Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Concerts In The Plaza are back

 I HUNG OUT with new District Executive Director Brianna Rivera yesterday. She's planned some amazing Concerts in the Plaza and we needed to find the District PA. Most of it was in the District office basement, and we found speaker stands and microphone stands in a back room. 

Not sure how long ago it was - 10 years maybe? I had an idea to have noon shows at the plaza, which belongs to the First Mid Illinois Bank on Maine Street just west of 7th. I went to Bruce Guthrie, then in charge of the District, and he was all about it. It became a May staple in downtown Quincy, first on Thursdays, then on Fridays. 

When the weather was nice and we had a food truck, we'd get big crowds enjoying music in a beautiful park setting. Frank Haxel and I would get the District PA from Bruce's office and lug it over to the plaza. There were times I'd drag it over there from Fifth and Maine in a rickety wagon that eventually fell apart.

Brianna has done a great job getting sponsors and lining up the music. Allison Hutson and I are doing the May 17 show. Jared Holbrook, Brittany Griffin-Vogt, Katie Smith and Steve Rees are also featured.

Thank you, Brianna and the District, for supporting live and local music in downtown Quincy!

Friday, April 12, 2024

Stickers on pants

 I DID SOMETHING the other day I never do - buy clothes. Ugh. I'd rather stick needles in my eyes or watch Downtown Abbey on repeat all day. When shirts and pants start falling apart, well, even a cheap Dutchman knows it's time.

It's very hard to find pants that fit because I'm 5-foot-19. Thanks to Sheryl and Amazon, I purchased two pairs of jeans. Did I throw the old ones away? Never! What else will I wear while mowing the lawn or playing a show at the Weed Violence Festival? No offense to my new friends Continued Without A Finding, who are playing at said show later this month.

So I wore them to work the other day and I was quite proud of myself and they felt good and I was happy. I walked into the Blessing Hospital Pharmacy, and the first thing I heard was, "Hey Rodney. Bend over!"

Just generally speaking, hearing "bend over" while walking into any office or area at Blessing is NOT a good thing.

I won't mention any names, but the initials of the person who asked me to bend over are Kelly. She said, "You have a sticker on your butt."

Kelly, not her real name, was wrong. The clear sticker showing the size of the jeans was actually on the back of the leg. In my defense, it was very hard to see. But it was there.

This caused massive amounts of giggling and commotion among the very professional and serious Pharmacy employees. There were other comments made but I don't want Human Resources to call me, or even know I'm alive and work at Blessing. 

The huge advantage to being RFO (Really Old) is that I simply don't care anymore. If it was the worst thing to happen, then I had another great day going around in circles as a lab courier. And I was laughing as much as anybody. What can you do? I'm a dumb youknowwhat. Hardy earth-shaking news, Holmes.

Now I'm sticker free and no longer have holy jeans. Or holey jeans. Wait. Holey Jeans would be a great name for a band!

I'm just gonna cue up this song and make sure nothing is hanging from my new clothers while going around in circles, and it will be a great day.


Tuesday, April 9, 2024

Brad Fletcher's excellent grind sludge metal adventure

 BRAD FLETCHER IS living proof you can go back in time. You can reconnect. You can be true to yourself in music. You can tour your old haunts and tour Iceland. Music, no matter what form, can take you back and propel you into the now.

Wait a second. Tour Iceland?

Brad lives in Quincy. He moved here in 2008, a year after his band in Weymouth, Mass., disbanded. They were called Continued Without A Finding. Brad works for Kohl Wholesale in IT. He plays bass and drums in a couple of area cover bands and loves it.

But his original music and his friends from back home are his true love.

Brad Fletcher (top) and his CWAF brothers.
"We all grew up in garages, playing crazy music," he says. "I just love playing originals. It's a totally different animal from doing the cover band thing. You need a tablet and the tabs to play all those songs. The originals? I know every word and every note. And it's like exposing yourself, the way you are creating something from the ground up."

CWAF includes guitarist Tom Walsh and drummer John Gillis. Eric Yetman joined as a guitar player last year - he was the lead singer way back in 2002. They describe their music as crushing grind sludge metal - really, really heavy.

In the 2000s, the band kicked around the Boston area and played weekend tours, and playing heavy originals was a tough road to sled. They got onto bills and tours and played wherever and whenever they could. Brad and his band learned from friends and other bands about professionalism - showing up on time for gigs, knowing the material, playing their hearts out no matter how many people showed up.

Tom and John moved to California is 2007. Before they left the band recorded seven songs for a self-titled debut album. It was cheaply done in a basement. Tom and John wrote the music, Brad the lyrics, and Brad sang. The project was long forgotten when Brad reconnected with his old friends last year. 

"Tom somehow got my number and he called me. I hadn't talked to him in 10 years," Brad says. "He asked about the songs we did. I told him I still had the recordings. And off we went."

Walsh founded 1635 Records to support heavy original music and to put out CWAF's album. The band got friend Chris Leamy to clean up the recording. Another friend, Karl Dahmer, did the artwork for the CDs and album (yes, album, as in record). Last July Brad went home for a visit and met up with his bandmates for the first time in a decade, and in October they had a practice.

"Just like riding a bike," Brad says.

Now they have a four-city tour planned April 18-21 in Massachusetts, Maine and Rhode Island. In October the band plays at a festival in Reykjavik, Iceland, and hopes to play a few other Iceland shows "in cities with names starting with an R," as Brad puts it. CWAF also has a June show in Weymouth, and the band is recording cover songs for another album. More original material is being created for yet another album, hopefully later this year.

Brad hopes to bring to the band to Quincy and the Midwest in about a year.

They even have a new single, mixed by Quincy's Jim Percy, and on April 17 they will play it on a livestream from the "home studio in Dorchester."

Song titles include Copulate, Lunghammer, Arm Of The Pig and Just Another Day In The Orifice. Brad has the Spinal Tap sense of humor - when asked about the Orifice song, he says, "Oh. That one? That's an instrumental."

Going home to play with his old friends is important to Brad, as is family. Last May, his parents and family came to Quincy to watch Brad's daughter, Alexis, graduate from Quincy University. That afternoon Brad's band, The Second Stringers, had a show at Mayfest in front of Dick Brothers Brewery. Brad's parents had only seen him play once - his first show, in 1993. They just weren't into the heavy stuff Brad was playing.

"But they were very supportive. They'd watch the kids so I could get out and play, things like that," Brad says.

"It felt great to look out there and see them all singing along," Brad recalls. "My dad was blown away. He said, 'I had no idea you could sing!'" 

The show became even more special when Brad's father passed away at home a few months later. "It meant a lot they could see it," Brad says.

So the excellent music adventure continues, heavy grind sludge style, bashing away in the bars and venues just like the old days. Brad and Continued Without A Finding are back, for the aptly named Prodigal Tour 2024.

"So much fun," Brad says. "It's hitting the ground running, non-stop, 100 miles per hour."



Monday, April 8, 2024

Rest In Peace, Fast Eddie

 MANY SECOND STRING Music patrons will remember Fast Eddie, our cat who graced the original Eighth and Washington store and later the Fifth and Maine space. We got the sad news last week from Eddie's owner that he'd passed on to that great catnip patch in the sky.

When we opened SSM in 2011, we inherited the late Pat Cornwell's cat, Lucky Cat Vegas. Lucky had her own Facebook page and was a huge draw to Pat's Vegas Music store on Broadway. So when Pat passed away and Sheryl announced we were opening a music store, it was only natural Lucky follow us to Eighth and Washington.

Not long after we were running around on East Broadway and Sheryl insisted on stopping at a pet store by the mall. There were two cats in cages with hungry eyes and pitiful mews, Eddie and Fuster. They were brothers. Sheryl pleaded to take one of them home. I told her Lucky was enough.

Then I showed up at the store the next day on my lunch break and heard the mewing and looked down and there was Eddie, happier than a pig in poop. Couldn't really take him back, right?

Fast Eddie loved people and demanded attention at all times. He became a huge draw at the store - people would come in just to see him and the dogs. Lucky passed away a few years after we moved to Fifth and Maine, and after a while Fast Eddie grew tired of the long hours he was alone in the store.

The story of how Fast Eddie found his new home is chronicled here. Suffice it to say Fast Eddie was much happier in a home environment, and he especially bonded with his new owner's young daughter. They became inseparable and best of friends. 

I'm guessing Fast Eddie was about 12 when he passed away peacefully in his sleep last week. He lived a full and happy life with some  big adventures. What else can you ask for? I miss him to this day and we are grateful he spent his sunset years in a loving home.

Maybe I should tell Fast Eddie's humans about the three cats living in my garage ....



Friday, April 5, 2024

Rude, dismissive and personally offensive - hello mayor!

 THE DIRECTOR OF Quincy Regional Airport announced Wednesday he is quitting. He hasn't been here that long. He's a military guy with 30 years of airport experience. He says he's leaving because of one reason - our mayor. Muddy River News has an excellent story about the whole sordid mess. The man who is leaving calls our mayor "rude, dismissive and personally offensive."

To be fair, there is probably much more to the story. Maybe the airport director wasn't a good fit. Him leaving may not be a bad thing. The mayor has yet to comment publicly, wisely so. Maybe they just clashed and couldn't get along.

You don't have to agree with somebody all the time. At Monday's city council meeting, the roundabout at 48th Street issue was voted down. Do I think aldermen who voted no are wrong? Yes. Do they have reasons for voting like they did? Yes. When the two aldermen in the ward say it isn't supported by the people they represent, you have to listen and work with them. 

It's called working with people, NOT saying I'm right and your are wrong.

This is a black eye for Quincy, not just the mayor. If this city wants to grow and progress, we have to bring people in. Now when one of our big employers tries to recruit somebody, what is going to pop up when that person does research to find out more about Quincy?

All they see are the headlines, unfortunately.

The airport director had one thing going for him - options. He doesn't have to live here. The best part of the Muddy River story is when he was asked if he went to Jeff Mays to talk about some of his issues with the mayor. Nope. He went to someone higher than Jeff - his wife. She told him to get out. So he's gone.

And here's another thing to consider. Other people have options about where to live, too.

Even people who have lived here a long time.


Wednesday, April 3, 2024

Round and round about roundabouts

QUINCY DECIDED MONDAY night to not give $2.6 million for a roundabout at 48th and State. This is not surprising. The money would have matched Adams County's commitment. We can't have the city and the county working together! Then it would be cats and dogs communing as one and Quincy can't handle too much getting along.

Wait a second. It costs $5.2 million to build a roundabout? Are the weeds choking the intersection corners tipped with gold? I'm naive about construction stuff, I guess. No wonder aldermen were concerned and the vote was 9-5 against.

The mayor of our fine town told the press he was disappointed. Yikes. I'm agreeing with him. The mayor should form a citizen's shareholders committee, have meetings to set up meetings, and hijack the whole thing to make the city pay for the roundabout.

Hang on! Didn't the mayor already try that tactic? Didn't it fail miserably and blow up in his face but ultimately work out for the best? Right. Never mind.

The roundabout will eventually get built out there, and it's needed, but now the city will have to pay for the whole thing. Who cares? Let the people who are living here 10 years from now figure it out. By then the riverfront development stuff will be in full swing and quality of life will be better, so let our future taxpayers and residents deal with it.

Roundabouts work. They decrease wait time, they make intersections safer, and they are cool. I drive through one four times a day when going to Blessing Health Hannibal (formerly the Hannibal Clinic) for work. It's right by the entrance to BHH and Hannibal Regional Hospital. It's a high-traffic area. I never have to wait. You just make sure nobody is coming in from the left, and you slide into the circle. 

It's. Easy. People. 

Look. We can't just pay massive amounts of money for being cool and being safe, not when our water bills are about to double again and there are a lot of other projects to finance. Plus it would make us rock too fast, and Quincy is the quintessential Rocking Chair Community - don't rock too slow, but don't rock too fast.

That wouldn't be cool.