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.

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.

“I am embarrassed to be here,” sings Wild Pink singer, guitarist, and songwriter John Ross on “I Used to Be Small.” The “here,” in this case, is the United States.

On the New York-based indie-rock band’s self-titled debut album, Ross explores getting older through the people and places around him. The past is at the forefront, with Ross recalling looking through the window at the Hudson Valley, being told that “if you never stop moving, then you’ll never feel bad” in “Broke on,” a journey through memory. He sings about being a passenger in a parent’s car, riding bikes, “hearing about the war, and knowing it’s not yours.” The listener gets access to moments that shaped whom he became.

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.

When Owen Ashworth dissolved his solo project Casiotone for the Painfully Alone after more than 10 years, he set out to start anew.

“I liked the challenge of starting over and just writing a whole new set of songs and seeing what a blank slate would feel like,” he said in a recent phone interview.

Ellis Kell died suddenly in December – after an October cancer diagnosis – and he was known to many as a stalwart part of the Quad Cities music scene and a longtime staff member of the River Music Experience. But these remembrances attest that Kell was loved far beyond those roles.

Peace, Love & the Joy of Music, a benefit concert for the Kell family, will be held on Saturday, January 21, from 4 to 11 p.m. at the RiverCenter (136 East Third Street, Davenport). The suggested donation for admission is $10. Scheduled performers include the Ellis Kell Band, The Whoozdads?, The Way Down Wanderers, David G. Smith, The Candymakers, Lojo Russo, The Velies, Rude Punch, The Curtis Hawkins Band with Ernie Peniston & Hal Reed, Quad Cities Blues Mafia, and RME Camp Kids Jam.

Norwegian garage rockers Death by Unga Bunga, playing at the Village Theatre on February 28, buzzed through the writing, recording, and mastering of Fight! in just six weeks. Released in September, the four-song EP is over in a flash – 12 minutes of ragged indie garage rock infused with power-pop riffs that could have come straight out of a Cheap Trick song.

Sam Vicari isn’t always as direct as the title of his fourth album – Blunt – might imply.

Vicari, who will play a February 17 solo show at Rozz-Tox, kept gravitating toward the theme of aging while writing his 2016 album. But he taps into the emotions and realizations that come with getting older, and they’re often complicated.

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