Linda and I snuck away from the farm for 20 hours this weekend to Iowa City. We had tickets to see Steve Earle and Allison Moorer, a couple of acts I saw at SXSW in Austin, TX last year. Steve is a rare hippie country singer, but his latest CD is more folk with a hint of hip-hop and won the Grammy for best contemporary folk album this year. I got the last two seats in the house about a month ago. The Englert was a nice venue, restored by a big community effort. There is a tuxedoed man to greet you at the door and volunteer ushers wearing black pants and white shirts.
He played a good mix of his old tunes like Copperhead Road and most of his new CD.
Before the show we ate at Devotay – a fine dining restaurant that features hordes of local producers and run by Chef Kurt Friese, who is one of the founders of Edible Iowa River Valley magazine.
Of course, we stopped at Prairie Lights Bookstore as well and did well to keep the bill near 100 bucks. We picked up Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food, a compilation honoring the late Paul Gruchow entitled The Grace of Grass and Water, The Flower Farmer, by Lynn Byczynski, which updates the Organic Flower Farmer which is the single most valuable how-two farming-related book we own. We also picked up the latest Wapsipinicon Almanac, a seasonal magazine still using the traditional Linotype press and good writing published in Anamosa, Iowa, and Red Bird, the latest book of poetry by Mary Oliver. We couldn’t wait to read her latest, so after the show, we took turns deliciously reading alternate poems until we finished the book.