There is good news for people who love live music but don’t like – or are too young for – the bar scene. Great music is happening all over Cedar Rapids, not just in bars and clubs. Many of the city’s markets, coffeehouses, restaurants, and other public gathering spaces offer music to the public on a regular basis. This week, we’re taking a look at four area venues where music lovers of all ages can enjoy live musical entertainment.
Since its grand opening in October, Cedar Rapids’ public marketplace has been the place to go for local food and unique shopping experiences. Now it’s becoming a destination for live music, too. Every Thursday night is Music at the Market, featuring a variety of local performers, from 4 to 8 p.m.
Music at the Market attracts people of all different ages and walks of life, says Lucas Hayes, NewBo City Market’s director of guest services. Customers often get dinner from one of the market’s food vendors, then sit and enjoy the music while they eat. It’s not uncommon for people to get up and dance. Hayes likes to see that.
“We’re tying music into the market to create that fun, fresh atmosphere,” he says. “We want you to experience something different every time you come to the market, and that includes the music.”
The market also offers live music on many Saturday evenings from 4 to 8 p.m. and Sunday afternoons from 2 to 6 p.m.
Warmer weather will bring additional opportunities for music lovers, Hayes says. A raised grassy area in front of the market will serve as an outdoor stage in the summer, and a small green space will provide people a place to relax and enjoy the music.
- TODAY: Mike Maas Trio
- SUNDAY: Jordan Bergren
- FEB. 9: Mississippi String Band
- More info: 1100 Third St. SE, Cedar Rapids, NewBoCityMarket.com
With a whole musical genre based on coffeehouse performances, one would expect to find great music at a coffee shop. Cedar Rapids’ Java Creek Café is no exception. The northeast side coffeehouse offers live music most Thursday, Friday and Saturdays at 7 p.m.
True to the coffeehouse genre, Java Creek features a mix of mostly local musicians playing songs with a light, easy vibe that don’t interfere with conversation. On any given music night, the audience may include families eating dinner, students doing homework or even a foursome playing cards, says Java Creek co-owner Lee Ulrich. And a lot of people are there simply to hear a favorite musician perform.
“It’s a great environment for music,” Ulrich says. “You can bring your child, you can have something to eat, you can have a cup of coffee or a glass of wine or beer, and you can enjoy live music in an intimate setting. That’s what I love about it and that’s what we’re all about.”
- FRIDAY: Nick Stika
- SATURDAY: Anji Kat
- FEB. 7: Gayla Drake
- More info: 588 Boyson Rd. NE, Cedar Rapids, Javacreekcafe.com
Is a public library really a destination for music lovers? Yes, says Amber Mussman, public information officer for the Cedar Rapids Public Library. Not only does the library maintain a collection of popular and classical music recordings for patrons’ use, it often hosts free live music performances for adults and children.
Those wanting to instill a love of music in their young children should check out the library’s Pied Piper series of concerts. The library partners with the Orchestra Iowa School to provide 30-minute concerts for preschool-age children to teach kids about different musical instruments. This month’s program features a string quartet. Preregistration is encouraged.
Other upcoming music events include “Frankenboy,” an original children’s opera presented by the Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre. The opera, which is targeted to children in third through sixth grades, has themes of anti-bullying and diversity. In February, adults can enjoy a performance by the Red Cedar Chamber Orchestra. All events will be held at the library’s west side branch.
Mussman says the opening of the library’s new main branch later this year will mean even more opportunities for live music. Plans for the new library include an annual jazz event, an expanded children’s program and music in open spaces.
“We’re very excited about having more performance space,” she says.
- FEB. 13, noon: Red Cedar Chamber Orchestra
- MARCH 13 to 15, various times: Pied Piper Concerts
- More info: 2600 Edgewood Rd. SW, Cedar Rapids (through Feb. 18), 3750 Williams Blvd. SW, Cedar Rapids (as of Feb. 23), Crlibrary.org
Open Mic at Groundswell is one of the best opportunities to hear the area’s up-and-coming musicians. OMG, as it is known, takes place at 7 p.m. on the last Friday of every month at this community gathering space and youth arts venue operated by Matthew 25 Ministry Hub, a northwest side neighborhood non-profit organization.
OMG features young solo artists and bands that sign up in advance to perform 20-minute sets. While rock and indie rock acts tend to predominate, on any given night the performances may include anything from a church praise band to a one-man band to even a poetry reading or short film screening. The monthly event has become so popular there is now a waiting list to perform, says Courtney Ball, co-executive director of Matthew 25.
“It’s a good place to hear young, local talent,” Ball says. “We have an untapped group of young performers you can’t hear elsewhere in Cedar Rapids.”
Ball says OMG is a fun and safe place for teens and young adults who are looking for something to do on a Friday night. Admission is free. Pizza, snacks and non-alcoholic beverages are available for purchase.