Professionals laud venue, which will seat 3,000-5,000

By Pat Shaver

CEDAR RAPIDS – Between playing in four different bands, teaching guitar lessons at area schools, and recording music, Brook Hoover is a busy man.

Mr. Hoover, of Cedar Rapids, considers himself a full-time working musician, and he says there’s a definite market out there for vocational musicians.

“I used to work as a substitute teacher,” Mr. Hoover said. “I could do that, but all of this stuff eats up my day.”

Local musicians like Hoover are looking forward to construction of the Cedar Rapids amphitheater. It will bring in about eight national touring concerts and feature a total of 20 ticketed events every year. He is one of several area musicians who will take part in a fundraiser concert in August organized by Brian Stoll.

“There’s a lot of really good talent, but they don’t get recognized, so it’s harder for them to make an income,” Mr. Stoll said. The hope is that when the amphitheater is finished, it will give local artists a larger venue in which to perform.

The entire project is estimated to cost $6.8 million, which includes levee construction, amphitheater construction and a festival park and parking area. The facility will host about 52 events every year, which includes community events, private rentals and concerts.

The amphitheater and levee project is being funded through an I-JOBS grant, a state River Enhancement Community Attractions grant and private fundraising. Linn County and the city of Cedar Rapids have committed to funding a portion of the facility.

Two of the bands Hoover performs with, The Surf Zombies and Sarah Cram and the Derelicts, are among several bands that are set to play at the Cedar Rapids Amphitheater Festival in August. Proceeds from the event will help support the Cedar Rapids amphitheater and levee project, which is set to be completed next year.

“In Cedar Rapids, there are a lot of bars and that’s where a lot of music is at,” Mr. Stoll said. “There are people who love music, but they have kids and they’re not going to take their kids to a bar. The amphitheater can be a place where families can go.”

“I suppose everyday is a challenge to be productive, but it’s not a terrible struggle,” Mr. Hoover said. “You book a show or gain a new student; everything is one step at a time. To be commercially viable is a long, slow thing. We’ll sell a few downloads, and get some licensing on TV shows. It’s all pennies, really.”

One of the bands he plays in, for example, had a song featured on the reality television show “High School Reunion.”

The all-day event will be in Green Square Park in downtown Cedar Rapids on Aug. 20.

The fundraiser will feature 10 local bands and a headliner, Claude Hay from Australia, said Mr. Stoll.

The music festival will overlap with the downtown Farmer’s Market in Cedar Rapids that day, he added. Performances will go from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. The festival also will feature local food vendors, an area for children and raffle prizes. Tickets for the event are $10 and will be available at The U of I Community Credit Union, the Cedar Rapids Downtown District office, The Music Loft in Cedar Rapids, the Cedar Rapids Convention and Visitors Bureau and from the City’s Parks and Recreation department.

Organizers expect the event in August will bring in 3,000 to 5,000 people and hope to raise $10,000 to $20,000 for the amphitheater project.

“I think it’s going to be an incredible event. The artists are extremely excited about this. None of them have been able to be involved in an event like this,” Mr. Stoll said.