Last Thursday, I was lucky enough to see a little piece of history. Nate Logsdon and Chris Lyng of Maximum Ames bestowed an honor on a well-deserving and familiar face. Nate called Happy Jack Dalton the "obvious choice" for the first ever Iowa Legend Award--an award meant to celebrate an Iowa artist who represents Iowa in their music, has a history with Maximum Ames, has achieved artistic excellence, and is only famous in Iowa. How much fun is that?!
Jack's speech feels like a little window into the world of a long time Ames musician. I asked him if I could share it with you. Enjoy!
Thank you, Nate and Chris.
Thank you, Maximum Ames Music Festival volunteers and planners.
Thank you to the growing artistic community in Ames and Central Iowa.
Thank you all.
I have spent much of my adult life pressing my nose against the glass of a world of those who make a living doing that which so many of us will gladly do for free.
In dance, in theatre, in poetry, and in music, I have had the privilege of working as a respected amateur who sometimes gets paid. Never enough to live on, but often, enough to cover the cost of ongoing expenses if I ignore those sunken costs brought about by my deeply held belief that nobody has enough guitars, hand drums, mandolins, ukeleles, effects pedals, external hard drives, and of course, "MORE COWBELL!"
So I have always considered money to be among the sincerest of compliments. To the many of you whose gifts and adspends make this festival possible, I extend my continuing appreciation, especially to those whose businesses may not benefit directly from the foot traffic generated by these particular events. To you who take the long view that building community creates a blessing for everyone and that support for the arts makes us all richer, I applaud you.
Although music in Ames has been characterized as a D.I.Y. scene (That's "Do it yourself.") and indeed although, if it were only ourselves we would scare up venues and play, even if it meant performing only for one another in basements and garages, we appreciate your part. Your support makes the scene so much better.
Your investment in a project like this one makes it possible to bring in touring acts, "legends" even, who call attention to our tiny community, while local artists mostly play for free, for the "exposure," which we dare to hope may spawn possible paying gigs in the future. You are helping to expose, not only established local acts, but also those who are only learning their craft, which makes you, in a way, the "Cubs Fans" of local music, and for this enthusiasm, there is a price that you pay!
You have to hear me perform material that I do not know very well! This evening (edit. i.e. Thursday 9/10) I'll be kicking off this festival as part of a songwriters' circle with several others, spanning five decades in age. And two days from now, in this very space, I'll be participating in an a capella showcase, and the piece I'll be performing is one I have never sung in front of any other person until now. You're the first. So you get to help make this festival better by letting me practice in the same space as I'll be performing in.
The song is by fellow Iowa legend, Susan Werner. The title is, "May I Suggest?"
You can reach Jack Dalton here: www.facebook.com/hapjak.
Who will be the next Iowa Legend? You will have to wait a whole year to find out. And Happy Jack has set the bar pretty high.