Live Music – FREE – Outdoor Concert – James Kennedy and Friends

photo of the musicians in James Kennedy & Friends
James Kennedy & Friends

THE DATE HAS CHANGED to Saturday, June 23rd from 1:00 – 3:00 pm, come and enjoy the outdoors with some live music from local favorites James Kennedy and Friends!

This is an instrumental group based in the Midwest. Fronted by versatile guitarist James Kennedy, they play a mix of classic hits, jazz/blues, Latin and original songs – using their instruments and years of training to bring the music to life.

The eclectic sounds of James on guitars, Catherine Lawson on the 5 string electric/acoustic violin, Matt Alles on electric bass and Eric Madison on percussion/drums creates an uncommon blend of tunes both familiar and unique at the same time.

Bring a lawn chair, a cool drink and some snacks, kick back and sit for a spell with us.

This event is sponsored in partnership by the MVAAC and Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation.

Mount Vernon Area Arts Council Logo

Auditions for Julius Caesar – the Mississippi Delta version – @7pm, May 20th and 21st

What do voodooism, prohibition, boxing, and plenty of blues music have in common? Come on down to Mount Vernon and find out with this summer’s production of Julius Caesar. Set in the Mississippi Delta in the summer of 1931, this new take on an old classic blends Marie Laveau’s Voodoo Queen’s spiritualism with the Chicago Mob’s mentality to create a production unlike any you’ve seen before.

William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar tells the tale of power and corruption at the hands of supposed leaders. As Julius Caesar prepares to take the throne, a group of conspirators plot to overthrow this potential dictator in order to preserve the Republic. As the show progresses the limits of power, the strength of brotherhood, and the quest for vengeance are all tested.

Show dates will (tentatively) be July 19-22 and July 26 – 29

Character Breakdown

Marcus Brutus – A soldier and statesman of Rome. Brutus is widely regarded as a man of honesty and virtue. He is the smartest man in the room and chooses what he feels is best for the citizens of Rome over his own love of Caesar.
Age: 17 – 30
Gender: Male

Cassius – A passionate learned leader. She is the leader of the rebellion against Caesar. She works to convince Brutus to act against Caesar and for Rome. She has a deep love and affection of Brutus
Age: 17 – 30
Gender: Female

Mark Antony – A politician and playboy, Antony understands the power of words and wields them with the same accuracy as a sword. Antony is acts as the right hand of Caesar with fast sweeping vengeance.
Age: 20s – Early 30s
Gender: All

Julius Caesar – An ambition driven leader who seeks death over cowardice. He is driven by ego, grandeur, and arrogance.
Age: 30 – 60
Gender: Male

Casca – A member of the inner circle of Conspirators. An outspoken and sometimes sour man.
Age: All
Gender: All

Cinna – A member of the inner circle of Conspirators. Doubles as the Military leader Titinius. Smart and devilish.
Age: All
Gender: All

Calpurnia – Wife of Caesar; a woman consumed by amulets and potions. Extremely superstitious.
Age: Same age as Caesar
Gender: Female

Portia – The honorable wife of Brutus. She capable of toughness and courage. Movement and vocal Experience Needed.
Age: 17 – 30
Gender: Female

Soothsayer – A voodoo witch in the style of Marie Laveau or Papa Midnight. Movement experience and vocal experience needed. Dance experience welcomed.
Age: All
Gender: All

Lucius – Brutus’ loyal servant. Must be able to sing and possibly play a stringed instrument
Age: High School
Gender: All

Ensemble – Conspirators, Tribunes, Citizens, Senators, Singers, Dancers
Age: All
Gender: All

All actors other than Brutus, Cassius, Mark Antony, and Julius Caesar will play multiple roles.

Hometown Teams – More Than Just a Game: African American Athletes in Iowa

The African American Museum of Iowa will be presenting “More Than Just a Game: African American Athletes in Iowa” Saturday, March 24th at 10:30 – 11:30 am in the Uptown Theatre as a part of a series of Hometown Teams events.

The Smithsonian’s Museum on Main Street traveling exhibit “Hometown Teams: How Sports Shape America” will be in Mount Vernon, Iowa from March 18 to April 28, 2018.  It is one of ten related events that is scheduled while the exhibit is in Mount Vernon.

From the African American Museum of Iowa:

Since the late nineteenth century, African Americans have participated in a variety of sports and contributed in profound ways to Iowa’s sporting culture. African Americans experienced severe discrimination in sports as in other activities, but fought long and hard to overcome racism. In Iowa, they frequently used achievement in sports as a way to come together as a community. These countless narratives both on and off the court, field, and ring, remind us of the broader struggle for civil rights in America.

This presentation coincides with the Smithsonian’s Museum on Main Street “Hometown Teams: How Sports Shape America” exhibit, on view at the First Street Community Center March 18 to April 29, 2018. “How Sports Shaped America” is a Smithsonian traveling exhibit that allows visitors to put sports in the context of American culture and gain a better understanding of the role that sport plays in its interactions with families, schools, government, business, and other social institutions. The African American Museum of Iowa will feature local sports figures Art Pennington and Jack Trice.

RSVP on Facebook.

  • This event is presented by the African American Museum of Iowa.
  • Attendance is free and open to the public.

Complete Schedule of Hometown Teams Events:

Live Music – Freebo, Maxwell & Howe – Presented by Lilfest

This Saturday, February 10th, starting at 7:30 pm the Uptown Theatre will host the astonishingly talented Freebo (Bonnie Raitt’s bass player and sideman/recording artist for many LA greats like like John Mayall; Dr. John; Crosby, Stills & Nash; Maria Muldaur; and Ringo Starr) has assembled a Super-Tour Trio, Freebo, Maxwell & Howe. As a recording producer, he brought two great talents into his studio, Kristen Maxwell and Alice Howe. The blends, humor, and comraderie set fire, and off they went on tour together! A road experienced singer-songwriter in his own right for many years now, Freebo recognized something really special.

A 2016 Kerrville New Folk Finalist and 2017 Most Wanted Artist at Falcon Ridge Folk Festival, Kirsten Maxwell’s rise in the music scene has been one to watch, Based out of Long Island, NY, this singer/songwriter has been making a name for herself in the Northeast and beyond. Described as “making love to the audience”, Kirsten’s stage presence is undeniably endearing and she has since opened for Melissa Etheridge, Bill Staines, Michael Johnson, Slaid Cleaves, and Vance Gilbert.

Timeless and original, Boston singer-songwriter Alice Howe joins a soulful, impeccably tuned voice with crafted poetry. A lifelong songwriter, Alice’s musical sensibility lies in ’60s folk and ’70s Southern California songwriters, with comparisons drawn to the pure, distilled sounds of Joan Baez and Joni Mitchell. As a performer, Alice is sure-footed and captivating, familiar to her audience from the very first song. A born New Englander and Smith graduate, her career launched in Seattle and now she hails from Boston again. Her original song “Homeland Blues,” debuted at #1 on the April Folk DJ chart and she is a 2017 Falcon Ridge Folk Festival Emerging Artist.

TICKETS: $5 for students with student ID, $15 for general admission, $50 for patron reserved seats. Can be purchased in-person at the concert or online.

DON’T FORGET: BRING YOUR OWN BEVERAGES. Buy the Sippy Cup and you can bring the beverage in the Theatre. Popcorn provided.


The LilFest Series regularly presents folk and international concerts in intimate settings in the Eastern Iowa region. Past performers include Jim Post, Ellis Paul, Dave Moore, James Lee Stanley, Eric Taylor, Claudia Nygaard, Radoslav Lorkovic, and Nathan Bell. LilFest (http://www.LilFest.org/ ) was originally developed in the Chicago area by Nancy Emrich Freeman, the now-resident of Mount Vernon continues a grand tradition of bringing the finest musicians to play in the places that are best for both the person onstage and the fan in the nearby seat.

Auditions for – And Then There Were None

image for auditions for "And Then There Were None"

The Mount Vernon-Lisbon Community Theatre will be presenting Agatha Christie’s “And Then There Were None” in March.

Be a Part of the Show!

This weekend they are holding auditions for parts in this iconic murder-mystery Sunday, January 21 at 7 pm and Monday, January 22 at 7 pm  in the Uptown Theatre.

There are roles for adults: 8 males, 3 females

Here’s a summary of the play from the MVLCT website

Agatha Christie’s dramatization of one of her darkest and most successful mystery novels is set in a house on a remote island off the coast of Devon, England in the 1940s.

The plot revolves around ten strangers who are summoned there because they have a secret past in common. Each visitor has been marked for murder and, one by one, they are killed in the order dictated by a sinister nursery rhyme about ten little soldiers.

As a storm rages outside, there is no escape. This is a classic murder mystery drama by one of the masters of the genre!

Got to the MVLCT website to learn more about this and other performances put on by this great local group.

Trivia Night Fundraiser for the Smithsonian Museum on Main Street Exhibit

The Mount Vernon-Lisbon Community Development Group (CDG), a Main Street Iowa organization, will be hosting game night with their Trivia Night fundraiser.  The event will take place Thursday, Jan. 18, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the First Street Community Center, and will be held inside the gymnasium.

The fundraiser has been created to raise the final $3,000 needed for the upcoming 2018 Smithsonian Museum on Main Street exhibit, set to tour to Mount Vernon from March 18, 2018, to April 30, 2018.

Mount Vernon will be one of six Iowa communities chosen to host the Smithsonian’s “Home Town Teams: How Sports Shaped America,” and will be the first community in Iowa to host this particular Smithsonian exhibit.

The Trivia Night fundraiser event will include a wine and hors d’oeuvres reception, silent auction and trivia game with prizes. The event will take place at the First Street Community Center gym from 6:30 to 9:30.

We are very close to reaching our goal to bring the Smithsonian’s Home Town Teams: How Sports Shape America exhibit to Mount Vernon, said board president Kate Rose.

This final fundraiser will take place inside the remodeled First Street Community Center gym, the site of the spring exhibit. Come take part and help us raise the final few dollars needed to bring this exhibit to Mount Vernon.

At 6:30 pm will be the reception, followed by the Trivia game at 7 pm, we will close the evening out with a silent auction at 9:30 pm.

Tickets to the fundraising event are $20 per person, and individuals can sign up with or without a team, although teams of 5 to 8 people are encouraged. Food and Silent Auction donations are being solicited by the board and staff of the CDG. More information including a registration form is available through www.visitmvl.com/trivianight.

Magical Night 2017 is Almost Here!

Mount Vernon’s First Street Community Center Offers Holiday Fun

The holidays are quickly approaching, and the First Street Community Center with the Old School Shops in Mount Vernon are already decking the halls for the city’s Magical Night celebration Thursday, November 30th, 2017.

Magical Night festivities will begin at the First Street Community Center, at 5:00 pm you can help Santa “flip the switch” to light up the historic building.

The First Street Community Center was originally the town’s high school, then later became its middle school. Now it is home to more than 12 local businesses and the First Street Community Center amenities which include a gymnasium, theater and meeting spaces, are available for the public to rent.

Schedule of Activities at the First Street Community Center:

5:00 pm
Help Santa light up the First Street Community Center building

5:00 to 8:00 pm
Cookie Decorating, sponsored by Mount Vernon Parks and Recreation

5:00 to 8:00 pm
Business Open House, visit local businesses, enjoy live music, snacks and begin your holiday shopping

5:00 to 8:00 pm
Arts Fest – “Holiday Shadow Play” presented by Stan Crocker & Mount Vernon Schools

5:30 to 6:30 pm
“Living Window” live display at Palisades Cafe, sponsored by Dance Arts Iowa

6:30 and 7:00 pm
“Holiday Tidings” from Dance Arts Iowa @ Uptown Theatre

Picture of Young Ballerinas excited about their performance in Nutcracker -Magical Night - 2012

For more information:
Contact Trude Elliott about Magical Night activities at the First Street Community Center via phone at: (319) 558-9202 or email at: trudejoelliott@aol.com

Did you know this?

Magical Night activities will take place throughout uptown Mount Vernon.
Go to www.VisitMVL.com for a complete list of events.

You can also go to Magic Night’s Facebook page for more information.

Happy Thanksgiving!

There’s always something going on at the First Street Community Center in Mount Vernon, Iowa!

We hope that your family and friends enjoy a relaxing time together this Thanksgiving.  After Thanksgiving, if you want to stretch your legs and work off some of that turkey dinner, we invite you to come to the First Street Community Center for “Small Business Saturday“.

We will have FREE live music inside the building performed by James Kennedy and Friends.  They will be playing an eclectic blend of jazz, blues, rock in the hallway in front of the Uptown Theatre with two sessions: 10:30-noon and 1:30 – 3pm.

In addition, we will be hosting the Home Business Expo.  This group of innovative home businesses will be on display in the First Street Community Center’s gymnasium from 9am – 4pm.

Of course, throughout the day all of your favorite “Old School Shops” will be open, some may even have special treats or deals!

So, if you like live music, a warm building to walk in during a cold Fall day, and lots of interesting shopping opportunities, or maybe you want to learn something about starting a home based business, come on out to the First Street Community Center this Saturday.