One Hundred Twenty - Roberta's Blog

One hundred twenty.
That’s a nice round number, isn’t it? It is the number of bands I photographed locally between June 1, 2016 and August 30, 2016. Locally… that includes the local bands at Dawn and On, Blues Fest, River Roots Live, and Bix Street Fest. It doesn’t include any bands from Codfish Hollow (although I consider that a Quad Cities venue – we’ll claim Maquoketa, right?) or Hinterland Festival in Des Moines. I haven’t looked at a total number for the summer. My interest in putting together a number was local bands and venues…

Now that could be off. I counted the folders on my external drive. Each has the date and name of band as the folder name. I’ve been known to accidentally drop a folder inside another. But 120 is a good round number, I’ll take that.

Here’s the why. Why am I interested in this number? Well, I shot a lot of festivals this year, and spent a lot of time out at the barn. I started thinking over the last few days that maybe I had slighted our local music scene a little. After all, I’m known for supporting the local music scene. And I’ve been busy with things outside of music… a few non-music photo shoots came my way as well as spending a lot of time with my new job and some personal hurdles. So I was curious.

It seems that every week that I had something big going on elsewhere, I went out of my way to capture a few local goings-on as well. And things like Blues Fest and River Roots Live became even more important to me because we had local bands involved. Street Fest this year had me running between seven stages. My pedometer LOVED that!

This was originally intended to be a “How I spent my summer” post. And it still is, sort of. I just needed to get it right in my mind that I did not enjoy some of my biggest and best moments at the cost of providing less for our local music scene. I’ve been thinking of writing this blog post for a while, but wondered if I should even talk about what I did outside of the QC scene.

So, how else did I spend my summer? Music Festivals! If you include the one-day fests AND include September in the count, I attended 9 music festivals. NINE! Many of them were right here IN the QC. Sadly, I couldn’t get to them all.

My first fest of the year was a new folk music festival in Conesville called Two Rivers Festival. It was small – but showed great potential. Many of the artists were from Iowa. There was talk of including some touring artists from outside the region if they do it again. I’m hoping they’ll continue the fest next year. The music there was outstanding!

The Mississippi Valley Blues Festival rose like a phoenix from the ashes of its former glory. We saw a record number of QC area musicians step up and offer to play on the Local Scene stage in the beer tent. Some of the best performances of that weekend happened on that Local stage. I’m looking forward to next year, and watching this festival continue to grow, and hoping it continues to showcase local blues bands.

Camp Euforia continues to showcase QC area bands, and continues to be a laid-back event with and awesome vibe and great music.

The Dawn and On Festival continues to grow. This year, they added regional touring acts, and still managed to keep the price low. With a majority of local bands, this single-day festival is becoming one of my annual favorites.

I read back in April that Hinterland Music Festival in the Des Moines area at Saint Charles, IA, was in the top ten list of small festivals. Not bad for its second year. I decided I wanted to check it out. Besides, one of my all-time favorites, Grace Potter, was going to be there. There were some great Iowa musicians there as well. Interestingly, the highlight of that weekend was Willie Nelson. I never imagined I would feel that way, as I liked Willie’s music ok, but I wasn’t a follower. There’s something to be said for getting up close and seeing people through the lens of a camera. So among the opportunities to shoot hundreds of musicians, Willie Nelson was the high point of my summer.

River Roots Live was a tremendous event this year. And I’m not just saying that because the Zealots were involved. What I saw was 2 days of great music on all stages. The local musicians involved stepped up to the plate. The touring musicians were everything I had hoped for and more. My only disappointment was that more people didn’t come earlier in the day on Saturday to see the fantastic acts that played during daylight hours.

East Fest: The second year for this festival saw a big increase in attendance. The folks at Brew in the Village put this together (with a little help from Sean Moeller), and it is growing into a nice little one-day festival. This year’s event featured a good mix of artists, with home-grown artist Lissie headlining.

My final fest of the year was also a first-year festival. Codfish Hollow took the leap this year, and with Sean Moeller’s assistance, booked their first two-day festival, GARP. This had already been a banner year for Codfish Hollow, with more shows on the books than before, and more than half of those shows selling out. Although GARP did not sell out, it was well attended and showed that Tiffany and Shawn Biehl and their group of loyal volunteers can indeed host a successful festival without losing the feel and heart of Codfish Hollow. Even though this year’s season isn’t quite over, I’m already looking forward to what next year will bring out there.

This was just a glimpse into the summer of our vibrant music scene. There was so much more, that I couldn't begin to put it all into a blog post. If anyone tells you there is nothing happening here, you know better. I know I do!