Ronnie Baker Brooks
The Redstone Room
Friday, May 25, 8 p.m.
Performing with his father and brother as the Brooks Family Blues Dynasty, Chicago-based singer/guitarist Ronnie Baker Brooks will be among the headliners at this year's Mississippi Valley Blues Festival, so I guess you could consider his May 25 Redstone Room concert something of a Quad Cities warm-up.
Then again, with the All Music Guide describing Brooks as "a monster guitarist with an ample supply of technique and passion," and the Boston Herald calling his most recent CD "ferocious and unrelenting," I'm thinking the temperatures in the Davenport venue might be significantly higher than "warm."
The son of Chicago-blues legend Lonnie Brooks and the sibling of famed blues artist Wayne Baker Brooks, Ronnie unofficially entered the family business at age nine, playing guitar on-stage at one of his dad's concerts. A mere decade later, he was an actual member of Lonnie's band, touring alongside the likes of Koko Taylor, Elvin Bishop, and Lil' Ed Williams. And a decade after that, he released a debut album - 1998's Golddigger - that was produced by someone who also knows a little something about music as a family enterprise: Janet Jackson.
Golddigger earned Brooks a Blues Music Award nomination for best new artist, and after releasing his equally acclaimed CDs Take Me Witcha and The Touch, he has emerged as one of our most soulful and accomplished musicians, with BluesRevue.com's Eric Wrisley writing, "I've heard Ronnie Baker Brooks referred to as the new King of Chicago Blues, and when he's on-stage, there's little question why." So expect Brooks' soul- and hip-hop-inspired blues energy to be explosive regardless of whether he's playing the Redstone Room or to a huge outdoor crowd; as he joked on MNBlues.com, "I'll play for the grass." I actually had a college friend who played for another kind of grass, but he'd probably prefer I didn't mention his name in print.
Ronnie Baker Brooks appears locally with opener Bella Soul, and more information on the night is available by calling (563)326-1333 or visiting RiverMusicExperience.org.
Summer Camp Music Festival
Three Sisters Park
Thursday, May 24, through Sunday, May 27
In addition to the vendors, art shows, workshops, and children's activities at this year's Summer Camp Music Festival - taking place May 24 through 27 at Chillicothe, Illinois' Three Sisters Park - you may be wondering just what's on tap musically for this annual outdoor celebration that features more than 100 indie and jam bands performing on five separate stages. I'm here to tell you that you'll be hearing everything from A to Z. Literally.
· Dead Larry
· Fareed Haque & MathGames
· Gov't Mule
· Hot Buttered Rum
· Jane's Addiction
· Keller Williams
· New Orleans Suspects
· Old Shoe
· Positive Vibr8ions
· Sonic Sutra
· Tedeschi Trucks Band
· Umphrey's McGee
· Victor Wooten
· Xceptional Xactitude
· Yonder Mountain String Band
· Zeds Dead
And yes, I totally made up "Xceptional Xactitude." But I was 23 letters into this piece before realizing there wasn't an "X" band scheduled for the festival, and damned if that was gonna stop me.
For more information on this year's Summer Camp Music Festival - along with a handy grid showing just who's playing where and when - visit SummerCampFestival.com.
Tech N9ne's Hostile Takeover Tour
Wednesday, May 30, 8 p.m.
According to legend, the chart-topping rap artist Tech N9ne - born Aaron Dontez Yates - adopted his stage name after fellow rapper Black Walt told him his exceptionally quick, rhythmic patter was reminiscent of a TEC-9 semi-automatic handgun. Personally, I think it's a cool moniker, and am kind of thankful that Tech N9ne's choices didn't come down to "Woodpecker" or "Pneumatic Paint Shaker" instead.
Local audiences, meanwhile, can revel in the man's gifts for speed and rhyme in Tech N9ne's Hostile Takeover Tour, which hits Davenport's RiverCenter on May 30. Joining the musician are some of the most exciting names on the rap and hip-hop scene today, as the tour boasts scheduled sets by Machine Gun Kelly, Krizz Kalico, MayDay, Prozak, and Stevie Stone. And with his last seven albums all scoring on the top 10 of Billboard's U.S. rap charts - and 2011's All 6's and 7's hitting number-one on Billboard's independent, R&B, and rap charts - Tech N9ne himself will no doubt exhilarate fans with samplings from such smash-hit CDs as his Welcome to Strangeland, The Gates Mixed Plate, and K.O.D.
How well do you know the others? Try matching the following eight Tech N9ne studio albums with the year of their release.
1) Absolute Power
3) The Calm Before the Storm
4) Everready (The Religion)
6) Misery Loves Kompany
7) Sickology 101
8) The Worst
Tickets to Tech N9ne's Hostile Takeover Tour are $30 in advance and $35 at the door, and are available by calling (800)745-3000 or visiting RiverCtr.com.
Answers: 1 - D, 2 - C, 3 - A, 4 - E, 5 - G, 6 - F, 7 - H, 8 - B. Good thing his 2012 release was an EP and not a studio album. I get in enough trouble for the salty language in these pages.
Richmond Hill Barn Theatre
Thursday, May 31, through Sunday, June 10
"Pearl! Pearl! Get in here!"
"Oh, for heaven's sake, what is it, Vera?"
"I just got on that Interweb thingie and thought I'd look up our town, and it turns out someone's written a whole play about it! And we're characters in it!"
"What?! Why, of all the nerve!"
"It's a comedy called Greater Tuna, and it's playing someplace called the Richmond Hill Barn Theatre way up in Geneseo, Illinois ... !"
"Illinois?! What do they know about Texas in Illinois?!"
" And supposedly it's been called 'inspired,' 'affectionate,' and 'an acting tour de force' by Variety magazine!"
"Oh, I don't trust those Californians ... ."
"Apparently, everyone's a character in this thing! The radio DJs Arles and Thurston, and that no-good Hank Bumiller, and that drunkard R.R. Shavely, and that dimwit Petey Fisk ... even that irritating dog Yippy is in the show."
"Let me tell you, I've got a bitter pill for that little mongrel ... ."
"And get this! It's being directed by someone named James Fairchild, who played a number of our citizens last winter in a play called A Tuna Christmas! There's a bunch of these Tuna productions out there!"
"Well, I don't like this one bit. Unless ... . Maybe we should take a trip up there and audition for the dang thing ourselves! If someone's going to play us on-stage, it might as well be us!"
"You're not going to believe this, Vera, but the entire town is being played by two people - and they're both men! Seems like these fellas John VanDeWoestyne and Bruce Carmen switch in and out of costumes real fast and end up acting like every living soul in Tuna!"
"Even the women?"
"Even the women!"
"Well, that's a bit of a drag."
"And kind of fishy, don't you think?"
Greater Tuna runs at the Richmond Hill Barn Theatre May 31 through June 10, and more information and tickets are available by calling (309)944-2244 or visiting RHPlayers.com.
Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Jazz Festival
Thursday, August 2, through Sunday, August 5
August 6 will mark the 81stanniversary of the passing of legendary jazz performer (and local-boy-made-awfully-good) Bix Beiderbecke, who was once quoted as saying that jazz "describes music exhibiting influence of that technique which has, as its traditional object, to secure the effects of surprise, or in the broadest sense, humor. Jazz is musical humor." My attempts to play jazz in high-school band, meanwhile, were generally described as "humorous music." So let's be grateful that musicians far more gifted than I are signed up to entertain crowds at this year's annual Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Jazz Festival, with a dozen acclaimed ensembles performing at downtown-Davenport venues August 2 through 5. Nearly half of the bands will be arriving from outside the Quad Cities, with afternoon and evening sets scheduled for: Florida's Allred's Classic Jazz Band; Texas' Jim Cullum's Jazz Band; Wisconsin's Andy Schumm & the Flatland Gang; and Michigan's Dave Bennett Quartet and Wally's Warehouse Waifs. The other half, though, are based right here in Bix's old Quad Cities stomping grounds: Josh Duffee & His Orchestra; the River City 6; the Manny Lopez Quartet; the Manny Lopez Big Band; the Five Bridges Jazz Band; the Jimmy Valentine Quintet; and the BareHanded Wolfchokers - the musical ensemble that might come in handiest during a camping trip. As usual, this year's festival will also come complete with a Sunday-morning service at Oakdale Memorial Cemetery, Sunday jazz-brunch performances at the Radisson Hotel, and numerous jazz workshops, including the Adler Theatre's "The Future of Jazz" seminar on August 5. And for an up-close-and-personal look at the future of jazz, audiences will be treated to several scheduled performances by the talented musicians of the Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Youth Jazz Band. Davenport's famed artist was also quoted as saying, "One of the things I like about jazz is I don't know what's going to happen next." So how 'bout that? When it comes to summertime jazz in the Quad Cities, you're now one step ahead of Bix Beiderbecke! For more information on this year's Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Jazz Festival, call (563)324-7170 or visit BixSociety.org.
Mississippi Valley Blues Festival
Friday, June 29, through Sunday, July 1
This year's Mississippi Valley Blues Festival will take place June 29 through July 1 in Davenport's LeClaire Park, and among the performers for 2012 are Earnest "Guitar" Roy, who's playing the festival's Tent Stage on Friday night, and Guitar Shorty, who's playing the Bandshell Stage on Saturday night. I imagine that their parents would be thrilled by their sons' career successes, because when you give a kid "Guitar" as a first or middle name, they'd really better wind up in the music business, you know? (Kidding.) This terrifically popular annual festival will actually provide all sorts of knowledge about the music business, delivered through workshops hosted by the likes of Hawkeye Herman and blues photographer David Horwitz, and children's BlueSKool presentations by such experts as David Berntson, Maggie Brown, Hal Reed, and Ellis Kell. And, of course, there's the music itself; joining the acclaimed and aptly named "Guitar"-ists are 22 additional individuals and ensembles who will no doubt make audiences all too happy about getting the blues. In addition to Mr. Roy, who opens the Tent Stage lineup with a 6:30 p.m. Friday set, the LeClaire Park stage will boast (in order of weekend appearance) Liz Mandeville & Donna Herula, Super Chikan, Bryce Janey, Doug MacLeod, the Ernest Dawkins Quartet, Moreland & Arbuckle, Kelley Hunt, the Winter Blues All-Stars, Paul Geremia, Johnny Rawls, and Bobby Rush. The park's Bandshell Stage, meanwhile, will find Mr. Shorty sharing time with Matthew Curry & the Fury, Sugar Ray & the Bluetones, Kenny Neal, the Terry Quiett Band, Ray Fuller & the Blues Rockers, Preston Shannon, Coco Montoya, Lady Bianca, Trampled Underfoot, the Brooks Family Blues Dynasty, and the winners of the 2012 Iowa Blues Challenge, ______________. We won't know which blues band that will be until the challenge's final round in Des Moines on May 26, so we conveniently left space for you to print this out and write in the name for yourself. Hey, it's not our fault that the Reader's Summer Guide comes out on May 24! Oh, wait ... . I guess it is ... . Nevertheless, more information on this year's Mississippi Valley Blues Festival is available by calling (563)322-5837 or visiting MVBS.org.
Outdoor Festivals and Events
June through August
2012's season of summertime festivals in Davenport starts with feelings of pride and open-heartedness, continues with music and exercise and fireworks, and ends with barbecued ribs. It's like the perfect day stretched out over three whole months! The fun begins with the June 2 and 3 QC Pridefest, the Quad Cities' annual celebration of GLBT culture, which will feature musicians, vendors, and outdoor entertainment in the Rainbow District at Second and Warren streets. Heading up the hill, the Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds will house our annual Mississippi River Motorcycle Rally, the June 13 through 16 event featuring vendors, live shows, contests, games, and music for biking enthusiasts of all stripes ... and, not for nothing, for anyone curious about the scheduled Bikini Bike Wash. Though taking place in LeClaire Park on June 23, this year's Juneteenth Festival will again celebrate June 19's official Emancipation Day (which commemorates the announcement of slavery's abolition) with programs on African-American culture, children's activities, information booths, live entertainment, historical presentations, and more. June 29 serves as opening day for LeClaire Park's Mississippi Valley Blues Festival, running through July 1, and both that outdoor venue and Modern Woodmen Park will, on July 3, host the children's activities, musical performances, and awesome fireworks display of the area-wide Independence Day party Red, White, and Boom! Dedicated runners the world over will be in Davenport for July 28's annual Quad-City Times Bix 7 street race, while music fans will be racing to the city to attend three summertime festivals: the country-music celebration of the Heartland Jam (Centennial Park, July 20 and 21); the pop- and rock-fueled carnival atmosphere of the 41st Annual Street Fest (between Brady and Ripley streets, July 27 and 28); and the always-anticipated Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Jazz Festival (downtown venues, August 2 through 5). More spectacular music will be on hand at this year's Mississippi Valley Fair (July 31 through August 5), with the Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds' headliners including Rodney Atkins, The Band Perry, Billy Currington, REO Speedwagon, Hank Williams Jr., and Montgomery Gentry. And while, at press time, the bands are still to be announced for LeClaire Park's River Roots Live and Ribfest on August 17 and 18, we do know two things: (1) the air will be filled with tunes by some of the finest roots musicians working today, and (2) you're advised to bring a bib. For more information on this year's outdoor festivals in Davenport, call (563)322-1706 or visit DowntownDavenport.com.
Outdoor Festivals and Events
May through August
Welcome to summertime in Rock Island, where the music is infectious, the activities are numerous, and the beer flows in seemingly unending quantities. But just in case you don't have directions to my apartment, there are, I guess, a few other Rock Island destinations and events worth checking out this season. Fans of disco and pop, for instance, won't want to miss the annual Memorial Day Weekend concerts with The Travoltas, who will be rocking RIBCO's outdoor stage on May 26 and 27, while harder forms of rocking will come courtesy of the Daiquiri Factory's June 30 Rock the District concert with headliner Papa Roach, and July 14's Daiquiri Factory 8th-Anniversary Party, featuring the hair-metal head-bangers of Hairbanger's Ball. (Good luck saying that last bit 10 times in a row.) There will be plenty more music on hand - plus arts and crafts, street vendors, children's activities, and food and drink galore - in the District of Rock Island's annual celebration of Cajun culture Gumbo Ya Ya, taking place June 8 and 9, and the District's annual celebration of Caribbean culture Ya Maka My Weekend, occurring August 10 and 11. If you're a sporting enthusiast, plan on thrilling to the sights and sounds of hundreds of wheels whizzing past you in May 28's annual bicycle-racing spectacular the Quad Cities Criterium, while participants will be hoping that circular objects don't whiz past them in June 16's Dodgeball Showdown, the annual Daiquiri Factory competition that will climax with a Trash Martini concert on the Great River Stage. The sky will be filled with colors - while the grounds are filled with vendors and events for kids of all ages - in the annual, fireworks-festooned celebration Red, White, & Boom! on July 3. And finally, taking place directly outside RIBCO on August 25, the venue will present its third-annual River City Beer "Festiv-ale," an event offering samplings from dozens of premium beers and micro-brews, and one so conveniently located that everyone can easily enjoy all four hours of taste-tests and simply walk home after. Or at least walk to my home. Hmm. Now I'm definitely not giving directions. For more information on Rock Island's summertime happenings, call (309)788-6311 or visit RIDistrict.com.
NASA / ART: 50 Years of Exploration
Figge Art Museum
Saturday, July 14, through Sunday, October 7
Pop quiz: What do the famous figures Annie Leibovitz, Nam June Paik, Robert Rauschenberg, Norman Rockwell, Andy Warhol, William Wegman, and Jamie Wyeth all have in common? That's right! They all have works of art included in the Figge Art Museum's upcoming exhibit NASA / ART: 50 Years of Exploration! (Okay, granted, they also have in common the fact that they're all artists. But this is NASA we're talking about, people! Aim higher!) On display at the Davenport venue from July 14 through October 7, this traveling collection features no fewer than 72 artworks commissioned by the NASA Art Program after the 1958 inception of the U.S. space program, designed as a unique way to communicate the accomplishments, setbacks, and sheer excitement of space exploration to those of us more earthbound by nature. Spanning the entire history of NASA, these works are sure to prove fascinating for anyone with a longtime or budding interest in space travel, and are being displayed in conjunction with the Figge's summertime film series "When We Left Earth: The NASA Missions." Running Saturdays and Sundays from July 21 through August 26 - with the 2:30 p.m. screenings preceded by docent-led exhibit tours at 1:30 p.m. - the six weekly, hour-long film presentations will trace NASA's history from its beginnings through the creation of the Hubble telescope, and provide astonishing detail and testimony on everything from the Challenger tragedy to the miracle of Apollo 13. You know, there was a time, as a boy, when I wanted to be an astronaut, but then I realized it would be easier just to write stuff. Get it?! "Write stuff"? Like "Right Stuff"? Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ... ! Hmm. Yeah, maybe space-travel would've been the smarter career option ... . For more information on the Figge's NASA / ART: 50 Years of Exploration events - and everything else happening at the Davenport venue this summer - call (563)326-7804 or visit FiggeArt.org.
What Else Is Happenin'... ? May 14 - June 7
Friday, May 25 - Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars. Concert with one of Africa's top touring and recording bands, with an opening set by Orgone. Englert Theatre (221 Washington Street, Iowa City). 8 p.m. $20-22. For tickets and information, call (319)688-2653 or visit Englert.org.
Saturday, May 26 - Tanya Tucker. The country-music legend in concert. Quad-Cities Waterfront Convention Center (1777 Isle Parkway, Bettendorf). 7:30 p.m. $25-35. For information, call (800)724-5825 or visit Bettendorf.IsleOfCapriCasinos.com.
Saturday, May 26 - Michael McDonald. Concert with the Grammy-winning singer and former Doobie Brother. Riverside Casino Event Center (3184 Highway 22, Riverside). 8 p.m. $50-60. For tickets and information, call (319)677-3456 or visit RiversideCasinoAndResort.com.
Saturday, May 26, and Sunday, May 27 - The Travoltas. All-ages outdoor concert with the disco-tribute musicians and special guests. Rock Island Brewing Company (1815 Second Avenue, Rock Island). 8 p.m. $10-12. For information, call (309)793-4060 or visit RIBCO.com.
Thursday, May 31 - The Robert Cray Band. The Grammy-winning singer/songwriter and guitar legend in concert. Englert Theatre (221 Washington Street, Iowa City). 8 p.m. $40-50. For tickets and information, call (319)688-2653 or visit Englert.org.
Friday, June 1 - Shock G. Hip-hop and rap with the Digital Underground musician. Rock Island Brewing Company (1815 Second Avenue, Rock Island). 9 p.m. $20 advance tickets. For information, call (309)793-4060 or visit RIBCO.com.
Sunday, June 3 - The Devil Makes Three. Bluegrass, folk, and country musicians in concert, with an opening set by Spider John. The Redstone Room (129 Main Street, Davenport). 8 p.m. $12.50-15. For tickets and information, call (563)326-1333 or visit RiverMusicExperience.org.
Wednesday, June 6 - Scott H. Biram and Lydia Loveless. Blues, country, and rock. Rock Island Brewing Company (1815 Second Avenue, Rock Island). 8:30 p.m. $10-13. For information, call (309)793-4060 or visit RIBCO.com.
Wednesday, June 6 - An Evening with Walter Trout. Legendary blues guitarist in concert. The Redstone Room (129 Main Street, Davenport). 8 p.m. $15. For tickets and information, call (563)326-1333 or visit RiverMusicExperience.org.
Thursday, May 24, through Sunday, June 3 - Anton in Show Business. New Ground Theatre's presentation of Jane Martin's theatre farce, directed by Wayne Hess. Village Theatre (2113 East 11th Street, Davenport). Thursday-Saturday 7:30 p.m., Sunday 2 p.m. $15-18. For tickets and information, call (563)326-7529 or visit NewGroundTheatre.org.
Thursday, May 31, through Sunday, June 10 - Little Shop of Horrors. Hit musical comedy about a boy and his man-eating plant. Clinton Area Showboat Theatre (311 Riverview Drive, Clinton). Thursday-Saturday 7:30 p.m., Sunday and Wednesday 3 p.m. $16-23. For tickets and information, call (563)242-6760 or visit ClintonShowboat.org.
Monday, May 28 - Quad Cities Criterium. Annual bicycle race involving hundreds of competitive riders from the U.S. and abroad. District of Rock Island. 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Free admission. For information, call (309)788-6311 or visit QuadCitiesCriterium.com.
Friday, June 1, through Sunday, June 3 - Iowa Arts Festival. Annual outdoor festival featuring an art fair, musical performances, food vendors, children's activities, and more. Downtown Iowa City. Friday 4-11:30 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m.-11:30 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Free admission. For information, call (319)337-7944 or visit SummerOfTheArts.org.
Saturday, June 2 - Run for the Son. A 5K-certified run/walk, with proceeds benefiting domestic-violence-prevention programs. Christian Care Rescue Mission (2209 Third Avenue, Rock Island). 8 a.m. $20-25. For information and to register, call (309)788-2273 or visit GetMeRegistered.com/runfortheson.
Saturday, June 2, and Sunday, June 3 - QC Pridefest. Annual celebration of LGBT culture, featuring vendors, live music, information booths, interactive art, sports activities, and more. Davenport's Rainbow District (Second and Warren streets). Saturday noon-midnight, Sunday noon-6 p.m. $5 admission for both days. For information, visit QCPride.org.