Fall 2011 Best of the Quad Cities PDF Print E-mail
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Thursday, 22 December 2011 08:50

For many years, we asked our readers to fill out surveys to determine the best of the Quad Cities. We gave them categories and lines on which to write, and we tallied the results, and the winners were the top vote-getters in each category.

Our approach this fall was different. We reduced the categories to 20 and asked people to submit Tweets, videos, and short essays in support of their nominations. The aim was to give voice to individuals over the masses, and to allow people to argue for their favorites instead of merely noting them. The ultimate goal was to get past the obvious and automatic responses that seemed to often rise to the top in past surveys – to spotlight hidden gems in the Quad Cities.

People didn’t seem quite sure what to make of this new Best of the Quad Cities, or perhaps they missed the comfort of completing a fill-in-the-blanks survey. We were pleased to get more than 100 submissions, but it was frankly like pulling teeth to get people to participate. We encouraged those with a vested interest in a category to actively push themselves – either by submitting nominations or asking their fans to do so – and we were surprised how few did. (Lance Dillie, on the other hand, was a model of self-promotion, attracting 15 nominations from friends, family, customers, and – it must be said – himself.)

In these pages are this fall’s submissions, with only the off-topic and overly repetitive removed. In the spirit of the tool, Tweets are presented unedited. Essays have been lightly edited for spelling, grammar, and River Cities’ Reader style.

Keep in mind that there are no “winners” in a traditional Best of the Quad Cities sense. We had a different purpose this time through, and we hope that these nominations help you learn new things about our community, and perhaps to check out something new.

And a final note to two people who nominated via Twitter a local tattoo artist for best local visual artist: By the time we realized that Twitter searches only go back a few weeks, your Tweets were lost to us. We’ll add them back in online if you re-Tweet!

1) Local band

The Candymakers.Kate Benson: I think currently the best band in the Quad Cities is The Candymakers. They are new to the local band scene within the past year, but you could hardly tell by the way they play. The soul/funk/blues band recently won the Iowa Blues Challenge, and will go on to compete in Memphis in February for the International Blues Challenge, so they are definitely getting noticed by many and proving their talents. Their lead vocalists, Alan Sweet and Siri Mason, provide a fun and soulful sound that keeps all the sounds interesting – both funky and sultry – and they have you applauding after each verse because they are so talented. I also love how they let all band members take turns with solos during the songs, as well as improvise at live gigs, to show off the talents of the whole band. They are one of the few bands in the Quad Cities I can see turn a whole room to dance and clap along, and their energy is outstanding. I wish them the best of luck in Memphis – I know they can represent the Quad Cities well!

Leslie Bell: Anthony Catalfano’s big talent has been a magnet for great musicians for years. The quality of his playing is unmatched in the Quad Cities music scene and over the years, he’s hosted or played with greats Paul Smoker, Damon Short, Jack Scott, and many others. “Deserves to be much better known”.

Bruce Walters: Local bands I’ve seen this year include Josh Duffee & His Orchestra (’20s hot jazz) and the Quad City Symphony (Beethoven’s Fifth). Both outstanding. But the best would have to be Brains! Brains! Brains! playing outside Bucktown while zombies gathered from near and far for the Davenport Halloween Parade. The show began with the immortal words, “You guys ready to turn Downtown Davenport into a chaotic war zone of death and pestilence and blood?”

Harry Walker: One Night Standards. RCReader.com/y/bestvid1

Roberta Osmers: 1st Impression. RCReader.com/y/bestvid2

Andy Harris: Skynny Skynyrd. RCReader.com/y/bestvid3

@Soduh: I vote for Spatterdash for best local band They ROCK! #BestQC 1

@jason_cherry: I vote for 3 Years Hollow for best local band because those guys kick ass! #BestQC 1

@robbi61: 1st Impression blows away the competition! http://t.co/FlZiHeYF #BestQC 1

@LanceDillie: #BestQC 1 Mother Sin, hard rock with peel off your face and spit down your throat edge! Only know member Tom Demuynck.

@jdtractorman2: #BestQC DLH Band is the best band in the area and the busiest. Saw them at the MVFair last year and have followed them ever since #BestQC 7

@RedHotTonyTone: 3 Years Hollow rocks ass! #BestQC 1

@MoonshineBearEt: #BestQC The best band in the QC is the Dani Lynn Howe Band- They play countless benefits each year to support local charities! #BestQC 7

@Willhite3: Satellite Heart should be up for best local band. #BestQC 1. Here are 2 songs for proof: http://t.co/9ThISH5 http://t.co/cViFde5

@AllieGrafton: #BestQC 1. My vote is for Dani Lyn Howe Band.They volunteered to play at MDA and Relay benefits, two org. close to my heart. #BestQC 1

@jldavison51: #BestQC 1 I love the Dani Lynn Howe Band!

@BeckyFulton1: #BestQC 1. DLHoweBand is my family’s fav band. They played a benefit several yrs. ago 4 my gpa. Donated their time &raffle prizes! They r #1

@ChrisMann25: #BestQC 1 Dani Lynn Howe Band is heads and tails above the other bands in the area. Talk about a variety of songs they know #BestQC 1

@nikkifish86: Bacon!!! #BestQC 1

2) Local venue that books the best bands

Santo Pullella: My vote for local venue that books the best bands is Rozz-Tox in Rock Island. My reason why is because of the amount of heart that Ben Fawks gives to fostering local artists on the stage. The venue has opened its arms to local original musical artists in a way that perhaps no other venue in the Quad Cities region ever has, and the ingredient needed to do such work is belief from everyone at the table. Belief that being ethical pays off. Belief that giving talent a chance to grow creates more positive effects than paper can show in black-and-white. Belief in one another to work until the job is done because the job is fun, rewarding, and nurturing for the soul. Belief that, together, artists of all kinds and those of us fans who are not musically gifted can gather and smile and enjoy our part in it. Rozz-Tox found its niche in this market of live music because artists have to start somewhere, and it starts by being given a chance on a stage that will not judge them; for isn’t all art to be taken appreciatively for its individual unique nature?

Leslie Bell: The RME tirelessly scours the national music scene for affordable talent. They are genre-wise democratic. Hard to complain about a venue that’s hosted such diverse Browns as Pieta, Junior, and Greg; excellent jazz groups from Chicago and New York as well as the luminous and luminary Bill Frisell; singer/songwriters Jim Lauderdale, Chris Smither, and Freedie Johnston. This is great stuff for cheap from a small, clean, and accessible venue.

Kate Benson: I would like to nominate the Redstone Room at the River Music Experience as being the local venue that books the best bands for 2011. The Redstone Room not only brings in a diverse line of talent in for all groups of people to enjoy, but they are also known for bringing in bands that at the time are up-and-coming but later go on to become nationally and internationally known touring bands. For instance, in early 2011 they brought in such acts as Fitz & the Tantrums, Grace Potter & the Nocturnals, and Lissie, all of which, after their performances here in Davenport, have gone on to win awards this year as the “Best of 2011 Artists” for their albums, songs, and overall talent. It’s amazing that you can catch bands of this caliber right here in the Quad Cities in an intimate room and not have to travel to a big city like Chicago or Minneapolis to see. Beyond national touring artists, the Redstone Room also maintains a well-rounded schedule to include some of the QC’s best bands, as well as regional favorites as well. Never a bad show at the Redstone Room – you get to see it all here first! (Maureen Carter, also of the River Music Experience, submitted a similar essay.)

@BeckyFulton1: #BestQC 2 Redstone Room books the best bands..no question bout it

@Soduh: BEst venue, RIBCO, any place that hosts FISHBONE is tops with me #BestQC 2

3) Local venue with the best sound system

Jackie Madunic: I would like to vote for RIBCO and, more specifically, Al Dimeo, sound engineer. I will admit upfront that Al is a good friend of mine, but I will also admit that I have experienced his impressive work firsthand, and his passion for quality sound, in addition to his extensive knowledge and experience, makes him the “go to” guy for bands who want to sound awesome live. And many bands specifically ask for Al to run sounds for them ... or even would like for him to go on tour with them and run sound for them on the road. But Al has been committed to providing quality live music at RIBCO for over 10 years now, and his number-one priority is making sure that patrons who come to RIBCO will have the best possible experience listening to live music in the Quad Cities. He also loves the bands, especially the young “up and comers” who are just starting out. He really enjoys helping young bands to sound great and has no problem sharing his knowledge with anyone who needs help. If you know Al, you know he is a consummate professional and will be 100-percent committed to making you sound great!

The Redstone Room. Photo by A.J. Brown.Tom Swanson: I would like to nominate the Redstone Room at the River Music Experience as being the local venue with the best sound system. One only has to attend a performance in the venue to understand why it deserves this award. I won’t bother with technical details, but the Redstone Room sounds great no matter what the type of performance, be it a loud rock or hip-hop concert, a medium-volume jazz performance, or a soft solo acoustic show. That the system and room produce excellent sound despite various conditions puts the Redstone Room at the top of this list. Additionally, there isn’t a bad seat in the house – for viewing and sound purposes – and the engineers are topnotch. There are other venues that sound good in the QCA, but nothing matches the sound quality in the Redstone Room. (Ellis Kell, also of the River Music Experience, submitted a similar essay.)

Leslie Bell: You can hear a pin, pick, or pint drop at the RME. Loud or soft, the sound is uniformly good with only occasional slips in subtlety with small jazz ensembles.

@dlhband: #BestQC 3 The Redstone Room has a great sound system and sound tech to boot! #BestQC 3

4) Local stage production

Jeff Adamson: So what can I say that hasn’t already been said about ComedySportz and the Establisment Theatre? The venue is large and fantastic with the flexibility to go from a comedy club for the masses to a reception hall for newlyweds. Everyone is welcomed and all ages enjoy the weekly performances. Whether you are on a first date or attending a family function, ComedySportz has been Quad Cities’ standard-bearer for comic entertainment for 22 years. With the addition of stand-up and sketch comedy to add to the weekly improv fare, ComedySportz has become the QC’s one-stop comedy shop. (Also submitted in categories 10, 14, and 20.)

Jeff De Leon: ComedySportz Quad Cities. RCReader.com/y/bestvid4

@Soduh: Best local stage production is The Curtainbox Theatre company’s Time Stands Still. Riviting performance and a great cause. #BestQC 4

@RedHotTonyTone: #BestQc 4 The best night out in the Quad Cities is @CSzQC fun for the entire family! Go see a show this weekend!!

@BeckyFulton1: #BestQC 4 District Theatre always puts on a great show no matter who is on stage.

5) Local stage performance by an individual

Jackie Madunic: I nominate my dear friend Patti Flaherty for this one for her role as Violet in August: Osage County at New Ground Theatre last October. And, yes, I know I was also in the show, and yes, I know that I am probably a bit biased, but it would be hard for anyone to argue that Patti’s performance as Violet was anything but truly magnificent. She literally scared the shit out of me each night on stage. But, after each performance, she was there, ready to hug you and tell you that she thought you were wonderful. If I could give an award for best actress in the Quad Cites, it would be Patti, hands down!

@RonMorse: Mark McGinn kept the audience totally engaged and entertained as The Man in the Chair in QC Music Guild’s Drowsy Chaperone #BestQC 5.