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Artistry That Refuses to Linger: Juan Wauters, June 19 at Rozz-Tox PDF Print E-mail
Music - Feature Stories
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Wednesday, 10 June 2015 05:58

Juan Wauters

Juan Wauters has been called “one of the most idiosyncratic and inventive songwriters in New York today” (by the New York Observer), “New York’s greatest songwriter” (by Impose magazine), and “one of New York’s most compelling singer/songwriters” (by Spin magazine).

That praise would suggest a few things about the native Uruguayan, none of which appears to be true.

The plaudits for his songwriting hint at something aggressively sophisticated and artful, but the songs on his new Who Me? are uniformly easy-going – simple, warm, and seemingly effortlessly charming. Of course, that doesn’t mean they don’t deserve the great notices; it’s just that they’re utterly devoid of pretension.

And as much as he’s identified as a New Yorker, Wauters has a fondness for the Quad Cities and institutions such as Ross’ and Harris Pizza.

 
Harnessing Terror, Gently: Strangled Darlings, June 11 at Rozz-Tox PDF Print E-mail
Music - Feature Stories
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Thursday, 04 June 2015 08:12

Strangled Darlings

If you read the bio of Strangled Darlings on the duo’s Web site, you’ll get a hint of tension between capitalized Art and something at the other end of the spectrum entirely.

First: “Jess and George met at party in 2009, with their spontaneous duet of the Prince song ‘Pussy Control.’”

Then: “The songs work with nontraditional subjects for inspiration. Some song subjects include: the works of great authors (Faulkner, William Blake, Gabriel García Márquez, Donald Barthelme, Anna Akhmatova) as well as witchcraft in the Civil War, the morality of Somali piracy, and the media impact of Neil Armstrong.”

Into that mix you can throw in a clear understanding of the crass realities of the decentralized modern music business – the need to get attention, and an acknowledgment that emerging bands have to tour relentlessly to build an audience.

All three of those basic elements are evident on the song “Kill Yourself,” from the upcoming album Boom Stomp King. It’s a bright, cheery ditty on the one hand, with the title and matching refrain designed to generate maximum curiosity.

In a recent phone interview, singer/songwriter/mandolinist George Veech acknowledged some less-than-pure motives behind the song. “The biggest fear of an artist is to not have an audience, to not be heard. I know damn well that saying ‘Kill Yourself’ is taboo in a lot of ways, and I’m not advocating [that],” he said. “It helps get attention. I got your attention now, and then let’s talk about the actual details.”

 
An Unparalleled Experience: The Quad City Symphony with Yo-Yo Ma, May 14 at the Adler Theatre PDF Print E-mail
Music - Feature Stories
Written by Frederick Morden   
Thursday, 21 May 2015 11:49

Yo-Yo MaListening wasn’t enough. You had to be there to take it all in.

As one of the world’s leading musicians, cellist Yo-Yo Ma is renowned for his compelling tone, masterful technique, and convincing musical storytelling. But on May 14 at the Adler Theatre with the Quad City Symphony, he demonstrated a key element that could only be experienced in the live performance: body language.

The special centennial-season concert was unparalleled for its depth of expression, precision playing, and warm sensitivity, especially in the second-half performance of Antonín Dvořák’s Concerto in B Minor for Cello & Orchestra with Ma. And when the spotlight shone on the Quad City Sympony in the first half, the orchestra flexed its considerable dynamic and melodic muscles in no-holds-barred performances of Johannes Brahms’ Academic Festival Overture and Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s tuneful Romeo & Juliet Fantasy Overture, creating stark moments of volcanic intensity and radiant melodic shaping.

 
Remembrances of John O’Meara Jr. PDF Print E-mail
Music - Feature Stories
Written by Administrator   
Thursday, 14 May 2015 06:00

John O’Meara performing at a benefit in his honor in 2010. Photo by David J. Genac (QCPhoto.ImageKind.com).

John O’Meara Jr. died on April 22 at age 58, and the memories and thoughts in this article attest to a much-loved man and musician who played in myriad Quad Cities-area bands in many genres.

O’Meara was born in Moline and graduated from Rock Island High School in 1974. He studied music at Black Hawk and Augustana colleges. His sister, Betsy McNeil, said highlights of his musical career included playing with Warren Parrish and Louie Bellson.

He was diagnosed with an oligodendroglioma brain tumor in 1992 and, following treatment, was declared cancer-free in 1996. In 2010, he was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor.

Although cancer affected his physical ability, he continued to perform.

O’Meara is survived by his father John Sr., sons Levi and John Gabriel, brother Paul, sister Betsy, brother-in-law Dan McNeil, nephew Leo McNeil, and sweetheart Elisabeth Lockheart.

Memorials may be made to family at 1904 46th St., Moline IL 61265, and will be used for his sons and to buy a Fender bass for the River Music Experience’s scholarship program.

Memorial events for O’Meara are being planned.

 
Just the Right Bullets: New Albums from Local Artists Busted Chandeliers and Robyn McVey PDF Print E-mail
Music - Feature Stories
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Thursday, 14 May 2015 05:30

Busted Chandeliers, Postmarks & Timestamps

The first track of the Quad Cities quartet Busted Chandeliers’ Postmarks & Timestamps album is titled “Love Is Bold,” and the song is, too, in its folksy way. The vocal harmonies are tight, and every instrumental facet – the guitar, the ukulele, the hand claps, the bass, and the percussion – is integral and integrated yet doing its own thing. The song is emotionally amorphous but at the same time crystalline.

The band – Erin Moore, Amy Falvey, Maureen Carter, and Erin Marie Bertram – certainly leads with its best shot, but it’s hardly the only highlight. The ensemble travels on many tributaries of Americana on the record, but it’s at its strongest in waters so expertly navigated in “Love Is Bold” – a joyously dense and ambitiously rigorous folk rock that refuses to be pigeonholed from moment to moment.

 
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