When live, in-person music was wiped out last year, Davenport-based River Music Experience provided a priceless lifeline – they brought

River Music Experience Curbside Concerts Return Bigger and Better

A group of RME staff and volunteers offering curbside carols.

music out to private residences in the Quad-Cities with Curbside Concerts. Now they’re back for a second year.

With all the outdoor shows (in private yards, curbs, driveways and cul-de-sacs), events sponsored by Russell Construction for essential workers, and curbside caroling, RME hosted 350 concerts and reached 7,260 people from April to December 2020, RME director of entertainment Kate Dale said Monday.

They contracted with about a dozen local artists, plus RME staff, so about 15 musicians for regular curbsides. The holiday-season caroling had mostly RME staff and volunteers (roughly

River Music Experience Curbside Concerts Return Bigger and Better

Kate Dale is director of entertainment for RME.

6-10 people for each concert), Dale said.

Now the nonprofit has about the same number of artists signed up on its website (and hoping to add more), but they are expanding options beyond solo configurations, where most of the artists give options to sign up for a duo/trio set, or a full band, allowing more musicians to get involved this year, she said.

The 2021 curbside concerts are all “on-demand” — meaning the customer chooses their date, time, and preferred musician(s) for the performance, Dale said. Last year, the program was set up where a musician would sign up for a specific date, and then potentially jam five or six 30-minute concerts into one day, driving all over the Q-C area.

“We tried various ways to make it more logistically friendly, but at the end of the year the feedback from the artists was that it was physically and logistically challenging, and feedback from the customers was that the sets were too short (only 30-minute shows last year – they were all left with wanting more,” Dale said. “So we took that feedback and decided to make the program more flexible and enjoyable for everyone involved.

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So now, the curbside concerts will be “one-offs” for the artists — they’ll play at least an hour long and won’t have the time constraint to rush

River Music Experience Curbside Concerts Return Bigger and Better

The Velies is one of the Q-C bands offering full-band curbside concerts this year.

off to another gig across town, she said.

“This allows the artists more options to not only bring other musicians with them for a larger set-up, but also the opportunity to bring a small sound system as well — which wasn’t possible before due to the short turnaround time to get from gig to gig in the same day — making it easier for the audience to hear the performance,” Dale said.

The changes are also nice for people planning special events – like graduation or birthday parties – where they have a specific date already, but now have more options of artists to choose from, she said.

“And while we are still requiring curbsides concerts to be outdoors and socially distant – the more our community is getting vaccinated the more comfortable we feel opening these options up to larger groups, as long as they are hosted outdoors,” Dale said.

River Music Experience Curbside Concerts Return Bigger and Better

RME hosted 350 outdoor curbside concerts in 2020, reaching 7,260 people.

The fees now are:

  • Solo Performer — One musician performs hour-long set for $150.
  • Duo/Trio Performance – 2 or 3 musicians perform a 75-minute set for $375.
  • Full Band Performance (4+ members) — band performs a 90-minute set for $600.
River Music Experience Curbside Concerts Return Bigger and Better

Lojo Russo at one of her favorite places, Davenport‘s River Music Experience.

The lineup of participating artists this year is:

  • Alan Sweet — Rock, Soul, Reggae (Solo, Duo/Trio, Full Band
  • Alex Axup– Rock (Solo, Duo/Trio, Full Band Fair Warning or The Velies)
  • Angela Meyer— Country, Americana (Solo)
  • Brady Jager— Reggae, Rock (Solo, Duo/Trio, Full Band, after 5 p.m. weekdays and all day weekends)
  • David G. Smith— Roots, Alternative Folk (Solo)
  • Don Gustofson— Classic Rock, Blues (Solo)
  • Jenny Lynn Stacy— Rockabilly, Country, Rock (Solo, Thursday nights and Friday through Sunday, generally available after June 15)
  • Karl Beatty— Alternative Rock (Solo, Duo/Trio (Karl & Ko)
  • Logan Springer— Country, Americana (Solo, Duo/Trio)
  • Lojo Russo— Roots, Folk (Solo, most Thursdays and some Fridays and Sundays. Not available for any Saturday in August)
  • Minus Six MinusTwo– Alternative (Duo)
  • Mo Carter– Americana (Solo, Duo, Full Band The Velies and Mo&Co,  Duo & Full Band available after 5 p.m. Not available May 7, May 21-23, June 5, or June 13)
  • Tony Hoeppner— Blues, Classic Rock (Duo/Trio, daily after 4 p.m. or after 6 p.m. Tuesdays)

“The feedback from last year was incredible – customers loved having live music from the comfort of their front (or back) yards, and artists loved more of the intimate interactions with the audience as well,” Dale said Monday.

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“We hope that by expanding the show times and taking out the time constraints of having to bustle across town for another gig, these events

River Music Experience Curbside Concerts Return Bigger and Better

RME offered curbside carols during the 2020 holiday season.

will be more special even than they were before,” she said.

Curbside Concerts are also available for businesses. “We have created a variety of options to suit our community’s needs, from small private gatherings to big parties,” the RME site says. “So break out those barbecues, call up the neighbors, and let’s get the party started!”

“The safety of the audience and musicians is our top priority,” the site says, noting only outdoor locations are allowed at this time. Among other guidelines are:

  • Please provide a space for the musicians to perform that is at least 12 feet from where the audience will be seated. (That’s about 4 guitar lengths!)
  • Please help keep musicians safe by respecting their distance. We want to shake your hand and give you a hug, too! But a friendly wave or an air-high-five will have to do for now.
  • Performance to end by sunset (7:30 p.m. in Spring and 8:30 p.m. in Summer), unless customer can provide additional lighting.

To reserve a concert, fill out a form at http://rivermusicexperience.org/Live-Music/Curbside-Concerts.

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River Music Experience Curbside Concerts Return Bigger and Better
Jonathan Turner has been covering the Quad-Cities arts scene for 25 years, first as a reporter with the Dispatch and Rock Island Argus, and then as a reporter with the Quad City Times. Jonathan is also an accomplished actor and musician who has been seen frequently on local theater stages, including the Bucktown Revue and Black Box Theatre.