Summer Sounds

Even the most discerning music fans enjoy the Beaverdale Bluegrass Festival. Photo: Mark Lage

Writer: Hailey Allen

Des Moines may not draw the crowds of Bonnaroo or Coachella, but our own music festivals have no shortage of talent and tenacity. In fact, the city boasts quite a few celebrations of sound, supported by hundreds of local musicians, activists, performing artists and fans. So mark your calendars for a few upcoming music festivals — some new, some familiar, some refreshed. Check out the following details to get a sense of the vibe and find your perfect music-fest match.


Greenbelt Music Festival

Greenbelt Music Festival
greenbeltmusic.com

When: May 17-18

Where: In and around the Horizon Events Center on the Greenbelt Trail in Clive

What to expect: An eclectic mix of national and local acts, spanning genres and generations. The current lineup includes a Grateful Dead cover band, a funk-jazz duo and a “party bluegrass” quartet featuring a tuba player. “Year two of the Greenbelt Music Festival looks to be bigger and better in every possible way,” said Tariq Lundy, booking and operations manager at the Horizon Events Center. They’re planning more food trucks, extended silent disco hours and, new this year, space to park RVs.

Just like last year, organizers plan to donate $5 from every ticket sold for the Greenbelt Landing Project, which will enhance rec opportunities, improve water quality and help maintain wildlife habitats on 15 acres along Northwest 114th Street.


80/35
80-35.com

When: July 12-13

Where: Water Works Park

What to expect: This will be the festival’s 15th year but its first at Water Works Park. The general formula will stay the same as in previous years in downtown’s Western Gateway, with local acts rounding out a diverse lineup of rising indie stars, international rock bands and a few well-known headliners.

But the new location will offer “greater access to nature, more space for the festival to expand and a chance to use the festival to highlight issues important to us, including environmental consciousness and water quality in Central Iowa,” former festival director Mickey Davis noted in last year’s announcement about the move.


Beaverdale Bluegrass Festival. Photo Mark Lage

Beaverdale Bluegrass Festival
beaverdale.org

When: July 20

Where: Tower Park, under its namesake water tower

What to expect: A heavier influence with bluegrass, some improvements in production, plus more bar and vending options,” said Eric Quiner, who joined the festival’s planning board last year after a stint directing the Camp Euforia festival in eastern Iowa. The free festival here in town is run entirely by volunteers through the Beaverdale Neighborhood Association “for neighbors and friends to gather in a beautiful park and enjoy good music,” according to its website. BYOLC: Bring your own lawn chair.

This will be the ninth annual festival, riding high after last year’s event had one of the best turnouts to date, Quiner said. If you’d like to help out, visit the Beaverdale Neighborhood Association’s website.


Hinterland
hinterlandiowa.com

When: Aug. 2-4

Where: Saint Charles, Iowa

What to expect: “We’ve tried to make Hinterland a curated experience across the board to make it accessible for everyone, regardless of the types of music that they typically listen to,” said festival director Sam Summers of First Fleet Concerts. “The environment has even lent itself to creating that laid-back, chill, just overall happy vibe that we find year in and year out.” The single-stage festival brings in top musical acts from several genres for three full days of music, with top indie artists Noah Kahan and Hozier returning as headliners alongside Vampire Weekend this year.

Festivalgoers will be able to come and go from the grounds via shuttle service now included with all passes this year, or camp in RVs, SUVs or VIP glamping options. This festival lives up to its name, so prepare to get a little dirty and pack rain gear, just in case.


Together Through Sound
togetherthroughsound.com

When: Sept. 8

Where: Riverview Park

What to expect: “An eye-opening and community-building experience,” festival director Ashley Eidbo said. The free festival brings together a diverse group of musicians and listeners who perform and enjoy everything from classical and jazz to afro-beats and hip-hop. “No matter what your ‘thing’ is or why you’re at the festival, you’ll have the chance to hear something new or meet others with different tastes,” Eidbo said. The evening’s finale features musicians from the Des Moines Symphony and Des Moines Vocal Arts Ensemble, conducted by the symphony’s Joshua Barlage. Food trucks will offer a variety of cuisines, and a visual arts village will bring in local artists to display and sell their work.

Eidbo works alongside festival co-founder Billy Weathers. The two are musicians in their own right, and when they were dreaming up the festival, they wanted to make sure their fellow music makers could represent their diverse local communities. “It’s definitely important that there’s some local connection to every act. It’s important that they’re representative of their cultures, not only in music, but in food and art as well,” Eidbo said. The festival is produced through its own nonprofit, Together Through Sound Iowa, Inc.


Porchfest. Photo: Mark Lage

Porchfest
porchfestdsm.org

When: Sept. 8

Where: Union Park neighborhood with possible expansion to Highland Park

What to expect: The festival is free and has a grassroots, small-town feel to it. “Come with your wagons, coolers, lawn chairs, and cash to tip the performers,” festival co-founder and music director Annie Ducharme-Jones said. She advises attendees to wear comfortable shoes, as the festival spreads out through the neighborhood. Musicians perform on volunteer hosts’ front porches; maps are available online and at the merch tent.

Ducharme-Jones and her husband, Dave, lead an Americana-rock band called Ducharme-Jones and started the music festival in 2022 after returning, invigorated, from a gig at a similar festival in Kansas City. “Porchfest is a movement. Others are popping up in places all over the country,” she said. The couple teamed up with Captain Roy’s co-owner Jack Daugherty and the Union Park Neighborhood Association to create the Des Moines version of PorchFest and enlisted Mo’Rub to help cater sandwiches and snacks for the crowds.

As the festival gains popularity, Ducharme-Jones hopes it can grow into other neighborhoods and feature even more local musicians.

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