After 18 years, the Davenport-based River Music Experience is striking a new chord and making a key change — with a new name and expanded mission.
The RME board of directors and staff are announcing a new name and identity to celebrate the evolution of the nonprofit organization — effective Sept. 14, 2022, it will be known as Common Chord and use the tag line “More Music. More Community.”
Tyson Danner, executive director of Common Chord, said the fresh look and evolution are all about being more inclusive and better connecting how the organization is focused on amplifying the power of music to build connections and strengthen community, according to a group press release.
“Music is a universal language. It is something we all have in common. It has the power to connect and unite us as individuals and as a community,” Danner (who leads an 11-person staff) said. “Collaboration through music builds togetherness and enriches the lives of all Quad Citizens. We are dedicated to bringing people together through music – that’s what ‘Common Chord’ communicates.”
Newer programs highlight the organization’s expanded focus on bringing music to the whole community —
- OneSound Piano Project: Common Chord has placed pianos in public spaces throughout the region at locations like Niabi Zoo, Quad Cities International Airport, and the Freight House Farmers’ Market, elevating and activating the experience of public spaces for residents and visitors.
- Music at the Market: In partnership with the Farmers’ Market and the Riverfront Improvement Commission, local musicians perform at the “Common Chord Stage” at the Farmers’ Market in Davenport each weekend. The program provides more opportunities for local musicians while infusing more music into a thriving regional landmark event.
- The Echo: This digital music scene publication, started in 2021, tells the stories of our QC music scene. Through The Echo, Common Chord promotes all the venues and events in our community, giving the general public a point of access to engage with our thriving, diverse music industry and building support for our homegrown artists.
- InTune Music Mentoring: InTune mentors visit weekly with students in after-school community centers including Project Renewal (Davenport), the Martin Luther King Center (Rock Island), and Boys & Girls Club (Moline and Davenport). Mentors use music as a path to build healthy relationships, while helping kids explore the world, their place in it, and themselves.
The former RME creates “a variety of diverse, accessible, community-oriented music programs. Through programming, partnerships, and advocacy, we are dedicated to building and empowering our local music scene – and with it, our whole community,” the updated website (commonchordqc.org) says.
Common Chord builds on its history as RME
In 2004, the organization housed in the historic Redstone building in downtown Davenport (2nd and Main streets) first opened its doors as the River Music Experience – a museum about American roots music.
In the nearly 20 years since, it has grown far larger and more impactful, featuring a host of concerts and educational programs that have established its place in the cultural landscape of the Quad Cities, the release said.
“Our programs and mission have grown so much, even through the pandemic,” said Ross Carlson, current board chairman. “Today, we have reached an important step in the maturity of the organization. Our mission is clear, our programs are strong, and we are financially sustainable. We decided it was time our name caught up to who we are today, not what we were 20 years ago.”
Common Chord will continue to feature live music concerts in the Redstone Room and locations throughout the region as a foundational component of its programming, with a special focus on providing more opportunities for local artists and more diverse genres.
Educational programs remain a key focus for Common Chord, including the RiverCurrents school program that teaches elementary students the history of American music; and the Acoustic Music Club — which provides accessible music enrichment for youth and adults in partnership with the Handicapped Development Center, Blackhawk Area Special Education District, and ARC of the Quad Cities.
Common Chord invites public to Community Jam Session
Common Chord invites the public to a first-of-its-kind Community Jam Session on Sunday, Sept. 18, 2022, in the Davenport Freight House parking lot (421 W. River Dr.). Musicians are invited to begin setting up at 1 p.m., with music starting at 2:30.
Everyone is welcome – musicians and non-musicians alike – to band together for the love of music and community. All people, all instruments, and all skill levels are welcome at this free event.
“This is a true mega-jam session – where everyone plays an important role in the band,” Tyson Danner said. “From beginners to season road warriors, you’re guaranteed to have a good time and make new friends!”
The event will feature food trucks from the Farmers Market and food by Chill Eats. Drinks will be available from the Front Street Tap Room, including Common Chord’s new collaboration with partners Bent River Brewery: “Key Change Blonde.”
Come early to enjoy the Freight House Farmers’ Market, and for music activities for the little ones, including recycled instrument making and an instrument petting zoo. Don’t forget to pick up your very own kazoo to start your musical journey.
Common Chord thanks its partners the Riverfront Improvement Commission and the Freight House Farmers’ Market, as well as Supporting Sponsors Downtown Davenport Partnership and Rexroat Sound, and Community Sponsors West Music, Russell Construction, and Dahl Ford.
The Community Jam Session songs will be:
• “Listen To The Music” – The Doobie Brothers
• “Dancing In The Streets” – Martha & the Vandellas
• “Hey Ya!” – OutKast
• “Juke Box Hero” – Foreigner
More information for musicians (including lyrics, chords, & sheet music) and equipment needs can be found HERE.
Common Chord announces creation of Encore Society
At a private event in the Redstone Room on Sept. 8th, Common Chord celebrated its recent successes and announced the founding of the “Encore Society.”
This leadership giving group is composed of Common Chord’s most dedicated supporters, all of whom have made either multi-year planned gifts or have named Common Chord as a beneficiary in their estate plans. These seven individuals have made their long-term commitments in support of the expanding mission and programs of Common Chord:
• Jeff and Kristi Cordle
• Jeff and Reggie Goldstein
• Kim Nickels
• Travis and Doris Unterzuber
The new name and tag line “really represents where the organization is now and where we are headed,” Kim Nickels, treasurer of the Common Chord board, said Tuesday night. “Music is a common thread that ties us all together. We want everyone in our community to have access to music.
“Music drives our culture and makes our community a more exciting and fulfilling place to live. I financially support Common Chord because I feel that music is a universal language that has the ability to bring people together in ways nothing else can,” she said.
“Whether you are a music student, professional musician or simply a lover of music, I want Common Chord to have the resources to provide you with what you need. No one should have a barrier to listening to, learning about or playing music,” Nickels added.
To learn how to support Common Chord through the Encore Society, or as a member of the Front Row monthly giving program, click HERE.