“I’ve always had this dream of pop music that’s a Trojan horse for radical ideas,” said Keith Brown – songwriter, vocalist, guitarist, bassist, and keyboardist for Trails & Ways – in a recent phone interview.

After making music for the better part of a decade, change was bound to happen for Chicago-based soul band JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound – starting with an alteration to its name.

When cellist/vocalist Kate Wakefield and drummer Daisy Caplan – now known as the band Lung – first started playing music together late last year in Cincinnati, they didn’t plan on touring for a very simple reason.

John Darnielle specializes in bringing the humanity out of unexpected places, from professional wrestling to nearby Midwestern towns.

The Mississippi River brings to mind images of steamboat travel, devastating floods, and Huckleberry Finn on his raft.

The tuba conjures visuals of marching bands, Oktoberfests, and the mother ship making contact at the end of Close Encounters. (Okay, that last one might just be me.)

Audience members for the Quad City Symphony Orchestra’s season-opening Masterworks concerts, however, might find that, from now on, whenever they think of either the Ole Miss or the tuba, they’ll immediately also think of the other.

During the process of writing and recording their 2015 album Dealer, two members of Foxing shared experiences that would shape the direction of the music.

The three Quebe sisters – Hulda, Sophia, and Grace – had played the violin before they attended their first fiddle competition back in 1998. But something clicked with the Texas-style music they heard at the event, and within a year they were themselves competing.

A few years ago, Kait Berreckman was ready to give up on music. But moving back to Nebraska and surrounding herself with the right influences brought her back to it.

When I asked Bob Herrington how business was at his Ragged Records store, his answer was a shrug. “It’s good enough,” he said. “I sell records. I’m not going to get rich.”

Ragged Records, of course, specializes in new and used vinyl just off the Government Bridge in downtown Davenport, in a shared space with Trash Can Annie. Prominent in the store is a display showcasing eight LPs – all bearing the name of Cartouche Records, which Herrington also runs.

And the words meant for Ragged Records could easily apply to the two-year-old label. “It’s not a money-making venture at this point,” Herrington said of Cartouche. “If I can do it, and put out a few releases a year, and not lose a ton of money, I’m going to continue to do it.”

Six seconds into Chrash’s “Midwest Sky” is a throw-away sound that illustrates the band’s method for Things My Friends Say: the light ping of a coin being flipped.

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