The 2014 Festival Is Back In
Downtown Davenport!

The 2014 Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Jazz Festival will once again be back in downtown Davenport! We are pleased to announce that the host venue for the 43rd  Annual Festival is once again the Davenport RiverCenter & Adler Theater. We will also have special Friday & Saturday evening performances in LeClaire park, as partners with the Davenport Summer Concert Series in The Park! We will once again be in the RiverCenter from start to finish!

We will kick off our 43rd year on Thursday evening with at 6 pm in The Mississippi Hall with a terrific opening lineup. On Friday & Saturday, in addition to the evening performances at LeClaire Park, we will have afternoon and evening performances in both the Adler Theater and The Mississippi Hall. We will wrap up Sunday in the Mississippi Hall with a morning session Jazz Brunch.

The Adler Theater and Mississippi Hall will host over 1000 patrons each, and are located in the same building for easy transition between venues. There will also be a dance floor in both venues for those that want to hit the dance floor. We have also invited The QC SoDa group to bring their members in for some terrific dance demonstrations for all to enjoy.

The Adler Theatre

On October 13, 1926, plans for the Orpheum Theatre were announced. Business was booming for the Radio-Keith-Orpheum (RKO) theatre chain, and they needed a larger theatre. Built at a cost of $2 million, the Orpheum Theatre-Mississippi Hotel complex was considered an economic miracle. At the Theatre's opening on November 25, 1931, Davenport and the rest of the country were in the depths of the Great Depression.

On that Thanksgiving Eve, the opening night crowd watched a show that included five vaudeville acts and the movie comedy "Suicide Fleet", starring Bill Boyd, Ginger Rogers, Robert Armstrong, and James Gleason. Ginger Rogers sent a telegraphic signal from Hollywood that began the ribbon-cutting ceremonies for the Theatre's opening. She also sent flowers from the garden of her Hollywood home to Mrs. George M. Bechtel, wife of the Theatre's developer.

The RKO was worthy of its grand opening celebration. The architect was A.S. Graven of Chicago, whose projects included the Drake Hotel in Chicago and the Paramount Theater in New York City. Henry Dreyfuss of New York, who served as an art consultant for the Radio-Keith- Orpheum chain, designed the interior. The beauty of the Orpheum's Art Deco style was reflected in its gold leaf ceiling, crystal light fixtures and black ebony, walnut and marble detailing.

As the economy improved, the Orpheum prospered. For many years, it was considered the area's finest theatre. All the big "talkies" opened at Iowa's largest movie house. Entertainment legends such as John Barrymore, Liberace, Ella Fitzgerald and Pearl Bailey performed live at the Theatre during its glory.

Eventually, the Orpheum's large seating capacity and overhead costs ultimately contributed to its demise as a first-run movie house. Smaller multi-screen complexes and shopping mall theatres ended the Orpheum's reign as king of Davenport's movie theatres. "Cleopatra Jones" was the final film shown at the Orpheum on September 11, 1973. After that, the Theatre was occasionally used for Broadway productions and rock concerts. Nevertheless, the RKO gradually fell into disrepair.

In 1981, the Davenport Chamber of Commerce purchased the RKO and donated it to the RiverCenter For The Performing Arts, Inc. This nonprofit group was established to raise money from private sources to restore the Theatre and to operate the facility as a performing arts center. A $4.25 million goal was set, and the community rallied to the cause. Most notable was a $1.3 million endowment gift from Lee Enterprises. To honor that gift, the Orpheum was renamed the Adler Theatre in memory of publishers, E.P. Adler and his son Philip D. Adler, both known for their charitable and cultural achievements in the community.

The massive renovation of the Adler Theatre began in 1984 and continued for two years. The building was essentially gutted and then restored to its former Art Deco elegance. Original crystal and glass chandeliers were restored. Original seats were rebuilt, reupholstered and their hand-painted side panels were restored. Also, new carpeting was reproduced in England using a roll of the original floral woolen carpeting found during remodeling. The rebirth of the Orpheum into the magnificent Adler Theatre was finally a reality with the Adler Theatre's curtain rising on April 16, 1986 with a gala concert by Burt Bacharach and the Quad City Symphony Orchestra.

As the renovation in the 80s restored the splendor of the Adler Theatre's public spaces, little was done to address the shortcomings of the backstage areas and the need for a much larger stage to accommodate the requirements of today's touring productions.

For that reason, renovations in 2005 and 2006 addressed behind-the-scenes elements that included an increase in critical stage and storage space, enhancement of the sound system, relocation of dressing rooms, installation of a new freight elevator allowing easy access of equipment and stage sets, improvement of lighting and rigging capabilities and replacement of the heating and cooling system.

The stage expansion and backstage renovation project has allowed the Adler Theatre to provide a greater economic impact, improve performance quality, increase facility usage, operate as a more competitive, cost effective theatre and continue to enhance the quality of life in the Quad Cities.

Today, the Adler Theatre preserves the grandeur of an era gone by...treasured by performers and patrons alike. The beautifully restored 2,400 seat Adler Theatre continues to host celebrity headliners, Broadway greats, comedians, dance and symphony performances where the proud tradition of quality, live entertainment lives on.

The Davenport RiverCenter

The RiverCenter is a unique facility to the Quad Cities community. It boasts the most contiguous meeting/convention space and is attached to the Radisson Quad City Plaza which offers meeting space and provides meeting/convention attendees with sleeping rooms. The RiverCenter is marketed as a 100,000 sq. ft. venue and includes two large exhibit halls, 10 breakout rooms, executive boardroom and the historic art-deco Adler Theatre.

Originally built in 1983, the RiverCenter opened as a state-of-the-art convention center with an open industrial look. The original facility provided approximately 20,500 sq. ft. of flexible meeting space including the Mississippi Hall, Atrium, and 6 breakout rooms. Ten years later, a feasibility study was conducted and it was determined that the RiverCenter would be
expanded.

The addition of the south building, a 49,000 sq. ft. expansion was completed in the fall of 1993. A skywalk connected the two buildings; it was the first skywalk in Davenport's history. The expansion continued with the industrial look and included the Great Hall south which can be divided in half by operable air walls, 4 breakout meeting rooms, executive board room and Kaiserslaughtern Square Park. Perry Park Green Space (lawn on 2nd Street) was completed in 2002.

LeClaire Park

In 1972 this was our only venue except for the cocktail party at the Blackhawk Hotel Gold Room on Thursday evening. It is located at 400 West Beiderbecke Drive overlooking the beautiful Mississippi River. It is a favorite spot to this day for many, even on a hot summer afternoon. The evening is beautiful and there is a nice breeze that comes off of the river. The W,D, Petersen Music Pavilion, referred to as the LeClaire Park Bandshell, was built in 1924 by Mr. Petersen in memory of his daughter Wilma Hopkins Petersen.

On July 24, 1980 a bust of Bix was dedicated. It is a bronze bust, portraying Bix as the public knows him. The Sculptor was Ted McElniey of LeClaire, Iowa. The bust is two feet high and weighs 140 pounds. This is a fun and favorite spot to have your photo taken.

 

Davenport RiverCenter
136 E. 3rd Street
Davenport, IA 52801

Adler Theater
136 E. 3rd Street
Davenport, IA 52801

LeClaire Park
400 W. Beiderbecke
Davenport, IA 52801

Oakdale Memorial Garden Cemetery
2501 Eastern Ave.
Davenport, IA 52803

First Presbyterian Church
1702 Iowa St.
Davenport, IA 52803

Davenport Public Library
321 Main St.
Davenport, IA 52801

Putnam Museum
1717 W. 12th St.
Davenport, IA 52804

Knoxville Tap
8716 Knoxville Rd.
Milan, IL 61264