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Remembrances of John O’Meara Jr. PDF Print E-mail
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
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.

 
Made with Casual Care: Joe & Vicki Price, “Night Owls”; Performing May 3 at the RME PDF Print E-mail
Feature Stories
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Wednesday, 29 April 2015 08:29

The new album from the northeast-Iowa blues duo Joe & Vicki Price is called Night Owls, and the cartoonish cover art (by Vicki) features five literally skeletal figures (including a man and woman each with a guitar and amp).

The title couldn’t be more appropriate, as the 10-track collection of originals often has the casual feel of a post-midnight jam – intimate, a little on the sleepy side, wholly devoid of self-consciousness. Just two people performing with their guitars, voices, and feet.

The sound is similarly straightforward, unadorned, and unfussy, and some tunes feel so dusty that they’re only missing the pops, crackles, and hisses of neglected vinyl or degraded tape. Even though the album was recorded in Nashville, the production is largely (and intentionally) artless.

Yet despite the cheeky cover illustration and lightly electrified tunes that might as well be 60 years old, there’s a real vitality in the duo’s songs (written, with the exception of “Bones,” separately) – and the recordings. The bare-bones (sorry!) instrumentation and the choices in style and singing are employed with rigor, and the more you listen to the album, the more it’s apparent how carefully constructed it is.

 
A Fitting Exclamation Point: The Quad City Symphony, April 11 at the Adler Theatre PDF Print E-mail
Feature Stories
Written by Frederick Morden   
Tuesday, 21 April 2015 13:17

The closing Masterworks concerts of the Quad City Symphony’s centennial season included a commission meant as a prelude leading, without pause, into Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. I was skeptical. The Choral symphony – one of the greatest compositions in music – was a logical conclusion for a season-long celebration of 100 years, but attaching contemporary music to it raised two questions: What could the new music possibly add, and would it diminish Beethoven’s towering work?

Yet James Stephenson’s A-ccord worked on several levels April 11 at the Adler Theatre. It successfully connected Beethoven to 21st Century musical thinking. More importantly, it neatly summarized the rigor and thoughtfulness of Music Director and Conductor Mark Russell Smith’s highly symbolic program – which presented a unified message bridging time, style, and language, and ceded the spotlight to guest vocalists as the Quad City Symphony closed its milestone season.

A-ccord brought all that together, featuring both voices and instruments, placing an English translation of Friedrich Schiller’s “Ode” (a component, in German, of the Ninth Symphony) alongside words from Quad Cities poet Dick Stahl, and treating Beethoven’s source material in a contemporary way, with an innovative use of a single melodic line with rhythmic and orchestral variations.

 
A New Way of Seeing: Hey Rosetta!, April 24 at Rozz-Tox PDF Print E-mail
Feature Stories
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Friday, 17 April 2015 12:20

Hey Rosetta! Photo by Scott Blackburn.

It’s not often you’ll hear a story about label interference making a record better, so let’s marvel at Hey Rosetta!’s Second Sight.

The band was twice short-listed for the Polaris Music Prize and has been nominated for a Juno Award – the Canadian equivalent of the a Grammy – and Second Sight has been warmly received. SputnikMusic.com described it as “a collection of profoundly beautiful and well-arranged songs that I’m sure will stand the test of time.”

Yet the story of its creation shows some of the opportunity inherent in a little adversity.

The Canadian septet had finished recording the album’s 11 songs, and the band’s label liked it, but ... the staff felt it needed a single, something to launch it. Singer/guitarist/pianist/songwriter Tim Baker – in a recent phone interview promoting the band’s April 24 Communion Tour gig at Rozz-Tox – said he disagreed.

“We thought we had a great record, and we had to go back in” to the studio, he said of the band’s frustration. Hey Rosetta! assented because they also wanted to make the album as commercially viable as possible, “to get it out to people.”

But writing to grab people’s attention is difficult, and something that was foreign to Baker as a songwriter. “I’d never written a single before,” he said. “We’d gotten this far just playing our sprawling tunes and touring all the time. If we were going to try to get something on the radio, then I really wanted it to be moving and really mean something to me. And hopefully be one of those songs that isn’t just skin-deep, kind of asinine music. ... A song that actually reaches past and does something to you. ...

“We took it as a challenge ... trying to write something short and catchy but meaningful. ... I think we got it, but it was a trial for sure.”

 
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