The University of Iowa University of Iowa

KRUI’s Hometown Holiday Series: Iowa City, Iowa

Article by Caitlin Fry

Iowa City, Iowa is a nirvana for literature, art, and music lovers in the Midwest, drawing countless visitors into the city for weekend events. Not only is it home to the renowned Iowa Writer’s Workshop and Iowa Avenue Literary Walk but it is also a host for various musicians and festivals that help to celebrate the diversity of the city through it’s local artists and bands. Iowa City isn’t just home to the University of Iowa and the Hawkeyes, but also to local music with flair: Brooks Strause, The Wandering Bears, Skye Carrasco, Grand Tetons, and many others.

Brooks Strause is originally from Muscatine, Iowa but has since moved to Iowa City to showcase his folk/rock music talent. As a fan of  Bob Dylan, Cake and Elvis Costello, Strause’s most recent album My Foreign Right Hand has the ragged tone of Dylan, smooth drawn-out vocals of Costello and the quick funky strums reminiscent of Cake. While pulling from various influences, Strause still retains his distinctiveness that is identifiable not only by his impressive wiry beard but also his acoustics. Strause’s music is perfectly paired with a chilled beer and good friends.

The Wandering Bears are the perfect dance party band for those stressful times. With quick poppy beats and the happy-go-lucky tones of front women Sam and Sarah, one cannot listen to their most recent album Michael Cougar May… and keep their feet from tapping to the beat. Looking to be cheered up during a rainy gray day? These two ladies and three “smelly dudes” are for you! A smile, dancing feet and bobbing head are a guarantee!

Skye Carrasco is Iowa City’s sweetheart songbird. With her fierce talent on the violin, Carrasco is a woman to be respected not only in the classical music scene but also as a songwriter. Carrasco showcases her talent by collaborating with local and national artists as well as performing soul-wrenching solo performances that provoke the audience to rethink their own capabilities after seeing the power that comes from such a petite young woman.

Grand Tetons, headed by Brian Johansen, is the perfect band to listen to while making that long lonely drive towards whatever your next destination may be. Johansen’s gravel voice draws up memories of past loves and past difficulties all while making it okay to reminisce about the past. After a few listens to their most recent album They Do Move in Herds you’ll be screaming along with Johansen’s heartaches which actually help to make everything better.

Have any other Iowa City music gems that weren’t on this list? Let us know in the comments!krui