What's Happenin': Spring 2014 Print
Lifestyle - Noteworthy Events
Written by Mike Schulz   
Tuesday, 04 March 2014 06:00

Whitey MorganMusic

Rock Island Brewing Company

March through May


This spring, the Rock Island Brewing Company is going to be a little bit country, a little bit rock ’n’ roll ... and yet, despite my continued pleas to management, Donny & Marie are still not on the docket. (Those of you under 40 may want to ask an elder to explain that joke.)

RIBCO’s musical fun includes, on March 7, a CD release party for The Post Mortems, the area rockers whose new Cracked & Crooked has already been praised by LittleVillageMag.com for its “distinctive and memorable melodies” and “how exhilarating their sound becomes when they play fast and hard.” (The group performs with opening sets by Satellite Heart and Mutts.) And the following night turns the Rock Island venue into more of a honky-tonk joint with the arrival of Flint, Michigan-based country musicians Whitey Morgan & the 78’s, playing locally alongside Them Som’Bitches and Al Scorch. One week later, the Southern-rock and alternative-hip-hop artists of Rehab (appearing with openers Angel Cut) play a March 15 RIBCO concert as part of the group’s official “Farewell Tour,” and March 28 brings with it a night showcasing the gifts of Mountain Sprout, the Arkansas-based bluegrass ensemble whose discography includes albums such as One More for the Ditch, Into the Sun, and the intriguingly titled PornoBilly. Even more down-home crooning will be on hand the night of April 4, when RIBCO hosts an evening in which Pork’s A$$ Pig opens for a pair of touring alt-country bands: Those Poor Bastards and The Blind Staggers. (A perfect pairing, it seems, because whenever I get the blind staggers, I inevitably hear someone behind me whispering, “That poor bastard ... .”) On April 2, RIBCO gets back into rock mode – or, more specifically, doom-metal mode – with Spirit Caravan, the Maryland-based musicians whose songs have been heard both on international tour stops and in the video game Tony Hawk’s American Wasteland. And heading toward summer, and music more bluesy than metallic, RIBCO is set to deliver a true rock-and-roll celebration on May 10 with a trio of talents: The Blasters, 3 on the Tree, and Piñata Protest. Interesting. Whenever I’m celebrating something, I protest if I don’t get a piñata. For more on the Rock Island’s venue’s springtime schedule, visit RIBCO.com.




Lisa LoebMusic

The Redstone Room

March through June


Chart-topping blues guitarist and singer/songwriter Anthony Gomes, in 2006, released an album titled Music Is the Medicine. If that’s indeed true, then Genesis and Trinity might want to think about closing up shop this spring, because the Redstone Room is going to be stocked with all the medicine anyone could conceivably need. Included among the Davenport venue’s seasonal guests is Gomes himself, who plays locally on March 8, and who was recently proclaimed “at the forefront of modern blues” by Blues Revue Editor Art Tipaldi. Later this month, on March 27, the Redstone Room hosts an evening with Martin Sexton, the acoustic soul and rock musician whose talents have also landed him appearances at the Bonnaroo festival and Carnegie Hall. The downtown nightspot will also be booked, and booked well, the following two nights: Quad City Arts Visiting Artist Jen Chapin delivers her signature blend of soul, funk, and jazz on March 28, while the lauded Americana and roots performers Alejandro Escovedo & the Sensitive Boys make their Quad Cities mark on March 29. Folk singer/songwriter Mason Jennings lands in Davenport on April 18, playing in support of his acclaimed November release Always Been; if you don’t catch Jennings’ concert for personal pleasure, catch it for the impending Earth Day, as Living Lands & Waters will be giving ticket-holders free oak saplings as part of its Million Trees Project. (While we’re on the subject of giving trees, this is probably the ideal time to mention that the bluegrass/folk musicians of The Giving Tree Band will play the Redstone Room on May 2.) Grammy-nominated sensation Lisa Loeb – she of the platinum-selling chart-topper “Stay (I Missed You)” – is scheduled to pop-rock the area on April 23, while the jazzy, funky, four-piece Chicago ensemble Family Groove Company makes its return to the Quad Cities on April 26. And if you’re looking for exceptional alt-rock/country talent from the great state of Iowa, what, pray tell, can you find in the Redstone Room on June 7? Nada. I mean The Nadas. Damned typos. For more information on the Redstone Room’s springtime lineup – which includes sets with Trampled Under Foot, Davina & the Vagabonds, Samantha Fish, and numerous others – visit RiverMusicExperience.org.



Joe BonamassaEvents

Adler Theatre

March through June


Spring is in the air at the Adler Theatre! Don’t believe me? Then you obviously haven’t been to the Adler’s online calendar, because it’s right there: Spring Is in the Air, a debuting presentation by the professional dancers of Ballet Quad Cities, will enjoy two Davenport performances on April 12. With live music by Orchestra Iowa, company member Courtney Lyon will choreograph a ballet to Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring while visiting Israeli choreographer Elie Lazar offers his take on Copland’s Appalachian Spring, works guaranteed, this season, to put the spring in your – and the dancers’ – step(s). Spring fever continues at the Adler with an incredible roster of visiting musicians landing over the next three months: the “little orchestra” Pink Martini, performing March 9 with vocalist China Forbes and The von Trapps (the great-grandchildren of the legendary Sound of Music family); chart-topping rocker Bryan Adams in his solo/acoustic tour on March 27; blues-rock guitarist extraordinaire Joe Bonamassa on April 19; the quadruple-platinum-selling, alternative-rock artists of Alice in Chains on May 23; and the return of Irish singer/hoofer Daniel O’Donnell on June 4. The homegrown musical talents of the Quad City Symphony Orchestra deliver their final Masterworks concerts of the 2013-14 season in Adler performances on March 8 and, with guest mezzo-soprano Adriana Zabala, April 5. (The orchestra also performs Masterworks V and VI at Augustana College’s Centennial Hall on March 9 and April 6, respectively.) Besides spring, laughter will be in the Davenport air when film, TV, and stand-up star Jim Gaffigan brings his “White Bread Tour” to the Adler on March 20, while Canada’s “handyman comedian” Red Green offers spring gardening tips, and huge laughs, on May 1. Aspiring singers, dancers, and all-around entertainers will showcase their gifts in five springtime engagements: the Ovation Dance Challenge (March 29 and 30), NexStar Talent Competition (April 11 through 13), Star Systems’ National Talent Competition (April 25 through 27), Applause Dance Tour (May 2 through 4), and Talent on Parade Regional Dance Competition (May 9 through 11). From that quintet we go to a quartet – specifically, March 16’s booking of the Tony-winning musical Million Dollar Quartet. And then, to wrap up the Adler’s springtime lineup, there’s the iconic musical Hair on April 9. What can I say? It’s spring! Let the sun shine in! For more on the Adler Theatre’s events, visit AdlerTheatre.com.



Paula PoundstoneEvents

Englert Theatre and Hancher Auditorium

March through May


There are hundreds of exciting happenings taking place in the Quad Cities this spring. But let’s say you’ve been in front of your computer all week, I dunno, assembling calendar listings and writing articles and such, and you find yourself thinking, “If I don’t get away from here for just one day I’m gonna ... !!!” Well, in that case, a jaunt to Iowa City might just be the thing for me this spring. I mean you. The thing for you. Ahem. With that in mind, there are all sorts of sensational talents set to visit Iowa City’s Englert Theatre this season, among them: folk and pop singer/songwriter Dick Prall (March 7); the multimedia talents, familiar from America’s Got Talent, of Lightwire Theater (March 12); the internationally touring Irish singers of Dervish (March 15); legendary composer/musician Philip Glass (April 3); Seattle-based indie rockers The Head & the Heart (April 4); the singing/songwriting doubles act of William Elliott Whitmore and The Pines (April 5); actress, vocalist, comedienne, and Internet creation Miranda Sings (April 13); chart-topping country star Clint Black (April 14); comedienne and frequent NPR guest Paula Poundstone (April 18); folk artist William Fitzsimmons (May 6); Peter, Paul, & Mary superstar Peter Yarrow (May 9); the two-fer of visiting comedians Anthony Jeselnik (May 10) and Mike Birbiglia (May 18); and Australia’s Terrapin Puppet Theatre delivering Love (May 23 and 24). And while these and numerous other events will keep it a busy spring at the Englert, the University of Iowa’s Hancher Auditorium Visiting Artists Series also has a sextet of sensational offerings lined up: the gifted hoofers of Ragamala Dance with their new work Sacred Earth (March 6 and 7) at the U of I’s Space/Place Theatre; the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater (March 19) performing at Cedar Rapids’ Paramount Theatre; the classical masters of the Dublin Guitar Quartet (March 29) at Iowa City’s Riverside Recital Hall; the sweet sounds of Sones de México (April 11) in another Englert Theatre booking; choreographer Andrea Miller with Gallim Dance (April 24 and 25) at the Space/Place; and the latest Riverside Theatre production by Iowa City’s Working Group Theatre, titled Out of Bounds (May 1 through 4). See? Plenty of terrific away-from-the-computer options for me this spring. I mean you. You. Heh heh heh ... . I don’t know why I keep doing that ... . For more information, visit Englert.org and http://www.Hancher.UIowa.edu.



Southern Fried ChicksEvents

Circa ’21 Dinner Playhouse and Circa ’21 Speakeasy

March through June


I spent 11 years happily employed at Rock Island’s Circa ’21 Dinner Playhouse, and while my family had a ball there, my grandma, in particular, always wished she had more reasons to visit. Well, this one’s for you, grandma, because were she still around, she’d be amazed by just how many reasons she’d have this spring. The playhouse itself has four special concert events lined up over Circa ’21’s next three months: down-home laughs with Etta May, Sonya White, Karen Mills, and Trish Suhr, the gifted comediennes of Southern Fried Chicks (April 3); a night of John Mellencamp, Tom Petty, and Bruce Springsteen numbers with the tribute artists of Working Class Heroes (April 24); pop and showtune classics with the beloved crooners of The Lettermen (May 12); and two performances of the King’s early smash hits, with Robert Shaw & the Lonely Street Band delivering Heartbreak Hotel: A Salute to Young Elvis (June 5 and 6). And just a hop, skip, and several jumps away, the Circa ’21 Speakeasy will offer live entertainment every single spring weekend, with events running the gamut from stand-up comedy to sit-down trivia. The latter is on hand when Mr. Trivia hosts the Speakeasy Trivia Night (March 20), while the cheeky artists of Bottom’s Up Quad City Burlesque return with comedy and more (and, in the case of clothing, less) in the group’s new “Time Travel” show (May 23 through 31). The sketch-comedy and improv artists of The Blacklist offer adult-themed merriment with “100 Laughs” (March 8 and 29, April 12 and 26, and May 10) and “Shots & Giggles” (March 15, April 5 and 19, May 3 and 17, and June 7), while Midwestern stand-up talents take the stage for The Speakeasy Laugh Hard (March 28, April 18, and May 16). Classics of an earlier era are on hand with the monthly performances by The Manny Lopez Big Band (March 14, April 11, and May 9), while monthly entertainment of a different sort can be found in the drag shows of Viva La Divas (March 7, April 4, May 2, and June 6). Oh, and on March 21 and 22, the Speakeasy hosts a very special weekend booking: Mac Deville’s “Under Dressed” Boylesque Revue. That one’s especially for you, grandma. Don’t pretend you wouldn’t have shown up. For more information, visit Circa21.com.



Gumbo Ya YaEvents

Downtown Davenport and Rock Island

March through June


Look outside! The sun is shining! The snow has completely melted! It’s a balmy 74 degrees! (I’m writing this at the tail end of February, prior to our Spring Guide’s March 6 publication date. My premonition did come true, yes?) And with this excellent springtime weather comes all manner of outdoor events taking place in the downtowns of Davenport and Rock Island, so let’s get out there and enjoy! On the Iowa side of the Mississippi River, the Figge Art Museum’s Second Street plaza will host the Beaux Arts Spring Festival (May 10 and 11), the annual weekend event featuring fine arts and crafts, live music, children’s activities, and an outdoor food court. And a mere four weekends later, Davenport’s Rainbow District hosts QC Pride’s QC Pridefest (June 7 and 8), our annual celebration of LGBT culture boasting homemade crafts, performances by regional artists, a carnival, an open-air picnic, and nightly fireworks. Crossing the river into Illinois, a quartet of downtown Rock Island happenings is scheduled for the merry month of May. The American Heart Association’s 2014 Quad Cities Heartwalk will take place on May 17, while Rock Island residents and guests can help keep the city beautiful in May 3’s Annual Downtown Cleanup. Art of all stripes can be found during the District’s springtime Gallery Hop!, the May 2 event that finds dozens of area venues and businesses treating patrons to the finest in visual, musical, and performance-based entertainment. Top cyclists from around the country, and around the world, compete for prizes and the awed “Whoa!”s of spectators during the annual Quad Cities Criterium on Memorial Day, May 26. The outdoor fun continues on June 6 and 7 with the District’s annual celebration of Cajun culture Gumbo Ya Ya, your go-to location for Cajun food, zydeco and jazz music, and the chance to enjoy Mardi Gras without leaving the comforts of home. And bridging the gap between Illinois and Iowa, quite literally, is March 15’s Grand Parade XXIX – the annual event through the downtowns of Rock Island and Davenport via the Centennial Bridge, and the only interstate St. Patrick’s Day parade in the entire United States. Can’t wait to get decked out completely in green and celebrate my Irish heritage! (Generations of German ancestors have just turned green for entirely different reasons.) For more on our area’s outdoor spring events, visit RIDistrict.com and DowntownDavenport.com.



Miss Abigail's Guide to Dating, Mating, & MarriageTheatre

Comedies and Dramas

March through June


Welcome to our rundown on the area’s theatrical comedies and dramas scheduled to open over the next three months. Or as I prefer to think of this particular lineup: the Dirty Dozen. Okay, the shows aren’t necessarily dirty, but they’re definitely geared toward the grown-ups among you. (For a roster of springtime family productions, see the article two articles below.) The complex relationships between two adult couples, for instance, are explored in the Playcrafters Barn Theatre staging of Donald Margulies’ Pulitzer Prize-winner Dinner with Friends (May 9 through 18), while the alternately loving and contentious relationship between two brothers is at the heart of the Richmond Hill Barn Theatre’s The Melville Boys (June 5 through 15). Richmond Hill precedes that dramatic comedy with a romantic one in author Joe DiPietro’s The Last Romance (April 24 through May 4), while both affection and Oscar Wilde-ian affectation can be counted on in St. Ambrose University’s The Importance of Being Earnest (April 11 through 13), a mainstage comedy preceded by the school’s studio-theatre presentation of Proof (March 20 through 22), the Tony Award- and Pulitzer Prize-winner by David Auburn. New Ground Theatre has an area premiere with Matthew Lopez’s Civil War drama The Whipping Man (March 21 through 30), and a world premiere (or a few) in this spring’s Playwrights Festival (May 2 through 11). In addition to Fiddler on the Roof and a musical for children, the Circa ’21 Dinner Playhouse has a couple of plays on its springtime docket, with the theatre presenting the high-school-reunion comedy Always a Bridesmaid (March 26 through May 17), and a special engagement of the touring production Miss Abigail’s Guide to Dating, Mating, & Marriage (March 12 through 22). Classical tales will be given unique spins this spring when Scott Community College delivers guest artist Laura Winton’s Crossing Acheron: The Tragedy of Antigone (April 10 through 19) and when the Prenzie Players present J.C. Luxton’s reverse-gender take on Shakespeare’s Lear (April 4 through 12). And after its planned February opening was delayed until spring, the QC Theatre Workshop will, with myself among the cast, stage Sam Shepard’s warring-siblings comedy True West (May 16 through June 1). That one’s also not dirty, per se, but it sure is messy. Be on the lookout for flying toast. For more on the area’s springtime stage scene, visit the Reader's Theatre calendar.




Musicals and Dance

March through June


Habitual drug use, sexually confused teenagers, attempted fratricide ... it must be time to explore our area’s spring-musical scene! (Those wishing to explore the theatre season in ways that kids can enjoy should check out the article below.) Of course, that “attempted fratricide” is hardly the stuff of nightmares, considering it’s only a wee-minor part of the colorful musical collage that is Andrew Lloyd Webber’s and Tim Rice’s Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, running June 5 through 15 at the Timber Lake Playhouse. And while no one wants to make light of drug use or adolescent angst, at least those subjects, this spring, will be tucked into a pair of absolutely exhilarating rock musicals: the former in the Adler Theatre’s touring production of the timeless Hair (April 9), and the latter in the Center for Living Arts’ Tony-dominating smash Spring Awakening (May 15 through 24). There’ll be even more Spring to the spring when Ballet Quad Cities stages its debuting Stravinsky/Copland two-fer Spring Is in the Air (April 12), which will be followed by the company’s annual Lincoln Park production Ballet Under the Stars (June 6 through 8). And before Spring Awakening arrives, the Center for Living takes on a Bob Fosse classic with its take on Pippin (April 11 through 13). Murder, albeit funny murder, is on the docket with Augustana College’s musical-comedy mystery Something’s Afoot (May 2 through 11), while four performers who made a collective killing in the music business – Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, and Jerry Lee Lewis – are the subjects of the Adler’s Million Dollar Quartet (March 16). Girl groups of the 1950s are celebrated in the Clinton Area Showboat Theatre’s production of The Taffetas (June 5 through 15), while a celebration of candy-coated “Pure Imagination” will be underway in Quad City Music Guild’s Willy Wonka (April 3 through 6). And for those seeking a beloved musical-theatre staple, and a few rousing choruses of “L’chaim!,” the Circa ’21 Dinner Playhouse offers the return of the iconic Fiddler on the Roof (May 21 through July 19). So plan on attending a springtime musical, folks! It ain’t brain surgery! Oh, wait ... in the District Theatre’s production of composer William Finn’s hit A New Brain (March 14 through 23), it actually is brain surgery. Never mind. For more area stage shows this spring, visit the Theatre and Dance calendars.



Sesame Street Live: Make a New FriendTheatre

Family Productions

March through May


As the song goes, “Can you tell me how to get, how to get to Sesame Street?” Well, I can certainly tell you how to get to Sesame Street: Just drive along Moline’s River Drive until you get to the i wireless Center. At least, that’s the route you should travel on March 13, when the venue presents the touring production Sesame Street Live: Make a New Friendwhich is just one of numerous family presentations set for area stages this spring. Elsewhere in Moline, the Playcrafters Barn Theatre will offer author Frances Hudgson Burnett’s beloved children’s adventure The Secret Garden (March 14 through 23), while another book classic – albeit one designed for much younger readers – receives stage treatment when the Peoria Civic Center hosts an adaptation of P.D. Eastman’s Are You My Mother? (March 13). Plenty of other famed, and family-friendly, literary works will also enjoy the transfer from page to stage this spring: Davenport Junior Theatre presents Daniel D.P. Sheridan’s debuting adaptation of Carlo Colllodi’s Pinocchio (April 26 through May 4); Roald Dahl’s Charlie & the Chocolate Factory gets a Quad City Music Guild workout in the forthcoming Willy Wonka (April 3 through 6); and J.M. Barrie’s best-known offering takes flight at Rock Island’s Center for Living Arts in Peter Pan Jr. (April 25 and 26). Scores of books have, of course, been written about the forest-dweller who robbed from the rich and gave to the poor, and some of the character’s literary exploits will be visualized in the Timber Lake Playhouse’s springtime production of Robin Hood (May 7 through 10). And finally, at the Circa ’21 Dinner Playhouse, elementary-school hardships turn into musical-comedy heaven in the theatre’s rendition of Judy Blume’s Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing (April 10 through May 10). I am happy to report that I, personally, was not a fourth-grade nothing. Then again, it’s all kinda been downhill since fifth ... . For listings of additional area events for children and families this spring, visit the Reader's Kids calendar.


Also visit "What's Happenin': Thursday, March 6, through Wednesday, March 19."

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