The sound

April 28, 2011 |

By Michael Swanger


Middleman Networking Conference weekend events to educate, entertain


Artists, record label officials, DJs, promoters, retailers and publishers will gather in Des Moines from Friday, April 29 through Sunday, May 1 for the fourth annual Middleman Networking Conference, "Where Music Meets Success in the Midwest." The jam-packed weekend, which includes seminars, workshops, parties and concerts, is the brainchild of local music entrepreneur and artist Bo James, 38, and is designed to educate and entertain.

" Each year we hold the conference during the Drake Relays because so many people come to town, but for the last 10 years or so people have been coming here for parties and concerts," said James, who, years ago, launched the popular DJ showcase "Midwest Spring Bling Blowout" that returns to the Val Air Ballroom on Saturday, April 30 at 9 p.m. ($20). It is one of three events scheduled at the ballroom this weekend, including the "Midwest Freak Fest" on Friday, April 29 ($25) and a car show on Sunday, May 1 at 1 p.m. that includes live music. Other activities affiliated with the conference will be held at various Des Moines clubs.

Though concerts attract fans, James said he is focused on the educational component of the three-day conference. On Saturday, April 30, the Eddie Davis Community Center in West Des Moines will host seminars and workshops that help artists to understand the importance of intellectual property, including copyrights, publishing and placement rights for television and movies. Vicky Long-Hill, executive director of the community center and an attorney, will present the conference's keynote address about why businesses fail.

" Anyone who attends the conference needs to realize that they need to think of themselves as a business and that they are a commodity," said James. "The keynote address, for example, will point out what people who fail in business have in common, and we want people to learn from that and change their lives for the better."

A panel discussion regarding the creation of Midwestern "corn circuit," another brainchild of James' that is based loosely on the 20th century Southern concept of the "chitlin' circuit," in which a network of venues for entertainers is created at a grassroots level, will be held.

" We want to create a circuit where artists can perform throughout the Midwest. It's just a matter of connecting everybody," said James.

James, who served on the City of Des Moines' Music Commission, hopes that his conference will empower creative people so that one day the stigma of the "starving artist" can be eliminated.

" My goal isn't to make everybody a superstar, but to educate them and to teach them how to make money from different revenue streams; that's how rich people do it. If local musicians can make $20,000 to $30,000 doing what they love to do for a living, it's a blessing," he said.

Conversely, James hopes that the conference and its attendees will help strengthen Des Moines' live music scene.

" The last few years I've participated in music panels across the country, and I've seen how other cities do things and Des Moines is grossly behind the curve. The worst part is the people in the industry who have what I call 'MTV PHDs' who take what they see on television as the gospel and are hurting themselves and the scene. There are more practical ways to strengthen the scene, and I keep that in mind in everything I do." CV


caption: For more information about the Middleman Networking Conference, organized by Bo James (pictured), visit Photo by Trisha James


Middleman Networking Conference Entertainment


Friday, April 29

Midwest Allstar Swagfest — Club 504, 9 p.m.- 2 a.m.

Lenny Twin Poetic Soul Revival — House of Bricks, 7-10 p.m.

Fresh Dressed To Impress Ready To Party — Club 2060, 9 p.m. - 2 a.m.

Midwest Freak Fest — Val Air Ballroom, 9 p.m. - 2 a.m.


Saturday, April 30

Midwest Spring Bling Blowout — Val Air Ballroom, 9 p.m. - 2 a.m.

I80/235 After Hours — Skate West, 2-5 a.m.


Sunday, May 1

Car Show — Val Air Ballroom, 1 p.m.

The Grand Finale Rep Yo City Showdown — Club 504, 2 p.m.