Monday, February 29, 2016

Leaping over the day

IT'S A LEAP year. This is the only time leap day, Feb. 29, is on a Monday for about a thousand years. I know this is true because I follow the Maya calendar (Maya is a most excellent Mexican restaurant in Quincy) and I read it online.

We are leaping and not leaping today at Second String Music. My guitar students today are leaping because they get a fifth Monday, meaning they get a free lesson. Lessons are $70 a month, regardless if you sneak that bonus day in or not.

Cheesey fun last Saturday! Photo Courtesy Bad Wolf Media
I was leaping all over the place Saturday at One Restaurant during one of the best Cheeseburger gigs ever, and I do mean ever. The place was packed for a birthday party and I thought for sure we'd chase 'em all away. Instead we had a blast. Now I can't walk and I will start feeling better Wednesday, which means I am too old and I want to do it again.

Sheryl is leaping for joy this morning because our IRS debacle has finally been settled. It's a long story and all I know is that it took two years to figure out, something about a bill that was paid but not credited. She made friends with the local agent and the guy really helped us out. So not all IRS people are evil.

I'm leaping for joy because my brother, Steve, is joining us in St. Louis at the end of March to see The Who. Steve and his son, Riley, are flying from Phoenix just for the occasion. Maybe I can convince Roger and Pete to let us come backstage.

Sheryl is substitute teaching today. I am taking a leap of faith and assuming I can keep the store under control.

So I'm leaping away at Fifth and Maine. In my mind, anyway.


Friday, February 26, 2016

We lost our lease

SECOND STRING MUSIC lost its lease. We must liquidate immediately, or at least hydrate. It is Friday, after all.

These furniture stores in town are pulling the wool over your eyes. They say they've lost their lease and they must sell everything. The problem? The lost lease sale goes on for two or three months. What, they got an extension on the lost lease and don't have to move after all? Well, at least they sold a few futons and overstuffed couches.

Wait. I found it! Never mind. But we are still having a sale. I think.
When Sheryl and I lost our lease, we panicked. Then we realized we are the landlords. Sure, we are leasing the space to ourselves. We drew up a lease. We signed it (I think). And we put it in a drawer. But then I probably used the back of the lease to draw up this year's MidSummer Arts Faire performance contracts. Then I likely threw it away after making copies. So we've lost it.

Sheryl and I are still formulating what we will put on sale. All I know is that we moved a lot of stuff this month as part of our five-year anniversary promotion, and I've had to vacuum in places that haven't been accessible for a long, long time.

You better not Slumber through this sale, even if we don't know what is on sale, yet. What we do know is that there are the usual bonuses for shopping local.

We have free delivery, you know. I will carry that new guitar and amp to your car. I know you park halfway down the block, but you are still closer to my door than at WalMart or any other Broadway big box. Nevertheless, I will carry stuff out for you.

The lost lease sale will definitely include free cat hair with any purchase. Yes! Free! Fast Eddie doesn't mind. He likes sleeping on amps and pedalboards and guitar cases. You also get a free tug-of-war game with Angus The Young, who will give you the Corgi Growl as a bonus.

When I say liquidate, I actually mean hydrate. It's a rock and roll weekend again - HartLyss is at the Quincy Boat Club tonight, and The Cheeseburgers had a great practice last night to get ready for Saturday's big show at One. It's a marathon, not a sprint, and I have a feeling a lot of people are still a bit wobbly from last weekend's blowout at Fifth and Maine. So I am behaving. But the fridge is still open and we highly encourage Friday afternoon Happy Hour(s) to get ready for the weekend, and to celebrate our liquidation.

Wait. I found it. I put it in the "Bills Paid" folder by accident.

I say, Sale Away anyway.

See you at Fifth and Maine!





Thursday, February 25, 2016

Guitar Pinata video

ONCE AGAIN, CHRIS and Victoria Kelley have outdone themselves with an incredible Table 16 Productions video. This one is of the guitar piñata destruction at last Saturday's Second String Music Five year anniversary party. Photo's here, thank you Mike Sorensen and Bad Wolf Media!

I think the best part is the reaction from the crowd members when Jeff Sievert connects with the guitar. Adam Yates comes out of his shoes and Tim Smith and I dash to be the first ones getting rocket fuel.



Jeff is the brother of Justin Sievert, who plays in Pepper Spray, Prospect Road and will soon be joining another Quincy band (more later, promise). Jeff was visiting from Chicago and probably thought, "Oh, a nice little store party and jam session. Sweet." Bet he never thought he'd be smashing things in a parking lot and being featured in a Table 16 video! Jeff is also a very good guitar player and we had a blast jamming with him in the store.

Chris Kelley never ceases to amaze me. We can't thank him and Victoria enough for being partners in crime with us at Second String Music.

Geesh. What a party. And we have video proof!


Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Six String Heroes is 5, too!

WE ARE STILL finding pieces of guitar in the parking lot next door. It took most of Monday morning to put the store back together. I just found a tiny plastic bottle by the sink. Yup .... we still have our five-year anniversary party on the brain.

So let's also wish a happy fifth birthday to Kevin Sullivan, Steve Stoner and the rest of the gang from Six String Heroes at Jefferson Barracks. Second String Music and Vancil Performing arts are proud to be a part of the Quincy chapter, and the girls from Blue Cross/Blue Shield in Quincy have been huge supporters.

It's the power and healing of music. Six String Heroes has helped more than 500 veterans experience that healing and power.

I will never forget meeting with Kevin and Steve to get the Quincy chapter going. During a store party, and it might have been the first anniversary bash four years ago, a veteran walked in and it became obvious he had some serious issues. We got him started in the program that day and playing the guitar helped this man a lot, and possibly saved his life.

So happy birthday, Six String Heroes! I don't think it's coincidence we are both five and doing well. Cheers to us and to many more years.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Another great store bash

FROM THE BOTTOM of our sleep-deprived, over-stimulated and worn out hearts, Sheryl and I thank all of our loyal Second String Music customers and friends for an incredible five-year anniversary store party Saturday. Huge thanks to Mike Sorenson and Bad Wolf Media for the incredible photos.

Much love goes to Adam Yates, who provided the PA system and played his heart out with Prospect Road a night after a gig at One. Gin and Juice? Really? Tim Smith kept the jam session lively, as did Gene Kennedy, Will Leffert, Jim Percy, Adam Kirkpatrick and many others.

Frank Haxel built the frame for the Guitar Piñata, which was some creative genius, if I must say so myself. Table Sixteen Productions will have some slow-mo video that is spectacular. Steve Pezzella provided the bat. Sheryl and I provided the tiny bottles of liquor. The biggest thrill was seeing Jeff Seivert (brother of the infamous Justin!) smash the piñata with one massive swing of that bat.

Then we had some folks take the stage and I am proud to say we have incredible performers and players here in little old Quincy, Illinois

Jaki Kaufman and Ivan Yantis, you were amazing. Liz Bentley came by before a show in Hannibal (and Sunday at Spirit Knob) and played her heart out with her father, Tom, on percussion.

Tim Smith tore the house down with a huge "Ice Ice Baby" rendition. Cori Lyssy carried some sloppy guitar player for a few songs. Kayla Obert showed up to the party, so we made her get up there and play and she killed it.

Then the Avenue Beat girls rocked our little store stage and it never ceases to amaze me how much better and better and better they get. Let's hope they can remember all the little people who helped them along the way, Sam, Sami and Savana! And the whole "capo moving" thing is disturbing - we need to work on that.

Greg Ellery, Paul Lester, Luke Lyter, Mike Sorenson, Victoria and Chris Kelley .... I'm leaving names out and forgetting more than remembering, so I'll stop and just say thanks again.

Guess what? Next year, we get to do it again!



Friday, February 19, 2016

No store without Sheryl

WITHOUT SHERYL HART, there is no Second String Music. I'm living the dream and she is the reason, and I count myself a very lucky man.


Sheryl had the idea more than five years ago. She was the one who figured out what we needed to do to get started. In the first two years, she manned the store while I worked at the paper. She does it all - the ordering, stocking, budgeting, filing, bill paying .... and she is also the landlord of Harty PM LLC, with four tenants (5 including the music store) in our beautiful Fifth and Maine building.

I teach guitar lessons, sell stuff, and I'm getting a little better at being in the store alone. Sheryl is substitute teaching a few days a week and at first, I was terrified to  be in here by myself, but now I actually look forward to it. I also look forward to Sheryl undoing all my screwups when she gets here in the afternoons.

In the early days, I used to watch in amazement as some of our more interesting musicians tried to run her over. They saw a woman and they thought it would be easy to intimidate her. Uh .... wrong.

There's a reason we are still in business five years later and things are good. The reason is Sheryl Hart.


Thursday, February 18, 2016

SSM and slotwall



JUST FOUND ANOTHER long-forgotten gem of a video from the early days of Second String Music.

This, of course, is the legendary Greg Ellery of The Room fame. Greg is also very good at falling into holes during Oktoberfest, but that's another story for another time. I think Sheryl made this video the first week we were in our fledgling business.

Notice the slotwall and posters on the wall of the original Eighth and Washington store. The slotwall came from Vegas Music. I think the posters, especially the Pink Floyd poster, are still at our Fifth and Maine location.

I don't remember much else, other than we did sell that little guitar Greg is playing.

Wow. Five years. We've aged so beautifully, too.

Greg will be at the store Saturday for our five year anniversary. I'm sure he'll be giving out autographs.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Adult Pinata

ONE OF THE highlights Saturday at our Second String Music fifth anniversary party is the adult piñata at 5 p.m. We will be selecting someone who is here to break the piñata to share with everyone, then head to Schuecking's parking lot for the festivities.

Sheryl and I were at the liquor store this morning buying small plastic bottles full of rocket fuel and other substances. They were only 99 cents each. Did my Dutch heart good, it did. We are filling up an old acoustic guitar and sealing the sound hole.

Frank Haxel is building us a frame to hang the guitar piñata - he just read this and said, "Bleep. I better start making that thing soon, I guess." The guitar is left over from the legendary Dropping Guitars Off The Roof Of Second String Music Competition.

The Mighty Adam Yates will be master of ceremonies. Steve Pezzella is bringing the baseball bat. James McKinney is providing security. The parking lot will be full of small plastic liquor bottles, and you can scoop 'em up at your own risk.

We start at noon with our jam session. Late afternoon Adam will be setting up a small PA system and we are featuring some of Quincy's finest musicians on our in-store stage.

We are also raffling off an amazing $1,000 Dimebag Darrell Dean guitar, giving away vinyl records and local artist CDs, and just having general mayhem and fun. Click here for full details.

After all, you only turn five once!



Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Elect Canada!

I DESPISE ELECTION season. I loathe people who follow partisan lines and are brainwashed to vote a certain way. I hate the way elections make normally decent people plummet into mud-filled tactical cesspools. Ick. Ick. DOUBLE ICK with all capital letters.

So along comes Canada, of course, to save the day. I am voting for Canada to become the next president. And I might just vote for Toronto to become our next State's Attorney.

O Canada .... you'd be a great president. And we could all go to the doctor to get our feelings checked for free.


Monday, February 15, 2016

Another key story

I HAVE A bad history when it comes to losing keys. I lost them in the snow a couple of years ago while we shot a Cheeks McGee video in Washington Park. You can actually see me doing a snow angel at the exact time they fell out of my pocket. I found them in the snow a few days later because I knew they were there.

Last week we were leaving the house to come to the store when I couldn't find my keys by the back gate and garage door. I looked and looked and looked. I swore I had them in my hand two seconds before I reached down to put the leash on Angus. Then they weren't in my hand.

The moral of the story? Don't put a leash on Angus. At least that's what he tells me.

So I went about three days without my keys. Of course Sheryl has a set, and of course she says of all the numerous ridiculous things I do, losing my keys is "among the most ridiculous." Geesh. That is pretty bad.

I knew they were outside somewhere. Then it snowed a day later and the ground was covered and there was no way I was finding them.

On Saturday afternoon, I finished walking the dogs before heading back to the store. I just happened to look down by the garage door. And there they were, with the store key sticking straight up from the ground and the black car button plain as day in the snow.

If keys could talk, they would say, "You are a dumbass. We've been here the whole time. A dog or cat or squirrel could have ate us. Be more careful. Dumbass."

So I have my keys back, and life is easier. Maybe I should get a string and put them around my neck. Or maybe I should just be more careful, in general.

The key to life is to not lose things, it seems.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Return to Canton, Mo.

LIFE HAS BEEN getting in the way of this daily blogging thing, and for that, I apologize. My Tuesday guitar lessons starts early and end late. Yesterday I played for the vets at the Illinois Veterans Home in Quincy and I had so much fun. I have more Vets Home dates scheduled, including a big one on Memorial Day Weekend, so more info to follow.

Tomorrow I get to do something I haven't done in a long, long time. For many years after my time in sports at The Whig, I was the official scorekeeper for Quincy University basketball. It was mostly for the women's team, and I did some PA work, clock operation and other stuff at Memorial Gym. Then Emily started playing on Thursday nights for Quincy High School, and it just got too hard to juggle everything, so I had to step away.

Hanging out with Wildcats Saturday!
Yesterday my old buddy Pat Atwell called and asked if I could keep score for the Culver-Stockton College basketball games Saturday in Canton, Mo. Sheryl, as always, supports me with all my crazy endeavors, and tomorrow afternoon will be a good day to venture across the river and watch some hoops. It will also be great to see the best Sports Information Director of all time, Jumping Johnny Schild.

Keeping score isn't easy. You wear a ref shirt and you mostly concentrate on the officials and making sure you keep track of everything, and not getting caught up in the game itself. You sit right at center court and things move quickly, and you can't nap even for a half a second. It's a surreal zone sort of thing, a lot like covering a game as a sports writer, and I always enjoyed it.

The former baseball coach and athletic director at Quincy University, Pat left town for a few years but moved back to become the AD at Culver-Stockton. I keep running into him and we keep threatening to play golf and hang out. He was one of my favorite people at QU and always took good care of the scoring table guys when we worked games.

It's hard to believe, but we are coming up on my 20-year anniversary of starting at The Whig. I do believe my first game assignment was in Canton to cover Culver-Stockton volleyball.

It will be a blast to go back!



Wednesday, February 10, 2016

A visit from Paul Lester

I THINK THE best part about owning a music store is the various characters who wander in and say hello.


It's all about Fast Eddie at 5th and Maine. 
Sheryl is subbing again so it's just me and Fast Eddie holding down the fort. Our good friend and mandolin madman Paul Lester just stopped by, and I've spent an hour trying to not fall out of my chair from laughing so hard.

Paul is a big old teddy bear who makes the mandolin sing like nobody's business. He used to be a canine police officer in California. Ah, the tall tales he tells!

Paul is excited about our five-year anniversary party Feb. 20. He's bringing his beautiful Weber mandolin and we'll make a holy racket and laugh again at all his jokes and banter. I can't wait!

Let's see - a guy came in asking about drum kits. Another came in and bought strings. The mail man and the Fed Ex guy have zipped in and out. Eddie keeps jumping in my lap and demanding love.

It's just another morning at Fifth and Maine. I'm a lucky man to get to soak it all in.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Sleeping through the Super Bowl

I THINK THE day after the Super Bowl should be a national day off. This country has kind of a collective hangover and we'd all be better off in bed, sleeping it off.

Sheryl and I are recovering from the flu. Actually, I gave it to  her, and she's so appreciative. We spent most of yesterday doing nothing, and it was glorious.

So I slept through the Super Bowl. The parts I remember were not good - Carolina kept giving up the ball, and Peyton Manning could barely throw the ball 20 yards down the field, but it didn't matter. The game was a colossal bore.

At halftime I went to Dairy Queen. I like Coldplay and Bruno Mars is harmless, but I have no interest in something called Bouncy "performing" at halftime. I heard it was good. Good.

This morning I've watched the snow fly at Fifth and Maine and cleaned up from a fun Saturday night store birthday party. And now I need a nap. Is there a replay of the Super Bowl to put me back to sleep?

yawwwwwwwnnnn .....








Friday, February 5, 2016

Jamming With Logan



I THINK THIS was about four years ago. I distinctly remember playing an early Saturday afternoon wedding reception with the Cheeseburgers at The Elks Lodge the day this was recorded. We had way too much fun too early - we were blinking in the daylight, saying, "Shouldn't it be midnight?"

I made it back to Eighth and Washington around 5 that afternoon. Logan Kammerer was in the store and playing some of our new Blueridge guitars, much to Sheryl's delight. Logan's wife, McKenzie, later bought him this beautiful Blueridge,

Probably because I was Cheesed, I agreed to get in his way and jam for a few songs. This is a Fielder tune, I think. Man, it was so much fun.

That's one of the big things I remember about the old store and getting started. Jam sessions broke out unexpectedly and we took great joy in creating instant chaos. We continued at the new location but I don't do it as much anymore - and I miss it.

We'll be jamming all day and probably into the night Feb. 20 at the five-year anniversary party. Hope you can join us! With any luck, we'll get Logan to play a few for us, too.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

The first video



EVERY MORNING ON our way to work, we pass the original location of Second String Music at Eighth and Washington. Hard to believe it's been five years since Sheryl had this hare-brained idea to open a music store.

Monday was also the fifth anniversary of the "Snowmageddon" storm that dumped two feet of snow on Quincy and shut down the area for a few days. I do seem to remember that as we got ready to open the store, there was a lot of snow around.

We set our target date to open around the first of March, and we got the keys about halfway through February. Sheryl and I walked in and I remember thinking, "We're gonna need a lot of stuff to fill this room up." Boy was I wrong - I'm looking at the old videos and man, was it cramped in there.

So here's the first video. Sheryl made sure to play a Pink Floyd song "Post War Dream" off The Final Cut album. Lucy and Bella are sniffing the place out. I have a guitar that I bought from Vegas Music the last day it was open - I sold it later, something I regret. I'm playing the legendary Funions song "Psycho With A Capital S" just to make sure we christened the place right.

I remember walking home that night thinking, "What the heck are we doing?" And what a ride it's been!

We are celebrating our 5 year store anniversary all month long with the store party on February 20th, all day. Check out the facebook event and come by to celebrate with us.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Breathe You In



HUGE THANKS TO Mike Sorenson of Bad Wolf Media and Adam Yates, who did sound for HartLyss earlier this month during our One Restaurant Show. We played an original song and Mike put together a video, and it turned out great.

It's not perfect - I screwed up some parts, there's a little feedback at the end, but overall Cori and I are really happy. It's a live recording, not taped or lip-synched, and the sound quality is amazing.

This song, "Breathe You In," is from sessions I did with Lana Hawkins more than 15 years ago. I'm digging up all kinds of stuff to play and we are excited about playing more originals.

HartLyss plays this Friday night at Cellar 21 in Quincy at 8 p.m., hope to see you there!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Don't be trippin' over no petty wound



YOU CAN'T MAKE it up.

Quincy got on the national map last week after an interview by KHQA went viral. It was the number one trending item on my Facebook page Monday. Supposedly it has more than a quarter million views. I'm sure Snoop Dogg will see it and want to make a video.

Watch the interview. It gets better and better every time you cue it up. There isn't much more to say, other than - do you give credit to the young and intrepid reporter for banging on this guy's door at 5 a.m. right after he's been shot? Did she really have to ask him to show the wound? And what exactly is the guy saying? If you want an interview, make sure it happens after the guy has been drinking all night and hopped up on pain meds to treat a hole in his chest, I guess.

In the end you have to give the reporter some credit from not losing her marbles, and keeping it short so the interview didn't completely go off the rails. Same with Chad Douglas - I would have been falling off the chair in disbelief.

Our friend Charlie Martin drew a cartoon, and Devon Hawkins himself apparently liked it so
much he used it for his "song" and video on YouTube. Art is subjective. Rock on, Devon.

Ain't no petty wound, being shot in the chest.






Monday, February 1, 2016

St. Brigid's Feast

SHERYL AND I were honored to participate in an event called St. Brigid's Feast Saturday night. It was hosted near Hannibal by our friends Sam and Paul. They are two of the nicest and most unique people and we had a blast. Since they are Irish and play in the Irish Ragtag Band, it's only natural to honor an Irish saint.

There was a short candlelight ceremony ushering in warmer weather and honoring St. Brigid. There were about 30 people in the house, located north of Hannibal in a beautiful 18-acre lot. It's one of these places you have to see to believe - indoor rock and plant gardens, catwalk on the second floor, a tower to climb and check out the view.

One by one, people were invited to perform a short poem, song, joke, dance, anything. Some were prepared and knocked it out of the park. Others were nervous and kept it short and sweet. Everybody was encouraged and there was good-natured ribbing before a performance, but never after.

One guy did a really interesting humming routine after he blended coffee beans. Another woman did a beautiful Indian dance. Nobody was forced to perform but almost everybody did. Some played instruments, others just sang.

I loved the vibe - very free and open. Nobody was there to get judged or knocked down. That's the great thing about playing music or telling a story or just plain performing - anybody can do it.

What a great night of music, stories and entertainment. Thank you to Sam and Paul and their friends for letting us hang out. We've been invited back this summer for a backyard bonfire jam session, and we can't wait.