On the Road with Joanne Robinson: Show 220 Davenport, Iowa & A Special Stop in Parkersburg


Mississippi River in Davenport


Hi everybody! I’m writing to you from backstage at the Aplington-Parkersburg High School in Iowa where we are about to go onstage for the show. We taped a show last night in Davenport, and then went on the road to bring the same show to Parkersburg, a small town in central Iowa that sadly experienced a devastating tornado a few years back, but have recently rebuilt their high school and this great auditorium! Right now, the Parkserburg Big Band is entertaining the crowd as they file into the house, and swing dancers are living it up onstage. I’m waiting in the wings with Chris and our first performer, violinist Michael Ferri, and in just a minute or two, we’ll be going on. I’ll catch up with you afterwards.


Good morning From the Top fans! I’m continuing my blog from a breakfast nook at the Cedar Rapids airport where the co-mingled smell of cow manure and breakfast bacon is wafting through the air. Last night’s show was truly wonderful, as was the one the night before. The artistry was uncanny; each and every musician delivered something special and memorable. Here’s a little run down so you can know what to look forward to when the broadcast airs:

Opening the show was Michael Ferri, who performed the Allegretto Moderato from Bartok’s Rhapsody No. 1, a virtuosic piece, which Chris described as phenomenally evocative. Next up was Justin Moser, who not only played a mean sax, but also showed off his vocal chops and teen idol potential by reenacting his audition for “American Idol.” 12-year-old pianist Sherry Tang took the stage next, playing Mendelssohn with a sophistication that far exceeded her young age. Next up was Quartet Danae, this year’s gold medal winners of the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition, who treated us to an amazing, wild movement of Prokofiev’s String Quartet No. 2. Closing the show was a spectacular treat – two marimba players from Chicago’s Percussion Scholarship Group, John Ringor and Marcelina Suchocka – performed “Octobones,” a musical duel of a piece, which required a lot of jumping around, not only physically, but also on each other’s marimbas. I almost injured myself during dress rehearsal when I tried to flip cam them while standing atop a high stool so I could look down and capture the mallets flying!

For your viewing pleasure, here’s a little montage of the performers in action, plus a bit of post-show fun. Make sure to tune in when the show airs on the week of November 1st.