The Scarlet & Black

The Independent Student News Site of Grinnell College

The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Avey Grouws Band performs at Solera Wine Bar in Grinnell

Colleen Klainert started Solera Wine Bar, located at 829 Broad Street, in 2014. Photo by Ohana Sarvotham.

Three members of the Avey Grouws Band performed at Solera Wine Bar earlier this month in downtown Grinnell, Iowa at 829 Broad St. The April 16 show consisted of performances by vocalist Jeni Grouws, guitarist Chris Avey and drummer Bryan West, marking the third live event since Solera renewed its commitment to book live performances every month.  

The band was founded on Jan. 1, 2017, and traces its origins to a blues jam on the Mississippi River. Following a successful career in journalism and broadcasting for 18 years, Grouws decided to pursue music full-time after a chance encounter with Avey and West. Eight months later, Avey and Grouws began playing as an acoustic duo. 

“We started as just the duo to see what we thought of making music together,” Grouws said. “Because of that, we started playing together for a few shows in that first year and decided that we were officially going to be a band.” 

The band’s music focuses on elements of roots rock, which uses elements of rock, blues and country to construct a distinctly unique sound. As of now, they’ve released an EP, “Road to Memphis,” and two albums, their Billboard charting album “The Devil May Care” and the guitar-heavy “Tell Tale Heart.”  

“We’re not really either just one of those; we’re definitely an amalgamation of like all of our backgrounds,” Grouws said. “You will hear blues, you will hear country, you will hear rock, and you’ll feel it all kind of come together in a sound that we think suits us pretty well.” 

If you’re a musician and you love what you do, you love what you do whether you’re doing it for two people, or you’re doing it for 2000 people, right? – Jeni Grouws

As a traditional small town, it’s rare for Grinnell’s community to see popular acts performing live. With social distancing protocols becoming less strict, Colleen Klainert, owner of Solera Wine Bar, has begun hosting more live acts to reinvigorate the culture of Grinnell. 

“We’ve pooled our resources to start bringing musicians once a month into town. We started last fall and had a few events in the park,” Klainert said. We’re back up and running now, so this will be our third back up and running event Tuesday night.” 

The process of scheduling and booking performances requires several levels of engagement. For Solera, it can seem as simple as a phone call about times and cost. Another element to consider is whether the venue appropriately accommodates the act itself. 

“I look for what I like. I like blues. I like jazz. I like some folk music,” said Klainert. “This place is not conducive to any kind of hard rock, heavy bass, loud acoustic or amplified music, so I have to kind of look for things to suit the venue.” 

Despite the band’s obvious and notable success, they express a desire to remain humble and connected to their musical roots. Having attended middle school in the nearby Marshalltown and working in Decorah for a decade, Grouws is no stranger to the Midwest and feels only excitement for the opportunity to perform, no matter the place. 

“If you’re a musician and you love what you do, you love what you do, whether you’re doing it for two people, or you’re doing it for 2000 people, right?” Grouws said. “We’re doing this because we love music. And we love that we have the opportunity to play music at any place that we’ll have.” 

“We’re not a ‘cool’ band. We’re not trying to be up there and make you think that we think we’re the coolest things ever because we’re not,” Grouws said. “We want you to come in and say I really needed this. I needed to feel like I belonged somewhere, and I felt like I belonged here. I think our show can bring people together, so my number one thing is to make sure that everyone knows that, no matter who you are, you are welcome on our show.”  

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
Donate to The Scarlet & Black
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All The Scarlet & Black Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *