Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Briar Patch to Come Back to Life this Weekend

One of Iowa's most beloved music destinations will bring it's stage to life again this weekend after taking a 24 month hiatus. The Briar Patch in Bevington, Iowa will host the two day event this Friday and Saturday. It will have a home-grown feel to it as it will showcase some of the brightest musical talent from around the state. Further enhancing is the fact that once again music lovers will have a magical place to gather and share the vibe, away from the steel wheels of the city.

The Hill Benders play at the Briar Patch Bluegrass Festival in 2010
(Photo by the Bigfoot Diaries)

For ten strong years the Briar Patch provided an intimate setting for central Iowa music lovers. Located directly on the border of Warren and Madison counties in Bevington, the Patch sits in an unlikely spot for a venue built and based upon traditional music values.

Up until the mid '80s it wasn't unusual for a concert venue to hold two or three nights of music in a row, while allowing camping on it's premises. People were prone to travel from city to city to follow such bands as the Grateful Dead, Ozric Tentacles, and Moe. Venues would set up to accommodate these die-hards, and massive parking lots were quickly converted into small camp villages.

Bonaroo, Summer Camp, and Coachella are a few that still hold events based off these old traditions. While the Briar Patch provides music on a much smaller scale, it still embeds the philosophy imagined by these larger stages... Come in, set up a campsite, have a good time, and most of all, enjoy the music.

Dead Larry on a luminated stage at the Patch in 2010
(Photo by Shelly Adelmund, click to enlarge)

"I'm looking forward to playing Briar Patch again," said Rich Cantrell, keyboardist for Cirrus Minor, who will be headlining Saturday night's show. "Some of the bands in the line up are guys we have played with before, but its been a while, so it will be cool to hang and share the stage again. The people that come out are great, passionate and supportive music lovers which makes for a great night of jammin'. Can't wait!"

The complete lineup is as follows:


Dave Zollo and the Body Electric  (11 PM - 2 AM)
The Highroller Express  (9 PM - 10:30 PM)
The Dark Royals  (7 PM - 8:30 PM)


Cirrus Minor  (11 PM - 2 AM)
Aquamarine Dream Machine  (9 PM - 10:30 PM)
Mighty Shady  (7 PM - 8:30 PM)
Public Property (4:30 PM - 6 PM)

The High Crest will play between sets on Saturday.

For Kat Darling and the High Crest, this will be the first time for them to play the Patch.

"It was great to be asked," she notes. "It is one of the coolest outdoor music festivals we have locally, and it's shaping up to be a big one. It takes a lot of commitment by the organizer, the bands and the fans to make this happen."

She is correct. If you are one of the thousands who have experienced the enchantment that this place offers, then you have seen first hand the hard work that owner Bob Rice puts into each of his shows. The Patch is a beautiful and rare place where live music meets the forested skyline and strangers don't exist. It's about as real a concert experience that one can have at a small music venue in and around the Des Moines area.

Justin Kurtz of Aquamarine Dream Machine at the Briar Patch in 2010
(Photo by Sarah Cartwright, used with permission)

On August 7th Bob celebrated his 10th year as the proprietor of the Briar Patch. It was a huge event, with the biggest local bands on the roster: Mooseknuckle, Mr. Baber's Neighbors: The Solar String Band, Floodplane, Truth B Told and Thankful Dirt as the headliner.

Apparently the night before, a couple of self-serving knuckle draggers sold some dope to some informants who were sent undercover from the local drug task force. Deeming Bob responsible, they swarmed in the next morning and raided his quiet little cabin in the woods. He figured he had nothing to fear, he didn't have any drugs on him, and he certainly wasn't responsible for the bad choices of others...

Boy, he was wrong.

Inside a purse of a female overnight guest, the police found a small amount of marijuana. She didn't claim responsibility for it, and for the cops that was enough evidence to take Bob to jail. The bail was set ridiculously high, in an obvious attempt by the Madison County authorities to keep Bob held without a chance of release. He was given a drug test, which he passed. He had no trace of any illegal substances in his body, and yet the prosecutor was determined to make Bob the example that Madison County is tough on drugs. He sat in jail for several months.

To make a long story short, Bob eventually got out of jail, paid his fines and is now working on a clean slate. Rather than rehash the events that led to the Patch's demise during the summer of 2010, Bob would instead like to push forward and work at rebuilding the traditions that were unexpectedly put on hold. He is re-energized and excited that once again, he is able to live his dream.

Gates open at 6:00 PM on Friday. The cost is $20 per person per day includes which includes camping. You can get a 2-day pass for $30. A wristband will be given at entry, and based on it's color you will be permitted to one or both nights of music. Leaving and coming back is permissible, assuming that the two-night wristband is always intact.

The rules are the same as they have been since day one.

You must be 18 to attend and 21 to drink alcohol. Everybody is expected to behave within the law and those who do not will be asked to leave. This is a BYOB event with no glass bottles allowed. Fires will be permitted assuming there isn't a burn ban in effect. A professional security staff will be in place to monitor the event.

"Basically we expect people to use their best judgement," said Bob. "That's not to say that people can't have fun. The security and expectations will be no different here than they are at any of the other music venues in town."

Having fun is the easy part. The Briar Patch has so much tradition and lore to build from that it's likely to forget that the layoff of 2011 ever happened. And now is a great time to start.

...Show me something built to last or something built to try. -Grateful Dead

Pertinent link:

Briar Patch on Facebook

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