The thrill of attending a Codfish Hollow Barnstomers concert in rural Maquoketa, IA, is hard to convey in words. First, the property is stunning. It is other-worldly, like a movie. There are rolling hills, lush green woods and an old house and farm buildings tucked into the landscape. The long narrow wooden barn, built in 1954 by the grandfather of current co-owner Tiffany Biehl, is the heart of the venue. Its hay loft is transformed into nothing less than a cathedral as the lights go up and the music begins on performance nights. John C. Reilly said it best when he described performing in Codfish Hollow akin to being in the belly of a whale. When you are there, you get that.
The music is world class. The sound system is clear and inviting. Even the volume is cast just right — good and loud but not too loud. If you’ve never heard of the acts, you’ll still enjoy the music because Tiffany and her husband, Shawn, ferret out only great music.
I went to a Codfish Hollow show for the second time on May 7, 2016 (I’ve also attended a basement party during the winter), and I saw the super fun bluegrass-folk-indie band The Waydown Wanderers as well as mighty rockers Susto, Amasa Hines and Miles Nielsen and The Rusted Hearts. I knew flat zero about any of these acts but I enjoyed all of them. Waydown Wanderers and the rootsy rocker Miles Nielsen won me over and I searched the next day for more outings. The Wanderers happened to be performing nearby again the next night so off I went. It was an early evening outdoor concert in downtown Maquoketa. If you’ve never seen The Waydown Wanderers live, hang on to your hat and go because they are great. More later.
For more information about upcoming Codfish Hollow shows and tickets (many concerts sell out in advance which means no tickets are available at the door), visit the Hollow’s website. The concert barn is located at 5013 288th Ave., Maquoketa, Iowa 52060.