Johnson was born and raised in Iowa and has lived in Des Moines for 25 years. She graduated from Upper Iowa University, and works as director of group operations at The Principal Financial Group, Inc. She has a wide range of musical tastes, from rock and classical to bluegrass and R & B. Her favorite band is Wilco, and she hopes to have them play at 80/35 during her tenure on the board.
Utley is managing partner of Americana Restaurant & Lounge in Des Moines. He moved to Des Moines in 1998, then left to get a degree in recording engineering in Florida and work in studios in Los Angeles, Ca. before returning to Des Moines in 2003.
Utley spent five years as president of the Court District Association shortly after moving back, focusing on marketing the area and growing the Drake Relays block party. Before becoming part owner and operator of Americana, he worked as the general manager of Court Avenue Brewing Company. He plans to open more bars and restaurants, and enjoys DJ-ing around town. He listens to all genres of music, although his favorite music festival is Sasquatch. He collects vinyls, show posters and guitars, among other things.
* What made you want to work with the DMMC?
Angie: Music is a passion and I’ve been impressed the work of DMMC for many years. Watching the incubation and growth of 80/35 has been impressive. GDP and Little BIG Fest are always highlights. It’s been exciting to witness the educational opportunities they are opening to local musicians as well.
Mike: Music has always been a huge part of my life. I live in Des Moines because it’s a place you can create your own destiny. If you have a passion you can make it happen here. I always say Des Moines is a great home base for musicians or anyone trying to turn a passion or dream into a career. There are so many opportunities here for people willing to put in the work. I hope to help people that are trying to make things happen for themselves through the DMMC.
* What’s great about the music scene in DSM? What needs more work?
Angie: Contrary to what folks seem to believe we get a lot national, regional and local live shows. If you want to hear live music there is always an option. Local bands often get better turnout than national groups and that speaks well for awareness of local talent.
It is disappointing to go hear a national band touring through Des Moines at a venue like Vaudeville Mews and see only a small crowd when you know that the same group sold out a larger venue in a place like Chicago the night before. We have to get folks to take advantage of those opportunities.
Mike: I think the greatest thing about the Des Moines music scene right now is that the market is growing and people are paying attention. Larger artists are starting to realize there is a demographic here that will turn out for shows. I also appreciate our local bands opening for these larger touring acts. It gives our local scene a needed boost. All that being said, I still think people need to be little more adventurous. I think music supporters should go see an artist they have never seen before at least once a month. There are so many good shows here but people don’t know the artist so they don’t go. Then, two years later they love that artist. Des Moines is way more progressive than people give it credit for.
* What are your goals in serving on the board? What events or new developments should people look forward to?
Angie: I hope I can help in a number of ways- education, participation, fundraising and garnering excitement for the great work that DMMC does.
Mike: I am looking forward to working with everyone to help contribute to the great events already happening. I think Little Big Fest, GDP, and 80/35 are all great events and they have great potential to be even better. Personally, I would like to see Little Big Fest transform into an outdoor camping type festival.
* Why should people volunteer with/donate to the DMMC?
Angie: If Des Moines wants to continue to attract people and industry we have to have a thriving cultural scene. Music, and the work of DMMC can be a big part of that.
Mike: People should be excited about the DMMC whether they like music or not. The fact is the DMMC is vital in the development of this city. The DMMC, among other cultural non-profits, is a main reason why Des Moines continues to receive national press and praise. People should volunteer because it gives you a sense of ownership and community, stop talking and start doing. Less talk, more rock.