Small Venue Heroes: TWINS

TWINS lineup 2021
TWINS: Toby Sires, Devin Ferguson, Luke Sires, Ben Rendall, and Joel Sires. Photo credit: Sarah Duncan Ferguson. Used with permission.

TWINS are a highly regarded, long-running Americana rock band from Waterloo in the Cedar Valley of Iowa that formed around 2011. Three of the current five members (Joel, Toby, and Luke Sires – Toby replaced founding member Harper Sires) are relatives, with longtime bass player Devin Ferguson, and newcomer Ben Rendall on piano and vocals. Rendall’s resume appropriately includes a Tom Petty tribute band. Another member of the Sires family, Dylan, is also a musician. TWINS are well known in this part of the Midwest for frequent high energy small venue gigs, appearances on Iowa Public Radio and at festivals all over the state and rest of the country, as well as opening for artists like The Jayhawks, Dr. Dog, and Lydia Loveless. They have played dive bars, fairs, parks, historic theaters, indie rock clubs, Maximum Ames Musical Festival, and the 80/35 festival. There’s not a college town in a 200-mile radius they haven’t hit at least once. 

In 2016 TWINS played a showcase at SXSW, and honestly they should have been a big deal there and then. In other words, the exact kind of artists this feature was designed to highlight! They’ve released four albums ranging from power pop with pristine harmonies (‘Funny Faces,’ ‘Tomboys on Parade’) to pedal-steel-infused rock (‘Square America’) before shifting to excellent acoustic Americana on 2020’s ‘Dream On.’ You can still hear the influence of Cheap Trick and The Raspberries, but there’s more mid-career Springsteen and twang now.

Joel Sires is the lead singer, guitarist, and main songwriter, who has recently released his first solo EP, ‘Dog Years.’ On ‘Dream On,’ which was recorded in a ghost town in Iowa, he began concentrating more on meaningful lyrics, inspired by legendary singer-songwriters like John Prine and Andy Fleming from Des Moines’ own Brother Trucker. The results are more thoughtful, introspective, and folkier songs. Sires says, “Brother Trucker had a big impact on this new record. I had a huge epiphany watching those guys. I was wondering, ‘How do you get older with dignity and still be in a working band?’ And then I saw those guys, and it really changed me musically and emotionally.” 

TWINS’ song ‘Buffalo Snow’ (video below) might be the polar opposite of ‘California Dreamin” but it’s still one of the band’s best songs to date and a brilliant example of Midwestern Americana.

 

 

About Kimberly Bright 38 Articles
Freelance writer specializing in music and art, British, Canadian, and American music and cultural history, flyover states, session musicians, overlooked and unsung artists. Author of 'Chris Spedding: Reluctant Guitar Hero.'

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