The first Greenbelt Music Festival kicked off

The Infamous Stringdusters perform at the first Greenbelt Music Festival in 2023. — Dan Ray/Little Village

May 19 and 20 marked Clive’s first-annual Greenbelt Music Festival, a (mostly) bluegrass focused fest held at Clive’s Horizon Events Center. Shockingly well done – especially for a new event – Greenbelt drew several thousand attendees during its two-day span. Five dollars from every ticket sold was donated to the Clive Community Foundation, which will use the funds to maintain and restore the Clive Greenbelt Trail for which the event was named.

The festival featured two stages: an indoor stage adorned with blazing Firetrucker Brewery logos (denoting the Ankeny-based business as sponsors of the event) and the outdoor main stage set up on the far side of a grass field. Concessions were available inside while food vendors set up outdoors. The bars carried a selection of Firetrucker beer, including the Greenbelt Lemon Fest American Pale Ale, which was brewed specifically for this festival.

A crowd watches performers at the inaugural Greenbelt Music Festival in 2023. The annual event focuses on bringing bluegrass music to central Iowa. — Dan Ray/Little Village

Indoors, festival-goers could attend a silent disco – DJ Bill DSM spun some incredible remixes, like a mashup of the Backstreet Boys’ “Everybody” with David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” and another of the Black Eyed Peas’ “My Humps” and Carl Carlton’s “She’s a Bad Mama Jama” – and play games like laser tag, giant Connect 4 and giant Jenga. Kids aged 12 and under got in for free. The bathrooms were also indoors, and the Horizon staff did an impeccable job keeping them clean and dry.

Outdoors featured a host of booths, including face painting, Iowa Native Trees and Shrubs, food vendors and goats. (The food for the goats was in one of those gumball machines you have to put quarters in, it’s unclear how successful anyone was in actually feeding them.) Both indoor and outdoor sections included seating, and attendees were able to bring camping chairs. The festival was ADA accessible.

Friday’s crowd was more subdued than Saturday’s, largely due to the windchill. The main stage headliner was Jameson Rodgers, a Nashville songwriter who reached number one on the Billboard charts with 2021’s “Cold Beer Calling My Name,” on which he collaborated with Luke Combs. Other standouts from Friday included southern rock outfit Read Southall Band, commercial country sister-duo Tigirlily Gold and old-school bluegrass group The Baberhood Bluegrass Band.

Saturday was warmer, and the outdoor stage held a larger crowd throughout the day. The Infamous Stringdusters headlined the main stage and had the audience singing along to their songs, but the real standout was Here Come the Mummies (HCTM), who took the stage right before the Stringdusters. The members of HCTM dress head-to-toe as mummies and play funk songs with titles like “Freak Flag,” “Jailbait” and “Are You Gonna Eat Alla That.”

No one knows who the members of HCTM are, but the rumor is that they’re Grammy winners under contract, which is why they perform anonymously. Their live show was relentlessly entertaining – the lead mummy sounds like a cross between Robert Johnson and AC/DC’s Brian Johnson, and at one point two of the mummies each played two saxophones at the same time.

Here Come the Mummies performing at the first Greenbelt Music Festival in Clive in 2023. — Dan Ray/Little Village

HTCM is one of the acts from Greenbelt to put on your concert bucket list; Tall Tall Trees is the other. Tall Tall Trees’ Mike Savino uses a customized banjo he calls his Banjotron 6500 to create a sound that lies somewhere between bluegrass, new wave and Ed Sheeran. He drums on, loops with and plays “guitar” all on his banjo.

Britches & Hose, a six-piece ukulele band that performed covers of Dua Lipa and Blue Oyster Cult, was another pleasant surprise from the Saturday line-up.

Ultimately, Greenbelt Music Festival brought a host of big and small name talent to Clive. Many artists said it was their first time performing in Iowa and expressed that they’d love to come back.

Stay up to date with Greenbelt Music Festival by following the Instagram page @greenbeltmusicfest or visiting their website

Have a question, comment, or story idea for Dan? Follow her on Instagram at @heyimdanray or visit her website at

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