At the Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Jazz Festival in Davenport, Iowa
At the Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Jazz Festival

Hot Licks, Cool Schticks

This week is a jazz lover’s paradise in Davenport, Iowa, as 18 cool combos, formed throughout the United States and Australia, flock here for the 40th Annual Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Jazz Festival. The music goes on from (roughly) noon to 11 p.m., Thursday through Sunday, August 4-7, at four different venues. The festival commemorates the Davenport cornet player and pianist who performed through the roaring 1920s, died at 28, and became a posthumous star. Each year since its inception in 1972, the Beiderbecke Festival has drawn thousands of jazz lovers to Davenport. August 6 marks the 80th anniversary of Beiderbecke’s death.

Festival headquarters (and the site of many of the concerts) will be in the Gold Room at the 96-year-old Hotel Blackhawk, where Beiderbecke played in 1929. Additional performances will be at LeClaire Park (400 W. Beiderbecke Dr.), which overlooks the Mississippi River, at the 97-year-old Coliseum Ballroom (1012 W. 4th St.), and at the River Music Experience (131 W. 2nd St.).

In addition to the weekend’s wall-to-wall concerts, the Festival will feature several seminars on the life, times, and music of Beiderbecke.

GO 40th Annual Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Jazz Festival at Hotel Blackhawk (200 E. 3rd St., Davenport; 563-324-7170, Tickets are $30 (per day) for all-day passes Friday and Saturday, $18 for individual concert tickets, and $10 for seminars. After-hours concerts are $15. Check for more info on ticket packages and detailed schedules.

Where to stay: The swank and historic Hotel Blackhawk (200 E. 3rd St.; 888-525-4455, was built in 1915, wholly renovated in 2009, and has hosted an eclectic roster of notables (Guy Lombardo, Cary Grant, Richard Nixon, and Herbert Hoover) over the years. Rates range from about $139 to $569 a night.

Two blocks from the Mississippi River, the Winborn’s Bed and Breakfast (2102 E. 13th St., East Davenport; 563-324-5463, has two cozy rooms and houses the watercolor studio and gallery of artist and owner Sandy Winborn. Rates start at $99 a night.

Where to dine: Front Street Brewery (208 E. River Dr., Davenport; 563-322-1569, is home to Old Davenport Gold among other locally brewed favorites and houses specialties such as slow-roasted pulled-pork nachos and cheddar ale soup.

At the Thunder Bay Grille (6511 Brady St., Davenport; 563-386-2722,, executive chef Andrew Wildermuth is known for his slow-roasted (as in for eight hours) prime rib and charbroiled bison bathed in bourbon barbeque sauce.