QuadCities.com Top Stories Of 2020: Part Five. July And AugustAnd on into the summer…

We’re looking back at the year that was in arts and entertainment, 2020. Every day between now and New Year’s Eve, Dec. 31, we’ll be posting a story painting the big picture on the year, a couple months each day.

We hope you enjoy the look back, and let’s all hope for a happy new year and a much, much, much, much better 2021!

Here’s the latest installment, part five, months July and August.

Iowa and Illinois were both opened up to the public in a limited capacity, and many venues opened to the public — some with social distancing restrictions, some not so much.

The protests that had rocked the country during late May and June continued, but had subsided in intensity by July and August.

There was talk of a second stimulus package, and, fools that we were, we actually believed the politicians cared enough to get something passed for regular people — at least during this time in July and August. What fools we were! Ha!

But, none of us are Miss Cleo. Unless one of you out there reading this is Miss Cleo. In which case, please send me next week’s lottery numbers! My email is Sean@QuadCities.com.

Anyhow, the summer was probably (aside from January and February) the most “normal” time during this very abnormal year, as you’ll see here in our rundown.

For previous installments, check out our stories every day going back to Sunday.

And here’s today’s recap:

QuadCities.com Top Stories Of 2020: Part Five. July And August

Bix Beiderbecke was born in 1903 in Davenport and is buried at Oakdale Memorial Gardens.


Joining the cavalcade of Quad-Cities cultural offerings impacted by Covid-19, the 49th-annual Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Jazz Festival in Davenport also is moving online this year, July 31 and Aug. 1. It had been scheduled for the Rhythm City Casino Event Center in Davenport, but bands this time will record videos that can be seen for free, said Steve Trainor, Bix Society board president. “I think the majority of the board of directors of the Bix Jazz Society had felt, almost from the beginning that this was not going to be your typical year,” he said.

Davenport is ranked 29 out of 100 small cities in the latest America’s Best Small Cities Report. The top five small cities as ranked by the consulting firm Resonance were Reno, Nev.; Naples, Fla.; Santa Fe, N.M., Savannah, Ga., and Asheville, N.C..

With social distancing and safety measures in place, the 2020 Quad City Arts’ Metro Arts Youth Apprenticeship Program was still able to move forward, providing thirty area youth, ages 15-21, with five-week paid summer apprenticeships. These apprentices create arts projects that positively impact our community: a mural in Moline, Improv Comedy, and a mural in Rock Island. These projects were made possible through support from the City of Rock Island, Friendship Manor, Modern Woodman of America, The Moline Foundation, and Renew Moline.

The Quad Cities has a new remedy for all that ails them, as Dr. San Guinary brings his Creature Feature T.V. program to the Saturday night airwaves at 11 p.m. starting on July 4th on COZI 6.3. The one-hour program, hosted by Doc and his cast of cutie nurses and wacky characters, QuadCities.com Top Stories Of 2020: Part Five. July And Augustshowcases a wide variety of horror and science fiction schlock classics, as well as locally produced material and shorts from around the globe.

Rock Island-based Quad City Arts was the only organization in the immediate Q-C to earn funding Wednesday from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act grant. Like most of the 855 organizations funded nationwide, the regional nonprofit will get $50,000, on top of a previously approved $30,000 NEA grant last month that was unrelated to Covid-19 relief.

Creating art is typically a solitary activity. For Black Hawk College students this spring, it was more isolating than usual, as they worked together – while physically apart – to produce a 36-page art magazine. ArtFusion magazine is produced every other year by and for BHC visual communications students. It features essays, digital drawing, photography, painting and other student works. When the college’s Art 248 – Production and Prepress class (about 14 students) went completely online in mid-March – because of Covid-19 — creating the collaborative, full-color publication became their focus.

Various events were postponed and canceled, including the River Bandits’ season, Circa ’21’s summer production, Playcrafters’ season, Midwest Monster Fest, Richmond Hill Barn Theater, Countryside Community Theater, and more.

The local arts scene took a huge blow this spring when Covid-19 shut down the entertainment industry. But it takes a lot more than a pandemic to get Quad-Cities artists down and out. And it takes even more to get the big idea makers to stop dreaming. Enter Royce Barnett, Mr. Crunk Chocolate. Barnett, a Quad City resident and popular voice on social media and podcast platforms, where he often posts under the name Crunk Chocolate, has launched Quad-Cities Repping, a one stop shop Spotify playlist of Q-C artists. “The Ultimate Goal is to have The

QuadCities.com Top Stories Of 2020: Part Five. July And August

Sherry Ristau is president/CEO of the Quad Cities Community Foundation.

most complete Q-C Anthology of our local artists,” he said.

The Quad Cities Community Foundation has awarded nearly $110,000 to 10 Quad Cities nonprofits to strengthen their ability to do their work. The Community Foundation’s Nonprofit Capacity Building Grants provide funding to local organizations for staff training, board development, strategic planning, technology and more to help them carry out their missions. The grants are awarded during a critical juncture for nonprofits in the Quad Cities as the community continues response and recovery efforts due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tammy and Kelly Rundle of Fourth Wall Films have a pair of honors to celebrate. The duo of area filmmakers found out their feature, “Sons and Daughters of Thunder,” was an official selection of the 2020 Iowa Independent Film Festival, and they found out their film “Good Earth: Awakening the Silent City” was accepted to the 2020 Denali Film Festival in Denali, Alaska.

Billy Bob’s Country Bar closes in downtown Rock Island. The club may reopen in a different location next year after covid, owners said.

QuadCities.com Top Stories Of 2020: Part Five. July And AugustTwo fairs — Mississippi Valley Fair and Rock Island County Fair — are canceled, as is the Alternating Currents Fest, and a number of other events.

Goth rock band Pitch Black Manor returns with their first record in 25 years.

Festival of Trees announces the cancellation of their festival and parade. The Bix 7 goes virtual.

Lynne Stukart of LeClaire can’t sing the praises of a staggeringly huge virtual choir loudly enough. But that makes sense, since for Eric Whitacre’s Virtual Choir 6 – with 17,562 singers from 129 nations – they literally were told to “Sing Gently.” At a time when we could all use some peace, togetherness and harmony, Stukart, a veteran flute teacher, was thrilled to be part of the online musical project.

Bix Beiderbecke Jazz Festival goes virtual with a variety of performances.

QuadCities.com debuts two new features — Pupper of the Week, and It’s Caturday — showcasing local pets. It also begins the Month In Events feature.

The Western Illinois University Singers have been named the Third Place National Winners of The American Prize in Choral Performance (College/University Division), a year-long national performing arts competition.


To celebrate the Figge Art Museum’s 15th anniversary on Aug. 6, the museum at 225 W. 2nd St., Davenport, will have 15 days of virtual events from Aug. 6 to 21 including performances, classes, behind-the-scenes tours, artist demonstrations and more. Museum admission will

QuadCities.com Top Stories Of 2020: Part Five. July And August

“Sons & Daughters of Thunder” won several awards in August from the Iowa Motion Picture Association.

be free during this period.

It was a THUNDEROUS night at the Iowa Motion Picture Awards, as Kelly and Tammy Rundle’s film, “Sons And Daughters of Thunder” took seven big wins out of eight nominations!

In the light of the pandemic and civil unrest, six local actresses have banded together to try and bring some much needed relief to the crippled theater community and gain momentum for the change our world needs. Chelsea Ward and Victoria House, through an agreement with the production staff of the Broadway run of ‘Six’* and, a partnership with the Black Box Theater** have assembled a rock star cast for a one night only, virtual performance of the smash new musical! The show currently will be streamed live on Facebook on August 1st, 2020 with a virtual donation jar.

Black Hawk College will launch its new women’s soccer program with a familiar face. Abbie Metz, a Black Hawk College grad, has been tapped to lead the team that will begin competing in Fall 2021. On Aug. 1, she will become the Braves’ first-ever women’s soccer head coach. “I look forward to working with her on building the program from the ground up,” said Arnie Chavera, interim athletic director. Metz currently is the academy director and head coach for PLD Sports – Sporting Iowa East at the TBK Bank Sports Complex in Bettendorf.

Along with the usual characters like Thomas the Train Engine, Elmo and Blue, you might see some familiar faces on PBS Kids. Local PBS station WQPT has debuted a new commercial playing between shows (technically called an interstitial) featuring a number of Quad-Cities kids doing a variety of activities during the past few weeks of coronavirus quarantine. “The idea for the spot came watching my neighbors’ sons riding their bikes on our frontage road,” said Lora Adams of WQPT. “They’re the only kids around and I saw them making their own fun

QuadCities.com Top Stories Of 2020: Part Five. July And August

Hemesath in 2015 with Telly Monster and his Irene Sharaff award.

as they played on their own.”

The Western Illinois University Singers have been named the Third Place National Winners of The American Prize in Choral Performance (College/University Division), a year-long national performing arts competition. Choirs of all types and levels, elementary to professional, from around the United States, submitted recordings in late April 2019.

Though he’s been unemployed for months, like millions of Americans, due to Covid-19, St. Ambrose University alum Brian Hemesath got good news late last month. For the third time out of eight nominations, the 48-year-old Iowa native won a Daytime Emmy Award for his costume design work on “Sesame Street.” Hemesath – who earned his bachelor’s in theater and art in 1994 from SAU – was among a team of 21 designers to tie for the award.

As bars and restaurants have been back open in the Quad-Cities, the two major movie multiplexes in the area plan to reopen this month, both with new health and safety restrictions. Cinemark, at 3601 E. 53rd St., Davenport, will open Aug. 14, and Regal, at 4100 38th St., Moline, will be back and running Aug. 21. Cinemark is doing a phased reopening nationwide – 16 theaters are now open, with 43 more on the 14th and the rest by Aug. 31 – and Regal is reopening all its U.S. locations on the same day.

The Black Box Theatre once again presents a 1940’s style radio play with “The 39 Steps: A Live Radio Play” by Joe Landry. The show is scheduled for August 20 to 30.

Mississippi Bend Players is proud to present a virtual reading of Sarah Ruhl’s play, For Peter Pan on Her 70th Birthday Aug 14. Filled with Quad Cities references and memories of the past, Ruhl lovingly wrote the piece which explores life, death and the allure of never growing up for her mother, Kathleen Kehoe Ruhl.

QuadCities.com Top Stories Of 2020: Part Five. July And August

Devin Brooks

For the second time in two years, Western Illinois University senior broadcasting major Devin Brooks has been one of five national winners awarded the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (NATAS) Mid-America EMMY Foundation Walter Cronkite Scholarship. Brooks, of St. Louis, MO, is a student anchor, reporter, executive producer and web producer for NEWS3, the student-produced newscast in the WIU Department of Broadcasting and Journalism.

As the Quad-Cities and nationwide Hispanic population has exploded since 2000, Hola America News this month is celebrating 20 years as the area’s influential bilingual newspaper and a positive force for information, cultural pride and public service throughout the region.

Rock Island-based Royal Neighbors of America is celebrating its 125th anniversary and the centennial of women’s suffrage in the U.S. The anniversary of the 19th Amendment’s passage is on Tuesday, Aug. 18, while Women’s Equality Day, Wednesday, Aug. 26, represents the date when the amendment was officially signed. Royal Neighbors also is proud of the fact it was among the first women-led insurers that supported suffrage when it was founded in 1895, 25 years before the women’s right to vote was ratified.

Anthony Natarelli’s $1 Producer Project produces a small-scale virtual production of the drama “Lonely Planet.”

Bad Boyz Pizza on Utica Ridge is forced to shut their doors. Various other area businesses likewise succumb to the economic difficulties of covid.

QuadCities.com Top Stories Of 2020: Part Five. July And August

Lissie is a 37-year-old Rock Island native who’s found fame around the world.

Music certainly has the power to comfort and unify people, as exemplified in a new video by Rock Island native Lissie Maurus, who encouraged her fans to submit short videos from their recent life in quarantine. The five-minute compilation – set to her soulful 2018 song “Peace” – was released Aug. 11, and Lissie did a CNN International interview on the project from her family’s Rock Island home on Aug. 15. “Needless to say, these have been very disorienting, painful, reflective times,” the 37-year-old singer/songwriter posted on Facebook on Aug. 12.

The professional dance company Ballet Quad Cities is starting its new season outdoors with two performances at Davenport’s Outing Club on Sunday. Aug. 30.

In the meantime, Circa ’21 announces its 44th season set for 2021 and gets set to re-open their main stage shows on Sept. 9.

Unimpaired, a new non-alcoholic bar and club, opens in downtown Davenport.

Which was great for summer, which was maybe better than expected, but once fall started up again and things began to go south once more with covid, most people were searching for something a little bit stronger to drink…

We’ll continue our look at the year in arts and entertainment tomorrow morning, with a look at September and October, and round things off tomorrow night, on New Year’s Eve, with our final piece of this puzzle, a look at November and December.

QuadCities.com Top Stories Of 2020: Part Five. July And August
Sean Leary is an author, director, artist, musician, producer and entrepreneur who has been writing professionally since debuting at age 11 in the pages of the Comics Buyers Guide. An honors graduate of the University of Southern California masters program, he has written over 50 books including the best-sellers The Arimathean, Every Number is Lucky to Someone and We Are All Characters.
QuadCities.com Top Stories Of 2020: Part Five. July And August

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