The idea of ââhaving a bunch of creatives working together for a big meeting isn’t new, but it does take a special kind of person to execute the idea.
Cue Luke Tweedy, who owns and operates Flat Black Studios in Lone Tree. He is the organizer of the Gray Area Music Festival, an event held on property that may be one of Eastern Iowa’s best-kept secrets.
Gray Area Acreage is just down the road from Jerry’s Farm for those familiar with Camp Euforia and is home to a matte black barn that Tweedy himself renovated into a recording studio. From 2017, he started hosting groups that had recorded music in his space for a two-day concert where camping and parking were free. He called it Gray Area and donated the proceeds from ticket sales to local nonprofits.
Lineups from Gray Area’s past included Elizabeth Moen, William Elliot Whitmore, and James Tutson and the Rollback, among others. The event was halted like everything else in 2020, and this year Tweedy is back with a one-day event.
âThis year, we start the music at one in the afternoon. If you’ve ever listened to these bands, this is where they make their records. The stage is literally attached to the studio, âTweedy told IPR’s Tony Dehner. âIt will probably end around midnight. We are not going too late at night. Over the past few years we’ve been doing a two-day thing, but with COVID this year, we wanted to test the waters and bring it back to a one-day event. “
The lineup features a wide variety of genres, ranging from Americana and rock to what Tweedy calls “stoner doom stuff”. To our delight, Karen Meat, an Iowa City-based duo, are returning for the fourth year.
âKaren Meat is there every year because Dana, who is in Karen Meat, works at the studio. We focus on artists who record in the studio and artists who are in the Iowa City area, âTweedy said.
Masks are optional but not required. He authorizes camping on the property, will host a bonfire and cleared land on the area for parking.
Because Tweedy only books bands that have recorded there, the festival itself has a special energy. Tony Dehner asked him what he was most excited about this year’s bill, other than the fact that it would only be a return to live music at his property.
âAs a studio engineer, I have fairly broad tastes. So I love every act that’s on the bill. Selfishly, I am excited to play music. I am one of the laws included in the bill this year. Dead Rider is one of my favorite bands. I love these guys. I have never seen Telekinetic Yeti live, so I am delighted to see Twin Wizard live. I’m really excited to see Condor and Jaybird. I only listened to them. All the other bands I’ve seen before, but even though I’ve seen 15 times, it’s also special. It’s like seeing an old friend.
Tickets are on sale for $ 30 and can be purchased through Petit Village tickets.