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COVID & the Arts: Curbside Carols

With the colder weather, the River Music Experience is working to warm some hearts, building on the success of its Curbside Concerts by launching holiday Curbside Carols in December.

Executive director Tyson Danner says there have been nearly 200 curbside concerts since the spring, where local musicians went out to private homes and neighborhoods in the area (within a 10-mile radius of RME in downtown Davenport) and played for a half hour, for a suggested donation of $60. That will return next spring, because they don’t want to do any indoor performances yet.

“We thought a caroling program would be a really good way to have some winter activity, without taking too much risk.”

The carols will go for $75, for about 15-20 minutes. Danner says the original idea was to give a private concert in a yard or driveway, but often neighborhoods over the summer got together to host one, and some people pooled their money for one-hour concerts.

Credit River Music Experience
RME Executive Director Tyson Danner

“We had lots of them, where there were 20 or 30 people spread out across a cul-de-sac or somebody’s front yard. It made a lot of sense when we thought about doing this caroling program that we could add this option that hey, we’ll go around to your whole neighborhood.”

The carols will be sung by a group of RME staff, board members, and friends.

"For the neighborhood carols, we’re thinking if you buy carols for your neighborhood, we have a feeling people will wind up joining us from house to house and just touring around the neighborhood.”
“The nice thing about having a group sing is, we can wear masks and sing and not worry about being heard. We’ll actually be wearing masks for the whole caroling, even while we’re singing.”

They will mix modern popular Christmas songs, with more traditional carols. Danner says people can order Curbside Carols from http://rivermusicexperience.org/. They'll be available on Tuesdays and Wednesdays throughout December, between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. Each stop will take approximately 15-20 minutes (4-5 songs). One day each week will be in Iowa, and one day will be in Illinois.

“I have a feeling they’re gonna fill up pretty quickly, because we have pretty limited spots. So I tell folks to go ahead and sign up ASAP if you want a spot. They’re broken out by city.”

When signing up, there is a $75 suggested minimum donation, with the option to add-on an additional donation. The dates and locations are:· Dec. 1 – Downtown and West Davenport· Dec. 2 – Rock Island· Dec. 8 – East Moline and Silvis· Dec. 9 -- East Village and Central Davenport· Dec. 15 – Downtown and Central Bettendorf· Dec. 16 – Moline· Dec. 22 – North Davenport and North Bettendorf.The neighborhood carols will feature 45 minutes spreading cheer for you and your neighbors, singing a song or two in front of each house with their front lights on. Those times available will be Saturdays, Dec. 5, 12, and 19 at 4 p.m., 5:15 p.m., and 6:30 p.m.For that signup, there is a $200 suggested minimum donation, with the option for an additional donation. The neighborhood sign-ups can be in any locations throughout the Quad-Cities (within a 10-mile radius of Downtown Davenport). After you register, RME staff will be in touch within two business days to share specific event information and guidelines. The safety guidelines from RME are on their website.The RME (at 2 nd and Main streets) is nearing the end of its fall fundraising campaign (they’ve raised $20,000 so far), and he says the Curbside Carols will help achieve that goal. “It’s an important part of the mixture. We’ve had a campaign running, from August now through November, which is our main fall fundraising campaign, which has gone really well. We had some really generous donors – the Unterzubers and KV Dahl stepped up with some matching funds, which really drove that really well.“The next year, there’s a lot of big question marks for all of us – especially those of us who are in performing arts. It’s really hard to predict how the next year is gonna go, but things are looking OK so far. Curbside Concerts was actually really an important part of our financial health over the summer, because not only were we doing our mission, but we were getting donations through that program, and we figure that Curbside Carols will be the same thing.”“People have been really generous with helping spread the word about what we’re doing, but also making donations to support it and making sure we can stick around through all this craziness.”

RME has received $10,000 in matching funds, so it will exceed $30,000 raised by the end of the month. You can donate by visiting http://rivermusicexperience.org/donate.

A native of Detroit, Herb Trix began his radio career as a country-western disc jockey in Roswell, New Mexico (“KRSY, your superkicker in the Pecos Valley”), in 1978. After a stint at an oldies station in Topeka, Kansas (imagine getting paid to play “Louie Louie” and “Great Balls of Fire”), he wormed his way into news, first in Topeka, and then in Freeport Illinois.