• If you've caught the smooth fever of Norah Jones, a new seven-track EP reveals sessions from 2000 featuring covers of Magic Sam's "All Your Love" and Bob Dylan's "Heart of Mine." Simply titled The Peter Malick Group Featuring Norah Jones, the Koch Entertainment CD is the fruit of a friendship between the blues singer-songwriter and Jones, then a 21-year-old unknown artist trying to establish herself.

• Almost as iconic as Mr. Rogers' trademark cardigan is the green striped rugby shirt worn by Steve on Nickelodeon TV's Blue's Clues. After six years as the show's original host, he's been replaced by another soft-spoken actor, and it felt unsettling to deflect "Steve is dead" rumors from my seven-year-old and find Steve Burns the post-blue-dog serious actor portraying a creepy killer on Law & Order.

• Perfect for poolside summer reading, three new rock-and-roll books have captured my attention and plenty of Coppertone smudges. Hot off the New York Times best-selling KISS & Make-Up, demon bassist Gene Simmons offers up his new book, Sex Money KISS, a fascinating rant on all things financial or romantic from a guy who seems to have had it all.

Luckily, the future of chamber music will fall on the broad shoulders of the Sauer family and its colleagues. With the Quad City Symphony Orchestra eliminating its chamber series for the 2003-4 season, music fans will have reduced concert offerings.

• Holding their flag of plea and protest high above them, three new benefit projects have recently surfaced bringing attention to AIDS in southern Africa, Parkinson's disease, sarcoma cancer, and the death penalty.

• In a world where it seems every niche guilty-pleasure recording is currently in print in some corner of the planet, there isn't much big game left roaming the out-of-print album grasslands. From Rhino Records' catalog to re-issue-only imprints such as Superfecta, a music fanatic's "short list" of lost recordings is probably that - a short list.

It's billed as the Midwest's largest gathering of motorcycles, and if you like bikes, you probably already know about Sturgis on the River.

But the free event is also becoming something of a local band showcase, so if you're a fan of Quad Cities bands and music, it might well be worth your time on Friday and Saturday.

A Sound Business

On practically any given day or night in the Quad Cities, there's bound to be a band playing, an open-mic jam, or some musicians cranking it out in some way, shape, or form. One of the most important aspects, if not the most important aspect, of making music is the sound, and if you're making it around here, chances are you know who Frank Holst is.

Some musicians enter the recording studio expecting the producer and recording engineer to work magic. But if they come to Rob Cimmarusti, they should just expect the cold, hard truth.

A lot of producers and engineers have reputations as alchemists, turning the raw materials into something more valuable, or stamping them with a signature sound.

MidCoast Fine Arts re-invented its annual pastel competition this year. The high-school-driven event was moved to the Bettendorf Family Museum campus and expanded beyond a visual-arts competition to a "trade show" of sorts that showcased our area's high-school talent in digital media, film, and music.