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items tagged with River Music Experience

Get People to Listen: Caroline Rose, July 30 at the River Music Experience
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Music

Category: Feature Stories

2013-07-23 14:13:42

Jer Coons and Caroline Rose

The pleasing Americana music and nimble, emotive vocals of Caroline Rose’s “America Religious” – the title track from her debut album – mask massive amounts of meaning. Perhaps more accurately, they mask a lot of words whose meaning you’re left to decipher for yourself.

Take this line, which Rose said she’s frequently asked about: “America religious, I eat slices of white privilege processed by agri-business.”

“What I want people to get out of that line and the song in general is discussion about what race relations are like, and what things like immigration reform mean today, and agribusiness,” she said in a recent phone interview promoting her July 30 performance at the River Music Experience.

That didn’t clear things up much, did it?

“I don’t really care what people think that it means,” she said. “As long as they’re talking about it, I think it’s great.”

Based on America Religious, Rose certainly bears discussion. The music is varied, compelling, and sharp in its genre, with “Here Come the Rain” a standout in texture, arrangement, and vocal performance.

But the lyrics are what leap out.


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“Everyone’s Invited”: Koffin Kats, May 5 at the River Music Experience
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Music

Category: Feature Stories

2012-04-25 15:47:32

Koffin KatsThe Detroit trio Koffin Kats – headlining an all-ages show at the River Music Experience on May 5 – performs in the musical subgenre known as psychobilly, and the fusion of punk and rockabilly isn’t particularly well-known or popular in the States.

So it’s a bit strange that bassist and singer Vic Victor, in a phone interview last week, called psychobilly a “music genre for everybody.” The style’s biggest name is probably the Reverend Horton Heat, whose top-selling albums have managed to reach only the lower quarter of Billboard’s top 200.

Yet Victor said that when the uninitiated but curious – those who don’t realize that the upright bass has a place in rock music – show up to a Koffin Kats gig, they’re usually converted. “Everyone’s invited,” he said. “That’s kind of the idea with this new record. We didn’t write it for the psychobilly crowd. We wrote it for anybody who likes rock and roll and driving music.”

That album is Our Way & the Highway, and while Victor probably overstates its appeal as universal, there’s no denying that the Kats’ brand of psychobilly deserves a wider audience; the band’s music is relentless but also loaded with hooks, strong melodies, and alluring harmonies on top of the aggressive rockabilly groove. If Green Day deserves some of its superstar status, then the Koffin Kats are worthy of at least a piece of that pie.


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The Vision, the Equation, and the Moving Parts: Canasta, March 25 at the River Music Experience
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Music

Category: Feature Stories

2011-03-11 16:40:50

Canasta. Photo by Sarah Hadley.

(Editor’s note: This article was originally published in advance of Canasta’s February 3 River Music Experience show, which was canceled. It has been re-scheduled for Friday, March 25. Show information has been updated in the article.)

The six-piece Chicago orchestral-pop band Canasta began writing songs for its second album shortly after the release of its first – We Were Set Up – in 2005.

It took five years for The Fakeout, the Tease, & the Breather to get finished and released. That’s a lifetime in the music business, and probably two or three lifetimes for a band that’s still trying to break through – with all the members holding down “real” jobs in addition to their band duties.

Canasta will be performing an all-ages show March 25 in the River Music Experience’s performance hall, and it should be evident that the labor that went into The Fakeout, the Tease, & the Breather was fruitful. Both the Huffington Post and Metromix named it one of the best Chicago albums of 2010. The Chicago Reader called it “so perfect – every note falling into place with deeply satisfying craftsmanship – that you’ll swear you’ve heard it before.” And The Onion’s AV Club said: “You can almost feel storm clouds parting for the 11 sunny, rollicking songs that lay ahead. For nearly a decade, the local chamber-pop group has managed to retain its ambition and melodic optimism, without ever coming across as winking.”

But in truth, the half-a-decade story of the album is less about nailing the nuances over time than an unusually liquid lineup.


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Odd Band Out: Mondo Drag, February 20 at the River Music Experience
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Music

Category: Feature Stories

2010-02-17 12:29:07

Mondo Drag

When Mondo Drag drummer/singer Johnnie Cluney says that "we're kind of bringing in more of a pop element" to the band's new songs, take that with a giant rock of salt.

The Quad Cities-based band released its full-length debut, New Rituals, on the Alive Naturalsounds Records label last month, and it's a hazy, sludgy affair - bluesy psychedelia borrowing heavily from the 1960s and recalling the contemporary sounds of Dead Meadow.

Yet there are indeed hints of accessible melody in the massive riffs and thick keyboards. "Love Me" hides on its downslope a compelling ascending chorus with heavy vocal emphasis on the downbeat. Calling it poppy is a stretch, but it opens the door to the remainder of the song. "True Visions" has a similar late revelation, with moaning layers of keyboards and guitars as its extended coda.

The quintet - celebrating the release of New Rituals on Saturday at the River Music Experience's Performance Hall - has begun to build a national profile. The band had its Daytrotter.com session released last week, and even though that Web site is based in the Quad Cities, it certainly doesn't play favorites with hometown bands.


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This Is the Planet of Sound: RME Program Gives Aspiring Producers Hands-on Experience
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Music

Category: Feature Stories

2009-09-09 20:35:10

Instructor Lars Rehnberg at The Sound Lab

As students sit around computers, microphones, and mixing tables, they ignore the technology and listen intently to Newton's laws of motion, learn an equation to find the frequency of a room, and see what a wavelength looks like. In audio engineering 101, on the second floor of the River Music Experience (RME) on the last Saturday in August, half a dozen beginners are being taught the fundamentals of acoustics.

Jesse Topping, 17, is one of these students. He grew up in a musical household; his mom played the cello since she was little, and Jesse plays piano, bass, and guitar. He has a computer recording program but is taking this class to better understand how to use it.

"I love the expression, the limitless possibilities of what you can do with sound as art," Topping said.

The class is a part of The Sound Lab, now in its fourth semester. The program offers three courses for aspiring music producers as well as for musicians who want to learn more about the recording industry.


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