All Sweat Productions Returns Saturday For First Schwiebert Park Show, With “Abbey Road”
An outdoor concert Saturday night at Rock Island’s Schwiebert Riverfront Park will be super special for Alan Sweet, and about 30 of his closest musical friends.
Co-founder and leader of All Sweat Productions – which specializes in bringing a diverse group of performers together in tribute to specific artists and/or albums – Sweet is reprising his first concert, from May 2016 at the River Music Experience’s Redstone Room, where he organized a Beatles tribute, including playing the landmark 1969 “Abbey Road” in its entirety. This Saturday, starting at 7 p.m., a stellar lineup of musicians will partner on a program of many classics from the Fab Four in the first half (led by RME’s education coordinator, Ben Schwind), and the full “Abbey Road” in the second half.
“I have to say it’s probably my favorite album,” Sweet (who now works part-time as RME’s collaboration coordinator) said Thursday. “It’s a family favorite, too. I’m pretty sure it’s my dad’s favorite. It’s my wife’s favorite. And I mean it’s my wife’s favorite and mine that separately in our lives. She found the album and she was probably about 12 years old and it really changed her life like really early like that. And of course, I knew about the Beatles, you know, growing up, but I didn’t really get into it until I was probably about 23 years old, but it was the exact
“I mean, it just completely changed how you listen and how you appreciate the different sounds that are coming out of rock and roll music, ‘cause it’s very different from most of the albums that are around there,” he said, noting the full orchestrations and keyboards The Beatles used on the album, the last they recorded together. “It’s very moving, very emotional for me. So that’s what makes me really like to do ‘Abbey Road’ is ‘cause I have a huge emotional attachment to it.”
On Saturday in the park, there will be about 30 musicians performing altogether, with 15 doing “Abbey Road,” including several string and brass players, with some from the Quad City Symphony Orchestra (such as Ben Lorentzen and Marc Zyla). “It’s difficult, difficult stuff to play,” Sweet said.
“The QCSO is always happy to be a part of engaging audiences throughout the Quad-Cities,” said Zyla, QCSO Principal Horn and Director of Education and Community Engagement. “When we were approached by our QC Cultural Trust Partner, River Music Experience, to secure brass musicians for this event, it was a no-brainer. Personally, I have enjoyed seeing many performances by the RME family and All Sweat Productions, so I am beyond excited to be able to join them on stage this time, and hope that this is the first of many!”
As a horn player, Zyla really likes “I Am the Walrus,” and the famous anthem “All You Need is Love” is on the program as well.
“Anyone who has ever talked to me about music for more than five minutes probably understands how excited I am for this Saturday —
getting together with musicians from all around the QC to perform the music of The Beatles,” Ben Schwind (who will lead an early Beatles set) posted recently on Facebook. “I’ll be getting my Macca on for some early Beatles classics in the first set, but I’ll also make an appearance in the second set when we perform ‘Abbey Road’ from start to finish. Hanging out along the river enjoying an evening of classic Fab Four tunes, what more could you want?”
“Getting an opportunity to work with musicians I don’t normally get to perform with is always a treat and having the music be The Beatles is just icing on the cake,” he said Thursday. “They were the first thing that got me into music, inspiring me to start a band and write my own music. To get to nerd out about their music with other musicians is a real joy.
“The great thing about All Sweat Productions shows is how it brings people from different groups and genres together,” Schwind added. “I’ve had the opportunity to perform with and learn from some seriously talented musicians that I probably otherwise wouldn’t have had a chance to. For a lot of us rock and roll musicians, when are we ever going to get another chance to play with trained classical musicians? The rehearsals for me are almost as fun as the shows.”
“Abbey Road” alone is stuffed with beloved Beatles classics, such as “Come Together,” “Something,” “Here Comes The Sun,” “Oh! Darling,” “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer,” and famous medleys including “She Came in Through the Bathroom Window,” “Golden Slumbers,” “Carry That Weight” and “The End.”
Sweet was inspired to form All Sweat in 2016 with Dustin Cobb, owner/producer of Joy Avenue Media in Bettendorf, after working with him several years at the recording studio. A play on Sweet’s name, All Sweat Productions is a live music project aimed at gathering the best musicians in the area and jamming the greatest rock n’ roll moments known to man. Each show features a different cast of musicians bonded over a shared love of the music they’re playing. Among their past concerts have been tributes to Prince, Michael Jackson, Queen, James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, and the last one they did before the pandemic – early March 2020, with a Green Day show.
Aug. 7’s event is the first one they’re performing at Schwiebert Park in downtown Rock Island, co-sponsored by River Music Experience and Rock Island Parks and Recreation. Among
performers will be Chrissy Boyer, Sean Ryan (leader of The Dawn), and Lewis Knudsen – who will solo on the brief “Abbey Road” postscript, “Her Majesty” (the last 25 seconds of the 47-minute album).
“This one’s the first big one coming back and we blew up the bus and went really crazy,” Sweet said. “We’re going to have a big ‘Octopus’s Garden’ to pull up on the stage with kids running around and under the sea costumes. The Garden, it’s just going to get beautiful and colorful and fun and awesome.”
“It’s also the first All Sweat show where it is a program of the RME,” he said. “I’ve been working with RME for a couple of years and I’m actually working for the RME now and All Sweat is a program there,” Sweet said, noting the 2016 show included RME pioneer Ellis Kell (who died that December and the stage at Schwiebert Park is named for him). “It’s the first one we did with Ellis. He helped me develop the idea and make it happen and get the right people. And so, we’re really happy to do it on his stage. We’ll have a nice kind of dedication to him.”
“This stuff gets me highly emotional,” Sweet (who since February has hosted the All Sweat Podcast from RME) said. “Listening to the album lately, it’s just been sending me into like, pure joyful emotion where I’m just crying and laughing.”
Also organizing first return to Redstone Room
There also will be an All Sweat show that’s being organized as the long-awaited re-opening of the Redstone Room on Sept. 2, Sweet said.
It will involve the nonprofit Playing For Change, which was created to inspire and connect the world through music, and the Redstone concert will include former Davenport bassist Claire Finley and members of the Coral Reefer Band. The idea for Playing for Change came
from a common belief that music has the power to break down boundaries and overcome distances between people, according to playingforchange.com.
The Sept. 2 grand reopening is replacing the previously scheduled Aug. 29 concert with Scottish singer/songwriter KT Tunstall, who had to cancel the date, among all her summer 2021 tour dates (which included opening for Hall & Oates on their summer tour). Sweet said she is losing her hearing and announced late last month she’s using the rest of this year to recover. Tunstall
(whose hits include “Suddenly I See” and “Black Horse and the Cherry Tree”) already lost hearing in her left ear.
“The decision to pull myself out of my summer 2021 touring schedule has been an extremely difficult one to make,” the 46-year-old posted July 27 on social media. “Playing live has been my life for the last 20 years and is my deepest passion.”
“Permanently losing 100% of my hearing in my left ear whilst on tour in 2018 was an enormous shock, and the result of touring without adequate periods of rest, which caused an acute physical breakdown,” Tunstall wrote. “After a recent run of consecutive shows in July, I have experienced some issues with my right ear; a small amount of tinnitus – which is exactly how the breakdown of my left ear began.”
“My thoughts on touring so intensively and consecutively have made me question whether my remaining hearing will be able to handle it,” she said. Her 2021 dates will be rescheduled for 2022 but spread out in order to give her time to recover between gigs.
“I must put my hearing health first, as it could be the difference between being able to be a musician or not,” Tunstall wrote.
For Saturday’s All Sweat event, beer from Bent River Brewing Company and burgers and hot dogs by Rock Island Parks Department will be available for sale. Admission is $10, with tickets available at Eventbrite.com.