Category Archives: play

Little Village Magazine Review

Many thanks to Little Village Magazine and to Kent Williams for his kind review of Folk Songs You Never Sang In Grade School.

Some of the best musicians in Iowa City and environs are not chasing a career in music. Keith Reins, for example, is a player and collector of folk songs who also works as a professor of English at Kirkwood Community College. After hours, you’re likely to find him at folk music sessions around Iowa City: at Hilltop Tap, Mickey’s or Uptown Bill’s Coffee House.

Reins is the guitarist at the session who slips jazzy passing chords into traditional Irish and Scottish tunes — verging on folk heresy — but always in ways that deepen and add texture. Reins approaches the depth of virtuosity and artistry of performers as revered as Bert Jansch and Nic Jones. There’s a nonchalance and ease to his playing that comes from countless hours sitting in a circle, playing with others just for the joy of it.

Click to read more…


This is me at my happiest onstage.


Collaboration is where it’s at for me. I write these words as I listen to some tracks from a project in the works with my bandmate Keith Reins and our friend, piper Jon Cooper. The final recording session is scheduled for early next year but I can’t keep to myself how proud and grateful I am to be part of this project and to soon(ish) be able to share it with the world.


To all my friends who are as fascinated by (okay, obsessed with) folk music as I am: go read Keith’s essays about this project. They are insightful, hilarious, and thought provoking.

Special thanks to Ginger Joslin VeDepo for taking these photos at the 2015 St. Louis Tionol.


Date Night

Most of the time that we have a babysitter booked, we’re working. It might look like a night out on the town but it’s really a night out for everyone else. We’re on the job playing music. I mean, it’s really fun, sure. And yes, Joe and I are in the same band so we have the illusion that we go out a lot but really we don’t. Almost ever.

Paying for a babysitter is not cheap and I don’t begrudge that. What could be more important that the safety and happiness of your kid? The problem is that by the time you’ve set that money aside, there’s not much left.

Enter our new favorite place, Filmscene:


We’re members because we can’t think of a better fit for Iowa City than

“…a nonprofit organization dedicated to enriching the cultural vitality of the Iowa City area through film that challenges, inspires, educates and entertains.”

With the initial (extremely reasonable) membership fee out of the way at the beginning of the year when we’re determining our charitable contributions, going to a movie is just $10 for the two of us. If we really want to splash out, we can get a beer and a burrito or some popcorn that is nicely discounted by virtue of our membership.

Date night, we thought we’d killed you. You’re aliiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiive!!


Here’s hoping that 2014 proceeds as it began

Here’s to a year of slow going, of taking time to putter, taking time to breathe, of “walking up the mountain rather than running up the hill” –Debbie Rosas

Here's hoping that 2014 proceeds as it began

Atticus and I up at the cabin before the polar vortex shoved us inside

Cabin 2014 048

Nothing entrances like flame


After only 11 short years and multiple rejections, Sam has found a dog bed which he will deign to sleep upon


A robot costume made of the insert of the rice cooker and a cardboard box elicits more joy than the closet full of costumes can provide


Dinosaurs need their tea time too, you know.


3rd Annual Irish Christmas Ceili

3rd Annual Irish Christmas Ceili

Friends and family, I am asking a favor. This event means a lot to me, my music students, my son, and his dance school. Please consider attending, bringing your family, and telling everyone you know about it. You most definitely will not regret it.

I’m attaching a note from Tréa Champagne, Director/Instructor at Champagne Academy of Irish Dance, about ways that you can help support this wonderful community event.

Dear Friends of the Irish Arts,

Our 3rd annual Irish Christmas Céilí is coming up on Friday, December 13th, 2013 (6:30 – 9:30pm) at Old Brick in Iowa City, Iowa. We’re excited about promoting a local céilí (pronounced “kay-lee”); which is a relaxed gathering involving traditional Irish folk music and social dancing. More information about our céilí can be found on the below website.

In addition to a performance by some of the Champagne Academy of Irish Dance students, we will have a silent auction that spotlights many local artists and businesses. This special holiday event is open to the public and is the school’s only fundraiser of the year. The money raised will be used to cover the cost of the event itself (hall, band, callers, travel expenses, performance, beverages, supplies, etc..) as well as supporting both the Champagne Academy of Irish Dance and Old Brick of Iowa City.

You may not realize it, but you are a vital part of keeping the Irish arts alive in Iowa. Please consider showing your support by contributing using one of the options listed below. Please feel free to share this information to those you think would be interested in our céilí!

Thank you for your consideration, and we hope to see you at the céilí!

Tréa Champagne
Champagne Academy of Irish Dance

Will you help support the Irish arts in Iowa? Please consider one of the following options:

1. EVENT AUCTION ITEMS (due by 12/10/2013)
We are looking for items to be made available for bids during a silent auction at our 2013 holiday event. Want to provide an item, but aren’t sure what? Acceptable items from past auctions: jewelry, gift certificates, small home furnishings, children’s toys, and assorted craft items. Items that make good Christmas gifts are always popular! Please submit an auction form with every item (or smaller items packaged together as one). For more details, and to locate the auction item web form, please visit

2. EVENT SPONSORS (due by 12/10/2013)
We are seeking sponsors for our 2013 holiday event. In return for your generosity, assuming we attain enough sponsors, we will be printing shirts for the event, and will place your name (or business logo) on the back. For further information, please visit (

If you are interested in helping out in other ways with this year’s event, please let us know… new people bring new ideas. If you have any questions, please email

Arts Fest

We had a fabulous time at Arts Fest. We play festivals out of town so often in the summer. This was our first year on the main stage in our hometown.

The next three photos are by my handsome brother-in-wish Troy Shehan.

By Troy Shehan

By Troy Shehan

We were thrilled to partner with the Champagne Academy of Irish Dance at the Ireland tent on Sunday providing live music for the fantastic dancers, one of whom provided some music of her own!

By Troy Shehan

One of my good friends was onstage with her band right before us on Saturday. She made an awesome tic-tac-toe board out of sticks and rocks to occupy my children who were trying to concuss and electrocute themselves backstage.

Iowa City Arts Fest 2013

Atticus was very proud to be dancing at Arts Fest. Photo by Kelly Walsh.

By Kelly Walsh

Liam also had a very important job, taking photos of all the fun at the Ireland tent.

Iowa City Arts Fest 2013

Iowa City Arts Fest 2013

Iowa City Arts Fest 2013

Iowa City Arts Fest 2013

Iowa City Arts Fest 2013

Iowa City Arts Fest 2013

Iowa City Arts Fest 2013

We were very lucky to have grandparents visiting for the weekend helping out with the kids. It takes a village to raise an Irish band.

Iowa City Arts Fest 2013

My favorite photo of the weekend, our little dancer with his great-grandmother.

Iowa City Arts Fest 2013

It’s impossible not to love a town that sponsors such an amazing event every summer.

Next up, we’re looking forward to playing at the Reunion Vineyard in Mount Pleasant on July 14 and at the Iowa City Farmer’s Market on August 31.

Also on the books, my friend Jeffrey C. Capps and I will be playing at Mendoza Wine Bar on August 24.

How’s that for a summer of fun? Come say hi!

St. Louis

We had the best time in St. Louis last weekend for the Tionól. The happy fun times began at Schlafly’s Tap Room.

The sessions on Friday night are always so crowded and I’m claustrophobic so our favorite thing to do is to hunker down sans instruments and listen to the incredibly fantastic ceili band.






then to the workshops!


John Carty taught us a fling, a reel, a jig, and a slide. It was such a gift to be in his presence for a day.


He’s a master teacher as well as musician. Even the skeleton was rapt with admiration.



The boys had a wonderful day with Grandma and Grandpa while we were at class so the next day belonged to them. To the Magic House!

Magic House

Magic House

Magic House

Magic House

Atticus almost fell over when he discovered the Magic School Bus exhibit, complete with weather forecasting station.

Magic House

Liam’s perennial favorite is the rubber fish in the Lewis and Clark exhibit. Here is a boy who is thrilled to be reunited with his fish.

Magic House

Magic House

A little something for everyone! It was awesome. Even our sweet doggy had a special treat, a relaxing weekend at home with some of his favorite people.

We look forward to this weekend so much every year and we’re so lucky to have the chance to attend. Major props to Mike Mullins and his family as well as everyone at Focal Point who makes this possible!