Many have wondered what it would be like to be in a band, whether as the drummer, guitarist or a lead singer. Would your fans be chanting your name while you start to tune your guitar, or would you be in the corner of a coffee shop as the lead singer? Although Des Moines doesn’t seem like the place for this, there are a few local bands working to build the local music community.
Chad Taylor, music critic, got drunk one night and sent a letter to the editor of Cityview because he wanted a job in the music section. The editor set up a meeting with Taylor and decided he wanted him to write about music.
“I had never written professionally before I started at Cityview,” Taylor said. “I knew I wanted to write, but in my core, I am a very lazy person.”
After getting the job at Cityview, he started listening to music and writing his likes and dislikes about different songs.
“I am not necessarily the most liked person in town,” Taylor said. “Before I came into town, there weren’t many outlets that were offering criticism. Early on, I was having a chat with one of the members of the Des Moines Musical Coalition, and I had mentioned that I didn’t like a CD that was sent to me, and he looked at me like I just farted in church.”
Just because Taylor doesn’t like something doesn’t mean he isn’t going to write about it. He writes about both his likes and dislikes.
Taylor said the music industry in Des Moines is strong. There is lots of good music that is being made, but the industry is also small, which is a symptom of the lack of money available here and the talent level.
Two bands have set out to prove music can thrive here.
Trashbag Ponchos is a band made up of four guys who always joked about starting a band but never thought they’d go through with it. One night, a snowstorm hit that caused classes to be cancelled the next morning.
“As good college students, we partied a little bit too hard,” said Andreas Miles-Novelo, the guitarist of the band. “We ended up writing this song, and then we started our band.”
Miles-Novelo said the band might have had a chance to be taken seriously, but they enjoy it more as just a hobby. All of the members grew up in the Des Moines area, but as the years fly by, they have started separating. They still get together to perform occassionally.
Miles-Novelo said the band’s genre would fall under folk-punk.
Trashbag Ponchos usually tries to stray from performing at coffee shops, but they enjoy performing at bars and clubs.
“Most of us are single,” Andreas said. “So some girl matched with one of us on Tinder and then months later, the girl’s friend messages us on Facebook and said our band was really rad. Like all right, that’s a little weird, but thanks.”
Trashbag Ponchos have music available on Spotify and Apple music.
Looking for a fun band to book for a private party? This band you are about to learn about is the “sheet.” That being said, The Sheet is a cover band that plays at local bars and parties.
The band consists of two people: the drummer and the lead singer. Eddie and Jeffery have been best friends for the past 12 years and started their band in 2011. They wanted their band name to be something creative yet appropriate because they first performed at youth conferences for churches.
“We really didn’t cuss a lot, but we had a feeling that we’re the sh*t,” Eddie, the drummer, said. “But we couldn’t really advertise that, so we named us ‘The Sheet.’”
Over the years, their audience has grown rapidly. The past year has been their busiest year so far with people booking them at bars, festivals and more. They even played for the grand opening of the new Altoona Outlet Mall.
Eddie said when people want to listen to live bands, they want to listen to music they are familiar with. It is easier to get gigs at different places if they play music that is known. The Sheet often takes their own spin on popular songs for a different vibe.
The Sheet also loves to play reggae music, especially Bob Marley.
“I am still in Des Moines because my kids go to school here,” Eddie said. “But my dream one day is to play when people are on vacation and make people happy that way.”
Jeffery, the lead singer, sometimes writes his own songs, but they don’t play his music when they are performing in bars or parties.
“One of the only frustrating things that happens frequently is when a person requests a song,” Eddie said. “If someone does that, I start to think ‘is what I play not good enough?’”