Coppers & Brass with Champagne Academy of Irish Dance performing the music of David Hicks

Coppers & Brass is honored to be performing the original music of our friend David Hicks from his wonderful collection The Storms of May in gratitude for his life and legacy.

We will be playing Dave’s music to accompany my McGovern Music Studio’s sister school, the Champagne Academy of Irish Dance, at the Iowa Dance Festival at The Englert Theatre this Saturday night October 19 at 7 pm.

David Hicks (1953-2016)
The Storms of May, available online
Tréa Champagne, director of Champagne Academy of Irish Dance

This just in: music and sleep need not be mutually exclusive!

Between my Irish trad band Coppers & Brass and my folk-rock duo with Jeffrey C. Capps The Soft and Low, I have an October filled with performances that one could attend and still get home in plenty of time to watch at least half a season of something (might I suggest Derry Girls?)

October 13 (Sunday) Kalona Brewing Company with The Soft and Low6 pm.

October 19 (Saturday) Iowa Dance Festival at the Englert with Coppers & Brass, accompanying Champagne Academy of Irish Dance7 pm.
This is a really special event for us. Not only are we accompanying our very favorite dancers, we will be playing the music of our friend David Hicks who died in 2016.

October 26 (Saturday) Haunted Irish Music with Coppers & Brass at Sanctuary Pub5 pm. 

October 27 (Sunday) Haunted Irish Music at Kalona Brewing Company with Coppers & Brass6 pm.

ArtFarm19, a festival of creativity hosted at Scattergood from July 4 – August 3

Flyer FINAL 1up-page-001.jpg

I’m thrilled to share this information from my friends at ArtFarm19! I will be there with bells on. Bells and heaven knows what else. Anything is possible.

Dear creative friends and collaborators,

I wanted to let you know about ArtFarm19, a festival of creativity happening near Iowa City this July. ArtFarm19 brings together artists, educators, entrepreneurs, healers, and movement builders, to share creative practices, find renewal and restoration on Scattergood’s rural campus, and participate in the launch of new regional arts programming. The mission of ArtFarm19 is to connect people across differences and harness the power of the arts to build a more JEDI (just, equitable, diverse, and inclusive) world.

Throughout the month, ArtFarm19 will gather together creative folks to participate in a variety of creative activities. Check out the opportunities below and RSVP for one or all of them:

  • July 4 (RSVP here)– opening potluck to greet the Swarm Artist Residency hive queens who will be curating 75 artists in residence this summer at Scattergood.

  • July 9 (RSVP) – Art Bazaar to meet the Swarm artists in residence.

  • July 14 (RSVP) – join The Great Parade in the Muscatine County Fair Parade in West Liberty – we will give you costumes, musical instruments, and puppets to play with as we make a spectacle and recruit more people to the creative force

  • July 15-17 – join us as we Build-a-Show in three days. The first day will be for designers who want to get inside the making of the show. The second day will be for people who want to be in the show. The third day will be for people who want to see the show we made. RSVP to join us for Day One-Designers, Day Two-Performers, or Day Three-Final Performance!

Attached is a flyer you can share with your networks. Please follow our social media platforms (linked below!) to keep up on all the events as they unfold. You can also fill out our contact form to be added into our events email.






I have very good days and very hard days. Just like you. On the very hard days, I try a number of things to get back in tune. Different things work on different days. Social media never works. Dogs are a pretty reliable win. Poetry has never let me down.

Naomi Shihab Nye wrote this in one of my favorites of her poems: “I want to be famous in the same way a pulley is famous, or a buttonhole, not because it did anything spectacular but because it never forgot what it could do.”

This is me being the very best buttonhole I can be:

I remember this day. It was a terribly sad day for me because it was the last performance of a band I had played with for almost fifteen years.

Here I am happy though because I am useful. I love these three dancers and their joy gives me joy. Dance needs music and music needs dance.

Thank you, Tréa Champagne and the Champagne Academy of Irish Dance for being my buttons.

The international Irish dance community has suffered a tremendous loss in the death of beloved young dance champion Ian Luebbers.

Today is an important day to reflect on the truth that we all belong to each other and what’s most important is how we can love each other best in this world.

Without my buttons, I’m just a hole.

The Front Porch Music Festival is this Saturday, June 8!


The Front Porch Music Festival is coming up again this Saturday, June 8 in the Longfellow neighborhood in Iowa City!

Free? √
Accessible? √
Inclusive? √
Family-friendly? √
Dog-friendly? √
FUN?! √ √ √

This year, I am delighted to be joined by several of my fiddle students. We will play from 4-5 pm on the Front Porch at 611 Oakland but there will be all kinds of music from 2 to 5:30 pm.

Hot Tamale Louie at Coe College 3/23


John Rapson is that rare professor whose teaching leaves such an imprint on your mind and heart that you remain indebted forever. For this reason, I agreed to be part of this project well before I fully understood what it was.

Then I read Kathryn Schulz’s June 2016 New Yorker article that inspired John and Nielo Gaglione‘s creation of this multimedia piece now known as Hot Tamale Louie and it was these words that cemented my devotion:

“The history of immigrants is, to a huge extent, the history of this nation, though so is the pernicious practice of determining that some among us do not deserve full humanity, and full citizenship. Zarif Khan was deemed insufficiently American on the basis of skin color; ninety years later, when the presence of Muslims among us had come to seem like a crisis, his descendants were deemed insufficiently American on the basis of faith.

Over and over, we forget what being American means. The radical premise of our nation is that one people can be made from many, yet in each new generation we find reasons to limit who those “many” can be—to wall off access to America, literally or figuratively. That impulse usually finds its roots in claims about who we used to be, but nativist nostalgia is a fantasy. We have always been a pluralist nation, with a past far richer and stranger than we choose to recall.”

We leave in just under three weeks to bring this story back to Wyoming where it originated and we invite our community to send us off with your love and support by joining us for a free performance at Coe College on Saturday, March 23 at 7:30 pm.

Thank you and please spread the word!