Coordinating with Juneteenth in the Quad Cities, a new “Rhythm on the River” concert will be Sunday, June 18 at Schwiebert Park in downtown Rock Island, celebrating the contributions of Black musicians and highlighting Black voices in our local music scene.
Rhythm On The River brings the Rock Island riverfront to life with music spanning the decades. This community concert is a component of the QC Juneteenth festivities, led by the Lincoln Center and Friends of MLK, with Common Chord.
Event organizer Tracy Singleton (who runs The Lincoln Center, 318 E. 7th St., Davenport) said the 6 p.m. Sunday concert will be the culmination of the weekend Juneteenth activities. This will be the third year they’ve been at The Lincoln Center.
“This is a way for us to kind of take our stake and our claim on the river,” she said, noting they’re also partnering with Black-owned businesses and the new Rock Island Downtown Alliance.
“I’m really excited about it, plus it takes Juneteenth to the other side of the river,” Singleton said. “Our celebration traditionally has always been in Davenport and even though it shouldn’t be this way, you do have people who are like, it’s in Davenport, that’s the Davenport people, when it is really a community. So this does give us an opportunity to take it to the other side of the river.”
The Friends of MLK will host the QC Juneteenth Festival on Saturday, June 17, at the Lincoln Center, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. It will include food and retail vendors; local and national history information; community and resource booths; and fun-filled games and live entertainment for the whole family.
Juneteenth events also include the new Pulling Focus African-American Film Festival Friday through Sunday, with venues including Lincoln Center, Figge Art Museum and the Putnam Museum Giant Screen Theater.
Juneteenth (a combination of “June” and “19th”) is now a federal holiday, the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the U.S.
On June 19, 1865, Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free. This was two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, which had become official Jan. 1, 1863.
The Sunday, June 18th Rhythm on the River will include a community choir, spoken word artist Aubrey Barnes, 10 of Soul, CJ Parker and DJ Captain, a veteran rap artist, she said.
“This year is the 50th anniversary of hip-hop. And so he’s a DJ and he’s going to be doing a curated set going through all 50 years of hip-hop,” Singleton said. “When we first started talking about Rhythm on the River, we wanted to take it from gospel to funk and hip-hop and show the evolution.”
10 Of Soul, one of the bands performing at Rhythm on the River
CJ Parker & Collective performing
Singer-songwriter CJ Parker (who was recently music director for “Hello, Dolly” at Black Box Theatre) is lead InTune mentor (a music program in local schools) for Common Chord, and performed an album release concert at Redstone Room on March 31 (his third gig there but first time headlining).
“It was really cool to do a show that was mostly my music and it was really cool to get a reaction,” he said of that show.
Common Chord executive director Tyson Danner asked Parker to be part of Sunday’s event.
“I’m really excited for this particular event — it’s new and Common Chord is in partnership with this,” he said, noting he’ll perform with other musicians. “It’s gonna be awesome.”
Rhythm on the River admission is $5, with kids 12 and under free. The music will start at 6 p.m., and food and beverages will be provided by Bragg BBQ food truck, Rock Island Parks, and Bent River Brewing Company. No outside food and drink is allowed.
Blankets or chairs are encouraged and recommended.