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From Dead Ends to a Destination: The Evolution of Jacob Bancks’ “Rock Island Line,” Premiering March 8 and 9 with the Quad City Symphony PDF Print E-mail
Music - Feature Stories
Written by Frederick Morden   
Thursday, 20 February 2014 05:23

Jacob Bancks. Photo by Joshua Ford (JoshuaFord.com).

The blast of a train whistle has been transformed in the hands of composer Jacob Bancks – a shrill warning becoming the musical core of a composition that he intends as a greeting to his new community.

Using a “whistle chord” as musical glue and localism as an overriding theme, Bancks combined elements of the Mississippi River and the railroad in a way that is artful, rigorous, and sophisticated. But in creating Rock Island Line – which the Quad City Symphony Orchestra will debut on March 8 and 9 – he also incorporated nods to a local jazz legend and a popular song, playful components that help the work breathe and reach out to the audience.

Yet moving from ideas to a finished composition was not a straight line for the Quad Cities-based composer (who turns 32 on February 21). The effort included derailment and dead ends before finding workable inspiration toward an ultimate destination.

In earlier commissioned works, Bancks tried to find musical and non-musical connections to the organization and community for which he was writing. But this time the commissioning agent was the orchestra where he lives, and Bancks was particularly sensitive about the audience and community for whom this premiere would be presented. “These images and how they work with each other are very important to me, because this is my first piece in my new home and new community where I hope to remain,” he said in August, in his first interview with the River Cities’ Reader. “So, for me, through this piece, I will meet musical people I hope to meet again. And ... this would be a good way to introduce myself to a community I hope to be a part of.”

 
A Cleared Path: 3 Years Hollow Releases Its National Debut, “The Cracks”; February 8 at Rascals Live PDF Print E-mail
Music - Feature Stories
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Friday, 31 January 2014 09:53

The Quad Cities-based hard-rock band 3 Years Hollow can trace its current enviable position to a series of fortunate events.

The quintet is poised to release its album The Cracks on the national Imagen Records indie label on February 11 – with a local release show February 8 at Rascals Live in Moline – and has tour dates scheduled with Saving Abel through mid-March.

None of that would have been possible, vocalist/songwriter Jose Urquiza said in a phone interview on January 29, without a trade of equipment for time.

Roughly seven years ago, Urquiza said, the band was looking to cut its first album, and he approached Real Trax Recording Studios’ Rob Cimmarusti about learning the ropes of the business. Cimmarusti made a proposal, Urquiza said: “We had this really expensive microphone, and he basically said, ‘I’ll trade you. You can give me the microphone, and you guys can have all the studio time that you want.’ We wanted to record our record, so we did it. We would not be here without Rob.”

The products of that swap were 2008’s Ascension and a continuing relationship with Real Trax. Urquiza is now the studio manager, and he and guitarist Tony Reeves, guitarist Neil Kuhlman, bassist Dex Digga, and drummer Chris Cushman recorded the bulk of their new album there, too.

The story of The Cracks, 3 Years Hollow’s second full-length, is a bit more complicated but no less serendipitous. It starts with the band’s 2012 EP Remember, which was meant both for fans and record labels. Its title track topped Sirius XM Octane’s charts, which “really ... legitimized us [as] a national band,” Urquiza said.

 
Mule'll Be Missed: Local Favorites Jim the Mule Perform the Band’s Farewell Show, February 1 at the Redstone Room PDF Print E-mail
Music - Feature Stories
Written by Mike Schulz   
Thursday, 23 January 2014 06:00

Jim the MuleAfter nearly 14 years of music-making – many of them spent headlining concerts and outdoor festivals, and opening for the likes of the BoDeans and the Little River Band – the Quad Cities-based alt-country band Jim the Mule is taking a long, perhaps permanent, break. And on February 1, guitarists Tom Swanson and Sean Ryan, bassist Jason Gilliland, and percussionist Marty Reyhons will perform Jim the Mule’s farewell show at Davenport’s Redstone Room, an event featuring guest musicians and a retrospective celebration of Jim the Mule’s most popular originals and covers.

Swanson, who co-founded Jim the Mule with Gilliland in 2000 (and is a former River Cities’ Reader employee), recently shared some thoughts about the band’s history and journey, and where on Earth the mule itself might have gone.

 
A Patchwork from the Past: Foxholes, February 1 at Rozz-Tox; In Rooms, January 25 at Rozz-Tox PDF Print E-mail
Music - Feature Stories
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Wednesday, 22 January 2014 13:16

The Des Moines band Foxholes formed in late August 2012, and its first album is set to be released March 1. Can’t Help Myself is a surprisingly mature work, in the sense that a band this new has a clear sonic identity – rooted in late-’80s/early-’90s alternative rock – yet it doesn’t use its touchstones as crutches; the songs in no way suggest a group trying to find its feet over its first year-plus, or an ensemble beholden to its influences.

But the quartet – which will be performing its first show outside of the Des Moines and Ames areas at Rozz-Tox on February 1 – has indeed been a work in progress. And with a second full-length album planned for later this year, it’s evident that Foxholes moves quickly.

 
Multi-Sport Stars: The Communion Tour with The Weeks and The Dough Rollers, January 23 at RIBCO PDF Print E-mail
Music - Feature Stories
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Friday, 10 January 2014 09:36

The Weeks. Photo by Emily B. Hall.

The title of The Weeks’ Dear Bo Jackson does more than name-check the famous two-sport professional athlete – an All-Pro running back in the NFL and an All-Star outfielder in Major League Baseball. It also articulates a mission statement for the Nashville-by-way-of-Mississippi band.

“Bo Jackson, as good as he was at baseball and football, he was just called a ballplayer,” said guitarist Sam Williams earlier this week. “Bo Jackson just kind of does what he wants. That’s sort of what we were going with, musically. ... I just want to be a rock band. ... I think this record has a lot of different genres. We kind of skip around a lot.”

To extend the metaphor, Williams said “the bashing rock-and-roll songs” represent The Weeks’ football career, while the slower songs are baseball. “They take a little longer to develop,” he said, but they have their share of “triples and homes runs.”

Of course, bands hate being pigeonholed, but The Weeks make good on their chutzpah. When the latest edition of the Communion tour hits the Quad Cities on January 23 (at RIBCO), the bill features a pair of throwback bands. Both The Weeks and The Dough Rollers play rock that neither needs nor warrants additional modifiers; it’s music largely out of time.

 
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