Friday, November 30, 2018

Christmas hours are our hours

IT WAS AWESOME to see a bunch of people in Washington Park last night. The District is hosting special events Thursdays during the Christmas season, and it's a great way to draw people downtown. Last night was the Characters In The Park night and it was a huge success, just like last Saturday's tree lighting event.

Sheryl and I have debated staying open later at Second String Music. Our Monday through Friday hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. We are usually here between 9 and 9:30 in the morning, and because of lessons or later customers it's not unusual for us to be here past 7 at night. On Saturdays we are here 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., but many times we've been here later than 4.

It's all part of small local retail. We have established hours but we are also here for our customers.

In past years we've stayed open late during Christmas and Sundays. I don't think we are going to do that this year. There are a number of businesses open later on Thursdays in December and I'm curious to see if they get many people in their stores.

Still, we are here and we are rocking already as Christmas draws near, and we are more than happy to be here early and stay late for our loyal customers.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Fast Eddie's new home

Fast Eddie and Tucker soak up the sun.
FOR THE FIRST time in more than seven years, Second String Music is cat-less. This is a big deal, because many people come into the store just to see Fast Eddie.

A few weeks ago when Sheryl was getting shoulder surgery, a couple walked and the husband went to look at guitars. Fast Eddie ran up to the wife and rubbed against her, then sat on her lap and purred like a mad dog ... er, cat.

Eddie is very affectionate but this was unusual for him with a stranger. The wife was immediately taken with him. "I've never had a cat and I really want one, but he won't let us have one," she said, pointing to her husband.

"If you let him buy a guitar I'll let you have the cat," I said, half-jokingly.

"Deal," she said.

There was more to it than that. Turns out they have a 9-year-old daughter and they've been wanting a cat for a long time. The more we talked the more I realized Fast Eddie could be going to a really good home.

Fast Eddie was always well behaved when we have a dog in the store also. A few weeks ago I was in here by myself without Angus or Tucker and Eddie terrorized me the entire time. I finally had to lock him in the back room with his food to get any work done. When Steve Rees is in the store alone, Eddie especially went into obnoxious mode and got in the way all the time or screamed at him for treats. It is entertaining but irritating...

Look. We love the fast and fat Ed. But it was apparent he need a place with more love and attention.

So just like that, he was gone. We worried about him a bit. A week ago, his new owner texted me a photo of Eddie sprawled on a couch. "He is the king of the house. We all love him so much," she said.

Fast Eddie, a Second String Music legend, has found a new home. He's missed, but he's still fast, fat and happy, and we are happier, too!

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Let it snow. Already?

WE GOT SMACKED again Sunday night. Of course it rained for five hours before the first flakes drifted in, meaning there's a heavy layer of ice under the several inches of snow. Who cares about your back when shoveling, and what's a few more pounds of ice and slush among friends?

Cori Lyssy and I played at a benefit Sunday afternoon at State Street Bar and had a blast, as usual. About 5:30 I looked out and the snow was coming down, and coming down hard. They let us finish a little early and by the time I headed home, it was almost impossible to see.

I live exactly 12 blocks away. It took me nearly 15 minutes to get home. I missed my street because I couldn't see and circled the block twice until I finally figured it out and slid the Jeep into the garage. I wouldn't qualify it as a blizzard, but it was nasty and authorities were right to tell people to stay off the roads. Of course, the Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend is one of the nation's busiest for travel, and I feel sorry for anybody caught out there.

There's nothing like a few inches of snow to get Quincy in a massive panic mode. Right away people started bitching on social media about streets not being plowed and sidewalks not being shoveled. Geesh. It's a FEW INCHES OF SNOW. Take your time if you gotta go out and if you have a Ford Festiva, don't go out or get a ride with somebody who has 4-wheel drive, like we do.

And only in the Q-Town is video of a snowplow going up in flames the most viewed-video on a TV website.

I'm not much of a fan of winter anymore, but I took the dogs to Woodland this morning and it was beautiful. The wind whipped the snow into unusual shapes and cave-like mounds, and the dogs had a blast jumping through the white stuff. Gotta love the 25-year-old LaCrosse snow boots I still have - thank you, Alpena!

We didn't open the store yesterday until 1 p.m. I salted the sidewalks and I'll wait until the sun hits it for a few hours before scrapping off the rest of the slush. It's supposed to warm up the next few days, meaning it will still be a slushy mess out there, but I like snow before Christmas, and I hope we have a white Christmas.

Be careful out there. And let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

Friday, November 23, 2018

Another year around the sun

TODAY MARKS THE start of my 55th year going around the sun. Old hat by now, but I like my birthday day. Normally Black Friday isn't all that big a deal at Second String Music, though we came in an hour early and we already have people shopping. Tomorrow is Small Business Saturday and should be a great time at Fifth and Maine.

Sheryl bought me a massage from the awesome Shannon Lewis at AdJustin Wellness Center and a coffee made by Grace Mihal at Electric Fountain Brewing. I have a couple of makeup guitar lessons and have to work at The Whig tonight, so Happy Hour will be low-key. Maybe we'll celebrate a little bit more tomorrow before, during and after the Christmas tree lighting event in Washington Park.

Anyway, thanks for all the Facebook birthday wishes. It's been another eventful year and I look forward to playing more music and rocking at Fifth and Maine. Peace Love Joy and be safe out there this holiday weekend!

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Black Friday? No thanks

SECOND STRING MUSIC will be open for regular business Friday. We don't do Black Friday. Or Thanksgiving Thursday. Sorry, the $10 toasters will have to wait. We'll sleep instead.

I understand the whole shopping experience idea behind Black Friday, and it's genius for the big boxes to think that way. If you want to deal with the crush of humanity and traffic, go for it. But we are small and local and Christmas has already been rock and roll for us.

We do have November specials going on right now, including 15 percent off all cables and more deals on acoustic guitars.

Don't forget about Saturday in Washington Park, the annual lighting of the Christmas Tree. Adam Yates is bringing the Pepper Doubt Productions PA and we'll be getting merry a full month before Christmas Day. Any excuse to get merry, right?

Have fun, be safe, and remember we are always here at Fifth and Maine for your music needs!

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Farewell, Tony Gilliland

ONE OF THE best things about Second String Music is the sense of loyalty and family we get from our customers. Our casa is your casa, we like to say. We are only as good as the people we surround ourselves with, on a daily basis.

So it was with great shock and sadness we learned Tony Gilliland of Hannibal passed away last month. His wife, Helen, came in this morning to break the news (sometime we live in a bubble around here) and Sheryl shed some tears with her and as we remembered Tony.

He used to come in every other month or so and he bought a guitar and a tuner from us, among other things. He'd pop by when Helen got her hair done next door, and he was usually too modest to play much. Sheryl liked him because he was funny and loved music.

I loved it when Tony came into the store. He was 91 but looked a lot younger, and he could still play the heck out of a guitar. I learned that when he came in, we sort of had to make him play because he really didn't want to show off or get in the way. Far from it - Tony had a love for music, and he was still rocking until the end. Country music was a passion for Tony and you could tell by the way he picked the guitar.

One day he came in and was sitting there patiently, shooting the breeze, and I begged him to play. When he shrugged it off, I got my old Gretsch Cutter guitar out and his eyes practically bugged out of his head. He picked it up and I swear that old guitar came to life, the way he coaxed notes out of it with his fingerstyle method.

We are helping Helen sell a few of his music items, including a tuner and an amp. Please read his obit in the link above - Tony had a great ride and obviously loved life.

God bless ya, Tony. You will be missed and we are so much better off for knowing you and you gracing us with your presence.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Beer Can Bowling Controversy

AFTER THE SMOKE cleared and the debris was swept aside, Second String Music Happy Hour legend Pete Magliocco emerged victorious Saturday to win the coveted and now broken Bedford Beer Can Bowling Invitational.

But there was huge controversy, and we may have to call the International Beer Can Bowling Association of Nebo to clear it up.

I was one of the first to bowl Saturday, as the chaos of our annual Saturday Before Thanksgiving Party started to unfold. The rules are this - you get three throws at 10 cans. They are reset after every throw. One point per can. You get one bonus point for every throw if you hold a beverage, so your max score is 33.

Pete broked the trophy.
I believe I notched a 28. Then Pete walked in and we handed him Angus' plastic moon ball, the official ball of Beer Can Bowling. Pete tossed his first throw. Immediately, Beer Can Bowling Sgt. At Arms Adam Yates cried foul, er, foot foul. Pete's left foot crossed the line as he threw, and his score of six cans plus bonus beverage held was not valid.

I felt sorry for Pete and ruled he could replace his throw without penalty. What a dumb move. Pete proceeded to knock down seven pins on his replacement throw, one more than the previous throw. Then he bowled two beer can strikes and the store went nuts.

There were protests filed and legal action was threatened, but in the end his score of 30 was allowed to stand. As it turned out, another guy threw a 29 so I wouldn't have won anyway. Plus I was having too much fun jamming and was in full store party mode.

When Pete's name was announced, he immediately teared up and emotionally accepted the coveted trophy, made by Steve Rees' father. Then Pete broke the trophy. "I just came off!" he cried, pointing to the bowler dude on the ground. "I didn't do anything!"

No worries, Pete. We'll get Steve to fix it this afternoon, or bring it to his dad to fix.

Anyway, the store party was another raging success. To me, the best part is looking over at five or six people in the jam session playing music - none of them really know each other, but it doesn't matter. Music is the universal language.

Until the next store party, our eighth anniversary in February, Pete is the reigning and defending Beer Can Bowling champ. Even if his name has an asterisks next to it.

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!