The Grape Ape Trust


Bryan Baker: guitar, percussion, vocal

Justin Chastain: keyboard, vocal

Doug Hoffman: guitar, vocal

Eric Jones: bass guitar

CW Smith: percussion, guitar, vocal

    Eddie Bliemehl, Evan Bittner,

    Justin Chastain, Joe Donahue,

    Cynthia Knight, Lynda Meadows,

    Josh Luce, Mike Schneider

    Des Moines, Iowa

The Beatles, Steely Dan, Big Star, Crowded House, Television, The Cars, Rolling Stones, The Who, T. Rex, Badfinger, The Eagles, Tom Petty, Creedence Clearwater Revival, REM,  Roy Orbison, The Band, Elvis Presley, John Cougar Mellencamp, The Doors, Johnny Cash, The Police, Dire Straits



Mission Accomplished demo

2010 basement demo


Most musicians have been through the same frustration: after a few months or years of playing with a gigging band, it can feel like you’re just going through the motions. Business decisions come ahead of personal preferences. You book gigs because they’re good career moves, not because you like the venues. You play songs because you think the audience wants to hear them, not because you like the songs.

The primary rule in The Grape Ape Trust is that when it stops being fun, we stop. If we don’t want to play “Freebird” anymore, we find a song we like to play instead. If we need a night off from rehearsal, we take it. We take fun gigs even if they don’t pay that well. We have fun with the music, and that energy and lightness of heart comes through in our performance.

Our live shows showcase an especially wide range of styles because we have four singers and songwriters. Our original material, coming as it does from four different perspectives, sounds fresh, varied and innovative. CW’s wide range is balanced by Bryan’s more understated approach, by Doug’s jazz and blues interpretations, and by Justin’s raw rock energy. We split up the vocals to be fair to each other, and because it makes a more interesting experience for the audience.

The Grape Ape Trust has played at the following venues:

  1. Vaudeville Mews

  2. DemiCon 20•21•22•23•24

  3. Des Moines Social Club

  4. First Unitarian Church of Des Moines

  5. Deacon’s Day 5

  6. Glen Oaks Country Club

  7. House of Bricks

  8. Bourbon Street Bar & Grill

  9. Smouse Opportunity School

  10. Carlisle Christian Church

  11. Des Moines Downtown Farmers’ Market

  12. Chichaqua Greenbelt Park

  13. Billy Joe’s Lounge

  14. People’s on Court

CW and Bryan have also appeared on the Geek Speak webcast on and online in Second Life.

Playing soon at a basement near you