Monday, August 29, 2016

Keep your shirt on

APPARENTLY THERE IS such a thing as "National Go Topless Day." It happened Sunday in, of all places, San Francisco. No. Really?

Thirteen women showed up at a park not wearing anything above the waist. And men were wearing bikini tops. If men can go topless, so should women, right?

Put your shirt on, Phil. Or don't. Pour some sugar on you.
In a world of flaunting sexuality, why can't we all just get along and put a top on it? The last thing I want is our Outside People not wearing shirts. Wait. Some of them don't, at least the men. I almost crashed again near Sixth and Washington.

I am not standing up during the national anthem until this is fixed.

I am going to sit on a Lake Michigan beach very soon. I will sit in the sun with my shirt off for a few minutes, but only a few, because I don't want to get burned. Then I will spare family and friends my buff chest and sculpted abs. Because, really, who wants to be like Def Leppard guitar player Phil Collen? I'll work on my shredding and biceps.

And I'll keep my shirt on.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Just looking at new Gretsch guitars

SECOND STRING MUSIC received the new Gretsch order Wednesday. I'm always like the kid in the candy store when new guitars arrive. We also got ukuleles and mandolins from Gretsch. You have to see these instruments to appreciate them. We got even more guitars and ukes in this morning.

Speaking of seeing, we get a lot of people who come in and say "Just looking" when asked if we can help them. That's fine. We understand renting a band instrument or buying a guitar is not a spur of the moment thing, though we encourage that, too. And coming in for picks or cables or tuners - the small stuff - is just as important.

Yesterday a young man came in just after the Gretsch order arrived. When he said "Just looking," Sheryl politely said, "Well, if this was an ice cream shop, what flavor would you be looking for?"

The young man got it, and we pointed him over to our ever-expanding selection of acoustic guitars, where he happily plucked away for a few minutes. He complimented us on the store and said, "It must be nice to just play all the guitars all the time."

Well ... sure. Not all the time. And me more than Sheryl, which is why this whole retail music store thing is still alive after five-plus years.

We have all kinds of flavors here - Gretsch, Breedlove, Takamine, Dean, Ibanez, Luna and more. Come on in and lick on them all!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Back in sports

I WENT BACK in time last night. Actually, I will do it once or twice a week this fall. And I love it.

A few weeks ago David Adam, sports editor of The Herald-Whig, called and asked if I'd be interested in working a night or two a week in sports. Sure, why not? I was a sports guy for 10 years. I covered a few basketball games for The Whig in the past couple of years. Last fall I worked for the online Quincy Journal writing about high profile murder trials (the Journal has since folded). Keeping the toes in the water is not a bad thing.

I was in the Whig office last Friday and last night, taking a few calls and helping some of the younger guys. I'm looking forward to covering a few high school football games this fall. I have the time, it's fun and it's like going back to simpler times.

Staff Writer Matt Hopf was working his evening shift last night, so I wandered over to his corner of the newsroom, where I sat for probably a decade. We pulled open a drawer and it had a bunch of my old crime and courts stuff - police reports, victim impact statements, a Court TV video from the 1993 levee break, old political stickers, etc. There was even a full box of my old business cards. I left the Whig four years ago and the drawer hasn't been touched.

I don't miss my old job, but I did miss some of the people I used to work with, so it's fun being back. David has hired some college kids to take calls and write up short stories, and they really bust their butts - it's fun to watch them get the hang of it. Last night I took a call from Quincy Notre Dame soccer coach Greg Reis and "it was just like falling off a bike," as former Quincy University legend Jay Driscoll used to say.

Once a sports guy, always a sports guy, and I'm proud of it.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Spontaneous Jam

ONE OF THE things we don't do quite as much anymore is break out into a jam session. These are often the best times for a musician. For those of us who are lucky to play music for a living, it's especially a treat.

Last Sunday Cori Lyssy and I played at the Mark Twain Brewery in Hannibal. It was a beautiful afternoon on the deck and we had a blast. After we got done, we walked up the street to La Azotea Lounge. They were having a "Lip Synch Battle," which I think is just karaoke, and our friend Mike Moore was at the helm with his son on percussion.

Before I knew it, I had a guitar in my hand, Cori was singing Johnny Cash songs, Mike's son was keeping perfect tempo on the cajon, and the place was coming unglued. I attribute our good fortune to Fat Tire, Mike being nice to us and just being in the right place at the right time.

Sheryl said I was "all over the place" and something else about dollar bills being shoved into the, uh, girl singer's pockets. Right. We will go with that. Like I always say, if you can find a girl who can sing, strum your guitar and stay out of her way.

It was only for maybe 10 or 15 minutes, but geesh, it was more fun than you should be allowed to have, as usual.

Thanks to Cori's husband, the ever-patient Benny Lyssy, we made it home. I do believe Cori and Benny ventured out to The Club and jammed even more with the Matt Roberts Blues Band. But when you are in your early 30s, well, you have more stamina and sustainability.

Sheryl and I passed out as soon as we got home.

So here's to Sunday Fun Day and playing music in the spur of the moment. It's the perfect combination.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Gretsch guitars on the way

SECOND STRING MUSIC is proud to announce we have officially become Gretsch Guitar dealers, and our first shipment will be here soon.

Gretsch has a long and storied history. Yes, we are getting into the amazing hollow body electrics, but we also will stock very cool acoustics, and even a bass. The Gretsch hollow body electric obviously has a bigger body, but they are still light and easy to play. And you might be surprised at how affordable they are.

When you think of Gretsch, you think of Chet Atkins and the Country Gentleman guitar. George Harrison made the Duo Jet famous with the Beatles. Brian Setzer is a Gretsch guy, as is Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top. Even Malcolm Young of AC/DC plays a Gretsch. When you look at the artists playing Gretsch guitars, it's striking how many younger and heavier bands play Gretsch. That's the sign of a good guitar company - versatile instruments capable of playing any style. Gretsch is also famous for drums - just ask Charlie Watts of the Rolling Stone.

We have also placed another Breedlove acoustic guitar order, and we'll be bulking up our Takamine acoustics before Christmas.

Got our new stickers today!
It's been busy here with the start of school band rental season - we again are partnering with Boyd Music out of Jacksonville. They are great to work with and we want to make sure you have the best possible instrument at the best price.

As soon as the Gretsch order gets here, we'll let you know on Second String Music Facebook page. As always, thanks for your help in making us Quincy's music store!

Friday, August 19, 2016

Meeting the students, Berrian style

SCHOOL IS STARTING again and we are all wondering where the summer went. For parents, it's a welcome time of getting back into a daily routine. For teachers and administrators, it's often the most intense time of the year before things calm down.

Students? That varies. There are kids who love school, but I bet most would like a few more weeks of summer.

Emily, my daughter, is starting her job at Western Illinois as Professor of Oboe. This is her first real job using her degree. She is super excited and we are so proud. As she steps into the world of academia, I'm going back to 1999, when she attended third grade at Berrian School.

Berrian had been shuttered as a grade school and used for other purposes for many years. Then Quincy Public Schools decided to reopen it, and spent a lot of money fixing it up. We lived in Southern View, and we could have continued to send Emily to Adams, also an excellent school.

But the small class sizes were appealing. And she had the best teacher, Jill Schinderling Reis. Emily had a fantastic year at Berrian.

There were some parents who didn't want their kids to attend Berrian. I'm afraid it was bigotry and small-mindedness that drove it. They didn't want their precious little gems to be in the same room with "poor" students, or kids of a different color. One mom said, "I don't want my daughter in the same school with those kids from the Hills."

"The Hills" is Indian Hills, part of the Quincy Housing Authority. Sure, it has issues. So does my neighborhood. So does every neighborhood. People are defined by culture and upbringing. But good people come from all walks of life and deserve a chance.

The teachers of Berrian School went knocking on doors the other day to meet students and get ready for the first day of classes. God bless 'em. Seventeen years after Emily began a life-enriching experience at Eighth and Jackson streets, Berrian is still rocking.

Here's to a good school year, and I'm proud to say my daughter was, and always will be, a Berrian Bear.