• Spring+Summer 2017 Quad Cities Dining Guide on Stands Today!

    The Spring+Summer 2017 edition of the Quad Cities Dining Guide – featuring more than 800 restaurant listings – is on stands today. Pick one up wherever you find the River Cities’ Reader!

  • Iowa’s War on Government-Worker Unions: Attacking Organized Labor Is Good, Divisive Politics on an Issue That Deserves Better

    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.

  • 2017 Spring Guide on Stands Now!

    The River Cities’ Reader’s 2017 Spring Guide – featuring more than 1,300 events from March through June – is on stands now. Pick up a copy wherever you find the River Cities’ Reader!

    You can also browse it online or use our online calendar to find everything happening in the Quad Cities this spring!

  • Energy Boon or Bailout Bust? Probably Both: The Benefits of Illinois’ Future Energy Jobs Bill Come with Consumer Costs

    It’s admittedly difficult to get your head around Illinois’ recently passed Future Energy Jobs Bill – a massive, long-gestating piece of legislation that touches on many aspects of energy policy.

    Yet the legislation is worth exploring. It will be a major change in Illinois energy policy when it takes effect on June 1. And it’s an instructive study of the give-and-take of the legislative process – a case that was absolutely green and utility-friendly, but one that might not be nearly as kind to consumers as has been promised.

  • QCA Today: April 27, 2017

    This feature collects articles published online by the following Quad Cities-area media outlets: Quad-City Times, Rock Island Argus/Moline Dispatch, River Cities’ Reader, KWQC, and WQAD. It also includes items from CapitolFax.com and the state-politics sections of the Des Moines Register and the State Journal-Register.

    If you'd like your media outlet included in this list, contact Jeff at jeff@rcreader.com.

  • The Income Tax Implies That Government Owns You

    The income tax is enshrined into law but is an idea that stands in total opposition to the driving force behind the American Revolution and the idea of freedom itself. We desperately need a serious national movement to get rid of it – not reform it, not replace it, not flatten it or refocus its sting from this group to that. It just needs to go.

  • Numbers Don’t Support Young’s Agro-Terrorism Bill

    I have to admit: I don’t normally read the e-mails from the Farm Bureau. I probably should pay more attention to rural politics, but I’m really just in it for the car insurance. And I’ve selected that provider for the most Iowan of reasons possible: My agent goes to church with my family back home. But when I read in one of their updates that U.S. Representative David Young (R-Iowa) had gotten a bill through the House to devote a portion of our nation’s Homeland Security efforts to something called “agro-terrorism,” I perked up. The Securing Our Food & Agriculture Act passed the House last month and its Senate companion – S. 500 – is pending before the Homeland Security Committee.

  • State-University Credit Downgrades the Tip of the Iceberg

    Illinois now has five public universities with junk-bond credit ratings. That has to be some kind of record.

    Last week, S&P Global Ratings lowered the credit score of both Southern Illinois University and Western Illinois University into junk-bond status. Eastern, Northeastern, and Governor’s State were already in junk-bond territory, and their ratings were lowered even further last week. The University of Illinois, the state’s flagship, was also downgraded to just three notches above junk status and put, with the rest of the universities, on a “credit watch with negative implications” – meaning it could be downgraded again within 90 days.

  • Taxpayers Mugged by Public-Sector Unions

    Although I appreciated the observation about cherry-picking studies to confirm a conclusion, in an essay (“Iowa’s War on Government-Worker Unions: Attacking Organized Labor Is Good, Divisive Politics on an Issue That Deserves Better”) devoted to the state’s alleged war on government-worker unions, the choice of an “unbiased view” was flawed.

  • Media Gives Rauner a Pass on His Tour

    Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner denied that his two-day tour of the state last week had anything to do with the 2018 election, but it was pretty darned clear that he and his team were tuning up the band for the big show down the road.

    Campaign funds not only paid for the tour, but political money was used to promote in it advance. I'm told Rauner's advertising on social and online media served more than a million impressions in the days leading up to the fly-around.

  • Middle School -- The Worst (and Best) Years of His Life: "Big Nate: The Musical," running at the Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse through May 13

    Having been a librarian at elementary and middle schools, one might think my most challenging students were the middle-schoolers. Not so! My fears arose before visits from the littler kids, as I, alone, would have to keep them quiet and attentive for 40 minutes. (Ever herded kittens?) So when I attended April 20's Big Nate: The Musical at the Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse and saw school buses unloading first- and second-graders, kindergarteners, and preschoolers, I thought, “This will be interesting!” – especially since the Big Nate books are for readers 8 to 12 years old. I wondered if the story would hold the attention of this young an audience … and happily, the answer was “Yes!”

  • The Mansion Family: “Out of Sight, Out of Murder,” at the Richmond Hill Barn Theatre through April 30

    As the clock approached 7:30 p.m. on a refreshingly cool and clear mid-April Saturday, the old barn beckoned like a silent sentinel as my wife and I wove our way up the meandering hill. While approaching the main entrance, the imposing presence at the ticket window asked quietly, eerily, if we had reservations. We said we did, and he motioned for us to climb the stairs leading us to the loft. I swallowed hard and took my time, stretching out each step knowing that I was ascending ever closer into the darkness, the unknown, and into a night of murder. Bwa-a-a-a-h Ha-a-a-a-ha-a-a-a-ha-a-a-a-a-a!!!

  • If I Give My Heart to You … : “The Tin Woman,” at the Black Box Theatre through April 29

    Some spiritual teachings hold the heart as the organ of transformation, arguing that it's through the heart that we connect with the source of life that speaks to us, that guides us, and through which we're opened to the richness of being. When we give our hearts to others through acts of love, we are transformed. But what of the act of literally giving one’s heart to another through a heart transplant? Are there consequences for those involved? How does this generous act of giving play out in a story of grieving and loss? Does it add more meaning to the life of the one who has passed?

  • Now Is the Springtime of His Deep Content: Sam Jones Stars in "Richard III," April 21 through 23 at St. Ambrose University

    When St. Ambrose University senior Sam Jones arrives for our March 30 interview, he enters carrying what he calls his “rehearsal bag” – a backpack emblazoned with the Green Lantern insignia. “I bring it everywhere,” he says, eventually pulling out a stack of reading material currently aiding him in his title role as William Shakespeare’s Richard III. There isn’t a DC Comic in sight.

  • King of the Hill: "The Music Man," at the Circa ’21 Dinner Playhouse through May 13

    In the Circa ’21 Dinner Playhouse’s current, topnotch production of The Music Man, the signature image is actually an image in motion: actor Don Denton, in his role as Harold Hill, strolling – or more accurately gliding – across the stage.

  • Running on Instinct: Sister Wife, “Trap House”

    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.

  • Arrived in His Own Skin: Doyle Bramhall II, April 14 at the Redstone Room

    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.

  • Daytrotter 2.0: The Quad Cities’ Iconic Music Web Site Appears to Be in Good – and Enthusiastic – Hands

    When I met last week with the people now running Daytrotter, Ben Crabb – who books the recording sessions for the 11-year-old Quad Cities-based Web site – let this nugget drop: “I just booked George Winston in for a session.”

    Yes, that George Winston, the artist best known for platinum-selling, seasonally titled solo-piano records from the early 1980s on the Windham Hill label. For a site that always prided itself on highlighting the new and the next, the pianist seems an odd choice.

  • The Political Is Personal: Wild Pink, March 19 at Rozz-Tox

    “I am embarrassed to be here,” sings Wild Pink singer, guitarist, and songwriter John Ross on “I Used to Be Small.” The “here,” in this case, is the United States.

    On the New York-based indie-rock band’s self-titled debut album, Ross explores getting older through the people and places around him. The past is at the forefront, with Ross recalling looking through the window at the Hudson Valley, being told that “if you never stop moving, then you’ll never feel bad” in “Broke on,” a journey through memory. He sings about being a passenger in a parent’s car, riding bikes, “hearing about the war, and knowing it’s not yours.” The listener gets access to moments that shaped whom he became.

  • “Peace, Love, and the Joy of Music”: Remembering Ellis Kell (1955-2016)

    Ellis Kell died suddenly in December – after an October cancer diagnosis – and he was known to many as a stalwart part of the Quad Cities music scene and a longtime staff member of the River Music Experience. But these remembrances attest that Kell was loved far beyond those roles.

    Peace, Love & the Joy of Music, a benefit concert for the Kell family, will be held on Saturday, January 21, from 4 to 11 p.m. at the RiverCenter (136 East Third Street, Davenport). The suggested donation for admission is $10. Scheduled performers include the Ellis Kell Band, The Whoozdads?, The Way Down Wanderers, David G. Smith, The Candymakers, Lojo Russo, The Velies, Rude Punch, The Curtis Hawkins Band with Ernie Peniston & Hal Reed, Quad Cities Blues Mafia, and RME Camp Kids Jam.

  • Welcome to the Jungles: "Born in China," "Gifted," "Unforgettable," and "The Lost City of Z"

    Friday, April 21, 10 a.m.-ish: It’s another movie morning with my favorite two-year-old (and her dad), but truth be told she doesn’t seem much into Disneynature’s Born in China. Maybe this is due to the relatively sophisticated dialogue, as our charming narrator John Krasinski employs words such as “interlopers” and says things such as “The duality of opposing figures exists everywhere in nature.” But I prefer to think that my young friend is just mighty sophisticated herself, and realizes that if director Chuan Lu’s edu-doc was going to be this cartoonish, it probably should’ve just been animated from the start.

  • Armenian Hustle: “The Promise,” “Free Fire,” and “Phoenix Forgotten”

    Not to be grossly insensitive, but films such as The Promise – writer/director Terry George’s historical epic set amidst the (still-contested) Armenian genocide of World War I – make me wish there were even more comic-book movies. X-Men: Apocalypse, after all, gave us Oscar Isaac as a world-destroyer, and Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies gave us Christian Bale as the Caped Crusader, and both actors were infinitely more entertaining in those outings than they are in this turgid love-triangle melodrama – a ceaselessly phony piece of “prestige” moviemaking that feels like it’s unsuccessfully aiming for Best Picture of 1985. (The dull movie that did win that prize, Out of Africa, feels like Pulp Fiction in comparison.)

  • Dom-in’ Nation: “The Fate of the Furious”

    The eighth entry in the Fast & the Furious franchise opens with Vin Diesel’s sensitive bruiser Dominic Toretto winning a drag race in Havana by driving a souped-up beater car ... that’s on fire ... moving backwards. The movie climaxes with Dom and his crew evading heat-seeking missiles in Russia while simultaneously outrunning a nuclear submarine that’s barreling through the breached surface of frozen waters. I can only guess that this series’ ninth outing will begin with Dom and a sneering adversary playing chicken atop an airborne Goodyear Blimp with a bomb on its fin, and conclude with our hero plugging a hole in the International Space Station using only his wits and a half-empty Corona.

  • A Quadruple-Feature That Only Starts Blue: "Smurfs: The Lost Village," "Going in Style," "Your Name," and "The Case for Christ"

    Friday, April 7, 10:05 a.m.-ish: To misquote Dickens, 10:05 proves the best of time and the worst of time. The best because I’m currently seated next to my favorite movie-going companion under the age of three. The worst because the movie we’re seeing is the animated Smurfs: The Lost Village, which turns out to be like the live-action Smurfs from 2011 and 2013 if you surgically removed Hank Azaria, Neil Patrick Harris, and Jayma Mays. In other words: awful.

  • The Bald and the Beautiful: “The Boss Baby,” “The Zookeeper’s Wife,” and “Ghost in the Shell”

    Alec Baldwin is currently playing an entitled, petulant, suit-wearing infant – but you’ve seen the SNL sketches, so you knew that already. He’s also playing one in the animated comedy The Boss Baby, and damned if I can determine which of Baldwin’s preening man-children I adore more. Depending on the writing, his satiric pokes at President Trump can land anywhere between one-dimensionally boorish and madly inspired. Baldwin’s titular, Heaven-sent newborn, though, is a consistent vocal riot, even if we’re inevitably deprived of the actor’s physical wit and hysterical deadpan. Director Tom McGrath’s family outing is clever and very funny, but for fellow fans, it’s also a bit like a lost episode of 30 Rock, with Jack Donaghy’s soul magically transferred into the body of his rarely seen child.

Art

  • Colored Entranced: The Figge’s “Jefferson Pinder: Ghost Light” Explores Race Through Different Lenses

    Hovering high above the heads of visitors to the Figge Art Museum, a neon sign that reads “Colored Entranced” points the way into the third-floor gallery. Anchored to the wall, the sign sits at an angle so visitors who enter from either the elevator or the stairs see it almost immediately. Bright tubes of clean red-orange light form words that contrast with and illuminate the corroded tin support from which they extend. The glow of the neon affects the surrounding space by casting light in shades of pink and violet on the white walls. A ghostly reflected image with deep red and cobalt-blue hues can be seen on the polished gray floor.

    Colored Entranced is visually appealing, but the symbolic history it represents is abhorrent. Seeing it for the first time, non-black visitors may feel an unexpected pang of empathy for those who were subjected to that kind of direct segregation.

  • Adding Poetry to Platforms: Jefferson Pinder on “Ghost Light”

    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.

  • Featured Image from the Quad Cities Photography Club

    Scott County Park has a lot to offer a photographer in search of a subject. Quad Cities Photography Club member Dale Fehr headed there with his camera to hike the trails on a nice day in November with a little snow on the ground. He enjoyed and had success with his images from the hike, but then decided to try some pictures of Olde St. Ann’s Church in the park’s Dan Nagle Walnut Grove Pioneer Village. He stated: “The clouds were very cool, so I took the photo from a lower angle to include more clouds and give the steeple more height.”

  • Art in Plain Sight: Sentimental Sculptures

    Two similar Quad Cities sculptures that could be best described as sentimental raise issues about the role of art. Although their tones are different, both pieces depict young girls with adult-male authority figures and are meant to reflect the goals of the organizations that host them.

  • Art in Plain Sight: Neon Signs

    Downtown Davenport was once bathed in the bright glow of neon signs. In a photo taken from the intersection of Main and Second streets in the 1940s, the Hansen’s Hardware neon sign in the foreground rises several stories over the street below. So does a nearby Kaybee sign. There are, seemingly, a dozen or more smaller neon signs in the block.

    Today from the same vantage point, we see U.S. Bank, the Figge Art Museum plaza, and the Charles J. Wright Ground Transportation Center. The prominent Hansen neon sign? Long gone. So are all of the other large neon signs in the photo: Kaybee, The Hub, Three Sisters, Baker’s Shoes. Also gone are the even-more-impressive neon signs rising high above the downtown theatre marquees.

    Neon signs from this past era, fortunately, can still be found elsewhere in the Quad Cities.