Let's talk about the local band — you know, the groups of people, young or old, who rush home from office jobs to plug in their amps. They scribble down song lyrics during lunch breaks, practice at odd hours when the kids are away and will play a concert just about anywhere.
This is the local band, and the Quad-Cities is full of their locally made sounds.
They're not selling out 9,000-seat arenas, but they sing about the view of the Mississippi River and their high school mascot, and they'll meet you for a beer after the show.
Every weekend on stages around the Quad-Cities, there's a slew of music being played by people who call the same neighborhood home.
"There's just something about that," said Sean Chapman, who plays in a band called Subatlantic. "There's something about letting a local community create its own form of art and knowing the person on stage, you really get at the soul of the Quad-Cities."
So, who exactly is behind these groups? And why do they spend their spare moments making music that may never make it on the radio?
Read on for a spotlight on these Quad-City bands. And because this selection of bands only scratches the surface of the Q-C music scene, check back in the Quad-City Times, and on qctimes.com, in the upcoming months for future spotlights like this.
Every so often, Adam Kaul will be on stage and notice an extra-perplexed look on someone's face in the crowd. Sometimes, they wave or point up at Kaul, while he's playing the guitar. In one way or another, the realization hits them: "Whoa, my teacher is in a band."
Kaul, who is a professor at Augustana College, is one-fourth of Subatlantic, which is made up of similar full-time workers who keep their passion for music-making going on the side.
"We wish we didn't have full-time jobs," Rebecca Rice, Kaul's wife and the band's lead singer, said. She manages the bookstore at Muscatine Community College. "That would be really nice, but you know, we're still going to play."
They don't mind the weird looks from acquaintances in the audience; that's part of the double life of being in a local band.
Subatlantic got together in 2009, and their sound continues to evolve.
"We're an indie band, because we don't know what else to call it," Chapman said. "We're not doing pop songs, and we're not doing love songs, so we have this other thing going."
This electronic indie rock band has been around since 2009 and features vocals and arrangements by Jon Burns, a Quad-City native, along with some of his friends. You'll see some stop-motion animation in his music videos and notice his intense attention to detail in the synths and electronic beats. He describes his fourth and latest album, "Lean on Me" as "electronic pop dance music."
What's the point of playing music with a small-ish following?
"For a lot of musicians, they feel like it's a part of who they are as a human being and that it's at least part of what their purpose is in life," he said. "I know I feel that way."
Burns, who records at Sound and Vision Studio in Moline, said the Quad-City music scene is becoming more accommodating for these music-breathing people.
"As long as I've been catching local bands play around here, there has always been a very high caliber of bands and songwriters," he said. "People really know their stuff around here."
Dirt Road Rockers
Do you like Jason Aldean, Florida Georgia Line and Eric Church? You might like the Dirt Road Rockers. This Bettendorf-based band brings new and classic country tunes, plus some ’90s rock, to town. They've toured around the Midwest and beyond and found a recent Quad-City home at Red Rodeo in Rock Island. Started in 2011 by lead singer Wyatt Heyvaert, these shows are high-energy and best with a side of line-dancing. You can see the group at Red Rodeo, 1722 2nd Ave., Rock Island, on May 20 at midnight for a country music after-party.
Matt Ajishegiri and Sam Carothers, both currently living in Rock Island, got together less than a year ago to form Sister Wife, and they're already making a splash. Ajishegiri plays the drums, and Carothers sings and slings the guitar. Together, they've played at Daytrotter, the Redstone Room and Rozz-Tox, and they're still getting used to playing in front of crowds at all — they're in the middle of working on their E.P. File their sound under funk, indie folk with a hint of pop.
The night before Daytrotter Downs, the first-ever music fest of its kind, was set to begin, Xavy Rusan saw Sean Moeller, Daytrotter founder, at a bar. The rapper gave himself a pep talk and went over to talk to Moeller. The next day, Rusan performed his raps, without any instruments backing him up, in front of a small crowd at the Daytrotter venue in downtown Davenport. For him, it was the spark of self-confidence he needed.
"It's hard when you think you're good enough to be on MTV, but you don't know how to get there," he said. "I want to be big, because I feel like I have something to say. But I know that will take a while."