Last night was not just like any other night. Instead of a couple of beers, frozen pizza and Hot Cheetos to pregame, it was Thai coffee, way too much Thai food, and good conversation. Instead of Ubering to the show and struggling to find conversation topics for my driver, I was being shuttled by parents and their friends. Yes, that’s right. I’m back home in Des Moines, Iowa but that wasn’t going to stop me from going to a show. Sure, not my typical show and not my typical setting but my dad keeps on bugging me about when I’m going to review his band so, dad, here it is. I went and saw The Java Jews at The Greater Des Moines Botanical Gardens last night and here’s how it went…

Some people would say that I’m a bit kooky and odd. That’s fine. I’ll take it. Meet my father and it will all make sense. My dad is the band leader and accordionist for Des Moines’ premier Klezmer band (yes, there’s only one)– The Java Jews. A lot of unanswered questions already, bear with me. First off, yes, my dad plays the accordion. It’s not something that I’m proud of but it’s just a part of me at this point. Every birthday was plagued with my dad showing up with his accordion (thankfully my birthday is in the summer and he only ever ruined marching band camp) and I honestly don’t think I’d be half the way I am today without these embarrassing events following me throughout my childhood. Secondly- Klezmer music. What is it? Jew music! Okay, that’s not politically correct but that’s what my dad always refers to it as. Originating in Eastern Europe, it’s one of those sounds that is very distinct and very, well, strange, but also, again, something I grew up with. Finally, yes, he named the band The Java Jews. The band got their start playing at a coffeeshop in “downtown” Des Moines called Java Joe’s so it really just made sense. It was also a little less embarrassing than the other ideas my dad had floating around (like Shlepknot, Black Sabbath- only pronounced in full Jew form as “Shabbas”)- see, it could have been worse.

I found myself surrounded by an entire nursing home as I made my way through the beautiful gardens of the Botanical Center. The average age at last night’s performance was definitely one of the oldest that I’ve ever experienced but, after working a half day and then driving through cornfields to get home, it was kind of nice. With the sun slowly setting behind them, the Java Jews kicked off their set and I found myself sneaking off to the bar before my dad could call me out in front of the audience (which was inevitable and definitely happened a couple of times but at least I had a drink in hand).

From my dad’s signature self deprecating Jew Jokes to drummer Kurt Bowermaster’s professional tap dancing segment (where he just pranced around like an idiot with little clicker things in his hands to make it sound like he was tap dancing), The Java Jews seemed to be in rare form last night and the audience was loving it. Whether you were actually watching the mis-matched group of musicians on the stage or just carrying on a conversation with your friends, every song was followed up by applause from everyone.  Although the audience was seated, there was no shortage of energy throughout the night.

The only mosh pit to note was from baby Otis. Clearly getting ready for the Slipknot show later this weekend (also the reason I’m back home for the weekend), Otis was trashing all about with the help of his dad to the infectious beats of the Java Jews and getting all of the smiles from the audience while doing so. Other than that, last night’s performance was laid back and chill and, for my first night back in sleepy Des Moines, Iowa, it was absolutely perfect.

If you’ve ever wondered about why I am the way I am… just remember that my dad is the bandleader and accordionist of The Java Jews.

Line Up:

The Java Jews

Venue: Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden

Sausage Fest Meter- 4 out of 10

Average Age of the Crowd- 72

Crowd Surfers- None

Stage Divers-  None

Broken Bones- 0

Spotted Flying Through The Air- Nothing

Fights- 0

Pukers- 0

Drunkards Taken Out By Security- 0

Celebrity Sightings- None

Overall Score- 7.5 out of 10

Show on Deck- SLIPKNOT!!!

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