Skylark: Prophets to Prohibition to Present-Day in Rock Island. - The Echo

“Music Venues in the Quad Cities” is a 12 part series providing a comprehensive overview of live music venues in the Quad Cities area, with a specific focus on venues whose audience capacity is below 500. The series aims to highlight the vibrant music scene in the Quad Cities and shed light on the smaller, more intimate venues that may often be overlooked.

The series exclusively focuses on dedicated live music venues and excludes bars that occasionally host live performances. By narrowing the scope to these venues, the series provides a detailed exploration of the unique experiences and opportunities they offer to both local and touring musicians.

By highlighting venues with an audience capacity below 500, the series aims to showcase the intimate and personal experiences that these venues provide. The series acknowledges that larger venues, and bars often dominate the music scene conversation with either touring musicians or cover bands and seeks to shed light on the charm and character of the Quad Cities’ smaller music venues.

Between Prophets, Prohibition, and Present-Day: Skylark Establishes an Aesthetic in Rock Island

Photographed & Written by: Matthew Terry

The history of the Quad City music scene was not developed in a single night. It transverses decades and has been “on the musical map” so to speak since before prohibition, long before many of our grandparents, let alone any of us, ever experienced existence. While many of the people and places around 100 years ago, when jazz was the talk of the town, can no longer be seen, there’s a building in Rock Island that was a speakeasy during those prohibition years, where music is being performed and recorded at today. While this building, resting on the corner of a now bustling thoroughfare, was originally dedicated as a church in 1888, it has been the home base for Skylark since 2020, 2 months before the world was put on hold. Though Skylark is bringing this building into the 21st Century, they are holding onto this history, and that is quickly noticed when you arrive and are greeted on all sides by the original Stained Glass windows.

While having to take, a near immediate, 2-year hiatus after making such a major move into the new space could prove too much for some, owner Justin Farley kept the space afloat, and by consistently filling the schedule with a mix of events Skylark has been on a steady rise. It can be rented out as an event space, with “flea markets”, various art/comedy events, and private parties happening weekly. The venue has a capacity of around 200, making it a great space for both local and nationally touring acts, as well as private events. Recently, local alternative powerhouse Alborn sold out the space for a partially seated event set up by I Rock 93.5 as a local take on the classic MTV Unplugged series. Though the vibe was a little more reserved than a normal Alborn show,  the “candle-lined” stage and lights dancing through the angles of this 19th-century house of worship were incredibly fitting, and I can understand why they chose this location for the inaugural installment of what may turn into the Quad Cities own version of Unplugged.

Furthermore, when it comes to music, Skylark also offers professional recording, mixing, and mastering. I became familiar with Skylark through the recordings Justin has been responsible for, which include local favorites The Textures, MD Moncada and far too many more to list here. In fact, The Textures are putting on an event at Skylark on March 29th dubbed “The Spring Thing”. This is an event that combines much of what Skylark has come to be known for, showcasing local art, music, and vendors selling an eclectic mix of goods for all ages.


While Skylark in this present location, with the added event space, was established in 2020, Justin has been producing songs/records for bands since 2007 when he returned to the QCA with a wealth of experience from his time in LA and at the Los Angeles Recording School. With a lifetime of personal playing experience, starting with piano, moving into clarinet and saxophone, drum line, and eventually venturing into the stringed world of guitar and bass, combined with a wide array of artists that have graced this room with their sound, they are prepared for any style/genre that could be brought their way. In addition to this, he also ran sound for well-established local venues like Ribco, Rascals, and one this publication has an eternal connection with, The Redstone Room. The Redstone has long been known for its variety of acts, from nationally known hip-hop stars to Small orchestras, and Skylark prides itself on a similar approach. While many places will pigeonhole themselves with a single sound or style of events, Skylark, and those running it have never wanted to limit themselves in such a way. Whether that is about the bands coming in to record, or the wide array of happenings, from metal shows to weddings, and quinceañeras, this is a space open to all ages and walks of life, regardless of your personal musical/artistic tastes.


Farley’s connection to the local scene is vast, and undeniable, spanning both sides of the muddy Mississippi. A shortage of musical knowledge/love is surely not to be found here, and while it’s more of an event space than a punk club, music has and will always be at the center. Unlike some clubs, Skylark doesn’t have a liquor license, and they are not in the bar business, but I think that is what adds to the appeal. Of course, some shows and events will have “liquid catering” from local breweries, but it is the music, the people, and the atmosphere that brings the crowds here, and I find that extremely admirable. It shows not only their commitment to music and the local scene, but the confidence they have in exactly what Skylark has to offer in of itself.  This building holds more stories than one could fit into a single lifetime, let alone a single story, still, it’s clear that Skylark and all those involved with this studio/space are making their mark and making sure the history held in this “house of worship” continues to be built upon well into the 21st century.






Venue Name: Skylark


Venue Address: 4401 7th Ave., Rock Island

Owner/P.O.C: Justin Farley: (563) 505-0866



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