February 7, 2017
Spontaneity is always fun at a house concert. Here, musician Andy TeBockhorst was a guest at a concert hosted by Katie and Jay Byers, who persuaded him to knock out a number he played at their wedding reception.
MUSIC TO OUR EARS: EASIER HOUSE CONCERTS

Based on our experience, house concerts are great fun -- inviting friends and a performer for an intimate evening of entertainment. Last summer, for instance, we thoroughly enjoyed meeting the members of the Kris Lager Band -- and hearing them perform -- at Katie and Jay Byers' Des Moines home.
 
Among the most experienced local house-concert hosts, the couple now is making it easier for anyone to host a concert at home. As Katie says: "I have decided to make it my personal mission to start an organized house concert movement and create a network of hosts from coast to coast."
 
Enter HomeDitty, an online service she is developing with Entrepreneurial Technologies in Urbandale that handles the details: bookings, donations, payments to musicians, etc. "HomeDitty is currently in BETA testing," Katie wrote in an email to potential hosts, "and we are seeking volunteers who are interested in signing up as hosts to test our software prototype. It is free to sign up and host." If you're interested in hosting, send her an email at katherinebyers@gmail.com.
 
The beauty of house concerts, in Katie's view: "It's a front row, backstage, VIP experience all rolled into one." Read more about the Byers' house concerts in this dsm story.
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Your table is waiting at Saison, which opens today in the Windsor Heights space formerly occupied by Mustard's.
SAISON OPENS TODAY IN WINDSOR HEIGHTS

By Wini Moranville

Late last week, I got a sneak peek at Saison Kitchen + Pub, the new Windsor Heights venue opening today in the former Mustard's site. Saison, which means "season" in French, is a collaboration of David Baruthio (of Baru 66 and Prime) and Mike Crownover, former co-owner of Lurra Cocina.
  
Far from being "Mustard's warmed over," the interior has been rebuilt from scratch. The decor melds hard-edged industrial-modern aesthetics (cement floors, exposed ceilings) with some softer touches, including wood panels, ceramic tile, a collection of antique copper pots and colorful paintings by Des Moines artist Ben Schuh.
  
The theme? Don't go expecting Baru II. After speaking with Crownover and Baruthio, I'm thinking that the goal and the groove are infinitely more casual. What Star Bar is to Ingersoll, Saison could well be to Windsor Heights: a neighborhood hub for any-night eats and drinks.
  
Saison's culinary niche, however, falls somewhere between Star Bar and Eatery A. The menu kicks off with casual shared plates, including a country-style pâté, wings and a hummus-tapenade plate, and moves to a selection of soups and refined salads (apple-walnut-blue cheese, beet-chèvre and the like). Rather than burgers and sandwiches, the kitchen will send out sliders -- three to a plate -- such as tuna melt, fish tacos, grilled cheese, tenderloin schnitzels and, of course, burgers.  
  
Entrees especially evoke the restaurant's name; currently, seasonally driven choices include lamb ragu; root-vegetable and barley casserole; winter penne with squash, mushrooms and sage; a three-cheese mac-and-cheese; and other hearty favorites. Prices range from $7 to $15 for salads and sliders and $14 to $26 for entrees.
  
Saison is at 6611 University Ave., 279-0114; www.saisondsm.com. The restaurant will be open Tuesday through Sunday for lunch and dinner, with brunch items in the works for the weekends.
 
Sculptor James Bearden's work ranges from whimsical forms to practical furnishings, now displayed in New York City.
LOCAL ARTIST SCORES NEW YORK EXHIBIT

Des Moines artist James Bearden has a significant exhibition of his work in New York City through the end of this month. It's a big step for Bearden, a successful, longtime graphic artist in the advertising industry in Des Moines. In recent years, he has established himself as a prolific artist, creating bold sculptures and uniquely artistic furnishings.

In addition to private collections, Bearden's work can be found in numerous public settings around Iowa, including Blank Park Zoo and the cities of Ames, Clive, Coralville and Marion. Learn more about the artist on his website, and if you're visiting Manhattan this month, check out the Bearden exhibit at 1stdibs Gallery, 200 Lexington Ave.    
Here's a sampling of the Fred Hersch Trio performing in Chicago. They'll be in Des Moines Thursday.
GOOD THINGS COME IN THREES

Jazz pianist and composer Fred Hersch has it going on. He was the first artist in the 75-year history of New York's legendary Village Vanguard to play a weeklong engagement as a soloist. Over the years, he has earned eight Grammy nominations, and the insightful online journal "All About Jazz" describes his latest release, "Sunday Night at the Vanguard," as "one of the jazz world's top piano trios at the top of their game."  

Hear the Fred Hersch Trio in person Thursday, Feb. 9, at 7:30 p.m. at the Des Moines Civic Center. Tickets are $29-$39 through Ticketmaster or the Civic Center box office. 
The Edelweiss lyric "bless my homeland forever" may have special meaning at the Civic Center this week, sung by Ames native Ben Davis, who stars as Captain Georg von Trapp in "The Sound of Music."
IOWA NATIVE ESCAPES NAZIS NIGHTLY

Ames native Ben Davis stars as Capt. Georg von Trapp in the traveling production of "The Sound of Music," which opens a six-day run at the Des Moines Civic Center this evening. Davis has been with the tour since it launched in Los Angeles in 2015.

In addition to the musical, a book and an epic film have documented the story of the von Trapp family's escape from Austria under German domination in 1938. Relive it again tonight through Sunday. Show times and prices vary; tickets are available here

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