Monday, October 22, 2018

Sunday family lunch adventures

WE HAD A great birthday celebration with Sheryl's father on Sunday at Tony's Too. I like her dad and have always gotten along with him so I was all about going out for a good meal and the company.

Sheryl's sister, Susan, drove in from Farmer City (near Champaign) and her other sister Stephanie came, as did her two sons. Add a girlfriend, spouses, friends and a grandkid, and we had 11 people crammed into a big booth. I suggested we get another table but was shot down "because then we can't visit." I suppose that's the point.

I always get a charge out of Sheryl tormenting her father, who is very conservative and leans hard right. "Just vote D dad and everyone at this table for that matter," was the first thing out of Sheryl's mouth.

We gave him the new Bob Woodward book "Fear" (a fascinating read), and his eyebrows went up when he saw it.

"Trump says I shouldn't read it because it's full of lies," her father said. The irony hung like a foggy morning mist but I stifled a laugh and kept quiet, though I felt like crawling under the table, because I knew what was coming next.

"Well, then don't read it. You DO respect Bob Woodward, right?" Sheryl said.

"Well, I do like to see both sides," her dad said, staring the other way. His wife Gloria just watched on, wide-eyed at the exchange.

Cards and gifts were give to him from all around the table and lots of laughs were enjoyed as we visited The server did an excellent job dealing with people arriving late and taking the orders, and the food was decent. Then it came time to pay the bill. "Can you give us individual tickets?" Susan asked the server.

I jumped in and said it wasn't necessary - it's enough work just getting 11 orders right and making sure everybody is happy. I asked her to bring one bill. "Well, I don't have cash so I'll have to write a check," Susan said. "Write it to me, no problem," Sheryl said with a wave. "Rodney and I were paying for Dad and Gloria anyway. I brought a ton of cash."
While we wait for a new one, photo is from earlier this year.

It's the world we live in today, I guess. You don't bring cash so you don't spend it. Susan wrote a check and Sheryl figured out the bill and gathered cash from the others, and it all worked out.

It was nap time so we all got ready to leave. The lobby has a fireplace that requires the family to do a photo shoot so Sheryl gamely stayed awake long enough for the pictures, and to give hugs to all her nephews and the great nephew. She probably enjoyed that part the most even though she grumbled about it being nap time a lot.

We were both exhausted when we got home and I napped through the thrilling conclusion to the Bears-Patriots game. But we both made it through another family gathering and everybody seemed to be happy, so we called it a successful afternoon.

Can't wait to do it again. I think. Right.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Tribute to Chickenman

WE WERE SADDENED to hear about the passing of Dave Comer, AKA the Chickenman. Dave was a legendary part of the Quincy Gems baseball family and battled cancer for many years.
Our friend and Second String Music Hall of Famer Ted Holt came in a few days ago with a Fender acoustic guitar. It belonged to Dave, who is related to Ted's wife, Libby. It was given to Ted, who thought it be better to donate it to Six String Heroes.



It's more than just a thoughtful gesture. A veteran is going to get the guitar free of charge and get six free lessons, and who knows ... it might just lead to playing and experiencing the therapeutic power of music.

Peace to Dave and his family, and thank you to Ted for his thoughtful donation. We all strive to make this world a better place, and the guitar will go to a good home.

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 
Dreams 
Second Hand News 
Say You Love Me 
Black Magic Woman 
Everywhere 
I Got You (Split Enz) 
Rhiannon 
Tell Me All The Things You Do 
Storms 
World Turning 
Hypnotized 
Oh Well 
Don't Dream It's Over (Crowded House) 
Landslide 
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!