Thursday, October 18, 2018

Thank you, Superintendent!

QUINCY PUBLIC SCHOOLS Superintendent Roy Webb came to Second String Music yesterday, and we had a great talk. Sheryl called him earlier in the day because we wanted him to get accurate information about our business. We are local, we are proud to support Quincy Public Schools and all of our area schools, and we care about our community.

Some think otherwise. They are wrong.

We are not endorsed by any local school system. We offer affordable band instruments, sales and services. You have choices, whether it's at the retail level or online. We compete and we strive to be the best we can be. Pretty basic.

My daughter was a Blue Devil and is now a professor of music at Western Illinois, and her experience with the Quincy music program was awesome. It helped mold her into what she is today.

Roy didn't have to come down during his busy day and talk to us in person, but he did and he listened. Sheryl and I are beyond impressed and grateful.

The superintendent of schools is a difficult job. I had sympathy for Roy's predecessors, the ones who had to deal with interesting school board members and thorny issues. I have great respect for anybody who serves on a school board, a thankless but crucial job. Remember all the controversy a few years back? A effective school board is one that stays out of the headlines and gets the job done, and that's been happening during a time of new school buildings and never-ending funding challenges.

Roy also had a tremendous letter to the editor the other day about the Fab 5 visit. It's good to see somebody taking responsibility and setting standards for being all-inclusive.

By the way ... my Monday post has now exceeded 24,000 page views. The response has been overwhelmingly positive.

Thank you, Mr. Webb, for your service and dedication to your job as superintendent.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Store closed Saturday, but we're still rocking

SECOND STRING MUSIC will be closed this Saturday, Oct. 20. The Tin Dusters are downtown and take over the streets, so there's no way to get close to our store. We've found they don't really spend money in a business like ours, but they do support other retailers and we understand the event is good for Quincy, so we are fine with it.

So, we'll take a well-deserved break. That doesn't mean we won't rock and roll!

The Cheeseburgers are playing a really fun show Saturday starting at about 1 p.m. in the Quincy University Stadium parking lot. Our friends at Wine On Broadway are putting this on and will have all kinds of great craft beer, and the Butcher Block will be cooking up a storm. QU takes on Missouri S&T at 5 p.m. and we'll be rocking the tailgate party in the north lot. We did this a few years ago in the pouring rain and still had a blast, and it's supposed to be 60 and sunny Saturday, so no excuses - come out and get Cheesey before the Hawks play!

Saturday night, Cori Lyssy and I are playing at the Red Light Bar & Grill just across from Second String Music in the old Granite Bank building. We start at 8 and we can't wait to get in there and play in a beautiful acoustic setting. The restaurant owners are awesome people and have done a ton of work revamping the space - if you've been in there, please pay them a visit. I had the $1 tacos yesterday for lunch and they were really good.

Whatever you do this weekend, take advantage of the beautiful fall weather and be safe out there. October is a great time to rock and roll!

Enjoy this photo of Angus making sure Bobbe at State Street Bank knows where the treats are hidden. He is shameless.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Fleetwood Mac tickets for sale

A FRIEND BOUGHT tickets to see Fleetwood Mac in St. Louis this Saturday, but now he's decided to not go. They are for sale, two of them, in section 106 of the Enterprise Center. They are awesome seats, and he paid a lot of money for them.

Face value, the tickets are worth $340 for the pair. That's $170 each. Would you pay that much to see a revamped Fleetwood Mac? He is asking for a lot less, and you can track me down at the store (217- 223-8008) if you are interested.

Who doesn't love Fleetwood Mac? Who didn't own Rumours? Dude, you didn't live in the suburbs unless you owned and wore out your Rumours records. Actually, the first FM album with Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham is my favorite, one great song after another.

Buckingham was "sacked" earlier this year and has sued, saying he's lost $14 million because he isn't touring with them. It wouldn't be Fleetwood Mac if there wasn't drama. Is it FM without Buckingham? They won't be doing Big Love, that's for sure.

He's been replaced by Mike Campbell, the incredible guitar player for Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, and Crowded House veteran Neil Finn. Reviews are mixed, but the die-hards still love them and I give them credit for still going - they aren't spring chickens anymore.

Neither am I, and I'm still playing. Granted, it's not for thousands in a big hockey rink, but The Cheeseburgers are still going and still love what we do.

It's still Fleetwood Mac, as the set list from their recent show in Des Moines indicates.  If you wanna go, let me know.

The Chain 
Little Lies 
Second Hand News 
Say You Love Me 
Black Magic Woman 
I Got You (Split Enz) 
Tell Me All The Things You Do 
World Turning 
Oh Well 
Don't Dream It's Over (Crowded House) 
Isn't It Midnight 
Monday Morning 
You Make Loving Fun 
Gold Dust Woman 
Go Your Own Way 

Footnote: Yesterdays blog about @JVN and the Queer Eye crew in Quincy has officially become my most read with more than 23,222 page views in the past 48 hours. Let's keep progress moving forward!

Monday, October 15, 2018

Ignorant Christianity and the Fab 5

SHERYL AND I were excited about guys from the Netflix show "Queer Eye" being in town last week. Second String Music had a small part in helping with the visit. Queer Eye is a show about five men who transform the way people look, feel and act. It's hysterically funny and touching. One of the five guys is from Quincy, and they were in town to "redo" one of our local school music teachers.

Then we read a letter to the editor from a bigoted homophobic person that calls himself a pastor, and it just turns our stomach.

You can read it here if you want. It's from an alleged pastor of an alleged church in Quincy, complaining about how we are leading our school children astray with people who practice immoral behaviors. The Queer Eye guys are gay. They were in our schools last week doing workshops. The pastor isn't happy about Quincy rolling out the welcome mat for such people. (Sheryl's response to this was a strangely coherent string of cuss words that I can't quote in this blog. Use your imagination.)

There might not be anything more dangerous than a person leading other persons and cloaking themselves in ignorance while beating their Biblical chests.

I'm a Christian, or, more accurately, a failed Christian. Aren't we all? I grew up the son of a pastor in a very conservation Christian Reformed environment, Christian schools, the works. I was heavily involved with a Quincy church for  many years, and I'm back playing guitar on Sunday mornings at another church in town.

But I've developed much more of a world view in recent years. I'm tired of people using Christianity as a line in the sand, a way to divide instead of unite.

I am glad the Queer Eye guys were in town. Sheryl and I eagerly await the episode, which should air next year.

Before it rained yesterday, I mowed the lawn. I stepped in dog poop. So I scrapped it off my shoe and kept mowing.

You know something, alleged pastor? I'm scrapping your narrow-minded and ignorant letter off my mind like I scrape dog shit off my shoe. Only your shit smells worse and doesn't go away.

While the rest of Quincy grows and changes, we will hopefully counteract this backward hatred spewed in this small town. We need progress, not backsliding.

Peace, love, joy and I'm proud to be from Quincy, home of one of the Queer Eye guys!

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Kash comes a-calling

WE GOT A visit from a candidate for Illinois governor yesterday. Kash Jackson, a Libertarian, was walking around downtown Quincy after doing an interview at WGEM. He came into Second String Music and ended up spending about an hour here, talking about his policies and just life in general. He had a beverage and asked about other places to visit in Quincy, and I thought he was very interesting.

Showing the candidate (middle) EFB!
Tonight in Quincy, Gov. Bruce Rauner and Democrat J.B. Pritzker have a debate. Jackson wasn't invited, being a so-called "third-party" candidate. But he made sure to be in Quincy anyway, even if he isn't allowed to talk with the big boys.

To be honest, I didn't even know he was on the ballot. There's another guy running too, and apparently he's just a Republican with a different party name, but I'll do more digging about him later.

We talked about Jackson's stance on issues like health care and taxes. But mostly it was about life. Kash Jackson is a veteran and he's got some issues, but he didn't steer away from them. Sheryl told him bluntly (I know, Sheryl being blunt. Really?) that she didn't like the fact he changed his name not long ago. Jackson said he'd wanted to change his name (Winterweedle) and his grandparents were big fans of Johnny Cash. Click here for more. He didn't dance around it, anyway.

I'm not big into politics and I'm really disappointed with our current political climate. It's all about money and power, not about getting our state out of desperate financial straits. Illinois is in real trouble and I doubt anybody can save us in one election.

That being said, I like it when candidates try to make themselves available.

So here's my challenge to Gov. Rauner and J.B. Pritzker - you guys wanna stop in at Fifth and Maine before your big debate tonight? Sheryl has already voted but I'm still making up my mind. I have a lot of lessons this afternoon but not until 4 p.m., so come on in and we can shoot the breeze. Even though you are both gazillionaires, I'll even buy you a cup of coffee at Electric Fountain Brewing next door. If Angus likes you, that might help sway my vote.

Or, come back some Friday afternoon during Happy Hour(s). Now that could get interesting!

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Missing chicken alert

THERE IS A missing chicken in the Calftown Hood. It's name is Fraggie. It lives near 9th and Jefferson. Let's hope it doesn't try to cross the road, just because it can.

We have a fair share of chickens in our Hood. Just down the alley, Tony and Mary Dickerman have a coop. Their chickens don't venture out much, and never at night. They get a little mad when Mary and Tony leave, but you rarely hear them and they also make delicious eggs.

There are a lot of predators out there, and I'm not just talking about our new neighbors who blast horrendous music late on Saturday nights in their garage. If computer-generated techno beats won't kill chickens, nothing will. There are cats, dogs, hawks and assorted wildlife who would like nothing better than a late night snack.

I'd volunteer our dogs to go look for Fraggie, but it wouldn't be a good idea, especially for our English Shepherd, Genie. She is the sweetest and most docile thing until it comes to squirrels, moles and chickens. We sent her to a Missouri farm for a while and the owners trained her well but said Genie kept killing their chickens. The guy even tied a dead chicken around her neck as punishment, and Genie came back a lot better behaved.

But she'd still kill a chicken if she had a chance.

Fraggie's owner says Fraggie has a twin who is "lost without her." What? Twin chickens? Twin separation anxiety? Maybe Fraggie's twin can telepathically communicate and they can find Fraggie. Maybe.

I don't mean to make light of this. Pets are pets and a missing chicken is not a good thing, and the longer it's gone the less likely it is to return. I'll keep my eyes peeled and hopefully we find it soon.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Stolen bikes and hitching rides

WE SEE A few bicycles ditched in our Calftown alley. They've been stolen and discarded. In the hood we call this "hitching a ride," and it's a lousy thing to do.

Some of the bikes are nicer, some have seen better days. Stealing a bike means you are a lazy person who has no regard for somebody  property. A lot of the time it means the thief is on one end of town and needs to get to the other, so they "borrow" some wheels and leave it somewhere when they have no further use for it.

The other day a children's bike was discarded in front of Second String Music. As you can see by the photo, this just doesn't make sense. There is no seat, one of the tires is flat and the chain is all messed up.

How did this thing end up on our sidewalk? Was somebody so hammered that they didn't even realize what they stole? Did they take the bike apart after stealing it? Did it fall off of a moving truck?

It's a sad thing, this messed up bike. It's sitting on our sidewalk as we speak. It will disappear eventually. Or maybe you know who the owner is ... just let them know.

And if you stole the bike to hitch a ride, shame on you. I hope you tried to sit on the seat and didn't realize it was missing until it was too late.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Still love ya, mom

SHERYL AND I lost our mothers about a year apart. My mom passed away in 2005, just months before she was going to retire as an English teacher. She was looking forward to spending her remaining years reading, watching movies and visiting her grandkids.

Sheryl's mother died a year later while on vacation while passing through Minnesota. It's interesting how we tend to remember the people in our lives who are gone. It's random and funny and bittersweet at the same time.

With Sheryl, it will be something like a garage sale. "My mother loved garage sales," she says. She'll mimic her mother and father in the car on a Saturday morning. "Turn here Jerry turn here!" Wilma used to shriek. We both laugh when Sheryl remembers, especially the prayers for stop lights to change and Christmas gifts being given to her when they were found in July. Ahhh memories...

I was hit hard with memories this morning in guitar lessons. My mother loved John Denver, and I'm using "Leaving On A Jet Plane" in lessons because it's both simple and really challenging, no matter what kind of player you are. I used to roll my eyes when she'd put on a John Denver record, but now I realize why she loved him so - his songs are interesting and he was a really good 12-string fingerstyle guitar player.

Here is to hoping you remember your loved ones when passing by a random location or running into somebody they knew. It's a good thing!

Friday, October 5, 2018

QPD body cameras

THE QUINCY POLICE Department now has body cameras for patrol officers and Street Crimes Unit officers. This is a great idea - the camera doesn't lie.

If an unruly person claims he or she was mistreated, the camera will prove them wrong. Or right. So it's good for both sides.

Body cameras on officers isn't new. And officers being filmed is common. When they respond, how often do you see somebody standing there with a cell phone recording video? All the time.

That being said, technology is only as good the human beings behind it. Fortunately for QPD, Sgt. Adam Yates spearheaded the body camera effort and has put in a lot of hours getting it ready for the officers.

Click here for Sgt. Yates explaining more about the cameras. Transparency is a good thing and hopefully video will help the department.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Awful stretch of road

YOU ALWAYS SHUDDER when hearing about a tragic vehicle crash, and Tuesday was no exception when we heard four people were killed on U.S. 24 north of town.

I travel on this stretch of road a lot. It's located between Ill. 96 and 336. Sheryl hates it when we take it to get to Macomb or Camp Point. It's a two-lane road full of hills and curbs.

I did many stories about crashes on the highway. The owner of the Paloma Diner lost both a brother and sister to DUI-related crashes on U.S. 24, spaced many years apart. Leisha Kelly, an amazing local author, died on U.S. 24 with her son. I can remember at least five or six other times where there were horrific crashes and either deaths or serious injuries.

We know people who live out that way and take the road every day to Quincy for work. They don't seem to have issues. If you do it long enough, it becomes habit.

It's the other guy you have to watch, even if you are a safe driver. You never know what the person right behind you or coming your way will do. It sure makes you think.

For now, I am avoiding U.S. 24. If I go up to Macomb to see Emily, I'll get on 336 by going east on Broadway. Same with coming home.

Safe travels, friends. Be careful out there. And say a prayer or two for the four people who perished on the road Tuesday.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Social Media break, needed

SHERYL IS TAKING a break from social media. She's suspended her Facebook and Twitter accounts. I'm probably going to get rid of my Twitter feed too since I rarely post anything and I don't read it that often.

Twitter is full of angry people who spout the first things that come to mind and don't bother with facts. Buh bye, liars and idiots. Sheryl follows several people that are 20 minutes ahead of the news cycle and well researched. Of course it is very addicting too.

However, we realize the power of social media, especially Facebook. So we will remain active with the store and my Facebook pages, for now. She will also moderate What to do in Quincy IL via our Second String Music page.

We are way too dependent on these methods of communication. Not long ago we had a person asking all kinds of questions via the store Facebook, and it would have taken two minutes in a phone call versus an hour of garbled back and forth online.

I'm far more likely to return a phone call or even email.

You can always call or stop by, you know. The whole person to person thing is not overrated. We'd like to see you and talk to you in person, at least once in a while. The irony is that I'm doing this on an online blog, but it's an effective way of reaching people and gets a lot of traction.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

School band rentals keep us hopping

THE PAST WEEK has been a bit crazy at Second String Music, especially in the afternoons. It's school band instrument rental season, and the Quincy Public Schools compressed things this year, so it's been nuts.

Last year, with Boyd Music, we rented a lot of instruments, but parents had until the end of October. This year we've already rented the same amount, and students are supposed to have instruments by the end of this week. As usual we'll have stragglers coming in the rest of the month. It's hard to tell if we are ahead or behind, or right on schedule. When the school compresses the time frame our record keeping is suspect.

Regardless, it's been really busy. Thank goodness for Boyd Music, and for Steve Rees, who's been a huge help. Most of the time parents who come in are not familiar with the process, and we'd like to think we make it easy and to the point.

Our instruments are approved by the schools (don't let the outdated brand list they send out fool you). Maintenance is included. You pay for your first two months and get a month free, so your child has basically 90 days to see if they want to continue. If not, you simply bring the instrument back and you are good to go. If your child sticks with it you own the instrument, in most cases, after two years.

We are here from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. during the week, and 10 to 4 on Saturday. Come see us!

Monday, October 1, 2018

Waiting out the rain, Cheeseburger style

THE CHEESEBURGERS HAD quite the time Saturday night at the Hoffman Mansion in Hamilton. In case you have never seen it, it's right on the Mississippi River and it's not, well, huge. You know it's going to epic when you roll in through a gate and there are two helicopters on the front lawn.

The owners had a party and hired us to play, hoping the weather would hold. It didn't. It started to rain about 6:30 and it didn't stop for more than three hours. So we waited it out.

Hoffman Mansion in Hannibal, sans helicopters.
We were hired to play, and we were going to be paid, and the food was unbelievable. Everybody was happy and we kept looking at the radar and hoping it would blow through, but the nasty green blob kept growing and hovering over us.

We had already set up and had to tarp everything to keep it dry. About 9 p.m. the owners wanted us to move under a sheltered porch area, but there was no way we were going to stand in the rain and unhook everything - it would have taken 15 to 20 minutes and we would have been soaked. So we waited, and waited some more.

Finally, about 9:45 or so, it quit. We quickly unplugged everything, hauled it over to the protected and dry area, set it up, and by 10:30 we were blasting away.

What fun! A lot of crowd stuck around and they were ready, if you know what we mean, to party. We played until almost 11:45 and everybody was happy.

My guess is that a lot of bands would have taken the check and gone home. Why? What else were we going to do? It was going to stop sometime. So we got home a little after 1 a.m. That's just bidness as usual for The Cheeseburgers.

Rain ain't gonna ruin this Cheesey parade.

BTW ... stay tuned, because we are close to announcing a really cool show in town later this month!

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Trumpets and dog treats

TWO THINGS TODAY: Old trumpets still work and are great instruments for your child, and Angus doesn't forget.

We had a mom, and we won't use her real name but her initials are Amanda VanNess, come in yesterday with an old trumpet and violin. She wondered if her daughter, Olivia, would be able to use either instrument for school band. You know, our favorite from the hood, Ms. Olivia.

Sheryl went over them and made sure everything worked on both instruments. Olivia decided to play the trumpet, and last night she promptly took it outside and started blasting away in the front yard.

Dogs and cats were scattering, cars were crashing and people were holding their ears. Well ... not really. But the neighbors did come out and wonder what the heck was going on.
Angus loves Emma

"Better get used to it," Amanda warned.

Amanda came in with her 10-month-old daughter, Emma, who looks just like her big sister. Yesterday Emma spilled some cereal from her stroller and Angus got wise in a hurry  - baby alert! Baby alert! Spillage and treats!

Angus is pretty sharp, and as soon as mom and baby walked in this morning, he was right there in front of the stroller. More cereal got spilled. Angus made sure we didn't have to vacuum. Emma found more cereal behind her bum and threw that for Angus too.  A pair for sure.

The moral of the story is, mom and daughters are happy, and so is Angus. So everything is right in the world, and we continue to rock at Fifth and Maine during school band instrument season.

Angus sez, "Bring more babies and treats!"

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Inside photos, anyone?

THERE ARE TONS of good photographs out there of our historic Dodd Building. But almost all of them are of the outside. I'm more interested in the interior. Surely there are people around who either worked or did stuff in this building back in the day.

The third floor contained Bedford Dance Studio. Anybody have photos of the studio itself?

There have been doctors, lawyers, florists, jewelers, all kinds of businesses. I've seen a photo of a law office on the fourth floor, but it's impossible to tell the room. Mercantile Bank at 33rd and Maine has some interesting photos of the main floor, but it's still not quite enough to tell exactly what it looked like inside.

How about the old birdcage elevator? A picture with one of the operators - it was manually operated - would be way cool.

If you have some photos or know of somebody who might, please let us know at Second String Music. Thanks!

Law enforcement helped move Mercantile in the early 1960s.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Helping out

KUDOS TO SECOND String Music hall of famer and happy hour legend Pete Magliocco, who helped cook dinner last Sunday with Rev. Tony Metz and the good folks at Luther Memorial Church. The meals were for those in need and less fortunate, and the event was a huge success. Click here for more. 

There are a lot of stories like this that simply don't get told. I have a guitar student who helps out once a week at a food pantry, and it's not in a part of town you might think. We have a lot of people in Quincy struggling to make ends meet.

The Quincy Police Department does a food drive in November, right around the time families could really use good news and help. It's organized by a couple of other SSM hall of famers and happy hour guys, Adam Yates and Frank Haxel.

Hmmm. Sensing a theme here .... happy hour is good for the soul, and good people who are doing good things!

Tony and Pete doing good things!

Monday, September 24, 2018

Rats - the TV works

I HAVE A man cave upstairs. On Sundays I like to take long golf naps (even if Tiger is winning) and flip between football games. We have our TVs hooked up to an antenna to get local channels and use Sling for cable.

Lately the antenna, which is supposed to pick up digital channels, hasn't been working. Sheryl has knee and back issues right now and is not willing to climb on the roof to figure it out for me. It will mysteriously stop receiving and we have no idea why.

For some reason it started working again Saturday night, which was great because the Iowa-Wisconsin game was on Fox and I hate both teams, and it was a great game, and I bet Kinnick was quiet after that one.

Sometimes it works ... sometimes it don't.
I made a plan last night to torture myself and watch the Lions play the Patriots. I've been a Lions fan for nearly 40 years, and why I'm not totally grey is beyond me, but the Lions are the Lions. In the immortal words of The Clash, "It's always tease tease tease - You're happy when I'm on my knees." Yup, that's what being a Lions fan is all about.

So I go up there and the antenna is not working. There is no reason why. It worked great in the afternoon, and then .... nothing. No Lions game. Geesh. Maybe I'd avoid the anguish of watching them after all.

I unscrewed some wires and put them back in and miraculously the antenna picked up our local NBC station. It kept going off and on, off and on, until about midway through the first quarter. Then it worked fine for the rest of the game.

Incredibly, Tom Brady looked human and the Lions played their butts off and won. Never mind New England usually sucks in September and half the team is hurt. A win is a win, baby. It was nice to see.

The antenna is like a guitar string - it breaks just because it can, and does. Hopefully it works next weekend when the Ryder Cup is on and there's more football two watch.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Always something going on

SHERYL WORKS VERY hard to update a Facebook page called What To Do In Quincy IL. If an event gets posted, she makes sure to put it on the page too and let as many people as possible know what's going on.

The tired old saying of "There is nothing to do in Quincy" is a bunch of bleep. There is ALWAYS something going on in Quincy. We are just so used to everything being put in front of us without making any effort to find out the times, events, and details of events.

The other day I saw a post from a woman complaining there was actually too much going on last night. Too much! No! I hope she was OK and made it to as many events as possible. The ones she missed? They probably missed her, too.

Oh well.

Most of our venues in town have social media presence. It's not hard to find somebody playing somewhere, or a big event at our local art center, or a balloon glow, or a street party on a Thursday night.

We encourage you to check out What To Do In Quincy and we hope you find as much stuff as possible to do!

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Angus' new toy

MY GUITAR STUDENTS love Angus. He's more than the store dog - he's a destination, a plan, something to look forward to every week.

I am fond of Angus and of course he's a momma's boy, though sometimes I think he's a little bleep who half listens. But to my many students, and their parents, Angus is king and can do no wrong. They sit outside the lesson room on the couches and play and play and play with the dog, and have a great time.

We have people who bring stuff in for Angus. Who cares about the store owners? They merely keep the doors open so Angus has a place to hang. I have a ukulele student from Hannibal, a high school student, and it's not unusual for both her mom and dad to come with her for her lesson. Hmmm ... both parents, all the way from Hannibal? Really?

Well, if you could see her father fawning over Angus and taking Snapchat videos of him, you'd know why he really likes to be here.

Angus and his newest chasing toy.
Yesterday one of my newer students brought a large green ball for Angus. He loves this thing. He's chasing it around as we speak. It fits in his mouth and is kind of nerf-like, so we can throw it around the store for him to chase. It's amazing Angus has never crashed into a guitar or instrument while going after his ball. "If it hits one of your guitars, it might actually knock it back into tune," Angus woofs, rolling his Corgi/Cattle Dog eyes.

Now this ball is nice, and probably not cheap, and it certainly shows how much my student, her little brother and her mother all like Angus. But this ball tends to get icky quickly (Icky Quickly would be a great name for a band) and the Angus Slobber (another great band name) makes it kind of gross to pick up and throw.

Angus couldn't care less. "Throw the dang thing," he just woofed at me. "Your student thought highly enough of me to bring me an awesome new ball and it's your job to throw it. Don't screw it up or break a window. Now!"

There he goes. I've resumed typing, after washing my hands. Again.

So Angus is happy and is finally resting after playing for about 90 minutes. His little legs will only propel him so far and for so long, you know, though he keeps up on our long morning walks and seems to have boundless energy.

Play ball, Angus! Even if it is icky and gross. My students and parents love you, for sure.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Birthdays and remembering

EMILY ESTHER HART turns 27 years young tomorrow. I remember the day she arrived like it was yesterday, of course.

But I'm having a hard time with the whole 27 years ago thing. Twenty-seven years? Really?

I sent my old boss at The Alpena News, Bill Speer, an email and told him about Emily's birthday, as she was born in Alpena, Michigan. He couldn't believe it, either. He's got two kids who are all grown up and responsible now, too. One of them I used to coach on a fifth-grade basketball team.

Where do the years go?

When I gathered with my brother and two sisters over Labor Day Weekend, one of the comments that came up was that we should always strive to make things better for our kids. For the most part, I think we've done that, or done our best to do it.

I'm going up to Macomb tomorrow morning and it will be great to see Emily again. She's rocking and rolling at Western Illinois and I'm a proud papa, for sure.

I'll just try to not think so much about how time passes so quickly.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Big boat in our little town

A HUGE RIVERBOAT is moored at Clat Adams Park in Quincy. It's called "America." It's on a two-week cruise from Wisconsin to New Orleans. Last Saturday the boat slipped past us in little old Quincy, headed for a stop in Hannibal. Of course! Hannibal! You can't deny Hannibal has Mark Twained its way as a destination stop, and God bless 'em for it.

America was close to Hannibal, but then the captain realized his boat was too tall and wouldn't make it under the railroad bridge. We had massive rains north of us recently, and the Mississippi River is up, unusual for this time of year. Reportedly the captain jammed on the brakes ... well, put her in reverse, anyway, and managed to avoid smashing into the bridge

The boat came back to Quincy, and the crew and all 180 passengers have been here since. I will give Quincy credit for showing hospitality - the tourism people have gone to great lengths to arrange transportation and tours, and a lot of America's passengers wandered around downtown Saturday afternoon. I talked to four or five groups (a couple even came into the store), and most of them just wanted to know the location of the dollar store.
Rodney gawks at the boat.

Still, our restaurants reportedly were jammed Saturday night. Plus Clat Adams park is the place to be right now in Q-Town - we went down there last night and there were a lot of people curious about the big boat, wanting to get a look for themselves. It was really nice to see people in the park and gawking at the big boat.

This comes right as the city is exploring riverfront development options. I've long said Quincy's forefathers completely missed the boat and did a poor job of planning when it came to our riverfront, but it's easy to point it out now. Wouldn't it be nice if the riverfront was a destination for us who live here, and attract tourists?

The challenge is that it will cost a lot of money. So where does it come from, and will Quincy be willing to foot its share of the bill?

I support it, but I'm wary of the expense, too. It's the world we live in these days.

I hope the folks on the America have enjoyed their unexpected stay in Quincy, and here's to hoping we someday get boats like this docking in the Q-Town on a regular basis.

Friday, September 14, 2018

School band season again

ONCE AGAIN, SECOND String Music is teaming with Boyd Music of Jacksonville to provide quality school band instruments at affordable prices.

We have seen a lot of the Quincy parochial school kids renting instruments. The public schools should be getting ready next week. It's really easy - you get a new or nearly new instrument, you pay for your first two months and get a month free, and you start making payments in three months. It depends on the instrument, of course - a sax is a lot more than a trumpet. We'll explain all the options and get you on your way for the start of band season.

It's a rent to own program. As long as you rent, you get maintenance included. Boyd is awesome to work with and we can do minor repairs in town.

It's important to get sized correctly for violin and viola, and we do that here in the store. Your money follows you - if you have to get a bigger-sized violin, what you have paid goes toward the students final instrument.

If your child is thriving right away, you can pay off the instrument after 90 days and save interest payments. Or if it isn't working out, simply bring the instrument back after 90 days and you won't have to pay for it anymore - it is as simple as that.

Come see us at Fifth and Maine! We've done really well teaming with Boyd and expect another great season.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Why does stuff break? Just because.

I AM REALLY hard on my music stuff. I go through strings like water through a strainer. My guitars get played and get nicked up - we call the scratches and gouges character marks. My amps get dinged, cases scraped, and I'm using another amp stand - maybe this one will last a while.

My latest purchase is yet another wireless unit. This time I'm getting the Nady MGT-16. It has a bug unit so it's completely wireless, without a body pack. I was using a Line 6 body pack wireless, but I opened it to replace the batteries before our last Cheeseburger gig and a spring went sproing and now it doesn't work. You can play the YouTube clip above to hear exactly what it sounded like.

Why did it go sproing? Because it can. And did.

The Nady uses a 45 degree angle for the input jack. It sticks out a bit. "You will just have to learn to be careful with it," Sheryl said, rolling her eyes for the 10th time this morning.

Plugging in is fine if it's a small venue, an acoustic gig, etc. But with the Burgers, we have four others guys in the band and going wireless means one less cord to trip over and pull out of an input jack. Even the solo shows are easier with a wireless unit.

We'll give it a workout this Saturday - HartLyss is playing from noon to 4 p.m. at State Street Bar, 17th and State, and The Cheeseburgers have a huge gig at the Keokuk South Side Boat Club Saturday night.

I ain't tripping on any wires, Holmes.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Lier lier pants (or car) on fire

THERE ARE MANY ways to get even. Here's one of the more unique ways we've seen in a while - write out your feelings on the car of the one you used to love.

The vehicle to the right is parked at 10th and Jersey. Sheryl passed it on her way to the chiropractor this morning and took the photo. We have no idea who is involved or what the circumstances are, but it ain't good, as they like to say in the hood.

Spray painted on the car are terms of endearment like "abuser" and "lier." There's a bunch of other stuff, too, though it's hard to read. All four tires are flat. The hood and the trunk are both wide open, so you wonder if the car even runs.

On the one hand it's kind of creative, but on the other there's probably a bunch of misdemeanors waiting to happen, like damage to property.

It's been there for a while and has a police tow sticker on the windshield, so somebody's idea of letting the word know what they think will soon end.

Kinda gives new meaning to the term "wear your emotions on your sleeve ... or on your ex's car."

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Here comes Florence, N.C. Harts prepare

HERE COMES HURRICANE Florence towards North and South Carolina. My father, sister and her family live in Raleigh, and they are getting ready for up to a foot of rain later this week.

It's kind of appropriate, Hurricane Florence, because my sister, Kathy, is a fitness fiend and her spin classes are often dubbed "Hurricane Kathy." She'll be ready, I'm sure. "As long as I have a place to keep my wine chilled, we will be fine," she says.

Sheryl graciously sent Kathy a message and said she and her family and pets are welcome to ride it out in Quincy if necessary. I think we are the closest immediate family, though it's still 1,000 miles and a 15-hour drive. Still, the Hart Calftown Manor is open and available for family members in need.

My lovely niece, Brooke, goes to North Carolina Wilmington and they've already evacuated and closed down the school for a week. So she gets a little break. She's welcome in the Q-Town too ... big Cheeseburger gig at the South Side Boat Club in Keokuk Saturday night, you know! Your mother has been up there, Brooke, and nearly tore it down a few years back during a Hart Sibling Summit.

Anyway, stay dry and safe and have a glass of wine when the rain starts falling.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Postponed gigs

SOMETIMES YOUR GIG gets canceled. There isn't much you can do about it. We really need to get a contract signed by the band and the venue before the show, but for the most part your word and a handshake is how we do business.

The Cheeseburgers were supposed to play Saturday, but the wet weather and other factors led to it being called off Friday afternoon. On the one hand, we were looking forward to a paid gig. On the other, I had a rare Saturday off and the weather was lousy. So it was fine.

The local band Vertigo was supposed to play Saturday night for a parish picnic, but it was too wet. It was rescheduled for the next day, and a couple of the band members couldn't make it, so Vertigo members Adam Yates and Tim Smith did their acoustic act together. I went by and there was a big crowd and the weather was perfect. So it all worked out.
Always get a signed contract?

You can't do much about the weather. We've had a few District shows canceled this year because of rain and cold, but we've dealt with it. A few years ago The Cheeseburgers were supposed to play at a local county fair. It poured for a week before the date, and the promoter finally called and canceled - it was just too wet. He did send us half our fee as a gesture of goodwill, and we played at the fair a few years later.

HartLyss had a gig canceled a few months ago. While we'd love to play at the local venue again, let's just say Cori and I have good memories and we'll be more careful when dealing with the venue in the future, if the opportunity arises. And not a week goes by that I don't hear about a performer or a band getting to a gig, only to find it's been double booked. They are SOL and there are a lot of hard feelings.

People always say, "Man, you play in a band, what fun!" They are right, it is fun, especially when the show is well-received and the band is clicking. But there's the endless hours of practice, the huge amounts of money invested in equipment, the physical effort of setting up and tearing down, and getting home at 2 a.m. after show.

It's a long way to the top if you wanna rock and roll.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Watching football, that's all

I'M WATCHING FOOTBALL tonight. I have friends who think I'm a bad guy and unpatriotic.

Here's the thing - I don't like Colin Kaepernick and I think he picked the wrong place and time to protest social inequality. I get his point, and I can't begin to understand what he and other African Americans go through every day. It's about culture and environment, and our country has miles to go when it comes to racial issues. Sheryl disagrees with me and thinks he has every right to protest what and where he chooses. Exercising your rights will sometimes be controversial.

I've talked to veterans about this and some are upset because millions have died for our way of life and freedoms. They think he's disrespecting the flag and our military. I get it. But other veterans think those who died serving also were protecting our right to protest and our right to point out social injustices. Our constitution guarantees that right. You can't argue with it.

Go ahead and don't watch, and don't buy Nike stuff, and don't buy your formerly favorite team's jersey. It's your right.

But don't yell at me and call me names because I'm watching the NFL tonight. I like to watch football. That's all it is. And you sure as hell better not say I don't support veterans. Have you ever heard of Six String Heroes? Both Sheryl and I have supported this great group since inception more than seven years ago.

I'll fall asleep tonight by the third quarter anyway. Can't protest much about that, either.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Labor Day Weekend travel woes

IF I EVER get The Funions back together, I'm writing a bunch of songs and releasing a new album called "O'Hare Anguish." Actually, "O'Hare Anguish" might be the name of my new band.

I'm going to think long and hard about flying out of there again.

We have a new carrier from Quincy to O'Hare, so I gave it a shot and the trip to Phoenix last Friday was painless. They printed both boarding passes right at the Quincy gate and I had to check my bag for $25, but it arrived as promised, even with a tight connecting flight time in Chicago. Also, Quincy uses United and in Chicago it was American.

The way home wasn't good. American Airlines wouldn't print both boarding passes, so I had to leave my bag with my brother since I presumably wouldn't have time to get my bag in Chicago, then fight my way through security and back into the terminal.

A storm blew through Chicago mid-afternoon Monday, and it delayed flights and fouled everything up. None of us realized how bad it was until much later. The be fair, there is nothing you can do about weather and it's not the airport's fault, but we sat on the plane in Phoenix for almost three hours. Then when we finally landed in Chicago we taxied for 45 minutes because there wasn't an open gate. You could tell the chaos was getting to the captain too - I give him and the crew credit, because there were some ticked off passengers.

But what are you going to do?

When I landed in Chicago, I knew I'd miss my connecting flight, and then I found out my 8:30 p.m. flight to Quincy had been canceled anyway. The next flight out wasn't until 3:30 the next day. That's the danger of flying to and from Chicago - if you miss the last flight out, you are screwed. I wandered around in a daze, and finally got in line at the United counter to get my boarding pass for the next day. I thought about driving home, but the rental car places were closed and I was dead tired from three days of fun in the Phoenix sun.

So I waited for 90 minutes in line. There were only four harried United workers processing tickets and dealing with frustrated passengers. I finally got in, got my ticket, and they gave me a coupon for hotels at a discount. But when I called, the hotels using the coupon were full.

I managed to ask about 20 people how to catch the shuttle to the Quality Inn. It was $100, and not all that great. Didn't matter - I slept like the dead, then got up and spent another quality five hours in O'Hare yesterday. Airport People Bingo is fun, people!

Sheryl thankfully took care of cancelling and rescheduling all my lessons, and I must have walked 10 miles with too much time on my hands. I finally asked myself, "What would Aunt Scary (my awesome sister-in-law in Phoenix) do?" She'd get a massage and drink a beer or glass of wine, that's what she'd do.

So I did. It was glorious, horrendously expensive and worth every overpriced penny.

I finally got back and I even made it into the Whig last night, begging out of there about 11:15 with zombie-like symptoms. It's always nice to crash and burn in your own bed.

Chicago is great because the Quincy flight goes right there. But St. Louis is only two hours and change away. I can deal with the ride to and from Lambert.

Traveling is the great adventure, and I survived, and it's back to bidness as usual today.

I still feel great from the massage .....

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Finding your stolen guitar is freaking awesome

HERE'S A CAUTIONARY tale about stolen instruments and buying stuff from a guitar dealer in Iowa. There's a reason Second String Music doesn't buy used instruments off the street, and anytime you deal with used stuff online you are rolling the dice.

About a year ago our friend Alex Sanders had some items stolen from his step-father's house in Quincy. A dirtball or dirtballs broke a window to gain access, and they took Alex's Roland Juno keyboard, two guitars, an Ibanez 6-string bass and other items. Alex filed a police report and alerted the local pawn shops, but the items were never recovered.
This is a diving board AND a bass!

A couple of days ago Alex saw a message on the Quincy Illinois Area Musicians Facebook page. Much to his shock, there was a picture of his Ibanez bass. He checked the serial numbers to make sure, then called the person who was selling the bass, both on the Facebook page and on Reverb.

He had found his stolen guitar and was super excited to get it back.

The person turned out to be Chance McFadden of Fort Madison, Iowa. If you are a local musician or have dealt with him in the past, I don't have to say anything else. If not, take our word for it and be very careful when dealing with him. He's worked for a few places in the area and now does his own thing out of his garage.

Alex immediately made contact with Chance and told him the bass was stolen, and he had the paperwork and police reports to prove it. According to Alex, Chance was difficult and wanted $150 for the bass anyway, and gave him a sob story about needing the money.

"This isn't a personal matter," Alex said. "It's a legal matter. I'll go that route if you want."

When pressed about where he got the bass, Chance said he bought it at a local pawnshop. Alex went over there yesterday, and the pawnshop had no record of ever dealing with the bass.


Then Chance pulled the classic "I'm a sovereign citizen" line and said he wouldn't give the bass back to Alex. By then, Alex decided to go the legal route, after Chance threatened to "drop the bass and break it."

Alex got copies of the Quincy Police Department reports, then called the Fort Madison Police Department and told them about his bass. We were going to go up there this morning, but to make a long story short, Chance saw the light and brought the bass to the police department, and Alex should be on his way shortly to pick up his stolen instrument.

Alex smartly refused to make it personal and instead had the authorities handle it. After all, you should never take a Chance with a used instrument online.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Family time and the football fight

I'M HEADING TO Phoenix this weekend for the Hart Sibling Summit. Sheryl is staying here to work in the store, take care of her ailing back, and to keep an eye on the hobbled Angus.

We made a vow 13 years ago to do this annually, and I've failed to keep it. So this will be the first time in a number of years I'm with my two sisters, brother and their kids on Labor Day weekend.

First of all, it's 110 in the shade in lovely Chandler, Arizona, where my brother Steve lives, so I doubt there will be a lot of movement. They have a pool and a big cooler and that's all I need. Steve's son, Riley, goes to Arizona State University and plays in the marching band, and there's a football game Saturday night, so we might end up at Sun Devil Stadium.

However, there is another massive dilemma brewing. Also on Saturday night, Louisville is playing Alabama and Michigan is playing Notre Dame. I think it's nice Notre Dame decided to get back to playing Michigan again instead of scheduling another junior varsity team, and it should be a great game.

The problem is that Doug, my sister Kathy's husband, is a massive Louisville fan and their two children were born there. He's going to want to watch his beloved Cardinals get killed by an elephant. I'm going to watch the Michigan game. There will be a huge issue and massive brawl over the remote, or ....

We could go to the cigar bar.

That's right. Chandler has a couple of cigar bars not far away. Steve and I met up in St. Louis last February for a Blues game, and we ended up at an awesome cigar bar not far from the arena. Steve wants to do it again. I'm all for it. I assume they will have both games on and we'll figure out a way to watch them both.

The moral of the story? Smoking can ruin your health, especially if you are a Louisville or Notre Dame fan.

Or maybe we'll just stay home and jump in the pool during the commercials, and flip between the two games. I'm good either way.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Angus pulls a hammy

FLAGS ARE AT half-mast, and then they aren't. Athletes kneel during national anthems. Fires burn out of control in California. Cars are crashing at 48th and Broadway and on 24th by Chaddock.

But let's talk about something really important. Namely, Angus has pulled a hamstring.

This is serious. Angus is part cattle dog and part Corgi. He is short and squat. But he has tremendous leaping ability and his hind quarters are muscled. He keeps up with his adopted brother and sister on our walks, even though Genie and Tucker are much bigger and faster. At least three of my guitar students make sure they bring their parents to lessons, because their parents love Angus and need their Angus time during the week.

This morning, Angus pulled up lame. Normally he can jump right into Sheryl's lap or flop on the couch without issues. Now he can't. He yelped in pain when he brushed up against me. And he's just sort of waddling around, even more waddling than his usual Corgi self.
Angus resting comfortably

"We need to call the vet!" Sheryl says. "He is hurt! He might need surgery!" I might be exaggerating.

Slow down, Mother Of All Doggies. Angus is resting at my feet as we speak and he's not in any apparent distress. This might curtail his incessant demands to play fetch, not a bad thing. He just needs to take it easy and maybe get helped into the Jeep. He'll be fine.

We have experience with sick and injured dogs. Who can forget the insanity of Tucker breaking his leg a few years back? He chewed through more casts than Fleetwood Mac has had band members. And we won't even mention the final bill, which I conveniently never saw. Hush, it's paid, and that's all that matters.

So please be aware that poor Angus is on the DL and won't be able to snatch his toys out of mid-air. He's been prescribed rest and naps and belly rubs, and he'll be just fine.

You can't put a cast on a pulled hammy. Angus would just chew it off, anyway.

Monday, August 27, 2018

We love kids

THIS IS THE time of year when we get a lot of families in Second String Music. It's school band time, so parents are looking at instruments, books and accessories.

We love it. We love kids. We encourage curiosity and we think it's great when a very young person takes an interest in music. It's amazing how last Saturday we had a ton of families in the store and had a great time.

But it only takes one. (Remember that Sheryl has a broken bone in her back while I recount the story.)

We had a mom and dad in the store with their two young children, probably around 4 and 2. We asked if they needed help and they said no. After about 10 minutes of drum supply shopping, the youngest child unfortunately wandered away and ended up by himself in our bass guitar section. When Sheryl saw him trying to lift at $2,000 American Fender bass off the wall, she firmly but politely asked him not to touch the guitar. For one, it's very heavy and the child could have been hurt. For two, well, it's a very expensive instrument.

The 2 year old was startled and ran  all the way across the room to his parents, then started crying. The parents scooped him up and walked out. Then the fun really started.

The mom got on our Facebook page and complained about our rude behavior, and how disrespectful we were, and how she was going to tell everybody she knew what awful people own Second String Music.
Don't let this stuff fall on your child.

"All that needed to be said to my son was “hey buddy don’t touch okay?” And he would’ve listened. You don’t scat a 4 year old out like that! I’m surprised he didn’t knock EVERYTHING over at that point trying to get out of there the as fast as he did. It took me 20 min for me to even calm him down!" she said.

Hmmmm. That's exactly what happened (without the scatting), and he wasn't fine. She later said it was "just unfortunate you don’t like children!"

Sometimes you just can't win, so we've let it go and moved on. But let me say this loudly and clearly and as simply as possible - we love kids, we encourage you to bring your kids to the store and we are thrilled when music hits home at an early age. We do ask that there be parental supervision around all of the dangerously heavy and expensive instruments. It is only common sense, and we'll be glad to help you, too.

Thank you.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Upping our Roland keyboard game

A FEW WEEKS ago we decided to go all in with Roland Pianos at Second String Music. We are stocking quite a few of the amazing Roland keyboards, and you have to play them to appreciate them.

In stock we have the Juno DS-61 ($699), FP-30 ($875 with piano stand/pedals, $699 no stand), RP-501 R ($1,499) and RP-102 BK ($999). These are the same prices you pay online, but we have them here for you to try, plus we assemble the stands and pedalboards for you.

We already sold several, in fact we were waiting to announce these and have them all in stock but kept selling them. It was a challenge to get them all in stock at the same time.

If you buy the RP-501 or RP-102 keyboards by Sept. 15, you get a free iPad Mini. The RPs have Bluetooth and the settings can be controlled by the iPad - Sheryl has been playing them from behind the counter with the iPad Mini they sent the store!

The keys are professionally weighted and there are some very cool sythn sounds, metronomes, percussion and other features. Stacy Taylor of The Cheeseburgers has a Juno and says it washes his dishes for him .... plus makes us sound good!

A reminder to all our friends and students at Vancil Performing Arts that you get 10 percent off, which will save you the sales tax and a few more bucks. Several other piano teachers get this discount for their students too. Just let us know who teaches you piano!

Come see us at Fifth and Maine and play one yourself. We guarantee you will like it.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

The guitar addict

HELLO. MY NAME is Rodney. I am a guitar addict. I have too many guitars. And I want more. Please, somebody - help me!

I just counted, and there are 11 guitars. Eleven! That's probably seven or eight too many. Well, six. Fine. FIVE. I'm working on it, people.

I actually sold one not long ago and I would like to sell a couple more. I have five acoustic guitars and six electric guitars. Call me at the store (217 223-8008) for more info. They are priced to sell, believe me.

Don't need it. Really. Honest.
A couple of days ago our Gretsch rep, Dan, came by to check on us and see if we needed anything. Silly, silly Dan! We are getting ready for Christmas, believe it or not, so there are things Second String Music may or may not "need."  But for me, personally, it comes down to the "need versus want" approach. Dan is an enabler and bad for my addiction. This is why I love him so much, of course.

Dan casually mentioned he might have a Charvel guitar or two to demonstrate the next time he swings by. Ugh. Charvel? What average guitars they make, right? No way I could ever want to strum one or two of those. OK, fine, three or four. Dan, bring 'em by the next time you are in town. I make no promises I will buy one or two.

What's that? You might have a deal going on? You might have a demo model you can sell for a lot less than normal?

Dan, Dan, Dan. I don't need another guitar. Let me repeat ... I don't need another guitar. I almost shouted that out in all caps but I'm trying to stay calm.

I especially don't need the new Charvel Pro-Mod DK4 HSH 2PT CM. Right, especially that one. You know, the satin orange guitar with 24 frets, speedy maple neck, a single coil pickup in the middle (all Seymour Duncans of course). Right. That one. Couldn't care less about it, so don't bother to bring it the next time you swing by, unless you just want me to give you my opinion.

Dan, you enabler you. Right to the gut, you punch me. I am powerless to resist, and you know it.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Midweek music

TONIGHT AT THE Tap Room in Quincy there's a very cool acoustic show in the Tree House, the back area. Matt Baird of Spoken and Theody are playing, with special guest Nate Charles. It starts at 6 p.m.

This show is organized by Isaac Smith, who moved here from Utah not long ago. He's originally from the Camp Point area and if you are a local musician, you might want to check this show out and introduce yourself to Isaac. We'll have more info later but let's just say he's got a very exciting project fired up in town, and we can't wait to hear more.

Thursday night at Joker's Lounge in Quincy (614 Maine), the skunk will leave the building. That's right - Jim Constantino, one of our more colorful local musicians and characters in town, is having his last performance before moving to Michigan to be with his daughter. It starts at 8:30 and also features Devonte Clarke, Danielle Grassmuck, Darian Wheller and Noah McNally.

Friday we have our final Blues In The District show in Washington Park. At noon Friday, Logan Kammerer will play at our last noon blues show, also in Washington Park.

The Cheeseburgers get going again after more than a month off with a show Friday night in Keokuk for the Big Dam Street Festival. This one is going to be a blast and we always have fun with our Iowa and area friends up there.

As always, support local music and keep rocking, and we'll see you at a venue soon!

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Misleading Twitter stuff ....

TWITTER IS BOTH a horrible and fascinating thing. So much anger and venom, yet so much unintentional comedy.

Last night a local reporter tweeted the following: "Quincy City Council members vote 8-6 to open a nightclub at 124 North 5th Street." This caught me by surprise, but actually I like the idea, because aldermen need entertainment, too. I mean, why shouldn't the city have its own bar for late night hours? It's not like there are back alley deals made all the time anyway. Now they can make them in the comfort of their own establishment.

The one thing I can see being a sticking point is letting Green Party people into the bar, but hopefully the city is open-minded enough to be all inclusive.

Wait a second ... you mean the city actually voted to allow a permit for another person? Oh. Never mind.

Also, there was another tweet about a city aldermen resigning because of an Aeronautics Committee meeting issue. This was stunning news and it's disappointing because now the aldermen spot will have to be filled and there will be one less voice heard at council meetings.

Wait a second ... you mean the aldermen resigned as the committee chairman, not as an alderman? What? Of course I didn't read the whole story, why should I do that?

I shouldn't make fun of misleading tweets. I wrote some doozy headlines back in the day, and going through old Alpena News clips last week made me cringe when seeing some of them. GUH. It happens.

And it's a good way to make sure people read the story, not just the headline or Tweet.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Oshkosh, Rod Stewart and Monday mornings

IT'S A FIVE CUPS of coffee kinda Monday morning in the rainy Q-Town ....

- I worked my last Gus Macker tournament of the season over the weekend in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. I love Oshkosh. If I had a million dollars I'd buy a summer place up there - the downtown is vibrant, the river and lake areas are gorgeous, and the locals were complaining about it being really hot on Saturday - 83 degrees and sunny, with no humidity. They have no idea how good they have it ....

Major fun inside this place Sunday with Gus.
- The Oshkosh organizers are awesome and everybody is super friendly. The tournament moved this year to the parking lot next to the brand new Menominee Nation Arena, where the Wisconsin Herd play. The Herd is the NBA D League affiliate of the Milwaukee Bucks. We moved championship games inside to the arena and played on a replica floor of the old Mecca Arena, where the Bucks used to play. Geesh, what a fun time!

- I got home at midnight, and who rolls up behind me but my neighbor, Mike Sorenson. I figured he was shooting another Bad Wolf Media concert. So who was it this time? "Cyndi Lauper and Rod Stewart. They are both still amazing performers," he said. So that's our Calftown Hood - one guy comes home from shooting pictures of rock legends, the other from working for Gus in another far-flung location.

- Sheryl kept herself busy at the store and did a bunch of stuff around the house yesterday, like trimming the Rose of Sharon and cleaning carpets, and entertaining three dogs and a cat. A couple of weeks ago she slipped on our back porch steps and broke two small bones in her vertebrae (L5). There is little she can do except wear a brace and deal with the back pain, unfortunately. Her sleeping is greatly impaired by the pain.

- Believe it or not, the fall prep sports season is upon us, meaning I'm back to work for David Adam and the sports guys at The Whig soon. Already? And kids are back in school? Already? Really? I like Michigan's idea - it's actually a state law that you can't start until after Labor Day, because of the massive summer tourist season.

We are still having our August Sale. Bass players come in and get 10% off bass guitars, bass strings, and bass amplifiers. Really!

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Changes downtown

LOTS OF ACTIVITY and changes going on down here ....

- Our friend Kris Kutcher is moving his hair salon business from next door (511 Maine) to the 700 block of Hampshire. Kris sold his building to a local businessman who has big plans for the space. We are really sad to see Kris go - he's been a great neighbor and friend. But it sounds like a good move and we wish him well.

- The old Phoenix Nightclub building a block east of us has new owners with big plans. Another hair place is going in the back of the building, and our tenants, Electric Fountain Brewing, are also leasing space. EFB is not, repeat, NOT, moving from its location in our building. They are expanding and putting in a roaster in the new spot and doing some other things. We love having EFB in our historic bank vault space and we wish them the best as they push upward and onward.

- The Red Light Bar & Grill is opening in the Granite Bank building across the street. There's been a few businesses in there over the years (I really miss the old Washington Perk) and we are ever hopeful this one will be a success.

- Don't forget that tonight is the Summer on 6th event between Maine and Hampshire. The first two were a blast and Noah McNally is the musical entertainment tonight. Let's hope the rain holds off until later and we have another good one on 6th street!

- And lastly, we have some amazing new Roland keyboards in stock and have already sold a few. The Roland RP-102 can be programmed from an i-Pad and you can actually get a free i-Pad if you buy the keyboard from us. Sheryl is playing stuff on it from her spot behind the counter and it's very cool. Come down to Fifth and Maine to check it out!

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Cleaning means remembering some of it

I'VE BEEN CLEANING out boxes of stuff looking for my Canadian citizenship card. One of these days I will stumble on it. In the meantime, I have several large garbage bags for stuff I'm throwing away from years gone by.

For some reason I saved a lot of my Alpena News columns and stories. I saved virtually nothing from my days at The Whig, mainly because most of it was archived and most of it (crime and courts) I don't want to relive, anyway.

I found all kinds of documents and photos from the Alpena years, 1989-96. One picture shows me on a baseball field talking to a bunch of kids and coaches. I can't remember the event at all. I'm in a lot  of softball team photos ("Mike's Bar Champs" doesn't ring a bell). Here's Emily in my old office crawling under my desk - now I remember I used to walk her down to the office in the afternoons so she'd fall asleep.

There's a photo of me and Mickey Redmond, the legendary Detroit Red Wings player and announcer, at a charity softball game in Alpena. The Wings came up several times to play golf and softball. One year I was the Alpena Area All Stars manager. I remember some wild nights with Sergei Federov and others, but I don't remember the games at all. I talked to Mickey Redmond? It was pretty cool, even though I don't remember it.

We had three Gus Macker tournaments in Alpena (93, 94, 95). We had 750 teams each year. Geesh! These were the glory days of Gus expanding across the country. I was a member of the Macker Backers in Alpena and they were awesome tournaments. I think. I remember being chased down a street late one Sunday afternoon by a bunch of mad parents after a bitterly contested game I reffed, but that's about it.

I saved the columns but tossed most the game stories, features and previews. I remember a lot of games, but I've forgotten a bunch, too. Apparently my buddy and neighbor, Mike Wojda, coached his Hillman Tigers in a Class D football playoff game. It was in Indian River. There was a lot of snow. Hillman lost on a last-second Hail Mary pass. How can I not remember that? My name is on the story and it's pretty detailed, so I must have been there.

Sometimes you have to read something to jog the memory. Apparently I helped my neighbor, Max Lindsay, put up a basketball hoop for his son Eric and his buddies. I wrote a column about it, and it might be the best column ever. I laughed out loud five times when reading it - now I remember the adventure of putting it up, and Eric looking at it and saying, "Great. Let's play hockey guys!"

It's a trip down memory lane, what little I remember of it. My overall impression is the seven years in Alpena were awesome, and I still miss the little town in Northeast Michigan, if not the nine months of winter.

I have the newspaper clips to prove it.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Wacky instruments in stock

EVERY NOW AND then Steve Rees gets busy and cleans out his vast selection of whacky, weird and amazing used instruments. He brought over a bunch of stuff Monday and we are filled with all kinds of cool things.

So, in no order, we have a several banjos, a banjo uke, banjola, Tater Bug mandolin, an Erhu, wooden alto recorders, a crystal flute, a Jackson 8-string electric, an Egyptian instrument called an Oud, cymbals and cymbal stands, gig bags, a crate acoustic amp, a marimba, a xylophone, a gorgeous Pizzacci acoustic with case, and a washboard bass.

Yup. A washboard bass. It's attached to a metal bucket and has a single string on a stick. You tune it by moving the stick back and forth. Its just very ... Steve. 😊

Sheryl has the items up on our Facebook page, but you really need to see some of these to appreciate them.

Long live the Oud and Tater Bug!