Iowa City Unplugged Features City High Students


Ingrid Streitz ’19 performing at Iowa City Unplugged downtown

Phoebe Chapnick-Sorokin, Executive Editor

All summer, there have been construction projects going on in downtown Iowa City, in particular throughout the pedestrian mall. With all that noise and disruption, Steve Cook, a local sound technician, felt this was blocking the culture of downtown, and decided to start a new concert series called Iowa City Unplugged.

“I felt something needed to be done to help create a better atmosphere, to give people a reason to come downtown or give pedestrians passing a reason to stop, so I decided to act,” Cook said.

The concert series has featured not only local artists, but those traveling in from out of town.

“We have had the honor of catching some of my Nashville friends traveling on their tour. Plus, we are showcasing artists that normally don’t play downtown,” Cook said.

Even some City High students have been able to perform. Ingrid Streitz ‘19 has now played in the series twice.

“James Tutson suggested me for the Harvest Music Festival, who gave my contact information to the sound guy in charge of the festival as well as Iowa City Unplugged,” Streitz said. “I chose to participate because I always enjoy playing gigs in Downtown Iowa City and I like having new experiences.”

Streitz enjoys the atmosphere of playing downtown, along with the different audience it provides.

“I really enjoy playing for different ages, and downtown you get a good variety,” Streitz said. “You have the college students, but also the people who live here in Iowa City who are just enjoying their time downtown.”

The concerts are held on the stage outside of The Saloon on the college street portion of the pedestrian mall. This gives the dinner crowd and passersby, in addition to people who came specifically for the concert series, an opportunity to watch the performances.

“I look and see the patios of The Saloon and Graze filled, and all the bands comment on how fun the show is,” Cook said.

Streitz is one of those who has commented on how fun the series is. Her goal with music is to make a difference in people’s lives, and she feels that playing for Iowa City Unplugged has done that.

“When I was singing ‘Make You Feel My Love,’ I saw a man singing along with me to his wife and it was meaningful to me that it made them happy,” Streitz said.

Cook has been very impressed with Streitz’s performances.

“I can’t leave out the joy of working with the wonderful Ingrid Streitz. [She has a] smooth vocal tone, plus a maturity in her vocal phrasing that’s very pleasant,” Cook said. “Add in her professional yet fun communication skills, I was so impressed with everything about her that I hired her for three gigs before I’d even met her.”

The series has become known around Iowa City, and there are people who look forward to the performances every week.

“I get people during the week asking me, ‘Who’s the artist this week?’ There’s been a bunch of regulars who swing by every week and the downtown district has been 100% supportive,” Cook said.

Cook is very satisfied with what the series has become. He is hoping to continue it next year, and has high hopes for expansion. Plans are underway for the 2019 series, including using the new stage being built on the pedestrian mall and bringing in traveling artists once a month.