On Sunday, I wasn't looking forward to entering darkened Centennial Hall for the closing concert of the Quad City Symphony Orchestra season. I was thinking it would be a better use of the day to stay outside. But after an afternoon of relaxing, introspective music, I was better able to enjoy the sunshine-filled day.

• With a vibe that recalls the historic Live Aid concerts, last November's benefit concert in Cape Town, South Africa, for AIDS-related social work is getting the royal treatment this Tuesday by Warner International and Rhino Records.

• It looks like the meek will inherit a record deal, with underdog rising star William Hung getting the last laugh. The booted and humiliated American Idol contestant releases his debut album this Tuesday, ready to snuggle up to a place in music history next to other tone-deaf releases by Mrs.

• Everything's gone cover crazy as tributes and twisted takes dominate this week's new releases, but one cool compilation is doing it in a slightly different way. This Tuesday the Norton Records imprint releases two more seven-inch 45s in its series of split singles covering early songs by the Rolling Stones, with wicked label art that mocks the band's classic London Records era.

• Call me a heretic, but in the past I've never been much of a fan of Jerry Garcia's guitar playing with the Grateful Dead. Lordy, Lordy, take me down and dip me in the river of forgiveness. This Tuesday the Acoustic Disc imprint releases another collection of the late artist's recordings with mandolin virtuoso David Grisman from the 1990s, and I'm simply bowled over by the six- and four-string interplay between the two.

Guest conductor David Effron turned toward the audience, ran his hand through his slightly wild gray hair, leaned forward for the opening Star Spangled Banner, and an afternoon of dramatic music and conducting began.

Beats as Folk

The first time a person hears Jewel's latest album, 0304, the likely reaction will be something along the lines of "What the hell?"

The singer-songwriter, who broke through in 1995 with an acoustic guitar and her mega-hit debut Pieces of You, has made a dance pop record.

• Following in the footsteps of fellow punk legends Jello Biafra and Henry Rollins, Canada's most dangerous son, Joey "Shithead" Keithley, is taking the stage this month for spoken-word performances and live gigs by his band D.

Neil Young and Crazy Horse will be performing this Sunday at The Mark. The show is set in a more intimate theatre style seating of 5,700 and is in support of their 2003 release of Greendale. (As of this writing only 500 seats are left.

• No Depression, the magazine that began defining a sound without a home in 1995, has laid its heart out on its sleeve in its first CD, entitled No Depression: What It Sounds Like, Volume One. Call it what you want - Adult Acoustic Alternative, nu-country, or hayseed roots rock - the magazine has championed great music that doesn't quite fit the traditional rock or country radio formats and lifestyles.