Sounds of the worked and tired, blue collar and swollen hands over broken homes and poverty.  American music reminiscent of the 1970’s country and blues bands with stories from the hard life sewn into the smooth and sometimes chaotic melodies. A raw, lamenting howl driven by thunderous drums marching to the upright bass and soothed again by the moans and cries of a pedal steel.  We like to call it Midwest Junk Soul.    

Formed in January of 2016 Matthew James & The Rust Belt Union released a live recording shortly after in mid-April by the name of “Live From the Loft” and has kept a steady working calendar between their state of conception Iowa and Matthew James’ motherland Michigan.

“Let me tell you, I’m enjoying this disc. Raucously tender, these folks have got a leader who’s coarseness unsuccessfully attempts to hide a delicacy that inevitably finds the light when this tightly loose-seeming ensemble rests during balladic valleys and successfully fights into full voice when the group rambles into bursting revelry. Embellished everywhere with little flourishes that evidence the fact that this band knows how to listen as much as it sings, its sophistication is unassuming and its musicianship skillfully casual.”  — Aaron McNally of The North American Review


See Matthew James & the Rust Belt Union at Little BIG Fest on Saturday, November 5 at Wooly’s (504 East Locust) at 4:15pm

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To learn more about Matthew James & the Rust Belt Union check out their Facebook page


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Little BIG Fest is an annual festival, featuring roots, country, singer-songwriter, bluegrass, jam, world, blues, jazz, and soul music. The festival traditionally takes place in November with the location changing from year to year. As with all DMMC events, local bands are heavily featured, though bands from around the U.S. also perform at the event. See the full line-up and details here.

Established in fall 2006, LBF has featured over a dozen bands each year, including Trampled by Turtles, Pieta Brown, The Soul Rebels, William Elliott Whitmore, Charlie Parr, and John Fullbright.

LBF is organized by the nonprofit the Greater Des Moines Music Coalition (DMMC). Little BIG Fest 2016 is made possible with the support of Traveler Beer CompanyTallgrass Brewing CompanyGreater Des Moines PartnershipBravo Greater Des MoinesHy-VeeSaturday Mfg.VolunteerLocalWooly’sLefty’s Live MusicIowa Public Radio, and KFMG 98.9 FM.

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