Meet The Folk-Pop Music Duo: The Well Pennies – NPR

The Well Pennies are based in Des Moines, Iowa. We’ve been hearing from them live as Morning Edition broadcasts from Smokey Row Coffee Co. during the coverage of the Iowa caucuses.


So we have had the benefit of live music in our shows this week from Iowa. The Well Pennies have been with us. They’re a husband-and-wife folk-pop duo from right here in Des Moines. Their names are Bryan and Sarah Vanderpool, and a lot of their songs are about coming home to the Midwest.


SARAH VANDERPOOL: I grew up here in Iowa – in Des Moines. My parents still live in the same house that they lived in when they brought me home from the hospital as a newborn.

BRYAN VANDERPOOL: I grew up in Boston. We met playing in various coffee shops. And when we met, we instantly had this, you know, musical connection.


THE WELL PENNIES: (Singing) There you go tapping at my window. There you go rattling my heart.

B VANDERPOOL: We fell in love with each other, moved across the country to California. We lived there for about eight years before moving back to Iowa.

S VANDERPOOL: We were doing music out there. But as anybody knows if they live on the coast, it’s very expensive and can actually be kind of – I don’t know – draining and a little overwhelming. Iowa, it’s just so much more laid-back. It’s so unapologetically Midwestern. You know, the whole state comes from farmers. There’s a lot of family. It’s just very chill.


THE WELL PENNIES: (Singing) Take a breath, little light. Burn it up with me tonight.

B VANDERPOOL: I’ve always lived on the coasts in cities, in high rises and busy streets. And so to live in someplace where there is huge, wide open spaces and fields that you can’t see the end of, Iowa just kind of cultivates a creative spirit.


THE WELL PENNIES: (Singing) Oh, my, have you ever seen such a blue sky? Oh, what I would do up so high…

S VANDERPOOL: Coming back to the Midwest, I’m like, ugh, it feels so free to me. Our vibe of our music is we wanted to cheer ourselves up. We want a musical Snuggie to (laughter) cozy with. That’s kind of Midwestern – sweet, comforting and calm.


THE WELL PENNIES: (Singing) Ooh, la, la, la, la. Don’t you want to feel it, too?

MARTIN: We are here at Smokey Row coffeehouse in Des Moines with our audience. Everyone alert and enthusiastic…

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