Published on August 19th, 2013 | by Joe Lawler

New one-day music fest, Shoot the Chutes, brings Someone Loves You Boris Yeltsin, other bands to Des Moines

Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin frontman Phillip Dickey said it’s fitting that his band is playing a festival named for an amusement park ride. The song “Ms. Dot” on the band’s upcoming album, “Fly By Wire,” was inspired by one.

“The song is half about my grandma and half about being afraid of riding a roller coaster,” Dickey said during a phone interview. “There was a roller coaster in Cincinnati called the Beast that was so scary R.L. Stine wrote a book about it. It took me like 18 years to work up the guts to ride it. There’s a line in the song, ‘I think I’ll ride the Beast sometime.’ I like to think people will think I’m talking about doing drugs, but it’s a roller coaster.”

SSLYBY’s moniker, which name drops Russia’s first president, has perplexed fans for more than a decade. Earlier this year the band went to Russia as cultural ambassadors for the United States. So how did Russians respond?

“They were equally perplexed,” Dickey said. “We had a press conference with Russian news agencies, and we were thinking there would be one or two reporters, but instead it was like we were being interviewed after a game seven or a White House press conference.

“We spoke with some of Yeltsin’s friends and the people from his library and they said a lot of kids in Russia don’t know who he is now. It’s all about Putin over there now.”

SSLYBY has gone though a lineup change in recent months with singer/guitarist John Robert Cardwell leaving the group. At the same time the band went from the more polished sound of “Let it Sway” back to its more lo-fi style of past recordings.

“Before, we were always making the live show more of just a rock show, loud and in your face,” Dickey said. “With this lineup we’re trying to make it more like the experience we had recording in a bedroom. Before we were ZZ Top, now we’re going to be Paul McCartney.”

The origin of Chutes

Shoot the Chutes was organized by Andy Cusack and Jill Haverkamp, who you might recognize from their work with the 80/35 Music Festival. Cusack handles booking for many of the festival’s acts, while Haverkamp oversees public relations and marketing.

A few years back they talked about putting on an event to test out how a show with smaller buzz bands might do outside of 80/35. They’ll find out this weekend.

“One of the ideas with 80/35 was to make Des Moines a place bands would consider going to,” Cusack said. “So we wanted to test that and put on a little thing.”

The festival is named for the Shoot the Chutes ride at Riverview amusement park, which operated on the north side of Des Moines from 1915 to 1978. Haverkamp and Cusack wanted a name that tied into Des Moines’ history, and it didn’t hurt that the URL was available.

The duo has already had its first brush with festival- planning difficulty when the Chicago band Gauntlet Hair, which was scheduled to be the second to last band to play, announced it was breaking up just two weeks before the event. That left them scrambling to find a replacement on short notice. They landed 80/35 alums Maps & Atlases for the slot.

If things go well this year, Cusack and Haverkamp want Shoot the Chutes to become an annual event, possibly branching out around the city.

“We want to grow it slowly every year and not start out with something too big to manage,” Haverkamp said. “We’ve talked about setting it up so one day all the events are in the East Village and the next day they’re all on Fourth Street, or putting bands in weird places you wouldn’t normally see a band. Hopefully in the future this can be a two to five day thing. We definitely want to grow it every year.”

Shoot the Chutes

When: 1 p.m. Saturday

Where: Vaudeville Mews, 212 Fourth St.

Cost: All day passes: $15 in advance, $20 day of event; early shows only: $8 in advance, $12 day of event

Info: or

Iowa Public Radio Outdoor Stage

1:30 p.m.: MaryBeth Doran

2:45 p.m.: Twins

4:30 p.m.: Quick Piss

6 p.m.: Torches

8 p.m.: Mean Street

10 p.m.: Prissy Clerks

Pearl Vodka Indoor Stage

2 p.m.: Maids

3:45 p.m.: Har-di-Har

5:15 p.m.: Annalibera

7 p.m. Sleepy Kitty

9 p.m.: The Melismatics

10:45 p.m.: Maps & Atlases

12:30 a.m.: Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin

About the Author

Joe Lawler covers music and more for Juice Magazine. E-mail him at or follow his updates on Twitter @JoeLawler

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