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A Dream Season: The Quad City Symphony Smartly Marks Its Centennial PDF Print E-mail
Feature Stories
Written by Frederick Morden   
Wednesday, 01 October 2014 11:19

Mark Russell Smith

Looking despondent, the young conductor was comforted by his mentor. “Think of it this way, my son,” the old maestro began. “If everyone was equally dissatisfied with your repertoire, at least you gave them a balanced season.”

It’s an old joke, but it sarcastically underscores the futility of finding music that will satisfy everyone.

But, in the Quad City Symphony’s 100th season, Music Director and Conductor Mark Russell Smith has fashioned a carefully considered, diversely adventuresome musical celebration that includes a balanced sampling of masterpieces, premieres of six new commissioned works, and guest soloists ranging from world-class recording artists to members of the orchestra.

It’s a dream season that lies ahead, but it’s been an evolutionary process for Smith to get there.

 
A Voice Found: Muddy Ruckus, September 19 at Rozz-Tox PDF Print E-mail
Feature Stories
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Wednesday, 17 September 2014 08:39

Muddy Ruckus. Photo by J. Elon Goodman.

By design, the opening three tracks of Muddy Ruckus’ self-titled debut are meant as an introduction.

But it might be more accurate to say that they’re a reintroduction – particularly for the Quad Cities. Singer/songwriter/guitarist Ryan Flaherty hails from these parts, and the album and a September 19 performance at Rozz-Tox will show what he’s been up to in the decade-plus since he left.

 
Another Level of Vulnerability: Janiva Magness, September 11 at the Redstone Room PDF Print E-mail
Feature Stories
Written by Mike Schulz   
Thursday, 04 September 2014 06:00

Janiva MagnessVocalist Janiva Magness is a four-time recipient of the Blues Music Award for “Contemporary Blues Female Artist of the Year” and the 2009 winner of the “B.B. King Entertainer of the Year” citation, and an overview of the artist’s biography suggests that her life story could be its own blues song. But it’s really more like its own blues album, liner notes included.

 
Happy Bummers: Ruby the RabbitFoot, September 7 at Rozz-Tox PDF Print E-mail
Feature Stories
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Wednesday, 03 September 2014 10:12

Given her foibles, Ruby Kendrick’s decision to give up visual art for music seems like a brambled path.

In a phone interview promoting her September 7 performance at Rozz-Tox (under her band name Ruby the RabbitFoot), she said she used to be “terrified” to play live.

She loves pop music but writes these lyrics: “People with nice homes / Shouldn’t play with matches. / They’ll burn it right down, / Tear their hearts right up. / And all that’s left in the middle / Are some smoky lungs.”

Because many of the songs are deeply personal, they sometimes resurrect pain in live performance.

And in a business in which the release of new material often comes years after a song is written, she’s admittedly impatient. Talking about her songwriting process, Kendrick said: “If it doesn’t happen immediately, I’m just not interested.”

Despite all that – and even though she and her family knew she’d be a visual artist – she ditched that assumed calling in college to pursue life as a performing songwriter. (She still works in the visual arts, making her own videos and album artwork.)

 
Breaking Some Shackles, Burdened by Others: The Dawn, “Waiting for the Storm”; and Jordan Danielsen, “Old Soul” PDF Print E-mail
Feature Stories
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Wednesday, 20 August 2014 08:52

I’ve written about four releases from Sean Ryan over the past six years – as a solo singer/songwriter, as part of Jim the Mule, and as the leader of the Dawn (and Sean Ryan & the Dawn). I’ve always liked his singing voice – a mature blend of authority, precision, and expression. But with much of his work as a solo act and bandleader I’ve found the combination of standard Americana arrangements and plain-spoken writing dully professional – not vivid enough to avoid the generic.

So the new six-track Waiting on the Storm album from the Dawn came as a pleasant surprise – in particular the expansive rocker “Bring It All Home,” a forceful jam that oozes personality and life and has a clear if winding path. An album full of similar songs would quickly become tiresome, but as a startling change-up from Ryan’s past work, it reverberates through the entire record.

 
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