Codfish Hollow: The True Jewel of Jackson County - The Echo

“Music Venues in the Quad Cities” is a 12 part series providing a comprehensive overview of live music venues in the Quad Cities area, with a specific focus on venues whose audience capacity is below 600. The series aims to highlight the vibrant music scene in the Quad Cities and shed light on the smaller, more intimate venues that may often be overlooked.

The series exclusively focuses on dedicated live music venues and excludes bars that occasionally host live performances. By narrowing the scope to these venues, the series provides a detailed exploration of the unique experiences and opportunities they offer to both local and touring musicians.

By highlighting venues with an audience capacity below 500, the series aims to showcase the intimate and personal experiences that these venues provide. The series acknowledges that larger venues, and bars often dominate the music scene conversation with either touring musicians or cover bands and seeks to shed light on the charm and character of the Quad Cities’ smaller music venues.


Photographed & Written by: Matthew Terry

As an individual who spent the majority of his adolescence in the Quad Cities, Maquoketa was a name I connected to summertime, with annual trips to the caves and the drive-in that sat just West of Highway 61 but not to the town itself. When it came time to travel North it was these locations just outside the city itself that drew my attention, and I really don’t recall going into the city itself beyond a quick stop at the local “sit-down Pizza Hut”.

That remnant from another time still brings about daydreams of red-tinged cups and the smell of pizza mixed with stale smoke rising from the opposite section of this single-room restaurant that motivated so many children to read in the 1990’s. If you had told me at that age, that I would not only be spending so many of my summer days as an adult in Maquoketa, but that I would actually look forward to it, I would have questioned that as the truth.

However, since 2009 the seemingly non-descript Midwestern barn deemed Codfish Hollow, has been changing the lives of performers and attendees to this jewel of Jackson County, and since 2018 I’ve been lucky enough to be part of the photo team here.

The story of Codfish Hollow is one that predates everyone who has ever attended a show on these hallowed grounds. While the barn itself was constructed in 1954 by Arnold Stamp, the grandfather of Tiffany Biehl, the current owner, operator, skull artist, and essentially the “behind the scenes mother” of this magical Midwestern monument to music. Tiffany is easy to find at Codfish, as she usually has a trio of dogs following her.

The farm itself was first established in 1871, when Arnold’s grandfather Orla Frederick Carl Stamp came over from Germany and built a log cabin on the side of the bluff. The bluff sits to the south of the barn itself, behind the old house where Arnold was born that was once used as an art gallery.

Unfortunately in more recent years, the house has become unsafe for use as a gallery, and while it cannot be experienced as it once was it still sits on the property as a reminder of the past, a past that plays a major role in the present presentation of this space.

When the Round Barn that Arnold built was completed in 1954. They held a barn dance to celebrate, and would take over half a century for music to return. It was in July of 2009 that the first Daytrotter Barnstormer was hosted here, featuring headliner Local Natives.

This initial concert was at the request of Sean Moeller, and while it took some convincing, that one night would surely shift the fate of local music scene, bringing people across several states to take in a show amid the gravel hills and endless fields just Northeast of downtown Maquoketa.

Given the location, it’s not surprising that there would be some doubt as to the success that would come, but in 15 years this space went from a Midwestern barn, to an absolute mainstay, not only to the locals of the Iowa music scene but far beyond its Jackson county roots. Word of Codfish Hollow started to spread like wildfire and there’s a reason so many performers insist upon returning each year, bringing back old fans and new revelers alike.


The variety of music that graces this stage is hard to compare, from folk, and boot-stomping country musicians, to New Orleans bounce originater Big Freedia, Nathaniel Ratteliff, and legendary British rockers The Zombies, there’s always something on the schedule for everyone to unearth and enjoy. They have also hosted individuals that extend beyond music into out artistic realms, including John C Reilly, and Silent Bob, and Kevin Smith. 


Codfish, which has a capacity of 600, has hosted hundreds of shows, with the number of actual musicians/bands that have played here rising well above 400. As someone who has attended and shot more events here than I can count, I assure you each one brings its own personal flavor to the Hollow, complete with a unique custom wooden sign and cattle skull welcoming each guest as they make their way from the entrance into the barn itself.

There’s just nothing comparable to a show at Codfish, and this is made apparent right away as you are greeted by an old cow pasture turned parking/camping area. This showcases one of the more unique aspects of this venue, as each ticket purchased also includes on-site camping. There are no electric hookups, as it’s just a pasture, but there are fire pits and plenty of space to accommodate all attendees.

This helps promote a feeling of community and connection that is deeply rooted at Codfish, and is but a small piece of the magic, I promise you it is this feeling of family that keeps things running as smoothly as they do here. Those who help bring each performance to life truly care for the space and anyone calling Codfish home for the night. I think every art/music scene could embrace this understanding of community a little more because it takes so many pieces to pull together a puzzle of these proportions night after night.


Unlike most of the venues that will have a monthly feature, Codfish Hollow is not a year-round spot. This is understandable given that it is essentially an outdoor venue, but that’s just an added part of the charm.

Shows are all ages, and it’s always refreshing to see the wide variety of people that converge on this little section of Eastern Iowa, to take in a show under the stars, or inside this senior structure that at times makes you feel like you’ve been swallowed by a wooden whale.

There are always food vendors, along with a myriad of drink options, from beers brewed and named in honor of Tiffany’s grandparents, Arnold and Merigene, to amazing coffee drinks to give you a little more pep on the cooler show nights. And don’t forget to come out early to explore the various art vendors set up “beneath” the stage.

Opening night of the 2024 season is officially April 27th, with “Emo-Darlings” Hawthorne Heights gracing the stage for 2 separate shows, as they perform the album that truly blew them up, 2004’s “The Silence In Black and White.” The performance will also be recorded for a future release, making for a truly unforgettable opening show once again. The matinee performance begins at 2pm with the 2nd performance sold out! 


You really never know what to expect from a night at Codfish. This barn has seen proposals, weddings, Mummies, and more bubbles and cheese than one could hope to count. I’ve even witnessed a cooler of individual string cheeses tossed into the adoring crowd like a dairy-based replacement for the classic T-Shirt cannon; and given the location, the cheese seems more fitting. Come out to a show this summer, but be warned, you may never want to leave.






Venue Name: Codfish Hollow


Venue Address: 5013 288th Ave, Maquoketa, IA 52060

Owner/P.O.C: Tiffany Biehl






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