What a season under the cult of celebrity! Moby takes a beating, Lisa Marie Presley is single again, David Lee Roth is suing Van Halen, and Kid Rock is firing guns with Carson Daly on TV. Any assorted boyhood home of Eminem sets off a multi-million-dollar bidding war on eBay's real-estate site! Future Slim Shady Gracelands are popping up all over gritty Michigan hamlets.

After hearing Kurt Elling in person and listening to his CDs, I have to agree with the Downbeat magazine critics polls - something I normally do not do - that named him the number-one jazz male vocalist in 2000, 2001, and 2002.

The Quad City Symphony Orchestra (QCSO) performance on Saturday, December 7, demonstrated the sharp contrasts within classical music. From rugged romanticism to stark minimalism, the concert led by Conductor and Musical Director Donald Schleicher was balanced, and the performance was well formed, as the orchestra played pieces by Kearnis, Mozart, Respighi, and the Paganini of the piano, Franz Liszt.

For this journey to Ohio in mid-November, we have the enviable role of designated witnesses to the canonization of our friend and master life teacher Edmond (Ed) Thigpen by his peers and fellow professionals. I say "peers" to be PC, but in our opinion and in many ways Ed is in a class all by himself.

• My tip of the top hat for best new holiday CD goes to Maybe This Christmas, a 13-track collection on the Nettwerk label benefiting the U.S. Marine Corps' Toys for Tots campaign. Except for Barenaked Ladies & Sarah McLachlan's take on "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" and a few fan-club rarities, the rest are new compositions or re-interpretations exclusive to the CD.

A handful of local bands have new releases, and they carry the distinct flavor of the past. One might say that time has stood still here in this part of the Midwest, but the current sad state of popular music – from the pop princesses and boy bands to nü-metal – makes each of these releases sound fresher than they might have in a different time.

The Quad City Symphony Orchestra and Festival of Trees Holiday Pops Concert on November 23 was not a concert for orchestral-music purists, but it is an integral part of the symphony season and essential for increasing the local symphonic- and classical-music base.

• This Tuesday the Mod Music label is releasing its Indie Choice 2002 CD, a 16-track collection from its recent worldwide talent search. Grand-prize-winner Angela McClusky is certainly one to look out for, as the former vocalist of the Wild Colonials offers up "It's Been Done," co-written with Nathan Larson of Shudder to Think.

Technology allows virtually all musicians to cheaply record and duplicate their music. The difficult part is getting that music into the hands of listeners. And that need is being met by a handful of small labels that have cropped up in the Quad Cities in recent years.

• One of the greatest eras in power pop has recently been honored in tasty tribute fashion with The Stiff Generation, a 24-track salute to Stiff Records and its stable of breakaway stars in those nutty, new-wave days of the late 1970s and early 1980s.