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Surrounding an Idea: Willy Mason, October 17 at Codfish Hollow Barn PDF Print E-mail
Feature Stories
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Friday, 04 October 2013 05:49

Willy Mason

An online comment on the American Songwriter review of Willy Mason’s Carry on disputed the gushing praise heaped on the album, complaining that “the percussion sounds to me like it’s straight from a drum-machine loop.”

There’s a simple reason for that: It was.

The singer/songwriter will be performing October 17 at Maquoketa’s Codfish Hollow Barn as part of the Communion Tour with Rubblebucket, Roadkill Ghost Choir, and others. In a phone interview last week, Mason explained that the drum-machine idea came from producer Dan Carey. “He had that, and I had the songs, and we went in and we started working with that rhythm, and things just unfolded from there pretty quickly,” he said. “I was actually skeptical at first, but I thought it would be worth a try. ...

Photos from the Truth & Salvage Co. Concert, September 27 at Rozz-Tox PDF Print E-mail
Feature Stories
Written by Matt Erickson   
Wednesday, 02 October 2013 08:44

Photos from the Truth & Salvage Co. concert at Rozz-Tox on September 27, 2013, with opener Ernie Hendrickson. For more work by Matt Erickson, visit

Truth & Salvage Co.:

Photo by Matt Erickson,

Different Ways of Digesting: Laura Stevenson, October 4 at Bier Stube PDF Print E-mail
Feature Stories
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Tuesday, 01 October 2013 16:00

Laura Stevenson. Photo by Dave Garwacke.

Laura Stevenson’s song “Sink, Swim” could be called an apocalyptic ditty, a cheery, up-tempo rock song with soaring vocals that sketches out the destruction of the West Coast: “Oh California, I tried to warn ya. / The earth is gonna quake before ya. / You’ll be real sorry but it won’t be sorry. / The dirt is gonna crack and split you in two.” The casual address certainly suggests the musical approach, but it’s easy to miss the lyrics in such a joyous ruckus.

The song appears on her 2013 album Wheel, and she explained in a phone interview last week that “I like that juxtaposition of mood and ... undercurrent – the actual meaning of the song. ... Two different ways of feeling the same word[s]. You can read them on the page and take them at face value, or you could hear them put to music with a completely different mood. It’s just a different way of digesting it. Kind of what life is like.”

She and her band will be playing the Moline Bier Stube on October 4, and in that setting it will be easy to gloss over grim words. But Stevenson’s songs are rewarding both musically and lyrically, whether you consider their sometimes disparate components together or separately.

Photos from the Chuck Ragan Concert, September 18 at the Redstone Room PDF Print E-mail
Feature Stories
Written by Roberta Osmers   
Tuesday, 24 September 2013 09:20

Photos from the Chuck Ragan concert September 18 at the Redstone Room, with openers Comfort and Jamestown Revival.

For more from Roberta Osmers on the Quad Cities music scene, visit

Chuck Ragan:

Photo by Roberta Osmers,

Foreshadowing the Season: The Quad City Symphony Premieres Michael Torke’s “Oracle” PDF Print E-mail
Feature Stories
Written by Frederick Morden   
Tuesday, 17 September 2013 12:43

Michael Torke. Photo by Brian Hainer.

In February, the Quad City Symphony contacted a representative of Michael Torke with the hope of commissioning a short season-opening piece from the well-known American composer. It was a long shot – a request with a turnaround time of a few months instead of the typical year or two between commissioning and the orchestra’s first rehearsal with the completed music.

But Torke was looking for a summer project, a short work to add to his library of titles. “I love those drop-everything-now projects,” Torke said in a phone interview in July. “The Quad City thing seemed perfect.” With the logistics in place, what remained was finding an appropriate artistic concept and completing the piece before rehearsals in September.

Oracle was composed in a burst of creative energy from mid-June to mid-July. “I think this is going to be one of the best pieces I’ve ever written,” Torke predicted the day after the five-minute composition was completed. “I am so jazzed up about it. It starts off with this kind of ‘Pines of Rome’ thing, with one variation of the melody warm and juicy, and another noble.”

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