Friday, June 30, 2017

Last second bill pay

I WENT TO the Secretary of State office today to renew my scooter tags. It was packed. It's the last day of the month, and a lot of people are also renewing plates. I only had to wait about 15 minutes, and the line was starting to go out the door when I left.

I suspect most people just wait until the last second out of habit. Not me. For months I've had the renewal notice. I could have done it online. I could have done it a month ago. But I purposely waited until the last day as a way of showing my frustration with our screwed up, dysfunctional and useless state government.

Illinois is broke. I couldn't care less if you are an R or a D. Just fix the damn problem. Get rid of your ideological ego, Mike Madigan, and get off your high reform horse, Bruce Rauner. FIX THE BLEEPING PROBLEM.

Sorry. Too simple. So I show my frustration by waiting until the last second to pay for my new scooter tag. It doesn't cause a ripple or make anything better.

But. I'm in a better mood. And my tags are updated so I can zip around on my scooter. And I made an eye appointment and fixed my pedal board this morning, too.

In other words, I got more done in one morning than our elected officials have tried to get done for years.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Homemade burrito

SHERYL'S GARDEN IS growing out of control, and it's a beautiful thing. She's put an enormous amount of work into weeding and cultivating all the plants and vegetables, and they are starting to pop out.

Last night we picked fresh spinach leaves and a cucumber, and had them in my burrito. Everything tastes better when it's straight from the ground!

We have a nice little farmer's market on Saturday mornings at Fifth and Hampshire, a block from Second String Music. We are going to have a ton of fresh produce, and we sort of jokingly mentioned this morning we should set up a booth at the farmer's market.

"Why not?" she said. "Actually, we could do it right in front of the store."

That won't happen - for all we know there are rules and regulations about mixing guitar picks and picking cucumbers, and we don't want to get anything mixed up, and we'd get taxed to death on more stuff.

So we'll probably just eat as much as we can and give away the rest, though the farmer's market idea is sounding kinda cool.

East fresh and eat local!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

I'll never Stop Making Sense

I TACKLED INSOMNIA headfirst the other night by finding The Talking Heads film Stop Making Sense on the tube. Ho. Lee. CRAP. This has to be the best concert film ever made.

I have the record, thanks to our good friend Ted Holt, and it's pretty good, but it's also a bit edited and only has half the songs of the film. You can say this about very few bands out there, but The Talking Heads have to be seen to be heard. They were art and form in the age of mediocre new wave music.

I remember seeing Stop Making Sense not long after it came out and I was too young and stupid to appreciate it. Maybe I'm not much smarter today, but the movie just smacked me in the face and left me in awe of a great band at the absolute peak of its live powers.

The movie begins with David Byrne coming on to the empty stage, hitting play on his boom box and launching into a riveting acoustic version of "Psycho Killer." Then the stage slowly gets built as the show progresses. Director Jonathan Demme wants to show the stagehands plugging stuff in. He wants you to see the drum riser wheeled out. He wants you to see the weird lighting and David Byrne hugging a lamp. The beauty is in the build and the anticipation.

Then there's the songs. Geesh - the funk just drips through every tune. Little wonder, since Bernie Worrell of Parliament Funkadelic and Alex Weir of Brothers Johnson are in the band.

I wonder what David Byrne did to get in shape for this tour. Run a marathon? Go to the gym every day all day for a year? Everybody in the band is moving around, most of the time in chaotic togetherness. If you watch them, you can see the sheer joy of playing and how much bleeping fun it can be.

There are a lot of people around here who should be required to watch this movie. A concert isn't just music, it's an event and a show, and nobody did it better than The Talking Heads.

I'm going to Stop Making Sense again. And again. And again. Just to see how it's done.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Five years at 5th and Maine

GEESH. HAS IT really been five years since we've moved from Eighth and Washington to Fifth and Maine?

Yup. You'd think we'd have a party or something to celebrate. Maybe we'll just remember the move and tell everybody we are happy as clams downtown.

I remember that it was really hot the weekend we moved. The Cheeseburgers had a gig that Saturday night somewhere, so Sheryl packed everything up without me getting in the way. The next day I corralled the crew and Alan Lawless showed up with his "Great White Buffalo" truck to get the big stuff.

I was amazed at how much room we had - we could move around without running into stuff!

Eighth and Washington is still vacant, sadly. The price just got dropped. I know the Realtor and she is awesome. It would make a great space for a specialty business.

The moral of the story is .... don't blink. It goes by waaaaaayyyy too fast.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Top 10 Rock & Roll Recovery Tips

WELL, NOBODY GOT hurt and nobody died. There may have been a pulled hammy or two, but we survived another glorious rock and roll weekend.

Of course, recovering is the thing, innit?

Top 10 ways to recover from a rock and roll weekend ....

10. Sleep until Tuesday.
9. Make the dogs serve you breakfast in bed.
8. Move. Very. Slowly.
7. Watch Live With Kelly and Whoever. Dumb it down. Don't think.
6. Take advantage of Aspirin sale at grocery store.
5. Put rubbing alcohol on tips of sore fingers. And on sore head.
4. Take comfort in the fact Frank Haxel isn't moving fast today, either.
3. See No. 7, only substitute Tiny House Hunters and HGTV in general.
2. Man, there is dog hair everywhere in our Calftown house. Wait a second... dog hair? Hair of the dog?
1. Take comfort in the fact you get to do it again this weekend!

Friday, June 23, 2017

Another rock and roll weekend - GO

IT'S GORGEOUS DOWN here at Fifth and Maine, and we are ready for another rock and roll weekend. Start up the truck and let's go!

At 11:30 this morning, Blake Gardner plays for our Noon Blues show in Washington Park. Tonight's Blues In The District features Catfish Willie and starts at 5:30. After the show, continue your blues fix with the Matt Roberts Blues Band at The Club Tavern on North 10th.

Saturday night, The Cheeseburgers start our 2017 Summer Make America Cheesey Again Tour at the Party Cove in Monroe City, 8 bells is the kickoff. And Sunday at 2 p.m., Cori Lyssy and I return to our favorite Hannibal haunt, La Azotea, to hang out with April and the crew in the patio.

Sunday night I'll go to bed and hopefully wake up Tuesday or Wednesday, and let you know how it all went.

Time to Git Cheesey!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Cars crashing into buildings

IN THE PAST WEEK and change we've had two major incidents involving vehicles striking buildings. One took place across Washington Park at Fourth and Hampshire. The alleged driver allegedly hit another vehicle and was allegedly being reckless when his van completely demolished the bottom floor. Allegedly he was impaired. Then he got out of jail the next morning, for some reason. He caused a ton of damage, frightened a bunch of people and displaced residents of the apartments above.

Look both ways before you .... enter your building?
I don't know the guy and I don't want to know the guy. I just hope he has a good lawyer and deep pockets. He's gonna need both. There's nothing alleged about that.

The other day two cars collided at 12th and Vermont and one smacked into a building on the corner. It happened at the same corner last summer.

A few winters ago a car got hit at our busy Fifth and Maine intersection, and had it not been for a pile of ice and snow, it may have hit our building. And I can't tell you how many times I've walked across the intersection with the light and had a vehicle turning left nearly hit me.

Then again, I'll thank the driver who stopped yesterday morning when my dogs got out of the store after they saw another dog across the street and got excited. That one is on me, and I'll do better.

During Q-Fest, Fifth and Maine was closed, but the intersection traffic lights kept working. Sheryl wondered if a drunk driver coming up the street would see the lights but not the barricades and just keep going. GUH.

You know the old saying - "If you don't like the way I drive, stay off the sidewalk or out of your building!" Funny, I guess, but all too true.

Be careful out there, Q-Town.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Cats and trees

OUR NEW CAT, Josie, is growing up. She is now wandering around the backyard, keeping an eye on things. Don't worry, she is fixed and she doesn't go far.

This morning she climbed our backyard tree and caused a fuss with birds who have a nest up there. Then a neighborhood stray cat poked his head over the fence to check things out, no doubt smelling the patch of catnip we have growing by the shed.

The dogs chased the stray off, though Josie was intrigued and made strange noises at the other cat. There's another cat from a few houses down and I think they are cat buddies. I imagine they go on cat play hunts and exchange cat gossip - "Dude, that catnip patch is beyond wow, me-
ow," neighbor cat says.

I think it's great that Josie is an outdoor cat. She is very good at helping Sheryl weed the garden and at patrolling the fence so nobody gets into her catnip. That she knows, anyway. She is also quite lazy and will wallow on the patio monitoring the backyard for hours.

Our friend Josh Brueck had a hilarious Facebook post the other day - Josh was trying to swat a moth and his cat simply nabbed it out of mid-air, ate it, and looked at Josh like it was no big deal. Same thing with Josie, who is really into bugs, birds, spiders and anything that crawls or moves.

Ah, the life of a cat, especially a cat who thinks she is a dog. Go get 'em, Josie!

Just don't drag it back into the house.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Rain and German outhouse fertilizer = huge garden

WE FINALLY GOT some rain last week. I went out of town Friday to work for Gus Macker and came back Sunday night, and I couldn't believe how much our backyard garden sprung to life.

We have cucumber, egg plant, tomato, brussel sprouts, cauliflower and a bunch of other plants in there. We also have lots of grass and succulent weeds. Sheryl has started cleaning out the jungle and I helped a little bit last night until the bugs and Gus Macker recovery stopped me.

It's not THIS bad.
Sheryl is finding plants underneath the weeds. Last week she dug out a huge cucumber and it was delicious. The basil plants smell wonderful and it's just basically an out of control garden wonderland. She needs help weeding, volunteers??

We attribute the growth to rain, sun, good dirt and the fact the original outhouse hole is still in the garden. All these years later, that good German poop is working wonders, right? We still find lots of old toys, nails and pottery, too. Maybe we should call an archeologist or something.

Anyway, we're gonna have a lot of fresh produce. Healthy and delicious Calftown garden shtuff is a beautiful thing!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

More civility is just talk

ABOUT THE ONLY good thing to come out of yesterday's horrendous shooting in Alexandria was when Live With Kelly and Who? got pre-empted. Now people are calling for more civility and unity, which is usually the case in the wake of tragedy and evil intentions.

I'm all about it. Maybe we should have a baseball game between Rs and Ds every week. If they got along better, our government would be better.

I hate politics in general, mostly because politics means going to meetings and failing to compromise. At the state level, I think our government is a joke, a laughing stock, and I'm embarrassed to live in Illinois due to posturing and preening politicians who couldn't care less about us, the people.

It starts at the very top. It's not about disruption and treading water only on your side of the bay. It's about working with everybody. These are all high and mighty ideas and they sound great. But why is it once you slap an R or D on your chest, you are pretty much useless and you fall right into the same old trough of bipartisanship?

It makes me angry just to think about it, which is why I'm focusing on what the Capitol Police did and how it could have been a lot worse.

On Saturday, July 8, we are having an appreciation day for our local police, fire fighters and emergency responders. It will be in Washington Park starting early in the afternoon. We'll have more details soon, but let's just say it will be a big party and a way for all of us to give thanks to the guys and gals that protect us from so much danger.

So I'm not letting some POS from our state who nearly caused a horrific massacre bring me down. In fact, I'm not thinking about him at all after I write this. Pray for him and family if you want, but don't dwell on him or what he was doing.

United. We. Stand. And keep July 8 open to show your appreciation to those who keep us safe.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

EFB's new Listening Room

I REALLY LIKE what Ryan Christian and the Electric Fountain Brewing is doing with their Sixth and Hampshire space - turning it into an intimate acoustic venue.

EFB is having what they call a "listening room" show Thursday from 4 to 6 p.m. They will have up to eight performers, each getting about 15 minutes, and original music will be encouraged. There is no PA system so it's really about playing, not hiding behind tracks or smoke and mirrors. This will take place inside the building.

I appreciated One Restaurant having an open mic on Thursday nights. It was a great chance for people not used to playing or even experienced musicians getting up to jam. However, many of the people who went to the open mic nights were there to socialize, not encourage the musicians. It was also a big stage in a big space and the feel sometimes got lost. This is no fault of the venue or the owners, Noi and Tenille, who were and continue to be great to our local musicians. One Restaurant is having success as an events venue and is handing over the open mic event to Electric Fountain.

I'm not sure an afternoon during the week is the best time, but EFB  wants to do it during regular business hours to gauge interest. I'm in lessons until 6 so I won't get a chance to check it out, but I'm hopeful they will extend it into an evening event at some point.

The original music is also a great idea. It would be fun to dig out the old Funions songs and try them out again - I had to fill in at the last second last Friday for our noon acoustic show in Washington Park and it was a blast playing a few originals. And why is it I can remember a song I made up 20 years ago but I can't remember what I had for breakfast this morning? The way it works, I guess.

It won't have to be loud. There's no PA, so no "my voice sounds better with reverb" thing. It's just you and the air and the people in the space, and it doesn't get any more natural than that. I'm also looking forward to events in the "Treehouse" space in the back.

If you have time Thursday, I encourage you to check it out. Kudos to Ryan and EFB for supporting local music, and I hope it's the first of many successful events!

Monday, June 12, 2017

The MacGyver of Quincy

SHERYL HAS A new nickname after saving another musician from the perils of equipment malfunction - The MacGyver of Quincy.

Friday night in Washington Park, Hurricane Ruth performed before a packed house. The drummer wandered into the store about two hours before showtime because he'd forgotten his rug to put his drums on, so we let him borrow one. It's what we do and the drummer was thrilled.

He was back about an hour later. Seems his snare stand was broken and he needed a quick fix. So Sheryl dug out her drill, duct tape and a screwdriver. Together they figured it out, and that's how he came up with the nickname. The rest of the band came over to enjoy a little Green Room hospitality and they were thrilled with the big crowd and the park vibe.

Sheryl is very good at diagnosing and fixing guitar and random instrument issues. We also have excellent resources and people who can do the bigger jobs.

Tools of the trade.
A few years ago, the Rockin' Jake band was in town for Blues In The District, and the bass player, Cleveland, came in with his bass almost in pieces. Sheryl spent nearly three frantic hours putting it back together, just in time for the show.

Sheryl likes the nickname. I think it fits too! Hurricane Ruth and her band put on a great show and we even got off the sidewalk a few times. In fact, the band came over and asked if they could get a bottle of red wine for after the show - so I headed to Tiramisu, and Roberto of course had what we needed. I even delivered it to the stage.

Here's to hoping Hurricane Ruth and her band had fun Friday and remember us in little old Quincy, Illinois. I guarantee the band will remember MacGyver over at the music store.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Noon, Blues and more sidewalk fun

BLUES IN THE District kicks off tomorrow at 5:30 p.m. in Washington Park. Hurricane Ruth is here to get us started for another strong season - click here for the complete lineup. Second String Music is especially fired up to sponsor The Matt Roberts Blues Band on July 28. In fact, you can head down to the Club Tavern on 10th between Chestnut and Cherry to catch Matt and the boys this Friday night after the Blues In The District show is over.

It ain't easy to get off the sidewalk and venture into the park for Blues In The District, but we'll make an effort. Promise.

Every Friday for lunch, we have local acoustic artists putting on shows in Washington Park. We start tomorrow with a special show - Jaki Kaufman starts at 11:15 a.m. and Bella Song plays about an hour later - and just like Blues In The District, it's free and open to the public. The Butcher Block will be right across the street from us at Fifth and Maine to serve lunch.

Here's the lineup for our noon shows. It's in the shade and the music is awesome, so please come down and support live and local music!

All shows start at 11:30 and go until 1 p.m., except for tomorrow.

June 9 - Jaki Kaufman and Bella Song
June 23 - Blake Gardner
July 14 - HartLyss
July 28 - Steve Rees
Aug. 11 - Akoustic Mayhem
Aug. 25 - Tyler Marquess

We will have more info on the Quincy Park Distirct's Summer Concert Series, but here is the lineup. Each show starts at 6 p.m. in Washington Park (Madison Park's lack of trees from the storm two years ago prompted the move downtown).

Thursday, June 15 - Soul Shaker
Thursday, July 6 - The Cheeseburgers
Thursday, July 20 - Raised On Radio

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Cardboard and recycling runs

THE OTHER MORNING when we got to Second String Music, there was a huge and empty cardboard box sitting right in front of the store, flattened out.

We wondered who dropped it off. The box was from Walmart and it previously housed a big baby crib, and it still had packing material in it. There was black spray paint on the box, so it may have come from last weekend's Q-Fest, though why it showed up two days later in front of our store is a bit curious.

Really, it's been great around here after two huge weekend events. Gus Macker and Q-Fest were both awesome and the area around Washington Park has never looked better. Maybe somebody just wanted to make sure there was at least some debris laying around, so they threw it at our front door. Or, more likely, somebody knew we recycled and figured we'd take care of it.

It's fine. I make weekly cardboard runs to the recycle place about half a mile away. I stuffed the box into the trunk along with six or seven empty Jackson guitar boxes, and made a run. I saved a bunch of trees and just felt better about life. So I'm glad somebody tossed a big box in front of the store.

At least cardboard can be recycled.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Q-Fest and leaving my brain at Fifth and Maine

WHAT A GREAT weekend yet again at Fifth and Maine - this time, Q-Fest took over the streets around Washington Park, and it was a blast.

Q-Fest was formerly called the MidSummer Arts Faire, and it used to take place at the end of June. There was so much other stuff going on this weekend, yet it didn't seem to hurt the crowds. The street party Saturday night was wall to wall on Maine Street between Sixth and Fifth. And the Sunday attendance was the best I've ever seen.

Steve leading the Drum Circle
Certainly weather drives an outdoor event, and we had good weather. The musical performers in the Washington Park gazebo were well-received, and the revamped placement of artist tents around the fountain was well-done, too.

There were fewer artists than normal, to be expected when you switch dates. I thought it was easier to navigate and check out all the art - Sheryl got some great jewelry from our friend Mary Beth and found some small metal sculptures, too.

I walked into Jamie Green's tent to find he'd done a drawing of our building, so I bought it - we'll get it framed and hang it proudly in the store.

There are always things to tweak and make better. I'd like to see Fifth and Maine stay open until 6 Friday night instead of closing at 4 - it's only for a couple of hours, but it can be a big thing for a small business like us. I will say we had a big day Saturday, and the event drove traffic into the store - we even did a little business Sunday.

The street concert Saturday night was awesome - the band Members Only tore it down and it was nuts. I did feel bad for the opening band and for the guys setting up in the afternoon - perhaps facing the stage east would make it easier instead of baking in the sun, and maybe move it back up toward Fifth and Maine. Or use Jail Alley for the stage and flow everything in from there. Ideas.

Early Street Party Shot, Thank you Mike Sorenson
These are minor things and I know the Q-Fest committee will be reviewing things, after everybody gets some sleep for a change. And it amazed me how clean the park and the streets were all weekend - people who care make a difference. Everywhere I looked Saturday night, people were putting cans and cups into trash containers, not just throwing them on the sidewalk.

So, congrats to Maggie Strong, Kayla Obert and the army of volunteers who make this one of Quincy's best events.  Let's do it again! After we get some sleep, of course.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

More stuff at Fifth and Maine

WE ARE GEARING up for another big weekend downtown. This time its the renamed Q-Fest takes over Washington Park for music, food, art and a huge street dance concert Saturday night.

Q-Fest was known as the MidSummer Arts Faire for many years, and it used to be the last weekend of June. Changing the name and the date is a bit of a gamble, and we'll see what the crowds are like this weekend - to me, weather plays the biggest factor.

Q-Fest (MSAF) has always a good weekend for us at Second String Music. This year Maine Street will be closed between Fourth and Sixth, which limits access to the store. It's the second straight weekend the two blocks are closed - last Saturday we actually had a big day in the store, even with Gus Macker and all the chaos.

We are having a jam session in the store on Friday night, starts around 4 or 5 pm. We will also have the store open during the street dance concert on Saturday night. It will be a safe space for extra partying during the concert, green room style. BYOBeverages....

There is a lot of other stuff going on in Quincy this weekend, and here's to hoping you can cram it all in. As for us, we'll be right at home at Fifth and Maine. Come on down for the party!