Friday, August 30, 2013

Fast Eddie Weighs In

HEY THERE! MY humans are busy doing Second String Music stuff. So I, Fast Eddie, have taken over the blog today. As you can see by my puuuuuurrrrfect picture above, I am a good writer and I have a lot to purr, so let's get on with it. Meow!

Rodney is very silly and a bit dense. He needs to realize there is no such thing as a big decision. And to let it ride. He is very lucky because Sheryl does all of the work around here and things always seem to balance out in the end. Lap up some creamer in your food bowl and quit worrying, you big silly! It's not his fault he was a newspaper guy for all those years. And needs therapy because of it! I will sit on his stomach when he's doing those stretching exercises and purr on him.

I do like it when they are around. I also like the peace and quiet of 5th and Maine at night. This weekend I will have the store to myself for two whole days. It will be very nice. I will listen to ghosts bumping around upstairs, use my litter box whenever I want. Chase bugs and sit in the windows as all the interesting downtown people walk past the store. Ah, it's a cat's life.

The other day this crazy gal named Kiki brought me some catnip and it was goooooood stuff. I took a roll in it, looked at Sheryl and said, "Why are there two of you?" My friends Lew and Lois visit almost every Saturday and Lois always plays with me, and tires me out. That's a good thing. I'm very good at lounging and taking it easy. Something my humans could learn.

Apparently there is a big sale in the store this weekend. All I know is that Tucker, the Border Collie of Doom, is here too and he'd better not boss me around. I hope we sell lots of guitars so my silly owners can buy more cat treats. In fact, my buddy Victoria Kelley brought some yesterday and they are delicious. Victoria rocks!

Have yourselves a great Labor Day Weekend. Uh oh. Here comes Rodney, he's ordering me off the computer ... give me a treat, dang it!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Can't You See when the power goes out

LAST SATURDAY Pepper Spray played for the fun-loving parafest people out by the airport. We hooted and hollered all night and it was more fun than should be allowed.

About an hour into it the power failed. We hook into the Mighty Adam Yates' PA and lights, and were in the middle of the Marshal Tucker Band classic "Can't You See" when it shut down.

When the lights were on! (Photo courtesy Tonya Logue Vogel)
There are two things you can do when this happens. One is simply apologize and wait for the power to come back on. Two, keep playing.

Tim Smith, of course, kept playing. He simply unplugged his guitar, and I wandered out to the front with him, and Justin Sievert grabbed his acoustic and came out, and we got everybody to sing. "Can't ya see, can't ya see, what that woman, been doin' to me ...."

They loved it.

The Mighty One, Frank and Steve P got us plugged back in. And we soldiered on. The moral of the story is to keep playing, no matter what happens.

We looked better in the dark, anyway.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Labor Day Cheese

THE CHEESEBURGERS ARE doing the Labor Day Weekend three-peat - shows Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

We did this a year ago Memorial Day Weekend and it was a lot of fun, though I didn't wake up until Wednesday after we were done.

We start Friday night at Spirit Knob Winery near Ursa. Sheryl and I love this place and we've never played there. I can't think of a better way to kick off the holiday weekend. It will be a bit warm but the outdoor setting is beautiful and the wine incredible, so hope you can make it out. This is for the 21-over crowd and there is a $5 cover charge.

Saturday we are the Cave Hollow Winery in the Mark Twain Cave complex in Hannibal. Again, never played there or even been to this place, but Hannibal is known for having good crowds and it should be really fun. There is no cover charge for this event, which starts at 7 p.m.

We cap it off Sunday night at the Keokuk Yacht Club party. The Keokuk folks are always good to us and we start at 7:30, and think there is some kind of shrimp fry going on.

We've learned some songs and Tim Lawless is raring to go on guitar. Let's Git Cheesey!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Beached For Life

THERE IS THIS band in town called Eleven, and they are awesome. They even have a great big bus with their logo on it. It makes them The Bomb.

Yeah? Well, Pepper Spray just went nuclear.

As you can see in the above photo, we now have a plane. Yup, the Pepper Spray plane. Pretty sweet, ain't she?

Actually, the plane belongs to Pepper Spray member Tim Smith. He took me, Frank Haxel and The Mighty
Breaking it down with Hanna Banana on the beach .... 
Adam Yates to Michigan Sunday, and we spent the day and night on my Uncle Peter's Lake Michigan beachfront near Holland.

The three boys had never been to Michigan, let alone the big hole in the ground full of water, and they loved every minute of it. We had an awesome jam session on the deck after dinner with cousins Michael and Roland. Their kids enjoyed hanging out with goofy Uncle Rod's friends, and there was an epic Goony Race on the beach (see video below).

As the boys found out, there is something soothing and therapeutic about simply sitting on the beach in the sun with a beverage and enjoying good company and conversation. We are doing this again next year and might try to extend it a day or two, cuz a little fun in the sun just isn't enough.

It took us about two hours to get there. Two hours! I am used to the seven- to eight-hour drives battling Chicago traffic and arriving completely exhausted. Tim is an excellent pilot and the flight was smooth most of the way.

A huge thank you to Uncle Peter and Aunt Helen, and cousin Amy, who insisted we make the trip. Roland and Amy, Michael and Natalie, the kids, everybody .... It. Was. Awesome.

And we can't wait to do it again!

Friday, August 23, 2013

One Dorky Replacement

TODAY AT 11:30 I'm playing in Washington Park with the lovely and talented Kayla Obert. She's been doing the Friday noon lunch series shows with her sister, Katyann, who has left for school. You can sit in the shade on a glorious late summer day and grab lunch from the Butcher Block.

We practiced a few songs last night and I have no doubt we will have a blast. Kayla has a great voice, writes her own songs and plays all the time. I think she's a bit nervous because she's never really done anything like this before - flown without a flight plan, so to speak.

Kayla ... have you ever heard of Pepper Spray? No plans allowed!

Speaking of Pepper Spray, we have a really fun gig lined up tomorrow night by the airport for a bunch of crazy paragliders. On Sunday, Tim Smith, Adam Yates and Frank Haxel join me for a 24-hour Lake Michigan beach blast, which will involve a lot more strumming and humming.

And we have Blues In The District with the awesome Kilborn Alley band.

Music everywhere. Love love love love in all caps!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Fire scenes and gawkers

THERE WAS A horrible incident in Calftown Thursday when a truck crashed into a building at Eighth and Adams, about five blocks from where we live. Click here for the Whig photos from the fire- the last one is of Quincy Fire Chief Henning assisting a resident and her pet.

I stopped by on the way home from work last night, but only lasted a few minutes. I went to too many of these scenes as a reporter, and I never understood the gawk factor. Hundreds of people were out to see what happened, but when they were removing the truck from the building, the crowd inched forward and I got disgusted and left.

One wonders what was going on with the driver. Sadly, in our neighborhood, you think it might be a methhead tweaking. Or a mentally ill person having a bad day, or somebody upset with a spouse, job situation, life itself.

I guess the part about this is that nobody else was killed. If this driver was intent on causing harm to others, well, it didn't happen.

All that's left is a burned building, a knocked down fence and memories of a gawking crowd.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

When steroids are good

DEALING WITH A bad back or any chronic pain requires two approaches. The first in the mental outlook, where you can't let the nagging pain and the unending pressure on your spine get you down. Easier said than done, of course, and last night I let it get to me.

I've had to stand while giving guitar lessons and moving around helps. While teaching guitar I forget about my back and for the most part it's good, until I sit down by habit and then can't stand back up.

The other thing is to pay attention to your body, make sure you see a chiropractor and/or your doctor, and follow the directions when taking your medicine.

When my back goes out, I usually take a round of steroids called methylprednisolone. It's prescription-only and you take it in staggered doses - six pills the first day, five the next, etc., until they are all gone. It's worked every time, though I've had to do more than one round.

And, finally .... make your strong young nephew move drum boxes next time. Your back will thank you.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Back behind

THERE ARE TWO ways to look at it when your back goes out.

One, curse fate and everything else around.

Two, just be glad it happened when it did.

I blew mine out Friday moving boxes. Quincy chiropractor Shawn Irvine at least got me mobile, a good thing since Frank Haxel had to basically carry me into his office.

I made another visit to his office this morning and it's finally starting to feel a bit better. Sheryl likes to remind me that she had back surgery a few years ago and it never was a good idea to make fun of someone who takes five minutes to get in and out of the car.

Fortunately we had a rare weekend off from The Cheeseburgers. And with the coming weekend looming - Blues In The District, a Pepper Spray gig, a 24-hour beach blast trip to Lake Michigan via plane - I'm just glad I have time to recover.

Just in time to get back at it. Again.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Cheesey pics

WELL, THERE IS no turning back for poor Tim Lawless now .... we've taken band pictures. You are in the Cheeseburgers forever, Tim.

Every time we introduce a new member we take photos at the drummer's house, where we practice. Apparently the camera shutter was a little loud and the neighbor complained about the noise. Ooops. Sorry. Not.

Tim is fitting right in and we can't wait to unleash some new songs Labor Day weekend. We play Friday night, Aug. 30, at Spirit Knob Winery near Ursa, one of Sheryl's favorite places in the world. Saturday we are at the Mark Twain Cave winery in Hannibal and Sunday we are up at the Keokuk Yacht Club.

Let the cheese drip!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

A scary story and great newspaper coverage

GREAT JOB AS usual by Don O'Brien of the Quincy Herald-Whig, who is covering a trial involving a very scary person. Click here for the latest if you are allowed on the Whig site.

The person involved, and I won't call him a man, forced two women into sexual acts. Two women testified, and after the second woman took the stand, the prosecutor filed additional charges.

The person accused gave it up this morning and is facing 25 years in prison. I bet prosecutors uncovered more evidence and the person accused saw the light, or what little light could penetrate such a sick person's head.

I am not discounting other stories like miracle priests and back to school features. They are important. But a story like this, which shows a monstrous person preying on women in little old Quincy, Illinois, is just as important.

Thank goodness DOB and The Whig are on top of it.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Another Adventure For Emily

MY DAUGHTER LEFT for graduate school this morning. Sheryl and I miss her a lot already. She's a big girl and off to another big adventure, in a life already filled with big adventures. Emily is attending Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y. She wants to play the oboe for a living. You would be foolish to tell her she won't.

She graduated from Western Illinois in May and went to Blue Lake to work, then was was home for about 10 days before taking off again. She came to the store and practiced her oboe, and the back room was filled with that high and drifting sound.

Ginny and Emily, to top of the world, or Second String Music.
I got used to her coming over. She and some buddies came to a Cheeseburger show and I drove them home, they had so much fun. She and her friend Ginny Helmer came to the house the other night and sat by the backyard fire pit, giggling like the longtime friends they are. We took her to Tiramisu and she walked through Woodland Cemetery with the dogs, and now she's gone, embarked on the 15-hour drive, not looking back in the least.

Western Illinois is only an hour and change away. Rochester is much different. We won't see her much. She is all grown up and has the whole world ahead of her, and my pride busts at the seams.

Go get 'em, Big Girl.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Germanfest and playing in the street

A TRADITION IN Quincy is being revived and The Cheeseburgers are glad to be a part of it.

It's on Saturday, Oct. 12, in front of the Dick Brothers Brewery on York Street. We are playing with the awesome Heidelberg German Band, and if the weather is good, we'll be right on the street.

We appreciate the organizers of the event for hiring us and working with us on band placement and setup. More than a few places around here could take a lesson or two.

And we appreciate Germanfest hiring local bands.

Roll out the barrel!

Monday, August 12, 2013

I hate meetings - except for this one

I ATTENDED THE MidSummer Arts Faire wrapup meeting Sunday. Rachel Henke and her hard-working group reviewed surveys and talked about ways to make things better.

I hate meetings. I hated them when I was a board member at church, and I hated them when assigned by The Whig to write stories. It was all about taking care of business, but they were boring and grinding and exercises in patience and endurance. Too many times I'd attend a "meeting" and really struggle to write a story because nothing happened.

The MAF meeting was well organized and lots of great ideas were discussed. I was also impressed with the honorary chairs, Jeff and Theresa Spear. They were anything but honorary. They dove right in and had all kinds of great feedback.

I put together the music for the MAF and will do it again next year, and don't plan to change a lot, other than to get new acts involved.

So, thanks to Rachel and her crew. They rock and roll and do incredible work. And I have no doubt the 2014 MAF will be better than ever.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Lower crime rates, colorful characters

THE HISTORIC QUINCY Business District released statistics showing crime rates have dropped downtown in the past few years. Click here for the Facebook link.

We feel safe at Second String Music, though there are a lot of, well, interesting and colorful characters walking around. Some of them get deposited at the low-rent areas, some wander over from other neighborhoods, and some we just stay away from after they waddle out of the bars.

This morning an older gal with smoker's throat who was leaning to port stopped by as we were sitting outside with our coffee. Frank Haxel was recovering from fixing a flat tire and did what he does best, which is sit in a lawnchair on the sidewalk, and it was a beautiful Fifth and Maine morning.

Our new friend went over to Mercantile Bank, made herself a cup of their coffee, and was heading back to the bar to get a shot of Kahlua or something. And to get her "boyfriend" a beer.

Her first husband was a Marine drill instructor, she was in the reserves, she likes blue guitars, and she was picking up cigarette butts while teetering down Fifth Street. Sheryl made sure to tell her (loudly so Frank would hear) if she bought a guitar, she gets 4 free private guitar lessons from Vancil Performing Arts, much to Frank's appreciation.

Crime might be down, but it never gets dull downtown!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Disappearing Church Sound Stuff

THE LEGENDARY AND awesome Bruce Rice was in the store this morning to buy some cables for the First Union Congregational Church portable sound system. Eight years ago, with Michael Warneke's help, we purchased a portable PA for the downstairs youth area and used it for Sunday night services. I made a donation from my late mother's estate to help purchase the equipment, and it was a great system.

Bruce went looking for some of the cords and accessories the other day, but couldn't find them. It's been a long time since I've been down there, and when I went over to 12th and Maine today to help him look, I was shocked to see the entire corner area had been cleaned out. The small stage and the bookcases are gone, and the numerous speaker and microphone cords have disappeared.

It's anybody's guess as to what happened. I can attest to music stuff simply vanishing into thin air. Second String Music will help replace the equipment, and I hope The Congo will rock. They have a new pastor and it's a special place, one I hold close to my heart.

Hey. Has anybody seen my lucky Orange guitar cord?

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Oboes and cats and daughters

What?  I love the Oboe!
EMILY LEAVES FOR graduate school in a week. She has been coming to the store and using one of our practice rooms to play her oboe.

What a beautiful sound, high and lonesome and wistful, all at the same time.

Fast Eddie also likes it. He jumps on top of the drum boxes by the back room and stares through the practice room window. Emily has to stop herself from laughing, because oboe practice is serious bidness, you know.

My little ponytailed girl, all grown up and going to Eastman School of Music. GUH.

We love it. Even Tucker likes the music, he's laying down by the couch with his eyes closed, soaking it all in, just like when we have guitar lessons.

Sure, we sell guitars at Second String Music. But bet you didn't know we offer animal music therapy. Or former newspaper guy music therapy.

It all works.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

I wanna go north

This will cure anything. Guaranteed.
I AM IN desperate need of a Lake Michigan day. Aren't we all?

People around here say, "We have a river. Just go down there for a day." Obviously they have never been to Lake Michigan, or the right place on Lake Michigan, but I understand it and I'm just glad they are concerned about my general welfare. Or maybe they think I'm already crazy and it doesn't matter where I go.

With guitar lessons, Cheese and just general lotsastuffhappening, time has flown this summer. We took a whirlwind Canada trip in June. I'm short on time and cash. I wonder if spending 15 hours in the car to spend one day on the beach is worth it.

Then I think of my awesome cousins and my aunt and uncle, my hoser buddy David Wilkins, and just sitting on the beach with a cigar and a cold lemonade, and closing my eyes.

Man. I gotta try to make this happen.

Monday, August 5, 2013

New Store In The Store

CONGRATS TO FRANK Haxel and Cindy Vancil, owners of Vancil Performing Arts, for opening their Dancer's Dream studio inside our historic Dodd Building at Fifth and Maine.

Dancer's Dream is located at 503 Maine, just east of the corner of Fifth and Maine. Frank spent many hard months tearing the back area apart and bringing it back to life. The coolest discovery was finding the old Mercantile Bank sign above the bank vault. It's been preserved and the vault is now part of the dressing room and show area.

Dancer's Dream is officially open for business and all Vancil students get 20 percent off today.

Second String Music partnered with Vancil Performing Arts early on, and the relationship has been fantastic. You get four free music lessons if you buy or rent an instrument from us, and Vancil students get 10 percent off any purchase. Vancil's music department has grown so much that Frank had to buy the building across the parking lot at Eighth and Ohio, and they have a state of the art center with great teachers.

We have more big news coming from Fifth and Maine, hopefully within a month or so. Downtown Quincy rocks!

Friday, August 2, 2013

This gal runs the show

ADVICE TO TELEMARKETERS or people from social service agencies who want us to donate: My wife runs the show.

Sheryl just went through this with an older man from a church group. He kept asking for me, and Sheryl kept telling him I was unavailable. She finally had to tell him that she is also an owner of this business. He then realized he could talk to her about his charity's needs. 

Telemarketers never say, "Are you the owner of the business?" They always say, "Can I speak to the owner of the business?" And here's Sheryl's reply - "CLICK."  Of course, she is just as likely to put Fast Eddie on the phone too.

This is a joint venture and we make decisions together, but she has the degree in business. I have the degree in staying out of the way. It's a match made in heaven!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Weathering The KHQA Patio

THE CHEESEBURGERS HAD a blast performing live this morning for KHQA This Morning on their back patio. The above link has video and other stuff.

Yes, we are Cheesey, and yes, we do all those songs many bands won't but people love. Still, you have to be able to play to do an acoustic gig, and I think we pulled it off fairly well.

Apparently the band Royal Bliss was on the show recently and band members did the weather, so I jokingly asked Teagan if I could do it. The next thing I know they are clipping a microphone to me and saying "You are on in 20 seconds, just wing it."

So I did the weather. Check another thing off the bucket list. Apart from the wind blowing at five degrees, I got through it.

Thanks to the KHQA crew of Chad, Teagan, Brooke, Michelle and everybody over there, and my bandmates. We lost a little sleep but had a lot of fun, and now we get ready for a great gig Friday night at One Restaurant.

Here's the forecast - it might be raining outside, so come see us inside at Sixth and Hampshire!