Iowa Music Hall-of-Famer Dartanyan Brown to perform at Grinnell College

Dartanyan “Dart” Brown

Native Iowan will break his 40-year Iowa concert absence on Wednesday, April 24 

GRINNELL, Iowa — Dartanyan “Dart” Brown, one of the most celebrated musicians in Iowa history, will present a free concert of jazz, electronic/experimental and American roots music at Grinnell College on Wednesday, April 24.

Dartanyan’s performance — his first live concert in Iowa in 40 years — involves his original music and sound design, as well as songs and sounds produced by his late father, Ellsworth, and his son Jaimeo Brown, a New York City jazz and recording artist.       

7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 24

Sebring-Lewis Hall, Bucksbaum Center for the Arts, 1108 Park St., Grinnell

Dartanyan “Dart” Brown is a bassist, keyboard player and composer who has been inducted into Iowa’s Rock ’n Roll, Jazz and Blues halls of fame. He grew up in Des Moines in a musical family. His parents, Ellsworth and Mary Alice Brown, were accomplished musicians; Ellsworth was into bebop jazz, and Mary Alice into rhumba, meringue and European classical. Local musicians were frequent guests in the Brown home, and Dart Brown would robustly sing along with as live and recorded music. He sang in the YMCA boys chorus, and, by the late 1960s and ’70s, was a fixture on the Des Moines music scene. 

After graduating from North High School in Des Moines, he attended Drake University, where he studied journalism and music before leaving school to tour for 17 months with the nationally known recording group Chase. When trumpeter Bill Chase died, the group disbanded, and Brown returned to Drake to finish his degree. He subsequently joined the group Midwest Express, whose combination of blues, jazz and R & B had a large club following.

Brown and his wife, Marcia, moved to California, where he became a sound designer, technology guru and educator for northern California independent schools and for companies, including Apple. A four-year residency followed at the University of Montana, where they taught jazz improvisation. They moved back to Des Moines and became heavily involved in electronic music. Today, Brown lives in Marin County, California, where he teaches at the Marin Academy.  

For more information about Dart Brown’s life, and that of his family, see the Fall 2018 issue of the Grinnell publication “Rootstalk: A Prairie Journal of Culture, Science, and the Arts.”

Sponsoring Brown’s visit to Grinnell College are the faculty and staff of the Color Caucus, the Center for Prairie Studies, the Office of the Dean of the College and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

Grinnell College welcomes the participation of people with disabilities. Information about parking and accessibility is available on the college’s website: Accommodation requests may be made to Conference Operations at 641-269-3235 or

Minors under the age 18 need to be accompanied by an adult. Grinnell College is not responsible for supervision of minors on campus.