Looking to unwind after a hectic week? I can’t think of a better way than plopping yourself down for the Bucktown Revue, a Grand Ole Opry and Prairie Home Companion -esque show right here in Davenport. Dan and I have been a handful of times and we always enjoy the music and homespun entertainment.
Anchored by emcee Scott Tunnicliff and the talented Milltown house band, the Bucktown Revue delivers a pleasing combo of music, poetry, jokes, and goofiness from a hardy troupe that clearly loves what they are doing. Guest performers mostly include local singer/songwriters, bands, and occasionally a poet.
Milltown’s music revolves around the folk and Americana genres, including Celtic and Bluegrass. Last night they leaned country which naturally drew me in. The music is bright and lighthearted with guitar, piano, mandolin, fiddle, upright bass, light percussion, and an old-time flute. An occasional stomp from bandleader Mike Romkey enunciates the rhythm.
Lead singer/guitarist Korah Winn wore a pretty yellow vintage party dress and delivered a convincing rendition of Dolly Parton’s Jolene. She was followed by a sing-along on John Denver’s Country Roads. Romkey powered through John Prine’s Angel from Montgomery and Winn returned to the mic for Peter Bjorn and John’s happy Young Folks. The Band’s I Shall Be Released and the Bob Mills’ classic Stay a Little Longer showcased even more band members. My favorite musical moments were when Matt Manweiler stepped forward with his fiddle.
Last night’s guest spots complemented Milltown nicely. A young and admittedly nervous singer/songwriter Charlotte Boyer was engaging and sweet. She did a fine job on Bill Withers’ Ain’t No Sunshine but was even better on her original Free like a Bird (may not be exact title). For my money, her two songs were a special part of the show.
The Miracle Bluegrass Band performed three songs, a cowboy tune and two gospel numbers including Vince Gill’s All Prayed Up. There was even some yodeling in the set which perfectly fits Bucktown’s vibe.
Later on, it was Sarah Allner’s turn on center stage. She seemed an experienced performer and delivered two engaging covers, one from Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. The other was a Sara Bareilles’ tune from the movie The Waitress. She has a unique sound that I can’t describe and Milltown seemed especially tuned into her performance.
Humor and poetry were sprinkled in between the music. Steve Couch delivered a joke (or ten jokes) of the month. Last night he did dog jokes and returned for a hilarious ditty at the piano on the plight of poets. It was a hoot. A former teacher recited a couple Robert Frost poems and Tunnicliff read an essay he wrote about getting stuck in the mud on his first visit to Codfish Hollow. Clever.
Dan and I highly recommend a visit to the Bucktown Revue. Shows happen usually on the third Friday of the month from September to May, give or take, at Davenport’s Nighswander Junior Theatre, 2822 Eastern Ave., Davenport, Iowa. Tickets are $14 at the door but advance reservations are a good idea. Visit the show’s reservation page here.
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