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items tagged with Rozz Tox

A Voice Found: Muddy Ruckus, September 19 at Rozz-Tox
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Music

Category: Feature Stories

2014-09-17 14:39:42

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.


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Happy Bummers: Ruby the RabbitFoot, September 7 at Rozz-Tox
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Music

Category: Feature Stories

2014-09-03 16:12:46

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.)


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An Excellent Foundation: The River Monks, July 2 at Rozz-Tox
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Music

Category: Feature Stories

2014-06-26 12:18:41

The River Monks. Photo by Bruce Bales.

The band’s moniker comes from the likely source of the Des Moines River’s name (the French Rivière des Moines – “river of the monks”), and TinyMixTapes.com declared that “the River Monks might just be Iowa. The five-part vocal harmonies swirl outward like wind across the fields, while the band’s traditional folk instrumentation is given Iowa’s unexpectedly progressive touch, leaving you with something entirely recognizable, yet completely new.”

Its new album is titled Home Is the House, invoking a sense of physical place.

And many thousands of people in Iowa know the band – even if they don’t realize it. The River Monks composed the theme music for Iowa Public Radio’s two talk shows.

The irony is that the band – playing Rozz-Tox on July 2 – no longer has a home. While the group originated in Des Moines, some of the sextet’s members have been scattered about – to Nashville, to Omaha, Nebraska, and soon to California.

So the River Monks’ seven-week summer tour, singer/songwriter Ryan Stier said in a phone interview last week, is a bid for longevity. “We’ve been really forced to figure out: If the band’s going to continue, then we need to set some groundwork.”


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Pin It Beneath Glass: Julie Byrne, May 28 at Rozz-Tox
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Music

Category: Feature Stories

2014-05-14 18:08:55

Few people would be surprised to find Julie Byrne working in the service industry. The singer/songwriter, after all, is in her mid-20s with one album to her credit, and it’s hard for an emerging musician to make ends meet performing for small audiences and selling records one by one.

But if you see Byrne working at Rozz-Tox in the coming weeks, it’s not for that reason. Instead, she’s the first artist-in-residence at the venue, and her one-month stay in the Quad Cities – running through early June – will include a show on May 28.

The residency, Byrne said last week, originated with the idea of finding something to fill the gap between a two-month tour and her summer concert bookings. “I knew that going on such a long tour would be really wonderful and really exhilarating but also challenging just because there’s no privacy and no space to reflect on these constant, rapid experiences – each day in a new place,” she said. “So I was trying to figure out a calm, tranquil environment where I could exist after the tour to kind of take it all in and begin working on new material.”


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No Messing Around: Water Liars, May 14 at Rozz-Tox
Written By: Jeff Ignatius
Section: Music

Category: Feature Stories

2014-05-02 11:31:59

Water Liars. Photo by Maggie Huber.

With the Water Liars’s self-titled album – the band’s third record in as many years – you could be forgiven for thinking that you’re in for a jarring ride based on the song titles and the opening track’s bleak but majestic riff. “Cannibal” is followed by “War Paint” and “I Want Blood.”

You are in for a ride, although it’s less the beat-down and carnage that the titles suggest than a careening from loud distortion to gentle Americana and back. “Ray Charles Dream” is a hooky, punk-tinged rock song sandwiched between the slow-footed guitar lament of “Tolling Bells” and the even-slower-footed piano lament of “Vespers.”

“That’s always been sort of a point for us,” said singer/songwriter/guitarist Justin Kinkel-Schuster in a phone interview last week, promoting the trio’s May 14 performance at Rozz-Tox. “Widely shifting dynamics has always been an important part of our sound ... both live and on records. ... I just always am intrigued by moving between those poles. There’s something interesting about taking a ride like that.”

It’s not merely a sonic roller coaster. The title and sentiment of “I Want Blood” (“I want blood all the time”) would seem to lend themselves to a ravenous rock treatment, but the song instead places the lyrics in a warm and ethereal musical context, making it a reverb-heavy anthem to searching and soaring. “Tension is why art exists,” Kinkel-Schuster explained of the apparent contradiction. “Without tension, I don’t think there’s a whole lot to go on. ... Without tension you don’t have a story; there’s nothing to resolve.”


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