05 Sep 2017
Tuneful TravelTuneful Travel

Jazz-infused at the 2017 Des Moines Jazz Festival

The 2nd annual Des Moines Jazz Festival was held on September 1-2, 2017 at the Des Moines Social Club in downtown Des Moines, Iowa. The event was characterized by eclectic jazz music performed by local and national musicians and an enthusiastic crowd of various ages.

The venue: The Des Moines Social Club

The Des Moines Social Club is located downtown and its main building occupies 30,000 square feet of a restored firehouse. The Social Club is a non-profit organization which sponsors classes, trivia nights, and films in addition to musical performances. The club’s other venues include the Prairie Meadows Courtyard and the indoor Kum & Go Theater. The courtyard and the alley leading from Cherry Street to the Kum & Go Theater sport brightly painted murals on the walls and stage panels. The Jazz Festival was co-sponsored by the Social Club and the Civic Music Association of Des Moines.

Des Moines Social Club approach
Painted wall at Des Moines Social Club
Des Moines Social Club courtyard








The NOLA Jazz Band

Two bands performed Friday evening inside the Kum & Go Theater. I arrived a few minutes after the performance started at 5:00 pm and found a standing-room only crowd. The NOLA Jazz Band, a popular group of eight local musicians, performed traditional and modern New Orleans-based jazz pieces, including “Stable Street Blues“, “Down on Bourbon Street“, “I’m Checking Out…Goodbye“, and the funny-creepy “Black Swamp Village.” Vocalist Abby Sawyer entertained the crowd with humorous songs such as “Hornman Blues” and “All About the Bass.” The group also performed standards by Duke Ellington and newer pieces written by trumpet player Bria Skonberg.

NOLA Jazz Band perform on September 1, 2017 in the Kum & Go Theater of the Des Moines Social Club.

The Shotgun Jazz Band from New Orleans performed later Friday night but unfortunately I didn’t catch their show.

Dartanyan Brown Trio

On Saturday the line-up started at 2:00 pm in the courtyard with the Dartanyan Brown TrioDartanyan Brown is a graduate of Des Moines’ North High School and a talented bass player who has recently returned to the Des Moines area from the West Coast. Several of his high school classmates came to the concert, and I had an interesting conversation with one classmate after the performance.

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