Lojo Russo has found it a challenge to maintain her gig schedule just as though the economy was doing fine.
She’s found herself traveling to Ohio, Missouri and northeast Iowa in search of paying jobs and has gone back to the coffeehouses and farmers markets she had gotten away from playing.
But Russo said she is still in the happy place where she found herself when she released her third solo album, “little white box,” during October.
“You have your ups and downs, but keeping the positive attitude, I think, has really helped if the word is ‘Sell me’ to some of these new places, these new venues,” she said. “When talking to an owner or a booking agent, I think they can tell that this is somebody who is vivacious, who is enjoying life, who will get up on stage with a smile on her face and really entertain an audience.”
Russo will bring her positive attitude to Lunchtime on the Plaza this Friday in The District of Rock Island. The concert series will feature live music over the lunch hour most Fridays this summer. In addition to boosting business for the downtown restaurants, the effort is aimed at giving workers a break from the daily grind.
“One thing about the lunchtime crowd is, one, they really want to get away from work,” she said. “To not have to think about: ‘What’s on my desk, what’s coming on my computer, I’ve got to get back to that e-mail and phone call.’ Hopefully I can take their mind off it for an hour-and-a-half and just let them enjoy themselves.”
A couple hundred people attended the first Lunchtime in the Plaza concert last week, estimated Carl McClaskey, special events coordinator for The District. McClaskey was especially excited to see many people arriving at restaurants in groups.
“The restaurants were definitely busy, people were milling around and stuff like that, and that’s what we wanted,” he said. “It’s just kind of nice to chill out, decompress and forget about work for a while, at least for an hour, and just kind of go relax with your friends.”
McClaskey said that as money gets tight, it’s important to take advantage of leisure activities right here in the Quad-Cities.
“The new (Rock Island riverfront) park is being developed, the boat (Jumer’s Casino Rock Island) is gone, the Armory is gone, you can see the progress,” he said. “There’s a lot of things right here in our own back yard that we can actually take advantage of and not have to spend an excessive amount of money to be entertained.”