Ames boasts variety of musical talent

Bill Cleary

As a college town, Ames draws a huge number of young people to come study at the university and although the university’s focus is on science and technology, almost every student has at least a passing interest in music.

Some students go further, putting together bands to pass away the hours with their own music. Others take the opposite route, choosing to become music fans, watching the town’s bands play.

Campustown, with its honeycomb maze of bars, offers the most active social scene in the city. Students meet, drink and enjoy shows here. There aren’t bands playing in the area every night, but there are plenty of bands in the Ames area that offer a great variety in music.

Ames bands

At any given point, there are countless bands in Ames. Many of these, however, don’t regularly play shows, or are simply short-lived collaborations among friends. A few acts stand out, showing real potential.

General Sherman

Unlike most Ames bands, General Sherman balances the dual pressures of school and their music.

The pop-rock outfit was formed by guitarist Dana Halferty, sophomore in pre-journalism and mass communication, and vocalist-keyboardist Becca Smith, junior in music, two years ago – while they were still in high school in Ankeny.

The band is filled out by drummer Wayde Stover and his brother Scott on bass, but Halferty and Smith do the principal songwriting, providing the band’s musical direction.

“When we collaborate, our songwriting sounds a lot different,” Smith said, adding that each member still makes up their own part to some degree.

The band has released one EP, “Dare I Say,” and is working on a full-length album with Luke Pettipoole of The Envy Corps.

Poison Control Center

Poison Control Center has a very different attitude. The band has been together and in Ames for more than six years – a stalwart in a town focused on four-year cycles.

They have released several records, with the release of their first full-length album set for this fall. They have been a fixture on Ames radio stations KURE and KCCQ, and play just about every local festival they can find.

The band takes their music seriously, but all the members have to work outside to support it. To Pat Fleming, guitarist and vocalist, this isn’t a problem – it’s part of what music is about.

“Real musicians have day jobs,” he said.

Radio Moscow

Radio Moscow offers a trip 40 years back in time with their dirty blues sound, striking up memories of artists such as Jimi Hendrix and Peter Green.

“That’s the music I find interesting,” said frontman Parker Griggs. “All my gear is from the mid-’60s.”

The lineup is fleshed out by bassist Zach Anderson and drummer Paul Marrone, but Griggs’ excellent guitar work is the focus of Radio Moscow’s sound.

Griggs said he’s enjoyed bringing a bit of the blues to Ames.

“This is just the music that’s coming out of my head,” he said. “I think that’s what we should be doing.”

Radio Moscow is preparing to release their second album.

“I’m looking to improvise and experiment more in the future,” Griggs said.

Jade Lea

Jade Lea is a project started by Keith Rollins, junior in art and design. The sound is based around acoustic guitar, and Rollins said Dave Matthews Band is one of his major inspirations.

Rollins treats the band like a solo project – although he has played several live shows with a three-piece band, he also plays a lot of solo shows.

“I can control it a lot easier when it’s just me,” he said.

Rollins has released a four-track EP on his own and said he hopes to continue pursuing music after he graduates.


Kedda is an alternative rock band that demonstrates a variety of sounds. Frontman Chresten Hyde, senior in marketing, said some of their influences include punk and reggae, alongside more traditional rock sounds.

“I think it’s just rock,” Hyde said of the band’s style. “It’s always kind of weird to add a million subtitles.”

After having released an EP, Kedda is working on a full-length album, which they hope to begin recording in late July or in August.

Thoughts of Crossing

Thoughts of Crossing also draws from a variety of inspirations, with a gloomier progressive metal sound.

Drummer Mike Bal, sophomore in pre-advertising, said the biggest influences on the band’s sound were metal acts such as Tool and Incubus and alternative bands such as Chevelle and Breaking Benjamin.

Thoughts of Crossing performs regularly at the Bali Satay House, 2424 Lincoln Way, and is working on an album to be released this fall.

John Almer

John Almer, playing acoustic guitar and backed by Tom Hummer on bass and Mike Bal on drums, has a driving, funky sound, with songs exploring raw, unpolished feelings.

“I want to write that song where people are like, ‘Man, I know what that guy’s feeling,'” Almer said.

Almer’s project is rather informal. His backing bandmates also play in Thoughts of Crossing, and he has no plans to record any material.