On a mild and sunny Sunday afternoon a dozen widely recognizable local musicians gathered in a nondescript Bettendorf church perched just below the peak of a hill I spent my childhood winters sledding down. Despite spending the majority of my childhood a meager two blocks from this building, this was my first time stepping beyond the doorway. Once inside I was led to a room commonly used for daycare and was quickly informed that about 60 children would be running around here in less than 24 hours. However, the stage where the music came calling from, book-ended by matching Christmas trees, was now occupied by a collective of certified local All-Stars rehearsing songs we could all sing along to if only we had the confidence of those currently holding down the stage. These songs, Christmas classics from the likes of Nat King Cole, Bing Crosby, as well as more modern artists like Taylor Swift, will be filling the expanses of Moline’s Spotlight Theatre for a grand performance on December 16th at 7:00pm.
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Photographs taken by: Matthew Terry Photo | Photographs taken from All Sweat’s Christmas Swinging Spectacular rehearsal in preparation for their performance at the Spotlight Theater on Dec. 16th at 7:00pm.
Tickets are $20 in advance. Click here for more info.
It’s the music that is the focus here, and the reason such a representation of the local scene was congregated in these halls. Including artists from The Dawn, Rude Punch, Heads In Motion, Wontu Trees, The Textures, Room To Improv, and more, including an entire horn section. Given the mix of artists from local acts that play so frequently, it’s nearly impossible not to have seen at least one of them in recent months, it’s no surprise the level of performance we’ve come to expect from these All Sweat events. However, the process it takes to reach that polished finish is not a simple task, even when it comes to such recognizable classics as featured in this show.
While the process of going from discussing beats per minute, and where solos will eventually fill songs, to having a completed piece could seem tedious and tense to some, between the welcoming hugs and laughter bouncing off the walls the tension was far from noticeable. The joy permeated the room and went far beyond the lyrical content of the songs being studied.
While most people are familiar with seeing a band’s final product, the prep needed to bring together this level of collaboration is likely foreign to many. It takes being willing to teach where needed, but an even greater ability to learn and be malleable to what each composition calls for. Musicians are switching in and out as songs shift, like clockwork and gears. Each song, every artist has their own personality and talent that is an important cog in the performance. There must be balance between all the moving parts. This collective of art is matched with composed guidance from fellow musicians of different talents and skill levels, respective to their own personality. Together, they form a chain bonded by sound with each link aiding to the strength of their left and right. It is this “sweat” that keeps a machine like this moving in the right direction. Every musician in this room is more than deserving of their role in this performance and there’s a tangible respect shared between all in what they are accomplishing.
The difference between hearing a song and running over it on your own compared to it being conducted as a full piece is a major feat, and then add having the ability to take that from a room of friends to a theatre of strangers takes something more entirely. It is a learning experience for some, and a teaching moment for others – the passing of patience and persistence within expression. Often, with any art form, we approach the final product without placing too much thought into the process that brought it to life, and I feel that to be a faulty way of perceiving any type of art. Try to change that perspective a bit, because what seemingly boils down to a shows over a single weekend during the busiest hours of the year took far more time, care, and passion. It took friendship, mentors, mentee’s, musicians of all skills and talent, working like a well-oiled machine to create a true swinging Christmas Spectacular for the Quad Cities to enjoy!