Together Through Sound
Riverview Park, Des Moines, Sunday, Sept. 10, 1 p.m., Free
Central Iowa’s freshest music festival is already bigger than its creators first imagined.
Billy Weathers, better known as the hip-hop artist B. Well, and Ashley Eidbo, a double bass player in the Des Moines Symphony (DMS), first connected backstage during DMS’s Yankee Doodle Pops concert last summer. (Weathers was invited to the event to sing “The Star-Spangled Banner.”) The duo started talking about the idea of creating a multi-genre music festival — an idea that became Together Through Sound.
“We have the chance to show a lot of talented people and give a lot of people an opportunity to perform on the stage,” Weathers said.
They hoped to attract around 500 spectators for this first, free-to-attend event. That is, until opportunity knocked. Together Through Sound was offered the Prairie Meadows Riviera Stage at Des Moines’ Riverview Park, a 10,000-capacity venue that normally costs between $2,000-5,000 to rent, for free.
With so much room to grow, Creative Director Weathers and Festival Director Eidbo went to work creating an exciting lineup.
“I feel that if this gets in front of people’s faces, they’re going to have a hard time saying that they don’t want to go. There’s something for everyone,” Eidbo told Little Village. “We have six-plus genres of music, we have art, we have all this stuff.”
“I think it’s a festival for the city of Des Moines, showcasing a lot of the art and talent within the community and showing what art can do when genres blend,” Weathers explained. “I think sometimes we get caught in genres, or pockets, and those create these silos, not only in the city, but everywhere.”
The genres on offer include Afrobeats, jazz, Latin, classical, hip hop and blues. The directors are letting musicians immersed in each genre direct the programming; for example, Shankar Subramanian will lead blues and movement, while Ahmed Musa leads Afrobeats.
Ideally, Together Through Sound encourages its attendees to dip into new artists and music.
“We’re also really trying to make it OK for whoever you are, if that’s not the genre that you usually listen to, … [you] come to the festival and hear it and then maybe you like it,” said Eidbo.
“I used to be scared to share my playlist, because I didn’t want people to be like, ‘Oh, he likes rock and jazz!’” Weathers joked.
Weathers himself will perform; other acts include local Latin music-maker Lani Eclatt, Iowa City-area jazz musician Damani Phillips and up-and-coming composer Adalyn Sidon.
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“People really do want great things to happen for the community around them,” Eidbo said. “I feel like I can just go ask somebody that is an expert at something if they can help me with something related to this festival and they’re on board for supporting the community.”
“Life is reciprocal,” added Weathers. “If you give it everything you got, it’s going to give you a lot of return.”
Together Through Sound will be free to attend at Riverview Park on Sept. 10, with performances from 1 p.m. until 10 p.m. More information about the festivities can be found at togetherthroughsound.com.
This article was originally published in Little Village’s September 2023 issue.