A legendary comedian, a humanitarian blues harmonica player, a benefit featuring many local hardcore and punk bands, beautiful handmade arts and crafts, and two standout concerts featuring groups of male singers are among your choices in the area cultural calendar this weekend.
Curing the blues with harmonica
Gary Allegretto, the last Blues in the Schools artist-in-residence this year, will perform Friday night at The Muddy Waters in Bettendorf with Hal Reed and the Ray Woods Jr. Band. The founding director of Harmonikids (a humanitarian organization that gives music therapy with harmonicas to special needs kids worldwide), and recipient of the Blues Foundation’s 2011 Keeping the Blues Alive Award in Education, Mr. Allegretto has a resume like a men's adventure wish-list.
He's worked as a forest ranger, firefighter, bouncer in a couple rough honky-tonks and a blues bar, cowboy and ranch hand, beach lifeguard, white-water rafting guide and traveling bluesman. He's a summa cum laude graduate of Northern Arizona University, and the recipient of multiple awards for his outreach to children. He started playing upon receiving his first harmonica at age 5 from his woodsman grandfather.
In 1985, while voluntarily performing blues for children at Sloan Kettering Cancer Hospital in New York City, Mr. Allegretto noticed how kids were drawn to his harmonica. Shortly thereafter, he founded Harmonikids, his non-proﬁt organization. He has kept the blues alive by making a difference in over 20,000 young lives around the globe. It is his passion and purpose — he receives no salary or compensation for his work, and Friday's Q-C show is free.
“In my teens I had the unmatched thrill of witnessing the legendary Delta-born bluesman Muddy Waters perform with his legendary band," Mr. Allegretto has said. "The experience changed my life and shaped my musical direction. I worked hard and imagined myself playing harp with them someday. Many years down the road, my dream was realized when I found myself performing on stages with two of these bluesmen—Bob Margolin and Pinetop Perkins."
The good doctor is in
After 15 years, the one and only Bill Cosby will return to Davenport's Adler Theatre for a show Saturday night. A review of a show last fall in Madison, Wis. (at host.madison.com) called him "perceptive, goofy and unfailingly clean," and a review of a fall Cedar Rapids appearance (at hooplanow.com) said the "best way to experience Cosby is live and in person, to hear his careful pacing, see his signature eye rolls, watch his expressive hands and fall over laughing just because of a look he shot to the audience."
The 75-year-old Philadelphia native (best known for his NBC-TV series "The Cosby Show" from 1984-92, and the earlier animated "Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids" series) last performed at the Adler in April 1998, and was scheduled for two shows there June 1, 2003. Those were later canceled because of slow ticket sales.
Cosby achieved fame with best-selling comedy albums, five of which went platinum, earning five Grammy Awards. His role on TV’s "I Spy" made him the first African-American to co-star in a dramatic series, breaking television’s racial barrier and winning three Emmys.
A cornucopia of lovingly handmade crafts
Handmade City 6 will feature its biggest show yet Saturday afternoon as it hosts over 30 area indie arts and crafts vendors all in one place -- the Davenport Sky Bridge. Based on what I've seen before, the panoply of items are cute, colorful, unique and affordable. Supporting the creators helps keep their passion and talent thriving.
The often wearable wares from Saturday's vendors will include handmade vintage jewelry, whimsical bags, clothing, paintings, women’s handmade hair accessories, notebooks, journals and cards, healthy doggy treats, children’s hats and accessories, origami accessories, knitted scarves, photography, packaging and photo accessories, mixed media artwork, and handmade kid skirts and shorts.
For more information and to check out examples of the work, visit handmade-city.com.
Celebrating the joy of singing
There is nothing quite like the thrill of joining your voice in harmony with another -- be it one person or 100. When you're expressing your heart and soul in song, nothing else exists and all is right with the world (even if you're warbling of heartbreak and sorrow).
Two excellent art forms -- barbershop singing and boys choir -- will be unveiled in all their glory this weekend. First on Saturday night, the Chordbusters Barbershop Chorus, Bend of the River Chorus, The Choir Boys, Jazz Etc. and other barbershop quartets will perform in "Celebrate Harmony" at Davenport's Assumption High School.
The event is a salute to the Barbershop Harmony Society's 75th anniversary. The worldwide group is the largest all-male a cappella singing organization whose mission is to enrich lives through singing.
According to the society, "friendships forged through barbershop harmony bridge gaps that no other hobby is capable of doing, and for many devotees, barbershop is far more than a hobby. It's a passion." Such singing builds self-confidence and creates lasting memories.
Such self-esteem and lifelong learning is even more crucial for young men, and for 65 years, the acclaimed Moline Boys Choir has been offering a musical outlet for students in grades 3 to 8. On Sunday, the choir will perform its 65th annual spring concert at Moline High School.
Friends rocking out to help friends
Several local punk and hardcore bands will reunite for a special performance Sunday to benefit Danielle Parise, of Bettendorf. The 29-year-old suffered a brain rupture on Jan. 30, and after four weeks of intensive care at the University of Iowa, she was transferred to the On With Life rehabilitation facility in Ankeny, Iowa.
"She has a very long road ahead in terms of recovery but has already made huge progress," said benefit organizer Mike Lopez, who is friends with Ms. Parise and her husband Matt. "She is able to respond to commands to move her fingers and toes and is able to write."
Matt wrote in an online journal, caringbridge.org/visit/danielleparise, earlier this month: "Overall her progress is phenomenal. I've been told this by pretty much everyone at OWL. She is an inspiration to many of the other patients there."
Mr. Lopez received overwhelmingly positive results from bands to play for Saturday's benefit. "Bands like Preacher Gone to Texas, Bled For Days, King of Clubz. Some of the most popular Quad-City hardcore bands, some who haven't played together for nine years," he said. "It's really nice to know that 'family' will always be around to have your back."
The Itinerary (Apr. 26-28)
-- Hal Reed with the Ray Woods Jr. Band and special guest Gary Allegretto, 9 p.m. Friday, The Muddy Waters, 1708 State St., Bettendorf. Free. 563-355-0655, TheMuddyWaters.com -- Bill Cosby, 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Adler Theatre, 136 E. 3rd St., Davenport. $46, $58 and $71. Ticketmaster.com, 800-745-3000 -- Handmade City, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Davenport Sky Bridge, 2nd Street between Brady and Main. handmade-city.com -- "Celebrate Harmony," 7 p.m. Saturday, Assumption High School, 1020 W. Central Park Ave., Davenport. $15; $5 for grades K-12. 563-340-8743, thechordbusters.com -- Moline Boys Choir Spring Concert: 3 p.m. Sunday, Moline High School, 3600 Avenue of the Cities. $8; $6 for students and seniors. 309-762-5117, molineboyschoir.org -- Benefit for Danielle Parise, 5 p.m. Sunday (featuring Preacher Gone to Texas, Bled For Days, King of Clubz, Straight Up, Iron Rain, and Kings), Eagle reception hall, 2030 4th Ave., Rock Island. $10 in advance, $12 at door. tikly.co/-/1445