If you love jazz or live music, you won't want to miss this jazz festival, honoring trumpet player Leon Bismark "Bix" Beiderbecke. Bix was born in Davenport in 1903 and died at the young age of 28. During his short life, Bix created some of the most enduring jazz music of the 20th century.
This year's festival features 11 bands from all over the US with some of the best musicians you've ever heard. Many of the events are free, although devoted jazz fans will want to purchase tickets for the concerts held inside the new Rhythm City Casino & Resort (7077 Elmore Ave, Davenport) conveniently located just off Interstate 80.
The festival officially kicks off Thursday evening, August 3rd, with a fundraiser supporting youth scholarships, and then performances begin at noon Friday and Saturday and continue through the wee hours of Saturday night. Free events include concerts from 6 pm-9 pm on Friday and Saturday at LeClaire Park (400 W. Beiderbecke, Davenport) located right by the Mississippi River (pictured in the cover photo). It is blissful to enjoy music outdoors on a balmy summer evening cooled by gentle breezes blowing in off the river. Seating is provided at the park, and the bandshell is a beautiful piece of art in itself.
Other free events include a performance Wednesday evening (August 2) at Grumpy's Saloon in the East Village (2120 E. 11th St, Davenport). Thursday at 3 pm the Fat Babies jazz band from Chicago perform at the Putnam Museum (1717 W 12th St, Davenport), and Saturday morning at 10 am there is a graveside performance by a local band, the Locust Street Boys. Sunday morning everyone is welcome to attend services at 8:30 am and 10:30 am at the First Presbyterian Church (1702 Iowa St, Davenport) with music provided by the Dave Bennett Quartet.
To me, this music festival represents the very best of what Iowa has to offer: world class music in a relaxed, affordable, hometown setting. Whether you come for one free concert or stay for the entire weekend, the Bix Jazz Festival is a great way to satisfy a craving for experiencing live music. Hope to see you there!
Photos by author