DG’s: The hub of Ames’ music scene

For almost 10 years, DG’s Tap House has been a central part of the Ames music scene. 

Jacob Beals

For almost 10 years, DG’s Tap House has welcomed guests and musicians through its doors. Throughout its history, it has gained a reputation of having a positive environment, which has attracted bands from around the country to come and perform at the bar.

Adam Brimeyer is the general manager of DG’s Tap House. Over the years, he has watched the bar grow and develop into what it is today. Brimeyer started working at DG’s as a doorman in 2007, and since then, he has taken on bigger roles at the bar.

In the beginning of the bar’s history, live music was not a primary part of the venue, but DG’s eventually started booking more acts.

“2009 was when we kinda decided to make the jump to taking the live music more seriously, and that’s when I started working with them on a more regular basis,” Brimeyer said.

The business now doubles as a bar and concert venue. DG’s is a hot spot for Ames’ local music scene and artists who tour through town. Ben Foster, local musician and Doctor Murdock band member, said DG’s is vital to Ames music.

“It’s the best place to play at in Ames,” Foster said. “They really care about the bands.”

When looking at DG’s lineup from year to year, several musicians and bands make it a point to stop at the bar every tour cycle. Groups that make it a tradition to play at DG’s come from places as close as Des Moines and Minneapolis to as as far away as Fayetteville, Arkansas, and Las Vegas, Nevada.

Joe Scarpellino is the bass player in the band Dead Larry, which is based out of Minneapolis. Scarpellino said his band comes to Ames at least three times a year, and he described DG’s as warm and inviting.

“They cater to artists so well, they feed us every time,” Scarpellino said. “It’s a lot of Iowa venues, they do a lot of hard work and they are very humble about it.”

The bar strives for hospitality. Brimeyer believes that the happier the artist, the better the show, and he acknowledged the struggles bands can face with touring.

“Sometimes people forget the road is work,” Brimeyer said. “It’s not easy living in a van with four or five other people.”

DG’s employee and local musician Rudy Miller thinks the bar has a good reputation because of the positive environment within it. He said the staff members there open their arms to everyone and they do not tolerate discrimination of any kind. 

“I feel like everyone at DG’s is genuine, whether it be the door guys, or the bar tenders, or even the sound staff,” Miller said. “We always try to make people feel at home and make them feel like rock stars.”

Friendly faces and a welcoming feeling are two things Foster said he regularly sees and experiences when he goes to DG’s as a musician and as a guest.

“Every time I go up there I see friends, and I’ve gotten to know the bartenders pretty well,” Foster said. “Some of them are pretty good friends of mine too. It definitely helps to go up there and see friendly faces.”

The bar isn’t the only thing with a positive reputation in Ames; the crowds are also loved by artists. Scarpellino described the town’s audiences by saying that many of them get into the show and pay close attention to the music.

“We’ve had absolutely insane shows in Ames just because the people want to hear it; they’re ready for it,” Scarpellino said.

Useful Jenkins, another Minnesota-based group, also makes sure to stop in Ames at least a couple times a year. Pat Forsyth, guitar player and singer from the band, said they always see a good-sized and energetic crowd when performing at the bar.

“Their very receptive, Forsyth said. “From song one, there’s people on the dance floor dancing, which makes our jobs a lot easier.”

Musicians agree that the venue’s setting creates an intimate and close environment for performances. Miller said the crowd comes right up to the stage and gets in on the show when he performs with his band, Kickstart the Sun.

“If a band plays with a lot of energy, then the crowd will feed off of that, and it restarts the cycle,” Miller said.

Along with being manager of DG’s, Brimeyer is also the venue’s sound engineer. Miller, Forsyth, Scarpellino and Foster all said his sound work has made playing at DG’s an even bigger pleasure.

“Having a good sound guy is literally the most important thing, at least in my opinion, of having a successful show,” Forsyth said.

Brimeyer has been a help when it comes to giving advice as well. Foster mentioned that Brimeyer has given him tips and constructive criticism over the years that has helped him.

The venue has also given back to artists in a positive way. The bar has let bands like Dead Larry and Doctor Murdock play live when they were starting out. Mark McGuiness, member of Dead Larry, said that DG’s gave them the chance to open shows for bigger acts at the bar, which in turn helped spread the word in the music community about their band.  

McGuiness believes that DG’s is combing a causal feel with a professional one, and he thinks that they are giving back to the overall Midwest music community by bringing acts from around the country into Ames.

“They (DG’s) are always willing to support the local music, but they’re always looking around to bring in bands from around the country and around the Midwest to enrich the music community,” McGuiness said. 

Over the years, DG’s Tap House has become more than just a stop for these bands. To many of them it is a tradition. The musicians who stop in Ames are not the only ones to benefit from DG’s, however. Miller believes the whole community of Ames has something to gain.

“DG’s is always bringing in acts from around the whole entire United States, and that’s why it’s so central,” Miller said. “In a way, it’s kinda putting Ames on the map.”

Overall, Brimeyer hopes that guests at the bar will be able to get away from the world for a while when at a show. He said that there is a certain type of magic that seems to resonate with people when they are having a good time at the venue, and he hopes to continue seeing that in the crowds that come through the door.

“No matter what’s happening around the world and in each person’s life, they can spend a brief moment of just being here and enjoying the music that we’re creating and the environment that we are all creating together,” Brimeyer said.