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The Zydeco Smile: Terrance Simien Performs and Educates as Blues in the Schools' Artist-in-Residence PDF Print E-mail
Music - Feature Stories
Written by Mike Schulz   
Wednesday, 30 October 2013 06:00

Terrance SimienWould you like to see a photo of perhaps the happiest child in the world?

If so, I’ll direct you to the Web site of Grammy-winning zydeco musician Terrance Simien, the latest artist-in-residence for the Mississippi Valley Blues Society’s Blues in the Schools program. Land on the home page at TerranceSimien.com, click on the “Creole for Kidz” tab, and check out the picture of the little boy – he looks about three or four – photographed at one of Simien’s concerts. You’ll have no trouble knowing which kid I’m referring to: He’s wearing a red Spider-Man T-shirt, holding a gold-bead necklace, and boasting what might be the most infectiously joyful smile you’ve ever seen.

“That’s the zydeco smile, man!” says Simien, with a laugh, when I reference the child’s photo during our recent phone interview. “You get that, man! You get that when you hear the music. You just start smiling, and people start dancing ... . That’s what that music does to you!”

 
Photos from the Eagles Concert, October 21 at the i wireless Center PDF Print E-mail
Music - Feature Stories
Written by Matt Erickson   
Wednesday, 23 October 2013 09:16

Photos from the Eagles concert at the i wireless Center on October 21, 2013. For more work by Matt Erickson, visit MRE-Photography.com.

Photo by Matt Erickson, MRE-Photography.com

 
Photos from the Communion Tour Concert, October 17 at Codfish Hollow Barn PDF Print E-mail
Music - Feature Stories
Written by Matt Erickson   
Tuesday, 22 October 2013 10:11

Photos from the Communion Tour concert at Maquoketa’s Codfish Hollow Barn on October 17, 2013, featuring The4onthefloor, Willy Mason, Dustin Smith & the Sunday Silos, and Hugh Bob & the Hustle. For more work by Matt Erickson, visit MRE-Photography.com.

The 4onthefloor:

Photo by Matt Erickson, MRE-Photography.com

 
No Joke: Har-di-Har, October 26 at Rozz-Tox PDF Print E-mail
Music - Feature Stories
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Tuesday, 22 October 2013 09:08

Har-di-Har. Photo by Taylor Creery Photograpy.

There are many unusual things about the married-couple musical duo Har-di-Har, including the way songs swerve, shift, collapse, explode, die, and rise again with little warning. But it’s unlikely that you’ll get to hear their strangest songs when they perform at Rozz-Tox on Saturday.

Some odd bits first:

• The name Har-di-Har is drawn obliquely from the theme music of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and that information is as helpful as any of the other explanations given by the band.

• The pair shares a drum kit, with Julie Thoreen playing the “hands” and Andrew Thoreen the “feet.”

• People who purchase a USB drive with the band’s two EPs will get all future Har-di-Har releases uploaded to it for free at a live show.

• The Thoreens decided to pursue music before they’d played a single show as a band.

• Har-di-Har’s Facebook page calls its music “psychedelic dream pop intricately composed and played the way three-legged contests are won.”

“We cannot do anything the way other people do it,” Julie Thoreen said in a phone interview last week.

 
Steps Forward and Back: The Quad City Symphony’s Season Opener PDF Print E-mail
Music - Feature Stories
Written by Frederick Morden   
Tuesday, 15 October 2013 12:17

The first Masterworks concert of the Quad City Symphony’s 99th season was a checkerboard of strengths and weaknesses. Huge, transcendent moments filled the Adler Theatre in the October 5 concert, but when things got quiet, discrepancies in tone color, balance, and rhythm appeared.

Under the direction of Music Director and Conductor Mark Russell Smith, the orchestra explored four diverse approaches to composition in reverse chronological order. Commissioned by the Quad City Symphony, the world premiere of American composer Michael Torke’s Oracle opened the program, followed by fellow countryman Aaron Jay Kernis’ Musica Celestis, featuring only the strings. The mid-20th Century’s Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra, by British composer Benjamin Britten – with humorous narration by local media personality Don Wooten – completed the first half. After intermission, pianist Jonathan Biss joined the orchestra for Johannes Brahms’ Concerto for Piano No. 1.

The concert was an elegantly designed program that included a variety of contemporary works balanced by a classic masterpiece, but – except for Torke – it was not a good selection of music for this orchestra. In the tutti sections, when all the instruments were played, the mixture of timbre was profuse. Yet as the scoring broke down into smaller instrumental combinations, the differences in individual colors became more problematic. The result was tonal incompatibility both among the same instruments and between instrumental families.

 
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