Homemade James With River Glen Breitbach

River Glen Breitbach will present “We Are Here,” a free all-Iowa concert that will be livestreamed this month from xBk Live in Des Moines. Photo: River Glen Breitbach

Writer: Jeff Morgan
Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs

Talk with Iowa musician River Glen Breitbach about his next project, and you can imagine him shouting, “Ollie, ollie, in come free!”

Frustrated by the “hide-and-seek” nature of entertainment options imposed by the pandemic, the Iowa Artist Fellow is calling out musicians and fans for “We Are Here,” a free concert livestreamed this month from xBk, a live music venue in Des Moines.

It’s “a celebration of Iowa music from across the state,” he says, “an acknowledgment that artists are responding to a new avenue of artistry, and a message that live online performances are here to stay.”

While musicians have adapted to online outlets, the digital experience has left a void for performers and audiences.

“There was something missing that the virtual world just couldn’t create, and that was a connection to community,” says Lindsay Keast of the Iowa Arts Council. “The side conversations and chance encounters, the energy, the sense that you belong to something greater just wasn’t there like it is in person.”

Breitbach, who grew up in Dubuque, hopes “We Are Here” will help bring those experiences to the digital world. The all-Iowa lineup includes Sara Routh, Ade, Diana Weishaar, Lily DeTaeye, Dan Padley Trio, Blake Shaw, the Savage Hearts and Charlotte Blu, and will conclude with Breitbach’s music video “As Above, So Below,” the title track from his upcoming album, which features 150 Iowa musicians, including Bo Ramsey, Bob Dorr and Dave Zollo.

As Breitbach puts it, “The album and the program are going to be the most ‘Iowa’ musical events ever.”

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