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What's Happenin': Spring PDF Print E-mail
Lifestyle - Noteworthy Events
Written by Mike Schulz   
Tuesday, 03 March 2009 19:00


i wireless Center

March and April


High School Musical: The Ice TourAre you looking to instill in your children an appreciation for music beyond the tunes in Guitar Hero? Consider taking in a concert (or five) at the i wireless Center, as the Moline venue, this March and April, presents a disparate quintet of exciting musical events.

Described by Entertainment Weekly as "the only sure thing in the music business in 2008," the wildly popular Canadian rockers of Nickelback - performing alongside Seether and Saving Abel - make a stop in the Quad Cities on March 15, while pop hits hit the ice on March 16 and 17, with High School Musical: The Ice Tour. Winners of four Grammy Awards and inductees in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, The Eagles land at the i wireless Center for a March 18 concert, and if your kids are too young to recall the music of the '90s, they'll surely receive an education when the New Kids on the Block perform on April 2. One week later, on April 9, the sounds of an entirely different generation will be on hand when those legendary surf rockers The Beach Boys (performing alongside The Boat Drunks) bring their timeless classics to the Moline stage. And if, after all this, your kids still don't appreciate the thrill of live music, you can take them to one of the 11 QC Flames games scheduled between March and April - there's always the chance that a wayward puck will accidentally fly out of the arena and smack some sense into 'em. For more information and tickets to these early-spring events, visit



Adler Theatre

March through May


Third DayThis spring, the Adler Theatre will present music with the multi-platinum-selling Christian artists of Third Day (March 8), the eloquent singer-songwriter Gordon Lightfoot (March 11), the country croonings of Little Big Town (March 14 in the Adler's adjacent RiverCenter), the Fab (Four) stylings of Rain: A Tribute to the Beatles (March 24), the swingin'-'60s spirit of The Rat Pack Is Back (May 7), and the Quad City Symphony Orchestra's season-ending concerts Masterworks V (March 7) and Masterworks VI (April 4). The Davenport venue presents dance with Ballet Quad Cities' Peter & the Wolf and Other Dances (March 19), and the organization's debuting production Feel the Energy (April 25 and 26). It presents music and dance with the Broadway smash Mamma Mia! (March 14 and 15), and the Tony-winning Billy Joel/Twyla Tharp collaboration Movin' Out (April 16). It presents music and comedy with stand-up singer Rodney Carrington (March 12). It presents kid-friendly fun with Dora the Explorer Live!: Search for the City of Lost Toys (April 14 and 15). And on April 7, as part of the Eastern Iowa Community College's Viewpoint Distinguished Speakers Series, it hosts an evening with Mike Singletary, the former Chicago Bears linebacker and current head coach of the San Francisco 49ers. So it's got sports covered, too. Sheesh, Adler ... way to hog all the entertainment genres ... ! For more information and tickets, visit



Squirrel Nut Zippers

The Redstone Room

Thursday, March 26


Squirrel Nut ZippersIn a press release for the March 26 Redstone Room performance by the genre-defying musicians of Squirrel Nut Zippers, we're told that the group is "often credited with introducing Depression-era jazz to a younger generation." Hmm. Can't image why the Davenport venue thought they'd be an appropriate booking choice. Of course, the band - composed of Katherine Whalen, Chris Phillips, Stuart Cole, Je Widenhouse, and founder James "Jimbo" Mathus - has proved itself musically invaluable regardless of the economic climate. Performing a unique blend of Delta blues, jazz, klezmer, swing, and nearly every other style you could name, the group has long been a cult sensation with a huge amount of mainstream awareness; beyond Squirrel Nut Zippers' discography and frequently sold-out concert appearances, the band has performed for the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, played at one of President Clinton's 1996 inaugural balls, opened for Tony Bennett at Radio City Music Hall, and - the ne plus ultra of coolness - are the vocal stars of a music video created by animators for The Simpsons. And if you're wondering about the band's unusual moniker, you should know that (a) the name comes from the peanut and caramel candy concoction Squirrel Brand's Nut Zippers, and (b) Mathus was once in a band called Johnny Vomit & the Dry Heaves, so it could've been a lot worse. Tickets to March 26's Squirrel Nut Zippers concert are $20, with doors opening at 8 p.m. for the 9 p.m. show, and more information on the night is available at



Hancher Auditorium Presentations

March through May


Alpin HongAs you may have noticed in this week's other set of What's Happenin' pieces, Iowa City's Hancher Auditorium presents an evening with the infectiously entertaining Juan de Carlos & the Afro-Cuban All Stars on March 10. (As Hancher is still in the process of repairing damage from last summer's flooding, the concert will take place at Iowa City's West High School.) Yet they're just the first of the first-rate musical events scheduled for the close of Hancher's 2008-9 season. The Vermont-based Musicians from Marlboro perform two Beethoven works, and one by Hungarian composer Zoltán Kodály, at the Brown Deer Golf Club on March 11, and on March 25, West High School houses the period orchestra The Academy of Ancient Music, performing Bach's Brandenburg Concertos. Iowa City's neighboring Englert Theatre hosts Hancher's presentation with clarinet master Richard Stoltzman - called "a national treasure" by the San Francisco Chronicle - in April 3's Salute to Benny Goodman. The wizardly Alpin Hong, whose stage performances have found him playing piano and Tetris simultaneously (no foolin'), will wow Iowa City High School crowds on April 24. And on May 10, Hancher brings to West High the Grammy-nominated musicians of Trout Fishing in America, described by the Los Angeles Times as "some of the most lyrically creative, musically sophisticated, vocally muscular music-makers in the family-music business." For more information on all of Hancher's springtime productions, call (319)335-1160 or visit



Englert Theatre

March through May


GZAThe springtime events at Iowa City's Englert Theatre begin with the Young Footliters' production of Stephen Sondheim's fairy-tale masterpiece Into the Woods, being presented March 6 through 8, and continue this Sunday night with Irish step dancers and the Celtic stylings of Iowa musicians The Beggarmen. A beloved children's book gets an original, musical-theatre makeover with Madeline & the Bad Hat on March 29, and orchestral hits of the Rat Pack era will be heard in March 29's concert with the Rod Pierson Big Band. The Wu-Tang Clan's GZA performs 1995's hip-hot classic Liquid Swords - in its entirety - in a special live event on April 1, while an acclaimed, all-female ensemble salutes some of rock's premier musicians in April's 8's evening with Lez Zeppelin. (Guess which musicians they're saluting.) Prize-winning students from Feilin Lin's School of Piano bring their classical talents to the Englert in April 11's The Gift of Music: A Piano Concert; Grammy-nominated children's musician Ralph Covert offers silly songs and spectacular musicianship in the April 18 entertainment Ralph's World. And opera and Greek tragedy get skewered in UI Performing Arts' May 1 presentation of Orpheus in the Underworld, an evening of music, comedy, and fantasy in which (to quote the Englert's Web site) "Orpheus goes to hell - in a handbag - to rescue his desperate housewife, Eurydice" ... and which sounds a bit like all the other Englert events rolled into one. For more information on the venue's excitingly eclectic spring, call (319)688-2653 or visit



The River Readings at Augustana: Aryn Kyle and Marvin Bell

Wallenberg Hall

Thursday, March 26, and Thursday, May 7


Aryn KyleAside from both being published writers, Aryn Kyle and Marvin Bell would seem to have almost nothing in common. Kyle, a 2004 graduate from the University of Montana, is the 31-year-old fiction author whose first short-story submission was accepted by the prestigious Atlantic Monthly in 2004; whose debut novel, The God of Animals, was published in 2007; and whose elegant prose moved the Boston Globe to call the work a "first novel that's so strong, startling, and moving, that it's a thoroughbred from the first page." Bell, who earned a master's degree from the University of Chicago and an MFA from the University of Iowa, is the 71-year-old poet who has composed nearly 20 books of poetry, received Guggenheim and National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, and served as Iowa's very first Poet Laureate. And if you're wondering what oh what could possibly link such diverse literary talents ... well, um, obviously you didn't read the header to this piece very carefully. Shame on you. Aryn Kyle reads from her works in a March 26 presentation, Marvin Bell reads from his on May 7, both events take place in Augustana College's Wallenberg Hall, and more information on the River Readings at Augustana series is available by contacting Margaret Rogal at (309)794-7823.



Ohnward Fine Arts Center

March through May


Etta MayMuch as I hate to make these calendar pieces all about me, I did notice a common link to the Ohnward Fine Arts Center's springtime events: me! On March 28, the Maquoketa venue presents two concerts with the Grammy-winning Western musicians of Riders in the Sky - fantastically funny and gifted artists whom I had the pleasure of meeting during past engagements at the Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse. As a die-hard fan of Cirque du Soleil, the April 18 performance by juggling acrobats The Tweaksters - called "specialists at transforming the mundane into the magical" by the Los Angeles Times - seems to have been put on the Ohnward schedule solely for my benefit, while April 18 brings with it Theatreworks USA's stage adaptation of Charlotte's Web ... a show in which I once played the mischievous rat Templeton! Arriving from Branson, the many musicians and comedians on hand for April 24's Ozark Jubilee remind me of the many summers I vacationed with my grandparents in, yes, the Ozarks, while some of my grandparents' favorite tunes will surely be heard when the legendary Glenn Miller Orchestra hits the Maquoketa stage on April 25. And finally, Arkansas-based comedienne Etta May performs an evening of stand-up on May 16. I actually haven't ever seen Ms. May in action, but says that "clad in a floral blouse and polyester pants, sporting a print bandana and pointy glasses, she may remind you of the lunch lady from your old school," and I definitely have childhood memories of that. But I don't like to talk about Dad. For more information on this spring's events, call (563)652-9815 or visit



Area Performances

March through June


Movin' OutEnglish poet and literary critic John Dryden was quoted as saying, "Dancing is the poetry of the foot," so let's take a gander at what our area's poets (in toe shoes) have in store for audiences this spring. Our dance season officially begins at the Galvin Fine Arts Center this Friday, with the St. Ambrose University Dance Team's March 6 presentation of Vitality, and the talents of more collegiate hoofers will be on display in two Augustana College Dance Company performances, taking place April 17 and 18 in Centennial Hall. The singular movements of the legendary Twyla Tharp will be given a Billy Joel spin in the Adler Theatre's April 16 touring production of Movin' Out, while one of Lewis Carroll's fantastical universes will be brought to life with the Illinois Ballet Theatre of the Quad Cities' presentation of RiverPointBallet's Alice in Wonderland, April 4 and 5 at Moline's Scottish Rite Cathedral. And following the group's March 19 Adler performance of Peter & the Wolf and Other Dances, Ballet Quad Cities returns to the Davenport venue on April 26 and 27 for the original offering Feel the Energy, and wraps up its spring with Ballet Under the Stars - its annual presentation in Rock Island's Lincoln Park - which runs June 5 through 7. That's quite a lineup for fans of poetry in motion, and as a nod to our area's seriously gifted dancers, I have decided to not end this piece with a joke; I was going to, but my editor begged me otherwise, and I couldn't resist his plie. I mean "plea." (Aw, man ... . So close.)

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