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Season of the "Which?": Three-Dozen-Plus Holiday Concerts and Events in the Quad Cities and Surrounding Areas PDF Print E-mail
Music - Feature Stories
Written by Mike Schulz   
Monday, 24 November 2014 06:00

Christmas at AugustanaThe holidays are a time of giving and receiving. And if you peruse the holiday events listed in this issue’s accompanying Winter Guide, you’ll realize that we’d all better get crackin’ on that “giving” part. Have you checked out just how much receiving we’ll be doing this season?

 
Break-Up Artists: Madi Diaz and Christian Lee Hutson, November 21 at Rozz-Tox PDF Print E-mail
Music - Feature Stories
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Thursday, 13 November 2014 05:16

Madi Diaz

Madi Diaz’s new album Phantom is a break-up record, but you’d never know that from a casual listen – and that’s just what the singer/songwriter was aiming for.

“I’m trying to push past the break-up-record thing,” she said in a recent phone interview in advance of her November 21 record-release show at Rozz-Tox. “I’m hoping the music pulls it past the cold, harsh idea of a break-up record. ... That’s kind of my favorite thing, that juxtaposition: the very dry, grounded, present lyrics with a kind of uplifting, soaring musical bed. That’s what I was striving for with the record.”

Both Diaz and Christian Lee Hutson – who will be returning to the Quad Cities for the Daytrotter.com show with Diaz – are promoting records whose idiosyncratic pop textures mask darker emotional content.

 
A Helping Hand Through Difficult Music: The Quad City Symphony, November 1 at the Adler Theatre PDF Print E-mail
Music - Feature Stories
Written by Frederick Morden   
Friday, 07 November 2014 14:36

With the premiere of a nebulous, esoteric piece and a dark, densely sobering Brahms concerto behind him, Music Director and Conductor Mark Russell Smith picked up the microphone to address the audience before the second half of the Quad City Symphony’s November 1 concert at the Adler.

The audience was likely looking for some emotional relief, but Tchaikovsky’s Pathetique symphony loomed, with its morose “Finale” – creating the potential for a depressing albeit well-performed concert.

Smith set an optimistic tone. He called the Pathetique “Tchaikovsky’s greatest symphony” – pointing out the “life lived” through this music and focusing attention on its innovations.

His words were the right message at the right time. In framing the concert’s centerpiece, Smith helped pull the audience through the performance, allowing it to appreciate the trio of challenging pieces without getting sucked under by bleakness.

 
Killing the Band for the Better: Darlingside, November 12 at the Redstone Room PDF Print E-mail
Music - Feature Stories
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Thursday, 30 October 2014 05:13

The band Darlingside drew its name from an old chestnut for writers – the instruction to “murder your darlings.” (Killing your darlings would be “darlingcide,” which is made softer and more enticingly opaque as Darlingside.)

All the band members met at Massachusetts’ Williams College, at which they heard that advice in class.

Guitarist/singer Don Mitchell explained it this way in a recent phone interview promoting his group’s November 12 show at the Redstone Room: “You should be willing to get rid of the things that were initially what made you excited about the work, because those ... tend to be the clever ones; those ... tend to be the most indulgent moments. You might need ... to blow up the song in order to put it back together and continue to move forward.”

That’s an important lesson for songwriting, but it also applied to this band as a whole, which has over the past year-plus reinvented itself – shifting from an atmospheric, earnest rock band to a folk outfit.

 
Releasing the Party Band Within: The Candymakers, “Ridiculicious”; October 31 at the Redstone Room PDF Print E-mail
Music - Feature Stories
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Tuesday, 28 October 2014 12:26

Halloween is an opportunity for people to try new identities, so it’s appropriate that the Quad Cities-based band The Candymakers is marking the release of Ridiculicious with a pair of All Hallows’ Eve shows at the Redstone Room.

Yes, the group will be wearing costumes. But Ridiculicious is such a radical departure from its predecessor that it feels like an entirely new – freer and better – ensemble. Using the same musical building blocks, the band has transformed itself largely by stripping the material of any pretense of nutritional value; one could say it’s found its wheelhouse by sticking to the spirit of its name.

 
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