Thursday, October 31, 2013

Where are you Scott VanEeuwen?

ONE OF MY best friends in high school and college was Scott VanEewen. We had one crazy time after the other but we lost touch years ago.

After listening to a Triumph record this morning, I'm really kicking myself.

Triumph's "Never Surrender" is plodding rock and roll with a lot of meandering bass, thudding drum rolls and amazing guitar and vocals by Rik Emmett. In the spring of 1983, Scott and I got tickets to see Triumph at Wings Stadium in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

It. Was. Awesome.

I remember the light show was blinding and we were deaf for days after the show. We stood on the floor and were overwhelmed by the sheer volume and spectacle. How was one guy (Emmett) able to make so much noise on a guitar?

Right before the show started, I bought a T-shirt and Scott wanted one too, but we were 10 cents short. So I went up to a big security guard with no neck and pleaded with him for a dime. He gave it to us. "All you gotta do," I told an amazed Scott, "is ask."

I remember walking around in a daze the next day at school. Actually, I walked the Grand Rapids Christian hallways in a daze for three years. But that's a different story.

Where are you, Scott? The last time I saw you was in 1997 at the Masters in Augusta, Ga., where I was covering the golf tournament for The Herald-Whig. I think you were working for a firm near Atlanta. You still might. I got your wedding invitation a few years later but I couldn't go.

It would be great to hear your voice and see you again. Man, we'd laugh until we turn blue. And it wouldn't take as many beverages to get us giddy.

It's funny how a new record player, old album and an old friend makes me remember the rock and roll road trips like they were yesterday.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Ratings continue to fall for World Series

THERE ARE A number of reasons why this year's World Series will be among the lowest-viewed of all time. St. Louis fans are passionate, but the small-market franchise just doesn't interest the average sports fan. What is worrisome is that the Cardinals are playing the Red Sox, who do have some big names (Big Papi) and a huge national audience. Still, the ratings are way down.

Here's an excellent article from the Baltimore Sun detailing more issues with baseball.

I might watch some of Game 6 tonight, since I will be napping and folding laundry and doing other important things. Wake me up if something exciting happens.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Fixing 24th and Harrison

IN ANOTHER FINE Herald-Whig article by Matt Hopf, the issue of traffic backups at 24th and Harrison is discussed. Click here for the story, but if you get blocked, it basically reports that this is a huge problem in Quincy, because six or seven cars can line up in any given direction once or twice a day. I know, I know, six or seven in a row. Oh, the horror!

Apparently it will cost $800,000 to put traffic signals at the intersection. $800,000? Really? The price of lights must have gone up - maybe red, orange and green cost more to make now. And you wonder why our state is broke. Maybe it isn't all Chicago's fault.

Actually, the problem is that most Quincy drivers don't know how to drive. They put the pedal down, then smash down the brake when they approach. Then they don't pay attention, and the play bumper car pool along with jerk and stop at the four-way stop sign intersections.

This is why a roundabout won't work here. It makes too much sense, and requires common sense from drivers.

Some of the traffic could be diverted along 12th Street, which is much prettier. Or you can cut through the subdivisions to the west and south of 24th and Harrison. Of course, the last thing those neighbors want is more traffic, so never mind. Go play jerk and stop instead.

Another issue is that many people don't realize just what kind of traffic "problems" we have. I will hopefully never have to live in the big city again - my brother lives in Phoenix, and he often calls me on his hour-long drive home from work, which is actually only about 15 miles, but the roads are always clogged.

Ever go around Chicago? And lived to tell about it?

I rest my case.

When I moved here 17 (gulp) years ago, one of the first interviews I did as the new sports editor at The Herald-Whig was interview pro golfer D.A. Weibring. He gave me a very good description of what Quincy was like - "It's a rocking chair community. As long as you don't rock back and forth too slow or too fast, everything is good," D.A. said.

So. Don't rock too slow or too fast at 24th and Harrison. And you'll get through the long rush hour lines just fine.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Promoting the band, one halftime show at a time

BILL MACHOLD IS an assistant professor of music and director of bands at Quincy University. He is also the drummer for the local band Raised on Radio.

Here is his recent Facebook post. It's about his band playing last Saturday at halftime of the home football game.

"Yesterday at the QU football game, a referee (from out of town) called me over. He proceeded to give me the contact information of a high school student from his town interested in studying music in college. He had it all filled out ahead of time ready to give to me and said he had told her about QU and our band...feeling like the progress we are making is getting people to take notice!"

Good for Bill, and good for QU. The college has always had great professors and performers, but the school struggled with facilities. I used to take Emily to the battered and haunted Solano Hall for lessons. Later she went to the basement at North Campus. I always thought the students and staff deserved better.

Now they have the Connie Niemann Center For Music, talented teachers and students, and an active music fraternity. It's good for Quincy University, it's good for the city and it's just plain good for music and appreciation of the arts.

Friday, October 25, 2013

The Return of John Travolta

SO THE CHEESEBURGERS are playing Saturday night at the annual Terstriep Halloween bash at a secret barn location east of town. This is a great party and we are really eager to show our new guys, Don Van Dyke and Tim Lawless, a really good time.

We've gone in theme before, but this year band members are fending for themselves. I grabbed my old hockey bag this morning and dumped out all my old gear, and aside from the horrendous stench which caused Calftown to be evacuated, it wasn't that bad.

The hockey pants don't really fit. The helmet has a mask on it that won't come off. The elbow pads are turning a yellowish green.

Maybe going as a hockey player isn't such a good idea. As I was untangling the garter belt used to hold up the socks, Sheryl said, "What the heck is that?"

I explained it to her.

"Why do you need that?" she said. "You have really ugly shorts that don't fit too."

She is right. And you can't strum or sing with gloves or a mask.

So. Plan B.

Remember Dancing With The Local Stars from a few year's ago? That's right. It's the return of John Travolta.

Maybe I'll bring the elbow pads just for shock effect.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The old safe

WHILE RESEARCHING THE history of our building, I learned that the Schmiedeskamp law firms called Fifth and Maine home from about 1914 to 1962. They were known by various names and there were two brothers, Carl and Henry.

The  brothers split up and they were on the fourth and fifth floors by the late 1950s, and gone a few years later.

Schmeideskamp is still in Quincy, a block away, across the street from our public library.

On the fifth floor tucked away on the far west end is a safe. If you shine a light on the panel, you can still see the name Schmiedeskamp & Wilson. They likely put valuable legal documents and perhaps cash/checks in the safe. It was made by the Mosler Safe Company, now defunct. The huge safe door in the basement used for 55-plus years by Mercantile Bank is also a Mosler.

It's about four feet high and four feet wide, and it rests on wheels inside a wooden cabinet. The owners likely decided it was more trouble than it was worth when they moved.

I am interested in preserving the safe. It might be worth a small fortune in scrap metal, but some things are more important than cold hard cash, even with a cold hard mortgage payment looming every month. Gulp.

What do you think? Leave it? Sell it? Scrap it?

Ahhhhhh ... the joys of owning an old building!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

New Six String Heroes Student

WE HAVEN'T HAD a Six String Heroes student for a while, so it's nice to see somebody come on in and get signed up.

Here's the deal. It's FREE. That's right, no charge, won't cost a thing. If you are eligible, it will involved time investment. That's it.

It's always nice to meet a veteran and help them with learning how to play guitar. In this case, it's a guy who already knows how to play but wants to get better, and we are ready to rock.

Feel free to contact us at Second String Music for more info.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Dodd Building history

I AM WRITING a story for the Herald-Whig about the history of our Dodd Building. Did you know that Hattie Dodd, who had this thing built in 1897, was, uh, rather colorful? So was one of her husbands. You'll have to read the Whig article to find out more.

This place was the bomb back then, the tallest building in Quincy for some 30 years, steeped in the most modern amenities. There are still reminders of that grand time rattling around the walls and hallways up here, but much has changed in 116 years.

Come on by for a tour. Meanwhile, I gotta get back to putting this story together, which is more fun than you should be allowed to have!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Polite Zombies

SHERYL AND I would like to thank the Not So Fine Arts Society for making us part of their Zombie Pub Crawl Saturday night.

What a great bunch of people who know how to have fun! They should pass out notes. I know some folks who were hanging out at Fifth and Maine Saturday who could use a lesson or two in civility and cooperation.

We'll host a NSFA event any time.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Another Busy Weekend

IT NEVER CEASES to amaze us how much stuff goes on in little old Quincy, Illinois.

Tonight our friends Michael and Nadine Mitchell celebrate the one-year anniversary of their shop around the corner, Bittersweet Confections. We'll be heading down Jail Alley tonight after the store closes to taste some cheese and chocolate. I know, I know, it's tough work but somebody's gotta do it.

This is Tin Dusters weekend. Vintage cars fill the downtown streets and the event attracts boatloads of people. We'll be open and ready to rock all day long Saturday.

Tomorrow night features the Not So Fine Arts Society Zombie Pub Crawl, which begins right here at Second String Music, and the Cheeseburgers play at one of our favorite places, One Restaurant.

Have yourself a safe and Cheesey weekend. I'm off to find out more about our 115-year-old building, and to make sure Lucy and Fast Eddie are getting along in the store.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Halloween Git Up

THE CHEESEBURGERS ARE playing a private Halloween party a week from Saturday. We are looking for costume ideas, something original and cool and, of course, cost-effective.

In years past we've dressed up as jail inmates and doctors. I had a few, uh, connections, and was able to procure clothes for the event.

Maybe we'll dress up as burned out ex-newspaper guys. Or clowns. Maybe we'll go as the debt ceiling and just act really dumb and stupid.

Sorry, we aren't going as Kiss. Come on, a Fairly Prominent Band does have some standards. Maybe we'll dress up as bar owner boycotting music stores. Nah ... that would be pretty silly.

If you have any ideas, let me know.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Grant contest, new website

WE ARE VERY close to qualifying for a Main Street Mission grant from Chase. We are required to get  250 Facebook votes to be considered for this grant, please click here to help us. At last count we only needed 20 or so votes. You will need to do it through Facebook so they can keep track of who votes (one per person), and none of your information will be shared or kept by Chase.

We are hoping that our involvement in the Six String Heroes at Jefferson Barracks (Quincy Branch) and in promoting local musicians and bands will be positive influences on the panel that choose who gets the Chase Main Street Mission grant.

We are also nearing 1,000 "likes" on our store Facebook page. When we reach 1,000 likes, we are giving away 5 earbuds to 5 randomly picked fans of our page.Share our page with your musical friends!

Finally, Sheryl spent a lot of time yesterday revamping the Second String Music website. Your feedback would be greatly appreciated. It has a different look and she needs to know what could be better.

In today's economic climate, you must take advantage of social media, and any other marketing tools. I am blessed to be married to a gal who embraces these sorts of things and is very good at working with them.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Cardinals and whining

I'M NOT WATCHING much of the baseball playoffs. It's too bad, because there have been some really good games. I used to be a huge baseball fan, but the strike 20 years ago soured me on big egos and ridiculous paychecks.

I tried watching the Tigers but gave up when it got past my bedtime Sunday. Just as well.

Apparently the Cardinals aren't happy because some punk Dodger showed them up last night.


Then click here, Cardinal fans. Or don't. Really, it doesn't matter.

Like Bob Marley likes to sing .... "Stir it up ...."

Monday, October 14, 2013

Dancing by toilets, good Sammy Fund stogies

GEESH. WHAT A weekend!

As you can see by this photo, provided by Pepper Spray legend Adam Yates, we played to a packed street Saturday night at Oktoberfest. It was more fun than should have been allowed, and you can read the blow by blow here.

Look closely. To the left you can see a truck. On the truck are portable toilets. Yup. That's right. Porta Potties. The Rotary Club planned for about 300 people, but instead, 3,000-plus showed up.

So halfway through the show, they cleaned out the potties.

The Cheeseburgers don't have to play another show. We've seen it all.

Until next week, of course!

Also, Sheryl and I had a blast running around Westview Golf Course at the annual Sammy Fund event. Great weather, great people, and great vibes all the way around. A big thank you to Estaban Meckes for purchasing the cigars - they were excellent and very uncheap.

Geesh. I need a weekend off to recover from my weekend off.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Healing yourself, with help

"Physician, heal thyself." - A very wise person.
"Hey dumbass, call your doctor and get your back fixed!" - SCH.

SO THIS MORNING I took the dogs for a long Woodland walk and I felt great. It was the first time in nine days I haven't felt like a gigantic iceberg was freezing my back into oblivion. I did something a few Saturdays ago lifting a PA system, and I really messed it up mowing the lawn last Sunday. Moral of the story - don't mow the lawn with a big sound system.

Anyway, it became apparent early this week my feeble efforts to diagnose and treat my balky back were failing. Like most stubborn and stupid men, I hate going to the doctor and dealing with anything medical.

A long time ago I knew a person who worked at a large Quincy employer. Her fellow workers were forever going to the doctor because "my arm hurts" or "my head is numb" or "I have a crick in my back." They abused the system and I do believe the company took corrective measures after a while to stop this abuse of the medical system.

You should listen to your body. You should seek medical attention when warranted. But use common sense first.

Or, just be a dumbass and ignore it for as long as possible, until you are crawling on the floor and your wife becomes cross-eyed from rolling her eyes so much.

If I'm Gitting Cheesey this weekend, I don't have time to back up!
I thought it would go away, but it didn't. I finally contacted my doctor, and we had a really good e-mail exchange. I also went to see Shawn Irvine and got an adjustment and treatment.

Now I feel like a million bucks. It's a good thing, too. We have a swap meet Saturday, The Cheeseburgers play Saturday night at the new and improved Octoberfest, and Sheryl and I are hanging out with the Sammy Fund folks all day Sunday.

I don't have time to deal with this stuff.

I'm reaching the age where I'm going to get poked and prodded on a regular basis. I hate it. But I accept it. I will listen to my body, my inner clock, and my doctor. Hopefully, I will be healthy and happy.

Just don't ask me to lift anything heavy or mow the lawn soon.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Landlords, space for rent

SHERYL AND I are now in the landlord business. We have some great commercial/retail space available on the floors above Second String Music in the historic Dodd Building.

We have people interested, but it's first come, first serve. You'll be in a historic building with character, easy street access, tons of natural window light and landlords who will work with you.

Also, it's pet friendly!

If somebody wants to open a cigar shop, come see me now cuz I could use a good Cuban.

Look us up on the web or call us at (217) 223-8008.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Always say yes to the camera Quincy News, Weather, Sports, and Radio
YESTERDAY AFTERNOON WAS hectic inside Second String Music. Yet when WGEM's Kendra Whittle came in looking for an interview, we were happy to oblige.

Never, ever, EVER, say no to the media when they want an interview.

Kendra was talking to business owners about TIFF money being used to clean up the Newcomb mess. She said she was having trouble finding somebody on the on the square to talk on camera about the issue.

It's an interesting story and because I was the only one apparently willing to talk, I got a ton of good stuff out of it. It showed a store full of people and we waived the flag for Second String Music and downtown Quincy.

Sheryl won't go on camera because she says she won't look good. Well, I disagree. She looks good all the time, in my opinion. But I'm biased, of course. And she can fall back on the ex-newspaper guy to do the media stuff, so it all works out.

Look. If you are a small business owner, and you interact with the public, you look good enough. I mean, somebody should have told the geeky music store owner to brush his hair, but really, does it matter?

Anybody who owns a business in downtown Quincy should have an informed opinion about what to do with the Newcomb site. The media won't make you look bad. Only you can do that to yourself. When I was a reporter and people turned me down for interviews, I often wondered if maybe they had bad experiences or simply didn't understand the value of the the free love.

If there is breaking news downtown, and Kendra is there and is looking for people to talk to, and one happens to be a person who turned her down for an interview, and the other person is me, well ... who do you think she'll approach?

There are a few PR firms in town, but really, there is nobody who used to work in the media who can advise businesses and people how to deal with the press. Hmmmmm .... double hmmmmmm ....

Thank you Kendra for your time.

It's good press.

Monday, October 7, 2013

October Cheese

IT WAS NICE to have a weekend off. I got very good at doing nothing again and watching three games at once. Hoot hoot.

Now we get ready for four weekends in a row with The Cheeseburgers, including some really fun gigs in town. Saturday night we play at the revived Germanfest in front the Dick Brothers Brewery from 6 to 10 p.m. Then it's a gig at One Restaurant, followed by a generally out of control Halloween party in the country.

Let's Git Cheesey!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Big #$*%$%$ Screen TV

TWO OF MY favorite people in this world are Chris and Victoria Kelley of Table 16 Productions. This has nothing to do with the fact they are my guitar students, shot a video for the store, filmed part of their movie in our old store, and might film their new movie in our new store. Ahem.

Last week, the Kelleys gave us a massive television. They apparently have upgraded and have 3 million televisions in their house. We tried to pay them for it, but they shrugged us off.

So now we have this television that stretches about half a city block in the back of Second String Music. And the possibilities are endless.

I brought the DVD player this morning and now I'm cranking out U2's Vertigo concert from Chicago. Overload! Bono is large than life anyway, so he might as well be plastered all over the back room. Plus these two songs could be done, oh, I don't know .... down at 12th and Maine?

Geesh. All over the place this morning. My apologies. It's the recovery coffee, you know.

Wait a second .... I'm thinking here .... I know, I know, thinking on a Thursday morning is a dangerous thing. GUH! I've got it! A Spinal Tap movie night at Second String Music!

Now if I can get Frank Haxel to help me put this up on a wall .....

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

One bad apple

WE HAVE HAD an incredible run of school band instrument rentals at Second String Music. How Sheryl deals with it all I will never know, but she is very good at patiently walking parents through the process and making sure the student has the proper instrument.

Last night she had to deal with an Impossible Parent. This person tried to run us over. It's a lesson learned, and we've moved on. For all the great things Sheryl did, this one person was the thing that stuck with her.

One bad apple spoils the bunch, as they say. I have amazing guitar students, but the one or two challenging ones take up most of the planning time and always seem to frustrate me.

Celebrate the good. There's so much of it out there, and to let it all get blighted by the one or two bad apples isn't right.

Anyway, I figure a cup of coffee on the Fifth and Maine sidewalk should help cure the One Bad Customer Blues.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Not watching baseball

I HAVE TO laugh at the St. Louis Cardinals fans who complain about the start times for this weekend's playoff games.

Cardinals fans are among baseball's best. They are passionate if somewhat fair-weather, and they are spoiled because their team wins. A lot.

It doesn't matter that you had the best record in baseball. What matters is that you play in a small market, and the money talks, and TV ratings walk. As a matter of fact, baseball has struggled with historically low viewer numbers this year.
Nobody's watching me...

Nobody outside St. Louis area really cares how the Cardinals do. Baseball fans will only watch if there is drama, like two years ago when the World Series went to seven games and there were cliff-hangers and story lines galore. Last year's World Series was terrible because it went only four games and the Giants absolutely crushed the Tigers. I like the Tigers, but I have no trouble admitting it was brutal. And I only watched part of two games.

Click here if you don't believe me about the TV ratings.

If you are a Cardinals fan, you should revel in this team because they've done it the right way and they have a great chance to win it all for the second time in three years. Watch the games when they are on. Let's hope there are some close series and interesting endings.

Let me know how it turns out.