Let's take stock of some recent firsts for Daytrotter. 

Last month, the concert venue in downtown Davenport hosted its first-ever "jam band" show featuring The Dawn covering Led Zeppelin. Next week, a monthly comedy special will kick off there. It's also becoming company policy to add local acts to the lineup. 

Following the August exit of Daytrotter founder Sean Moeller, things are shaking up for the 10-year-old company that records live sessions of bands for online listening and hosts a steady stream of concerts. 

The face behind many of these firsts is Ben Crabb, who took over the "intimidating" role of Daytrotter's booking manager about a week after Moeller stepped away. 

"It was very spontaneous and out of nowhere," Crabb said. "It's the dream job I never thought would even be available." 

Now, a few months in, Crabb and the remaining staff are "all in" on keeping Daytrotter alive. 

"Daytrotter wasn't broken the way it was; it's amazing," Crabb said. "Having Sean leave left us in a position to figure out how we want to proceed. The things we're doing have been born out of a team effort. We talk about everything."

More variety, the better 

Crabb is quick to say that there's not one boss in Daytrotter's downtown office — it's run by a team of five people. That includes production manager Andrew Barkau, who joined the company in February. 

He said Moeller's exit served as a "catalyst" to rethink Daytrotter's live shows. 

"Daytrotter as a website with sessions from touring bands is a huge aspect of who we are, but it's not fully applicable to the Quad-Cities," Barkau said. "The venue is the indisputable local influence."

He wants to rethink how the space on Brady Street, which opened its doors in February, fits in the local music scene. 

"To me, the way we were doing shows didn't seem like it was working that well," he said. "We did some great shows, but sometimes you've got three bands on the bill and nobody's there because their homies aren't playing." 

That's why, Crabb and Barkau are making an effort to promote Quad-City bands, from a mix of genres.  

They'll apply that mindset to the second annual Daytrotter Downs music festival, which is set for March 3-4 at the Redstone Room and Daytrotter venue. A lineup announcement will be released in mid-December, Crabb said. 

"Not everyone wants one kind of music," Crabb said. "I think the more variety we have and the more people we can get to experience Daytrotter, the better." 

More than music

The Daytrotter team's ideal of variety goes beyond live music.

Take, for example, "The After Hour," a monthly comedy special the venue is launching Thursday, Nov. 17. 

Think of it as "The Tonight Show" for the Quad-Cities.

"It's something we're all familiar with," Crabb said. "We all fall asleep watching these shows ... why not try it?" 

It's hosted by Quad-City native and stand-up comedian Andrew King, who previously hosted a version of the show, which features a monologue, special guest and live music, at The Speakeasy in Rock Island. He said the show's "cult following" wasn't enough to keep it going.

"It's like a network talk show, but we get to curse and talk about the Quad-Cities," King said. "I talk about observations from my life, and you embellish some of it." 

King says "The After Hour" will add "something different" to Davenport's Third Thursday activity. 

"It's always been an under-appreciated art form, but we're trying to get comedy here," he said. "There should be options other than live music." 

"Hopefully this will bring in a new batch of people in our doors," Barkau said. "The downtown Davenport corridor has obviously blown up and we want to keep it evolving." 

At this point, there's not much they'll rule out. 

"If an idea comes in and we're excited about it, we'll probably try it," Crabb said. "Who knows?"

'Let's make the most of it'

Crabb, a self-described champion of local music, has been dreaming about a job like this for 20 years. 

He has played music in rock bands, worked at a radio station and a record store and booked shows along the way. 

"I've had my hand in a lot of the things I'm doing here," he said. "Except now, I have one of the coolest companies backing me up." 

"Everyday you learn something and you put more tools in your toolbox," he added. "I'm happy with what I've done and what we have planned."

Part of that plan, according to Crabb, 36, who lives in Donahue, is to make the Quad-Cities more well known. 

"I want to be part of stoking the fire and bringing more attention to the Quad-Cities as this cool music town," he said. "I want to get that point across that we're as unique as any of the other music towns out there. Right now, you still have to point it out on a map."

Crabb says that's been the goal since the website went live in 2006. 

"We're not abandoning what Daytrotter has been; it's not that kind of new Daytrotter," he said. "It's new in the way that there's new management and we all have different ways of looking at entertainment and this next chapter." 

Taking part in that next chapter is something Crabb takes "extremely seriously."

"I'm still shocked to be a part of it," he said. "I get more excited every week and I think, 'Let's make the most of it." 


Amanda Hancock is a reporter covering food, arts and entertainment in the Quad-Cities (and beyond).