Diverse styles joined together in Maximum Ames’ Iowa Women of Rock Showcase.
Four young music artists of various origins came to the Ames Public Library on Sunday for the opportunity to share their creative sounds with the visitors of the Maximum Ames Music Festival. Using a “round robin” set up, each woman captivated the audience one song at a time. Each piece brought new elements to the performance, creating a wondrously diverse showcase.
“I think it’s neat to show off how eclectic of songwriters we have in the state of Iowa,” said Bryon Dudley, Maximum Ames and Iowa Women of Rock showcase organizer. The ranging sounds and styles of each of the performers was intentional, explained Dudley. “It has been one of my favorite shows every single year. We’re just continuing the tradition really.”
Teri Underhill began with soulful and reggae inspired ballads about personal experiences.
“I’m part Hawaiian so I play the ukulele, because that’s what my family does,” Underhill said. “Everything I write is based on real stories.”
Evelyn Davis’ creative approach was atmospheric and experimental, with deeply intense and dark tones.
Levitation contrasted with light and melodious sounds. Her voice seemed to embody the ukulele she played with the softer flowing tones she held.
Lizzy Poppyseed brought a rebellious-and-blues-centered atmosphere with empowering vocals.
Underhill, along with Davis, immediately dove into the topic of tricky relationships, Davis noting that her song was basically about “someone who won’t let go, and sucks.” Both of the songs had powerful lyrics, with Underhill’s being backed up by the ukulele and Davis’s accompanied by a keyboard.
Levitation turned the topic of the music in a different direction with her song “Regardless,” which brought on a more light and hopeful tone to the relationship theme. Poppyseed then performed her deep and reflective first piece, the lyrics seeming to ask the audience “what now?” With only the first round of songs, the songwriting felt synergetic.
“It feels like a conversation between the songwriters,” said Dudley on the themes each performer touched on. “They’re not really talking to each other — the songs end up having a conversation on their own.”
“The Finale” is the original song that Underhill began with for the final round of songs. Just before beginning the piece, she briefly mentioned to the crowd that she had been saving the song for last because she seemed to always make a mistake in that song. The crowd, as well as the other three artists, were perfectly accepting of flaws.
“I loved how it was very raw, with imperfections in it,” Levitation said. “People messed up, I messed up, I messed up my lyrics, but that was the cool part about it. It was very raw and real and I liked that.”
For some people, a library was an interesting venue to showcase such an expressive and intense music genres like rock.
“It’s the only time you can be loud in a library,” Underhill said.
The venue also gave some artists an opportunity to experience a new way of performing.
“I usually play with a full band so it’s fun to kind of break everything down and do quiet, little ballady versions of songs,” said Poppyseed.
Dudley described the show as an emotional rollercoaster. “It blew me away. This was one of my favorite Maximum Ames shows ever,” said Dudley. “I like how different everything was — but how it all blended together, I’m still sort of processing it.”