The Eddie Bowles Historical Tour, an augmented reality mobile application, allows users to follow a two-mile trail of sites in and around downtown Cedar Falls that played a significant role in the life of blues guitarist Eddie Bowles. This free application is now available on both the Apple App Store (for iPhone users) and the Google Play store (for Android users). Using technology similar to the popular Pokémon Go!, the app takes users along a path to discover digital waypoints that reveal information about Eddie Bowles and the history of Cedar Falls.Experience Cedar Falls with the Eddie Bowles Historical Tour
Eddie Bowles (1884-1984) grew up in New Orleans, and he learned to play guitar alongside Louis Armstrong and Kid Ory. A search for work led him up to Cedar Falls, Iowa, where he initially was employed to build some of the first paved roads in the city. He remained in Cedar Falls, working a series of manual labor jobs and playing a distinctive 12-bar blues style for friends and neighbors. During the Blues Revival of the 1960s, Bowles was sought out by young guitarists eager to learn his unique picking style of guitar playing, and he continued playing for local audiences well into his nineties before his death in 1984 at the age of 100.
The app takes users along a path from the Hearst Center for the Arts to the old Cedar City neighborhood where Eddie Bowles lived for many years. Along the way, you’ll hear about his life and experience the history of Cedar Falls while walking or biking along present day streets.
In March, the Best of Eddie Bowles was released as a digital album on all major streaming services. It can also be listened to for free online. Eddie Bowles was also recently the subject of an exhibit, Eddie Bowles’s Blues, at the Hearst Center for the Arts.
Support for this project was provided by the University of Northern Iowa Department of Languages & Literatures, the Cedar Falls Community Foundation's Saul and Joan Diamond Arts & History Fund, Humanities Iowa and the National Endowment for the Humanities. This article originally appeared on the Cedar Falls Tourism Bureau's Weekender Blog.