Des Moines: The Next Music Destination? Do We Have What It Takes?

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

DES MOINES, Iowa - Last month, the city placed public pianos on sidewalks for the public to play but the urge to make Des Moines a "musical" city doesn't stop there.

Downtown Community Alliance President and CEO, Glenn Lyons, says for the last decade Des Moines has fought to earn it's way on a "Top 10" list to be recognized nationally for it's music scene.

"I think we aspire to be a city like Portland or Austin but in our own way."

On Saturday, downtown hosted both the Music Under the Canopy: Jazz Festival and the 515 Alive music event. Earlier this summer, the 80/35 music festival attracted thousand of people in Western Gateway Park.

But what will it take to potentially make a "Top 10 List?" Lyons says the city is seeing a huge boom in music interest and the music scene will continue to grow if new music venues like the Brenton Skating Plaza, develop.

"They wont keep happening if there isn’t a demand for them. We’ve got more venues to choose from."

Des Moines Music Coalition program manager, Christopher Ford, says the city's location works in its favor. Bands and artist often pass through Des Moines while on tour.

"What were really seeing is that people are coming here from other places because they are hearing that this is the place to be."

The demand for more music events continues to increase but in order for continual growth, Ford adds the importance of making the music scene inclusive for everyone.

"Providing cultural opportunities like this keep people here keep them engaged and they feel like they can change their community and be apart of something interesting."


  • Hugo S LaVia

    Ironically, Jazz in July seems to be dying. This year, there were only 16 days in July featuring musis, when just a few years ago, there was something on at least 28 of 31 July days.

  • Devil's Advocate

    The problem with the reasoning with those wanting to make Des Moines a “music destination” is that Des Moines *doesn’t* have what the other “music destinations” *do* have: a unique sound or original form for a large enough group to be interested in. New Orleans has jazz, the blues, and Dixieland, Austin Tx has a unique style of country, Memphis has Elvis and … well… Elvis…, Nashville is the Grand Ole Opry, even Shreveport, LA used to have the Louisiana Hayride and Louisiana has several native sons and daughters that went on to become famous. Des Moines has nothing to draw people outside the region to it. That’s not a *bad* thing, it’s just not going to make you a “music destination”. “Making the music scene inclusive for everyone” is what you shouldn’t be doing to become a go-to destination. You’ve got to have an original style and/or a interestingly unique twist on another style otherwise, you’re just another wannabe.

  • Sue

    I hope not. Was downtown last night and have never seen so many dirtbags in our city.

    People with tattoos all over their faces and necks and piercing everywhere but in their ears. Absolutely discusting.

  • F250King

    hello, long time viewer, first time commenter. i was recommended this article by a musician friend of mine because of it was supposed to be funny. i don’t know what happened to this town and it’s music. when i watched the video at the top of the screen i took note of the fact that there are hardly any people in the crowds of these concerts. i think someone was asleep watching the jazz concert under the canopy and the tattooed man watching the electronic music looked like a fool because no one else seemed to be there . that was a sad thing to see because i remember when music in this town wasn’t something to sleep on. what happened to the people who used to get joe cocker n people like that to come here now that show was a PARTY

    • F250King

      i just want to have fun at a concert and party. blue oyester cult at the state fair last year was awesome maybe the des moines music coalition should get them to play here again

    • Dan Green

      The electronic music festival, better known as the 12 year running 515 Alive had 5000+ people in attendance last saturday. That is the same amount that were in the paid area at 80/35 on either day…the news came around 2pm and the event went from 12pm-12:30am. We had bands, hip hop, Djs and more plus a large variety of performance art. There were zero arrests or medical emergencies and everyone (including the Des Moines PD) had a wonderful time..

      I know all of this cause I am the owner and head of operations of 515 Alive. Trust me, events like mine are great for the Des Moines Art scene. Its just unfortunate people can be so judgement cause some people choose to get tattoos or certain piercings, very pathetic if you ask me.

      Also if you really think that “no one else” was there…check out this video:

      I’m sure you won’t like the music but thats not really the reason i’m posting it. Variety of arts in Des Moines is important whether you’re a fan of whats going on or not…cause plenty of people are in support of it!

Comments are closed.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.