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Thanks to our great sponsors, entertainment at the Des Moines Arts Festival is FREE TO ATTEND!

We are no longer accepting inquiries to play at the 2019 Festival.

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The Family Stone

Saturday, June 29, 8:45 p.m. on the Hy-Vee Main Stage

The Family Stone featuring Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee and original founding member of Sly & The Family Stone, Jerry Martini and featuring Phunne Stone will present an explosive set of their Psychedelic Funk classic hits from the 60s and 70s that included legendary anthems like "I Want to Take You Higher," "Everyday People," "Thank You Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin," "Dance To The Music," "Hot Fun In The Summertime," "Family Affair," and many other instantly recognizable tunes.

The band’s raw, unfiltered original sound shaped the music of artists such as Janet Jackson, Prince, The Jackson 5, Miles Davis, Run DMC, Dr Dre, Snoop Dogg, Chuck D, John Mayer, John Legend, Madonna, Aretha Franklin, Doris Day, Lenny Kravitz, The Roots, The Beastie Boys, 2pac, LL Cool J, Ice Cube, Fatboy Slim, A Tribe Called Quest, Arrested Development, Maroon 5, Brandy, Cypress Hill, Public Enemy, Missy Elliot, Ice T, Kid Rock, Coolio, Queen Latifah, The Beach Boys, Will.i.am, Outkast, Cee Lo Green, Steven Tyler, and countless other mainstream top 40 artists too numerous to mention.

The Family Stone take the Hy-Vee Main Stage on Saturday night, June 29 at 8:45 p.m.
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Bo Ramsey

Friday, June 28, 8:00 p.m. on the Roots Stage

Sometimes the music chooses an artist. It can arrive in the form of a sound heard in the middle of silence, or maybe a certain guitar is ready to share its secrets. Either way, the spirit world is involved and there is no way to stop it.

Bo Ramsey is used to an outside world invading his inner world with deep messages and mesmerizing songs. As it came time for Ramsey to record again, an idea that had been hanging around would not be denied: an instrumental album. Of course, it has to be a little more convoluted than that. “We have a big kitchen in our house, and I’m always playing guitar in there,” Ramsey says. “There always seems to be two or three amps in there too. One day last fall I was on the road and swung into a guitar store in the Twin Cities and on a stand sitting on top of an amplifier was an old Harmony electric guitar. Just yelling on me.”

That Harmony “yelling” was the birth of Bo Ramsey’s irresistible new album WILDWOOD CALLING. The musician, who was born and raised in Burlington, Iowa, and has lived in Iowa City the past few decades, has carved out a unique career for 40 years. And it shows not one sign of slowing down. He has been involved in enough high-profile and low-down endeavors to have become somewhat of a legend, but a legend who still hides from the spotlights and leans away from stardom. Maybe that’s because Ramsey has mystifyingly maintained a devotion to the music side of the music business, and lets everything else fall by the side. Naturally, an all-instrumental album was just a matter of time.

After buying the Harmony guitar, a series of inspirations began to land. First were some musical ideas that got recorded on Ramsey’s phone, and then a band of like-minded musicians began to converge, and get mixed and matched. Finally drummer JT Bates and bassist Marty Christensen found themselves together in Bo Ramsey’s kitchen with engineer Adam Krinsky. Of course, it had to be in the kitchen because that’s where the idea was born and that’s where it had to come to life. Still, the emotional side of the music had to emerge before “the keepers” started being recorded. That is exactly what happened in the two days the players were together in that Iowa kitchen. With Alex Ramsey chiming in on three tracks by way of Minnesota, adding lush living-room piano and perfectly hushed basement keyboards.

It only takes a few seconds of listening to realize something completely off the grid has been captured on WILDWOOD CALLING. Maybe that’s because there’s as much silence as there is sound. Musical guru Miles Davis once famously said that it is “what isn’t played” that is really at the heart of so much timeless music, and that is the secret to Ramsey’s new opus. It is a sound that could probably only hail from the vast heartland of America, a place that hasn’t been completely cluttered with buildings, cars and people. There is so much breathing room on these songs that it feels just like a new life has just been born.

For those who might recognize Bo Ramsey by his association with artists like Lucinda Williams, Greg Brown, Kevin Gordon, Pieta Brown, Charlie Parr and others, his new music is the perfect introduction to someone who always listens and plays with his own sonic vision in full motion . So not surprisingly, the list of Ramsey’s accolades is long: including Grammy-Award Winning Guitar Player, 2 Time Grammy Nominated Producer, Iowa Rock & Roll Hall of Famer and Iowa Blues Hall of Famer. And if there were other Iowa halls of fame he would no doubt be in them too. But above all, Ramsey is a proud card-carrying member of his own hall of fame, which is the one where he chases the sounds in his head and his heart. He is always looking for a way to wrestle them into a recording so he can share that love of music with friends and strangers alike.

WILDWOOD CALLING is an album for the ages, and the perfect calling card for anyone with an interest in hearing the past, the present and the future rolled into one. Long may Bo Ramsey run.
- Bill Bentley. July 2016.
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William Elliott Whitmore

Saturday, June 29, 8:00 p.m. on the Roots Stage

A man armed only with a banjo and a bass drum can be a formidable force, especially if his name is William Elliott Whitmore. With his powerful voice and honest approach, Whitmore comes from the land, growing up on a family farm in Lee County, Iowa. Still living on the same farm today, Whitmore has truly taken the time to discover where his center lies, and from that he will not be moved.

Whitmore has repeatedly carved his own path, honoring the longstanding tradition of folk music throughout his nearly 20 year career, while always allowing his blues, soul and punk rock influences to shine through. Getting his first break opening for his friend's hardcore band with just a banjo in hand, he would discover bands like The Jesus Lizard, Bad Brains, Lungfish and Minutemen and soon learn to play his own brand of rural, roots music with that same DIY ethic.

William Elliott Whitmore has been back and forth across the United States and to cities around the world. He's toured with such diverse acts as Frank Turner, Trampled By Turtles, Clutch and Chris Cornell to name a few. He's appeared on some of the biggest stages around the world including Stagecoach Fest, Byron Bluesfest (Australia) and End of the Road Fest (UK). His willingness to take his show to any playing field has proved invaluable as he turned strangers to diehards with every performance.
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