Outdoors Back Waters Stage Concerts presented by American Trust Return to Q Casino
By Bryce Parks
(SEE BELOW STORY FOR FULL REMAINING BACK WATERS CONCERT SCHEDULE)
Big time outdoor music is back for a third year and is bigger than ever this summer at Q Casino as the Back Waters Stage, presented by American Trust, turns it up to 11 with a great slate of country and rock headliners. The whole list of entertainers, dates, bios and ticket prices can be found next to this story. We decided to sit down with the Q Casino staff to get the scoop on what we can all expect from this year’s lineup of great entertainment.
“With two years of experience with these shows, we’re understanding what brings people here for live music,” explains Brian Rakestraw, General Manager of Q Casino. “This year we’ve got a really nice lineup of country and rock, as both have worked really well for us, so we’re very excited about that.”
“I’m excited about the fact that we’ve been able to increase our sponsors. We’re got several business in the community that have found value in this concert series, and we’ve been able to take that increased sponsorship and apply it to take the caliber of entertainment up a notch. I’m particularly excited about two of our biggest shows. Kip Moore with LOCASH is a really big show for us here and ticket sales are already great, past our expectations already, and we expect it to continue to sell well. So that’ll be a big night of music from 7 p.m. to close to midnight with all of the great talent on the stage that night. And the other one is Seether with Ten Years. I think that’s going to be a big show as well.”
Routing and competing is tough, as is the waiting game when working with artists to accept offers. With so many great venues in the Dubuque area, everyone is going after great shows and also having to try to win those shows from other nearby markets like Cedar Rapids and Madison. It’s a complex game to play and it’s not just a matter of calling someone you want to book and making an offer. Timing, availability and budgets are everything and working within those parameters, you build the best summer concert series that is humanly possible. This summer, Q Casino has pulled together a diverse lineup with something that will please just about everyone.
With the bigger acts, the draw is coming from further away. Fans are pre-buying tickets from Des Moines and Madison, not just the Tri-State area. They they’re traveling in for the shows, booking hotels, and that’s not just good for Q Casino—that’s good for the community.
Because of that wider draw of interest, Q Casino has responded by increasing their marketing of the shows to neighboring cities like Cedar Rapids, Waterloos, Rockford, Iowa City, Davenport, Madison, even as far as the Naperville, IL suburb of Chicago.
“Another thing we’re doing which people are going to love is that we have a much bigger stage and production show than ever before. More sound, a bigger light show and a far bigger stage. We’re using the same guys who do the America’s River Festival and Dubuque County Fair. They’re now our team as well. For the biggest shows, like Kip Moore, there will also be giant video screens.”
Attention to detail has also got the crew expanding on the food and beverage options available at the shows this summer.
“We’re going to have a huge beverage selection this year. Great brands from both 7G Distributing and Matthews Distributing (that’s both Budweiser and Miller distributors from the uninitiated). And we still have mixed drinks and wine which you don’t see at most festival-style concerts. So selection will be great for our patrons. We also have a rotating set of food vendors from the Tri-State area serving up great things to eat at all of the shows. So you can come hungry, find something great to eat while you enjoy the great music.”
While experience teaches you what works best, it also teaches you when you have to know your limitations. We’re talking mostly about weather, but the Q crew is also sensitive to competition, especially as it pertains to long-time cultural institutions like county fairs, working to accent what’s already out there to make the summer music scene is even brighter.
“We’re really focused this year on June and August, for some good reasons. You’ll notice we don’t really have anything in July. The end of July is fair season in the Tri-States, and we don’t want to compete or step on those events which have long an important cultural significance to the area. And then the beginning of July and end of June we’re not doing shows either. This one if for a very different reason. One thing we have learned, being on the river, is that you never know when Mother Nature is going to bless us with fish flies. So we’re avoiding that issue entirely.”
“The whole ideas is to continue the momentum that we’ve built over the first two years and have maintained with a string of sold-out indoor shows. We do actually have a couple of big indoor shows this summer as well, with Slaughter on June 21 and Craig Campbell on June 30, both in the Q Showroom.”
In the past two years, Brian and his crew at Q Casino have really doubled-down on their investment in great, nationally touring live music of all genres.
“We’ve done that because that’s what we are: an entertainment facility. So let’s look at not only having great gaming, but also what else people love which is live music and good food. So we’ve invested in all of those areas.”
You may have noticed (how can you not) the two giant searchlights atop Q Casino shining brightly into the night sky, drawing eyes and attention to the fun that’s happening down on Schmitt Island, where the Casino and more resides. Social media has certainly taken note of the lights, wondering what they’re for. The simple answer is, they are there because it’s fun.
“I think it’s going to be a really good summer. I feel this is the best lineup yet in our third year in, and if these shows continue to do well, we can continue to bring in even bigger shows next year, and other major events will choose to take advantage of our amazing outdoor stage.”
“We have both of Music and More’s summer festivals down here this year, with Kickoff to Summer on May 25 and Summers’ Last Blast currently filling two big nights in August, maybe making that three nights if tentative booking come through.”
Adding shows to the outdoor schedule could still happen yet again. Just as we were writing this story, a unique concert was added featuring Why Don’t We. This is a very young “boy band” with a huge pre-teen following. So clearly, this show is for the community and not just to bring gamers to the Casino. With a great stage in place for the summer, it allows for this kind of tangential booking to appeal to the full gamut of ages. Back Waters Stage sponsors Pepsi and its local distributor, Lime Rock Springs in Dubuque, will be featured for that show with samples of their newer products.
This show is presented by Buzz Entertainment, the partner company that works with Q Casino to book much of its entertainment indoors and out year-round, in addition to the efforts of Brian and Chuck Minnick from Q Casino’s own experienced live music crew. Scott Thomas from Buzz Media is well know in the Dubuque community and is also the man behind the the Kickoff to Summer and Summer’s Last Blast festivals moving to the Back Waters Stage this summer, noting that the partnership not only helps them to be able to give more to the charities they support with those shows, but the ample and convenient parking doesn’t hurt either. The partnership also promises to be very fruitful for Q Casino and its music-loving patrons.
“We jumped right into the deep end,” says Scott Thomas. “Brian, his team and myself had a vision of making Q the place for live music. We key on finding the up-and-coming acts and spike in some classic stuff, and some comedy for a few laughs too. The comments for players and concert goers have been great. They can’t wait to hear who is coming next.”
Brian Rakestraw comes back around to his partner sponsors again for the summer and how critical they are to the success of the concert series. “Turpin Dodge who sponsors the VIP section will have some of the vehicles on display at select shows, and there are a number of tie-ins and giveaways with other sponsors like Kwik Stop/Dairy Queen. Our VIP bracelets all come with one free drink of any kind with each VIP entry, so the first drink is on the house with those tickets. And of course the primary presenting sponsorship of America Trust is just incredible. This would not even be possible without American Trust and Savings Bank. Their dedication to our live music events and other great festivals and live music shows across Dubuque has been outstanding. Look for the giant inflatable Ernie at Back Waters concerts as well as American Trust ATMs on site for patrons’ convenience.”
It seems like the whole goal of these concerts is momentum—building momentum for Q Casino, for live music and for Schmitt Island as a destination. And as they find success with their concerts, more ideas arise for the future. Trust me, they have some big ideas for the future… but I promised I wouldn’t talk about that… yet!
For more information on all of the live music offerings at Q Casino, visit QCasinoAndHotel.com.
Sevendust with Memphis May Fire, Fire From The Gods & Madame Mayhem
Thursday, May 31, 7 PM
“Enemy,” “Denial” & “Crucified”
General Admission $25, Turpin Dodge VIP Pit $45
Sevendust is an American alternative metal band from Atlanta, Georgia, formed in 1994 and released their self-titled debut album in 1997. They have attained success with three consecutive RIAA gold certified albums, a Grammy nomination, and have sold millions of albums worldwide. Sevendust has released ten studio albums, earned additional charting success and gold sales certifications. They have also re-released their self-titled album as Sevendust: Definitive Edition which contains five new tracks and a DVD. This is a big night of live music with great hard rock and metal from Memphis May Fire, Fire From The Gods & Madame Mayhem opening the show.
Kip Moore & LOCASH with Cale Dodds
Saturday, June 2, 7 PM
Top Hits Include: “More Girls Like You,” “Beer Money” & “Something ‘Bout a Truck”
General Admission $50, Turpin Dodge VIP Pit $75
Kip Moore is an American country music singer-songwriter who spent eight years in Nashville before signing a record deal with MCA Nashville. His debut album, Up All Night, was released is 2012 and was the best-selling debut album by a male in 2012 and 2013. It spawned 3 huge hits for Moore include the smash single “Something ‘Bout a Truck” with a half dozen top 40 U.S. country harting favorites that followed… so far.
LOCASH fuses modern Country and classic heartland Rock with an edgy vocal blend in “one of Nashville’s hardest-working acts” (Rolling Stone) whose live show “has consistently been among the most energetic and entertaining in the country music genre” (Billboard). With two albums and eight charting singles to their credit, LOCASH broke out in 2015 with their gracious GOLD-certified hit, “I Love This Life,” followed by the flirtatious GOLD-certified #1 smash, “I Know Somebody”
Up and comer Cale Dodds opens the show featuring his single “Take You Back”.
Colt Ford with Moonshine Bandits
Saturday, June 16, 7 PM
General Admission $35, Turpin Dodge VIP Pit $55
Colt Ford is an American rapper, singer-songwriter, entrepreneur, and former professional golfer best known for his music fusing country and hip hop, which has been categorized as “country rap”. He has released six albums via Average Joes Entertainment, which he co-founded. Ford has charted six times on the Hot Country Songs charts. With his sixth studio album, the aptly named Love Hope Faith, his follow-up to 2014’s Thanks for Listening, Colt Ford continues to live out his boyhood dream – the one where you “wake up on a mission/to buy that beat-up Gibson,” as he sings on “No Rest.” Love Hope Faith is exactly that, a message to his loyal fan base, and a strike against the divisiveness plaguing our country, celebrating the things that bring us together – friends, family, our faith in a better future.
Supporting act Moonshine Bandits is an American country rap duo composed of Tex and Bird, formed in California in 2003 which has released a number of albums, the most recent being Baptized in Bourbon released in March 2017.
Buzz Promotions presents Why Don’t We
Monday, August 6 | 7PM
Back Waters Stage
Top Hits Include: “Something Different,” “Trust Fund Baby” & “These Girls”
General Admission $39, Turpin Dodge VIP Pit $50
Showing that the Back Waters Stage really is for everyone, Why Don’t We will have the pre-teens screaming for more this summer. Since forming in September 2016, the members of rising dance-pop group Why Don’t We have enjoyed several moments they describe as “surreal,” including hearing their current single, “Something Different,” on Los Angeles’ influential radio station KIIS FM for the first time, watching their latest EP, Why Don’t We Just, hit No. 1 on the iTunes Pop chart (besting albums by Harry Styles, Ed Sheeran, and Bruno Mars), and learning that their summer headlining tour sold out. Over the past year, the members of Why Don’t We have truly bonded as friends, and their genuine camaraderie shines through in everything they do, including in their playful YouTube videos and especially in their feel-good, melody-minded, harmony-laden music. “Our songs are always really positive,” says Daniel. “That’s something we make sure is always a part of it.”
Seether with 10 Years & LTNT
Thursday, August 9, 7 PM
Back Waters Stage
Top Hits Include: “Broken,” “Fake It” & “Remedy”
General Admission $35, Turpin Dodge VIP Pit $55
Seether are a South African rock band founded in May 1999 and gained mainstream popularity in 2002 with their US Active Rock number one single “Fine Again”, and their success was sustained in 2004 with the single “Broken” which peaked at number 20 on the Billboard Hot 100. They have experienced continued success with number one hits on the Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks chart such as “Remedy”, “Fake It”, “Country Song”, “Words as Weapons”, and “Let You Down”. Seether has undergone several lineup changes since their formation in 1999, with vocalist/guitarist Shaun Morgan and bassist Dale Stewart remaining constant. The relentlessly hard working outfit has averaged 90 performances a year, crisscrossing the globe as headlining mainstays and featured performers on many of the world’s biggest rock festivals. Seether songs are familiar to anyone who plays Madden NFL games or watch the WWE. In addition, Morgan co-founded the annual Rise Above Fest, the largest suicide awareness event in the world. Creating something of value and meaning is Seether’s cultural antidote, its north star.
Opener 10 Years is worth the ticket in their own right. An American alternative metal band with eight studio albums, their most recent is (How to Live) As Ghosts and was released in October of 2017. The song ”Wasteland,” from The Autumn Effect, went gold and rose to the top of the Billboard Alternative Songs chart.
Eli Young Band with Southern Drawl Band & Cort Carpenter
Saturday, August 11, 7 PM
Back Waters Stage
Top Hits Include: “Crazy Girl,” “Saltwater Gospel” & “Even If It Breaks Your Heart”
General Admission $35, Turpin Dodge VIP Pit $55
The Eli Young band has always been unique in modern Country music – a true band of brothers who play their own instruments, write their own songs and cling fast to their Texas roots. They’d even go so far as to call themselves “misfits,” but with their fourth major label album, FINGERPRINTS, they’re finally embracing what makes them different once and for all. Although their sound has evolved over time, what they’re good at has always been the same – organic, live-show focused Country dripping with authenticity and perfected in clubs, amphitheaters and stadiums from coast to coast. Their previous three albums hit the Top 5 of Billboard’s Country Albums chart, with 2014’s 10,000 Towns bowing at No. 1. Three No. 1 singles gave the band an edgy, romantically-charged identity. Their stable of hits collected Platinum and Multi-Platinum certifications that lead to Grammy and CMA Award nominations, Billboard Awards and an ACM trophy for Song of the Year for “Crazy Girl”. All of these accolades combined with their loyal fanbase and successful touring have resulted in over 500 million streams of their career catalogue.
Summer’s Last Blast
Thursday, August 23: Kick-Off Concert (Tentative)
August 24-25, 5 PM – Midnight
Featuring Spazmatics, Boy Band Revue, Johnny Trash, Uninvited, Dingleberries, T.O.M.B.
Friday and Saturday are Free Show Open to All Ages
Summer’s Last Blast first moved to the Back Waters Stage in 2017 with three big night of live music and they hope to make the two currently booked nights of music into three again, but we can’t announce the tentative big show they hoping to add on Thursday just yet. Last year it was Chase Bryant. If the stars align, look for something similar this year. But Friday and Saturday are already huge and those two night are also totally free and open to all ages. Friday features the Dingleberries party band from Dubuque, the Uninvited, a long time favorite in the tri-states reuniting for this special night and Boy Bar Review, a tribute act that’s been a big hit in past visits to the Q Casino. Saturday feature T.O.M.B., whom we believe are a goth metal band, the local 80’s hard rock of Johnny Trash and the always insane Spazmatics returning to Dubuque.
Aaron Lewis with Jericho Woods & Noah Smith
Friday, August 31, 7 PM
Top Hits Include: “Country Boy,” “That Ain’t Country” & “Granddaddy’s Gun”
General Admission $35, Turpin Dodge VIP Pit $55
If it sounds like Aaron Lewis is long past defending his Country music pedigree, that would be a correct assessment. His past life includes a very notable role as lead vocalist, rhythm guitarist and founding member of the mjlti-platimun alternative metal band Staind, a few of who’s hits he does still include in his solo shows. Today, Lewis would prefer the music speak for itself and, with the release of SINNER, Lewis’ stunning Dot Records follow-up to his groundbreaking full-length solo debut The Road in 2012, any would-be detractors will be pretty much out of ammo. SINNER blasts through today’s Country music doldrums like a shot of 100-proof whiskey, with the singer making zero compromises with either himself or the restrictions of a format that seems to have abandoned its rougher tendencies in favor of pop and ‘70s rock inclinations largely lacking in grit. “I’d like to think that SINNER is a newer take on classic, traditional Outlaw Country, Waylon and Merle and Willie, and Hank Jr. and Johnny Cash and all that stuff,” says Lewis. “That was the music I heard as a kid, and that’s the Country music that permeated my soul and stuck with me my whole life.”