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  • Writer's pictureRyan Morris

Musical showcase to benefit the Iowa Abortion Access Fund

Updated: Oct 14, 2022

It’s a pleasant late summer afternoon as the sun floods Whistler Studio in Des Moines’ historic East Village. I arrive to find our photographer gesticulating wildly about the room, watching the light play on her hand as she tries to find the best of the quickly sinking sunlight. I help her move some scrims around the room as we decide on a backdrop.

We’re preparing for the arrival of a plethora of talent joining me in an effort to support abortion rights in Iowa. These are all people whom I’ve met as a performing artist in Central Iowa. They are all women whom I admire and respect as artists, as friends, as people.

The moment that Roe v. Wade was overturned I knew I had to do something. As a male, I feel it is my place to advocate for people who can get pregnant and, as such, I need to shut the hell up and make space for powerful women to deliver a powerful message.

The first of the artists to arrive for the photoshoot is the force of nature known as Sara Routh. She sweeps into the room with a toothy hello, brandishing wine enough to share with me, our photographer, and the eight other women arriving one by one, clad in black, representing eight powerhouse musical acts coming together to raise money to support abortion rights.

Abortion rights in Iowa are in danger. Too soon we could be living in a state where individuals, families, and their supporters will need to cross state lines to receive abortion care at great personal expense.

This is why we’re here. We’re gathering for the first time in one physical place to share each other’s company, strength, and prepare for a show to benefit the Iowa Abortion Access Fund (IAAF), an organization that offers grants to people who need financial assistance not only for the procedure itself, but for travel and accommodations wherever abortion access is available; a depressingly necessary service should current trends continue.

We arrive and begin with individual head shots of each artist present. Sadly we’re missing some of the troupe due to COVID issues and conflicting strict rehearsal schedules, but we’re mostly here and the energy in the room is palpable; the sisterhood of women complimenting each other, sipping wine, and casting the occasional sobering look as we each remember why we’re here.

We’re here because it’s important. Because it matters. Because the individual freedoms of all Iowans are at stake.

Sara Routh was the first to arrive, and the first to stand before the lens. Her soulful, jazzy voice and tender guitar will be part of the festivities held Saturday, November 5 at xBk in the Drake neighborhood of Des Moines. “Abortion is an issue that draws upon deep values, personal experiences, and a range of identities. That's what makes it such a tough topic. I believe the hardest conversations are the ones we need to have the most. Our conservative delegates are putting all the weight on religious beliefs, not on the folks who are faced with these difficult decisions. It’s a power move in every way and I will not sit by and allow a government or any persons’ god have power over what I choose to do with my body.”

Diana Weishaar fronts the electric pop trio Contakta and is half of the driving force of long time Central Iowa favorite The Host Country. “We're coming together to support the IAAF,” she says, “but this is also about holistically supporting women's rights to make their own decisions about their body; protecting the rights of the individual, which is something I think we can all agree on.”

We gather for a group photo before the sun fails us completely. The hour has flown by. Some of us make plans for an after session drink, others need to rush off and put children to bed. All of us leave looking forward to a night of memorable music and doing what we can to help people who need it. Please join us.

WHAT: A concert to benefit the Iowa Abortion Access Fund

HOW: Free will donations taken at the door. Cash, check, and Venmo accepted.

WHEN: Saturday, November 5, 3:00 - 10:00 pm

WHERE: xBk Live, 1159 24th Street, Des Moines, IA 50311

WHO: Eight different musical acts…

  • Abbie Sawyer and The Flood

  • Contakta

  • The June Bugs

  • Eleven Moons

  • Lily DeTaeye

  • Patresa Hartman

  • Sara Routh

  • Courtney Krause

Plus food for purchase from Peggy O’s Food Truck, RAYGUN gear, and other special guests.


PHOTO CREDIT: Lauren Matysik

ARTISTS IN GROUP PHOTO (clockwise from left to right): Courtney Krause, Patresa Hartman, Sara Routh, Jodi Roberts, Rachel Hymes, Nella Thomas, Diana Weishaar, Abbie Sawyer, Lily DeTaeye

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