Thursday, February 28, 2013

Press Releases and Radio

FRANK HAXEL AND I went to Y101 this morning to plug the March 9 Six String Heroes event. As always, hosts Dennis Oliver and Jeff Dorsey made it very easy for us to run our mouths and promote "A Night With The Cheeseburgers."

I actually wrote a press release yesterday about the event and sent it out to various media. It's still a bit strange being on the "dark side," as we used to put it during our college daze. Days. Whatever.

Anybody in search of a PR guy?

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Shovel this ....


- Our lesson rooms in the back of Second String Music are getting closer to completion. Sheryl is out buying paint, doors, stain and door knobs right now. Now that will be exhausting, watching Frank Haxel hang those doors.

- So let me get this straight. Everybody around here was going crazy because we were supposed to get another big storm. But it never came. So Q-Town was deserted yesterday. Today it's snowing again, but nobody really seems to care and the cars are sliding through Fifth and Maine with the usual cast of idiots behind the wheels. The moral of the story is that if you think it's coming but it doesn't, then it does come but it's not supposed to, it's OK. What?

Frank Working.
- I'm wondering if I can convince fellow Pepper Spray buddy Tim Smith to fly Sheryl and I to a Lake Michigan beach this summer.

- Who is the best guitar player you've ever seen play in a local band? I know my pick. There's a story about him and his new band in this Thursday's Whig.

- Gotta go watch Frank paint. Pray for me. Thanks.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Quick. Panic. NOT.

WHAT IS IT with Quincy and weather? You would think the world is coming to an end. I don't watch the local news, but I'm sure it will have 20 stories about how this big storm "impacted you."

Whatever. It snowed. A couple of inches. It's a slushy mess out there. Stay inside if you want. Or come downtown, cuz Second String Music is open. All my guitar students are coming in.

Put your boots on and make a snowball, Hoser.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Whadda bash

AS PREDICTED, WE had more fun that should be allowed Saturday at Second String Music's second anniversary celebration. We started jamming at about 9:30 am and we finally kicked Pepper Sprayers Tim Smith and Laura Sievert out the door around 7 pm, or something like that.

Sara Heiden of Blue Cross/Blue Shield made a donation to Six String Heroes, this one for more than $3,000. We toasted our friend Pat Cornwell several times, and legends like Jack Inghram, Jeff VanKanegan and Warren Riley showed up to tip a few back.

Avery, left, showing the old guy how it's done!
My favorite part was jamming with a couple of my guitar students, including Kristen Martin and Avery Alexander. They have come a million miles since struggling to reach that dreaded G chord or trying to play the bottom strings of an F. It was especially awesome to see Laura sit right next to Avery and showing her how to lead the charge.

I've said this many times, but there is not a thing better than seeing eight people sitting in a circle jamming away, and nobody knows anybody, and nobody cares because it's so much fun.

Sheryl and I are humbled and grateful for two great years. Now we get ready for the March 9 Six String Heroes bash at Turner Hall. Phew!

Friday, February 22, 2013

It's Just Snow

It's good to have neighbors like Jeff Schuecking, left. His snowblower is awesome!

YUP. THERE IT is. The media, using words like "furious" and "massive" and "dumping" and "I'm overwrought so let's put it in a headline."

Nine inches is a lot of snow for Quincy. We shut down early at Second String Music yesterday, got a push to get out of our parking spot, and made it home without problems. Ah, the advantages of living a mile away.

There were lots of people stuck in vehicles through no fault of their own, but a lot of folks simply don't know how to drive in the snow, shouldn't be driving in the snow, and shouldn't get all bent out of shape when they skid or can't move.

My friends Laura and Justin Sievert soldiered out and helped at least a dozen people, including two Quincy Police officers. One was stuck in the middle of the street at 12th and Hampshire. Quincy is full of good stories like this and we need to hear more of them.

The best story is about a guy who stopped to help out a woman stuck on the side of the road. Another vehicle rolled up behind his car, and the driver yelled at him to get out of the way.

He calmly walked back up to her car, took out his Illinois State Police trooper badge and asked if he could help her.

I would of thrown a snowball at her.

So, chill out, dig out and enjoy and beauty of a late winter reminder. I'd love to talk more, but I gotta finish shoveling the sidewalk in front of the store. Peace!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Two years? Really?

THIS SATURDAY WE celebrate the two-year anniversary of Second String Music. Hard to believe.

We started at Eighth and Washington with some stuff from Vegas Music and four guitars, three of them mine. Slowly but surely we've grown and today we are rocking at Fifth and Maine, where we moved last July.

Sometimes I miss the old store in Calftown. It was perfect to start the business and had character. I drive by the corner every day and sadly, the empty building looks forlorn. This is where I could rant about clueless landlords but really, who has the time and what's the point?

I miss giving lessons in the back room and hanging out with Warren on Saturday mornings. I liked walking the short block and a half home. Man, we had some raucous parties in that place. I miss smoking bad cigars on the corner and fitting right in with The Hood.

I found the above video from the first night we ever went into the store knowing it was our new home. Geesh. Sheryl and I had an idea of the adventure ahead, but I had no clue we'd be here two years later.

While it was the perfect place to start our business, there's no doubt the move downtown was huge and has more than worked out.

So, we have much to be thankful for and to celebrate this Saturday. We'll toast our friend Pat Cornwell and we'll have a bunch of specials and deals, and since I've got a rare Saturday night off, I'll be in the mood to roll.

Thanks for a great two years!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Pepper Spray Debut

TONIGHT IS OUR big Pepper Spray debut at One Restaurant. This is the crew that jams in Second String Music every other Friday. And on Christmas Eve. And whenever we feel like it.

I have no idea how it will sound. It's just a bunch of acoustic guitars, a keyboard, a bass, a percussion guy and harmonica. The idea is not to be loud but to be fun, and to play a range of styles, from country to big hair band songs.

We do it just to have a good time, and now we are doing it on stage in front of people. We have no plans to play a lot out in public, but we do have some other ideas and potential gigs.

We play from 6 to 9 p.m. Hopefully we don't scare anybody away. And, as always, the more you drink the better we sound.

Some of us have played in bands and it's no big deal, others haven't, but it's no big deal.

Just get out there and play!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Standoffs and stupid comments

SO SOME DUDE holes up in his house in a "standoff" with Quincy police. Click here for more info.

Cue the dumb Facebook comments, please.

There is a lot we don't know about the guy and the situation. It will play itself out, eventually. But one thing I don't blame police for is being careful and taking their time.

What are they going to do, rush in and pepper spray the guy? He's in the house, he probably has a gun, he is talking about killing himself. The first thing I'd do is make sure my officers are safe, and no way am I letting them barge in unless they try to talk him out.

Sure, it's a drain on manpower and OT. Blame the guy in the house, not the po-po.

And of course let's make sure we rant and rave about how Quincy makes up its own rules, laws, ways of doing things. Blah blah blah. Sounds like a person who has had a run in or two, don't you think?

Looks like they just got him out. Nobody got hurt. Life goes on. Good job QPD for being patient and taking care of business.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Watching Frank Build Lesson Rooms

IT'S NOT EASY letting the other guy do all the work. But why stand in the way of progress?

We are building new lesson rooms in the far back room at Second String Music. We have some big plans for the retail space on the far east side, and it's time we got some dedicated areas for guitar lessons. Jim Bier is steadily building his student list and I am booked, we can always find room for students or get them in to our great lesson partners at Vancil Performing Arts Music Department.

Once again, Cheeseburger Roadie of Doom Frank Haxel finds himself in the right place at the right time (pffffttt) and he's building the lesson rooms. He put together the wall frame Sunday afternoon while I made sure the door stay locked and Fast Eddie wasn't panicking. I did help Frank lift the frame up and press really hard against the wall. And I vacuumed. A lot.

In the coming weekends we'll be putting up the drywall and moving in. Jim will be a little sad about moving out of the old bank vault area and I will try to get a picture of him crying.

Saturday is our two-year anniversary, which we can't believe, and if you stop by we'll be glad to show you the new project, and the very cool discovery we just made concerning the back vault area.  Don't mind the party, we hope to have music all day and snacks to munch on.

We love it at Fifth and Maine!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Pepper Spray, Tucker is huge

SATURDAY MORNING MUSINGS as the cobwebs clear and we continue to rock and roll at Second String Music ....

- Had an epic jam session last night with the Pepper Spray crew. We play this Wednesday at One Restaurant, Sixth and Hampshire. Here's how it works - "Tim, you start. Laura, you are next. What key is it in?" A big thanks to Frank Haxel for the poster, too.

- Tucker has fit right in with us and has gained a whopping 15 pounds in two weeks. He and Bella The Destroyer are running buddies on our daily outings, while Lucy trots along and ignores him. The other day Tucker ran up to a four-foot high pile of brush and simply jumped right over it, which explains how he's gotten out of our fenced-in yard a few times. Fortunately he hangs around and comes when he's called. He's even rolling over so Sheryl can give him belly scritches. And he loves hanging out at the store.

- Warm up out there, dang it.

- Congrats to Darla Pullins, named the Exchange Club Officer of the Year Friday. The QPD patrol officer helped save a guy who wanted to jump off the Mississippi River bridge last summer. She is a very deserving winner.

- Our big two-year anniversary party for Second String Music one week from today, and we'll have music, food, hydration and some big announcements all day long. Hard to believe it's been two years. We can also show you a startling discovery back by the old bank vault.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Top love and not love songs

I AM NOT very sentimental and I fail miserably at things like Valentine's Day. Sheryl lets me take her to dinner the next day since she even hates it. I am a fortunate man, love my wife, etc. She went to Krazy Cakes the other day to get chocolate covered bacon. What a great no-hassle woman!

So here's my list of love and not love songs for all you big romantic fools.

1. LOVE HURTS, Nazareth. One of the greatest guitar solos ever from a tone perspective.

2. I'M NOT IN LOVE, 10cc. Underrated schmaltz band from the 70s. Even Ozzy professes his love for this not love song, and in high school I'd turn it up as loud as possible, cuz it was true.

3. LOVE STINKS: Two reasons. First, J. Geils, enough said. Second, The Wedding Singer. Ditto.

4. BARGAIN, The Who. Often overlooked song from the greatest album ever recorded in the history of humanity, Who's Next. This is actually a song about God, and Pete Townsend goes nuts with his ARP synthesizer.

5. WALKING ON THE MOON, The Police. As Sting himself puts it so eloquently, to be in love is to be free of gravity.

6. I HAD A GOOD TIME, Boston. Sheryl's all-time favorite. She even tried to play it at our wedding. Goof Ball.

7. LOVE AIN'T NO STRANGER, Whitesnake. C'mon ... acoustic guitar, sappy keyboards, big hair band sound.

8. I WALK BESIDE YOU, Dream Theater. Even though the keyboard player rotates on stage.

9. GIRL ON THE MOON, Foreigner: Really. Another forgotten song from a monster album.

10. There is no 10, because love isn't perfect. It just is. Proooofound.


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Olympic Sports That Should Go

CAN'T DISAGREE WITH this assessment of Olympic sports that should go.

The cool thing about the Olympics is all the weird sports you normally don't see. I think we need to add quarter bounce, rope-swinging, nude jarts and bird calling. And the UPS Fed Ex delivery challenge. And iceberg moving.

That's all I got for a Wednesday. Move along. Nothing to see here.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Acoustic Show

I won't be wearing the Cheesey hat.
I'M STEPPING OUT a bit this week by playing a couple of acoustic shows at the Cafe J on North 30th Street, as part of our Six String Heroes at Jefferson Barracks promotion this month.

Sara Heiden asked me to play because Blue Cross Blue Shield is a big supporter of SSHJB, and they are putting on the breakfast and lunch deal this week at Cafe J. Sara works for Blue Cross Blue Shield and she did an amazing job last year selling T shirts and raising money for the program.

So I'm playing Wednesday and Friday at noon. It will be background music I'm sure, but that's OK. Second String Music even procured a small PA system, and it will make its debut.

I haven't played a solo acoustic show in a long, long time. I did about 45 minutes before a Cheeseburger show at One last year, and all I remember is that I was really rusty. Playing and singing by yourself isn't easy, and I've become used to doing the band thing.

My good buddy Wayne Bridges will be joining me Friday. Wayne is a graduate of the Six String Heroes program and a great guy, and he is an awesome example of how the program helps veterans.

I will probably mix in a few originals and play some stuff you might not normally hear. And it could be an awful lot of fun.

Monday, February 11, 2013

The "Emily Hart of Guitar"

LEFT IN AWE as usual after watching Emily's senior oboe recital at Western Illinois University.

I do believe Eddie Van Halen is the Emily Hart of guitar.

Loved the jazz combo at the end. This was a pretty formal affair inside the COFAC recital hall, but she couldn't stop giggling over the thought of playing her oboe on a jazz song.

The piano player on the other songs, Jasmin Arakawa, was amazing too.

A special thanks to Kathi Dooley for coming up to see her former student. There is a reason Quincy High School has one of the best music programs in the state.

One proud papa!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Prepare to be Sprayed

IT'S OFFICAL. THE gang of ruffians who jam every other Friday at Second String Music make their formal debut as the band Pepper Spray on Wednesday, Feb. 20th at One Restaurant in Quincy.

We've had regular jam sessions at the store ever since we opened. This will be a mostly acoustic group covering a variety of genres, from country to bad 80s hair metal to original songs.

The name came from Quincy Police Sgt. Adam Yates, The Mighty One. After a particularly hydrated jam session, the gang was at Mr. Bill's getting something to eat when the talk shifted to Tasers.

"I'd much rather use pepper spray," said TMO, the drummer and singer for Quincy band Reasonable Doubt.  "It's easier and there is less paperwork."  So Pepper Spray it is.

Pepper Spray consists of Laura Sievert on guitar, her husband Justin Sievert on guitar and bass, Adam Yates on keyboards and harmonica, Adam "Frankie Blue Eyes" Duesterhaus on percussion, Tim Smith on guitar and me getting in the way with high kicks and pilates moves. We all sing and have more fun hooting and hollering than should legally be allowed.

Tenille from One Restaurant invited us to play on a Wednesday night, and it's the perfect venue, a nice stage and PA and a relaxed atmosphere. There are many songs where just one or two of will play, and you will be just as likely to hear Bob Dylan as The Cars.

Since Justin's nickname is "Justin Jukebox" and Tim knows every country song ever written, we might take requests and sort of plan it out.

See you Feb. 20!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Giving back, but not all the time

AS SOON AS we opened Second String Music two years ago, we started hearing from charities wanting us to "give back" to various causes.

Sheryl and I decided early on we would support Six String Heroes as our main charity.  Helping Veterans is close to our hearts and we saw a huge need right here in Quincy.

We have given money, baskets and hung signs for fundraisers and Sheryl always advertises events with her Facebook page, What To Do In Quincy, IL.

We want to support our local charities and give what we can. There are a ton of great non-profits in the area that help so many people. But just because we don't doesn't mean we are bad people. We have a budget and we watch every dime, and we are still a young business and have to be careful with our money.

If we don't know you and you come in and ask for money, I will probably try to find out a little bit more about your cause or event before helping. We like to have a personal connection to the charities we support.

Most important, it never hurts to ask, and we welcome the opportunity to give and help as much as we can. Our local benefits and charitable events are important.

If we can't help financially, ask how else we might be able to help!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Hill Street Blues ... again

AFTER A FEW months of being stuck with network television, a fate worse than death on weeknights, Sheryl decided to get a Hulu subscription. Hulu basically lets you watch shows, movies and more for a cheap monthly fee.

I've been getting used to her watching The Office on her Kindle. Great peals of laughter erupt from the other room as I'm watching a game or on the computer or making sure Bella isn't eating a lamp.

I got really excited when learning many of the old shows are on Hulu, including the legendary NBC series Hill Street Blues. So the past few nights we've been sucked in watching the first episodes from the first season, and it's like a free ride back in time.

Hill Street Blues debuted in 1981 and I was instantly hooked. Back in my rebellious teen years I never got excited about anything unless it involved The Who or hockey. And Hill Street Blues.

I watched it on Thursday nights with my mother, and from what I recall it was usually just the two of us, since my brothers and sisters were in bed by 10. We would talk about the crazy plot twists and interesting characters and laugh out loud together.

How my mother stayed sane all those years with five children, a job and the chaos of life itself is beyond me. I think she just enjoyed watching the show because it took us away from life and she got time to spend with her oldest son.

I miss my mother.

Anyway, Hill Street Blues was different from other shows because it went over the top while trying to be realistic. Covering crime and courts for 12 years has proven that You Can't Make It Up, and watching the show now I relate even more.

Sure, there's the soap opera part, but there is wicked and understated humor no matter how dark the subject matter. The characters were defined early and you could relate to Captain Furillo dealing with his frustrated ex-wife, Belker growling at a bad guy, LaRue struggling with the bottle and money woes, and the general insanity.

I always wondered why the city was nameless, and now I know. If it had been in New York or Philly or Los Angeles, it would have limited and labelled the show. Hill Street was in the ghetto and was a dangerous place, but it could have been anywhere.

Most of all, I loved Michael Conrad's character, Esterhaus. His catch phrase set the tone and the theme song was the signal you were in for a great hour.

I'm remembering bits and pieces as we watch. The show went on for six years and I didn't watch the later episodes.

Hunkering down on cold winter nights watching a 30-year-old television series?

Now I'm getting excited!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Filling guitar lessons schedule

ONE OF THE things that have really taken off here at Second String Music are guitar lessons. Over Christmas we picked up quite a few of the "bucket list" people who just want to learn, along with younger players. Jim Bier is steadily gaining more students, and I'm about booked up, but we try our best to add new students.

Our friends at Vancil Performing Arts are also rocking with lessons, and not just with guitar students, from the young to the more experienced.

The guitar can be a bit frustrating to learn, and a little help goes a long way. We've had people come in for a month or two, then take off on their own. I've sent a few students to Jim since he's far more experienced and a much better player - if you are serious about the guitar, he's your guy.

We are also expanding and adding lesson rooms in the back, and having more fun that should be allowed along the way.

Come see us if you want to get started, need some refresher courses or just want to get better!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Go away Ray and more post Super Bowl stuff

MONDAY MORNING POST-Super Bowl haze ....

- I went to Dairy Queen at halftime. I got the better end of the deal because I didn't have to endure Bouncy and her "performance" at halftime.

- Go away, Ray Lewis.

- Horrible non-call at the end of the game, by the way. Not that the Ravens defensive back was holding with both hands in the end zone.

- Apparently Joe Flacco swore as the game ended. Really? Maybe he should go see Ray for anger management and lessons on how to act more appropriately.

- Geesh. Be nice, Hoser. After all, Quincy's own Jack Cornell is a member of the Ravens, congrats to big Jack!

- Still worn out from two great Cheeseburger shows over the weekend, as the 50 Shades of Cheese Tour officially took off. Great crowds at both One and South Side Boat Club in Quincy. More fun than should be allowed is this Saturday at Keokuk's South Side Boat Club Mardi Gras party.

- It's Six String Heroes month at Second String Music, and we'll be having specials galore, a big party in a few weeks, and another big bash at Turner Hall in March.

- Tucker is making himself right at home, both in Calftown and at Fifth and Maine. He curls up under my chair during guitar lessons and runs away from Fast Eddie, who just wants to play. He and Bella romp around on our long walks. And I have to admit, it's nice having another guy around at home!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Teaching guitar and life

I GIVE GUITAR lessons at Second String Music. Our lessons have boomed and fellow teacher Jim Bier and I are having a blast.

Yesterday I had seven straight lessons from 3:30 to 6:30. The last lesson was with Wayne, a Six String Heroes graduate very good player who likes hanging out and jamming with us during Friday Happy Hour(s). After we got done, I collapsed and commented how tiring it was to do so many lessons in a row.

Then it hit me. This is what I do. It's not like the old life, where I arrived at the store worn out from a day of being newspaper guy. This. Is. What. I. Do.

And it rocks! Perspective, as always, is a good thing.

I have a lot of different students. I just picked up a gal about 14 who is a good player but just needs some confidence, so our sessions are more about going after it and believing in her ability. I have another older woman who gets frustrated because learning guitar doesn't just happen. We end up laughing as much as we play - it's good for the soul and it gets her to think of the possibilities, in time.

I have a great wife, three dogs and a cat, a thriving business, a roof over my head and I get to be a goofball on weekends with The Cheeseburgers.

Life is good.