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What's Happenin': Summer 2014 PDF Print E-mail
Lifestyle - Noteworthy Events
Written by Mike Schulz   
Tuesday, 27 May 2014 06:00

Deanna BogartMusic

Mississippi Valley Blues Festival

LeClaire Park

Thursday, July 3, through Saturday, July 5


It makes perfect sense that the very first musicians to play 2014’s Mississippi Valley Blues Festival in LeClaire Park – which begins at 5 p.m. on July 3 – are the members of the Johnny Kilowatt Band, because this year’s lineup of artists is downright electric! (Okay, granted, that’s a terrible joke, but if you’ve been reading me for a while now, you know they can get way worse.)

Again suggesting that, for our area, Fourth of July fireworks may actually be superfluous, the Mississippi Valley Blues Society will celebrate the Independence Day weekend with an explosive roster of talent from July 3 through 5. Some of that talent will be on display in the free workshops led by blues-music devotees such as photographer David Horowitz and the father-and-son team of Eddie Shaw and Eddie “Vaan” Shaw Jr. Some will be found in the annual BlueSKool events, with David Berntson, Ellis Kell, Bret Dale, and the River Music Experience’s Winter Blues Kids getting area youths jazzed about the blues. And, it should go without saying, there will be human fireworks aplenty among the more than two-dozen blues acts set to perform on two stages along the Davenport riverfront. On the Tent stage, Thursday’s schedule includes sets with 10 of Soul, Ernie Peniston, and the to-be-named winners of the 2014 Iowa Blues Challenge; Friday’s lineup features Margaret Murphy-Webb, Roy Book Binder, Anthony “Big A” Sherod, Terrance Simein & the Zydeco Experience, and the RME’s Winter Blues All Stars; and Saturday showcases the musical gifts of the Westbrook Singers, Terry Bean & Jimmy Duck Holmes, Jarekus Singleton, Eddie Shaw & the Wolfgang, and Deanna Bogart. Meanwhile, following the Johnny Kilowatt Band, Thursday’s Bandshell roster includes blues sensations Gloria Hardiman, Doug Deming & Dennis Gruenling with the Jewel Tones, Lucky Peterson, Kim Simmonds, and Savoy Brown; Friday boasts Dexter Allen, Jason Elmore & Hoodoo Witch, Tad Robinson, Preston Shannon, and festival headliners George Thorogood & the Destroyers; and Saturday brings with it performances by Albert Castiglia, Jamiah “On Fire” & the Red Machine, Curtis Salgado, Tinsley Ellis, and Sunday Wilde – the latter proving that, in this instance, Saturday’s gonna be Wilde, too! (Told you they can get worse.) For more information on this year’s Mississippi Valley Blues Festival, call (563)322-5837 or visit


Banu GibsonMusic

Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Jazz Festival

Downtown Davenport

Thursday, July 31, through Sunday, August 3


The late, great Duke Ellington was quoted as saying, “By and large, jazz has always been like the kind of a man you wouldn’t want your daughter to associate with.” Consequently, if you have unmarried daughters, you may want to send them to their rooms on July 31 and keep them there until the night of August 3, because this area is going to be teeming with artists you wouldn’t want hanging around. I’m referring, of course, to the performers in this year’s Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Jazz Festival, our area’s annual celebration of the legendary jazz cornet player and Davenport native. Also, of course, I was just kidding about keeping your daughters under lock-and-key during that long weekend; with the 2014 schedule including performances by the Bix Youth Jazz Band and an ensemble named The Fat Babies, how dangerous could these folks be? This year’s Bix Fest begins and ends with sets by the Jim Cullum Jazz Band, the gifted musicians who will play a Thursday-afternoon concert at Davenport’s Putnam Museum and a Sunday-night engagement at Jim’s Knoxville Tap in Milan, Illinois. But in between those two sets, the Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Society will host more than a dozen additional jazz-fueled groups at locales including the Davenport RiverCenter, the Adler Theatre, LeClaire Park, Davenport’s First Presbyterian Church, and even Bix’s gravesite at Oakdale Cemetery. And oh, what jazz fuel there’ll be! In addition to the Bix youths and those aforementioned Fat Babies – who, oddly enough, all seem to be of voting age – here’s the lineup of those performing hour-long sets at the various Davenport locations: the River City 6, Dan Levinson’s Roof Garden Jass Band, Banu Gibson’s New Orleans Hot Jazz, the Dave Bennett Quartet, the Peter & Will Anderson Twins Sextet, the Jim Valentine Quintet, the Basin Street Boys, the Tony Hamilton Orchestra, the Rock River Jazz Band, Four Other Brothers, and Jim Buennig & Friends. Plus, it appears that local Bix Beiderbecke fan and jazz musician par excellence Josh Duffee will be on hand with two of his ensembles: the Josh Duffee Orchestra and Josh Duffee & His Graystone Monarchs. Herbie Hancock once said, “Jazz is about being in the moment.” Apparently, to Duffee, it’s also about staying awfully busy. For more information on this year’s Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Jazz Festival, call (563)324-7170 or visit


Arthur Geisert’s ThunderstormExhibits

Figge Art Museum

May through August


Perhaps you’re a frequent patron at Davenport’s Figge Art Museum. Perhaps you’ve already viewed the venue’s current exhibitions Corn Zone (running through June 8), Landscape: Ingalena Klenell & Beth Lipman (running through June 15), and A Legacy for Iowa (running through April 26, 2015). And perhaps, after additional strolls through the rest of the museum’s galleries, you now find yourself saying, “Mike, I’ve seen everything I can possibly see at the Figge, so what on Earth am I gonna do over the summer?!?” My responses would be: (a) “I’ll thank you not to speak to me in that tone,” and (b) “Fear not! The Figge has four brand-new exhibits opening over the next three months!” The Figge’s summer season begins with A Moveable Museum: Works from the UIMA School Programs Collection, on display from June 7 through August 3; a joint presentation with the University of Iowa Museum of Art, the exhibition will showcase works from five continents, and in a wide range of artistic media. From July 12 through November 2, Two Americans in Paris: Stuart Davis & Grant Wood will focus on the experiences and careers of its titular artists, both of whom studied in Paris during the 1920s, and earned their reputations depicting scenes of American life. Living Proof, which can be viewed from August 16 through October 26, is our area’s annual exhibition of works by cancer survivors and patients living within a 150-mile radius of the Quad Cities. And finally, from June 14 through September 14, the Figge will house over 180 sketches, plates, prints, and hand-colored illustrations – accompanied by an assemblage of artist tools and a printing press – in From Pencil to Printed Page: Arthur Geisert’s Thunderstorm. The exhibit will let visitors examine this master printer’s and storyteller’s process from initial pencil sketches through three stages of printing to the hand-colored illustrations immortalized in Geisert’s 2013 picture book Thunderstorm, a work that led the New York Times Book Review to rave: “The artist’s trademark copperplate etchings, tinged with watercolors, lend a timeless feel to his slice-of-life illustrations.” So we all owe a hearty thank-you to the Figge for this particular exhibit, because where else, during a Quad Cities summer, would we ever come in contact with a thunderstorm? Once you’ve finished laughing, you can learn more about the Figge Art Museum’s summer programming by calling (563)326-7804 or visiting


Gala of the Royal HorsesEvents

i wireless Center

June through September


The other day, I was thinking of taglines that could help promote events at the i wireless Center, and I think I landed on a great one: “The i wireless Center: Built to Amaze.” Promoters are welcome to steal that. They’re also welcome to pay for any subsequent litigation that may result, as Born to Amaze is also the title of the new circus spectacular that will wrap up the Moline venue’s summertime schedule. Booked for seven individual shows from August 29 through September 1, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Presents Built to Amaze will thrill audiences of all ages in this latest installment of The Greatest Show on Earth, wowing crowds with extraordinary feats of circus acrobatics, inspired clowning, and stunning displays by all manner of four-legged creatures. Yet in addition to ending, the i wireless Center’s summer is also beginning with animal acts – specifically the incredible animals on view in June 8’s Gala of the Royal Horses. Featuring performances involving the Andalusian, Friesian, Lipizzaner, and Arabian breeds, this special touring attraction will show off the beauty and astonishing movements of these grand creatures, including the famed battlefield maneuvers called “the airs above the ground.” On that subject, country-music fans are certain to be on Cloud Nine when, on July 25, the i wireless Center presents a night with superstar singer/guitarist Jake Owen, four of whose singles – “Alone with You,” “Anywhere with You,” “Barefoot Blue Jean Night,” and “The One That Got Away” – reached number one on Billboard’s country charts. Another Billboard chart-topper, albeit one whose albums are less country than comedy, takes the Moline stage when Blue Collar Comedian Ron White makes his area arrival on July 18; the two-time Grammy nominee will perform stand-up on his “Nutcracker Tour,” reminding fans that Tater Salad isn’t just a lovely summertime side dish. And wrapping up the i wireless Center’s season, the venue welcomes seven bands over eight hours in July 19’s Quad City Rockfest, which boasts evening sets with the rock and metal artists of Night Ranger and Firehouse, plus performances by The Hooks, Eleven Fifty Two, Divebomb, Cheap Thrill, and __________, the winners of radio station 97X’s 97Xposure contest being held at Rascals on June 26. I’d fill in that blank myself, but seriously, I push my deadlines enough as it is. For more information on i wireless Center events, visit


Jerrod NiemannOutdoor Festivals and Events


June through August


Even though I’m a Rock Island resident, there are days – say, whenever I’m working on a new seasonal guide for the Reader – in which it feels like I’ll never leave Davenport. Then summer rolls around, and I ask myself: Won’t I have more fun by just staying in Davenport? (This reverie is usually ended by my boss demanding that I get back to work.) Kicking off the city’s annual festivals and outdoor events, GLBT culture will be celebrated in the Rainbow District’s outdoor fiesta QC Pridefest June 5 through 7, while biker culture is celebrated June 11 through 14 in the Rally on the River at Davenport’s Centennial Park. Down the street, LeClaire Park will be home to the June 13 and 14 performance events in the Juneteenth Festival, which commemorates the announcement of slavery’s abolition, and the park also hosts the eastern-Iowa Independence Day celebration Red, White, and Boom! on July 3, a holiday party climaxing in a spectacular fireworks display over the Mississippi River – and an event that takes place in conjunction with the park’s July 3 through 5 Mississippi Valley Blues Festival. Participants in July 26’s Quad-City Times Bix 7 street race should be careful about how late they socialize at July 25’s 43rd Annual Street Fest, as too much merriment might make that morning dash up Brady Street really difficult. (Happily, you can also enjoy the Street Fest after the July 26 race.) From July 29 through August 3, the Eli Young Band, Lady Antebellum, Craig Morgan, Cheap Trick, Alan Jackson, and Jerrod Niemann are the grandstand acts for this year’s Mississippi Valley Fair at (fittingly) the Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds, while numerous Davenport locales will host concert sets with the musicians of the Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Jazz Festival July 31 through August 3. There’s airborne enjoyment on hand in the Quad City Air Show, taking place at – and above – the Davenport Municipal Airport on August 9 and 10. And the season wraps up with LeClaire Park’s River Roots Live and Ribfest on August 15 and 16, a smoked-meat and smokin’-music event featuring performances by more than a dozen bands including Los Lonely Boys, the North Mississippi Allstars, and The Dawn. Interestingly, the dawn is also what I saw the last time I worked all night on a seasonal guide, and ... . And I’ve just been told to quit whining and get back to work. For more information on these outdoor festivals and events, visit


Taj WeekesOutdoor Festivals and Events

District of Rock Island

June through August


If, like me, you’ve been a longtime Quad Cities resident, you know that every summer, the District of Rock Island offers plenty of opportunities for you and your friends to enjoy yourselves – and maybe a tasty summertime beverage – in an outdoor setting. I’m delighted to report that the summer of 2014 will be no exception, beginning with the annual Cajun celebration Gumbo Ya Ya, the June 6 and 7 street party that boasts food and arts-and-crafts vendors, children’s activities, and performances by such artists as Dikki Du & the Zydeco Krewe, the Backwater Bayou Band, and the Funky Butt Brass Band. The District fun continues with June 14’s debuting Boots & Brews event, an evening concert boasting performances by country artists Brother Trouble, the Dani Lynn Howe Band, and Logan Tudeen, and June 21’s Rock the District, where the music takes a turn toward the rock-y with sets by Chevelle and Three Years Hollow. Like the similar festivities taking place in Davenport’s LeClaire Park, the Fourth of July celebration of Red, White, & Boom! will allow guests the chance to enjoy live music, activities for the kids, and a thrilling fireworks display on July 3, while the classic-metal tribute artists of Hairbanger’s Ball are sure to bring a similar explosiveness to July 12’s Daiquiri Factory Anniversary Party. Caribbean culture will be the focus of the annual Ya Maka My Weekend event on August 8 and 9, with this year’s musical guests including Taj Weekes & Adowa, Yard Squad, DeHurricane, Universal Expression, and Raw Dawg. Those who aren’t personally participating can still have an excellent time watching go-karts whiz by in the annual Rock Island Grand Prix races, taking place August 30 and 31. And I see there’s another brand-new addition to the District of Rock Island’s summertime schedule: a June 27 and 28 weekend event called the QC Crossfit Urban Street Games. Let’s see ... . Apparently, these games involve co-ed teams of four – with two men and two women per team – competing for thousands of dollars in prize money, and attempting to best one another in dead lifts, front squats, clean-and-jerks, hand-release push-ups, chest-to-bar pull-ups ... . Wait a second. Physical exertion? Muscle tone? Sweating? What the hell kind of summer activity is this?!? For more information on the District of Rock Island’s seasonal events, visit


StinkyKids: The MusicalTheatre

Musicals and Dance

June through August


Do you hear the people sing? If you don’t yet, you’re sure gonna, because Broadway’s musical smash Les Misérables is being staged this summer in no less than three area venues: Quad City Music Guild’s Prospect Park Auditorium in Moline (where the show runs June 13 through 22), Theatre Cedar Rapids (June 21 through July 6), and Mt. Carroll’s Timber Lake Playhouse (July 31 through August 10). That’s a whole lotta disenfranchised French folk, but rest assured: The season’s other stage musicals and dance events aren’t nearly so misérable. Following the downbeat thrill of their Tony Awards champ, Music Guild will lighten the mood with Legally Blonde: The Musical (July 11 through 20) and Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! (August 8 through 17), while Timber Lake treats audiences to Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (June 5 through 15), Shout! (August 14 through 24), and The New Mel Brooks Musical Young Frankenstein (July 3 through 13) ... which, considering the show debuted in 2007, should really have that “New” surgically removed. More summer-stock musicals are on hand in the Clinton Area Showboat Theatre’s The Taffetas (June 5 through 15), Annie Get Your Gun (June 19 through 29), The Wizard of Oz (July 3 through 20), and Wonderful Town (July 24 through August 2), with Eldridge’s Countryside Community Theatre bringing an animated smash to life in Shrek: The Musical (July 11 through 20). In addition to its annual classical-theatre offerings, Genesius Guild – in conjunction with Opera@Augustana – will bring music to Rock Island’s Lincoln Park in the Strauss operetta Die Fledermaus (June 14 through 22), with the outdoor locale also the destination site for Ballet Quad Cities’ annual Ballet Under the Stars (June 6 through 8). Things will get musical, and very, very silly, in the District Theatre’s production of Monty Python’s Spamalot (August 1 through 17). And beyond the currently running Fiddler on the Roof (through July 19), the neighboring Circa ’21 Dinner Playhouse will offer summertime entertainment in the family show Stinkykids: The Musical (June 19 through July 12) and the bi-annual revue starring the Circa ’21 Bootleggers, this one titled Blame It on the Movies (August 7 through 28). I also blame it on the movies ... if by “it,” you mean “Mike’s lack of a social life.” For more information on the area’s summertime stage musicals and dance events, visit the Reader's Theatre calendar.



Comedies and Dramas

June through August


The Richmond Hill Barn Theatre presents Neil Simon’s comedy classic The Odd Couple July 10 through 20, and I have to say, the Geneseo venue is bookending that summertime production with an interesting two-fer: Norman Foster’s bro-mantic dramedy The Melville Boys (June 5 through 15) and Ken Ludwig’s farcical Leading Ladies (August 14 through 24). Not only Boys, but Ladies, too? Let’s hear it for gender equality! Let’s also hear it for the other titles on our area’s seasonal docket of theatrical comedies and dramas, most of which haven’t been seen on area stages in ages, if at all. A world premiere is actually on tap in the Circa ’21 Dinner Playhouse’s Love, Lies, & the Lottery (July 25 through September 6), a comedy by author Jim Hesselman about a winning $310-million lottery ticket that leads to trouble. (That’s the kind of trouble I’d happily accept, but I digress ... .) Farcical comedy is on hand in the Timber Lake Playhouse’s production of another Neil Simon title, the Tony Award-winning Rumors (July 17 through 26), which is preceded at the venue by another, much spookier Tony winner: author J.B. Priestley’s An Inspector Calls (June 19 through 28). Further laughs, and maybe a few tears, will be in store in the Playcrafters Barn Theatre’s take on Pamela Parker’s Second Samuel (July 11 through 20), while things get magical in the Clinton Area Showboat Theatre staging of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland (August 9 through 17). With Aaron Sullivan starring and director Jake Walker adapting, the Prenzie Players offer up a new version of Christopher Marlowe’s Dr. Faustus tale in Faust (July 18 through 26), while additional classical theatre comes courtesy of Rock Island’s Genesius Guild, beginning with the Aeschylus one-acts The Suppliants and The Persians (June 28 through July 16). Those titles will be followed, in Lincoln Park, by the witty romantic roundelays of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night (July 12 through 20), and Genesius Guild’s summer concludes with Aristophanes’ Plutus (July 26 through August 3) – or rather, as it is the final show of the season, whatever farcical version of Plutus Guild founder and adapter Don Wooten has in store. How about Plutos, about warring costumed employees at Disneyland? Or POTUS, a mistaken-identity slapstick about our commander-in-chief? Come on, Don! I’m givin’ you gold, here! More information on the area’s summertime plays is available by visiting the Reader's Theatre calendar.


Also visit "What's Happenin': Thursday, May 29, through Wednesday, June 11."

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