Wednesday, December 31, 2014

NYE in a blizzard

WHEN I WAS young, my family would celebrate New Year's Eve by letting the kids stay up and by praying as the clock struck midnight. My, how things changed as I got older.

For two years in a row in the late 1980s, we had the best NYE parties behind the old Rosewood house in Grand Rapids. It was a big field, and we had a huge bonfire to ring in the new year.

During my college years I worked at Kingma's Market. We sold Christmas trees, and I distinctly remember me and a co-worker, Peter Kuiper, driving a big box truck and picking up trees from massive homes in East Grand Rapids after Christmas. One time we got a large tip and ended up spending it at the Last Chance Bar on Burton near Kalamazoo, less than a mile from the old Kingma's. But that's another story.
Bye Bye 2014!

There were usually a few trees left over in the Kingma's lot, and one year we grabbed a bunch of them, along with some old and rotting wooden pallets, loaded them in the truck and drove to the place behind Rosewood. There was about three feet of snow on the ground, so we simply smashed the truck through the snow and the field, dumped off the trees and waited for nightfall.

This was more than 25 years ago, so the memories are fuzzy now, and likely more fuzzy the next day. I just remember it snowing hard as we huddled around the fire. We threw a Christmas tree into the pit, and it made a huge woooosh noise and exploded into flames.

Of course it was dumb and probably dangerous, though there was a ton of snow on the ground and we had water in a bucket, which promptly froze. One year a fire truck came down Rosewood, but the firefighters simply laughed at us after they saw it was a bunch of college kids, and they turned right around in the blizzard and left.

I can still see, smell and taste that bonfire. I remember being in a hurry to grow up around that time, but now it's all about remembering how simple life was, and how much fun we had.

No bonfires in blizzards tonight. But I'm still smiling.

My immediate family is long gone from Grand Rapids. I have a dear cousin, Natalie, who lives about a mile from the house on Rosewood. Perhaps she can drive down the street, pause in front of the last house on the right, and laugh out loud.

I bet she'll still smell the smoke, too.




Tuesday, December 30, 2014

New Year's resolutions

NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTIONS are nice gestures. Do they work? I don't know.

This year, I'm going to cut down on my caffeine, spend less time online, eat better, keep Angus The Young from chewing my ankles and just generally be happier and more appreciative.

There. Dare to dream. Nobody says resolutions have to be realistic.

Happy New Year and please make it a safe one. There is a lot of stuff going on in Quincy Wednesday night - I'm playing for the dinner crowd at BoodaLu, and we just learned Pepper Spray is playing Saturday night at The Blind Pig. So musically, we are off to a rousing start.

I think 2015 will be a great year.



Monday, December 29, 2014

Risk - a different game today

I REMEMBER LONG and drawn out games of Risk when I was a boy. Usually I played with my brothers and usually they beat me. It involved strategy and luck of the dice roll. But I do recall it was a fairly simple game.

Things change a bit in 30 years, eh?

Last night in Calftown at the Hart Manor, we busted out the current Risk game. Sheryl's nephews, Brant and Evan, joined me and legendary gamer Greg Ellery for a rousing battle around the dining room table.

Other than the fact it took a couple of hours for us to figure out all the new rules, it went pretty well. There are now "Objectives" and "Airfields" and winning the game is different - didn't you used to simply squash the other guy and take all his countries?

At least the dice part is still the same. But the game parts are a lot different (Angus says TASTEE!), the map is smaller, there are capitols and cities, and I squint a lot more and have trouble reading the names of all the countries now, too. Or territories, or whatever they are called.

Anyway, it was great fun. I think Brant won. I highly recommend a pint of Goose Island Ten Hills to make the game easier, as well.

Let's do it again! Maybe I can find some reading glasses to see what I'm doing, too.




Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas list



AND A VERY Merry Christmas to ...

1. Our UPS and FedEx drivers. Not much fun this time of year. You get us our stuff, and we appreciate it, especially the big package of cheese and sausage that just showed up.

2. All the patient people. Our store has been crazy the past few days. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you to all our loyal Second String Music customers, new and old.

3. The store owner who just cranked "Big Bottoms" by Spinal Tap. Wait. That was my wife. Thank you, Sheryl.

4. Coach Andy Douglas and his Quincy Blue Devil basketball players, who delivered Christmas gifts and goodies to three deserving families this week.

5. My brothers in rock and roll, The Cheeseburgers. Stay tuned. 2015 could be verrrrryyyy interesting.

6. Matt Schuckman, Stephanie Oitker and Frank Cash from The Herald-Whig, who greeted an old and former sports guy last Saturday night and made him feel comfortable. Just like falling off a bike.

7. The gal who bought her husband Moody Blues and The Knack vinyl albums for Christmas. Can't say who she is - it would wreck the Christmas surprise. Hubby will be happy!

8. Cindy Vancil, who brought Christmas stockings stuffed with goodies for Fast Eddie and our three dogs. Angus chewed on his bone for hours yesterday and was one happy puppy.

9. Grannie Anne Mays, our surrogate mother in the Q-Town. She rocks!

11. You. By the way, I skipped 10 and went right to 11, because, you know, it's one louder. So have a one louder and Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Super busy Christmas

YESTERDAY WAS THE single busiest day we've ever had at Second String Music. It never got crowded, but until the last hour, there were people in and out at a steady pace.

Sure, we sold a lot of stuff. We made a lot of people happy. Sheryl fixed up some vintage guitars - a couple came in with a Gibson Les Paul and Gibson SG belonging to their father. He hadn't played them in years. Sheryl restrung them and now they look and sound fabulous.

Maybe Santa will bring me an SG for Christmas. Some year.

We collapsed in a heap at home last night. But I summoned enough energy to pull the tree out of the basement, because Emily is coming home for Christmas and we have to put the tree up. Half the lights don't work, it's lopsided and some of the fake branches are missing. But it's a tree. And it's up.

This morning, the amazing Anne Mays came in and invited us to her house for Christmas. So all is well and right with the world.

Merry Christmas. Hope you get all your stuff done and the tree looks good. It's sunny and climbing to 50 today in the Q-town, and we are having a green Christmas.

I might just have to smoke a stogie on the sidewalk this afternoon to celebrate.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Slow down at Christmas

I JUST WITNESSED a guy at the bank across the street being a real Scrooge. I didn't quite catch the gist of his complaints. "I have 16 accounts here and I put millions of dollars through this place," he said. "And you are going to make me do what?" He calmed down enough to get a check cashed and then left muttering to himself. I made sure to tell the bank manager that her teller did a good job with a real jerk.

I have one account and a mortgage at my bank. Maybe that's why I'm happy when I go in there. How much money you have matters not.

There are two rules about banks. One, if you are not happy, don't take it out on the poor teller. Go see management or somebody in charge. Two, don't clog up the drive through by balancing your accounts and cashing in a savings bond while opening an IRA. You might want to get out of your car for those. Thank you.

It's Christmas. It can be a stressful time. Slooowwwww down. We see so many happy people here at Second String Music right now because they are getting cool stuff for family and friends. It's all about the giving, and it's all about the peaceful time of the season.

Merry Christmas and peace on earth, and all that good stuff. And chill, brother. Your blood pressure will go down and you'll be happier, too.

Friday, December 19, 2014

No gigs ... for a while

TONIGHT, THE MIGHTY Adam Yates and I play a private Christmas party. Then ... nothing.

As in, for the first time in probably a decade, I have no gigs lined up. None. Zip.

The Cheeseburgers are regrouping and looking for a keyboard player (we have some leads). Pepper Spray has something in March, I think. No solo shows out there, for now.

You know what? It's all good. It will be nice waking up Sunday morning and not dealing with the Rock and Roll Truck. For that matter, it will be nice hanging out on a Saturday night with Sheryl and chilling, or maybe catching a band around here.

Of course, the minute I post this, somebody will call. There are always places and chances to play.

For now, I will enjoy the break.


Thursday, December 18, 2014

Weather story

I WOKE UP this morning to discover a blanket of fresh snow on the ground. Beautiful! It's more like Christmas now and a little bit of the white stuff never hurt nobody.

Unless you live in Quincy.

When I first moved here from Michigan, I laughed out loud at the reaction of Quincyans to snow. They panicked and there were crashes and weather alerts and front page stories and grocery stores ran out of milk.

"Uh, this is just another day in September in Alpena," I said.

When I was a reporter, I hated the first snow of the season. It meant you had to duck when you got into the newsroom because the boss always wanted a story, usually on the front page. You couldn't blame him, because that's all people were talking about.

Then I'd have to watch the TV news to see what they were doing - "Snow! We talk to real people about what this means to you!"

GUH. It's making me glad I jumped out of the plane without a parachute a few years ago.

So here is my weather story today. You are welcome.

By RODNEY HART
Not A Reporter Anymore
Hello, Quincy. It snowed. It is still snowing. There isn't much on the ground. It will stop later today. The roads are slippery. Don't cry when you slide off the road. And go get milk and cause panic at the grocery store. The end.

Yup. I still got it.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Christmas video



WE HAD A blast at Martini's last night debuting the video for "Been So Long."

Chris Kelley from Table 16 Productions is amazing. We couldn't be happier with the finished product and it was so much fun to make. A big thanks also to Ben Poland and Mike Sorensen for hanging out too.

It took two hours to film, all in our Second String Music building and at Fifth and Maine. It stars Greg Ellery and Adam Yates. And Angus the Young. Apparently there is a brief glimpse of Sheryl in the video too.

Every time I watch it I see Greg doing something goofy or making a face. When Sheryl saw it for the first time, she said, "You guys are a bunch of dorks." That's why it works!

I still have some CDs left for sale with "Been So Long" and eight other Christmas songs, for sale for just $5 at the store. Maybe next year we'll make a video for "Be Nice To Your Pets For Christmas." Maybe.

Thank you thank you thank you Chris and Victoria, Table 16, and everybody who helps them be creative geniuses!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Couches, car keys and change

SUNDAY NIGHT WHILE we were comatose on our respective couches, Sheryl reached under the cushion to find Angus' squeaky toy and found Jimmy Hoffa.

Well. Not really. She did, however, pull out a lot of other stuff after getting the urge to clean.

We don't get these urges often, thank goodness. In fact, on Sunday I wanted to clean my car and Sheryl talked me out of it. So we often get the urge to NOT clean, which I think is healthier, if maybe less sanitary.

Angus loves this Love Seat! (and his bone)
Anyway, Sheryl got the vacuum out for both couches and I gave up five minutes of sleeping through football. She found 88 cents in change, a 1997 spaghetti sauce coupon, lots of rubber bands, crayons, toy parts, a nice pen and a car key.

Yup. A car key. It was in a little Buick envelope. Sheryl got the couches eight years ago after her mother died and her father redecorated his house, and we believe the key came from a vehicle her mom drove. I don't believe in signs or coincidence, so there is no proof her late mother was saying, "Look. I don't need it anymore, so why bother cleaning to find it?"

Sheryl says her mother also hated to clean. So did mine, come to think of it.

By the way .... has anybody seen the TV remote?

Monday, December 15, 2014

More fires downtown

THERE WAS ANOTHER scary fire just a block from Second String Music Friday night. Fortunately our firefighters knocked it down before it took out the entire Elkton building. The owners are vowing to carry on and we wish them the best.

The Whig did a very good story about the owners of the building between the Elkton and the Newcomb, which burned a year ago September. I'd be a little nervous, too.

KHQA is doing a similar story and their new reporter just came in for an interview. He was very professional, and we look forward to watching it tonight. Sheryl bonded with him because they are both from Florida - bet he didn't know he should buy warm slippers/boots if he's working in Quincy!

The recent downtown fires don't temper our optimism about being here in the least. There are a lot of old buildings down here, including ours. All I know is that we are having a good Christmas season and the next 10 days will be busy at Fifth and Maine.

We love being downtown. We love owning a historic old building and we shoulder the responsibility.

Friday, December 12, 2014

New Years Eve shows, no shows

New Years 2011
IT LOOKS LIKE I have New Year's Eve off. This is the first time in ... well, a long time. Playing music on the biggest party night of the year is fun, don't get me wrong. And I will never turn down a chance to play, if things work out

But I'm looking forward to a quieter night. Maybe we'll just stay home. Maybe we'll go over to a friend's house and keep it low key. Maybe we'll just collapse in a heap after a busy Christmas season.

And maybe I'll wake up on New Year's Day and I won't feel like I've been run over by the rock and roll truck. Happy New Year's indeed!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Full Frame preview

SHERYL AND I were honored last night to be part of the cast and crew screening of Chris and Victoria Kelley's new movie, Full Frame. Click here for the trailer and more info about Table 16 Productions.

It was shot in Quincy this past year, much of it around Fifth and Maine. The main character's photo studio is in the WCU Building across the street, but the interior scenes were filmed on the third floor of our historic Second String Music building. Chris also shot scenes on our second floor.

And, I almost threw out the carpet body bag used in the movie. Long story. After you see the film, I will tell you about it.

Full Frame is a good movie. The actors, all local, did an excellent job and the script is very good. The movie held our attention (a hard thing to do!) and we were kept guessing until the very end about the outcome.

Table 16 has made several movies, and I've liked watching them. But this is easily the best. Full Frame is all about the story and characters, and relies less on blood and gore and shaky cameras and more on pushing the story.

There will be a public screening soon for the film and I encourage everybody in Quincy to go see it, and to pick out the locations. Kudos to Chris, Victoria and everybody involved. Making movies is a ton of work and it takes guts, determination and stamina to see a project through to the end.

Also, Chris is doing the production work on our Christmas song video, and we'll have more info soon.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Fast Eddie poisons puppies

The barf was not this appetizing.
WE GOT A very nice gift a few weeks ago - a bowl with paper white bulbs and glass beads. Sheryl just had to keep the water filled over the beads and voilĂ ... They flower after a few weeks and are quite pretty, and the gesture was appreciated.

Fast Eddie, however, had other ideas.

We had the plant off to the side and out of the way, but the devious cat figured out a way to dislodge one of the bulbs. That, of course, drew the interest of Angus The Young (motto: I will eat anything anytime, yum yum, beeeeellllch). Angus tore the roots of the bulb to shreds, then Sheryl found the mess and removed the bulb from his jaws before he could eat it.

Then, the barfing started. I'm not going to get into too many details, but Angus has a long body which consists of a heart, lungs and a massive stomach and bowel system. He threw up about seven dogs worth of shtuff, and we got concerned.

Sheryl looked up "paper white bulbs pets" on Google and it turns out paper whites are poisonous to dogs. It took Angus several hours to get everything out of his system. We gave him water and he slept most of the afternoon, very unusual behavior for a normally hyper puppy.

Angus was back to his normal stuffed-bear-destroying self last night and he's fine today (other than the paper white gaseous odour). Eddie, however, is miffed.

"Crap," he said, smacking Angus in the head with a left paw jab. "I thought maybe he'd be out of commission for at least a couple of days. I mean, I didn't want to kill him or anything, but it would have been nice to not deal with him."

Sorry, Fast Eddie. Angus The Young is very much alive. And the paper whites have been taken to a safe place, so no more poisoned dogs.

And quit your devious plotting, Fast Eddie!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Cheap stuffed animals for dogs

THERE IS A very cool Salvation Army thrift store just down the street from Second String Music. You can find buried treasure in the debris down there - I am proud owner of a Steve Yzerman Red Wings hat, bought for 50 cents.

Sheryl and I went this morning because we have a stuffed animal emergency. As in, our dogs have unstuffed all of the toys. Lucy, our late Border Collie, was a master at unstuffing stuffed animals, and she taught Tucker and Bella well. They, in turn, have used their knowledge and imparted to Angus, who will unstuff anything, toy or alive.

It was the cat.
Sheryl gathered up an armful of stuffed bears, all a dollar each. After she paid, she said, "You could help me by grabbing a bag of bears, you know." Right. Sorry. I was looking at the John Wayne DVD, the one with four of his best Western movies.

The moral of the story is, why go to a big box on Broadway and pay way too much when you can get them cheap downtown and bring them right to their demise?

Unstuffing is the stuff of legends for our dogs. Thank you, Salvation Army, for making it more affordable and fun.



Monday, December 8, 2014

Drums drums everywhere

LAST YEAR FOR Christmas Second String Music sold a lot of drum stuff. So we are stocked up. Sheryl says, "We have a lot of drums. Drums, drums, drums. And we will put them together for you."

D1 drum kit
We have the ddrum starter kits, in three sizes. The D1 is a beginner kit with cymbals. The D2R is a 4 piece rock kit and the D2 is the complete beginner kit with a stick bag and 6 sets of sticks. All of them come assembled and ready to play.
D2 Rock kit

We have bongos, djembe, congas, cajon, cowbells, sticks and more. Drum stuff everywhere at Fifth and Maine!

We even have a Yamaha electronic kit on consignment. They are great for churches or for moms and dads who don't want the racket of acoustic drums - headphones are a beautiful thing, especially on Christmas morning.

Djembe
Drummers are interesting people. They are inventive, creative and take pride in rhythm, tempo and timing. It is never too early to start on drums, either. All the drums we sell come with 4 free lessons at Vancil Performing Arts Music Department, 8th & Ohio, where your drummer can really get a great head start in music.

Come see us at Fifth and Maine. It's already been an interesting morning, and our first Sunday of the Christmas season was good, too.

It's Christmas - let's make a joyful racket!

Friday, December 5, 2014

High school singers and Christmas music

THERE WAS AN event downtown last night ushering in the Christmas shopping season. A nativity scene was set up in Washington Park and though it was a cold and damp evening, there were quite a few people out and about. Win the Window and Shop Downtown are promoting our great stores downtown.

The Quincy High School Christmas Singers stopped in the store and did a few songs, and I almost cried. Young people singing Christmas songs with all their hearts is a beautiful thing, and Sheryl and I are grateful they blessed us with their gifts of voice.

Our store has amazing acoustics. "Of course it does. It's a music store," Sheryl says. Right.

This Christmas, take some time and listen to the season. Joy To The World, indeed!

Click Here to see the video on You Tube.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Space for rent

OUR FRIENDS AT Vancil Performing Arts have moved Dancer's Dream from our 503 Maine space. Vancil bought a building at Eighth and Ohio, and while we are sad to see them go, we understand and the move makes sense.

So we have incredible space renovated a year ago, wrapped around the historic bank vault of our building. It's about 900 square feet and has endless possibilities.

I'd love to turn it into a cigar store. We have a guy who dreams of running a vinyl record outlet. Sheryl was thinking about a pre-paid cell phone outlet.

You have any ideas? The rent is reasonable and we are wide open for takers and ideas right now.

Call Sheryl during the day at (217) 223-8008 for more info.

Our second floor is humming along and we have a renter in the corner offices. There's still another awesome big room available for dirt cheap rent.

Ahhhh ... the joys of owning a big downtown building. It's an adventure!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Hart Christmas CD 2014

IN THE SPIRIT of Christmas originality and creativity, I am blatantly copying my friends Logan Kammerer, Cheeks McGee and Steve Buckman by making a Christmas CD.

The nine-song CD has four originals, two instrumentals and three classic Christmas songs. These are not traditional takes on Christmas music, which I think is a good thing.

Sheryl, of course, has done all the work. She's made the sleeves and artwork and burned the CDs. They are selling for $5 each, and all proceeds go to the Second String Music Elevator Restoration Fund. They are available at Second String Music or you can track me down on Facebook.

I recorded the songs the past few weeks on the Boss digital home system. They turned out all right - I could spend a year trying to get them perfect. Christmas is about the spirit, so it all worked out.

The first song is called "Been So Long" and is about coming home for Christmas. I remember playing it at First Union Congregational Church with Emily Peters and her friend. Gosh, was it 13 years ago or so?

"Christmas In The Q-Town" was performed by The Funions a few years back at an Elks gig. "Be Nice To Your Pets At Christmas" was just made up and features Angus The Young howling and the sounds of doggie paws scrabbling across our kitchen floor. Sheryl recorded them on my iPhone. Isn't technology scary?

"Christmas Dream" is about my mom and how we miss people at Christmas, and how slowing down is a good thing during a very hectic time.

We are making a video for "Been So Long" with Chris and Victoria Kelley, since our buddy Cheeks had so much fun last year. We'll post it when finished.

Merry Christmas and take some time to listen to music, you big sillies!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Simple Christmas Party

I HAD A blast playing the State Street Bank party last night at the Quincy Country Club. Thank you Bobbe White for letting me hang out and doing a little holiday strumming from the balcony.

I've been to a few of these things, and I've learned the simpler they are, the better. State Street Bank does it right - social hour at 6, dinner at 7, very short program honoring milestone employees at about 8:30. You are done and home by 9 if you want, or you can hang out and have another beverage on the company.

I went to a Christmas party at QCC a long time ago, and it was not much fun. They made new employees sing, there were some really long and boring speeches (no wonder that guy stays in his office all the time) and I got the sense people were uncomfortable.

So the moral of this little story is ... keep it simple. Actually, that's the moral of any story.

I was just background noise for a festive party, but some people were actually listening and I was surprised to hear some folks were guessing at the songs. So was I. But that's another story.

Have fun this Christmas season and be safe if you are doing the holiday party thing. The Mighty Adam Yates and I are playing at another one in a few weeks and we are looking forward to it.

You might even guess some of the songs.


Monday, December 1, 2014

The dentist himself

I WENT TO the dentist this morning and all is good. I brush my teeth at least twice a day and try to floss when possible. I had horrible teeth as a child but few problems since I figured out a little prevention goes a long way.

My dentist is Dr. Tim Morgan, and he's awesome. Let's face it - nobody likes to go to the dentist. But Tim and his staff are thorough, professional and make it as painless as possible.

This morning Tim himself cleaned my teeth. "A little short-staffed this morning," he said. You have to love it when the boss himself gets on the assembly line.

I have a chipped tooth and I've been putting off getting a cap. No lectures or high and mighty prose necessary - just a reminder to get it done. Appointment made and it's all good.

Getting your teeth cleaned is like washing the car - you just feel better when it's done.

Thank you Dr. Morgan and staff for the excellent care and service, and I highly recommend him if you are looking for a dentist.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A second to say thanks

HAPPY THANKSGIVING A day early, good world. It's a busy time in the Q-Town!

Tonight at 8, Tim Smith and I are playing at The Blind Pig at 12th and Lind. Tim and I make it up on the fly, much like we do in our band Pepper Spray. Wednesday night is a great party night, so come do it right with us!

Thursday night I'm actually playing a private party gig with Rock A. Bye Johnny B. Apparently Roberto Stellino from Tiramisu will be there as well with a rack of lamb, so of course Sheryl has bravely volunteered to come with us and make sure we play well.

Saturday night, Pepper Spray is at Twin Oaks in Quincy. And next Monday I'm playing at a bank holiday party. Then we have our final two Cheeseburger shows with Burt Shackleton and another solo party or two.

Phew! This Christmas season stuff keeps us busy. Yesterday while I was giving lessons Sheryl sold guitars and lots of other stuff to Christmas shoppers. It will be really busy at Fifth and Maine this year.

Peace to you and yours. Take a second during a very busy time to give thanks. And we will see you out and about.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Talking Heads and the gift of music



OUR GOOD FRIEND Ted Holt gave me the best birthday present ever - Stop Making Sense, the 1984 live Talking Heads record. That's right, a record. You know - the round black thing that spins and uses a needle. I think our record player is in Hi Fi, too.

The gift of music is a beautiful thing. That's why I got Sheryl the Led Zeppelin DVD for her birthday. I'm really looking forward to watching it.

Sheryl is at a doctor's appointment so I'm blasting Stop Making Sense through the store and it's righteous. The Talking Heads were way ahead of their time and took music, art and theatrics to a new level. This is also a very different concert film. If want overindulgent guitar solos and explosions and crowd noise drowning out intros, this is not your movie.

Hold on a second ... I need to flip the record over.

There. I'm back. Anyway, this thing rocks and I'm going back to the 1980s, no hot tub time machine needed.

This ain't no party, this ain't no disco, this ain't no fooling around ....


Monday, November 24, 2014

Closed Thursday, period.

FIRST OF ALL, many thanks for all the kinds birthday wishes. Fifty is truly the new 20! And I have leftover rocket fuel in the fridge if you want to reinforce the thought. Actually I feel really good and we had a blast in the store Saturday, and a great day with Sheryl's sister and family Sunday.

We are getting ready for Christmas, of course, at Second String Music. We'll have extended hours later in December and we'll do everything we can to make your Christmas shopping experience better.

There are retailers, however, that take it too far.

I noticed several of our larger local big boxes on Broadway will be open Thursday. As in, Thanksgiving. Is that what it's come to, the day BEFORE Black Friday?

I can point the finger at the stores all I want. But the fact is, they wouldn't be open unless they expected people to shop.

I've never understood Black Friday and if you are a person who lives for moving in the masses like mooing cattle to save a few bucks, well, fine. To each his own.

We are closed on Thanksgiving. We will be open at 10 a.m. Friday morning. We welcome and appreciate your business and we hope the upcoming season is a good one for you, and for us.

But not on Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 21, 2014

No presents required

I AM AWFUL about buying gifts. I stew about it too much and then choke when it comes to making decisions.

Fortunately, Sheryl is easy to buy for when it comes time to Christmas. So is Emily. The rest of you are probably outta luck.

That being said, tomorrow we are having a little gathering at Second String Music to celebrate my last day in my 40s. I refuse to say 50th birthday party. That just makes me sound ... old.

What would I like for my birthday? Nothing. I'm a blessed man and all I want is to have a good time with good friends and take stock of being alive to tell about it.

I'm sure some people will bring stuff - the awesome Anne Mays gave me a T-shirt and Christmas ornament. I got a very nice card and check from my father yesterday. Sheryl got me the Hill Street Blues DVD set, which we've been slowly but steadily watching. Some people are very creative and like to get stuff for others, an admirable trait.

Sheryl bought cupcakes and the fridge is full, so come on out to Fifth and Maine Saturday and we'll have a few laughs and you can make fun of an old man.

No gifts necessary. Well. Maybe some Aspirin for Sunday morning.





Thursday, November 20, 2014

Long live The Cheeseburgers


BURT SHACKLETON IS leaving The Cheeseburgers. His last public show with us is Saturday, Dec. 6, at One Restaurant in Quincy. He is also playing with us at a private party the following week.

I am sorry to see Burt leave. He is a talented musician and on the good nights, it's more fun than should be allowed to play with him. And most of our gigs are good nights.

I wish him well. He and his wife, Jill, have eight kids and four are still at home. Jill just got her nursing degree and has a full-time job now, and they just became grandparents.

Playing in a band requires a lot of time and energy. How he's done it all these years is beyond me.

Burt will be difficult to replace. But read this next part very slowly and carefully - The Cheeseburgers are not breaking up. Since I joined more than 4 1/2 years ago, we've had three guys come and go. It happens, so you move on and adjust.

This band is too good and we have too much fun to stop playing. This will give us a chance to pause and rethink a lot of things, and to add a whole bunch of new and fun stuff to the Cheese.

Come on out Dec. 6 for Burt's last show. Long live Cheese!


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Embracing 50. Let's party!

THIS IS MY last week in my 40s. I've been bouncing around from morose about getting old, like when I try to get out of bed, and excited about the challenge of maturity. Right. Pffffft. Move along, nothing to see here.

Our crazy friend Luke Lyter says turning 50 is no big deal. "It's actually great, man," Luke says. "Embrace it. The 50s are the best times of your life."

Age is one of those things you can't stop and doesn't make sense, like Taylor Swift or a naked Kardashian. But you can't ignore it unlike those two, so you may as well celebrate it.

Rodney and Rock A Bye of the Funions.
You can benchmark life by remembering benchmark birthdays. I don't remember being born or turning 10. At 20, I was living and working in the Grand Canyon National Park and there was probably beer involved. I do remember having to work the next day and making sure I wasn't hungover, which means I was being responsible and adult-like, and really, that's not good for my reputation.

Thirty was no big deal and I don't remember doing much. At 40, I had Funions band practice and got black balloons.

So this Sunday it's the big Five-O. Wow. I've thrown away my AARP mail and I'm thinking about asking for a senior discount the next time I go to dinner. Actually, we are celebrating both my birthday and Sheryl's earlier birthday on Friday night with the ageless and wonderful Anne Mays, who might just live to be 130 and refuses to grow up.

Is that a mullet? This must of been before 30.
Saturday we are celebrating with a store party that will hopefully rage out of control by noon. At 3 p.m. we will toast our friend Pat Cornwell, which we do every year on the Saturday before Thanksgiving. The store is bulging with great stuff as we get ready for Christmas, so we'll have sales and remarks from dignitaries and keys to the city presentations.

Or we'll just try to survive so I can see 50 the next day.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Alderman Hart? I don't know ....

I'VE BEEN ASKED several times if I'd be interested in filing for Ward 7 alderman.

On the one hand, I'm intrigued. There are some things I feel strongly about and that we need to address in our area of town.

On the other, I have no major issues with our current representation. And I'd have to go to meetings. I hate meetings, you know.

And I'd have to actually learn what a tax levee or levy or whatever it is, is. And I'd get a new cellphone and I'd have to learn how to turn it on.

I hate politics. I think we stay away from it at the local level, to a degree. Owning a small business is complicated enough.

And I couldn't run as a Democrat or Republican. Ick. I need to take a shower after just thinking about it. I'd run as an independent, which means I'd be up against money and organized people.

Still ....

Nah. I'm good.

For now.

Monday, November 17, 2014

New place to play

I PLAYED A solo show Saturday night at the Quincy Quality Inn, the old Holiday Inn. It was a blast.

The new owners have done a good job of fixing the place up. Drake's, Tim Hart's restaurant, was rocking and the food is excellent. The staff was friendly. And the venue is very cool.

I set up in the main atrium area. They've built a little stage near the bar, and it's very laid back. There were actually a few people in and out during the 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. show and they were very fun.

Sheryl and I talked to the owners after I got done. They were eager to learn more about booking acts and how to treat the performers. They were all ears and I think they want to explore making the venue attractive to both the acts and the audience.

Back in the day, the old Holiday Inn used to rock all the time. They had a bar area and the back banquet rooms used to be full for parties, receptions and general gatherings.

It would be great to see it rock again!





Friday, November 14, 2014

Heavy Metal Love

A LITTLE BIT of band love never hurts.

I wrote a story for Thursday's Whig about a local band playing a show Saturday night at The Club Tavern. They are called Awaiting The Gallows. They are super excited about the show and playing with two other bands, We featured them because they are good guys and they have a passion for what they do, and it's a big local event. A young copy editor at The Whig named Cody Bozarth put the page together and made it look great.

I know for a fact we sold some papers and I got a lot of positive feedback from the guys in the band and their fans. I don't write stories to get love - you'll last less than a day in the journalism bidness if you have that attitude. Most of the time if I profile a band or a person, I might get a thanks or two, and that's great. But in this case, I was overwhelmed by the response.

It tells me they appreciate it. They work just as hard as any musicians around here and getting a little recognition is a good thing.

I don't care what kind of music you like or listen to - rap, country, metal, classic rock, indie, emo, schmeemo, whatever. We are all in this together as a local music community and we need to appreciate and support each other, no matter the genre or style.

Rock on, boys. Have a great show Saturday!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Singing lessons with Angus The Young

WE HAVE A brand new voice teacher at Second String Music - Angus The Young, our recent arrival who blends Corgi, Australian Cattle Dog and howling to new levels of musicianship.

Angus hangs out in the store most of the day. Not long ago he grabbed a squeaky toy and went to town. Suddenly he began howling at the top of his little lungs and the store was filled with toots, squeaks and the chorus of "Hound Dog." Fast Eddie added his classic soprano "Meowwwww" and a fast tail swish. Snap.

Angus has two favorite squeak toys - a miniature football and a plastic cupcake. Because he's teething and his back molars are coming in, he likes to grab things like sticks, drum beaters and boxes, then methodically shred them. He's already disassembled a strange rainbow-colored chew toy, disemboweled every toy stuffed animal in the house and gummed the plastic squeakers to pieces. Thankfully he doesn't like shoes but he loves my stinky socks.

Tucker likes to join in with his tenor Border Collie "woo woo woo." Bella, our dumb black lab, just rolls her eyes growls her deep bass at Angus if he gets too close.

Angus has several favorite songs - You Shook Me All Night Long, of course, along with Stray Cat Strut and Shannon (the horrendous 1970s "song" crooned by Henry Gross, one of the all-time best bad songs ever).

And ... his lessons at the store are free! Everybody is welcome to come in and croon with Angus, especially a week from Saturday when we celebrate someone's 50th birthday and toast our good friend Pat Cornwell. 

What the .... Angus just belted out Werewolves of London by Warren Zevon! Next up, his rendition of Ozzy's Bark at the Moon.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Cleaning Up

SHERYL AND I live in a beautiful old German house. I have a room upstairs with music stuff and a big desk. I rarely go in there. That has to change.

So the other day I cleaned it up. I moved some boxes into a closet, threw away a bunch of junk and was glad to finally find my grocery list from a 2006 Lake Michigan beach vacation. Important historical documents need to be preserved, you know.

I also found old song lyrics and a dead bird. Yup. A dead bird. How it got up there and how long it's been hidden behind a table piled with old birthday cards and checks from closed accounts, I'll never know.

Ready to rock! Unless I find another dead bird.
I'm thinking about recording Christmas songs for a CD. I brought guitars and microphones and various cords and bells and whistles home from the store. I dusted off my old Boss BR 1200 digital recording work station. I've forgotten minor things like how to plug in my monitor speakers (Sheryl to the rescue again) and how the phantom power works and, well, how to turn it on. Baby steps, baby.

So I'm spending some quality time making noise and banging around. Tucker likes to come up and hang out, too. There is no internet in this room to distract me with cat videos or cell phones to bleep and buzz me every moment either.

Hey! My old college yearbooks!

It might take a while to start making noise.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Songs at funerals

SO I'VE BEEN tasked to play a song or five at Jay's funeral Saturday. Click here for visitation and other info.

I'm not comfortable with it. But who is, when somebody you know dies and people gather to remember and honor him?

Sheryl, Stephanie and I have talked a lot about what to play. There have been some requests. I respect Jay and his kids, and "Stairway To Heaven" was considered, but I never really learned it. There's too many words and hard chords for this strummer, so we've put together an instrumental medley of classic rock songs for the beginning of the service.

"You have to understand something - Jay was cheesy and literal about music," Sheryl said. "I mean, 'Stairway To Heaven' is the most overplayed song of all time. But Jay liked it and he probably would think it's cool."

There have been requests for "Christian songs" but I'm really struggling with that idea. This is Jay we are talking about. I believe he's in a better place.

We are thinking about doing "Kite" by U2, which is about Bono's attempt to fly a kite with his daughters, only to see it crash and his kids getting discouraged, then going home to play video games. Now THAT is more appropriate. There's some powerful imagery in the song and it's been used at church services before.

And no, Jay. Sorry. We aren't doing a Metallica/80s hair band medley at your funeral. Appreciate you asking, though.


KITE
I'm a man, I'm not a child
I'm a man, who sees, the shadow behind your eyes
Who's to say where the wind will take you
Who's to say what it is will break you
I don't know, which way the wind will blow
Who's to know when the time has come around
Don't want to see you cry
I know that this is not goodbye








Monday, November 10, 2014

You are in a better place, Jay

SHERYL'S BROTHER, JAY Collins, passed away Sunday in Peoria. He was 45.

Metallica anyone? Devil's Music!
Jay had his share of demons and challenges in life. When we first opened Second String Music at Eighth and Washington, Sheryl gave him a job as our web developer, but it didn't work out because of his erratic behavior. He wouldn't stay on his medicine, and the end wasn't pretty.

The move to Peoria a few years ago was good for him. He'd come back once in a while, visit with the family and hang out with his son, Spencer, who lives in Camp Point. He had his own apartment, had help staying on his medication and recently lost 50 pounds. He liked it over there - it was away from Quincy and away from a bad environment.

A couple of weeks ago he was back in town for his birthday and came into the store, and we ended up going out to his favorite old haunt, Spring Street. We are glad we got to see him one last time.

We are not sure about the circumstances of his death. There was no sign of foul play, so it could have been anything from a stroke to a heart attack. We will know more later.

Sheryl and her sister, Steph, are doing okay. They are both shocked and saddened, but Sheryl says she suspected something like this would happen someday. We went over to see their father, Jerry, last night, and he was busy dealing with the millions of details involved with a funeral and getting Jay's other two children in Maryland back to Quincy for the funeral.

Steph and Jay at a Blue Devils Game
I have experience when it comes to a family member leaving too early. It's gut-wrenching and a million questions swim around your brain, and in the end, you realize they are in a better place.

The visitation is Friday at Duker & Haugh and the funeral Saturday. We'll have details later today.

Smooth seas and the sun on your face, Jay. We will meet again in better circumstances, I'm sure.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Ghost by the elevator

MONDAY NIGHT AT Second String Music, our band Pepper Spray took some photos. We are playing Nov. 29 at Twin Oaks in Quincy, and the venue owner is making a poster.

We took a bunch of photos in the main room, the back room, outside of the building and by the elevator inside the 505 Maine entrance. In that room, in front of the 1920 Hollister Whitney birdcage elevator which needs to be repaired, we took the final photos of the evening.

Original photo
The next day, as Sheryl was editing her pictures, she noticed a strange white cloud in the elevator photos. She checked the camera - no smudge on the lens. She checked the other photos from the other areas of the building, No smudge.

The smudge or cloud appeared beside Adam Yates, to the right up the stairs. It looked like a cloud of dust.

Trick of the light? Or something or somebody appearing in our photo? This white cloud appeared only in  the 505 Maine inside photo. Sheryl took several photos and each one on the stairs had this cloud.

With a little imagination, you can see the outline of a man. He appears to be coming out of the wall. He has short dark hair and is wearing a tie. He is facing our bass player, Justin Sievert, who is standing on the far right.

Sheryl circled the spot and you do have to look at it closely. Maybe it's just a bunch of hooey.

Original with circled image
Maybe it's Mr. Wilson, who started his law firm on the second floor exactly 100 years ago. Maybe it's Mr. Houston coming down from the fourth floor, or Dr. Glower coming down from the third floor, or somebody who worked at Fischer Jewelers on the second floor.

A lot of paranormal stuff today is trumped up and designed to scare and provoke. We've had a team of paranormal investigators go through the building and they didn't pick up anything. We've been up there at night and heard some strange things, but that might have more to do with the post-jam session conditions than anything.

Or maybe there are ghosts, and they hang out at Fifth and Maine on occasion. Maybe they like music. Maybe they just want to be in a band. Maybe they will be at our Nov. 29 show, too.

I say, the more the merrier, dead or alive.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Fixing the Newsboys stuff

LAST NIGHT IN Quincy, the very popular Christian band The Newsboys played a sold out show at the Oakley-Lindsay Center.

The day before we got a panicked message about their amp that had blown tubes and burnt resistors. Turns out it was a power amp, and it was in serious trouble. Our guy is good but a one day job on an amplifier he has never seen, that might be tough.

We managed to get our tech to look at it and he spent considerable time Tuesday afternoon testing tubes, replacing another burnt tube and replacing capacitors. It also had a fan that didn't work and that is why tubes and capacitors kept blowing up. We got it done by 4 pm, and off to the venue by 5 pm. Our tech said it should work better than it ever has and from all accounts, the show went off fabulously. Everybody wins in this situation.

That's what Second String Music does for our local bands. It is nice to see we can perform this service in a pinch for a traveling act. We enjoyed going the extra mile to get it done. I even took extra tubes over to the tech guy's shop mid-afternoon to expedite the repair. THAT is why we opened our business and it is a pleasure to see the wheels of commerce grind and work. Further proof that keeping local small businesses alive and well helps everyone.

As Sheryl likes to say, "You can't get that kind of service from the Internet."




Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Just Vote

SHERYL AND I have voted. It is something we don't take for granted, and neither should you.

To me, there are three races of interest. I am not telling anybody who to vote for, and why you should vote yes or no on an issue.

1. GOVERNOR CRAP: I despise Illinois politics. The ads for the Illinois governor's race have been sickening and disgusting. It's time to trade Chicago to Montana for lemonade and cookies. This state is broke and corrupt and our governor has done nothing to change my mind except hand out millions the state doesn't have. Then there's his opponent - how the heck do you vote for a "venture capitalist" who just looks oily? It's the lesser of two evils. Do what you gotta do.

2. SCHOOL AMENDMENT: This one will decide if Quincy schools can rebuild and restructure. Lots of good argument on both sides of the issue. I remember going to a school board meeting 10 or 12 years ago and this was brought up, and there was general malaise among the board members at the time. Not anymore.

3. COUNTY CLERK. Everybody loves an underdog. Right? The challenger has busted his butt trying to get support. Will people actually come out to vote for him? If he wins, it's the YCMIU story of the year - a convicted felon who gives "free" rides home from the bar is voted into a crucial county office requiring management experience and the ability to stay above the political fray. Did I say You Can't Make It Up? I did? Well. There you go.

So get out and vote, and if you don't, the finger you point has no aim.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Lessons for a late brother

PEOPLE HAVE MANY reasons for taking music lessons. Bucket list item, bored with nothing to do, addicted to video games, got a guitar as a gift - all are good reasons, and motivation really helps.

Saturday we had a young man come into the store and ask about taking guitar lessons. Bill (not his real name) had a brother who tragically passed away in March, and Bill has inherited his brother's guitar.

I remember his brother. He bought a very nice electric guitar from us and Sheryl put new strings on it a week before he passed away.

"I have his guitar, and I think I'd like to take lessons in his memory," Bill said. "My brother was really into it, and he said you guys helped him. So I want to continue and I want to play his guitar. It meant a lot to him."

Wow.

Motivation is often the most important part when it comes to learning an instrument. I don't think that will be an issue here, and it's my honor to help this young man remember his brother.

Friday, October 31, 2014

A hero, and Grapes nails it again

MOST OF US in the States have only a fleeting idea of what happened in Ottawa, Ontario, last week. It's the CNN world we live in now, and in the age of information bombardment, it glances off and gets forgotten.

Canada, hopefully, will never forget.

I watched some of CBC's breaking news coverage of the shooting, and it was really good - all about the story, not about the anchor or some "expert" talking about terrorism.

The soldier who was shot and killed by a madman was a father and dog-lover. And Canadian. So it hits home.

As usual, Don "Grapes" Cherry of Hockey Night In Canada absolutely nails the sentiments of a country and the important thing about all this. Sidekick Ron MacLean, who usually has to keep things from going off the rails, realizes very quickly how special this is and lets Cherry roll.

Pay particular attention to the end of the piece. We can all have strong feelings when tragedy strike. The important thing is to always remember, and to always help, especially when it comes to our veterans.


Thursday, October 30, 2014

Music and the left brain, right brain, better brain



ONE OF THE things I tell my guitar students is that learning is not easy at the beginning because the two sides of your brain don't like working together.

I had a medical "expert" scoff at me once when I told him that. I'm not a doctor. And I have no idea how the brain works. It just does.

But here's what I believe, without resorting to neurological science. The left side of your brain controls the right side of the body, and vice versa. The two sides of your brain don't like each other. So you have to work hard and use memory muscle techniques to get them to work together.

Actually, you don't have to work. You have to play. See? It's just better, all the way around.

My sister just sent me a very interesting article which much more clearly articulates this idea. Anything with Victor Wooten in it makes it worth your time.

Music is more than just good for the soul - it makes you smarter. That means I'm playing until I die - I got a lot of smart to catch up with!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

World What?

LAST NIGHT I actually watched half an inning of the World Series. Yawwwnnnnn.

Then I checked the score about two hours later and it was in the fifth inning. And you wonder what's wrong with baseball?

This World Series is setting records for apathy among viewers. Sorry. It's the truth.

The games are too long. They start too late. The players are paid millions for something most of us did for fun and sheer enjoyment. A beer is $9 at the ballpark, and good seats are impossible to get. If you did get them, you'd pay hundreds of dollars.

I know, I know, all you Royals fans out there will be indignant about this, but sadly, nobody really cares about your team outside of Kansas City. It's too bad, because 29 years of awful baseball has been erased and there are probably good stories out there.

I grew up with the game, loved the game. But I have a long memory - 20 years ago, the World Series was canceled because of greedy owners, greedy players, greedy everything. That's when I stopped caring about baseball.

I paid for tickets for the first time in two decades this past summer, to see a Colorado Rockies home game. You know what? It was fun. And I'd probably do it again. But just once in a while.

If you still love the game, watch the game, get into the World Series, good for you. Let me know how Game 7 turns out tonight.

I'm with the masses. I'm not watching.


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Washing away Maulers memories

SATURDAY NIGHT SHERYL and I went out to Randy and Marcy Phillips' house in rural Coatsburg for his surprise birthday party. It was part of Aeronautics Day, where stuff gets flown and blown up on their gorgeous property, and there was live music from Jonny 7, Ted Holt and many others. Then Randy and the crew started their Wagonmaster schtick. Suddenly the Maulers appeared on stage and Rock N Roll broke out!


What the ... it's a Maulers gig!
If none of this makes sense, well, don't worry. It was a really good time and I must say these people are nuts and crazy and hilarious. If you see Greg Ellery around, ask him about his jar of ... well. Never mind.

Sheryl had a bit of wine and lots of fun. On Sunday and Monday, we couldn't find our official Wagonmaster T shirts, Sheryl's jacket or her camera case. We were resigned to them being lost for good.

This morning, Sheryl did laundry. And she found her missing items. In the washing machine. Clean.

"I must be more organized than I thought," she said.

Well. Spirit Knob Winery Vignoles can help her do a lot of organizing.

Everything is clean and we are still laughing. Sheryl got some tremendous photos and all in all, it was just another night of madness and mayhem.

Good, clean, mayhem.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Doctor, Doctor, gimme the news ...

I JUST GOT back from my annual physical. Since I turn 50 in less than a month, I've been informed I have to have a hystericalmestomy. What?

Actually, and there is no way to put this delicately .... I'll be having the old plumbing checked to make sure I'm not dealing with any colon cancer issues, since there is family history and I officially turn old.

The visit was very good. I talked honestly and frankly with my doctor, Rick Noble, who is excellent. I had some lab work done, and I'll be getting a letter telling me all about colonoscopy procedures and how to grab my ankles without pulling a hammy. Wait. What?

I know many people who don't like doctors and hospitals and needles and anything to do with the medical profession. And they might live to be 100.

But I feel better about things and I encourage everybody, especially if you are a man 50 or older, to consult with a physician at least once a year.

Thank you, Dr. Noble, for making this a positive thing.


Friday, October 24, 2014

Blind Pig is back!

SHERYL AND I are all about local musicians and places to play. We are so glad Mark Bigelow has revived the Blind Pig at 12th and Lind. It's a small venue but it has great atmosphere and I've had a blast there with both The Cheeseburgers and Pepper Spray.

Click here for my Local Q story on the Blind Pig reopening. Our friends Adam Yates and Tim Smith play tonight to kick things off right, and I can't wait to get back there for a show.

Support your local musicians! Again, hats off to Mark and the crew, and I hope things go well.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Silly Bud and the Silly School Board

IN TODAY'S DEPARTMENT Of Silly Walks Within The Silly Quincy School Board department, we learn that school board member Bud "Just Say No" Niekamp is upset with the board president for comments she made on a local radio show about our upcoming referendum.

The article by Ed Husar of The Herald-Whig is well-written and unintentionally hilarious. Click here and if you don't get blocked, it's well worth the time.

Basically the school board president said everyone on the board supports the referendum. Well, she forgot about Bud not supporting it, and Bud made sure everybody at the school board meeting Wednesday knew he did not support it.

The school board president simply forgot he voted no. Actually, since Bud always votes no, and since almost every vote is generally 6-1 in favor with Bud the only no, she took it for granted as usual and maybe just discounted it.

At least Bud made a point about all this and made sure we all knew he voted no. Because, you know, he's running again for school board, and most certainly we couldn't have any confusion about this.

Pfffffffttttt.

You. Can't. Make. It. Up.


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Spending a bit more for success

YOU CAN'T BELIEVE how many times we have people come into Second String Music and say, "I want to get my son/daughter/boyfriend a guitar, but I don't want to spend a lot because I don't know if they will stick with it."

Here's a few things to consider when giving the gift of music.

Santa loves Second String Music
It's interesting how price is relative, and being Dutch, I can relate. Yesterday we had a man come in and buy a lefty guitar for his son, and he was surprised it was so affordable. Others cringe and won't spend the money, or go online and feel proud they saved a few bucks on a guitar they have never heard from people they will never see.

You can spend $40 or less on a second-hand junker or a Walmart special (or QVC special). You will get what you pay for, and you'll be looking for another guitar soon enough.

Or maybe you won't - that piece of wood with strings on it that fell apart in your hands a month after you bought it certainly won't encourage somebody to learn. Sheryl's theory is that if you buy the junker, you might as well have bought them nothing at all. There is a bigger certainty that the fledgling guitar player was set up to fail.

If you come to Second String Music, we'll take care of you. We have 1/2 sized guitars for the younger players that start at $79, including 1/2 sized Jasmines that only cost $99 and come with a bag. For older beginners, our orchestra and dreadnaught sizes are beautiful Jasmine and Luna guitars that start at $149. These are great quality guitars. All have truss rods for easy adjustments and low string action for easy play. Bonus: You supported a small business here in Quincy and that means we will be here to help you take care of the guitar. It's all part of a greater "deal" you make with us when you buy from us.

Second Bonus: When you buy or rent any instrument from Second String Music, you get four free private lessons at Vancil Performing Arts Center Music Department. They are at 8th and Ohio, have wonderful teachers and help your musician learn. Getting started on guitar is the hardest part - but with a teacher, a little guidance and encouragement they will stick with their instrument and succeed.

Third Bonus! (There are more than 3 but you probably get the point by now. You can read more here.)  Buying local and from a small business not only gets you all the personalized services you can't get on the internet or Walmart, but the money you spend travels around this community at least five more times and builds our town and improves the economy.

Shop early, buy quality, get extra benefits, and succeed. It's more than worth it.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Store poop and puppies

HAPPINESS IS YOUR puppy pooping in the middle of the store while customers walk in. Then the puppy darts out the door and into traffic. Then your wife saves the puppy's life.

That's my Tuesday morning. It about sums up my last few days, actually.

But. Angus is safe, the floor is clean, customers are smiling and happy and understanding, I had a great guitar lesson this morning and have more this afternoon, and I'm learning something.

Where one door closes, many more open up.

Have a great rest of your Tuesday!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Post Tin Dust

WE HAD A very good day in the store Saturday during Tin Dusters weekend. If you are not from Quincy, Tin Dusters basically come in Friday night and takes over a large area downtown. There are tons of vintage cars and almost everybody associated with the event is very nice. We met some great people and had a lot of fun Saturday.

We especially would like to thank Jeff Steinkamp of the local Tin Dusters, who took care of us Saturday morning and went out of his way to make things right.

Tin Dusters brings a lot of people into town, and that's a good thing. Tin Dusters makes it tough to get close to the store for about seven hours on a Saturday, even though there is parking less than half a block away.

The Tin Dusters folks themselves just come in to browse, warm up and look around. We did have a few local folks who were down here for the event and decided to do some business in the store as well, which is a great thing.

Sheryl and I appreciate all the hard work that goes into putting on a big event like this, and we fully support it. I hope everybody had a fun and safe weekend.

Here is a photo from the Zombie Pub crawl that happened later Saturday night.... Enjoy.

Trisha Dietrich getting a bite to drink?

Friday, October 17, 2014

Customers and backup

YESTERDAY AFTERNOON WHILE I was walking the dogs, the "frustrated musician" from yesterday's blog came into the store and was verbally abusive to my wife. He wanted me to take the blog down and was upset by calls that people made to him about it.

I missed it by about five minutes. It was probably a good thing.

I'll spare the details, but it's pretty obvious he hadn't read the blog, or understood the intent. I was actually very complimentary to him and his band. We had not agreed with where the Facebook thread had gone and truly believe that supporting local music in Quincy can be done. By the way, we own a music store so we are kinda invested in local musicians in the area.

There were two customers in the store when it happened. They backed up my wife's version of the incident, and one of the customers actually edged closer to the counter because our friend was becoming agitated and stupid. He left the store uttering obscenities.

"I thought he might get violent there for a second," the customer said. "That would have been a mistake, because your wife wasn't doing anything wrong and stayed calm."

The angry bass player should have waited until I came back, and we could have talked it out. My answer would have been the same - sorry, we just don't agree about the music scene in Quincy. Oh well. His loss. As for my wife, this guy isn't the first person to think he can come in here and push her over. She can handle it.

Almost everybody we deal with on a daily basis at Fifth and Maine is great. We love our customers. They are loyal and gracious, understanding and faithful. Sheryl and I appreciate them very much.

If yesterday's blog made you think about how YOU can help keep the music scene in Quincy thriving, it did the job. Musicians are a creative bunch! Let's all put in positive ideas and effort to keep music of all kinds alive and kicking in our community.

There is an organization called ENCORE sponsoring the "Battle for the Baton" raising funds for youth music education in our community. Check them out and find other ways to help!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Looking for a frontman? Good luck

A FRUSTRATED LOCAL musician recently posted this message on Facebook.

"This just blows my mind!! We have a KILLER band with awesome musicians, a kick-ass setlist and NO ONE in this area wants to step up and be a frontman/singer??? C'MON, REALLY???"

Really. 

I'm sure these guys are good. I hope they find somebody. It ain't easy, doing the weekend warrior rock and roll thing. Best of luck. They sound like good guys and if they find their man, I'll go see them play if they are in Quincy. I hope they keep the attitude positive.

Of course there are a bunch of comments, most from frustrated musicians who want to play in bands but aren't in bands. Quincy's music scene is dead, nobody wants to listen to great kick-ass music, bars and venues won't pay bands what they are worth, blah blah blah.

Particularly grating was a comment that bands don't want to work and won't change set lists.

I play in several bands. Pepper Spray is just for fun and gets together for a paid gig every now and then. The Cheeseburgers play a lot. If we wanted to, we could play three of every four weekends within a 100-mile radius around Quincy. A few years ago, we played almost 40 gigs in a calendar year.

A band from LA played in Quincy! They Rocked.
There are local musicians who are jealous and don't like us, and that's fine. We don't apologize for what we are or what we do. We play good-time party music and we have a lot of fun.

We have a rock solid drummer and bass player. We have a lead guy who lets it rip. We have a keyboard/sax/singer/guitarist who plays everything and is an incredible musician. And we have me, a goofy front man who just likes to sing and strum have a good time.

I got really lucky 4 1/2 years ago when I was asked to join The Cheeseburgers. They were already established.

The guys have jobs and families and other stuff. That comes first. After our show Saturday at One Restaurant in Quincy, we are off for a while and we only have a few other shows scheduled this year. And it's all good.

If you want to play in a band around here, don't bitch about the horrible music scene and how you can't get gigs. Work on your craft. Talk to the venue owners. Go see other bands and find out what works and what doesn't. If you are really good, you can do the original music thing like Fielder or Seth "Freight" Wade or Cheeks McGee.

Double the double reed Oboe.
Whatever your style of music is, stick to it and believe in yourself, and don't blame everybody else for a lack of opportunity. Maybe you need to move out of the small-town music scene and broaden your horizons, since you have such great kick-ass music to play. St. Louis is two hours south, Chicago is a train ride away and Kansas City, MO a 3 1/2 hour drive.

And if you think it's easy, if you think all you gotta do is show up and play and get paid, and if you think it's everybody else's fault that you can't get it together, well ....

You are sadly mistaken.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Encore! More videos in the store!

ENCORE! HAS COME up with a great way to raise money for youth music programs in Quincy.

Encore! is the volunteer arm of the Quincy Symphony Orchestra Association. Instead of doing the Symphony of Trees this year, Encore! is sponsoring a Battle of the Batons. One of the participants, Will Spear, was in Second String Music today with the legendary Charlie Martin and Alex Berryman to film some funny video spots. I'm sure you've heard of the ice bucket challenge - but you've never seen a kazoo bucket challenge!

Sheryl and I are all about youth and music in Quincy. We've had a great school band rental season, and we are proud of the talent we have in this town.

Stay tuned ... video spots and baton battles are on the way!



Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Queen covers and everything appropriate

WHAT MAKES A band good, or a good band?

A band has a certain style and originality. A band that tackles a Queen song, particularly an ambitious Queen song, has to have chops and guts.

I'm not a huge Zac Brown fan, but you gotta love this version of Bohemian Raphsody.

I know of a certain trio who performs a certain appropriate Queen song. Hint - you can hear it live Friday night at One Restaurant. Ahem.

Anyway, here's Zac and his guys doing the Queen thing. I think it's very cool.


Monday, October 13, 2014

Weekend gazlabashibab - wait. What?

THREE GIGS IN three nights is enough to slay most immortals. We will sleep when we are dead.

After an amazing weekend, the only thing I can say is ... gazlabashibab. Whatever that means. I am enjoying the rock and roll haze and everything that comes with being run over by the rock and roll truck.

It started Friday night with Frank Haxel's surprise birthday party at Turner Hall. We managed to get him to the historic venue without him knowing a thing, and he was genuinely stunned at all the people to greet him. Then Pepper Spray jammed the night away and it was more fun than should be allowed - thanks to Frank's wife Cindy, and Rollo Carder and Mark Mester from Turner Hall.

German Cheese! (Photo Courtesy Mike Sorenson/Bad Wolf Media)
The Cheeseburgers played Saturday at Oktoberfest and again had a blast. The Rotary Club did another fantastic job and it was much more spread out this time. I love playing right in the street. And, as always - beer tents should be as close to the stage as possible! My hat is off to the Rotarians who devoted thousands of volunteer hours to pull off a great community event.

Much love goes to Justin Sievert of Pepper Spray and Vertigo, who filled in on bass for us Saturday night and killed it. We had one practice with him and he was virtually flawless all night. It was obvious he'd done his homework and was prepared and I think he enjoyed playing with us.

Sunday morning, still cobwebbing, I helped out at the Sammy Fund event at Westview Golf Course. I was a Swing Oil Lubricant Specialist - I drove a beer cart. Here's to Chuck and June Otte, two of the most amazing people I've ever met. This was the final Sammy Fund weekend, and it goes down as one of the best organized charity events to ever grace Q-Town.

We capped it Sunday afternoon with a Cheeseburger show at a private driveway party on the east end of town. Smoke in the eyes from a bonfire is a beautiful thing, especially when you are trying to bellow Mustang Sally for the second time in 12 hours!

What. A. Weekend. I'm going back to bed until Thursday. Or maybe I'll just be a bum today and hang out in a music store instead.