Traffic-enforcement cameras have been a common sight in Davenport for 13 years, but now the city is using new cameras for a different purpose: to help prevent and solve violent and property crimes.

Davenport in the past month has begun a pilot project with 18 cameras at four intersections on Washington Street south of Locust Street. The city purchased the cameras for nearly $54,000 as part of a larger neighborhood-revitalization program that also includes street and sidewalk improvements.

The idea is to see to what extent the cameras prevent crime, and how much they assist police in solving crimes that do occur.

But police surveillance cameras, in general, are not particularly good at deterring crime. They can be effective in certain circumstances, but not in the way Davenport is using them.

It was a sign of the times when the Downtown Davenport Partnership announced last month that it would replace the River Roots Live outdoor music festival – after a 12-year run – with a multi-venue indoor festival called Alternating Currents.

Consider what’s happened over the past two years. The Mississippi Valley Blues Festival was canceled in 2015 because of financial difficulties at its parent organization. The motorcycle-themed Rally on the River, a fixture on the riverfront for more than two decades, didn’t return in 2016.

All of these things reflect a simple reality: Outdoor festivals are expensive to put on, period, and the cost is much higher with headliner acts to drive attendance. Such events represent a serious financial gamble: Just the chance of rain on one day can depress turnout enough to put a festival in the red, and Mississippi River flooding can force an expensive change of venue.

But let’s not mourn River Roots Live too much. If its death underlines the inherent risk of outdoor musical festivals, its replacement shows just how vibrant the Quad Cities music scene has become.

Glancing at the song titles for Lewis Knudsen’s upcoming release Philip, you can see a thread of religion: opener “All My Sins,” “Heaven on Earth” in the middle, and closer “Jesus & Mary.”

That last one, a gentle piano ballad, carries the most weight with its position and unmistakable Christian icons. Except ... it’s not Jesus’ mother that the title references. And, in a clever twist, the song makes no mention of God, stripping the stories down to human characters and relationships.

Singing with equal parts ache and love, the Quad Cities-based Knudsen describes partners in biblical terms: “Well it feels like you’re Adam / and it feels like I’m Eve. / I eat forbidden fruit / and you jump in after me.” And: “Well it feels like you’re Jesus / and I’m Mary Magdalene. / You’re the level-headed one, / I’m the one who makes a scene. / You love everybody, / I always charge a fee.”

There’s a lot to unpack from this simple song, and it’s a good summary of Knudsen’s songwriting strengths and the album overall. He’s full of surprises, and he takes many songs to interesting places a listener couldn’t possibly expect.

If you want to know the secret of Sister Wife’s Trap House, you probably shouldn’t ask the Quad Cities-based duo of guitarist/vocalist Samuel Carothers and drummer Matthew Ashegiri. They work largely by instinct, and on this album those instincts are – far more often than not – startlingly spot-on.

Not yet two years old, the band has worked with producers – on a single for Milwaukee’s Honeytone Records and an EP – but chose to go it alone for Trap House, the debut album Carothers and Ashegiri self-released last week.

The pendulum swung swiftly.

House File 291 was introduced in the Iowa legislature on February 9, was passed by the House and Senate on February 16, and was signed by Governor Terry Branstad the next day.

Despite that speed, this was not some emergency measure. Instead, it was part of a pent-up agenda being unleashed, as Republicans enjoyed – really enjoyed – their first unified control of the legislative and executive branches of state government since 1998.

There’s a seemingly obvious reason Doyle Bramhall II was pretty much out of the spotlight between the releases of his 2001 album Welcome and last year’s gorgeously mature and textured Rich Man: The dude’s been busy.

As you might guess, the real story’s a bit more complicated – and interesting.

If you visit the Figge Art Museum to see Jefferson Pinder’s exhibit Ghost Light (see our review here), the artist will be satisfied if you leave enlightened. Or thoughtful. Or angry. Or confused.

He’ll also be okay if you see the neon sign reading “Colored Entranced” and choose not to enter the gallery.

When I met last week with the people now running Daytrotter, Ben Crabb – who books the recording sessions for the 11-year-old Quad Cities-based Web site – let this nugget drop: “I just booked George Winston in for a session.”

Yes, that George Winston, the artist best known for platinum-selling, seasonally titled solo-piano records from the early 1980s on the Windham Hill label. For a site that always prided itself on highlighting the new and the next, the pianist seems an odd choice.

Mocking the Oscars – or any made-for-TV awards spectacle with the fool’s errand of crowning the “best” in the arts – is a time-honored tradition. Sometimes it’s even important, as with last year’s backlash against the whiteness of that Academy Awards slate of Best Picture and acting nominees. (That paleness was a bit of an anomaly in recent times, as I’ll show in a bit.)

So let’s give the Academy its due: Expanding the Best Picture field – starting with 2009 movies – from five nominees to as many as 10 was a smart and ultimately necessary change with substantial benefits, no matter how you parse it.

It’s admittedly difficult to get your head around Illinois’ recently passed Future Energy Jobs Bill – a massive, long-gestating piece of legislation that touches on many aspects of energy policy.

Yet the legislation is worth exploring. It will be a major change in Illinois energy policy when it takes effect on June 1. And it’s an instructive study of the give-and-take of the legislative process – a case that was absolutely green and utility-friendly, but one that might not be nearly as kind to consumers as has been promised.

Pages