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.

In her fifth month as director of the River Music Experience, Connie Gibbons is working against time. There was the time she's missed - more than a year of planning and community discussion - and the time still ahead, 12 months to the museum's anticipated opening in the renovated Redstone building on Second Street between Main and Brady in downtown Davenport.

Musically, we Quad Citians have a lot to be thankful for. Never mind the bullocks of national and statewide headline-making surveys, measuring our "cool" factor; the Quad Cities has it going on!

Consider the number of opportunities this past weekend for music-related recreation.

• This Tuesday brings a highly anticipated DVD from The Clash, hot on the heels of the band's recent 40-track Essentials series CD. Simply titled The Essential Clash DVD, the Epic Records release features 11 live and studio videos, interview footage from U.

• Radiohead fans get a double dose of heaven this Tuesday as the group's new album, Hail to the Thief, hits store shelves, alongside a fantastic new CD of classical-piano interpretations of the band's songs.

Minimalism in rock music is a big risk. When an artist chooses to keep it simple – with pared- down instrumentation, lyrics, and vocals, and songs that move with the energy of a funeral procession – only the best material survives scrutiny, because there’s nothing to fall back on.

• Dan "The Automator" Nakamura, one half of Handsome Boy Modeling School with Prince Paul, has been busy lately with two noteworthy production duties. Look for his signature style to show up on the upcoming Galactic album and as one of a handful of producers on the upcoming Cheap Trick album, Special One, which also features knob twisting by Steve Albini.

The Red Hot Chili Peppers and Queens of the Stone Age supplied the Quad Cities with some heartfelt rock, a little funk, a psychedelic harmony, and just a touch of the blues at their May 9 show – things that have been missing from The Mark in recent months.

• This Tuesday brings the most guest-list-heavy CD in recent memory, with Rhino Records' release of Small World Big Band Volume Two: More Friends from Jools Holland & His Rhythm & Blues Orchestra. Fueled by big-band boogie-woogie, the album features classic standards such as "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" with the Stereophonics and a take on Bob Dylan's "You Got to Serve Somebody" with vocalist Marianne Faithfull.

You won't notice a lot of new features at this year's Hornucopia, because - as the first festival this year in The District of Rock Island - it carried with it some uncertainty. Namely, questions about how far along reconstruction of the Great River Plaza was going to be.