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The Tryhards perform at McKinley Park

The band, which features two Creston natives, is on tour this week.

Ames-based rock band The Tryhards performed in front of a small crowd Sunday afternoon in McKinley Park.

The free concert in McKinley Park marked the second stop on a weeklong tour for the rockers, culminating in a show Tuesday, Aug. 15, at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines.

Sunday’s show was a homecoming of sorts, as guitarist and lead singer Mike Walsh and drummer Alex Chapman are both Creston natives and 2014 graduates of Creston High School.

“Ever since I started playing I’ve been like, ‘Maybe I’ll play at the talent show or something,’” Chapman said after Sunday’s show. “I’ve always wanted to play at the McKinley Park bandshell, so it was pretty cool to actually do that.”

“To book a date here on tour in Creston, our hometown, it was really fun and it was great to see everybody come out,” Walsh said. “This is where me and Alex are from, so playing here was awesome.”

Walsh, an Iowa State University student majoring in criminal justice, began playing in bands about two years ago.

The current lineup of Walsh, Chapman, lead guitarist Sam Ripley and bassist Ryder Neys has only been playing together for about six weeks.

But, the band still has enough original material to create an album, which it is eagerly awaiting to return from the studio.

The Tryhards played a 45-minute set Sunday consisting of original songs and cover songs, including “Knocking on Heaven’s Door.”

“Before these guys joined, I was with a few other guys and we recorded five original songs on a short EP,” Walsh said. “Right now we’re waiting for the studio to get back with us and I think it’s 10 songs on our album, original songs that have been recorded.”

Walsh played saxophone in the Creston Middle School and Creston High School bands, and learned how to play guitar from Dustin Baird when Baird first opened his studio in town.

Chapman got a drum set for Christmas in 2010 and began playing drums, but quickly shifted his focus to guitar. When Walsh approached him looking for a drummer, Chapman “picked the sticks back up.”

“I’m glad I did because we’re having a good time,” Chapman said. “Just the adrenaline – for me, playing sports, nothing can replace that feeling. But honestly, playing live music is just as fun.”

Chapman said Sunday’s show at the McKinley Park bandshell was the biggest stage the band has played on so far. The band typically plays house shows.

That will soon change, though.

The band’s tour continues with a 6 p.m. show tonight at Vaudeville Mews, with its capacity of 230, in downtown Des Moines before rolling on to Iowa City Tuesday, then Rockford, Illinois, Thursday.

The tour ends with a 2:30 p.m. show Tuesday, Aug. 15, on the Bud Light stage at the Iowa State Fair.

“I think it’s a big step in the right direction,” Walsh said. “It’s definitely challenging. It’ll be a bigger stage than we’ve ever played on.”

“I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of audience we draw, because I really like to see the reaction,” Ripley said. “Mike is a terrific frontman. He can really get the crowd going. It’s true – lots of crowd involvement. It’s a fun time.”

The performance at the Iowa State Fair could be a big moment for the band as it looks to go bigger in the future.

“Being exposed to that many people is a big deal in the music industry,” Neys said.

After the Iowa State Fair, the band plans to take a short break to write new material. After getting back into the studio to record a new album, the band hopes to go back on tour again next summer.

“You think underground music is dead nowadays,” Chapman said. “If you get out there and actually find shows, some people, I would love to listen to their music. There’s some really good music in Iowa, but it’s just accessibility. It’s just easier to click on today’s hits on Spotify.”

For more information on The Tryhards, visit

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