Preview: Decisions, decisions…

Tonight all the young, cool people aren’t just trying to decide whether they’re going dance or catch some live jams, now if they land on the latter, they have to pick which show they want to see.

The Mill has a full roster of “tempting melodies and accomplished songcraft,” according to the venue’s calendar, and I don’t know if anyone can rationally or logically dispute that claim. Beth Bombara hails from St. Louis, MO and builds barroom power-pop with a nice southern frill and she can also break the heart of everyone in the room with spare, piano-driven ballads. She’s on tour with, and basically a one woman backing band for Cassie Morgan. Morgan’s got a spate of bedroom suites. Her EP, Pine So Sweet is full of lo-fi, alt-country baroque-pop. Each delicate song is fleshed out with small touches, a vibe run here, a piano rush there, the slightest swell of feedback. It’s all about the small touches. Also on the bill is local alt-country songstress, Alexis Stevens. Stevens’ latest album Flood or Drought just became available on the newly-minted Mission Freak Records Store (full disclosure), and it’s one of the best records to come out of Iowa City this year (surprisingly high praise in an already very strong ‘09). Flood or Drought is stocked full of big songs. The compositions and production are a perfect match for Stevens’ versatility. She’s just as capable of cutting you down with a near whisper as toppling you over with boisterous harmonies.

Download: Alexis Stevens - Tool and Crane

Across the pedestrian mall, in the basement of the Jefferson Building is another bill flush with accomplished songcrafters. PS1 decided to bring the goods too. Local cat and Mission Creek alum Caleb Engstrom joins partners in crime Lewis & Clarke, Caroline Weeks, and Corridor for a sitting on the floor kind of night. Lewis & Clarke compose the kind of expansive, literate tunes you’d expect from an act that took their name from the two gents who traversed the once frontier of Western America. Caroline Weeks (of Bat for Lashes [?!?!]) comes all the way ‘cross the Atlantic from the UK. Weeks has a deep and boundless passion for the poetry of Edna St. Vincent Millay. Her infatuation is so deep that she has set a good number of Millay’s verses to spare acoustic arrangements. This is not your girlfriend’s Bat for Lashes. LA’s Corridor is an entirely different beast all together. Corridor is, like the other acts on the bill, fond of spare, tight arraingements and favors moody music. That is where the similarities end. Corridor would almost be more at home in the (hypothetical) chill out tent for Tuesday’s dance party, or slipped in between a batch of kids weened on New Order and Brian Eno. Should prove to be a nice reprieve from the singer-songwriter vibe that permeates every other second of tonight’s show.

Download: Caleb Engstrom - Nothing, Cloud, Lion

Who: Alexis Stevens w. Cassie Morgan & the Lonely Pine and Beth Bombara
Where: The Mill
When: Tonight (8.4), 9pm
Cover: Cover? We don’t need no stinking cover!


Who: Lewis & Clarke w. Caroline Weeks, Corridor, and Caleb Engstrom
Where: PS1
When: Tonight (8.4), 8 pm
Cover: “*cheap” (according to facebook invite)

About the Author

john c.

University of Iowa graduate with BAs in English and Cinema Studies. John bides his time as a staff writer for and with contributions to Little Village Magazine ( John hosts an hour-long show on Monday's at 5 pm through the University of Iowa's radio station 89.7 FM KRUI ( dedicated to Iowa music. "Corn Fed Music" is a showcase for Iowa artists, musicians formerly from Iowa, and acts visiting Iowa. This is a forum open for guest DJs, in studio performances, interviews, and new material offered to those who may not have access to larger media outlets. If you're interested in getting a song played, an interview, or performing a short set (20-45 min) in studio you can contact John at

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