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!