Live Music – Chad Elliott and Claudia Nygaard – LilFest Music Series

LilFest kicks off their Spring Series in Mount Vernon, Iowa with their February 11th, 7:30 pm – 9:30 pm concert with Chad Elliott & Claudia Nygaard in a “Nashville Round”.

picture of Claudia NygaardClaudia Nygaard:

A California native living in Nashville, Tennessee, Claudia Nygaard is the owner of a gorgeous, powerful voice and performs with a sweet mixture of engaging candidness and unparalleled musicianship. Claudia has performed at over 150 fairs and festivals in 47 states and across Europe, and was chosen one of the Emerging Artists at the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival in New York.


Picture of Chad ElliottChad Elliott:

Chad Elliott, of Coon Rapids, Iowa, joins Claudia in a an exciting “Nashville Round Show.” Chad Elliott’s soulful, foot-stomping stagecraft has great artistic and lyrical substance. His laid-back storytelling and his skillful fingerpicking help to weave his well-crafted songs together. His Americana song-style and extraordinary voice puts him on the road for 200 performances a year; often with greats like Odetta, Tom Paxton, Loudon Wainwright III, R.L. Burnside, Greg Brown, Bo Ramsey.


Both performers are back in Mount Vernon by popular demand after 2 or 3 previous Mount Vernon/Lisbon LilFest performances each. Both have big voices with Nashville polish, energetic guitar playing, sweet, strong & sassy stories & songwriting, Americana perspectives.

HOW MUCH:  Suggested contribution of $15.00.  Sponsor Seats available for @ $50 each and ensure center front section seating if received before the performance.

Updated 2/9/17 – Tickets can be purchased online and in person at the performance.

BYOB: Drinks in the theatre are allowed if inside a covered Uptown Theatre travel cup.  You can purchase a new one at the performance, or bring a clean one from home.

TICKET QUESTIONS: Nancy Emrich Freeman, 847-256-0000

For further information, additional high-res photographs, interview arrangements: ChadElliott.net, ClaudiaNygaard.com or call Nancy Emrich Freeman above.

Photo of LilFest - Bear Logo

The LilFest Series brings worldwide quality performances to an intimate concert setting.

These two artists follow in the footsteps of other international performers like Nathan Bell, Phil Heywood, Malcolm Holcombe, Radoslav Lorković, Guy Mendilow, Jim Post, James Lee Stanley, Eric Taylor, The Sweet Potatoes, Lucie Thorne & The Yearlings.

LilFest searches the world for deeply rooted songs and stories of passion and power for our modern lives.

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MVAAC Winter Fundraiser – Tony Brown and Dan Johnson

photo of Tony Brown and Dan Johnson

The Mount Vernon Area Arts Council’s (MVAAC’s) Winter Fundraiser performance will be Saturday, January 21st @ 6:30pm – 9:30pm.

Performing will be Tony Brown and Dan Johnson.

The event will start with a reception with wine and cheese at 6:30pm, with music beginning at 7:30pm.  In addition, Tony Brown will have paintings on display as well.

As with many events at the First Street Community Center in Mount Vernon, Iowa this is a BYOB event with Uptown Theatre travel cups available to purchase – or bring yours from home.

Break out of your igloo and bring your friends to this fundraiser for the Mount Vernon Area Arts Council.

The suggested donation is $15.

The Mount Vernon Area Arts Council is a community organization that exists to increase the knowledge, understanding, appreciation and practice of the arts within our community.

See the MVAAC.org website or their Facebook page for more information.

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Home for the Holidays – A Christmas Cabaret with Amy Stoner

The First Street Community Center’s Uptown Theatre is proud to be hosting a wonderful musical performer, Amy Stoner on Friday, December 9th @ 7:30pm.


We invite you to join cabaret chanteuse Amy Friedl Stoner for an evening of holiday music and laughter.

Mixing traditional Christmas songs with contemporary holiday tunes, Amy and her band will remind you of your favorite songs and introduce you to new ones.

For the performance in the Uptown Theatre this evening Amy is thrilled to be joined by Cameron Sullenberger, Luke Viertel, John Hall & Tim Crumley.

The Uptown Theatre with it’s intimate layout almost erases the separation of stage and audience to let you really feel the performance and not just watch it from a distance.

Get your tickets early before this popular event sells out!

Tickets are available at:

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Eddie Piccard – Music of New Orleans and All That Jazz

Eddie Piccard will once again be serving up “All That Jazz” at the First Street Community Center on Saturday November 19 at 7:00 p.m.

Eddie Piccard Jazz Quartet

For each Mount Vernon appearance Eddie offers a special highlight, and this year’s performance will offer Music of New Orleans.

“My first instrument was a trombone,” Piccard said. “And one of my heroes is the Texas trombone player, Jack Teagarden. It is always a kick to play piano with Dixie groups. The contrapuntal effects of group improvisation add excitement to the music.”

The first part of this year’s program will feature the Eddie Piccard Quintet. This group plays hot traditional favorites and cool Shearing melodies, as well as warm Latin tunes. Eddie will be on piano and vocals, Craig Dove on bass, Jon Wilson on drums, Rich Martin on vibes, and Dave Richter on guitar.

For the Dixieland part of the program the quintet will be joined by the Busch Brothers – Marty on trombone, Larry on trumpet, and Luke on clarinet.

“We really like playing for the audience at the Community Center,” Eddie said. “And this group will have a swinging, toe-tapping sound that people will really enjoy.”

Eddie Piccard grew up in eastern Iowa, and began playing music at an early age. He left for larger venues in Chicago, Florida and on the west coast. But he came back to Iowa in the 1980s and has become a jazz icon in eastern Iowa. People still talk about the jazz club he and his wife Dallis opened on Mount Vernon Road in the 1990s. Patrons remember a sophisticated spot that offered unforgettable nights of music. Eddie now plays regularly in Cedar Rapids and the surrounding area, as well as in the Chicago area and the Twin Cities.

Tickets are $15 and can be purchased at Bauman’s Clothing Store or at the performance.  You can call (319) 895-8692 for more information.

As with most performances at the First Street Community Center, patrons are welcome to bring a favorite beverage and purchase a Community Center cup.


Eddie Piccard has been a professional musician and a jazz artist since he left college. Before coming home to Cedar Rapids, he had extensive experience in the jazz world playing in Chicago, Fort Lauderdale, and San Francisco, sometimes opposite such musicians as George Shearing and Ramsey Lewis. As Piccard fans know, Eddie both plays and sings in a wide variety of styles.

Jon Wilson, talented musician and percussion educator, has performed and recorded with many original bands including Jake Kaligis and Driver. A much sought-after drummer since moving to Cedar Rapids in 2000, he has continued to work in several musical genres and plays regularly with Eddie Piccard.

Craig Dove plays piano, upright and electric bass, guitar and is an accomplished vocalist. He has performed throughout the U.S. and in London. He has recorded solo and with a variety of musicians. Craig is also the Medical Director of Rehabilitation Services at St. Luke’s Hospital in Cedar Rapids.

Rich Martin got his first taste of jazz as a boy hearing Gene Krupa in Sing, Sing, Sing.  He grew up surrounded by music and was able to see some of the greatest performers of the time, who remain his idols. Rich has been known to levitate when a tune starts to swing.

Dave Richter comes from Dubuque to perform in All That Jazz. He is well-known in northeast Iowa as an accomplished guitarist, bassist, and banjo player. He performs in Iowa, Wisconsin, and the Chicago area.

Larry Busch is a veteran of the Guy Lombardo, Wayne King, and the Al Pierson Orchestras.  He has been leading his own big band for many years and is currently the leader of the Dixieland Allstars.

Marty Busch, a trombonist, has toured with Al Cobine, Johnny Mathis, Dick Jurgens, The American Vintage Orchestra, and the Larry Busch Big Band.

Luke  Busch has played with the Dixieland Allstars, the Mad City Funk, and his own SKA band.

This concert is made possible by:
Burke Investments – Fred Burke

And the following investors in the arts:

  • Jerry Kaalberg
  • Bauman and Company
  • David Osterberg
  • Kay Johansen
  • Steward Baxter Funeral & Memorial Services
  • Neal’s Water Conditioning Services, Inc.
  • Cornell College
  • Koppenhaver & Associates, PC
  • Central Appraisal-Andy Wolfe
  • Iowa Physical Therapy PC
  • The Sun Newspaper

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Live Music – Malcom Holcombe – LilFest Fall Music Series

Saturday, October 22, from 7:30 pm – 9:30 pm the First Street Community Center’s Uptown Theatre is pleased to be hosting the “real deal” North Carolina backwoods picker and songwriter Malcom Holcombe.

picture of Malcom Holcombe

It is Malcolm’s perception of the world that make his songs hit you like a gunpowder blast. His gruff and tough delivery is a primordial power full of grit, spit and anthropomorphic expression.  — Ray Kennedy

Ray Kennedy is a Nashville 5-time GRAMMY award winning producer of Art Garfunkel, Lucinda Williams, Taylor Swift, Buddy Guy, Greg Brown, Joan Baez and Steve Earle, to pick a few names from his star-studded studio.

Ray continues:  “Malcolm Holcombe is fiercely striking every time you encounter him on or off stage. You just get sucked into his extraordinary world of the twisting of words and wisdom that come from a bottomless well. The melodies and fierce rhythms wrap his narrative into an event where you find yourself at his unique musical carnival. Then suddenly he slays you with a sweet love ballad…”

Trends come and go. What is real is the ground beneath our feet, the sky above us, the struggle to earn a living. These are Malcolm Holcombe’s timeless subjects and the spin he puts on them makes our journey here more bearable.

… and that’s a pretty good nod to the effect of hearing Holcombe sing. If you’ve not seen him in a live setting, this is what you have to do. His presence is spooky and timeless, as one imagines it was like to see Son House or Leadbelly. No emotional stone is left unturned.  — Craig Havighurst, Nashville

Here is a couple of videos from his YouTube Channel:

The LilFest Series at Uptown Theatre in the First Street Community Center brings worldwide quality performances to an intimate concert setting. These artists follow in the footsteps of performers like Nathan Bell, Chad Elliott, Phil Heywood, Radoslav Lorković, Guy Mendilow, Claudia Nygaard, Jim Post, James Lee Stanley, Eric Taylor, The Sweet Potatoes, Lucie Thorne and The Yearlings. Deeply rooted songs and stories of passion and power for our modern lives.

BYOB with purchase of Uptown Theatre Sippy Cup.

HOW MUCH:   Suggested contribution for the Concert $20.00.
Subscription Sponsorships for the series, @ $100 each ensure center front section seating.

TICKET/SPONSORSHIP QUESTIONS: Nancy Emrich Freeman, 847-256-0000

For further information, additional photographs, interview arrangements: http://www.MalcolmHolcombe.com or mail to: Nancy@LilFest.com

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Concert and Dance – The Stompers Play After Homecoming

Friday evening, September 30 beginning at 9 pm, come listen and dance to ‘The Stompers’ performing in the Gym of the First Street Community Center.

The Stompers band are Iowa’s Rock and Roll Music Hall of Fame recipients and the 2016 Alumni Association’s Community Impact Hall of Fame winners. Playing 60s music that all ages will enjoy!  After the Homecoming Game, come have some fun and listen or dance to some of The Stompers members playing right here in First Street Community Center’s gym where they will be playing.

Open to all, no charge.

picture of The Stompers from the 1960's


The Stompers band, with members Bill Bauman’66, Steve Edwards’65, Brian Harman’69, Greg Harman’65, and Randy Harman’68, are this year’s Community Impact recipients.

Jo Clark’64 says in her nomination “Before there was a Mount Vernon High School Alumni Association, there were the Stompers. This group of MVHS graduates is more than a senior citizen high school rock ‘n’ roll band. The Stompers have served as a bond between Mustangs since 1963. The Stompers returned to Mount Vernon every fall for over twenty years, bringing people from all over the United States for their performances. Classmates who hardly knew each other in high school often become friends at a Stompers Reunion Concert. The music is important, but not the most important thing in these gatherings. The spirit and camaraderie of the room trumps all. The Stompers will tell you they don’t sound like they did in the 60s, but you never hear anyone complain. To many of us, it’s almost like a fall evening at Manny’s Corner on Main Street in 1963.”

From 1963 to 1965, the Stompers stomped. These boys from Mount Vernon toured Eastern Iowa ballrooms, Danceland in Cedar Rapids, DanceMor in Swisher, and more. It all started at Manny’s Corner, an little pizza parlor, just down Mount Vernon’s Main Street from Cornell College. Friends grew to crowds, grew to lines on the sidewalk. As the British invaded, The Stompers grew their hair long. They wore tight pants, ankle boots, and turtleneck sweaters. They sang and screamed and duck-walked across the stage like animals.

Their performances at Manny’s Corner put them on the Eastern Iowa map. Before long, The Stompers had gigs every weekend and on many week nights. They earned $100 to $150 per performance. Their original song ‘I Know’ made it to the local airwaves. Girls screamed at every venue. The Stompers fronted the likes of The Animals, the Everly Brothers, and Chuck Berry.

“I Know” gained a notoriety long outliving the band. “I Know” made it as high as #19 on a number of regional charts. In recent years, “I Know” has surfaced on garage-band-loving stations and is considered by many a collector’s item and has been featured on EBay and on-line garage-band forums such as GaragePunk.com.

The summer of ‘65 brought the release of a second record “You’re Gone” by Greg that peaked at #24 on regional charts

In ‘69, Steve, Greg and Randy along and with young brother Brian Harman joining the band, opened a show for The Paul Butterfield Blues Band at Vet’s Coliseum in Cedar Rapids. This turned out to be the precursor to a series of annual reunions.

In 2006 The Stompers band was inducted in the Iowa Music Hall of Fame.

Here’s some YouTube “videos” with their music:

This event is brought to you by:

Logo for the Mount Vernon Community School District Alumni Association

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Live Music – Highway 151 Band

Highway 151 Band's logo

Please join us for a night of live music by the Highway 151 Band performing October 1st at 7:30pm in the Uptown Theatre in the First Street Community Center in Mount Vernon, Iowa.

NOTE:  Also appearing is Tony Nickels. The band met him at their last concert and loved him, so they invited him to join them at this concert.

About the Band

a picture of Highway 151 band members

Hwy 151 Band are from the Eastern Iowa area.

They are a group of musicians who have played in numerous bands throughout the area including Stormwatch, Top Side, Westwinds, The Naked Gypsies and the Stompers.

Their three part harmonies are a highlight of their musical sound.  Their instrumentations include acoustic and bass guitar, mandolin, keyboard and percussion.

They cover several decades of music; songs like “Groovin” by The Young Rascals, Van Morrison’s “Moon Dance”, “Ring of Fire by Johnny Cash, and the classic “At Last” by the great Etta James.  They also play our originals like “Got to Be Kind” and “I’ve Got the Change” both written by Dan Hanlon.

Their website is: http://hwy151band.com/

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Live Music This Saturday – Frances Luke Accord – Modern Folk, Americana and More

picture of the musicians of the Frances Luke Accord
Frances Luke Accord – Modern Folk & More – 2016

The First Street Community Center in Mount Vernon, Iowa is pleased to announce that Frances Luke Accord will perform again at the Uptown Theater on Saturday, September 24th. Doors open for seating at 7pm with the show starting at 7:30pm.

This Chicago-based duo will be joined by Ann Arbor folk/singer-songwriter Chris Dupont.

These dynamic performers will be presenting a family friendly “all ages” show.

Tickets: $10 advance/$13 at the door.
You can purchase tickets in advance online here.
You can also purchase tickets by contacting Mike Smith at Bauman’s or Trude Elliott at the First Street Community Center.

Artist websites:
Frances Luke Accord: http://franceslukeaccord.com
Chris Dupont: http://www.chrisdupontmusic.com

Here are two YouTube videos with these talented performers:

About The Artists:
Frances Luke Accord is an independent Chicago-based duo hailing originally from South Bend, Indiana. Both dedicated multi-instrumentalists and attentive songwriters, Nicholas Gunty and Brian Powers distinguish their music with genre fluidity, organic acoustics and buttery harmonies. Although prevailingly a modern folk band, FLA sips copious inspiration from Americana, jazz, soul and rock.

Since forming during their senior year at the University of Notre Dame, Frances Luke Accord’s multifaceted, genre-bending approach to music has marked a boundless evolution. In December of 2012 the duo released their first record, Kandote, a not-for-profit, intercultural collaboration with the Barefoot Truth Children’s Choir of Kkindu, Uganda; an endeavor that continues to support the primary education and musical aspirations of the choir. Bringing their newfound appreciation for world/folk music to the bustling urban epicenter of Chicago in the summer of 2013, the duo has quickly garnered increasing local and regional attention for their captivating live performances and stunning self-produced releases, including the Queen for Me EP (April 2014), Veronica (October 2014), and Live @ Strobe (April 2015).

Frances Luke Accord’s music can be described as dreamlike and philosophical, haunting and whimsical. Their melodies evoke a noir film, a Spanish folktale, an enigmatic egoeye. However you pin it, something in the music is turning heads. Whether evidenced by their artist endorsement with Godin Guitars or recent $16,294 Kickstarter campaign to fund their debut full length album, Fluke (due out May 20th, 2016), Gunty and Powers’ compositions take the listener by the ear, pull the rug from beneath her feet, and leave her deliciously airborne. Listen.

What The Critics Are Saying:

‘While Simon & Garfunkel may be no longer touring, Powers and Gunty are more than talented enough to take their place.’
– Quinn Delaney, PlaylistHQ

Frances Luke Accord gave a stunning show. They are consummate musicians, with an endearingly charismatic stage presence. Their songwriting ranges from ethereal soundscapes to engaging pop folk, all performed with unerring, sensitive and expressive vocals. One never looks at the clock during their performance. In fact, time seemed to speed by with our audience crying out for not one but two encores! Like fine wine, this duo is only going to improve with age. Dont miss the chance to catch them on their rise up.
– Sandra Thompson & Sam Tuthill, Acorn Theater

About Chris Dupont:
A letter arrives in a handmade envelope…

I’ve been to hell and back again, it says. Thank you for inspiring me, and helping me achieve a sense of peace that years ago I thought would never happen.

Letters like these tend to find Ann Arbor-based singer/songwriter Chris DuPont. His ruminations on inner peace and personal growth infuse his newest album, Outlier.  Faced with the new challenge of becoming a father, DuPont bares his own difficulties with family and his own sense of belonging.

Full of his trademark vulnerability and candor, Outlier is a confession and an absolution in one.

With influences ranging from classic American songwriters like James Taylor and Tom Waits, to artists like Tycho and Philip Glass, DuPont’s sophomore effort has its roots in folk music, and its branches spreading wide across conventional genre divides. In Outlier, the classic eloquence of the 70s collides with a present-day catharsis; classic Americana themes become married to contemporary notions of self-care, and speaking your own truth. Throughout the whole work, DuPont’s focused baritone remains a constant, bringing a steadiness and reassuring cohesion in the midst of the albums at-times heavy themes.

Outlier wades deep into DuPont’s head. It is simultaneously loud, soft, angry, forgiving, danceable and upbeat, cinematic, sweeping, and immersive. His inimitable guitar style incorporates techniques from a wide array of disciplines, including body percussion, harmonics, and looping.

Chris is endorsed by Godin guitars.

Chris was a finalist at the Rocky Mountain Folks Festival in 2013, and has shared stages with a host of Midwest acts, as well as national acts Edwin McCain, Brendan James, Needtobreathe, and Lucius.

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