The District of Rock Island
Friday, May 4, 5-9 p.m.
During May 4's Gallery Hop! in the District of Rock Island, RIBCO's musical guests include acoustic rockers Pocket Full of Nickels and, amazingly, enjoying most of the Hop!'s offerings will cost even less than that. More than 20 venues will be open for this twice-a-year arts tour, and among the night's free events are demonstrations by local artists Phil Richert (oil painting) and Mark Fowler (glass-blowing); Shakespearean scenes by the Prenzie Players; short films by Iowa City filmmaker Harry Walker and Rock Island's dphilms; and blues performances by William Elliot Whitmore and Catfish Haven. Space doesn't allow a full listing of events, so instead, let me quote the Gallery Hop! press release, which states that District visitors will be treated to "photography, wood, paintings, glass, jewelry, comedy, theatre, music, murals, sculpture, pottery, fiber, metal, film, belly dancing, and improvisation." Quite an assemblage of ... wait. Belly dancing?!? Well, I'll be ... Huckleberry's Pizza & Calzones is indeed presenting belly dancing by the group Tribal Attitudes. So enjoy the Hop!, folks, and here's a reminder for the ladies: If, at some point during the evening, your dates mysteriously vanish, you may think about checking Huckleberry's first. For more information, call the District office at (309) 788-6311.
The Bottle Rockets
The Redstone Room
Saturday, May 5, 9 p.m.
The Bottle Rockets perform at the Redstone Room on May 5, so you might expect me to make a point of how "fiery" and "explosive" the group is. But why bother, when I can get Stephen King to do it for me? With the release of its eighth CD, Zoysia, the St. Louis-based band - composed of guitarists Brian Henneman and John Horton, bassist Keith Voegele, and drummer Mark Ortmann - finds itself the toast of music critics; the Washington Post described the group as "a classic working man's rock band, rural-rock trailblazers who play hard and carry their audiences along for a wild ride," while the Lexington Herald named Zorsia its number-one album of 2006, and wrote that "the electric spirit of mid-'70s Neil Young guides the music. ... Zoysia is the sound of a bar band that has grown up without losing its edge." Yet the most unanticipated rave came from horror novelist (and Entertainment Weekly columnist) King, who called the Bottle Rockets' latest their "best album ever - tuneful, soulful, and best of all, loud." By the way, Dictionary.com defines "zoysia" as "any of several creeping grasses" native to tropical Asia. Ooo ... creeping grasses! Sounds just like a Stephen King novel! For more on the group, visit (http://www.bottlerocketsmusic.com).
Alex Sipiagin & Seamus Blake
Black Hawk College
Wednesday, May 2, 7:30 p.m.
For the school's 15th-annual spring jazz concert on May 2, Black Hawk College has secured the talents of trumpeter Alex "Sasha" Sipiagin and saxophonist Seamus Blake. Two guesses as to which guy is Irish. Wrong. And wrong again - the correct answer is "neither." (Damn these trick questions, huh?) Sipiagin, a native of Yaroslavl, Russia, has collaborated with the likes of Eric Clapton, David Sanborn, Elvis Costello, and Aaron Neville, and on the All About Jazz Web site (http://www.allaboutjazz.com), John Kelman called him "an evocative player whose avoidance of outspoken virtuosity belies his advanced technique. ... He seems to be reinventing the language of jazz." And despite his misleading name, Seamus Blake was actually born in London and raised in Vancouver; he's also a longstanding member of the Mingus Big Band and, in 2002, took first place in the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Saxophone Competition. Asked about the immediate benefits of the award, Blake - interviewed by jazz musician Cory Weeds - said he'd "pay off my Visa bill." Nice to see a musician that college audiences can really relate to. Sipiagin and Blake will perform in Black Hawk's Building 4 alongside the BHC Jazz Ensemble, and more information on the concert is available by calling (309) 796-5489.
The Oak Ridge Boys
Saturday, May 5, 7:30 p.m.
Ever since agreeing to this calendar piece on the Oak Ridge Boys - performing at the Adler Theatre on May 5 - I've found it impossible to get that catchy "Elvira" hook out of my head. (All together now: "Giddy up, uh-oom poppa, oom poppa, mow mow .. .") So for the sake of my sanity, let's travel to the band's official Web site (http://www.oakridgeboys.com), where there's a host of biographical material on Duane Allen, Joe Bonsall, William Lee Golden, and Richard Sterban totally unrelated to that 1981 chart-topper. Allen, it appears, has written a book on the history of gospel music, and owns a collection of more than two-dozen antique cars. Sterban once backed Elvis Presley as a member of The Stamps Quartet, and is a co-owner of the minor-league baseball team the Nashville Sounds. Golden is also a prolific landscape artist, and one of his works hangs in former president George H.W. Bush's compound in Kennebunkport, Maine. And Bonsall has written a series of children's books and, like Sterban, is a major baseball fan, quoted as saying, "I live and die with the Phillies." Hmm. Phillies. A homophone for "fillies." Young female horses. Giddy-up, uh-oom poppa, oom ... . Aw, crap! For Oak Ridge Boys tickets, call (563) 326-1111.
Thursday, May 3, through Sunday, May 6
"Who's there?" "Hail to your lordship!" "What ho, Horatio?" "My lord, I think I saw him yesternight." "Saw? Who?" "My lord, the King your father." "The King my father?" "Ay, my lord." "For God's love, let me hear!" "This is the short and the long of it. A play, my honored lord, with a leading player of your countenance and name." "Hamlet?" "Ay, my lord. Hamlet." "But where was this?" "My lord, in a theatre called the Englert, in the township of Iowa City." "And saw you my father's face?" "O yes, my lord, he wore his beaver up." "O day and night, but this is wondrous strange!" "It was, as I received it, an excellent play, well digested in the scenes, set down with as much modesty as cunning." "The actors - doth they acquire and beget a temperance to give it smoothness?" "Indeed, my lord. And as good luck would have it, musicians of blood and flesh performed beneath the play." "I would I had been there." "It would have much amazed you." "Very like, very like. Stay it long?" "A mere four nights, my lord." "Yet my father's spirit in arms! I doubt some foul play. To see or not to see, that is the question." The City Circle Acting Company's Hamlet runs May 3 through 6, and more information is available at (http://www.englert.org).