Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Roseanne Who?

APPARENTLY SOMEBODY NAMED Roseanne something or other was fired yesterday after she put out some racist tweets. Apparently she has a show on ABC. I don't watch network television, unless it's golf or hockey, so I've never seen it. Mostly I take  naps during said watching and miss everything except the important moments. Apparently it's a reboot of her old show, which I never watched either.

She is blaming it on Ambien. Hey, it's understandable. I didn't do laundry Sunday night after surviving Gus Macker because I drank a couple of beers and smoked a big old stogie and collapsed into a heap. I was still angry from dealing with a couple of idiots at the tournament, but I let it go.
This pig is probably not racist.

Wait. Actually, I did do laundry. But I didn't tweet about it or go on a social media rant about dumb people doing dumb things during an outdoor basketball tournament. I was worn out from the heat and the beer mellowed me out, and I thought about doing something on Facebook. Instead, I posted a photo of the cold beer and the stogie. A picture is worth a thousand words ....

I have been in front of a computer many times and wanted to pull the trigger on a comment or post, and I've learned to take a deep breath and just walk away. Don Crim, the former executive editor of The Herald-Whig, told me when I became a reporter to always think twice and to be very careful about being critical when writing about issues or people.

You. Can't. Win.

Sheryl tends to read comments and react on Twitter, and I'm fine with it. She does show great restraint in many of her comments though. I just walk away. It's kind of like the player at Macker on Sunday whose team got beat and was finished in the tournament. He wanted to have a "dialogue" but all he did was waste my time. Eventually he ended up getting a free ride and a two-night stay at the corner of Fifth and Vermont, but again, why bother rehashing it or explaining my side? It all worked out.

So, buh bye, Roseanne. I have nothing to say about you or your shows or your tweets, because I never saw or read them, and you simply don't matter.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Lasting impressions from Mr. Terry

EVERY COUPLE OF years, Mike Terry at John Wood Community College invites me to his composition class. We talk about the art of the interview, how to get information and prepare, and how important it is to get started right away. The students are required to interview a person who has influenced them.

Mike hands out a copy of a story I wrote for The Herald-Whig a long time ago about a bizarre love triangle and murder in Quincy. It was one of those You Can't Make It Up tales, and it took a lot of work to track down all the people involved and gather the information.

I saw Mike Sunday morning having coffee at EFB with his wife, Jan. He told me about a student in that class a few years back who found the story interesting. It led to the student pursing a degree in forensic science. Now the student is graduating from the FBI and is about to become a field agent.

"She got started in our class and with your story. You had a big effect on her," Mike said.

It's amazing, how many people I run into who say, "You were in Mr. Terry's class and I really liked that wild story you wrote." So I do remember the people who steered me in the right direction when I was a lost college student, especially since it's been 30 years since I graduated from Central Michigan University.

GUH. Thirty years?

Mike Terry is the man. He's in the Quincy High School Sports Hall of Fame after many years of coaching tennis for the Blue Devils. He's been at JWCC from the start and has guided thousands of young people through junior college and upward and onward. He's one of the coolest cats I've ever met. He freaking rocks and rolls.

He positively influences young people, and we are all better for it.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Hot times, summer in the city ...

JUST HAD A guitar student suggest we learn "Summer In The City" by The Lovin' Spoonful. Geesh. What a great song and totally appropriate. We've gone from snow in the middle of April to the Sahara Desert heat at the end of May. Second String Music is open today because I have a lot of guitar lessons on Mondays, and we salute the men and women of our armed forces who made the ultimate sacrifices.

As usual, I'm a walking zombie after our Gus Macker tournament in Washington Park. Despite the heat, things went well and I refuse to let the 1 percent of the idiots causing all the problems to wreck my general impression. Also, if a downtown store owner politely asks you to move from their doorway because they are open for business, they aren't trying to be pushy, they are just trying to operate a business. Sheryl can let you know more if you care to ask, but let's just say things didn't end well for people with poor attitudes.

The heat kept overall numbers down, which isn't always a bad thing. There have been years when just getting from one side of the park to the other was a huge challenge because of the mass of humanity, but not Saturday or Sunday. And it was hot, especially on the streets. My guess was that if it was 95 in the air, it was at least 10 degrees hotter on the courts - I must have lost at least 10 pounds officiating a game at Fifth and Hampshire late Sunday morning.

A huge thank you to the Quincy Exchange Club and the Quincy Notre Dame football team, with new coach Jack Cornell, who helped us set up, tear down and keep things clean during the weekend. Without them ... I don't even wanna think about it.

Another big thanks to Quincy Police officers Bill Calkins, J.D. Summers and Nathan Elbus. Without them, I'd be in a heap of trouble. I have more and more respect for our local law enforcement after putting out the fires this weekend, and we'll just leave it at that.

My favorite moment came Sunday afternoon on Red A, 8 year olds basically, when the sons of Quincy High School basketball coach Andy Douglas and WGEM Sports Director Ben Marth tangled in the championship game. The parents were amazing and vocal and supportive, our official Luka did a great job blowing the whistle, and Ben's team ended up winning a nail-biter. Both teams showed a lot of class and sportsmanship, crucially important at that young age, and I managed to snag the game ball and give to Ben, who is leaving WGEM next month after 15 years for another job in town. Thanks for making it fun and for the reminder of how great Gus Macker is, can be and should be.

Next up - more Macker adventures in a couple of weeks, this time in Cape Giradeau, Mo. Maybe I will have caught up on my sleep by then ....

Friday, May 25, 2018

Tiki Torches Work

SHERYL WENT OUT the other night and bought some Tiki torches and bug spray for our backyard. For some reason mosquitoes and other flying insects like her sweet blood, making working in the garden and being outside virtually impossible. So we have the torches and spray and hope it will make it somewhat tolerable.

We stuck four of the torches around our patio and fire pit. Guess what? They work! I was out there last night and flicked off a skeeter or two, but was pretty much left alone.

I just took a brief stroll outside of the store, where Gus Macker preparations are under way, and it's really buggy in Washington Park. That doesn't include the Outside People (they seemed quite thick this week too). If you are coming down here for the hoopfest, take my advice and bring some bug spray.

What if we just got a massive Tiki torch and planted it in the middle of the park? Wish it was that easy.

It's going to be in the 90s and humid and there's a good chance of rain tomorrow. In other words, it's Memorial Day Weekend in the Q-Town, bugs and all. We are ready to rock and roll!

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Move out and move on, deadbeat son

THIS STORY HAS been making national news, and it falls under the You Can't Make It Up category.

A 30-year-old man living with his parents is being evicted. The parents want him out. He doesn't want to leave. So they went to court, and what he told the judge and the media after the hearing defies belief. You can read more here.

We know more than a few people like this - we get a few in the store, to be honest. I guess it's just a hard thing to relate to - man, I couldn't wait to get out of the house when I was, uh .... 18? Sheryl was the same way, leaving for college the day AFTER she graduated from high school. I had to live at home my first year of college and I hated it.

Same goes for Emily. She went to Western Illinois for college and thoroughly enjoyed moving out, even though it was in a dorm. She's very independent and thrived when getting out of the house.

This guy in New York is so blatantly oblivious that it's almost as sad as it is ludicrous and laughable. He simply has no clue or moral compass for being responsible. I could go on about how this seems to be a national trend and starts from the top, but I'll be quiet and stick to the task at hand.

Then again, I know a woman who lives at home who is about my age. She is very close to her family, particularly her mother. She'd rather be around them and they like it when she's around. She is happy, they are happy, so it all works out.

Of course she has a very good job and is a really good person, two huge advantages over the deadbeat son from New York. You really have to wonder how he'd fare out on his own, but by now I think the parents are beyond caring and simply want to get on with their lives - the empty nest thing rocks, you know.

So here's to moving out and being independent, and to parents who lay down the law .... even if they have to go to court.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Macker Weekend sale

IT MIGHT BE a challenge to get to the store this weekend with Gus Macker in town, so we are having a Gus Macker Weekend sale to make it worth your while.

Starting today and ending Sunday afternoon, all Ibanez, Dean, Alvarez and half-size guitars are 15 percent off. 15%. That could save you a lot of dough if you are interested in an awesome new guitar.

We will be open our regular 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. hours on Saturday, and we'll also be open Sunday. "Our hours Sunday will depend when Sheryl gets up and when Sheryl wants to go home," Sheryl says.

The sale ends Sunday. We will also be open our regular hours (10-6) on Monday, Memorial Day, because I have a full day of lessons. Come out and enjoy some basketball Saturday and Sunday - we are here!

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Gnats are ga-ross

THE GNATS AND flying bugs are really thick this spring in Q-Town. We've had a lot of rain and warm weather lately, perfect conditions for gnashing of teeth when fighting off gnats.

It's pretty gnarly when you can't open your mouth when you go outside, lest you ingest a bunch of bugs. I had to smoke a huge gastogie Sunday just so the bugs would leave.

Ggo away!
Sheryl had been trying to get out and weed the ga-garden, but the bugs are too thick. They like her sweet blood and swarm around her when she tries to work outside. It's pretty gross, when she comes in covered in dead gnats and mosquito gabites.

You would think putting gnomes in the ga-garden would keep gnats away. But the gnats are still gnarly and there isn't gamuch you can gado about it.

This weekend is Ggus Macker and I hope the bugs won't be too gabad. Maybe we can get the city to gaspray the park so the bugs aren't so gathick.

And I will end this blog now before I spell too many ga-words with a hard G, even though they don't have a hard G. My spelling isn't ggreat anyway.

Ggo away, bugs!

Monday, May 21, 2018

Macker weekend and getting to the store

IT'S ONE OF our favorite weekends of the year, when the Gus Macker basketball tournament comes to downtown Quincy. I am not going to be fair and biased about this - I am employed by Gus Macker in the summers, and for this tournament I'm the event chairman. Basically I keep a lot of the behind the scenes stuff running and make sure the staff (mostly from Michigan) gets it done. They always work hard and they are a blast to be around. It's not that hard, but you have to move and juggle a bunch of stuff at once, and realize you can't make everybody happy.

There are businesses down here that don't like Gus Macker, and I can understand it. The streets around Washington Park, and Maine between Fifth and Sixth, are closed from Friday night to Sunday night. It makes access an issue, and not everybody who comes down here behaves. One good thing this year is that we are not putting any courts by Fifth and Jersey, so it's just around Washington Park and up to Sixth Street on Maine.

But, unlike other events that used to be here, Macker tries its best to clean up and to address troublesome issues. The Quincy Exchange Club runs the tournament from the local level and they do a fantastic job. The Quincy Notre Dame football team provides manpower and helps set up, tear down and clean up. A big welcome to new coach Jack Cornell, who will lead the charge this weekend.

We will be open Saturday and even Sunday for a while, but we know we probably won't do a lot of business. It does bring people down here and we've actually had a lot of people discover that we are at Fifth and Maine, which is a good thing. Memorial Day Weekend probably wouldn't be big saleswise anyway.

If you are looking for stuff this weekend, our advice is to either get here Friday, or if you do come down, just be prepared to deal with a lot of people and park a few blocks away.

Meanwhile, we are ready for Gus, and hopefully we have good weather and a good tournament.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Projects done, more projects await

IF LIFE IS about projects, we seem to take a step forward, only to realize there are a ton of steps still waiting.

In a short time, we've gotten our second-floor roof finished at the store. We have a new AC unit up there, too. Our friend Nick is in town from Colorado and will finish off some plumbing issues this week - he pronounced the hot water heater in our second-floor bathroom sink dead, so he's putting in a new one. So checklist items at the store are getting checked.

At home, Sheryl's garden is going crazy and I have to mow every two days. She also finished a three-year fence project, panel by panel, in our backyard. She even got our solar-powered garage door opener to work, mostly.

Of course she still needs to caulk our leaky upstairs shower, both the front and back porches are in desperate need of paint jobs, and Sheryl wants to yank out the tub in our downstairs bathroom and replace it with a walk-in shower.
We can't even remember why this roof needed done.

Our hardwood floors still need to be restored and re-finished, and there's the kitchen ceiling, which hasn't been fixed since we had it torn off three years ago to find the upstairs leaks. Wait, we also need to tile the bathrooms and the kitchen. It. Never. Ends. Sheryl has a long list of projects and she never quite seems to get ahead of them. Too bad I can't really help, except when she needs a tall person to hold or get something....

I worked my last night shift on the sports desk at The Whig for this sports season, so it will be nice to properly enjoy Friday Happy Hour(s) at the store for the next few months.

Then there's the whole matter of getting better at playing shifting pentatonic scales in different keys, but I'm working at that every day and slowly getting better.

It's just like getting stuff done, project by project. Like Sheryl says, slow and steady wins the race. I will happily watch as she slowly gets things done. Wait - Sheryl needs to fix my internet and clean the computer today. Busy busy busy!

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

A shooting in the Hood

THERE WAS AN Quincy Police officer-involved shooting last night. The suspect is dead. The officer was hospitalized but not injured, and is now on administrative leave. There are tons of questions and theories and plenty of brave Web Warriors blasting our police department and demanding justice. Justice? For what?

I'm checking The Whig for the best and most accurate information. Let's wait for the facts to come out. Apparently there were witnesses so hopefully we get a clear idea about what happened. Regardless, one life is lost and another changed forever.

We are desensitized to gun violence in this country. We watch police TV shows and movies and virtually every episode there's a gun fight and somebody dies from being shot. We just shrug it off and count it as entertainment, or a bad guy getting his just dues.

Barnaby will solve the murder!
Sheryl is watching an English show called Midsomer Murders. It's well done and the acting is top-notch (NOT). But in every episode, somebody gets shot, garroted, beheaded, poisoned, stabbed or pushed into a raging river. The woman who finds the body screams into her hands and entire town lies to the police. The good guy inspector solves the murder, and life goes on until it ends again in the next episode. *Interesting trivia: The main theme song is played on a Theremin.*

Truth is, in Quincy, Illinois, a police officer will likely get through his career without discharging his weapon.

So we don't realize just what a horrendous thing it is, to be involved in a shooting.

The other thing that strikes me is that this took place seven blocks from where we live in Calftown. It took place across the street from the house of our friend, John Potts (who works at The Whig). It took place one block from Quincy Notre Dame High School and half a block from the Quincy Fire Department's Engine 5 firehouse. I've walked, scooted and driven past 11th and Jackson a thousand times and never once worried about my safety.

This type of thing can happen anywhere, anytime. But it won't be cleared up or solved in the space of your hour TV show.

Monday, May 14, 2018

On The Rail rocks

SHERYL AND I went to On The Rail yesterday to catch the Matt Roberts Blues Band. On The Rail is located on Fourth about half a block south of Maine Street. The Pratts have done a great job with the restaurant, and they've opened up a patio on the north end for live music.

It's really cool back there. It's nothing fancy, but there's enough room for a full band and to scatter tables. The band sounded great and it was a bit warm, but each table has an umbrella so you can stay out of the sun.

We just had a couple of beers, but the food looked really good and the service was good, too. Traci and her staff were very friendly and were hustling the whole time.

HartLyss will be playing for a Sunday Funday on June 24, from 2 to 6 p.m. The Cheeseburgers are working on booking a show there, too.

Finding good places to play can be tough. We appreciate all the venues that support live music, and we hope you get out there to support it, too.

Friday, May 11, 2018

The legacy of Ben Bumbry

BEN BUMBRY WENT to a better place this week. He was 86. He was a Quincy icon and legend, and he'll be sorely missed.

When I moved to news at The Whig in 1999, I was told to get to know certain people. Ben was one of them. I did a story about him, maybe for a special section, focusing on his days playing basketball at Quincy College and Drake University. Ben went through a lot during those Jim Crow days and had a lot of experiences with discrimination and civil rights, but he was never bitter about it. He served on City Council and was the director of the Jackson-Lincoln Swimming Complex. He and his wife, Helen, were two of the best people you could ever meet.

Around here we tend to name a lot of things after Jackson and Lincoln, and rightly so - Lincoln might be the most famous human who ever lived, and his ties to this area are significant. But I really think we ought to name the swimming pool after Ben - he spent many hours over there and it wasn't an easy job.

He was also a musician and played drums in Ben Bumbry & The Messengers. They were fixtures on the Mark Twain Riverboat in Hannibal and played all the time. I watched some YouTube videos of his band and you could see the joy he had when playing.

Tonight the Cheeseburgers play at Revelry, and we will tip one or two to Ben. His band played in there many times. He had a huge impact on us all, and I am glad I got to know him a little bit. Peace to Ben's family - he will be remembered around here for a long time.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

New Cheese, practice practice practice

WE HAD A righteous Cheeseburger practice last night, and really it was more of a jam session than anything. We came up with about 10 songs we'd love to do. We'll all do our homework and listen to them and come back in a couple of weeks fired up to put them in the wheelhouse.

Band practice is a curious thing. If there are tensions in a band, they can be unbearable. If one member doesn't want to be there, it can really drag everybody down. If everybody is jamming and on the same page, they are a blast.

Cheesey practice in drummer's basement ... 
Gosh, the band practices we've been through .... I remember The Funions playing in the basement of the old Vegas Music on East Broadway. I think drummer Chris Cornwell was actually living down there for a while. We hashed out a lot of original songs down there. Before that, we used to go to Justin Busen's house on Vermont when he and David Stegeman were in the band, those were some righteous Monday nights.

Later we had Funions practice at the newer Vegas Music location near 20th and Broadway. It was an old funeral home and we had some great times back there. It even became a big social event with lots of people hanging out. Now it's just a grassy field.

The Cheeseburgers practice in drummer Kirk Gribbler's basement (always practice at the drummer's house if you can - he has the most crap to lug around). A while back we had a group of people interested in hiring us for their event. They wanted to come to practice to check us out, but I nixed the idea - that's not the best place to see a band.

Practice is full of stops and starts, trying out new things, getting a feel for songs. If you came down and heard us, you'd think we were terrible - it's a small practice PA, and we can hear, but it's not about tone, it's about learning and getting better.

Anyway, we have three or four songs new to the Cheeseburgers in the set list for Friday night's big show at Revelry in downtown Quincy. We will be on the Park Bench side so there's more room, and it will be a blast - our first time at a venue is always an adventure and a lot of fun. We've added some shows to our summer Make America Grate Again tour .... see you there and let's get Cheesey!

2018 Make America Great Again Tour
Friday, May 11, Reverly, Quincy, 8 p.m.
Wednesday, July 4, LaHarpe Community Fireworks party, LaHarpe Ill., 6 p.m.
Friday, July 6, Quincy Park District Summer Concert Series, Washington Park, Quincy, 6 p.m.
Friday, Aug. 24, Keokuk Street Party, Keokuk Iowa, 5 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 8 - TBA soon!

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Enough guitars? Never!

So little time, so many guitars to play! (Photo by Jim Lawrence)
SOMEBODY RECENTLY ASKED how many guitars I have. Truth is, I'm not sure. I'll know after I count them up.

It's not the guitars you have, it's the ones you might someday have, and the ones that got away. I foolishly sold the first electric guitar I ever bought, a Kramer, and I've kicked myself ever since. I let a really nice Cort jumbo acoustic and an LTD hollow body get away in an ill-advised trade for a hot tub. The hot tub lasted a year. C'est la vie.

I just sold my electric Jon Kammerer guitar. The young man who now owns it is a much better player and he makes it sing. I also sold my Breedlove acoustic to a young man, who, in a few short months, will become a better player than me. Such is life.

But, I still have ....

1. Lotus acoustic: The first guitar I ever bought, in 1984, from Rainbow Music in Grand Rapids. It was in pieces a few years ago until Sheryl and Don Rust fixed the cracked saddle and did other repairs. It sits in the man cave of my house in open D tuning, and I strum it once in a while. That's the guitar I really learned to play on, had through college, etc. It's not worth much. I'll never sell it.

2. Washburn acoustic: I bought this from a friend in the early 2000s. I think it was the guitar used on the Funions CDs we did at Copper Mine Studios. I gave it to Emily, who never played it, so I got it back. I restrung it last year and the neck was really bad, so it's sitting at home in a case. Sad ....

Mom's Strat .....
3. Fender Highway Strat: Purchased in 2005 right after my mom died. Has been the go-to electric guitar for many years, with many dings and scratches. Replaced the original Fender neck and middle pickups with Seymour Duncan 59s, much quieter and more potent. I try to bring it to Cheeseburger practice as much as possible so it still gets played.

4. Takamine P3: Again, dinged up and scratched and chipped from about four years of heavy use. Main acoustic performance axe. The Cool Tube pickup is incredible.

5. Alvarez AG 70 acoustic: Look, if we are going to carry Alvarez guitars, I might as well have one. Right? Works for an excuse. Great sounding guitar, decent pickup, used now in lessons.

6. Gretsch Broadcaster: Guh. That's about all there is to say about an incredible hollow body electric. Double GUH. Main Cheeseburger axe right now, along with ....

7. G&L Legacy Telecaster: Just picked this up from our Alvarez salesman. Did I need it? Of course not! Don't be fooled or told that Teles are just for country music - the front pickup is a rock and roll monster.

8. 1968 Gretsch Cutter electric hollow body: This was one of those rare finds where a guy walked in last year and said, "I have this old guitar. I know it's worth something. But I just need to get rid of it." The original owner etched her Social Security Number into the plate, and it turns out it belonged to the guy's mom. Sheryl and Steve Rees did their usual magic to get it playable. All original parts and still sounds like a million bucks, and it was made by the Fred Gretsch Co. in Brooklyn, N.Y.

9. Late 1980s Gibson Shadow: Another rare find. It keeps getting more and more valuable with time, since there were only a few thousand made in Korea. Then Paul Reed Smith sued Gibson and production halted. One of the rare guitars that has Gibson and Epiphone labels on the headstock. It rarely comes out.

10. Reverend Flatroc electric: We bought several Reverend guitars after I met the owners at the Dallas Guitar show a few years ago. Sold them all, but I kept this one. Amazing guitar. I need to either sell it to someone who will play it, or play it myself a little bit more. Ahhhh ... so many guitars, and so little time to play them all!

11. Jon Kammerer acoustic electric hollow body. A unique instrument (pictured at top), to be sure. Jon makes these up in Keokuk, Iowa, and they are works of art. I don't own this guitar but I'm playing it out a bit to keep Jon's name out there. I played it at the Washington Theater last Saturday and it sounded amazing coming out of Jacki Kaufman's Bose PA. It also sounds incredible hooked up to the Fender Princeton amp, believe it or not.

So there it is. I'm in double figures! Uh oh .... we just got some guitars in on consignment. Walk away, walk away!

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Ghosts and missing scissors

I DON'T BELIEVE in ghosts. But lately we've had disappearing scissors issues in Second String Music, and they've magically reappeared, and I think some old banker in this building might be messing with us.

Yesterday morning I said, "Sheryl, where are the scissors?" They usually hang above the workbench in the back of the store. I looked and looked and looked and couldn't find them. Sheryl said, "I don't know, and Steve (Rees) and I have wondered what happened to them, too." So she went over the dollar store and bought two new pairs.

She went to put them on the bench, and lo and behold, one of the missing scissors was hanging right there, on the hook, right in front of us. I swear it wasn't there a few hours earlier. Then Sheryl noticed the other missing pair of scissors was on a back hook behind some other long packages, but again, there is no way they were there earlier. WE SEARCHED THERE.

Theories? A ghost in the machine, like one of the bankers who used to work here. Could be Dr. Glower, who had an office on the third floor. Maybe one of Pamela Bedford's dance studio costume designers was borrowing them. Perhaps Mr. Houston, whose name is still on a fourth-floor office window, was clipping coupons or something - he was a pretty shrewd financial guy.

My guess is that Mr. Wilson, who started a law firm in the building in 1906, was using them to patch a curtain on his former fifth floor office. One of the Schmiedeskamp brothers might have needed scissors for something. The best guess is that Fischer Jewelers, who were on the second floor, snatched them for trimming sales tags off watches and gold rings. The list is endless and still probably not the answer.

Anyway, we now have four pairs of scissors, last I checked. Wait a second .... Sheryl says there are only three hanging back there now.


Monday, May 7, 2018

Fantastic Dogwood weekend

SECOND STRING MUSIC had a huge day Saturday during the Dogwood Weekend. The parade was awesome, the Farmer's Market was back in the park, and though there weren't a lot of people at the Washington Theater concert, it was nice to hear music in there again and dream of what could be. I checked with many of our neighbors around our block and everybody reported lots of traffic and brisk sales.

Dogwood view from the QPD Humvee.
I rode on the back of the Quincy Police Department's Humvee during the parade, as part of Vancil Performing Arts and our Back The Blue groups. Well, somebody had to do it ... I kept candy buckets full and made sure Sgt. Adam Yates steered straight. There were tons of people on the sidewalks enjoying the parade and the weather was perfect.

Our first two Plaza shows have been big hits - they are weather driven, and if we have sunny skies, there will be a lot of people in the Seventh and Maine Venue. Let's hope it stays that way for Akoustic Mayhem this Friday and for Noah McNally the week after.

What a great start to the spring and summer season in downtown Quincy. Up next - Gus Macker on Memorial Day Weekend, and then we get ready for Blues In The District. As always, downtown is the place to be!

Friday, May 4, 2018

Top 10 albums

NOTE: I just added Avalon by Roxy Music to my top 11. GUH. How did I leave that out?

I WAS CHALLENGED the other day to list 10 albums that were influential and still in the playlist. The problem is that there is no longer a playlist. I rarely listen to albums or CDs or whatever the format is these days. With summer approaching, I might try to conjure up some music on my phone.

The other problem with doing this is that I'm showing my age. I graduated from college 30 years ago, and .... wait. WHAT? I graduated from college 30 years ago?


So I will try avoid putting all the 70s and 80s music on this list. Of course, the 80s were the best 12 years of my life. By the way, these are in no particular order, except for No. 1.

Who's Next, The Who: Not even close. Can still sing every word to every song, feel every whacked out drum beat from Keith Moon, and go crazy trying to figure out Entwistle's bass lines on We Don't Get Fooled Again. And if there's a better road song than Mobile, well, it's never been made.

The Completion Backwards Principle, The Tubes: One of the most underrated and unappreciated American bands from the late 70s and early 80s. Bitter Web warriors who hide behind keyboards and have no idea what they are talking about should be forced to listen to Attack Of The Fifty Foot Woman until they cheer up.

Secret World Live, Peter Gabriel: The film shows a manic genius at the height of his creative talents. Listening to it reveals an incredible band. Digging In The Dirt? Well, Don't Give Up.

Talk, Yes: Lots of Yes albums could make this list - I spent the summer of 1984 listening to The Yes Album, Close To The Edge and Fragile. The more modern 90125 was one of the first cassette tapes I ever bought and devoured. But Talk gets the nod because Trevor Rabin is bleeping man and easily the Mozart and Bach of rock and roll .... every song surges on Talk.

John Hiatt, Walk On: Of course Cry Love is an anthem and should be played by every cover band that ever lived. But I defy you to listen to Dust Down A Country Road and not cry. If you don't, you aren't human.

Keb Mo, Just Like Me: Thank you, Mariann and Jon Barnard, for letting me borrow this CD one day. I don't think I gave it back. Who knew listening to the Delta Blues was so much fun?

Teaser & The Firecat, Cat Stevens: My mother, who passed away 13 years ago yesterday, loved Cat Stevens. She passed it on to me. This is when we used to put these round black things on a device known as a turntable. What were they called again? I'd put this on and pretend to be a leader of a band and bellow out every word from every song, if I knew nobody else was around.

The Outfield, Play Deep: Come on, man. It was the 80s. You had no choice. Those long walks from our old house on the far west side of Mount Pleasant to campus were made bearable by listening to this CD. Got a letter from a mystery man ....

October, U2: I put this on here because it's considered the weakest of the early U2 albums. Really? You didn't listen to Gloria and try to bellow along with Bono as loud as you could?

The Police, Regatta De Blanc. And it would be OK, on any other day ....

Honorable Mention: The Cars (any album, but Candy O especially); Dire Straits, Making Movies; Asia, Asia; Peter Schilling, Error In The System; The Church, Starfish; Wang Chung, Points On A Curve; Camel, I Can See Your House From Here; The Moody Blues, Long Distance Voyager, Bad Company, Desolation Angels, Don Henley, Building The Perfect Beast.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Dogwood Weekend Specials

SECOND STRING MUSIC loves Dogwood Festival weekend. So we are celebrating by having a massive sale, and we hope you stop by Fifth and Maine to check it out.

Starting today, May 3rd, all of our amazing Gretsch and Jackson guitars are 15 percent off. We have a bunch in stock, including some of the Floyd Rose Jacksons that the shredders love.

Also, when you purchase ANY guitar or amplifier we will throw in a high-quality Hosa braided 18-foot guitar cable, worth $20. We just got a few more of the new Katana 50-watt combo amps, and I'm thinking about getting one of the 100-watt versions. I know, I know, it's like I need another hole in my head .... sigh. Come to think of it, I don't own a Jackson guitar, either ....

The sale lasts until Saturday at 5 p.m. and applies to in-stock items only. There are a bunch of Quincy area musicians with their eyes on these guitars - now is the time to pull the trigger!

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Check out Washington Theater

AS USUAL, DOWNTOWN Quincy will be a beehive of activity Saturday. We have the Dogwood Parade in the morning, the first Farmer's Market of the year, and a really cool event at the Washington Theater. 

The Washington Theater Dogwood Concert starts at 1 p.m. I'm amazed at the number of people in Quincy who don't know about the Washington Theater. Many were in it as kids years ago and they don't realize how rundown it got, and the efforts to restore it. From the front, the theater doesn't look like much, but it's massive inside because it slops down into the ground - you can get a better idea by looking at it from the back in the alley.

We have four acoustic acts playing Saturday, including myself. The thing I love about the old theater is the amazing acoustics and the way the sound bounces around in there. There's no charge to attend (but donations are appreciated) and it's a great place to just wander around in and check out.

Redevelopment started around 2003. About that time my old band, The Funions, was contacted to play a few benefit shows in there, and man, did we have a blast. I'm thrilled they continue to work on the theater, and someday it could the the showcase venue in Quincy.

But first things first - come join us this Saturday and check it out for yourself!

Washington Theater Dogwood Concert
Saturday, May 5
1 p.m. - Jacqueline Kaufman
2 p.m. - Kayla Obert
3 p.m. - Rodney Hart
4 p.m. - Esther Moore

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

The roof is almost done

I WENT UPSTAIRS and into the second floor crawl space this morning, for one of the last times. The guys from Full Service Roofing are almost done and I'm getting a little emotional about not having to crawl up there anymore - NOT.

Toward the east end of the crawl space, a large beam was rotting from years of leaking. We put some temporary supports up there last year but we knew the whole thing would need to be replaced. The Full Service guys, especially the foreman, Jon, were awesome. They busted their butts and they did exactly what they said they were going to do, and the project is almost done.

I hauled out at least 12 buckets used to catch drips. Gone from the east end is the big wading pool and trash can - we'd dump all the water into the can and used a sump pump to drain it to a first-floor sink.

It's supposed to rain in the next few days. Instead of dreading it, we welcome it - our new grass, garden and strawberry plants at home need the rain, and I won't have to wonder about the store and water dripping into our back room.
The fifth floor roof just needs a little TLC, so we'll tackle that next.

Old buildings .... you gotta love them, and we do!