Navigating Alternating Currents

I set out this weekend to “create my own adventure” at Davenport’s Alternating Currents Festival. Of course my time was limited, but I still managed to get to venues and see both local and touring bands, as well as take in some art exhibits.
My first stop Friday was for an early dinner at Me & Billy. I had managed to work through lunch and was ready to grab a bite. Dinner was accompanied by the soothing sounds of the Ron Tegeler Jazz (Quartet). (Photo 1)
From Me & Billy I took off and headed towards Bucktown. 2nd Street was alive with art as the OMG Beckyfest and Chalk art were happening in the same block as Bucktown. The chalk artists spread all the way to Great River Brewery, lining the street with amazing works. (Photo 2)

My target destination was the Bucktown Final Friday event, and the artist reception for the Tribute to the Summer of Love exhibit. Alan Campbell filled the gallery with peace signs, guitars, rainbows, tie-dye and love (and a few soldiers). The exhibit runs until the end of September, when there will be another closing reception. (Photo 3)

I spent the rest of the evening at the Redstone Room. BEES is a local group – with some of the finest female vocalists I’ve had the pleasure of hearing. If you haven’t caught them yet, you might want to check them out. You won’t be sorry. Each of the three women has the strength to solo, and has successfully, yet their harmonies lead the listener to believe they have been together forever. (photo 4)

The next artist up at the Redstone was the very powerful Chastity Brown. The songwriter, originally from Tennessee now calls Minneapolis home. There she often performs with a large band. Here, she has performed solo once, once with another guitarist, and this time, with a drummer. Although I would love to see her with her full band, she has the power to perform solo. She’ll draw your deepest emotions to the surface every time. In this performance, the drums added another dimension that hinted at what more she could do. (photo 5)

After a short break, Mutts took the stage and rocked it properly. These guys were fun and rowdy. (photo 6)

The final artist for the night at the Redstone was Calliope Musical. This band was oh, so much more than a band. With their light show and stage set, they are clearly in a class of their own. The music was fun, the musicians even more fun. The dance floor at the RME was packed. (photo 7)

Saturday I got off to a late start and arrived downtown after 4 PM. A quick stop at Barrel House for dinner allowed me the opportunity to catch Chrash. If you equate festivals with outdoor music, then this fest had that too – Chrash was playing on the patio at Barrel House, and a good-sized crowd gathered in the street. (photo 8)

My evening was just getting started. Next was the Triple Crown Whiskey Bar & Raccoon Motel – and Adriel Denae. Adriel normally performs with Cory Chisel – and did later in the evening. But she played a set of her own music first. I first heard her crystal clear voice at Codfish Hollow Barn in 2013, when she was joined by Norah Jones (as well as Cory and so many more musicians). It was good to hear her again, and the very intimate room at the Raccoon Motel was the perfect showcase for her music. Although she says her songs all seem to be sad, they resonate with a little hope as well. I’m looking forward to her new album. (photo 9)

I skipped Cory Chisel’s set (gasp!) for a run to the Daytrotter Venue, where I was fortunate to catch the end of William Z Villain’s set. He has played locally before but this was my first time to hear the solo artist. He created a band out of the air around him using looping devices. And finished his set dramatically by walking away as the loops ran on. I hope to hear more of his work. (photo 10)

My arrival at Daytrotter was timed for local favorites Sister Wife. I love their music and style, and was thrilled to hear they are heading out for a west coast tour that will last about a month. (photo 11)

I was joined by Jay Allison and Jackie Darin at Daytrotter. After Sister Wife, we wandered down to Me & Billy for a drink, in hopes of catching some comedy, but our timing was off. We did bump into Cory Chisel and Adriel Denae at the bar there, so it wasn’t a total loss. They’re super nice folks and easy to chat with.

We didn’t dawdle long there though, and made our way to the Current Hotel. The Up bar on the rooftop was hosting music as well, and we wanted to check out the view too. We settled on some comfy chairs and visited while we waited for Esme Alexis to begin her set. If you haven’t been to the Up bar, it is worth a visit. The views really are amazing. Esme’s voice is solid and smooth as silk, and her original music is worth more than just a quick listen (photo 12)

From the Up bar, our little group headed to the far eastern edge of the festival area, where The Dawn’s stage lights already beckoned from the top of Great River Brewery. A large crowd had gathered in the street in front of the brewery to watch and listen as the Dawn put their own spin on some classic tunes, as well as playing a few of their own. (photo 13)

My last stop for the night was back at Daytrotter. We arrived just as The Smoking Popes were preparing to start. The longtime Chicago favorite packed a good crowd into Daytrotter and definitely did not disappoint them. Their set was off the charts and high energy. I was really glad I stayed a little longer to catch them. (photo 14)

And so my adventure ended. There was so much more that I didn’t see… comedy, movies… I would say Alternating Currents was a total hit. I hope to be involved in some way next year. Oh, and thanks to the folks who put it all together. Do me a favor? Can we get the food trucks involved as well? Food on the go near the venues that didn’t serve food would be awesome! (only 20 people told me that this weekend.) And thanks to Jay and Jackie for hanging with me Saturday. Watch the Local Scene Facebook page for more photos from the event.