Community Spotlight: Dang Felton
If you have ever been to DMSC then you are well aware that it is home to several talented artists. From comedy, music and an array of classes to theatre and art there are several different talented and beautiful souls that help make the arts available to us all. One of those artists is Dang Felton.
Believe it or not, Dang has been playing at DMSC for quite some time and playing here even kick-started his songwriting career. Once The Basement opened, Dang began playing shows there and eventually got more involved. He started his own songwriting workshop and is now teaching music and chess to the kids that attend the after school STEAM program.
Dang grew up in Des Moines with a somewhat musical family that helped spark his musical interests. With more musical talent in his pinky finger than I have in my entire body, Dang can play a total of 6 instruments and can sight read for violin, viola, and mandolin. He tends to gravitate toward piano and guitar, always searching for interesting patterns that he can finger pick on his trusty acoustic sidekick. One thing that you may be surprised to know is where the inspiration for his music actually comes from. For Dang, inspiration seems to find him when he hears music that he’s not really into.
“I get inspired when I hear music that I don’t like. A part of the reason I started writing stemmed from hearing artists that I like, but then finding there weren’t enough similar artists doing the same style in the manner that I liked it. It’s a bit selfish, but I enjoy the thought that I provide a sound that I have trouble finding myself, which I imagine, draws similar minds to me. Well, that’s the hope.”
Coming up on 20 years of being a musician and also being a private instructor for the last four years, the driving force behind his Dang Good Songwriters Workshop at DMSC was to prove to people that there is talent in Des Moines and that there are most certainly things to do. DMSC brought Dang out of his shell as both a person and an artist. He wanted the chance to give that feeling back to others. Of course, teaching comes with many obstacles, and for Dang the biggest one is taking information and delivering it in a way that connects to his students as well as making it easy for them to remember.
“I like being able to give those big a-ha moments. That’s where I get something back from teaching.”
Some of you may also be wondering about some of the other things that Dang enjoys doing. Well, I have some answers for you! Chess and video games! Studying and playing chess is a big hobby for Dang, as well as immersing himself in one-player, role playing games that he can get lost in for hours at a time. His favorite television show is Sherlock, simply because “Benedict Cumberbatch is the man!” Dang also loves to travel and would love to sail down North and South America gigging from city to city. Speaking of gigs, his new album will be coming out on October 21, so all of you should head to Lefty’s to catch the release party! One more fun fact, and the one that I find the most important is that Dang’s spirit animal is Captain Jean Luc Picard of the Starship Enterprise. I never would’ve guessed that one!
For any of you young musicians out there looking for advice, Dang would tell you “You’re probably not very good but that’s OK.” For Dang, being a musician doesn’t exactly have to do with how talented you are, but with how long you can stick with it until it becomes your lifestyle.
“What matters is that you picked one thing and stuck with it, and regardless of talent you will get something back. There’s a feeling that you get while you’re performing, regardless of how good you are, that only comes with time and not talent. It’s really peaceful, but you have to just stick with it to earn it. Of course, maybe you’re actually brilliant. I’m not a big fan of the idea of going through any particular hobby thinking you’re the best at what you do. That kind of mindset leaves you with little room to grow.”
Written by: Alicia Wagner
Alicia is a marketing intern at DMSC, and is pursuing a degree in public relations and event management at Iowa State University.
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