffle,” Nedved said. “All of the money is going to the Johnson County Crisis Center.”

He hopes the Blue Moose is able to maintain the momentum the venue has built over the past five years. Though Iowa City has many bars and some performance stages, Nedved said Blue Moose distinguishes itself, in part by catering to “a bit of a younger audience.”

That thought falls in line with Jindapants’ feeling that the IC Kings and 7 Sins show is “unique to our generation,” fitting for a college town.

“The Blue Moose has a great centralized location that allows easy access for dedicated patrons but also invites a lot of first-time foot traffic,” Jindapants said. “They also have multiple zones within the venue that provide options based on what the patrons are looking for.”

In the end, Nedved said, the event is a way of thanking all the Blue Moose’s patrons and looking forward to years of future success.

“We’re hoping that people come out for a great weekend in general,” he said.


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