The music scene in the Quad Cities has its own special character. Situated along the Mississippi in downtown Davenport, the River Music Experience (RME) is a one-of-a-kind center celebrating the people, places, styles and movement of America’s music through live music performances and programs that nurture, educate and inspire musicians and music appreciators. The Redstone Room at the RME features national and regional acts three nights a week while programs such as Rock Camp, Songwriters in the Round and Open Mic contests incubate and develop aspiring musicians.
For Blues lovers, the Mississippi Valley Blues Society holds an annual festival each July that some critics say is one of the finest in the country. Held in picturesque LeClaire Park on the banks of the Mississippi River in Davenport, Blues Fest has a decidedly down home and non-commercial feel that lets fest-goers sit back, relax and enjoy an incredible lineup of blues talent. The list of past and present Fest performers reads like a virtual who’s who of the Blues. Many featured performers have received Blues Music Award nominations and awards; others have received Grammy Awards. The Blues Society also has a variety of educational programs throughout the year such as Blues in the Schools and the Iowa Blues Challenge.
Famous musicians from the Quad Cities include country singer Suzy Boggus, drummer Louis Bellson, and opera star Dame Margherita Roberti. Without a doubt, the greatest musician to hail from the area is Bix Biederbecke. Beiderbecke was born in 1903 in Davenport to a middle-class family of German origin. As a teen, he would sneak off to the banks of the Mississippi to listen to the bands play on the riverboats that would come up from the south. Known to locals simply as “Bix,” he became one of the top cornetists of the Roaring Twenties and played the music scenes in Chicago, Detroit and New York City with an improvisational style that literally changed the course of jazz horn playing. In fragile health since his youth, he died at age 28. His memory lives on through the Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Society, which hosts some of the top jazz bands in the nation each July for BixFest in LeClaire Park.
The Quad City Symphony and Opera Quad Cities delight audiences with their performances. From Dracula to Rigoletto to classics from Cole Porter and Irving Berlin, Opera Quad Cities offers opera with a contemporary twist. The symphony, now in it 93rd season, promises music experiences that will captivate, excite, sooth, and inspire. Performances not only feature guest conductors, but also timeless favorites, engaging guest soloists and the incomparable sound of a full live symphony orchestra. The annual Symphony Pops concert on the river is one of the region’s most well-attended events.