In 2009, the Des Moines Arts Festival® brought in the first nationally touring musicians to play at the festival. The organization was in need of additional “flare” to keep guests entertained and make their length of stay longer, assist in beverage revenue, and in general, take the festival up a notch. Collective Soul opened for pop rock singer Gavin DeGraw. Green River Ordinance wrapped up the line up that year.
Katelyn Epperly: Iowa girl famed on American Idol, now working in the alias name Everly in Nashville
Fundamental Elements: good ole’ soul
The Smithereens: mainstream rock with hits “Blood and Roses” and “Girl Like You”. Lead singer Pat DiNizio passed away in 2017 at the young age of 62.
Scars on 45: Indie rock band from across the pond
The Envy Corps: making the Iowa alternative rock scene proud
To celebrate the Festival’s 15th Anniversary, the team organized a Friday night, All-Iowa Lineup, featuring The Nadas, Thankful Dirt, Rebel Creek, James Biehn, and Bonne Finken.
Aaron Neville: R&B soul vocalist and musician
Los Lobos: a crazy compilation of rock, tex-mex, country, and folk
Alejandro Escovedo: Texas singer-songwrited (personal note, totally underrated. I saw him at The Continental Club in Austin for $5. Place was PACKED and he was amazing.)
10,000 Maniacs: the best early 90s college rock sound around
Bodeans: Midwest neighbors from Wisconsin. The band stretches across rock genres.
Iris Dement: now calls Iowa home and we’re lucky to have her. John Prine coined her “America’s Sweetheart”
Mat Kearney: soft rock musician, has a handful of radio singles you know
Eddie Money: RIP….you’ve definitely sang his songs at the top of your lungs in a bar.
Greg Brown: paving the folk way for fellow Iowa musicians. He’s also married to Iris Dement (see 2014).
2016 – launch of Acoustic Stage
Gin Blossoms: first hit “Hey Jealousy” hit the charts in 1989. Feel old? I do.
Grand Funk Railroad: I’m sad I missed this show. I heard the VIP Club was lit when GFR hit the stage!
Matt Woods: three time Iowa Blues Challenge winner, bringing the blues sounds with some foot stompin’ and hollerin’.
The Well Pennies: folk-pop duo, husband and wife team who now call Des Moines home by way of Boston.
Saint Motel: Indie pop rockers, get ready to dance when these guys come on.
Big Head Todd & The Monsters: fun fact, during the 2017 festival, the DMAF team had to pick the band up from the airport. Chris Vance drew a “pick up” sign for the team to take to the airport on an un-used coroplast sign. I now have my own original Vance piece at my desk.
The Pines: Iowa guys making great folk music. No surprise considering two of the members have Bo Ramsey as their dad (see 2019).
Joe Purdy: singer songwriter, Joe should be on every folk playlist.
Spin Doctors: rock band, best known for “Two Princes” and “Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong” you can’t help but sing their songs when they come on the radio. You’re probably aren’t getting half the lyrics right but we won’t judge you.
Sir Sly: Indie rock band, can tear up the stage floor with their moves.
Jukebox the Ghost: power pop band, fun fact: one of our interns met them and cried.
Jeffrey Foucault: American songwriter with influences from across genres
Joe Pug: American songwriter, fun fact, hopped off the stage and played directly to the front row. He also has a podcast: “The American Songwriter.” One of the most eloquently spoken musicians in my opinion.
2019 – The Roots Stage is born
The Strumbellas: Canadians who cross over into alternative country, indie rock, and gothic folk. Fun fact, one of the guys needed a hair tie (hair ties were not on the rider). I gave him mine and used a crappy rubber band to hold my hair up the rest of the night. I hope he appreciated that. Also, they were lovely.
The Mowglis: alternative rock that are the perfect band for a summer playlist.
The Family Stone: the hits this band has is unbelievable. The band consisted of original members and some children of members. If I get to see Chaden Halfhill, owner of Silent Rivers, DMAF Board member AND amazing VIP Club builder, get to dance like that again, I’d book them over and over.
Bo Ramsey: talk about Iowa legend, Bo is a singer song writer with not only his own albums but has back many acts such as Greg Brown and Lucinda Williams.
William Elliot Whitmore: another Iowa gem in the folk world. Fun fact, he lives on a farm in SE Iowa. He doesn’t play a lot around here but when he does make sure you go.
lovelytheband: chances are you were humming their hit single "Broken" in 2018 - it broke records on the alternative chart!
Here Come the Mummies: the band is made up of internationally renowned musicians, although I couldn't tell you who they are due to the whole mummy costume thing, but they're put on a show!
Tommy Prine: he picked up the guitar at age 10, with a pretty good mentor (and Dad), John Prine, Tommy is looking ahead in making a name for himself in the Americana world.
Lilly Hiatt: fresh off her album released in 2020, "Walking Proof", Lilly and her band was a crowd favorite.