Friday, April 20, 2018

Great Venues in Quincy

ON WEDNESDAY NIGHT, I saw one of the best bands to ever come through Quincy. Andy Frasco and the UN tore up One at Sixth and Hampshire, much to the delight of about 150 people. Andy's band is really tight and they understand it's about the music and the show, and they rocked for two hours. They are opening for the Foo Fighters this summer and head to Europe next week for a tour, so it was a big deal to get them to come to Quincy.

Andy was brought to Quincy by our friend Craig, a huge fan of the band. It was a party on a Wednesday night, and the event wasn't really designed to make money, they just wanted to have some fun and get Andy to Quincy. Now there's talk of bringing him back and if that happens, you don't want to miss it.

About a month ago I saw Eric Johnson at The Castle Theater in Bloomington. It isn't much bigger than One and there were maybe 500 people there, and it was incredible. I like the idea of One being an  events-only venue, but I really wish they would tear out the restaurant booths and open the floor up. They could put temporary seating in there for shows and perhaps make it economically viable to get bigger names in town, if promoted right.

Why can't we get some big rock and roll names to come through town, much like the old days when Rush, Ike & Tina Turner and other big names would play at Turner Hall? It would make sense since Quincy is surrounded by Kansas City, Chicago and St. Louis, even Indianapolis to the east. Bands are always looking for stopover gigs.
Photo Credit Bad Wolf Media, Mike Sorenson

There are places keeping the music alive, smaller venues like State Street Bar & Grill, Revelry and The Club Tavern. The Oakley-Lindsay Center isn't really a concert venue but they have had some good ones in there.

I love Morrison Theater inside Quincy Junior High School - Emily is playing with the Quincy Symphony Orchestra Saturday night. It would be a great venue for rock shows, but let's face it, if you don't sell beer you won't draw much of a crowd. Don't hate me for saying it, because it's true.

Then there's my old pipe dream of building an outdoor amphitheater on the river, right at Gardner Expressway and Front Street, where the old cardboard box company once stood. Gosh, think of warm summer nights and a great band rocking down there - who cares about the one-road access, putting in sewer lines and flooding every spring? I've already got my secret spot staked out on the bluff to watch it from afar.

Still daring to dream, especially after seeing Andy Frasco at One.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

The mall and the local impact

BERGNERS IN THE Quincy Mall is closing. I tried reading some of the social media comments but the world is full of moronic web warriors and it gets depressing. You can't engage them because you should never argue with somebody who thinks or knows they are wrong.

Many people shrug and say it's too bad, the mall is dying, Quincy is dying and there's nothing to do here. Where can I go now to buy my clothes and shoes? Where you always go - online. Hey, I can save a few bucks and it's a lot easier than battling that horrendous Broadway traffic and waiting two minutes at the traffic light, or having to park at least half a block away from a store downtown.

Meanwhile, the city is having a budget crisis and our water rates might be doubling, our police and fire departments are looking at cutbacks (including closing a fire station again) and places like our public library are looking at reducing services.

It's all cyclical, folks. If you don't spend your money here for things you can get just as easily and for about the same price as clicking a computer button, well, we are going to struggle. And it's sad that closing a nice department store has to bring the point home, and only then do people (maybe?) realize how shopping online can really hurt their local economy.

We are no better than anybody else, and I've been guilty as anybody of going online instead of shopping local. But lately we are trying to take a better look at our shopping habits.

I go to the local grocery store as much as possible. Last week we went to Carl's Shoes and got some great shoes with great service from Jamie and the crew out there. The Farmer's Market opens May 5 and we are looking forward to getting tasty grass-fed beef. If I need a shirt or suit, I am going next door to Schuecking's.

We've ordered dog food online in the past, but that has stopped and PetCo gets our business now. Besides, Angus likes visiting the local pet store where he usually convinces us to buy him a few new balls. We are suckers for sure.

This blog has been written many times. It will be written again. We all need to shop local and keep it local.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Cats in the bag

SHERYL JUST TOOK the dogs to get their shots. They were actually pretty good for her and the vet, from what she says. Now they have new shiny tags and everybody is happy.

Next week we have to take the cats, and that's gonna be a whole new adventure. Sheryl has been looking for a cat carrier - I swear we had one at one point, but who knows where it went.

Fast Eddie is always crawling into guitar cases and gig bags. So, we've come up with a brilliant solution for him - a guitar gig bag! He'll crawl in, we'll zip it up and leave a little room for air, and off Fast Eddie goes.

Josie is another matter. For one thing, she has sharp and nasty claws and she won't like being put into any kind of container. You should have seen her go to work the other day when she caught a baby bird and played with it in the house. Fortunately the bird expired quickly. I think.

I'm sure we can find an old Gus Macker travel bag or purse laying around the house somewhere. We better wear gloves and have plenty of treats to bribe the cats, especially Josie.

And, as always, we remember it's their world, and we just live in it. Carry on, cats and dogs!

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Just plug it back in

TECHNOLOGY IS WONDERFUL. Unless it goes south. Then you gotta roll with it and not let the whole thing go to hell.

I used my new Boss looping pedal this weekend with HartLyss and it worked out, for the most part. One song in particular went bad and it took a couple of tries to kill the bad recording and get back on track. It's all living and learning, and I learned a lot.

I use a wireless setup for my guitar. I long ago tired of cables getting yanked out and doing damage. One night I was playing and another person stepped on the cable for my acoustic guitar, and pulled the input jack right out of the guitar. That's when I vowed to only plug in when I had to, and to get something decent to go wireless.

So Sunday I'm playing at State Street Bar & Grill and my wireless pack slipped off the guitar strap and the cable pulled right out. We were rocking at the time and it suddenly went silent.

You have two choices, at that point. You can panic and fumble around and maybe restart the song. Or you just keep strumming and hope the wireless pack will magically hook back up to the guitar.

In this case, Cori Lyssy adroitly came right over, picked it up and plugged it back in. There wasn't a huge crowd in the bar but the people watching seemed to get it and gave her a big ovation. We just kept going. What are you going to do? It's rock and roll, and it's live.

Just keep going. I know, it's only rock and roll, but I like it, like it, yes I do!

Monday, April 16, 2018

Smashed truck mirrors

CORI LYSSY AND I had a great rock and roll weekend, with HartLyss gigs Saturday night at The Place and Sunday afternoon at State Street Bar & Grill. Generally speaking HartLyss gigs are a lot less physically demanding than a Cheeseburger show, but I'm really sore today and it will be a challenge to get through a bunch of lessons this afternoon. I ain't complaining ... I'm living the dream!

Anyway, I got to State Street at 2 p.m. Sunday and was unloading gear from the Jeep when I noticed a big box truck coming down State Street from 18th. It was swerving back and forth and it passed me, then swerved again and nearly hit another vehicle on the north side of the street. Actually, it did hit the vehicle, clipping the rearview mirror off the driver's side. The mirror exploded and went all over the street, and the truck never stopped.

I did not get a clear look at the driver, but the truck was clearly marked and belongs to a local business. I'll just leave it at that.

I knocked on some doors but nobody seemed to know who the truck belonged to, so I left a note in the door. Sure enough, a woman came in (I actually know her because she works just down the street) and said it was her boyfriend's truck, and he was calling the police to make a report. Turns out I knew the boyfriend too. Small world when it comes to seeing stuff while setting up for a show!

The officer came in and took the report and hopefully they'll get to the bottom of it, especially if it involves insurance money. Perhaps the driver of the truck didn't even realize he'd smashed the mirror, though it made a loud noise and I'm sure left a mark on the truck.

Look. If it had been my truck and somebody saw it get hit, I'd only hope they would do the same. Still, it's nice to play good citizen and then rock and roll the day away.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Violin lost, violin found

WHEN YOU RENT a school band instrument from us via Boyd Music included is a maintenance fee, which protects against loss, theft or damage. Boyd will clean and do regular maintenance on the instrument any time you are making payments. This is particularly important for boys who play trumpets - ah, the stories we could tell about bent keys and horns!

The other day a parent messaged us in a panic - his son left his violin at a bus stop on the city's north side. The kid felt awful and the parent didn't know what to do.

Lost ... and found!
When the violin didn't turn up the next day, the parent came to the store and we advised him to make a report with the Quincy Police Department. Then Boyd would gladly replace the violin for no charge. The parent was somewhat sheepish but glad we had his back, and his son could continue playing the violin.

This morning the parent reported that his son's classmate found the violin, but was sick from school yesterday and didn't bother to tell anybody until this morning. Relief!

I'm sure it was a good learning experience for both the boy and his dad. We've all done it - in my case, it was leaving behind eye glasses and television remotes on the coffee table. We'd come home at the end of the day and Bella The Destroyer, and later Genie, would be sitting there with innocent looks on their faces, and the remains of said items scattered all over the floor.

The other thing I've done many times is leave various guitar stands and instrument chords after playing shows. One night The Funions played a gig at the old Blue Onion with several other bands, and I left an expensive five-way guitar stand behind. Never did find it, even after checking with the other bands.

The moral of the story is that we have your back if something happens to your instrument, and we're always happy to help out in times of crisis.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Ready for the sidewalk

WE ARE MORE than ready for sidewalk weather. You know, when you can sit outside at Fifth and Maine, soak up the rays, hear good music, and watch all the interesting people walking and driving by.

Our Second String Music sidewalk gets used a lot right at the corner. We now have a SSM Sidewalk Hall of Fame. Charter members are me, Frank Haxel, Adam Yates, Sheryl and Angus. The first Blues in The District is about two months away, and the sidewalk is ready to host more Friday night gatherings.

It's sidewalk time!
Electric Fountain Brewing at 503 Maine is getting into the act, too. It's going to be 70-plus degrees this afternoon, so the crew is assembling a table and will get it to the sidewalk shortly. EFB has a permit from the city to put tables and chairs out there, and today is the perfect day to break them in.

Believe it or not, we are a little more than two weeks away from our first First Mid-Illinois Bank Plaza show. It's Friday, April 27, from noon to 1:15 p.m. at the plaza near Seventh and Maine, and Jacqueline Kaufman is the first performer. Beau Becraft (May 4), Akoustic Mayhem (May 11) and Noah McNally (May 18) are also featured, with lunch provided by the Butcher Block. The concerts are sponsored by the bank, The District, Second String Music and Vancil Performing Arts.

So let's get sidewalking in proper fashion and downtown, and may it be a great sitting season!

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Mucho bass cabinets

FOR SOME REASON bass cabinets for sale are popular right now. We have three in Second String Music, two Ampegs and a Hartke. Sheryl says she is noticing more bass and guitar cabs for sale in the online groups. The cabinet houses the speakers (usually four to eight) and you need an amp head to run the speakers.

Three bass cabs in this photo alone, from small to large.

Bass cabinets are awesome if you want to shake the ground and really feel the rumble. The issue is that if you play around here, you rarely need a big old bass cabinet. They are nightmares to move and store, unless you have room in the basement and don't have to cart it around.

The older I get the simpler my rig gets for guitar. I was torn between getting a new Princeton Reverb amp and a Fender Deluxe. The Deluxe had more juice, but the Princeton sounds amazing if not quite as loud. Do we really need more volume on stage? Not if the amp is off the ground and aimed up at you. So I've finally decided on the Princeton. I think.

The bass cabinets are right at the front of the store, for two reasons: 1. Easy to see when you first walk in, and 2. Don't have to move it very far when you buy it.

Come on by and check 'em out!

Monday, April 9, 2018

House next door for sale

THE HOUSE NEXT to us in our awesome Calftown neighborhood goes up for sale this month. The asking price is fair and it's beautiful, lived in for nearly 60 years by our neighbor, Don. He passed away in October and his kids have been steadily cleaning it out. The garage is huge and still has his LTD sitting there waiting for a new owner.
Jim V and Don's houses. Nice and big family homes.

The house next to Don's may be up for sale soon, too, from what we've heard. Sheryl and I have been in it and it's also very nice. An new owner has been in it for about four years but before that Jim Viehmeyer owned it for decades and it was immaculate, even the basement... The wiring lined up in perfect rows. He worked hard to make sure his basement was clean and dry.

We really hope the homes stay single-family dwellings and not rental properties. No offense, but we've had our fill of negligent landlords and slobs as tenants. There is a house on 9th Street that is awful and the city has had to step in to get it cleaned up, and that's just the junky porch and yard full of trash and furniture. There is also another one at 9th and Washington that has been vacant for 7 years and the city has to mow it a couple of times a year. It would make a cute house if the owners would sell it. Who knows why they just let it sit and decay.

Our house. It is the ugly one on the block.
All the big houses in the block are lived in by the owners. We hope to see a couple of new families join our little block. It is a great place to run and play, just ask our dogs!

Call us for details and we can let you know more about the houses going up for sale. Here's to hoping we get good neighbors and keep it real in the Calftown hood!

Friday, April 6, 2018

The regional music store


SECOND STRING MUSIC is becoming much more of a regional draw. In the past year, the stores in Keokuk and Kirksville have closed. There's no fulltime music store in Hannibal with regular hours, and you pretty much have to go to Troy or Springfield to find the one within 75 miles.

Yesterday a young man and his wife came in from Kirksville, which is about an hour west of Quincy. They'd done some research and found out we have the amazing Roland Juno DS in stock. Stacy Taylor of The Cheeseburgers uses one and Sheryl had a lot of fun trying out all the gizmos and sounds. This thing even opens your garage door if you want, and vacuums your carpets. Too bad it can't clean up after Fast Eddie.

Anyway, they came in and tried it out and were thrilled. "Your price is the same as the online price," the man said. They bought the keyboard and enjoyed poking around in the store for more than an hour. "Our store closed so there's nothing around us anymore," he said.

We've been supported by great customers from the Hannibal and Keokuk areas. The Fender dealership has sparked a lot of interest (we are getting another big shipment of Fender amps as we speak) and we hear our local musicians say they appreciate a local music store.

We aim to please. Most of the people who come from out of town like Quincy and make a day of it. It's our honor to serve our local musicians, even if local means more than an hour away!

Thursday, April 5, 2018

When the fur baby dies

IF YOU THINK Second String Music is just a music store, well ....

The other day a woman came in and bought a soda. She started talking to Sheryl about cats after seeing Fast Eddie on the counter.

"I lost my cat in early March. I had her for 12 years. I cry every day because she was my baby," the woman said.

Losing a family pet is a tough thing, and the woman was obviously still in mourning. She talked it out with Sheryl and felt better when she left. She usually buys three or four sugary sodas, but all we stock now is the diet drinks. "My doctor told me I shouldn't drink the regular ones anyway. Too much sugar," the woman said. She bought a diet soda, and she was happy.

There's a woman in town who often waits for us to open. Lately she's been bringing Fast Eddie and Angus treats. This gal said, "My electric bill went down so I can afford to buy Eddie more treats." Geesh .... we have so much, and it's a good lesson to be grateful.

Lucky lovin' on Eddie.
Another woman came in with her husband, who just started guitar. She used to work for Hollister-Whitney, which built our elevator in 1918. She was thrilled when I showed it to her. Maybe she'll get somebody at her old office to show some interest in a vintage birdcage elevator.

Of course we are still rocking with music stuff in here, though we still get people asking for record needles, Christian contemporary CDs, hammer dulcimers, Euphoniums, baritones, penny whistles, dobros, RCA plugs without the cable, sheet music and "left-handed pan flutes," whatever they are.

There are rhythms and flows to a small retail business. Often it will be quiet for an hour or so. Then our roofer shows up, two people come in looking for guitars and another person is searching for an obscure cable. Often I duck out to get lunch and come back to find all kinds of happy mayhem in the store and Sheryl frazzled from the chaos.

Then there's Electric Fountain Brewing, now connected to Second String Music with a door by the old bank vault. I see people in there conducting business on laptops, meeting with clients, laughing it up with friends and enjoying the way cool vibe.

It's always an adventure at Fifth and Maine.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Water in buildings

WE ARE MAKING progress on getting a new roof above the 2nd floor of our Second String Music building. Let's just say we are now good friends with our banker and a local roofing contractor. Work should start soon, which is good for my aching back. I made five trips up to the crawl space yesterday to deal with all the melting snow and leaks, and the sooner a new roof goes on the better.

I read with interest the story by The Whig about the Kinscherff Center at 122 N. Fifth, half a block to the north of us. The building next to the center, the old Irene's Cabaret, flooded a few months ago and caused serious damage to both buildings. The center is used by John Wood Community College for adult education classes, and JWCC staff had to evacuate because walls started buckling, among other issues.

Mike Elbe, JWCC's president, says the school is committed to the location and is awaiting word on repairs. The city isn't talking about what happened, and probably wisely so since there might be litigation involved down the line.

But we can tell you from talking with our Fifth Street neighbors and a couple of the water department guys who were here when it flooded that both buildings suffered serious damage. The old Cabaret building has been vacant for more than a year and is owned by an out-of-town person. A pipe burst in the basement and ran unchecked for a long time. That's the danger of having a vacant building and an owner who isn't here in town.

I'm not saying this is the case here, but often if the owners don't live here, they simply don't care. Sheryl and I dealt with this in our previous location, and one of the reasons we bought our building was for rent control and to make sure somebody who gives a damn about Quincy owns it. We can't imagine the problems this building would have if it were unoccupied....

Another huge issue is that all of the buildings are interconnected, from Schuecking's clear down to Fifth and Hampshire. If the two damaged buildings have to come down (I'm not saying it's going to happen, just if it happens), that puts a big hole in the middle of the block and all the other buildings could be subject to significant structural integrity issues.

Then again, it might help us with some of our downtown parking issues. Just kidding. Sort of.

Let's hope both buildings are OK and nothing gets torn down. Let's also hope both buildings can be fixed and will be used, instead of standing forlorn and empty.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Loopers are fun



WE JUST GOT a bunch of the brand new Boss RC-1  Loop Station pedals at Second String Music. We've had the RC-3 looper for a long time and they sell very well, and cost about $180.

The RC-1 is only $99. It doesn't have drum tracks, nor near as much memory or places to store recordings, or a USB input to connect to a computer.  But it does have 12 minutes of looping capability and it is easier to use.

Basically what you do is hit the foot pedal for record, play a little riff or chord progression, then hit the pedal again to stop the recording. It will play back continuously. Then you can layer stuff over it. Sounds simple, right? Well, it's an art and it takes a lot of practice to get better, because it's all about timing and hitting it just right.

There are a couple of guys around here who use them. Cheeks McGee (Ryan Christian of Electric Fountain Brewing) is the best I've seen locally. Ed Sheeran has made them famous. They are a blast to play with, and if you are thinking about a looping pedal, this is the one to get you going.

Boss has made them special for this year and at the special price, so I don't think they will last long. I'm thinking of getting one since they are so popular, and doing shows with Paul Lester and Cori Lyssy (HartLyss) makes me think they could be very cool. Come see us at Fifth and Maine and we'll start looping around the loop and having more fun than we should possibly have!

Monday, April 2, 2018

April 2. Really?

YESTERDAY WE GOT 5 plus inches of snow. It might be more than we got all year. And ... it's April.

Snow in April. Thanks Kris Kutcher for the photo.
Yup. April. Happy Easter Sunday, Q-Town. Here's a bunch of the white stuff to make people panic and spin off our roads.

We feel really bad for Grace, who works for Electric Fountain Brewing. She opened this morning and it was cold, really cold, and she didn't know where the thermostat was. She does now, after huddling by the space heater and finally discovering it in the bathroom.

It's been really tough on our local spring sports teams. This will wipe out at least two or three days of games. It gives me nights off from working at the Whig, but there goes my beer money, and that's not a good thing.

At least the dogs love it, and it is a winter wonderland out there, but really? Our first Concert In The Plaza is less than a month away, and we are going through sun and sidewalk withdrawal.

Get your act together, Mother Nature, and let's get on with this business of spring!

Friday, March 30, 2018

I'll be a backup goalie

LAST NIGHT IN Chicago, a backup to the backup goalie/accountant actually played significant minutes in an NHL game. It's a way cool story and the guy will never forget playing goalie for the Blackhawks for the rest of his life.

Apparently it's a rule that the home team has to provide a backup to the backup goalie for every game. That's in case the main goalie gets injured and the backup goalie gets cramps, like last night.

My hero growing up, No. 29, Ken Dryden.
I wonder if the St. Louis Blues could use a backup to the backup. I was a goalie once, a billion years ago. It was in Montreal, and my hero was Canadiens goalie Ken Dryden, and I was pretty good. We played in outdoor rinks and some games I spent more time shoveling snow out of the net than stopping pucks. I used to take the empty plastic milk bags and put them on my feet before shoving them into my skates so my feet wouldn't freeze.

I'm not sure what happened, but I suspect when we moved to London, Ontario in 1974, hockey coaches found out I could skate. Back then the kids who couldn't move that well were the ones put in goal. I wasn't a super fast skater but I was tall and could negotiate the ice pretty well. My hero was Larry "Big Bird" Robinson of the Canadiens.

Then the summer before ninth grade I grew four inches and got a lot more clumsy and less mobile.

I played defense in high school and wasn't too bad. For a few years in Alpena, Michigan, I played in the men's recreational hockey league and had a blast, but moving to Quincy pretty much torpedoed my hockey and ice skating days.

People say I look a lot younger than my 52 years, so I will lie to the Blues and tell them I'm 28, and see if they fall for it. Can I borrow their goalie equipment?

I could just show up and backup the backup and pray two goalies don't get hurt on the same night. Apparently they put you in a nice suite to watch the game and feed you. Geesh, a couple of cold ones and I wouldn't even think twice about putting on the pads and filling in for a few minutes.

Whatya say, Blues? Dare to dream, just to backup the backup.



Thursday, March 29, 2018

The new Cheeseburger!

PLEASE WELCOME THE newest member of The Cheeseburgers, bassist Brad (T.B. Player) Fletcher.

Brad is an experienced player who hails from the East Coast and works at Kohl Foods in the IT department. He nailed his audition with us by drinking Kirk's lousy beer and actually knowing the songs. We had another practice last night and it's not taking him long to figure it out.

TB Player (second from left) in the legendary CB basement!
A big thanks to Henry Sweets, Don Van Dyke and Jeff VanKanegan for filling in the past year. Henry did a great job last summer and then moved to Arizona. Don and Jeff are former Cheeseburgers who really helped us out in a bind and kept it fun from the bass end.

Brad understands we are just a good-time party band, nothing more and nothing less. We are in it to play great songs and have a blast, and this particular version of the band has really good chemistry. We are coming off a great gig with DVD filling in last Saturday at the Fabulous Furball, and Brad makes his Cheeseburger debut Saturday, April 28 at the South Side Boat Club in Keokuk. Then we get ready for a Friday, May 11 show in Quincy at Revelry.

Brad is ready to bang the low end and be a Cheeseburger. So git ready to git Cheesey, and remember our 2018 Tour motto - Make America Grate Again!


Wednesday, March 28, 2018

It must be spring - Angus rolls in death

SLOWLY BUT SURELY there are signs spring is here. It's still too chilly to walk the dogs without a jacket, but the grass is getting greener and there are hopes we'll get past 50 degrees soon.

When things thaw out it can be messy for the dogs. They like to roll in the mud and dig for moles on their morning walk. They love a good roll in death, and it's really nasty.

Death usually means some sort of animal has died and is decomposing. The dogs are fascinated by this wonder of nature and they look at me and say, "Well, it's death. And it needs to be rolled in so we smell bad. We're dogs dangit!"

This morning it was Angus' turn, and he coated himself in something nasty. It was so bad I had to roll down the windows on the ride home, with the 35-degree air blasting us from all sides. When I got home I told Sheryl her dog needed a bath, and she cheerfully obliged. "Well, they are dogs. This is what they do," she said.

She complimented Angus on finding the nastiest chunks and getting them in the most interesting spots. When finding a new patch of disgust she oooh'd and aaah'd about how creative Angus was in the nastiness he had found. Angus thoroughly enjoyed his bath.

Happy and Clean, again.
I guess it's no different than me smoking a cigar - Sheryl thinks it's a gross habit and won't go near me when I'm puffing away. Thank goodness, like the dogs rolling in death, I only do it once in a while.

I'll try to keep a closer eye on the dogs on our walks, but they sneak away and seem to enjoy finding death to roll in. It's like a perfume to them and a badge of honor, and they can't help it, even though it makes my eyes water and it means a bath for them when they get home.

Blech. Double blech. But the dogs don't care and we'll have to give them baths for as long as they live. After all, living large means rolling in death. For a dog.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Vintage family organ

OUR NEIGHBOR, DON, passed away last October after living nearly 60 years in the house next to us. We miss him puttering around in the yard, especially with spring in the air. His kids have been cleaning out the house and have filled two dumpsters with stuff - you can imagine how much accumulated over the years.

One of the things they found and we now have for sale in the store is a Baldwin organ. The original paperwork is still in the bench, including the warranty card, manual, sales receipt and a "Reading Music with Tom Bonaventure" book, along with other Christmas music books.

The organ was purchased from Byerly Piano and Organ Company at 505 Hampshire on Sept. 16, 1969. The original buyer was Don's sister-in-law, and Don's wife later bought it after the sister-in-law passed away. It cost $1,821 and was considered the top of the line model. It's called a Baldwin Orga-sonic Model 56R Series. It has two levels of keys, 44 on each level, foot controls and all kinds of bells and whistles. And it works.

505 Hampshire is now a parking lot by WGEM. The original sales receipt was signed by Noble Byerly. It's amazing how nearly 50 years later the organ is for sale again, and just one block from 505 Hampshire.

I found a fascinating online reference to the store written by a Quincian. Apparently Mr. Byerly was well-known and famous for his business.

It's not that big but takes two people to move it. That might explain why the ones we found online are being sold for $500, local pickup only. Our price is $329, and you will get to move it yourself too.

Still, it's a way cool instrument and a lot of fun to play with. It's in mint condition and just begging for a good home. And it's at Second String Music, where you can play it and decide for yourself just how cool it is!

Monday, March 26, 2018

Spring break special

THE CHEESEBURGERS PLAYED Saturday night for the Quincy Humane Society's Fabulous Furball, and we had a fabulous time as always. When we got done, we looked outside and it was snowing. Hard. GUH.

Snow in Quincy at the end of March is almost unheard of, and today we have heavy rains. If March or April showers bring May flowers, well, our flowers are gonna be huge.

This week is spring break for our local schools, so we are celebrating by offering a special. Buy any of our awesome new Alvarez acoustic guitars or any ukulele, and you'll get the first learning book free. The guitars come with four free lessons from Vancil Performing Arts, a great way to either get started or get better if you are already playing. The special runs through March 31st so spread the word.

So bring your umbrella to 5th & Maine, and you can always stop next door at Electric Fountain Brewing for a coffee or espresso. Frank Haxel worked hard over the weekend installing a wood and glass door Sheryl found on our third floor, and we've had coffee lovers coming in to say hello to Angus, Tucker and Fast Eddie. We love it!

Friday, March 23, 2018

Different customers

IN THE WILD and unpredictable world of small business retail, there are many different types of customers. We see them all here at Fifth and Maine, from "twirlers" (get Sheryl or Steve Rees to tell you about that one) to beginners to serious musicians.

This week has been a classic example of three different kinds of guitar shoppers. The first is the one that comes in, plays a guitar, says they'll be back to buy it, and .... doesn't come back. We understand - it's an investment and a second look at the old bank balance may make you think twice. A fair number of these customers go online and think saving a few bucks for the exact same guitar is worth the risk of having it delivered. I'll spare you the horror stories, but it isn't.

Then there's the random guy who walks in, picks up an expensive guitar like the Takamine Pro Series acoustic, and says, "I'll take it." We've had a number of these over the years, and a lot of them are people who used to live in Quincy and are back on vacation or for family functions. The guy this week said, "Well, I still love Quincy and I like supporting a business in my old hometown." We like that he still likes the Q-Town!

Finally, there are the customers like our friend, and let's just call him Tony. He comes in here a lot, jams with us and is an awesome player. Tony got away from playing for a few years but is getting back into it now, and he certainly doesn't need another guitar, but the fatal "need versus want" is a tough thing to deal with.

He came in the other day and when I asked him what he was doing, he said, "I'm caving." Tony has come in several times and played our amazing Gretsch hollow body guitars, and had a particular liking for the Streamliner Junior in Torino green. He finally pulled the trigger yesterday - "I just had to make sure my wife wasn't gonna kill me when I brought it home," he said. He was joking. I think. His wife has been in several times to get stuff for him so she understands.

I just bought an incredible G&L Telecaster. Did I need it? No. Did I want it? What a silly question. We are exploring the possibility of getting more in since our sales guy also does our Alvarez guitars.

It doesn't matter why you come in ... we love it all the same, and thank you for supporting a small and local business.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Ugh - the birds are back

IT MUST BE spring, because the sidewalk in front of Second String Music's door is full of bird poop and lots of feathers. Also, more poop.

They made a nest on the fifth-floor balcony and they are determined to stay. But one of the eggs fell on the sidewalk, and there's all kinds of straw and debris, too.

I don't like you, bird.
Let it be known I'm an animal lover. We have three dogs and two cats, and all but one are rescues. Nature is awesome, but it's also cruel, and I wish it would be crueler to the birds at our building.

Let it also be known I had bacon and eggs for dinner last night. That makes three baby birds that were never born and one dead pig. I'm OK with it.

A few years ago we had a vicious storm blow out a bunch of windows, and the damn pigeons got in the upper floors. The floors were clean when we bought the building, but it took several weeks for us to get the birds out and seal up the windows, and they made a huge mess. One of these days we will have to go up there and clean up again - maybe after we get the roof fixed.

Sheryl swept the sidewalk this morning, you didn't want to even read her lips while she swept. Spring is for the birds, and we'll clean up after them as we go.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

How to pay for a new roof

SHERYL AND I were fully aware of the challenges when we bought our Second String Music Building. It's more than 120 years old, and we've sunk a considerable amount of money into restoration and maintenance.

We were told this week we need to put a membrane over the fifth floor roof. And we have to address the condition of the second floor roof, which has awesome skylights and an old swamp cooler but has really become an issue. We have to constantly go up to a second-floor crawl space to make sure the leaking doesn't get out of control, and we also moved a heavy AC unit that was caving in the roof.

It needs to be replaced.

I thought the fifth floor roof would be OK for another year or two, but a week ago Sunday we had a heavy wet snow, and it finally dripped through all the way to the main floor.

We had our awesome roofer come check it out. We knew the bid would be a shock. And now we are staring at a $50,000 project. We will probably get another bid or two, but it won't be lower.

We have looked at some grant programs, but it seems like most of the historic stuff isn't for construction or brick and mortar. It's more for awnings and windows. If we are wrong about this, let us know.

Sheryl and I don't want sympathy and we don't want handouts. We have worked our asses off building Second String Music from the ground up, and we are finally starting to turn the corner from a business perspective. We still have a long way to go, but it's nice to see. And we fully understand the responsibilities of owning a historic building in downtown Quincy.

So, we have three choices. We can call the bank (done this morning), we could let the building rot (nope), or we can pack it up and head to a higher traffic area and pay a lot more rent (nope).
How do we keep her up?

What really irks us is when the Quincy Mall gets breaks and developers on the east side are lured by incentives. It's all part of getting people here to Quincy and building toward a better future, but if we don't take care of our history and our beautiful older buildings in town, we are shooting ourselves in the foot.

Small business grants and incentives are non-existent and neither of us have scads of money socked away somewhere. It's just an old building that we love and a small business that continues to grow. Are we missing something?

The downtown area does get breaks, like the residential apartment program. There is a loan program for commercial development which we qualified for, thankfully. But our joy at finally having equity in our old downtown building is dampened by our frustration at having to use it for roofs instead of building restoration. We will get there someday but this pushes it off at least 10 more years.

So ... we will continue to look for options and we know things will work out, one way or the other. And if all else fails, we can put out a tip jar next to the Elevator Restoration Fund container.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Ghosts at Eighth and Klondike

I USED TO LIVE in Southern View and drive up and down Klondike Road at least four times a day to get to work. Klondike is the main east-west artery between Eighth and 12th streets.

For many years, there was a house on the southeast corner of Eighth and Klondike. There was an old couple living in the house. If the weather was decent, they were out in their huge garden. They were always puttering around and doing stuff. The house was small and well kept. It looked like the man and women were content in living out the years in their home. Who knows how long they lived there.

Then the man passed away. I don't remember his name but I remember reading the obituary. The woman stayed in the house and was always outside, but the garden didn't get tended to quite as much.

I moved from Southern View in 2005, and I no longer drove past the house on a regular basis. Every now and then I'd go by and it still looked in decent shape, but the woman was never outside.

It's likely the woman moved or passed away. The house was probably vacant for a while. Did it need to be torn down? Was it passed down in the family and simple unwanted? There's a house like that across the street from us in Calftown and it's heartbreaking to see it now, slumped and lonely in disrepair.

The other day I drove up Eighth Street, and to my surprise the house was gone. There was a truck on the street and some workers walking around the property. Geesh. When did it get torn down? I have no idea, and I guess it doesn't matter.

The garden is long gone, too.

I don't believe in ghosts, but I do believe the spirit of the man and woman still haunts Eighth and Klondike, and in a good way. They are out in the garden and enjoying the warm weather after a long winter, content to pick weeds and plant vegetables, and trying to keep the varmits out.

Progress, right? An old house gets torn down, and who knows what will go up there, if anything.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Eric Johnson and Ah Via Musicom .... live!

THIS POST IS for all you 50-somethings who play guitar or love music. You remember hearing this amazing song on the radio in 1990, by this guy from Austin, Texas. Then you saw him on Austin City Limits and you were blown away again.

Yup. Eric Johnson, of Ah Via Musicom and Cliffs of Dover fame. Except this guy is not just a flame-throwing guitar player - he's been making his own music for more than 40 years, and he's even better with age.

Saturday night in Bloomington, Ill., Mike Sorenson and I caught his Ah Via Musicom tour at the tiny Castle Theater. The Castle is not much bigger than One in Quincy, and there were maybe 600 people in the venue.

Let's throw out the whole being objective thing here, because I know every note and word from Ah Via Musicom, and from Venus Isle, and from Bloom and from Souvenir. I remember leaving Alpena with his song "40 Mile Town" playing in the car and crying. Sometimes an album or song will have lasting impact on you. It's the power and impact of music - it's a big part of your life, no matter where or when you hear it.

This was the third time I've seen Johnson and I think it was his best show. He's playing with his original bandmates, drummer Tommy Taylor and bassist Kyle Brock, and they are amazing. When he plays in a small venue you can hear every snare drum, bass line and Johnson's signature violin tone. Johnson's Fender Stratocaster goes from dripping church bell chimes to furious overdrive in song after song, and you have to hear it to believe it.

Opening the show was Arielle, a young woman who sings, plays guitar and piano, and performed several songs with Johnson without any fear. After her six songs, she introduced Taylor and Brock, then asked the crowd to welcome Johnson. No frills or fireworks here, just three guys about to blow the place apart.

The first set featured a variety of songs, including a Beatles cover (The Night Before) and an acoustic version of Led Zeppelin's Black Mountain Side. Johnson jokingly played the first few notes from Stairway to Heaven, and the beauty of playing a small venue was his ability to hear the crowd banter and his responses. "Well, it's either that or Helen Reddy." A few times people were asking for songs, and he said, "Don't worry - we are playing the entire Ah Via Musicom record in the second set."

Cliffs of Dover was dutifully played, but the rest of Ah Via Musicom was a joy to hear live. Nothing Can Keep You From Me and 40 Mile Town sent chills through my body, and you could tell he enjoyed playing the songs.

This was Johnson's ninth show in 10 nights, yet he and the band didn't mail it in. Most people don't realize just how hard that can be - I play a show with the Cheeseburgers and I'm a zombie for two days after, and that's without the traveling. I give Eric and his band full props for busting their butts and giving everybody a great night of music.

He's at the tail end of this tour and playing at the Pageant in St. Louis Thursday night. If you like his music or a fanatic like me, I suggest you check it out, because he's amazing live.

Thank you, Mike, for taking me to Bloomington and seeing one of my all-time heroes. He took some amazing photos and I'll get a link up to his site when he posts them.



Friday, March 16, 2018

Josie stinks at making NCAA picks

IT'S THAT TIME of year again, when your favorite team tanks in the first round of the NCAA Tournament and your brackets goes down the drain. We participate in the Hart Family Challenge, organized by my brother Steve. We use the ESPN brackets. It's fun to track the progress and just how bad you are doing.

For all the hoop nerds who claim there is a science to making picks, there are people like me who know it's luck and up to the hoop gods. Sure, you can pick favorites, but there's gonna be upsets and one bad day can bust your bracket.

The Hart Family Challenge is unique in that our pets participate. Angus, Tucker and Genie huddled up to form one team. They picked San Diego State to win it all because their coach, Brian Dutcher, was born in Alpena, Michigan. (So was Emily Hart. Go figure.) San Diego State, which isn't a state but a city, promptly got booted out of the tournament last night by Houston, which hadn't won an NCAA game since 1984, seven years before Emily was born. So the dogs are screwed and can't win, but at least they are ahead of Josie, our cat.

Josie made her picks and immediately trash talked everybody else in the field. "Bunch of pussies," she growled, while purring at the same time. "You may as well not even participate because I'm going to dominate."

Who me?
If dominating means being DFL (dead bleeping last) after the first day, well, Josie is killing it. Not only is she last, she is REALLY last and picked only one game correctly.

This explains what happened this morning. Emily's friend Rose from Iowa stayed with us last night because they are playing with the Quincy Symphony orchestra at Baldwin School today. Rose and Sheryl were having coffee this morning when Rose smelled something rank coming from under the coffee table. Sheryl smelled it too. They looked down and there was Josie, on her back, a big smirk on her face. "Yeah, I farted," Josie said. "Wanna make something of it?"

That's what happens when you make shitty picks, Josie.

I like the Hart Family Challenge because you can constantly check the bracket to see how you are doing. Right now I'm tied for first with four others, including my brother's dog. We'll see who barks loudest in a couple of weeks.

Meanwhile, we better find the air freshener at the Hart Calftown Manor, because Josie the trash talking kitty is going to stink it up for the rest of the tournament. And she still thinks you are all just a bunch of pussies!

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Get your Takamine now

SHERYL JUST PUT in an order for new Takamine acoustic guitars, they should arrive on Friday. We've been a Takamine dealer for six years and they have sold well. KMC was the wholesaler and made it easy for us to get them, but now they are distributed by ESP. That means the prices are not staying the same....

The prices have gone up by about $60 a guitar. We have a few still in stock, but the new ones coming in will be more expensive.

A few years ago I bought a Pro Series Takamine and it's the best acoustic guitar I have ever played and owned, and I've had the Taylors, Martins and Ovations of this world. I've played it so much that I chipped the bottom of the sound hole and Don Rust had to do some major repair work. So be it. It's mine for life and my go-to guitar for shows.

So fair warning to all, the prices are jumping on Takamines but we are keeping the current, in-stock items at last year's prices. This is what we have:

One GD 30ce ($399), one GD 30ce 12-string ($450, Natural), one GD 71ce ($500), one GJ 72ce ($550), one GJ 72ce 12-string ($599, Sunburst) and one GB 30 ce (that is the black Acoustic Bass, $500).

We just got a big shipment of Fender acoustic guitars, both the regular dreadnaughts and the three-quarter sizes. These come with a bag and will sell for around $150, great starter guitars for the money or something to take to the cabin or on vacation.

We've also got more American and Mexican Fender basses, strats and teles, one is a Floyd Rose Strat. It's an interesting group of guitars for all of us to enjoy.

So ... we are humming right along at Fifth and Maine, and you can help us unpack guitars this morning if you are looking for something to do!

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Just put in the sink

AH, ADVENTURES WITH old buildings. It's never dull at Fifth and Maine and we've had quite the whirlwind of activity in our Second String Music building.

Electric Fountain Brewing is up and ready to go. The problem is finding a plumber who can put in a three-well sink. There's already a sink back there, and we just need an expert to put it in. Ryan Christian, EFB's owner, called a plumber last week, and they couldn't show up until Monday. Then they didn't show up. Then they casually arrived four hours late after three phone calls - "Oh, sorry, we forgot about it." They started poking around and announced it would cost a small boatload of money to install. They were expanding the scope of the job from the second they walked in. It is really just a sink.

We had an excellent plumber, Nick, but he moved out of town and we don't really know who to call or trust. Everybody is too busy. So here Ryan sits while EFB is ready to go. My heart breaks for him because he and his crew have worked incredibly hard to get the space ready.

Help! Second String Music will buy you coffee for six months if you can put it in. Plus your bill will get paid.

Need a sink installed! Soon to open.
On Sunday we got a heavy wet snow. Our roof above the fifth floor has a few issues and the water finally started coming through to the lower floors. We have a roofer coming to check it out and Sheryl and I spent the better part of Sunday afternoon patching up a couple of spots. This explains why we both couldn't walk yesterday - I made at least 20 trips up and down five flights of winding stairs, and neither one of us has the physical fortitude in our backs and knees to push around heavy snow and lean into repairs.

The good news is that Sheryl found a beautiful door on the third floor. It will go in on the east wall of our main floor, by the bank vault. It will connect EFB with Second String Music, so you can enter from our 100 North 5th door or the 503 Maine doors. We got one quote for $2,000. The other quote we never got. Sheryl was wandering around Sunday and found the door, complete with the hinges. There are a bunch of them up there, stored away for many years after the third floor was renovated into a dance studio in the 1960s.

So, as usual, Frank Haxel will be in the wrong place at the wrong time. We are paying him to put in the door, which is way cool and probably 120-plus years old. "I'll buy beer if that helps," Ryan said. It will.

Also, our friend Leo from Custom Glass came over yesterday and looked at the 503 Maine entrance. We will gladly put glass in the doors. "Done," he said. "I'll order the glass and we will put it in." There was no haggling, hemming or hawing. Leo is a great guy and has done excellent work for us before - it's all about the relationship and trust.

Now. If only we can find a plumber who drinks coffee ....

Monday, March 12, 2018

A record BCBS donation to Six String Heroes

EMPLOYEES AT Blue Cross/Blue Shield of IL in Quincy never cease to amaze us working with Six String Heroes.

Saturday at Second String Music, BCBS of IL Customer Advocate Supervisor Sara Heiden presented a check to Six String Heroes co-founders Steve Stoner and Derek Miles for $6,460.40. The money was raised through T-shirt sales, gift baskets and raffles, and a painting party at Twin Oaks.

This is the seventh straight annual donation by BCBS, and this is the most they've ever donated, up from last year's $4,901.36. To date, BCBS has donated $31,310.29 to Six String Heroes.

The program is based at Jefferson Barracks in St. Louis and designed to help those in the military returning from service and healing from combat injuries. At Second String Music, Vancil Performing Arts and the Illinois Veterans Home in Quincy, we give free lessons and a guitar to anybody who has served in the military.

Six free guitar lessons is just the start, this program has saved lives and given veterans purpose. We have a lot of fun too.

Sheryl and I speak for Frank and Cindy from Vancil Performing Arts in saying we are honored to be part of the program. It's amazing what music can do for people needing therapy and something to do. Quincy is by far the most generous donor to this program and Steve and Derek both said they were overwhelmed at the donation, as they are every year.

To Sara and her rock star BCBS employees, thank you, thank you, thank you. You are one of a million reasons why Quincy rocks!

Friday, March 9, 2018

Sixth Street moves on up

WE ARE PROUD to be a downtown anchor at Second String Music. With the addition of Electric Fountain Brewing at 503 Maine, which will open next week, we think Fifth and Maine is the place to be.

But there's a lot more to downtown Quincy, and we are really excited about Ally's Boutique and Sweet Apricot Shop moving to North Sixth Street from the Maine Center.

Both shops have been next to each other in the Maine Center for a while. From all accounts both stores have done well, but now they are moving to the 100 block of North Sixth, on the east side, and they'll still be next to each other. And now they'll have store fronts on the street so it's easier to shop at both places.

There are already great businesses on North Sixth, like Domestics and the Silhouette Shop. Add Grown & Gathered on the other side of the street, and it's getting more and more hub-like. Grown & Gathered is also putting in a Tap Room to go with the very cool Tree House space in the back.

Sara from Sweet Apricot and Ally from Ally's Boutique both rock. The grand opening for both store is in about a month. Here's to thriving local businesses staying downtown and cheers to both!

While you are downtown shopping around, check out our new ukuleles. We have added Amahi for a less expensive ukulele option, and our Luna and Gretsch ukes continue to sell well.


Thursday, March 8, 2018

Tucker the Klutz

TUCKER, OUR BORDER Collie, is always getting nicked up and injured. In other words, he's a boy. A klutzy border collie?

Blood, no klutz.
Today on our walk, Tucker jumped over, through and around a big pile of brush. He got nicked in the face and suffered a huge gash on his leg. We have him at the store today because Sheryl bandaged and wrapped his leg, and Tucker likes to chew on such things.

This is the same dog that jumped out of a window in one of our upper stories and broke his leg when we first got him 5 or 6 years ago. One day Fast Eddie swiped him in the nose and gashed him really good. He's always getting into something. Lately he's been wheezing a lot and Sheryl gives him  benadryl twice a day to keep the sneezing down. He's high maintenance and loves butter. Sheryl calls him expensive.

I've never had a son, but I imagine boys who are athletic and like to run fast pay a price. Now that I think about it, I endured a broken leg, broken fingers and busted up nose many a time in my youth. Did Tucker inherit my klutz?

Anyway, Tucker is a trooper and he doesn't try to milk it too much, unlike his late Border Collie sister, Lucy. I'm sure it's painful but he's wandering around this morning and chasing Fast Eddie like it's no big deal.

Boys will be boys, you know.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Fixing the Ghost In The Machine

A GOOD CUSTOMER just came in with a bass amp he purchased from Second String Music last month. He said it was making a rattling noise. We took it to the back room and hooked it up, and the rattle was slight but evident.

We played with it for a little while, and then the rattle stopped. "What did you do to make it go away?" he asked. The answer? Nothing.

I call it Ghost In The Machine (also a great Police album). Sheryl says, "It's just like working on a computer." I think it's more like Spirits In The Material World, but who knows?

To piggyback off of yesterday's Steve Rees blog, it's about the experience. The customer bought a product from us, and there was an issue. We addressed it and hopefully fixed it for good, but if there isn't something right, the warranty will cover any issues. The customer experienced firsthand how seriously we take this stuff, and he's happy.

So are we.


Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Steve's take on retail and shopping local

TODAY'S BLOG IS written by Steve Rees, who works for us at Second String Music and is an excellent instrument repair guy, and fabulous musician.

I don't know if anyone reads these blogs but me, and I only do it to see if Rodney ever mentions me. But I asked Rodney if I could write one of his blogs and he said yes, so here it is.

Rodney writes a lot about being in a small local business. He probably writes more about that than the fact that they are a local music store. "Shop local," support local businesses," you hear it all the time, and it's not just Quincy. But why should you shop local, when the internet is killing mom and pop's livelihood and vanquishing their quaint brick and mortar business from the face of the earth?

The talking heads would tell you that when you spend money locally it goes back into the local economy, blah blah blah.

Here's a few questions for you ....

Why do people shell out big bucks to go to a live concert, often driving long distances, instead of staying home and listening to CDs or whatever, for free?

Why do people plan for two years and save money to see the Grand Canyon instead of staying home and watching an excellent documentary about it on the National Geographic channel ... for free?

Why do people go out and eat an expensive restaurant instead of staying home and cooking dinner for much less than the cost of eating out?

Why do people still go to the movies at the theater, dropping big bucks on the movie and even more money on the food and drink, instead of staying home and watching Netflix with a bag of microwave popcorn?
OHM. Shop your local music store. OHM.

I could go on and on. But here's the answer - it's the experience.

That's right, the experience.

People want to experience things. In the music store, you can feel a guitar, see a mandolin, hear cheerful conversation and pet the dog. (Editor's note: Steve and our cat, Fast Eddie, have a love-hate relationship, but that's for another blog.)

Two things that all of the above experiences have in common are:

1. Physical (and some would say spiritual) connectiveness to the experience, being able to use your five senses to be part of the experience.
2. Energy, the often overlooked part of the experience. An experience has an energy that comes from the interaction of all the energies present. That's why many folks, some regularly, come into the store just to browse. It makes them feel good. There is an energy that elevates their own vibrational energy. Rodney busts loose on a version of Mustang Sally, and people feel good. Angus wants the customer to throw his ball, and the customer feels good. Holding the guitar that you've dreamed of before buying it makes a person feel GREAT!

So shop local and support your local businesses for a few new reasons - for the experience, which equals connectiveness and an exchange of energy, and to feel good.

Try that on the internet.

I'm waiting .... still waiting!

Monday, March 5, 2018

Breedlove finds a new home

I SOLD MY Breedlove acoustic guitar Saturday. Without getting into a lot of details, it found a new home. Everybody is happy.

The new owner, Isaac, is the son of legendary mandolin picker Paul Lester. Paul and I play in a duo called Dutch Mazeltov. Isaac's father is a prolific musician. Isaac's grandfather, who passed away recently, was also a musician of some renown.

Isaac is supposedly new to guitar. Coulda fooled me ... we've already done a few lessons and he's picked things up rapidly. He's decided to get serious and really learn the instrument, and a few more months he'll be spreading his wings and ready to fly.

I sold it for less than it was worth, a lot less. You know what? The guitar finding a good home was almost as important as the price. And it was still a lot of money, especially for a high school kid who has a part-time job.

I remember my first guitar, a Lotus. I bought it from Rainbow Music in Grand Rapids when I was 18 or 19. I was over the moon happy, and I still have the guitar to this day. I will never sell it. What did I pay for it, $200, maybe? It was a fortune to me at the time, but worth every penny.

Isaac came in Saturday and paid for the guitar. You could see the look in his eye and the excitement on his face. "I'm going home to play my  new guitar right now!" he announced, and whoosh, he was off and on a mission.

Whoosh. His journey begins. And we couldn't be prouder to help make it happen!

Friday, March 2, 2018

Thinning The Herd

I NEED ANOTHER guitar like I need another hole in my head. Wait. What's that by my ear? My goodness .... another hole in my head!

I just bought an Alvarez guitar. We got our first shipment of Alvarez acoustics yesterday and I quickly snatched up a good one. I'm using it for lessons and as a backup to my worn and beloved Takamine.

I gotta thin the herd. In the corner by my lesson room I have what we call the "need vs. want" pile. There are eight guitars in there, plus one in my lesson room, plus another two at home. That doesn't count the two other guitars now on the Second String Music floor.

I use my Takamine Pro Series for acoustic gigs. I use the Gretsch Broadcaster and my battered Fender Stratocaster for Cheeseburger gigs, along with an amazing Jon Kammerer guitar. There's a vintage Gretsch Cutter and a rare Epiphone Shadow guitar back there, too. I play the Gretsch but the Epiphone rarely comes out of the case.

So two of my guitars are now on the floor. One is a Reverend Flatroc, which I used a lot until I got the Gretsch Broadcaster. The Flatroc has a very Gretsch/Telecaster kind of tone and is versatile.

The other guitar is a Breedlove Studio Dreadnaught. It has a Fishman pickup and really warm tone. Both guitars come with custom cases. Both are about 3 years old.

The Reverend sells for around $900 new, and the list price on a new Studio Dreadnaught is about $1,200.

I'm asking $700 for the Reverend and $550 for the Breedlove. Both are fair prices. But today and Saturday only, If you tell me you read about these guitars in my blog, the price for each guitar is $500. No trades, no haggling, and cash would be preferred.

These are serious guitars for serious players, or players looking to up the game. Come see me and try them out for yourself.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Farewell Jasmine, hello Alvarez

WHEN WE GET a huge shipment of guitars, it's the whole Kid-In-The-Candy-Store feeling. I love it, and man, did we get some guitars in this morning.

Brand new on the Second String Music floor are the Alvarez acoustics. I'm the proud new owner of an AG70 model and it's a beautiful thing. This could lead to further commentary about me needing another guitar like I need another hole in my head, but really, the person with the most guitars at the end wins the race, so I'm good.

We just sold our last full-size Jasmine acoustic guitar. They've been great sellers and instruments, really good for just $150. In the guitar world, like anyplace else, you get what you pay for, and beginning players love getting a decent instrument for a decent price. We will be transitioning our beginner line to the Alvarez Student line and the Alvarez Regent acoustic starter packs. Same pricing and same stable beginner guitars.
Pretty new Gretsch guitars

We are also down to our last Dean acoustic guitars, we are phasing these out and bringing in some great Alvarez Artist series. Solid wood tops on most and great sounding guitars. We are still Takamine dealers and will be keeping them for our moderate and high end acoustic guitar line.

Meanwhile, we are stocked with more amazing Jackson, Fender and Gretsch guitars. The Gretsch hollow bodies especially are drool-worthy - we have some really cool colors and different makes and models, from $300 and up. If you have never owned a hollow body, the Streamliner Junior would be a great guitar to start with.

Come see us at Fifth and Maine!


Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Make America Grate Again

THE CHEESEBURGERS ARE alive and well, and we kick off our 2018 "Make America Grate Again" tour in Hannibal Friday night for the Democrat Days celebration. There are rumors Claire McCaskill will be playing on our cowbell medley. She's certainly invited!

We don't care what the occasion is - we are there for the party. We've played for Republicans, Democrats, Independents, Green Party, Libertarians, you name it. We couldn't care less if you are from Saturn or Pluto - if you hire us, we'll rock and roll all night.

Here's what we've lined up so far for 2018. We are really excited about our show at Revelry and our long-awaited return to the South Side Boat Club in Keokuk. We will see you there, and let's Git Cheesey!

THE CHEESEBURGERS

Make America Grate Again Tour 2018

Friday, March 2
Missouri Democrat Days, Hannibal Mo, Hannibal Inn, 9 p.m.

Saturday, March 24
Fabulous Fur Ball, Town & Country Inn & Suites, Quincy, 8 p.m.

Saturday, April 28
South Side Boat Club, Keokuk, Iowa, 8 p.m.

Friday, May 11
Revelry, Quincy, 8 p.m.

Wednesday, July 4
TBA

Friday, July 6
Quincy Park District Summer Concert Series, Washington Park, 6 p.m.

More dates on the way!

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Patience, coffee lovers!

WE'VE HAD A steady stream of people coming into the store and asking about Electric Fountain Brewing. Just so we are straight, here's a couple of things about the new coffee shop about to open in our Second String Music Building at 503 Maine.

EFB has moved most of its stuff into the space, and they've been hard at work painting and cleaning. They've turned one of the areas into a way cool sitting room, and we can't wait to see what else they are planning. It's really hard for me to just sit here when I hear all the clattering and moving going on, but from the few glimpses we've seen, it's going to be incredible.

It will likely be early next week before they are open. They have to go through the health department inspection and get a few other things figured out - there's a process and this move happened rather quickly, so it takes a little time.

The entrance will be through the blue doors at 503 Maine. There's a huge picture window covered up right now, but you can still see the Mercantile Bank sign above the old safe. We had our Boyd Music display up there for a long time. When the weather is nice, like now, I'm sure they can put tables out on the huge sidewalk. But that may still require city council approval.

Ryan Christian, the owner, loves the space. I believe they are looking at another downtown location for a more permanent and bigger establishment, so this may just be for a month or two, but you never know. It's an amazing spot and the traffic is good.

So, coffee lovers, be patient. Your beverages will be as delicious as ever and though the space is smaller, the vibe will be great and service second to none. Downtown is the place to be and we are thrilled to help with EFB's new home!

Friday, February 23, 2018

Welcome EFB

BIG NEWS AT Fifth and Maine! Electric Fountain Brewing is moving from its Sixth Street location and is temporarily moving in Sunday to 503 Maine, part of our Second String Music building. They are occupying the space behind our main floor and containing the original Mercantile Bank vault.

At this point, we are hopeful they will be open later this week. There's some health department logistics and other things they need to take care of, but they've moved most of their stuff in and done a lot of work in the space, and it's way cool.

We think it's the perfect location for owner Ryan Christian and his crew. It's smaller but has a ton of charm and history, and it's move-in ready. Although temporary, while they renovate a permanent location, we will enjoy having them here.

Getting someone in there forced us to reorganize a bit and clean out a bunch of boxes and junk we'd been storing back there. Four trips to the recycle center later, it's empty. Steve Rees brought his dolly and we removed the Boyd Music display from the large window, and now we are using it on the floor for strings.

So we have a new tenant, the space is getting cleaned and there's even more life at Fifth and Maine. Check EFB's Facebook page for progress and hours. It's gonna be tough firing up the Keurig when their amazing pour-over coffee is literally on the other side of the wall!

Thursday, February 22, 2018

We never close

FEBRUARY IS THE worst month in Quincy. It's still dreary and it doesn't want to let "winter" go. We had an icy rain overnight, so schools are closed and it's probably going to be very quiet in the store today. This, of course, is two days after it was nearly 60 degrees and rained all day.

One lesson this morning has already canceled, and there might be more, but we are here and I hope my students can make it. Maybe by this afternoon it will be better. The roads are fine but the sidewalks are a bit slick, and I understand why people don't like to go out when it's like this.

Sheryl asked if we could stay closed today, but she has a stack of work and likes to procrastinate. I am hopeful we get our guitar lessons in this afternoon. I guess I'll just force myself to play our new Fenders and tinker with my new tube amp.

We went to Electric Fountain this morning for coffee before opening and it was very quiet in there, too. Tom Gooding works there (and is a very good guitar player and student of mine) and he said it was a slow morning.

He asked if we'd ever closed due to weather, and the answer is no. Almost exactly five years ago, we had a blizzard hit us and we closed at about 3 p.m. It was actually treacherous out and it took us forever to get home. But that's the only time.

Ironically, we had a customer waiting for us to open when we rolled into Fifth and Maine.

So. We are here, like always. The roads aren't bad. If you wanna hang out, this is as good a place as any!