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Keepers of the Golden Egg: Shook Twins, April 16 at the Redstone Room PDF Print E-mail
Music - Feature Stories
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Thursday, 02 April 2015 11:46

Shook Twins

Shook Twins came into possession of the magical, giant golden egg in 2010. According to the story on the band’s Web site, Laurie Shook happened upon a young man holding the thing, and when she asked about it, he said a woman gave it to him and told him to sign it and pass it on to the next person.

Laurie Shook was that person, and she promises on ShookTwins.com that she will eventually hand the egg off to somebody else: “Until then, it shall be musical!”

In that way, the egg is being passed every night Shook Twins perform – including almost certainly April 16 at the Redstone Room. Laurie and her identical twin Katelyn don’t appear eager to part with it, but they turned the egg into an instrument: Laurie filled it with popcorn (making it a giant egg shaker) and mic-ed it (making it a drum).

 
“Everybody’s Game Is Up”: Natty Scratch Celebrates 43 Years with a Reunion PDF Print E-mail
Music - Feature Stories
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Wednesday, 01 April 2015 11:40

I’m trying to pin Chris Noth down on some dates, and he’s not helping.

“The older you get,” he said, “the years just start running together.”

In fairness, it’s not merely age. The topic of our interview is Natty Scratch, the band Noth co-founded that will be celebrating 43 years of existence this weekend with a pair of shows featuring all the group’s original members – and people who’ve joined over the years.

The band’s current lineup includes founding members Noth (guitar and vocals), Tommy Langford (bass and vocals), and Steve Cooley (percussion and vocals). Keyboardist Rick Stoneking joined in the early 1980s to replace Noth (who joined several touring bands), and drummer/vocalist Richie Reeves has only been with Natty Scratch for about a decade.

For this weekend’s concerts, the group will also feature original drummer D.L. Blackman (who cut back on performing, making way for Reeves) and – returning from Alaska – guitarist/singer/co-founder Pat Ryan. (Noth said he’s not sure when Ryan left the Quad Cities, except that it was before his own return in 1991.)

 
Bloom Where You're Planted: Quad City Arts Visiting Artist Nnenna Freelon, at Area Venues April 8 through 18 PDF Print E-mail
Music - Feature Stories
Written by Mike Schulz   
Wednesday, 01 April 2015 06:00

Nnenna FreelonPrior to her career – or rather, careers – as a jazz vocalist, composer, author, and actor, Nnenna Freelon was employed in the worthy but far less glamorous field of health-care administration. She says, however, that in her late 20s, while working as a North Carolina-based administrator in the early 1980s, “I suddenly had an epiphany that I was not happy, even though I loved working in a hospital environment. Because even in that job, I used to find myself in patients’ rooms singing.

“I just had a nay-saying kind of narrative,” she continues. “You know, ‘I want to sing, but I don’t want to live in New York or California ... .’ It just didn’t seem attainable. But I remember whining, blah blah blah, to my grandmother about it, who was 93 at the time, and she said something to me that was very profound. She said, ‘Bloom where you’re planted. If God wants you to sing, He can handle wherever you are and whichever situation you’re in – what you know, what you don’t know – and nothing is too hard."

 
Promises Nearly Fulfilled: New Releases by Local Bands Culture Coup and Milk Duct Tape PDF Print E-mail
Music - Feature Stories
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Wednesday, 04 March 2015 08:59

Culture Coup, Blue Faith Sunrise

Culture Coup

Music rooted in reggae has an inherent warmth, and that’s certainly true with the Quad Cities quintet Culture Coup on its debut album, Blue Faith Sunrise. But it doesn’t take much time with the record to notice that there’s a drag on that vibe, an early-adult ennui in the vocals and lyrics.

Rather than being a wet blanket, however, that contradiction actually enlivens the 11-track whole – bringing a welcome complexity to a style that too often feels one-dimensional to me.

Lead singer/guitarist Ben Miller, guitarist/singer Chris Miller, drummer Jack McNeil, bassist Jim Drain, and keyboardist/singer Joey Pautsch successfully meld the building blocks of reggae with indie-rock’s youthful angst, and crucially they never coast on easy grooves. Every song features some combination of compositional depth and articulate playing, particularly in the drums and lead guitar. There’s often a magical interplay among the instruments, a cohesive collection of distinctive voices.

 
Keys to the Kingdom: The Quad City Symphony, February 7 at the Adler Theatre PDF Print E-mail
Music - Feature Stories
Written by Frederick Morden   
Friday, 13 February 2015 13:43

The pieces in the Quad City Symphony’s fourth Masterworks concerts of the season would seem to have little in common: modern post-minimalism, a Mozart concerto, and a symphony rooted in religious faith. Yet in different ways, the presentation of each piece on February 7 unlocked the music.

Revisiting Michael Torke’s Quad City Symphony-commissioned Oracle, the orchestra reached a comfort level with the composition that brought to light new facets through a sparkling, seasoned performance. Demarre McGill, principal flutist with the Dallas Symphony, redefined his instrument as muscular yet supple in an imaginative treatment of Mozart’s Concerto No. 1 for Flute & Orchestra. And the highlight of the program was a towering performance of Anton Bruckner’s epic Symphony No. 4: Romantic, aided significantly by introductory comments that framed it in the context of the composer’s life.

 
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