When a temporary flood barrier broke along the Mississippi River in Davenport on April 30, parts of downtown flooded, and the river crested at its highest record on level.
Rick Palmer, executive director of the RiverCenter Adler Theater, says that when the water breached the barrier, the scene was unruly.
"The day the wall breached, we were out in the chaos, and being neighbors and seeing how close we were to it, we needed to do something," he said.
It was when the flood waters receded and property owners started to assess the damage that Palmer had an idea. He would seek the help of other Serious Music People and plan a concert that would both raise money and bring people into downtown Davenport.
"We need to make people understand; we are open downtown," says Palmer. "By hosting an event, and getting people right down to the heart of it, you'll see you have the same great hospitality in downtown Davenport. We want them back, and we want them to know we care."
Next week in Davenport, the community will harness the power of live music to help with the relief effort. Flood Fest is a benefit concert to support downtown Davenport flood recovery efforts, happening on Friday, June 7 at the RiverCenter Great Hall in Davenport.
The production for the benefit is a collaboration of several Davenport based businesses and non-profits. Jason Gilliland is with the Downtown Davenport Partnership and says a benefit concert is a natural fit for the Quad Cities.
“Downtown Davenport and the Quad Cities in general has a strong and supportive music scene,” says Gilliland. “This type of event has the potential to bring a large number of people together at once to raise a large amount of money.”
River Music Experience, a venue that sits very close to the river in downtown Davenport and is home to The Redstone Room, was one of the businesses that flooded when the temporary flood barrier broke. Kate Dale jumped at the chance to support the concert.
“In our world, music is the best medicine that can help bring everyone together,” says Dale. “This community has been so supportive to us during our own flood recovery, and we’d like to give back to our neighbors as well. This will be a fun opportunity to get everyone together under one roof and hopefully point the fundraising needle towards all the downtown Davenport businesses affected by the flood, and not just a few.”
River Music Experience will be assisting with lineup curation and day of logistics for Flood Fest. Sean Moeller's company Moeller Nights is booking the benefit, and Rexroat Sound is providing sound and lighting. Other organizations are also donating their time and services, with the goal of keeping Flood Fest’s overhead as close to zero as possible.
Rock Island native Lissie will kick off the show. She's a critically acclaimed songwriter who will also be at this year's 80/35. Local reggae-punk band Rude Punch will perform next, and Alan Sweet of The Candymakers will close out the night with his project All Sweat Productions: A Tribute to Queen. Comedian Chris Schlichting will emcee the evening and will perform between sets.
In addition to bringing the community together, Gilliland sees the concert as a way to get the word out about the amount of work that still needs to be done.
“The streets have been cleaned and opened back up, but inside the businesses, there is still cleaning, disinfecting, demolishing, building, planning and general work to get each business open again," explains Gilliland. "We have been extremely happy and proud of the volunteer efforts from this community. This benefit is everyone’s chance to give a second push to a downtown that has come a very long way in a relatively short period of time.”
Even though clean up is well underway, there is still a lot to do and more flooding is expected. The AP estimates that already this spring the city's public works department has spent more than $1 million on flood recovery.
Tickets for Flood Fest are $25 through Ticketmaster, who have reduced their fees for the event and have also set up a donation link for those who are unable to attend but will still like to donate. Proceeds will be given to Grow Quad Cities, and Downtown Davenport Partnership will help determine the distribution to those businesses in need.