Thursday, May 25, 2017

See you in the park this Macker weekend

SO WE KNOW it's about Gus Macker time when Noah Williams rolls into town.

Noah is the national staff foreman. He puts all the baskets together, makes sure the courts are ready (the Exchange Club of Quincy tapes them the week before we start) and gets everything off the truck. Noah is one of the best and one of many hard-working Macker national staff members who make things work and keep things moving during a hectic weekend.

I am proud to be the Event Manager for the national staff for the second straight year. This means overseeing the brackets and registration areas and putting out fires - I love Gus, challenges and logistics included. The previous 18 Quincy Macker tournaments I volunteered as an official and Dream Court organizer. I am also working for four other Gus Mackers in three states this summer.

This is the 27th year for Quincy's Gus Macker, a tribute and testament to the Quincy Exchange Club. They are the reason we are still going strong here.

I am not blind to the challenges this tournament puts on our downtown area, and I am sympathetic to the plight of businesses. We are right in the thick of it.

But Sheryl and I love Gus Macker, and we choose to embrace it and make it the best weekend we can. I am proud of our tournament and proud to say I am from Quincy when I travel to other tournaments in the Midwest.

So ... if you need to find me this weekend, starting at about 2 p.m. Friday .... come on over to Washington Park. I'll be wandering around somewhere!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Believe in yourself

WE JUST SOLD a microphone with a USB connector to a young man who wants to record songs on his laptop. He said, "I don't mean to brag or nothing, but I don't suck."

I don't know the young man. I've never heard him sing, or rap, or whatever it is he does. But you know what? He's all fired up and he is chasing his passion and dreams. Good for him! Second String Music is proud to help and we hope he makes it to the big time.

Sheryl and I have learned you can't judge a book by its cover. We are about supporting our local musicians, no matter what kind of music they play. Who knows? Maybe this young man will go on and be a big star and rule the world.

If so, we are proud to say we helped him along the way.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Tiny House Hungers equals huge GUH

TODAY'S BIG HUGE rant is about something tiny. As in, Tiny House Hunters. As in, Sheryl is addicted to HGTV and when she gets tired of 10-person political panels on CNN, she flips it over to HGTV to watch a bunch of home improvements shows.

There's Property Brothers, Beachfront Bargains, Flip or Flop Vegas, and many different versions of House Hunters. The best show was when a poor family in Calftown tried to teach the father to overcome his allergies to power tools and drywall. Wait. That was real and called "Homeowners In The Hood" and it had record ratings.

But .... IT'S SO TINY.
The most ludicrous show, and they are all a bit ludicrous, is called Tiny House Hunters. This features people downsizing and tired of paying huge rent and mortgage payments. So they move into a closet, or something slightly bigger. The first one I watched featured a woman bellowing "IT'S SO TINY" every time she walked into a room. Actually, there was only one room. Good grief, where is she going to put her shoes? Hello! It's TINY HOUSE HUNTERS! The only thing more obnoxious is a person who types in all caps.

Last night's Tiny House Hunters featured a married couple from West Virginia. They moved into the woods and built their own tiny house. The woman has a good job and the man is a full-time musician. That's code for "stay at home husband" or "broke music store owner." But I digress.

The couple used musical instruments to make fixtures and the guy built a stage on the back of the house for his band. They didn't have running water or electricity during construction, though I seem to remember power tools being used - plugged into a generator or a big gerbil running around a turbine wheel generator, I suspect.

It was mesmerizing and I almost burned dinner on the grill, it was so interesting. Then they decided to get all their water from a nearby stream. The guy even tested it to make sure it was clean. It was never explained how their tiny bathroom got tiny water dribbles out of the tiny faucets and shower heads, or where the tiny toilet flushing went, but hey, it's a half hour show and the band played at the housewarming party, which is way more important than water supply and where the electricity comes from. Sheryl said, "That was a $25,000 ad for the band. It was a business expense."

So there it is, our new Monday night cable TV show. Tiny is the new big and big is just a state of mind. If tiny is your style, so be it and good for you - Sheryl and I are happy with our big old German Calftown Hart Manor. We do not think we could live in a space the size of our tiny kitchen.

Hmmm. Now that could be a not Tiny show. Fixing up Hart Manor in Calftown with the irritating Twinsy dudes from Canada?

Monday, May 22, 2017

Back the (dancing) Blue!

VANCIL PERFORMING ARTS had its annual recital Saturday and Sunday at the Morrison Theater inside Quincy Junior High School. Congrats to Cindy, her teachers and all the students for another great year.

The start the recital, several members of our local law enforcement agencies were invited to participate in a dance number. The response was tremendous and it looked like our boys and girls in blue had a lot of fun. Particularly graceful was Quincy Police Sgt. Adam Yates of Pepper Spray and Prospect Road fame - if you've ever seen him boogie to "Ice Ice Baby," you know what I mean.

Cindy and Frank have made Back The Blue a priority and have done a lot of good stuff to raise money and morale. We have another huge event coming up July 8 at Washington Park in downtown Quincy, so stay tuned - it will be epic.

And you might just see a few more dancing officers.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Chris Cornell and the death of grunge

I AM NOT a fan of the so-called "Grunge" music scene. It killed hair bands and melodic rock, some say. Bands like Pearl Jam and Soundgarden and Nirvana came around at the right place at the right time and changed rock music. I never understood it, but by then I was trying to grow up. I had a real job and a family, and I just never identified with it.

Still, it's sad to hear about the passing of Chris Cornell, who had an incredible voice and did some really interesting music. I liked Temple of the Dog, and I remember trying to learn "Say Hello To Heaven" for a student a few years back. The one thing I can appreciate about musicians like Cornell is that they were different and didn't really care about formula.

Some say grunge died a long time ago. I don't know about that - there are still bands out there playing music and making a lot of people happy, and filling concert halls.

The video below is from a live concert. No autotune here, thank you. This is a guy who could sing and project himself through his voice. Even a Youtube video shows it.

Cornell inspired passion. I'm reading comments from some of our local musicians I respect and they are just devastated by his loss. It sounds like he had demons and was pretty much a poster child for the tortured rock and roll musician, and vices were common in his life.

So it's a sad day for music. Peace to you, Chris Cornell, and the the many who celebrate his music and life.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

This guitar scale life ain't no illusion

I HAVE A guitar student who went to St. Louis last Friday and saw Joe Walsh and Tom Petty play in St. Louis. He said it was an amazing show, and I regret not getting to check it out.

Joe Walsh is from another planet. By that, I mean NOBODY plays guitar like him. I love his solo stuff because it's not that hard to figure out but it has all kinds of guitar and other parts hemming in and out.

So, this morning, the student and I sat down and learned "Life of Illusion." I remember playing it years ago and figuring out the opening riff. All these years later, I realize I learned it in the wrong key and had no idea what I was doing. Now I have a whole new approach to life and to playing the guitar - Life of Illusion uses a D major scale, and if you practice the scale, you can learn the riff in no time.

Then we listened to "Breakdown" by Tom Petty, and he learned the little solo part. It's the descending Pentatonic scale in A minor. That sounds music-speak and the explanation is a lot longer and harder than it takes to learn.

Wait a second ... am I turning into what I loathe - the music snob?

Nope. I'm just learning and teaching, in that order. And that's not an illusion.