A casual listen to The Front Porch Sessions, the new album from The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band, will likely prompt some confusion.

There’s that deceptive name, which purposefully disguises the Indiana-based trio as something larger. And there’s the fact that the guitarist/singer/songwriter Reverend (born Josh) is augmented ever so lightly on the record by his bandmates – wife Breezy on washboard and Maxwell Senteney on drums. The Big Damn Band sounds downright small.

And then there’s the laid-back-country-blues style, which masks the difficulty of the Rev’s playing. If you didn’t know that Peyton simultaneously plays both the bass and lead lines on his guitar, you’d swear there was at least one more member of the Big Damn Band. It doesn’t seem possible, for example, that there isn’t an upright-bass player on “Cornbread & Butterbeans.”

It was 2007 when I last spoke to Vince Herman, and he was promoting a show with Great American Taxi. I asked him about some festival dates that Leftover Salmon – the long-running, self-described “polyethnic Cajun slamgrass” jam band that he co-founded – had played that summer.

Herman was clear that, in his view, Leftover Salmon – which went on hiatus in 2005 after soldiering on for three years following the death of bandmate Mark Vann – didn’t have much of a future without its founding banjo player. “As a business entity and as a musical entity, it just didn’t have its old boogie-woogie to it,” he told me. “We did it as long as we could before it was too much.”

That obituary turned out to be premature, as Leftover Salmon over the past seven years has had a remarkably active second act.

Lurking underneath the unfettered joy of Chicano Batman’s version of Woody Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land” is a tension. The performance and enthusiasm could not be more infectious, but ... it was created for a whiskey commercial (for Johnnie Walker) that aired during this year’s Grammys. And it was released two days before the inauguration of President Donald Trump and implicitly exposes the song’s political roots.

And therein lies the track’s magic. It’s so fully convincing that it doesn’t feel like selling out. And you won’t catch a whiff of protest from it, because the unwavering brightness is the protest.

Traffic-enforcement cameras have been a common sight in Davenport for 13 years, but now the city is using new cameras for a different purpose: to help prevent and solve violent and property crimes.

Davenport in the past month has begun a pilot project with 18 cameras at four intersections on Washington Street south of Locust Street. The city purchased the cameras for nearly $54,000 as part of a larger neighborhood-revitalization program that also includes street and sidewalk improvements.

The idea is to see to what extent the cameras prevent crime, and how much they assist police in solving crimes that do occur.

But police surveillance cameras, in general, are not particularly good at deterring crime. They can be effective in certain circumstances, but not in the way Davenport is using them.

It was a sign of the times when the Downtown Davenport Partnership announced last month that it would replace the River Roots Live outdoor music festival – after a 12-year run – with a multi-venue indoor festival called Alternating Currents.

Consider what’s happened over the past two years. The Mississippi Valley Blues Festival was canceled in 2015 because of financial difficulties at its parent organization. The motorcycle-themed Rally on the River, a fixture on the riverfront for more than two decades, didn’t return in 2016.

All of these things reflect a simple reality: Outdoor festivals are expensive to put on, period, and the cost is much higher with headliner acts to drive attendance. Such events represent a serious financial gamble: Just the chance of rain on one day can depress turnout enough to put a festival in the red, and Mississippi River flooding can force an expensive change of venue.

But let’s not mourn River Roots Live too much. If its death underlines the inherent risk of outdoor musical festivals, its replacement shows just how vibrant the Quad Cities music scene has become.

Glancing at the song titles for Lewis Knudsen’s upcoming release Philip, you can see a thread of religion: opener “All My Sins,” “Heaven on Earth” in the middle, and closer “Jesus & Mary.”

That last one, a gentle piano ballad, carries the most weight with its position and unmistakable Christian icons. Except ... it’s not Jesus’ mother that the title references. And, in a clever twist, the song makes no mention of God, stripping the stories down to human characters and relationships.

Singing with equal parts ache and love, the Quad Cities-based Knudsen describes partners in biblical terms: “Well it feels like you’re Adam / and it feels like I’m Eve. / I eat forbidden fruit / and you jump in after me.” And: “Well it feels like you’re Jesus / and I’m Mary Magdalene. / You’re the level-headed one, / I’m the one who makes a scene. / You love everybody, / I always charge a fee.”

There’s a lot to unpack from this simple song, and it’s a good summary of Knudsen’s songwriting strengths and the album overall. He’s full of surprises, and he takes many songs to interesting places a listener couldn’t possibly expect.

If you want to know the secret of Sister Wife’s Trap House, you probably shouldn’t ask the Quad Cities-based duo of guitarist/vocalist Samuel Carothers and drummer Matthew Ashegiri. They work largely by instinct, and on this album those instincts are – far more often than not – startlingly spot-on.

Not yet two years old, the band has worked with producers – on a single for Milwaukee’s Honeytone Records and an EP – but chose to go it alone for Trap House, the debut album Carothers and Ashegiri self-released last week.

The pendulum swung swiftly.

House File 291 was introduced in the Iowa legislature on February 9, was passed by the House and Senate on February 16, and was signed by Governor Terry Branstad the next day.

Despite that speed, this was not some emergency measure. Instead, it was part of a pent-up agenda being unleashed, as Republicans enjoyed – really enjoyed – their first unified control of the legislative and executive branches of state government since 1998.

There’s a seemingly obvious reason Doyle Bramhall II was pretty much out of the spotlight between the releases of his 2001 album Welcome and last year’s gorgeously mature and textured Rich Man: The dude’s been busy.

As you might guess, the real story’s a bit more complicated – and interesting.

If you visit the Figge Art Museum to see Jefferson Pinder’s exhibit Ghost Light (see our review here), the artist will be satisfied if you leave enlightened. Or thoughtful. Or angry. Or confused.

He’ll also be okay if you see the neon sign reading “Colored Entranced” and choose not to enter the gallery.

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