In June, Codfish Hollow Barn in Maquoketa hosted a show with Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes. The concert didn’t have Sean Moeller’s or Daytrotter’s name on it, but the link was clear enough.
“I made that show happen,” Moeller said earlier this month.
Moeller founded Daytrotter.com in 2006 as a source for exclusive live-in-the-studio recordings, and the vast majority of its thousands of sessions over the past nine years have been recorded in the Quad Cities. But even though concerts are not Daytrotter’s product, they are an increasingly common and visible fringe benefit for the Quad Cities, and the Oberst performance illustrates the reciprocal relationship between the internationally known Web site and local shows.
Moeller said he’d been trying to get Oberst in for a session since Daytrotter began – but it only happened because of Codfish Hollow.
“I got a Daytrotter session out of Conor Oberst,” Moeller said. “That’s why I did it. ... I’m not going to not do that. ... I’m going to help make that happen so that I can get something for Daytrotter from Conor Oberst.”
Over the past decade, much of the impact Daytrotter has had on the Quad Cities has been easily discerned – although it’s infrequently been explicit, and often it’s indirect. Rozz-Tox’s lineup is littered with Daytrotter bands. Codfish Hollow concerts typically feature some of Moeller’s favorite bands.
More and more, however, Moeller is putting his name on his work. For nearly a year, he’s booked and hosted Moeller Mondays shows at Rozz-Tox. Last year he began shows at Davenport’s Renwick Mansion under the same banner, and this year he started doing concerts at the Village Theatre in Davenport.
“It’s a promoter thing,” he explained about the decision to create a Moeller brand. “It’s like a [prestigious] record label. People do believe in certain promoters. ...
“I think I tried to stay behind the name Daytrotter for the longest time. I’d go to places and I’d just be introduced as Daytrotter. ‘This is Daytrotter.’”
Of course, the Web site is more than just Moeller. He has a business partner and several engineers, and he said the work of illustrator Johnnie Cluney is essential to the identity. And because Daytrotter is a media company and not a concert organizer and promoter, the name doesn’t naturally fit with shows that Moeller books or otherwise helps with.
So he said he wondered: “Why the hell am I not building up my own name a little bit? ... I’m just trying to be a facilitator. I’m putting my name out there because why shouldn’t I? There has to be something I put it under. I want to be associated with the good things that I’m bringing to town, not for an ego situation. There has to be somebody to validate something that’s coming to town. ... You still need somebody to put a stamp on it.”
Daytrotter itself plans to get back into the business of one-time local shows with the opening (likely this fall) of its new recording studio and live-music venue in downtown Davenport – although that’s no guarantee given the history of the renovation project.
So Moeller’s behind-the-scenes work continues. He booked artists for the September 6 East Fest at Davenport’s BREW in the Village.
He and Quad Cities River Bandits Managing Partner Dave Heller are planning to present concerts at Modern Woodmen Park, possibly starting this fall.
And Moeller said he booked three of the four headliners for this year’s River Roots Live festival: rising country star Kacey Musgraves, legendary R&B singer Mavis Staples, and the indie-pop outfit Hellogoodbye. “If you look at this year’s lineup, there’s a lot of my fingerprints all over it,” he said.
That’s not modest, but the man has no reason to be. For all that he’s done with Daytrotter, Sean Moeller has also reshaped the local music scene when it comes to touring artists.