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Inside Iowa City’s Local Music Venues

In Iowa City, there exists a plethora of live music venues. Whether you’re looking for a relaxed bar performance or a full-scale concert, Iowa City has a venue to suit your needs. Listen to my interviews with members of the Yacht Club and Englert Theatre management teams to get a better sense of what each venue has to offer. In addition, check out the slideshow for a more in-depth look at Gabe’s. If you’re willing to spend some time on the road, the interactive map will show you some great live music venues just outside Iowa City!

Iowa City is rich with art of all kinds. Several music venues offer a variety of genres, atmospheres, and experiences. Two of these venues, the Yacht Club and the Englert Theatre, have been around for quite some time. I talked to Pete McCarthy about the Yacht Club and what makes it unique.

McCarthy is the General Manager of the Yacht Club. He explained that the Yacht Club has been open for ten years. They are a full-service live music venue that is open six nights a week. They have comedy on Monday nights, dance parties with DJs on Tuesday nights, and jam sessions on Wednesday nights. The Yacht Club hosts live bands every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

As far as what makes the Yacht Club unique, McCarthy says they are the only place in Iowa City that has amateur stand-up comedy. In addition, they provide the instruments for their weekly jam sessions. “Any local musician or anybody in town who wants to play can get up on stage and play,” says McCarthy. The Yacht Club also has a live music exemption from the city, which allows people of all ages to attend their shows even though there is liquor on the premises.

The Englert Theatre is a 740-seat venue that serves both the Iowa City community and those who travel from surrounding states. Katie Roche, the Development Director at the Englert Theatre, says that the theatre represents all areas of the arts – they have a gallery for 2D and 3D art and a stage that can accommodate dance, film, orchestral music, and bands. They also have fly space, which allows large sets to be moved in and out for different productions.

Marissa Ripoli, a student at the University of Iowa, frequents both of these venues. One of her favorite aspects of the Yacht Club is the staff. She says that they are always very nice and that they bring in fun bands. Ripoli says her favorite thing about the Englert Theatre is the atmosphere. “It’s historic, it’s really pretty inside, and it’s clean,” she says.

Listen to Pete McCarthy explain the nuances of Gabe’s, another great music venue in Iowa City:

This interactive map will help you find your ideal music venue! Venues on the map are located in Iowa City, Cedar Rapids, Des Moines, and West Des Moines. Click on the markers to see upcoming shows, interesting facts, and more! Green markers indicate venues whose upcoming show is open to all ages, while red markers denote an age restriction.

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