IOWA CITY — Los Lobos, Carrie Rodriguez, Greg Brown and other musical luminaries will light up the stages while fine arts, food and fun will rule on the ground for the annual Iowa Arts Festival Friday through Sunday.
Seven blocks of downtown Iowa City will be transformed into a strolling fair, showcasing the work of more than 125 local and national artists; live music and entertainment on two stages; a Global Village where kids and learn about other countries and cultures; a Culinary Row serving regional and ethnic foods; and Children’s Day on Sunday, with activities and entertainment geared toward kids. New this year is an Emerging Artist Area featuring upcoming student artists. It’s a festive fair with a fine arts flair.
The Pines — David Huckfelt and Benson Ramsey — celebrated the release of their new CD, “Dark So Gold,” at CSPS in February and opened for Mason Jennings last month. Their most recent CD features a distinct blend of atmospheric indie-folk, rock and blues.
Pieta Brown, of Iowa City, has been immersed in Americana music her whole vagabond life, moving at least 17 times from Iowa to Alabama and eventually back to Iowa City. She remembers family jam sessions with her father, Greg Brown, in her early childhood and she’s been married for five years to musician Bo Ramsey, her frequent collaborator and producer. She’s performed with a who’s who of folk, rock and indie icons, including John Prine, Ani DiFranco and Mark Knopfler, co-founder of Dire Straits.
On Saturday, the main stage features local and national favorites including Bree Nettie, Ben Schmidt, The Recliners, Joy Kills Sorrow, and Carrie Rodriguez, an Austin-based singer/songwriter who joined Pieta Brown on stage at the Englert in January.
Joy Kills Sorrow features bassist and Iowa City native Bridget Kearney. The Boston-based string band brings a modern sensibility to an old-world sound, paying due homage to its Bluegrass roots while also melding folk, rock, pop and jazz sounds.
Los Lobos will take the stage at 9 p.m. Saturday. More than three decades have passed since Los Lobos released their debut album, “Just Another Band from East L.A.” and in that time the band has evolved from the band every one knows for their 1987 hit, “La Bamba.” Los Lobos lineup has remained uninterrupted since 1984, when saxophonist/keyboardist Steve Berlin joined original members Louie Pérez, David Hidalgo, Cesar Rosas and Conrad Lozano, who got together in 1973. In August they will release their first collection of new original material in four years.
Sunday the main stage will feature performances from local talent including the Awful Purdies, Iowa City Community Band and Collectible Boys. The Awful Purdies is an all-female Iowa City-based ensemble of five singer/songwriters — Annie Savage on fiddle and concert harp, Katie Roche on accord…ion, whistles and percussion, Marcy Rosenbaum on guitar, Nicole Upchurch on banjo and Katie Burnes on cello.