Thursday, November 15, 2018

Don't give these bleepholes attention

APPARENTLY WESTBORO BAPTIST "Church" is sending protestors to Quincy Sunday morning. It's on their website, which is a seething cauldron of hate and uniformed ignorance.

All they want is attention. They thrive on it and expect us to react and engage.


I highly doubt they even show up here in the first place. If they do, let the authorities and the churches deal with it. Don't drive by, don't stop and picket, don't do anything to let them know we know they are here.

They hate it when they get ignored, and the irony is delicious. I really wish they'd come down to Fifth and Maine early Sunday morning - nobody else will be here and their chants will go unheard. If a tree falls in a forest .... it makes no sound.

The churches have responded with message of love, not hate. It's a much better way to approach it and I have a lot of respect for our spiritual leaders reacting that way. But I won't tolerate this so-called "church" and I'm calling these Westboro assholes out on it, and if that makes me a lesser man, so be it. I'm hashing it out with my Maker as we speak.

Some of our local pastors have organized a gathering Sunday at 2 p.m. It's a great idea. Show love, not anger. Preach and pray it forward, not backwards into ignorance.

The message of hate will not work here in Quincy.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Frank defends the title

IT'S THE ANNUAL Second String Music Saturday Before Christmas Party - this Saturday. Already? Yes!

We'll start jamming around noon and go with the flow. At about 3 p.m., we are literally dusting off the Bedford Beer Can Bowling Invitational trophy and Frank Haxel will defend the title he cheated to win last year.

Frank built the contraption we use, which makes sense since he won. Basically we use one of Angus' balls and put 10 beer cans down, and you get three throws. Cans are worth one point each and are reset after each throw. If you are holding a beverage while you throw, you get one bonus point.

Making things more interesting this year is the carpet we put down in front of the stage. It is not exactly smooth and level. The lane is the same for everybody, unless you put spin on Angus' ball. We may have to take up the carpet for this event, it hides the stains from last year....

The winner gets his or her name put on a sticky note on the trophy, lovingly crafted by Steve Rees's father. We still don't believe he foraged around his neighborhood on recycle bin night to find the beer cans, though we do wonder where he found the purple 16 ounce Steel Reserve Alloy Series can.

We are also raffling off a gorgeous Ibanez TM330M guitar with a 10-watt Fender Frontman amp and a gig bag. We sell ticket JUST this Saturday so get in early to buy your tickets. We'll do the raffle about 6 p.m. and you don't need to be present to win.

At 5:45 we'll do our annual toast to Pat Cornwell, the late and great owner of Vegas Music who passed away about this time of year in 2010. He was our inspiration for opening the store and continues to inspire us every day.

We'll have beverages and snacks and plenty of room in the coolers or fridge if you want to bring your own. Matt Roberts Blues Band plays Saturday night at Red Light Saloon across the street and we might - repeat, might - bring the party over there after we are done.

See you Saturday and let's celebrate the start of the Thanksgiving and Christmas season!

Monday, November 12, 2018

The Gambler and the right band

I GOT A call last week from a Quincy woman. She's celebrating her 70th anniversary next summer and wanted to know about The Cheeseburgers. "I have some friends at the Elks and you come highly recommended," she said.

She's planning a party and wants live music. The party is from 4 to 7 p.m. at one of the nicer venues in town. She wanted to know what kind of music we play.

"Well, it's rock and roll," I said.

"Well that's great," she said. "We will have some people there in their 50s and 60s."

She asked if we played any country music. As a matter of fact, we do have a Johnny Cash medley, but that's about it. She suggested we might do more country. "We do love our Kenny Rogers," she said.

I had a brief flash of Cori Lyssy and I belting out "Islands In The Stream" while the rest of the band tried not to laugh. Saturday morning Pepper Spray played in a very cold Veteran's Day parade in Quincy, and I told Tim Smith the story. He started playing "The Gambler" and much to my horror, I actually followed along and played it. And knew it. GUH.

I'm going to call the woman back and tell her she might want to think about a different band. There are some country groups in Quincy who'd be perfect. So would Little Ronnie. We will do it, but I'm not sure it's the right fit, and there's nothing worse than going to a gig, setting up, then realizing you'll be playing to crickets and mild indifference.

Then again, it could be the greatest gig of our lives.

A few years back we were hired to play at a graduation party. One of the guys in the band said it was the Class of 89. Right up our alley! A week before the gig it became the Class of 79. Okay, fine, we'll still fit in. Then the night before it was the Class of 64.

Unfortunately when we showed up, it was the Class of 59. As in, 1959. I am not making it up. This was one of several times we were told to turn it down before we even played a note.

In the end, I'm honored the woman thought of us, but she'll likely go with another group, and everybody will be happy, even when the band launches into "The Gambler."

Friday, November 9, 2018

First snow and another busy weekend

I KNOW, I KNOW .... you are tired of looking at the first snow photos already.

But the view from the roof at Fifth and Maine always instills awe. Plus it isn't leaking! Always a good thing a few weeks after Frank (Wrong Place Wrong Time) Haxel helped coat it.

As usual lotsa stuff going on, including the Christkindl Market, Veteran's Day Parade and live music. Check out Sheryl's What To Do In Quincy Illinois Facebook page to stay up on what's happening.

Be safe out there and have a great weekend!

Thursday, November 8, 2018

The press, mob mentality and Jim Acosta

YOU KNOW WHERE I stand with the whole Jim Acosta-Your President thing. Duh.

Lest you think this is a left-right thing and opinion, you are wrong. I actually voted for several Republicans Tuesday and I am very conservative.

If you missed it, Jim Acosta is a reporter for CNN. He's been banned from coming onto White House grounds after a testy press conference yesterday. Acosta can be blunt and he goes after Your President all the time. Does he go over the line? I don't think so, but you can certainly disagree.

I was never banned from a courthouse or venue. But rarely a week went by when somebody didn't call me in my dozen years as a crime and courts reporter at The Whig, and let me have it. Sometimes it was deserved. Most of the time I was just doing my job.

I refused to be intimidated. And it only strengthened my resolve.

There was an attorney from a nearby Illinois town who used to have his wife call me and complain about the way I treated her husband. Geesh. She should have been in the courtroom when he ignored judicial protocol or tried to run over witnesses.

I had another attorney call me and tell me I couldn't write a story about his client. I'd just been at his sentencing (it was a You Can't Make It Up thing and worth covering). The attorney made all sorts of insinuations and used some witty sayings.

"Well," I finally said, "You shouldn't get angry with a guy who buys ink in a 50-gallon barrel." He didn't like the reply. I hung up.

There were attorneys who would simply give me a "no comment" every time I'd ask them about something. There were others who were cordial and professional, even if they weren't coming off in the best of light.

If Your President thinks he's taking care of the situation by banning a CNN reporter, he's mistaken. It won't fix anything and it only fans the flames of an already enraged populace. It's a colossal blunder.

I'm with Jim Acosta on this one. Of course!

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

C-c-c-c-c cold parade Saturday

It was cold last year ... and will be even colder Saturday!
THIS SATURDAY IS the annual Veterans Day Parade along Maine Street. Some years it's 50 degrees and sunny. Others it's cold and snow is in the air.

This Saturday, it's gonna be cold. The Pepper Spray guys are scheduled to play on a flatbed, and I'm already wondering how we will manage. The forecast right now is for it to be in the mid-30s, but there is also a possibility we have some wind as an Arctic cold front blows in.

At some point, the whole bare hands pressing into steel strings onto a wooden fretboard thing in sub-freezing conditions has to be considered. So does playing keyboards. At least our drummer, Adam Duesterhaus, will stay warm smacking things, presumably with gloves on his hands.

The cold is one thing, but actually playing the guitar is another. We have ways to keep warm until we start playing, so we'll have to see how it goes.

I'm working on a deal with the weather guys, and asking for a favor from the man upstairs to see if we can make it slightly more balmy in the Q-Town Saturday.

The parade marches on  no matter the weather. You might see Pepper Sprayers bundled up and hear guitars hopelessly out of tune, but we'll do our best.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Vote vote vote vote!

THERE ARE A lot of reasons, all lame, to not vote. Too busy, don't want to wait in line, couldn't care less about the choices, we are all screwed anyway, etc.

I don't want to hear it. But I was once young too, a long time ago.

This morning, I voted. It took five minutes. Easy in, easy out at Salem Church on 9th and State. I made informed choices, swayed by our current climate, swayed by rationale, not the radical left or unflinching right.

I just talked to a young person this morning who isn't registered and wasn't planning on voting. I urged her to vote. "You are the one most affected by all this stuff going on, not me," I said.

I remember becoming eligible to vote, and for many years I was apathetic. I hated politics. I didn't think it mattered. I was so wrong, so stupid, so naive.

This morning there was one race in particular that I really struggled with, because the candidates were so unappealing. I did a lot of reading, and I ignored a lot of vile and inaccurate television commercials.

And I made my choice. I can live with it. I can't live with not voting. Nobody should.

If you are not registered, go to the Adams County Courthouse (West Entrance) today till 7 pm to register and VOTE right there. You will need your ID and a piece of mail to prove your address. Easy.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Bands shut down over noise complaints

ON THE RAIL is a fairly new bar in downtown Quincy. The owners have put together a really nice patio area for music, and recently put a tent over the patio so they could continue to have bands on the weekends.

Now the owners are frustrated, patrons are pissed and local bands miffed after a show Saturday night was called off after just a few songs. Quincy police responded after getting complaints about the volume, and shut the event and the bar down. The owners intend to address city council.

It's never good when this happens. I side with the bar owners and the bands. On The Rail has spent a lot of money to put together a quality live venue, and now the plug is getting pulled. As usual there is a lot to the story and both sides have issues.

It happened about a month ago there too, to a classic rock band, so I don't want to hear that the city is biased against bands who play certain styles of music. I've played in classic rock and cover bands for years and had shows shut down over noise complaints, and it's frustrating no matter what kind of music you play.

It reminds me of a legendary Funions gig at a bar on Hampshire. The late Pat Cornwell was playing drums, and a Quincy Police officer walked in and told us to turn it down or we'd have to stop playing. So Pat nodded and made a motion with his hands on the knobs to lower the volume. The officer was satisfied and walked out. In fact, Pat turned the volume UP and the cop never came back, and we kept rocking.

The Hotel Elkton apartments are right next to On The Rail. Apparently it's the residents who are complaining and there are issues between them and the restaurant. Also, the Lincoln-Douglas building is just down the street, so if it gets loud, you'll get complaints from Fourth and Maine, too.

What I don't like is that the police can come in and shut it down without warning. Should the bar owner and the bands be told it's too loud and see if they can work something out? The bar owner says police told him he had to close the bar, too. Is that right?

I think the city needs to work with both the bar and the apartment residents and try to figure out a way to keep both happy. On The Rail has been a good venue for local bands and it would be a shame to see it close.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Christmas is coming

HAPPY NOVEMBER, Q-TOWN! Believe it or not, it's less than two months until Christmas and we are seeing a lot of activity here at Second String Music. Christmas is obviously our busiest time of the year and it's still early, but we are anticipating another good one.

Yesterday we had a guitar player come in and buy our last Fender Strat from Mexico, the SSH model. He was thrilled it was the same price here as it is online, and he got to play it and put it through a good workout before pulling the trigger. Plus we handle any warranty issues and we'll do free neck adjustments and routine maintenance for him.

These Strats are back ordered and we won't get anymore before Christmas, sadly. They are also going to jump in price due to tarriffs, so we are glad our last one found a good home.

We had a young man come in with his mother who got new strings and tried out some electric guitars. He really likes the Jackson Dinky models we have in stock, great guitars for the money. He bought a nice acoustic from us last year and his mom is thrilled he is playing and getting more and more into the guitar.

Its appears mom has found her perfect Christmas gift for her son. We've encouraged her to not wait long and use our layaway program to make sure we have what he wants.

We have lots of great stuff right now, but Christmas will be here before you know it. Come see us at Fifth and Maine and we'll get you hooked up!