Iowa City, Goose Town’s home away from home

Ever-changing jazz group Goose Town may hail from Cedar Falls, but has recently acquired several Iowa City members.


The Daily Iowan; Photos by Matth

A member of Goosetown performs during the 30th Anniversary Party of the Yacht Club Iowa City on Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018. Five artists performed including Soul Sherpa, Glass Femur, Goosetown, 6 Odd Rats, and Aaron Kamm and the One Drops. (Matthew Finley/The Daily Iowan)

Troy Aldrich, Arts Reporter

Cedar Falls is home for the fusion jazz band Goose Town, but as the band members take on personal projects, home becomes the stage alone.

The band was created by Emily Snyder, who was a part of the UNI music program when she met the group’s original members.

“They were all in the Jazz Band, I was just playing French horn in the Concert Band,” Snyder said. “I dropped out of that to do this.”

Following their time in college, many of the band’s members went on to pursue new musical and professional interest outside of Iowa, including Snyder, who now lives in St. Paul, Minnesota. This geographical separation led to the addition of new members and increased efficiency when booking gigs.

“We only play the big gigs now,” said Blake Shaw, the band’s bassist. “We can play gigs now that last more than 45 minutes and pay better.”

Along with Shaw on the bass, Iowa City musicians Dan Padley and Christopher Jensen joined the band for its performance at Big Grove Brewery on Sept. 7.

“At this point, most of the members are located here in Iowa City,” Padley said.

Shaw has been with the band the longest of these three, and all are graduates of the University of Iowa’s School of Music.

The new additions and substitutions prove to be a seamless transition, as the band records its arrangements on sheet music, allowing substitutes to join with little rehearsal. This also gives Goose Town access to a lot of music, because the members arrange their own tunes.

“We’re kind of all over the place with the music,” Shaw said. “We only like to play music that we really like.”

The band is known for covering a large range of tunes from Michael Jackson, Queen, Stevie Wonder, and more recent pop tunes.

The Sept. 7 show was not Goose Town’s first trip to Big Grove. Brian Johannesen, Big Grove’s musical-event organizer, recalls the band’s performance following the 2017 Iowa/Ohio State football game.

“They played a version of ‘We are the champions’ that people really enjoyed,” Johannesen said.

The show space at Big Grove poses a lot of challenges and advantages for live bands. However, Goose Town’s powerful sound remains popular with the Big Grove audience.

“It’s fun to have bands like Goose Town,” Johannesen said. “They’re accessible but not something people would normally hear.”

The band’s performance was part of a series of shows at Big Grove, “Live at the Grove,” in which admission is free on Fridays.

As October approaches, Goose Town prepares itself for the road, playing a string of shows across Iowa. The band’s theme for this year is HalloWomen, and the set will focus on the band’s favorite leading women from Beyoncé to Margaret Glaspy.

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