• 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: March 24, 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.

  • Winners and Favorites from Our 2016 Short-Fiction Contest

    The River Cities’ Reader’s 2016 short-fiction contest, presented with the Bettendorf Public Library, received more than 130 submissions. Here are the winners and some of our favorites.

  • Slow-Moving Lava: The Midwest Writing Center’s New Address at the Rock Island Library Is Its Latest Incremental Change

    Small organizations tend to reflect the personalities of their leadership, and that’s certainly true of the Midwest Writing Center and its executive director, Ryan Collins.

  • Story Highlights the Human Cost of Illinois’ Dysfunction

    I’ve been going to Statehouse committee hearings for something like 27 years. Last week was the first time I can ever recall having to fight back tears during a hearing.

  • You’re Invited to a Mag-nificent Evening: It’s Time to Rescue the Rescuer

    If you haven’t heard the remarkable story of “Rescuing River,” it’s time you did. First, River is a beautiful, soulful dog. River was found in northern Clinton, Iowa, shot in the head three times and left for dead by his owner. It was during a particularly brutal time in Clinton when two other dogs were similarly shot and abandoned; one lost its life. River’s story is shared on Facebook (Facebook.com/rescuingriver) for those interested in learning more about this remarkable dog, his remarkable rescuers, and the fan base that has ensued in support of River. It is the most uplifting, wonderful story, and a joy to read.

    Now the tables have turned, and River’s rescuer Maggie Stafford needs our help.

  • Dismal Poll Numbers Portend an Ugly Campaign

    You might have heard about a recent Paul Simon Public Policy Institute poll that found that Governor Bruce Rauner’s job disapproval ratings have almost doubled in the past two years, from 31 percent in March 2015 to 58 percent this month. According to the poll, Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan’s current disapproval rating is 61 percent, about the same as his 63-percent disapproval rating last October. Rauner’s disapproval rating last October was 55 percent.

    During this long governmental impasse, Madigan has championed the cause of unions and working people against the governor’s attempts to take rights and benefits away from them. But the Democrat is actually underwater with union members. According to the Simon poll, 55 percent of respondents who said they belong to a union disapprove of Madigan’s job performance, including 38 percent who strongly disapprove. Just 34 percent of union members approve of his job performance, while only 12 percent strongly approve. All this pain and they still don’t like him.

    But union members dislike the governor far more. The poll found that 72 percent of union members disapprove of Rauner’s job performance, and half of union members strongly disapprove. Only 24 percent approve. On Rauner, anyway, the union message has gotten out.

  • Governor’s Legal Strategy Raises a Question: Stretch or Power Grab?

    If Attorney General Lisa Madigan succeeds in convincing the Illinois Supreme Court to consider ordering the state to stop paying employees without an appropriation, and if Governor Bruce Rauner’s legal team uses the same arguments it did in St. Clair County, it will be important to understand the repercussions of his strategy.

  • How Fascism Became the Political Bogeyman

    With the rise of the political right in both Europe and America, the wo

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • A Blank Slate: Advance Base, March 16 at Rozz Tox

    When Owen Ashworth dissolved his solo project Casiotone for the Painfully Alone after more than 10 years, he set out to start anew.

    “I liked the challenge of starting over and just writing a whole new set of songs and seeing what a blank slate would feel like,” he said in a recent phone interview.

  • “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.

  • Moeller’s Music Moments: The Daytrotter Founder Picks His Favorites from 2016

    Sean Moeller Illustration by Dave Leiberg for the Time & The Mystery Podcast

    I’m a glutton for these year-end wrap ups. They’re fascinating and ultimately demoralizing because as you’re reading all of them – taking that finger down the rankings – it doesn’t take you very long at all to see a pattern, and you wonder why everyone’s lying. You know damned well that there can be no consensus for this activity – especially across so many publications and outlets. But there is almost always a consensus, and I call BS on it. Don’t fall for these lists. Each one should be startlingly different and ranging. They should be the result of tightening the beautiful shambles that music does to you and your daily life.

  • Belle and Whistles: "Beauty & the Beast" and "The Belko Experiment"

    Watching the new Beauty & the Beast, I wouldn’t have wanted to be within spitting distance of anyone who didn’t instantly well up at the performance of the title song, with Emma Thompson’s teapot crooning that glorious, Oscar-winning tune while Emma Watson’s Beauty and Dan Stevens’ Beast swirled and spun in that majestic castle ballroom. I also wouldn’t have wanted to be within spitting distance of anyone who thought director Bill Condon’s live-action remake was in any way superior to Disney’s animated smash of 1991. I may well have spit.

  • Rangers and Dangers, Bro Bits and Obits: "Power Rangers," "Life," "CHIPS," and "The Last Word"

    Friday, March 24, 10 a.m.-ish: My latest back-to-back-to-back-back screenings start with Power Rangers, director Dean Israelite’s big-screen reboot of the 1990s’ Mighty Morphin Power Rangers franchise. If you’re wondering whether the film is just like the TV series, I’m gonna take a stab and say no, unless that Fox Kids show also opened with a gag about a high-schooler masturbating a bull. But until it inevitably turns into typically noisy and endless action-flick nonsense, this unashamedly juvenile entertainment is actually kind of endearing, primarily because it appears less interested in being the new Transformers than the new Breakfast Club.

  • Ape-ocalypse Now: "Kong: Skull Island"

    Kong: Skull Island is a massively budgeted resurrection of familiar property designed as part of a universe-building series, and it boasts pricey visuals, earth-shaking sound, remedial plotting, cornball humor, talented leads giving paycheck performances ... . Oh, God. Is it summer already? What the hell happened to spring?!

  • From Fear to Eternity – Notes on a Quadruple-Feature: “Logan,” “The Shack,” “Table 19,” and “Before I Fall”

    Friday, March 3, 10 a.m.-ish: I've managed to avoid them for more than seven months, but it's time for yet another quadruple-feature, and this one begins with the comic-book movie Logan. I take that back. It actually begins with a comic-book mini-movie whose title I wouldn't reveal even if it had one, and whose star just might make genre fans wet themselves with happiness. (A crude image, yes, but one not nearly crude enough for this particular anti-hero.) From the employment of John Williams' Superman theme to the unexpected nudity to the climactic image of a blood-soaked alley and a carton of ice cream not going to waste, it's a true beauty of a short-film-slash-coming-attraction, to say nothing of the thus-far-funniest four minutes of the movie year. Enjoy the laughs while you can, Logan viewers – you'll be wincing and jumping and weeping soon enough.

  • The Parent Trap: "Get Out," "I Am Not Your Negro," "Rock Dog," and "Collide"

    It would be easy, and fairly accurate, to describe Jordan Peele’s Get Out as the horror-comedy flip side to Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner – kind of like what you’d get if the 1967 Sidney Poitier were less noble than monumentally panicked, and the Tracy-and-Hepburn clan were enacted by the Manson family. But that wouldn’t begin to suggest the singularity and incredible inventiveness of Peele’s achievement, which is so thrillingly scary-funny, and so deeply satisfying, that it might take you hours or days to also recognize it as one of the angriest genre entertainments ever made. Given the results, I couldn’t possibly mean that as a higher compliment.

Art

  • Featured Image from the Quad Cities Photography Club

    Photographers often look for new angles from which to photograph, giving a different perspective to familiar things and places, as shown by Quad Cities Photography Club member Bill Hudson.

  • 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.

  • “Being Angry Is a Great Place to Start”: The Guerrilla Girls, January 18 at Augustana College

    The most-famous work by the Guerrilla Girls is simple and direct, asking: “Do women have to be naked to get into the Met. Museum?”

    The pointed text of the 1989 poster continues: “Less than 5% of the artists in the Modern Art Sections are women, but 85% of the nudes are female.”

    That work is more than a quarter-century old, but the Guerrilla Girls have updated it over the years – with the results just as discouraging. The 2011 version states that women represent 4 percent of the artists in the modern-art sections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art but 76 percent of the nudes.

    The work gets more complex as one considers it.

  • Augustana’s Teaching Museum of Art: “Art Is Very Active”


    Composer Cheryl Leonard

    Claire Kovacs is in her third year as director of the Augustana Teaching Museum of Art, and she said that from the outset she needed to answer one question.

    “One of the things that I’ve been thinking about since the moment that I even considered coming to Augustana,” she said, “was ‘What is the purpose of an art museum when the Figge is across the river?’”

    The answer can be seen this month in a pair of free public events: the Guerrilla Girls’ January 18 lecture in Centennial Hall, and the January 11 performance collaboration of visual artist Oona Stern and composer Cheryl Leonard in Wallenberg Hall.