Dinner Party, xBK Live, Dan Tedesco
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October 20, 2020  |  VIEW AS WEBPAGE
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Bubba has created a special menu for our first-ever dsm Dinner Party, featuring this grilled pork chop with mashed potatoes and vegetables.


We want to have dinner with you! We've partnered with Bubba—Southern Comforts and Iowa Pork to host the first-ever dsm Dinner Party, a virtual event that features a special meal and drink pairings, at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 28. When you pick up your food, you'll also receive the new issue of the magazine, and during the hourlong Zoom event, we'll give you an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the publication.

The featured menu includes a starter salad (mixed greens, apples, candied pecans, dried cranberries, sunflower seeds, feta and a bourbon-balsamic vinaigrette) with an entree (grilled pork chop with apple-sage butter, buttermilk-garlic mashed potatoes and roasted root vegetables). The dessert is a bourbon bread pudding with caramel sauce. Vegan and vegetarian options are also available.

The meal is $42, with drink add-ons available for $21. Spots are limited, so be sure to reserve yours before they run out. We look forward to seeing you there!
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Thom Kutz and Tobi Parks opened xBk Live last September, and they're hoping a quick pivot will help them through the pandemic.


Writer: Allaire Nuss

The pandemic has hit the music industry hard, particularly local venues that rely on live entertainment. Over the next few weeks, we'll cover a handful of Des Moines music venues and provide updates on how they've handled the past several months.

Thom Kutz misses live entertainment—at least, in the form it used to be. As the co-owner and general manager of xBk Live, one of Des Moines’ youngest music venues, he’s especially antsy to see music take the stage again as it once was. But he knows it may never be the same.

“Normalcy is a thing of the past,” Kutz says. “The way that the live entertainment industry worked a year ago is not going to be the way that it works going forward.”

To adapt, Kutz and co-owner Tobi Parks jumped headfirst into the new reality of entertainment—one that’s almost entirely virtual. They’ve used livestreams to promote artists and share music, and launched an online store for patrons to buy liquor and vinyl records from the venue.

xBk has even brought back live music in some capacity. It reopened its doors last weekend for an in-person performance, limiting attendance to 50 people with advance tickets. After passing a temperature check and wearing a mask, attendees sat in “patron pods” with tables spaced 8 feet apart. For extra safety measures, xBk now uses disposable cups and has increased staffing for round-shift cleaning.

“The waste goes way up, the employee and staffing costs go way up, but it also allows us an opportunity to do very intimate type of shows,” Kutz says. "It’s this weird balancing act.”

Even with the adaptation, funding has been extremely tight. xBk’s survival wouldn’t have been possible without money from various grants, Kutz says. Having only been open since September 2019, xBk still qualified for some startup grants. Paired with some other artist and music grants, the money has helped keep employees on the payroll.

xBk has received support in other ways as well, namely through support from the Des Moines community. Loyal followers still show up to virtual shows and the newly returned in-person performances.  

“The community support has been amazing,” Kutz says. “And it's humbling that so many folks come out in support of small venues. It’s an amazing feeling when the community rallies around you.”

Despite the pandemic, Kutz sees a silver lining in the new normal of virtual programming: increased accessibility and forced creativity. Livestreams allow for easy access to live music while also pushing artists to conceive of new ways to promote their art. Kutz points to live music existing in gaming platforms like Fortnite and Minecraft, or Zoom concerts where musicians chat with fans between sets. “Where there’s a will, there’s a way,” Kutz insists. “And the arts community is always going to find a way to make things happen.”

You can support xBk Live’s return to the in-person Des Moines music scene by checking out its YouTube channel and visiting its website.

Dan Tedesco has been working in music for about 14 years. One of his favorite songs, "Symphonies in the City," was inspired by the noises he heard on the streets of Chicago.


Dan Tedesco's younger self has been grieving these past two weeks. As a teenager, Tedesco idolized Eddie Van Halen, the legendary guitarist who died on Oct. 6, and credits much of his interest in music to the rock star. Tedesco eventually took that love of music and made it a full-time career nearly 14 years ago, moving to Des Moines with his wife in 2014.

He's learned plenty along the way, he recalled on the latest dsm CultureCast podcast. Tedesco's sound is a mix of folk and rock, reminiscent of his idols Bob Dylan and Tom Petty. His approach to songwriting draws inspiration from those and his other musical idols as well.

"There's a magical thing that happens when creation [songwriting] occurs," Tedsco said about his creative process. He laughed and said it's hard to figure out: "If you try to understand it too much, I don't really think you get there."

Tedesco used the example of one of his favorite songs, "Symphonies in the City," which drew from his experiences living in Chicago. He heard sounds in the city—the clacking of the trains, the sirens ricocheting off the skyscrapers—and thought it could make a pretty good melody. He ran home and wrote the music with some lyrics that popped into his mind.

"I was walking down the sidewalk after I had gone into the city, and I walked underneath the L-track (a train track in Chicago)," Tedesco said. "Something about that moment just clicked in my head."

Tedesco has been working on an online platform over the past several months. The Dan Tedesco Music Channel features exclusive songs, behind-the-scenes looks, films and videos, live performances, artwork, and more, for $100 per year. Tedesco launched the platform in July and said he's received positive feedback so far.

Listen to the full podcast here. You can subscribe to find more interviews like this at Apple Podcast, Google Play Music, Spotify and more.
Violinist Midori will perform in the last installment of Civic Music Association's Play On series, which will broadcast shows from both the Twin Cities and Los Angeles. Photo: Timothy Greenfield-Sanders.


In response to the pandemic and to reach a wider audience via technology, Civic Music Association is launching a new fall series called Play On. The lineup will feature performances from musicians and groups from Los Angeles and the Twin Cities, with local twists.

The first show is at 7:30 p.m. Friday with Accordo, a string ensemble composed of present and former principal string players of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and Minnesota Orchestra. The second performance is on Nov. 13 with All In, a Los Angeles-based jazz septet. The pre-show will feature Max Wellman and an eight-piece band at Noce. The final show in the series showcases the violinist Midori, who will perform on Nov. 20 from the historic Ordway Theatre in St. Paul.

Tickets are $15 per show, which will be broadcast via Vimeo. You can find the full lineup and ticket information here.

    This year is the 20th anniversary of the Des Moines Art Center's Dia de los Muertos event. Photo: Des Moines Art Center.


    For 20 years, the Des Moines Art Center has hosted special events around Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), an annual Mexican holiday. And the pandemic won't put a stop to that: This year, the celebration will be held virtually, with a number of pickup and online activities to enjoy.

    Free ofrenda kits, a home altar to honor lost loved ones, will be available to anyone who wants to participate or learn more about the holiday. The Art Center will feature short films made by filmmaker Vince Valdez over the last two decades, honoring members of the Latino community. Valdez has also created a special 20-year anniversary film that will premiere on the Art Center's social media accounts Nov. 1. The video will highlight those honored in previous events and volunteers and sponsors.

    The Art Center has also put together virtual
    photo galleries commemorating each celebration, with a chance for users to submit their photos of previous events and their own altars and ofrendas from this year. You can also download Day of the Dead poster designs from previous iterations of the event.

    Find more information and virtual offerings online.


    Writer: Karla Walsh

    Shocking but true: One in 10 Americans over 65 has been or will be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, and about 1 in 3 seniors dies due to a dementia-related reason, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. And many more of us struggle with concentration, anxiety and other more immediate brain pains starting early in life.

    No one aspect of health—be it diet, exercise, sleep or stress level—can guarantee a longer life, so it’s best to take a holistic approach to keeping your brain and body healthy, experts agree. Still, the dietitians and doctors we spoke to say that little decisions you make daily—like what you put on your plate—add up to make a big difference over time. In other words, that mango can be “medicine” for your brain.

    “Daily habits can slow or maybe even reverse any cognitive changes that happen over the life span,” says Andrew D. Nish, an integrative medicine doctor and medical director of the John Stoddard Cancer Center in Des Moines. “We can heal just about anything with positive lifestyle changes.”

    And the best news is that it’s never too late to start tweaking your habits to be healthier for your brain, even if you’re nearing or past retirement, experts say.

    Read the rest of the story, from our September issue.
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