Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Stay cool, Q-Town

IT'S THE DOG days of summer, when temps rise near 100 and we still have tons of outdoor events in Quincy and the area.

Tomorrow night is the Summer on 6th party, between Hampshire and Vermont. The street is closed off, the stores have sales and there's live entertainment and beer. Yup. Beer. That's the best way to have an event in Quincy, even when it's super hot.

Cori Lyssy and I (HartLyss) are playing inside at Dame & Hurdle Jewelers as part of Summer on 6th. There's another great art sale and deals galore inside the Maine Center business, and we are playing from 5 to 7 p.m. We did it last month and had a blast. Kind of glad we are inside, too.

Friday night The Cheeseburgers are playing  before and after the Quincy Gems game. By the time the game ends, around 9:30, it should be more comfortable and we are expecting a decent crowd. It's been a few years since we've played there and from what I vaguely remember, it was a lot of fun the last time.

Saturday night the Cheeseburgers venture up to Keokuk and the South Side Boat Club, where we've never had a bad gig. The people up there know how to have fun, and normally it's a bit cooler right on the Mississippi River. If the bugs aren't bad, we might set up outside, or rock away in the air conditioning. Either way it's going to be fun.

What do you do to stay cool if there are outdoor events? Water, of course, and finding shade if possible. I've survived many a hot gig and Gus Macker tournament in the sun, and the older I get the harder it is, but we soldier on and get through it. Summer in the Q-Town, baby!

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Jack is back and a new music project

ADAM YATES AND I have started a new original music project called "Happy Hour." We've dubbed our little project "1/5 & Maine" and are about halfway through with Isaac Smith's 505 Recording Studio, located on the second floor of our Second String Music Building. Adam is doing drums, keyboards and vocals. I'm doing guitar and vocals. We have nine original songs and they are coming together nicely.

Sunshine Cable Radio started in the space in the mid-1980s. Back then Jack Inghram helped wire the place up, and they spent about $20,000 redoing it, but they moved less than two years later. It basically sat empty until we bought the building, and Isaac is our second tenant in the old radio station space.

Isaac wiring up Jack to wail away!
Last night Jack was back at Fifth and Maine, this time recording a sax part for one of our songs. Thankfully Sheryl cleaned up the second floor foyer and made Jack feel welcome and he walked right back in time. We had a blast talking about how he wired everything up and what they went through with Sunshine Cable Radio, now known as WGCA.

Isaac moved in about a year ago and he's spent an large amount of time and money upgrading it. It's state of the art, with all the Pro Tools stuff, but he uses a regular sound board and careful placement of microphones to get optimal sound. Isaac, originally from Camp Point, cut his teeth in the recording business in Salt Lake City before moving back to the area, and he's incredible. With his helper, Nate, he's recording and engineering the project and they both have tons of great ideas.

The songs range from country to pop to classic rock. We have the guts of seven songs basically done and will spend the rest of the week doing guitar, keyboards and vocals.

On Saturday we had Tim Smith come in and sing and play on one song, and Justin Sievert played bass on four songs. Brad Fletcher of the Cheeseburgers played bass on two more songs. We did drums, bass and guitar live on six songs, with Adam playing drums, and he's recorded really cool keyboard and piano parts.

We might have another person or two come up to help, and I would love for our local players to take part, but we are strapped for time and basically doing most of it ourselves to put it together. We plan to put it out in the digital world, but probably won't make CDs.

It was so good to see Jack again and hear him wail away on the sax. Funions for life! Onward and upward and we'll keep you posted on our progress.

It's a Funions reunion!

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Doing things differently

Rodney get the day off from the blog occasionally when we think I can contribute. Hope you find this interesting. Sheryl

Over the years I have received so many flyers from Kohl's with 30% off that I don't even save them anymore. It is overkill and sort of makes you immune to their marketing. That said, I won't even think about shopping at Kohl's unless I have a coupon. There is no need to pay their overinflated pricing when everyone else has a coupon and Kohl's cash to reduce the prices. It's a scam, we know it, but we play the game because we would feel like idiots if we didn't. Right?

When I opened our music store I vowed to never play pricing games with my customers. I hated going into a store and seeing the high prices with huge sale banners. 20% OFF store wide!! All year long. Seriously, why not just post the price and not feel like you have to bait the customer.
Received yesterday in the mail. Current so use the codes!

Every so often we have sales on special weekends or sometimes I will do a monthly sale for groups of items. Sometimes people love them and other times no one cares. It is a crap shoot for sure. So over time we have not had many sales, we just keep our pricing as close to internet pricing and as low as possible. We hope our customers don't need to play those games.

How exhausting it ISN'T for me to price our merchandise and then never have to change it. We don't need a slew of employees to constantly change pricing, stock end caps or put out new sale signs. When we move one section of the store to a different place it is for a reason, not just because we had to move sale items to a special place.

Next time you go into a small business look around at what they have in stock. Odds are that everything in there had to be paid for when the order was shipped to the store. There are no big warehouses of extra stock, what is displayed is what they have. It is a balancing act and takes a strong wit and flexible character to deal with customers and vendors every single day. We are small business and we have limited resources and none of the effort can be wasted by fake marketing schemes.

If you could take anything from this conversation, realize that when a small business has a sale it is coming off their real bottom line. There is no fairy godmother in the back filling out (non-existent) rebate coupons from wholesalers. Shop local, improve the lives of real people including your own life.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Falling off stages and chiropractors

NOTHING SAYS ROMANCE like a date to the chiropractor. Sheryl took me this morning to Active Edge and Dr. Jay Johnson, and we both are better off for it.

Sheryl goes regularly to get treatments for chronic back, neck and shoulder issues. Last week she got buzzing in her hands and Dr. Johnson has slowly but surely gotten her back into shape. My back has been much better in the past few years and Dr. Johnson has done a good job if I needed an adjustment or thought I was 22 again.

Last Saturday Pepper Spray played in Washington Park for the Back The Blue event. We played on a large flatbed trailer in front of the gazebo. I hate flatbed stages. You have to climb up and off, and there isn't a lot of room to move around. This one was pretty sturdy, but we've played on hay wagons and had stuff fall off plenty of times.

Anyway, we were setting up, and I climbed onto the trailer, and I had a large box full of stuff in my hands, and I slipped. I started going down and panicked because there was nothing but a gazebo wall and a large pipe sticking out of the ground. I crashed into the wall with my shoulder and fortunately rolled onto my side to take the brunt of the impact.

It really ticked me off. Couldn't I have had a few more beers before falling off the stage? It also hurt like heck but once we got going it was fine. Then I woke up the next morning. Sucks being 54.
Dave Grohl fell off stage recently

It was just bruising on my back and the usual rock and roll truck stiffness, but Sheryl noticed a large bump on my right shoulder. There was no pain, but it was a little weird and unsettling. She had an appointment this morning and I tagged along, and Dr. Johnson took a look. It's probably a slight sprain but nothing to worry about, a product of an old shoulder injury (probably from playing hockey). It's basically the shoulder joint and the bone has calcified over the years. It literally looks worse than it really is.

The only cure is ice and not falling off stages. Right. I can work on the ice part.

We highly recommend Dr. Johnson. He's a pro and he rocks over there at 10th and Maine, right across from Quincy Medical Group. If he can fix a guy who thinks he's 22 and falls off stages, he can take care of you!

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Strange binge watching

WE HAD JULY 4 off and decided to make use of our precious time by binge-watching the third season of Stranger Things. The first two seasons were awesome. The jury is still out on season three.

Brain Sucking at its best.
The third season relies more on exploding rats, rivers of mucus and monsters sucking the brains out of people. It took a while for the story to take off and it got good, but the ending wasn't good at all. There is no room in Stranger Things for horrendous duets involving a boy in Indiana and a girl in Utah, and that's all I'm gonna say about it.

We certainly agreed that this was the most disgusting season of Stranger Things. By the end of the season neither of us ever wants to see slime again.
Disgusting Exploded Rat

There are theories about watching shows like Stranger Things. Do you watch one episode at a time and let it sink in before cuing up the next one? Or do you run them one after another? Sheryl and I prefer the continuous watching method, though it does get fatiguing and your brain turns to mush by the end.

We turned some friends onto the awesome Amazon Prime series Bosch, and they are watching it one episode at a time "to let it sink in."

Sheryl is the kind of person who *sometimes* reads the last chapter of the book first to see how it ends, then goes back to the beginning. I think that ruins the desired story-telling effect, but to each his or her own.

The other day Sheryl was watching a series called Outlander. She skipped ahead to the final episode to see how it ended, but eventually decided there were too many things she missed and went back after about half an hour into it.

If you have a show you like, let us know. There are only so many Canadian Football League games and reruns of Live PD, so I'm always up for something new!

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Dogs and fireworks don't mix

THIS IS THE Fourth of July week, also known as the "Bombardment of Calftown." Our lovely and caring neighbors set off fireworks at all hours between now and Saturday, even in the days following. When you have a Border Collie with PTSD who runs into the basement or bathtub when hearing a bang, it's a problem.

"Well, your dogs will get used to it," said one neighbor last year, after Sheryl confronted him on a Sunday afternoon days after July 4. Right. You'll get used to Sheryl giving you the business for being an inconsiderate moron, too.

We just heard about our friend whose dog bolted from their house a few days ago due to fireworks. Sadly, the dog was hit by a car and passed away. I'm sure the person setting the fireworks off didn't want this to happen. But it does. 

Tucker, our Border Collie, has been spending all week at the store because of the loud noises. Yup. Even during the day, it's constant on the south side of Quincy. We are praying for rain tonight and tomorrow and Friday, but even rain doesn't stop it completely.

Ahhhh .... thanks for taking me to the store - no fireworks!
We know it's July 4 and it's tradition to set off fireworks, blow off limbs and visit the ER. Heaven forbid we mess with tradition. But when letting off fireworks, please keep your neighbors in mind and their pets, because the dogs just don't realize that fireworks aren't bombs.

That guy who lives down the street with his wife and three kids, the one who seems like a nice fella? He's a vet. He served in Iraq. He went through the muck and the noises wake him up at night, and might make his PTSD worse.

Happy Fourth, Q-Town. Second String Music is closed and we hope you have a safe and fun day off, and if it means going to the fireworks at the Gems game or Vets Home, great.

We'll be at home and Tucker will be in the bathtub.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Opportunities for young musicians

WE ARE PROUD of the lineup for Q-Fest in Washington Park. The music starts at 10 Saturday morning and goes all day Saturday and Sunday.

We have a good mix of young and veterans musicians playing. There's a couple of them worth highlighting and I really hope you can get down here to see them and support them.

Todd Klingele of Liberty is kicking things off at 10 a.m. Saturday. He just graduated from Liberty High School and he's one of my best guitar students. Every now and then we get a young person who comes in and outpaces my ability to teach. Now he's better than me and the sky is the limit for him. You have to love a young person totally into the blues!

It's a great experience for a young musician to get a paid gig in front of people. Q-Fest is a very social event and it's not like there's a million people staring at your every move, but there are a lot of people in the park and I love it when they stroll past the gazebo, stop, and appreciate the music and talent on display.

Todd is also playing later Saturday in Missouri and I'm sure he'll do very well.

Another young person who has impressed us lately is Aspen Gengenbacher. She has played around here for a few years but her guitar was mothballed after she got discouraged. She finally brought it into Second String Music and Sheryl worked her usual magic to bring it back to life. I've hired her to play the July 12 noon blues acoustic show with her friend Noah, and they've been practicing to get ready. The other day they were in Electric Fountain Brewing strumming and humming and it sounded really good.

HartLyss is playing July 13 at Red Light Bar & Restaurant, and we've asked our friend Travis Hoffman to open for us. Travis was active in the local music scene 15 years ago, but life got in the way and he hasn't played in public for many years. He's an incredible musician and guitar player, and we are so glad he's finally getting back out there.

It can be really hard to break into the local music scene. We play a small part here at SSM and seeing a younger person get a chance is a beautiful thing. Get down here this weekend and enjoy the art and the music! It's will great to hear other new musician in July too.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

SHE CAME INTO the store about noon. She is in her early 30s but looks twice as old. Living on the street for a decade or more will do it to you. Sheryl was running errands so it was just me in the store, and I immediately seized up.

"I haven't eaten for five days," she said. "You helped me before. Could you help me now?"

Many years ago I encountered her near Sixth and Maine. She looked a lot different back then. She was hungry, she said, and asked for a couple of dollars to get a hamburger. Instead, I took her to the coffee shop and lunch place then inside the Granite Bank Gallery. I bought her lunch and listened to her story. I think I even wrote a column about it. But it was a long time ago.

I've seen her many times since. She's been in and out of jail, battled substance abuse issues, been physically abused, and probably had worse things happen. Lately she's been wandering downtown and yelling into her phone, which I don't think works. She is battling demons most of us will never see and experience, thank God. I think the technical term is schizophrenia.

I'm amazed she's still alive.

She came into the coffee shop next to us twice last month. Both times she said it was her birthday and asked if she could have a cup of coffee. Two birthdays. In the same month. They had pity on her and gave her coffee, which is no big deal.

Yesterday she said something getting into a fight with her "dos." I thought she meant dose, as in medication. "I'm not taking any medication," she snapped. "My dos. My double. My twin sister. I can't call her my sister, you know."

She's homeless, staying here and there. What about a shelter or food pantry? "Most places have kicked my twin out, so I can't go there," she said.

I felt really uncomfortable. It was just us in the store and all I could think of is her accusing me of something. It's the world we live in and I hate it, but it's reality.

I told her I wasn't giving her any money, and there wasn't much I could do. She stood there. I think she realized things weren't going to go much further. I finally gave her a bottle of water and she left.

Was there more I could have done? Do I have a degree or experience in helping people with mental issues? The answer to both is no but I am a musician and teach people how to play guitar. That probably would not have helped.

How does this happen? How does somebody go so far off the rails? And how do we take care of people like this?

It twists my brain and the more I think about it the more it screws me into the ground. My lack of sleep last night pales to her getting by, one day at a time. Sheryl has been losing sleep over the immigration camps on our southern border. We are both a mess.

Getting help with mental health is a massive issue in this country. Joe Schmo on the street is not a substitute for mental health care.

It leaves us all in a precarious situation.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Saving the world a kitty at a time

EARLY YESTERDAY MORNING in front of Electric Fountain Brewing, Talia found a tiny black kitten. It was cowered against the building and quite afraid, so Talia picked it up and got it some creamer and comfort.

The kitten was tiny and had little white boots. It was scared but seemed quite tame and in good shape. You have to wonder how a little thing like that ends up on the street and in downtown Quincy. Sheryl called a friend of ours who specializes in taking care of kittens, and she agreed to take him in.

That wasn't until the evening. He spent the day in the store in a back room, safe and sound and with food and water. He slept in the corner and would come out when we entered, and he was quite content sitting on my lap. He meowed loudly after either Sheryl or I left, which means he might have had some human interaction already.

So he's off to a good home and will have a good life, and we've saved the world yet again, one kitten at a time.

Monday, June 24, 2019

WHILE FEEBLY ATTEMPTING to recover from the rock and roll truck that is HartLyss, it's with a start I realize this weekend is Q Fest weekend.

Yes! More too much fun days and nights! Sleep? We don't need no stinking sleep! It's one of our best weekends in Second String Music and we are right in the thick of things, and love every second of it.

It starts Friday at noon as the artists set up tents with our Noon Acoustic show featuring Steve Rees in Washington Park, and continues with Blues In The District and the amazing Amanda Fish playing in Washington Park Friday night. Music continues all day Saturday and Sunday in the gazebo, and our street party Saturday night will be off the hook.

Josie helping me rest.
Local band Jared & The Gentlemen start at 6 and KC Flo from Kansas City follows. If you haven't been down here for the Q Fest street party, it's a great time. Seeing Maine between Fifth and Sixth packed with people enjoying the music is a beautiful thing.

On Sunday we'll get up and do it again with more great music in the gazebo.

And then we'll wake up in a week, shrug off the rock and roll truck, and get ready to do it again!

Friday, June 21, 2019

Summer on Sixth rocks

WE HAD OUR first of the Summer on 6th Block Party Thursday night and it was a roaring success. Sixth Street between Maine and Hampshire was closed, legendary local band Fielder reformed for a one-off street concert, and there were tons of people down here.

Cori and I (HartLyss) played inside Dame & Hurdle in the Maine Center at Sixth and Maine. Terry Britton had her artwork for sale and the jewelry store did some major business. Vince and his crew were thrilled and noticed there were quite a few first-timers in the store. How can you live in the Quincy and not know about Dame & Hurdle?

Sixth Street was packed and several people mentioned how nice it was to start an event like this. Start? I believe there were a few events two years ago on Sixth and last year they did one the third Thursday of June, July and August. Sometimes you just gotta keep plugging away and hope people will notice the great things that are happening downtown.

Then again, we work down here and we can't expect the world to come to us. It's about effort and teamwork and getting the message out that downtown Quincy is alive and well.

A big thanks to Joy Berhorst and the staff at Domestics for tirelessly promoting the event and visiting everybody to let them know about the party.

HartLyss will be back at Dame & Hurdle July 18 for the next Summer on 6th Block Party. See you in downtown Quincy!

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Elder's and tradition

SAD TO HEAR Elder's at 18th and State is closing. It's a Quincy restaurant staple. The owners say the building has issues and they are temporarily closed. Employees are saying the closure is permanent. It must be true. It's on the internet, right?

The big loss isn't that we can't get Elder's fried chicken anymore. The big loss is that Elder's is a Quincy tradition. A gazillion Quincyans have gone there simply because it's, well, Elder's. The servers were nice and the food decent and the prices reasonable, and people felt comfortable. There are lots of places like this in Quincy and it's part of the small-town river town charm.

Quincy isn't dying. This isn't the end of the world. We might just make it through the next few days, weeks, months, maybe even years, without Elder's.

Why not relocate? Well, Elder's is Elder's because it's at 18th and State, and it's been there a million years. If you move it, and moving isn't cheap endeavor, there's no guarantee it will work. And there are lots of great choices for restaurants in town, and thank god we aren't talking about Olive Gardens or Red Lobsters.

A restaurant is as much about atmosphere and comfort level as it is about food, service and price. And you really don't need a reason to like a place if you, well, just like it. I'm sure there were tons of local connections and friendships involved with Quincy's love affair with Elder's.

A piece of Quincy goes with Elder's closing, and it's a sad day, indeed.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Blame Mike Terry and Bosch

LOOK. I REALLY like and respect Mike Terry, the hall of fame Quincy High School tennis coach and John Wood Community College teaching legend. He's a great guy. His son, Jake, is one of my favorite guitar students. Mike is knowledgeable about pop culture and music. He's often in EFB drinking coffee, reading and pondering life.

Again, I really like him. But right now, specifically this very yawn-filled minute, I hate him. A lot.

A week or so ago Mike was in the store and told us about an Amazon Prime series called Bosch. Sheryl started watching it and couldn't stop. Then she sucked me into the Bosch vortex. Last Sunday we watched almost every episode of season two and I was hooked. Last night I started watching season one and it was the same thing. What a great series.

So I got about four hours of sleep and I'm literally walking into walls right now. Thanks, Mike. It's not like I have a bunch of guitar lessons and a HartLyss show tonight at Spring Lake Country Club. Nah. More coffee, please.

The show is about a Los Angeles detective, Harry Bosch, who is the good guy but struggles to play by the rules. In the first season he deals with a civil lawsuit over a shooting, tries to reconnect with his daughter and chases a serial killer. There are three or four stories always at play and the series writers do an excellent job of tying everything together.

It's like Game of Thrones with less killing. It sucks you in and you can't stop. You. Can't. Stop. Last night it was nearly midnight and I got to the end of an episode in season one and I could barely keep my eyes open, yet I couldn't not watch the next episode - I mean, the serial killer just smothered his mom to death, for crying out loud.

Sheryl says it gets even better is season three and beyond. I think she's up to season five or six by now. The next time I can binge watch is Sunday, so guess what we're doing?

"I need to watch season three again anyway. There's a lot of stuff I missed," she said "Once you know how it ends you gotta go back and catch the clues they were giving you."

The great thing about things like Netflix and Amazon Prime is that they have tons of shows like this but there are no commercials and you can watch as much or as little as you want. I know a lot of people who will wait until a season is done before they watch any episodes - they want to see them all together in one long ride.

Anyway, I'd like to thank Mike for the suggestion and curse him for losing sleep. At least I'll get some tonight. Unless I start watching Bosch again.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Happy Doggy Father's Day

Emily and Tucker
Border Collie love!
I HAD A really good Father's Day. I'm blessed to have an awesome daughter, Emily, who came down from Macomb and bought dinner at Maya for Sheryl and Me. Nothing says Father's Day like Mexican!

Emily likes our new cat, CoCo, and she enjoyed playing with the dogs. She's like her dad in that she takes to Tucker, who is like a son to me. So he'd be a brother to Emily. Or something like that.

I had a golf-induced nap in the afternoon, and after we ate I discovered the U.S. Open was still on. In fact it was on until 9 p.m. In fact I took ANOTHER golf-induced coma nap before I went to bed. I'd call that a really good Father's Day!

Saturday night was the last Saturday I'm not playing or doing something until, well, forever. So Sheryl and I decided to be productive and binge-watch the Amazon Prime series Bosch. I actually started watching in the second season and got hooked right away. Now I'm debating whether or not to watch season one, then skip to season three. My next night off will be Sunday night, so I already have an idea what I'll be doing.

CoCo on Twitter
So bring on another week, a busy one at that with three HartLyss shows and Q-Fest only 12 days away. I'm also working on a music project that is going to be really cool, with more details to follow.

I might need to binge-watch more Bosch shows to recover.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019


HARTLYSS IS PLAYING Thursday night at the Adams County Suicide Prevention Coalition's Cocktails For A Cause. It's at Revelry in Quincy, and it features local celebrity bartenders and a silent auction.

You know our feelings about playing benefits. We don't do them, unless we are hired or it has a special connection.

Last fall Cori and I played at a benefit for somebody we didn't know and it was a disaster. It was too cold to play outside but we did it anyway. There was a misunderstanding about how long we were playing and using our PA. They paid us but I gave it back because the organizers were ticked off, we were ticked off, and it just wasn't worth it.

Last Saturday we were in Camp Point to raise money for Camp Callahan. We were hired, and we were treated very well. I hope things worked out and they made some money for a very worthy cause, but I don't apologize for doing the job and rocking our butts off.

It's been said a thousand times, but we don't do this for the money. Sure, it's nice to get paid, and these guitars and guitar strings don't grow on trees. I played about 15 gigs with HartLyss before getting my Bose PA paid off. I think we get what we are worth, and I'm grateful to the local establishments for supporting live music.

But if you don't love it, you won't last very long.

Thursday's event is special. My brother, Greg Hart, took his own life in 2002. It shook our family to the core and ultimately led us to a better place, but I wasn't a very good brother and there is still a lot of pain and regret when I think of Greg.

So Thursday night, I'll do it for Greg, and I'll do it for the people left in the wake of senseless tragedy. The organizers have direct connections with suicide and the aftermath. If we can reach one person, and tell one person things will be OK and there are better options, well, we've succeeded.

There will probably be a lot of people there, but that's immaterial. I'm going to play my ass off, I'm going to have fun, and I'll think of my brother. And that's all that matters.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Thank you magnesium pills

THE THING ABOUT rock and roll is that it makes you young again. For a short time. Until the next morning arrives.

The Cheeseburgers had a blast at the Camp Callahan Summer Jam in Camp Point Saturday. The crowd got into it and we got into a groove and cranked it out, and it was so much fun. It would be a good idea to wear a FitBit and see how many miles I walk/run/dance during a show, because it's a massive workout.

What people don't realize is how much work goes into setting up, then tearing down. So Sunday Morning Coming Down is a real thing. This past Sunday morning I could barely get out of bed, and I was hurting for two days.

I am not complaining here. It's part of life, getting older, realizing you aren't 22 years old again. I'm 54 and feeling every day of it. And it's OK.

Sheryl gave me a back and leg rub with CBD oil and it really helped. Last night I took 600 mg Magnesium Glycinate for my sore leg muscles and it worked wonders. We just walked the dogs with Sheryl's niece, Kristie, and it was nice to move without jolting pain in the calf muscles. I even walked extra after they took off.

We have two weekends coming up where The Cheeseburgers are playing on both Friday and Saturday nights. Geesh. It's a marathon, not a sprint, and we'll try our best to be careful. But playing music is so much fun and you get to moving and cranking it out, and before you know it you are doing cartwheels and back flips up there and it's just part of the show.

We're gonna keep rocking and we're gonna keep using the official fragrance of The Cheeseburgers, Ben Gay, and we aren't going to stop until the last muscle is pulled and the last pain pill is popped.

Just don't call me too early the morning after a show.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Kart Krazy in Q-TOWN

I WENT TO the Quincy Grand Prix kart races in South Park Sunday afternoon. It. Was. Awesome.

Kudos to Terry Traeder and everybody involved. It was a hugely successful event for many reasons, but it takes patience, attention to detail and commitment to pull something like this off.

I remember going to the South Park race in 1987. I covered it for the Whig and the late Gus Traeder couldn't have been nicer and it was a lot of fun. Then it stopped for many years until being revived last year. Gus passed away in 2016 and is buried right across the street at Greenmount Cemetery, and they put big finish line flags by his grave over the weekend, a nice touch.

A couple of buddies and I found a nice shady spot along the 12th Street side of the park toward the south end. We could see the karters zoom down the hill out of the starting blocks and negotiate the hairpin turns at the south end, then blast up the long straightaway across the park and up the hill.

Adam brought out his canopy when the sun was directly overhead. There was a nice breeze and conditions were perfect. If you have an outdoor event in Quincy, make sure you can sell or have beer and strike a deal with the weather gods, and you will be successful.

I had way too much fun with the Cheeseburgers and HartLyss on Saturday night at the Camp Callahan Summer Jam in Camp Point, so I was content with a nice stogie, crushed ice and corn dog. Save for the obnoxious family throwing ice cubes at each other in front of us, it was perfect.

There were tons of vendors, plenty of strategically placed trash cans and portable potties, and you could even hear the PA announcements.There was only one crash (out of our sight) and the organizers were right on it, getting to the drivers right away and making sure the track was OK to continue racing.

If I know Terry and the people involved, South Park will be far cleaner today than when they arrived a week ago to set up.

What a great event for Quincy! I think it would be a fun venue for a concert on Friday and/or Saturday night, too. Hmmmmm .... dare to dream, and here's to 2020 and beyond for the Quincy Grand Prix.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Let is grow, let it grow ...

IT'S BEEN 10 years since we've moved into our Calftown house. One of the first things Sheryl planted was a clematis by the fence, and it has flourished. Our dumb dog Bella dug it up immediately and she replanted it with the hope that it would survive. Every year about this time it flowers and it's really beautiful.

We don't have to do much. We pull the weeds by the base and try not to kill it with the lawnmower or weed whacker, and it has survived and thrived. Somehow there is a metaphor for life in there - plant it, let it grow and admire it. And don't do stupid stuff to kill it.

Let's have another awesome early summer weekend! HartLyss is playing Saturday at 3 p.m. at the Camp Callahan Summer Jam in Camp Point, and the Cheeseburgers play at 6. It's at the Village Winery in Camp Point, a venue we've never played before, and Rich Louden has done an amazing job getting the entertainment lined up. Hopefully the weather is good and we have ourselves an awesome time for a great cause.

Whatever your plans are this weekend, be safe and take time to step back and admire the view. Let it grow, let it grow!

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Wrong way on a one-way bridge

I VENTURED INTO West Quincy last night for the first time since the latest round of flooding and the closure of the Memorial Bridge, which leads from Missouri into Quincy. The Bayview Bridge is two-lanes in both directions, and it's a little bit freaky coming back from Missouri.

The flooding along the riverfront is massive and it's going to be a while before we recover - the Pier and the Quincy Boat Club will have a lot of cleanup to do. The Mississippi River is slowly going down but our levees are still under strain and we are not out of the woods yet. As we speak the Quad Cities is getting pounded with more rain, and the extra water will work its way down to our area soon enough.

I went up onto the Second String Music building roof last night and tried to get some photos of the high water. You can see the end of the Memorial Bridge is still under water and there are all kinds of dead trees, logs and debris piled up against the bridge. Who knows how long it will be closed, but the sooner it opens the better. It was sure strange not seeing any vehicles coming into town.

Let's hope for continued dry weather and for the river to keep going down.

Monday, June 3, 2019

Bee Swarms

WE WERE IN the store this morning and saw a swarm of big horse flies on Maine Street, slowly heading west. I didn't think much of it, but Sheryl took a closer look and discovered it was a swarm of bees - nothing to fool with, because many people we know are allergic to bee stings.

A Tree in front of 505 Maine,
break time from swarming.
The swarm made its way slowly up to Fifth and Maine and crossed the street into Washington Park. So, Sheryl went into the park and warned two families about the bees. They beat a hasty retreat to safety and the swarm continued through the park kinda toward 4th St but we aren't sure where it is now.

Could have been worse - they could've invaded Gus Macker or Blues In The District, and that wouldn't have ended well. We are wondering how they managed to make their way downtown - did a hive get knocked down? Do bees migrate and look for new homes if it gets overcrowded?

We did some research, and it's likely they were honey bees. If so, they aren't considered dangerous and they are not likely to sting unless provoked. But if they fly into a mass of people, it isn't good.

We have called some beekeepers and they will find a new home today. Be a little careful if you are walking in the downtown area today.

Friday, May 31, 2019

Did the levee break?

THIS FLOODING STUFF is reaching critical mass. Last night everybody was ordered out of West Quincy (across the river from us) because of a levee "breach" at a creek near LaGrange. The Bayview Bridge was closed to traffic coming from Illinois. Our other bridge has been closed for several days. There was all kinds of panic and Social Media Disorder, which is what happens when people say whatever they want on Facebook without proof or any idea what they are talking about.

The TV stations cut in for dramatic live coverage. They showed scintillating shots of cars waiting to cross the bridge, gas stations without gas pumps, and water in a field. The water in the field footage was particularly thrilling, and grainy, and the camera was shaking, and it was made to feel like the water was about to drown West Quincy but probably not the reporter and cameraperson.

It didn't happen. The levee was apparently stabilized and the bridge was open on the Illinois side by 9:30 last night. It's still pretty bad over there and we are all hoping and praying the levees hold and we get through this latest high-water crisis.

Marian Wyse
If in fact the levees fail and West Quincy succumbs to the power of the mighty Mississippi River, it would be an economic catastrophe. It would be a huge blow for us because at least 30 to 40 percent of our business in the music store comes from the good people of Missouri and Iowa. The bridge in Hamilton, which connects Illinois and Iowa to the north of us, is also closed. We'd be on a very high island and it would be a struggle. A few summers ago the Memorial Bridge was closed for six months due to maintenance and we barely hung on to the store.

So we cross our fingers and say a prayer that the levees will hold. The Mississippi River is supposed to crest today or tomorrow, and it will hopefully not rain for a few days. Let's hope everything holds and we don't have to watch more grainy video of water in fields. Or water in general.

Remember to support the small businesses that are impacted by these kinds of issues. Help make the hard times easier all year long. Shop small, shop local, keep your local economy healthy.

Here is a great quote from one of our Missouri customers, Cat Kelso, "Thankful that we are not fighting extreme temperatures, but workers may need snipers to shoot the mosquitoes and buffalo gnats unless they can be trained to airlift the sandbags." The gnats will really keep you moving right now ....

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Gnashing teeth over gnats

FIRST OF ALL, why is there a G in the word "gnats?" If we start putting consonants in front of words and leave out vowels, the world will indeed be a very gscary gplace.

Secondly, what do you do about gnats? Do you tell them the G is useless and hope they get depressed and go away? They are everywhere right now because of our near-record rains, and we can't even walk in Washington Park because of the gswarms of gnats. Then again, the Outside People can't even sit in the park right now and I really hope our Farmer's Market this Saturday won't get gnatted out.

Ggo away, stupid Gnats!
Yesterday about 3 p.m. I took Angus into the park and they enveloped him when he was doing his bidness. Angus simply shook his head and looked for the next spot to mark, but I ate about 12 gnats and started gnashing my gteeth. We came back into the store, and several gnats came in with me, and Sheryl spent the next hour swatting anything that gmoved. Double G GGUH.

It's not ggoing to gget better. The Mississippi River is cresting at near-record levels this weekend and the tepid flood waters are perfect breeding ggrounds for more gnats. Bridges are closing, streets are closing and Clat Adams Park is completely submerged right now. It's just really Ggross. I guess we gget out the bug spray and cover our faces while we walk and hope they ggo away.

If it doesn't rain Friday afternoon, perhaps we'll sit on the sidewalk and smoke the necessary cigars to keep the gnats away. Gnats hate cigar smoke. Especially cheap Cuban reject cigar smoke.

Hey. We'll do anything to keep those darns gnats from ruining happy hour.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Chilling to music

WHAT DO YOU listen to when you are stressed out or want to relax? We ask because Sheryl and I are decompressing after another adventure-filled weekend.

I survived another Gus Macker, and we had big days in the store both Saturday and Sunday (when we aren't even supposed to be open).

Sheryl went to Burlington, Iowa yesterday to hear presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren speak. (Where's Burlington?) She survived nearly-flooded roads and got stuck in Burlington for several hours with Warren at the venue due to tornadoes touching down. She finally made it home around 6 p.m. We grilled and appreciated that it was Memorial Day.

To chill out I usually listen to stuff like Roxy Music, Clannad, Enya and Allison Krauss. Sheryl is a huge Pink Floyd fan, she plays it loud and forces the dogs to sing along. There are tons of artists with great mellow songs, of course.

But what's out there today? I don't listen to the radio or current music. There's gotta be new faces who can calm and soothe, right?

Well, we won't stress over it. But if you have some suggestions, let us know.

Monday, May 27, 2019

I NEVER THOUGHT I'd say this or write this or even think this ... but The Who is aging gracefully.

Thanks to Mike Sorensen and Bad Wolf Media (these are his amazing photos), I scored a ticket 20 rows from the stage last Thursday at the big amphitheater near St. Louis. It was amazing, of course. I'm a Who fanatic and always will be. They could have done a puppet show and it would have been fine. Of course, The Who would need to be billed above the puppet show, but onward ...

In fact, this tour is called Moving On. It's a grand experiment, with a full orchestra and big chunks from Tommy and Quadrophenia. I could only imagine the nightmare for the sound crew, getting the mix and microphones right. The band struggled early during the Tommy songs because they were basically playing in a  big shed and you could tell they couldn't hear well.

Much love to the incredible drummer Zak Starkey, who guided the band through a few minor setbacks and kept things together and from completely going off the rails. Roger Daltrey rushed his lyrics early and Pete Townshend kept barking at the sound crew to his left. The orchestra director just kept going and they got better as the night went on.

As I've played in bands for years and can almost never hear on stage, I can only say The Who didn't let it bog them down and it's a miracle they can play fantastic rock shows with the sound bouncing around.

Townshend and Daltrey are in the mid-70s, and it shows. Daltrey's voice has never been better, he never hit a wrong note and it was pure the whole night. Townshend fought sound issues, faulty guitars and a sore throat- he croaked his way through Eminence Front and I'm One bravely and without fear. God bless him!

The Who used to overpower audiences with sheer volume and energy, but those days are long gone. Townshend still windmills, Daltey still swings his microphone, but they do it less now and they are well aware the two-plus hours they are on stage are marathons, not sprints.

Simon Townshend, Pete's brother, was featured more this year on vocals and guitar and it makes the band better. The orchestra could be heard and the cello and violin on Behind Blue Eyes was right on target.

Favorite parts? The power chord intro to Who Are You, the searing instrumentals Sparks from Tommy and The Rock from Quadrophenia, Daltrey introducing Substitute by saying "I was born with a plastic spoon in my mouth" is one of the greatest lyrics ever, the incredible acoustic version of We Don't Get Fooled Again, and Love Reign O'er Me, which literally brought tears to my eyes.

The Who can't go on forever. Can they? They are indeed Moving On, and I'm grateful to Mike for letting me go on another rock and roll adventure.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Hope I die before I get old

THANKS TO FRIEND and neighbor Mike Sorensen of Bad Wolf Media, I'm heading to St. Louis tonight to see The Who at the massive amphitheater. Mike is taking photos and managed to come up with another ticket. This came up suddenly and it's the start of an action packed weekend - I'm playing for the Illinois Veterans Home folks tomorrow and Gus Macker is Saturday and Sunday.

Sheryl and I saw The Who in St. Louis at the hockey rink a few years ago and it was a great show. My brother flew in from Phoenix and we had floor seats, and we hooted and hollered for more than two hours to every song. The sound was amazing and the band was on form and it was a great night.

This year they are playing with an orchestra and doing Tommy and Quadrophenia songs, new takes on classics. The tour is getting good reviews and Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend seem to be enjoying themselves. It will be a good night.

They are in their mid-70s now and some say they are too old and just milking the nostalgia thing. Maybe so, but if you are that age and you are good at something, are you going to stop doing it? Geesh, they are only 20 years older than me, and I don't plan to stop rocking. Ever.

Again, thank you Mike Sorensen for including me on your rock and roll adventures - Mike is a concert photographer extraordinaire and I'm sure he'll get some great shots.

You are never too old to rock and roll!

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Good days, and Let's Go Blues!

TUESDAY WAS A good day. We figured out our cardboard deal - let's just say we have a place to bring it now. We had a huge day in the store, and in the roller coaster world of small retail, it was very much appreciated. And finally, the Blues are in the Stanley Cup Finals.

Wait a second .... did I really just type THE BLUES ARE IN THE STANLEY CUP FINALS?

There are some die-hard Blues fans in the Q-Town and I'm happy for them. It's a great story, from worst in early January to four wins away from being NHL champs. My brother Stephen and I were at the Blues-Bruins game in February, and who knew it would be a finals preview?

Unlike St. Louis Cardinals fans, who "demand excellence" and think it's some sort of conspiracy if they don't win the World Series, Blues fans are patient and loyal. Good for them! Let's Go Blues, and also, I HATE the Boston Bleeping Bruins. Still, Bruins in six.

Here's to more good days ahead, including this weekend's Gus Macker right in front of our Second String Music doors. And again .... Let's Go Blues!

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Cardboard Tuesdays

TUESDAYS WILL NOW be known as Cardboard Tuesdays at Second String Music. Quincy Recycle no longer takes cardboard, and we have too much to put out at the house. We don't really know what to do, because throwing it away is irresponsible and expensive. So ....

We have cardboard. Lots and lots of cardboard. There is a bunch of it sitting on our sidewalk outside the door. Visually appealing, isn't it? Sorry, Q-Town, but if we don't come up with some plans to recycle, you will start seeing stuff like this. If you need boxes of all shapes and sizes for moving or storage or shipping guitars, they are here right now and free.

The other option is to take it home and make it into bonfires. Again, that's not very responsible.

So Cardboard Tuesdays it is. If you have any suggestions, please let us know, but we are all about saving the earth one box at a time and keeping our sidewalks open.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Get over it, GOT fans

APPARENTLY IT'S THE end of the world because Game of Thrones has ended and people are pissed at how it ended.

What? *WARNING: Game of Thrones SPOILERS BELOW*

I watched it and I thought the ending was great. It tied up a bunch of loose ends and it left you wondering what will happen to the various characters who survived. Can you say "Spin-offs!" Yes, we knew you could.

Lots of people are upset Dany died. What? She died? You haven't watched the last episode yet and I'm spoiling it for you? Ooops. At least you don't know that Jon Snow knifes her to death by the Iron Throne, which gets turned into molten metal soup by Drogon, and then the Bran Flake becomes king.

So don't watch the clip below of Jon Snow killing his queen. With a knife. While kissing her. Maybe it's time to go back and binge watch the whole dang thing again. *Don't try this at home!*

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Rocking (again) this weekend

IT SOUNDS LIKE a stuck record, but again we have so much great stuff going on in the Q-Town this weekend. We will need at least a weekend to recover after the weekend!

It starts Friday at noon with our final Concerts In The Plaza of the season. The talented Kyle Trudell will be there and the Butcher Block will serve up tasty lunches. We've been lucky with the weather so far for the previous three shows and it should be nice and warm for our last one.

Friday night at Red Light Bar & Restaurant, our friends Prospect Road will be rocking the night away. Saturday morning is the Bridge The Gap race by the river, and the Farmer's Market in Washington Park.

And Saturday night is the long anticipated return of The Cheeseburgers to Red Light. We had so much fun there in January and can't wait to get back and rock the old Granite Bank building.

But wait! There's more! You also get a free set of Ginzu cutting knives! And Paul Bonn is playing Sunday afternoon at The Club Tavern in Quincy from 3 to 7. Then the Matt Roberts Blues Band take over for the regular jam session Sunday night.


BTW, here's a summer schedule for both The Cheeseburgers and HartLyss. I'm partly doing this to remind myself ....

The Cheeseburgers
Saturday, May 18
Red Light Bar, Quincy, 9 p.m.
Saturday, June 8
Camp Callahan Benefit, Village Vineyard & Winery, Camp Point, 6 p.m.
Friday, July 19
Quincy Gems game, Quincy, time TBA
Saturday, July 20
South Side Boat Club, Keokuk, 8 p.m.
Friday, Aug. 2
Quincy Park District Concert Series, Washington Park, 6 p.m.
Saturday, Aug. 3
Private party
Saturday, Sept. 14
South Side Boat Club, Keokuk
Saturday, Oct. 5
Red Light Bar, Quincy, 1 Year Anniversary Party! 9 p.m.

Saturday, June 1
Revelry, Quincy, 9 p.m.
Saturday, June 8
Camp Callahan Benefit, Village Vineyard & Winery, Camp Point, 3 p.m.
Thursday, June 13
Adams County Suicide Prevention Coalition fundraiser, Revelry, 7 p.m.
Saturday, June 22
Tipsy Bricks grand opening, Hannibal, 7:30 p.m.
Friday, July 5
Tap Room, Quincy, 8 p.m.
Saturday, July 6
Back The Blue party, Washington Park (with Pepper Spray), 7 pm ish
Saturday, July 13
Red Light Bar, 8 p.m.
Friday, Aug. 23
Red Light, Quincy (with Pepper Spray), 9 p.m.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Matching the Internet

WE DO OUR best at Second String Music to match internet prices. Does it cut our margins? Yes. Do we have a choice to remain competitive in the world of online shopping? No.

We match internet prices on all guitars, amps and bigger items. We are actually cheaper for our awesome Roland keyboards. Plus we have unmatched sales and service, and your warranty is good through us. Try doing that online.

Yesterday a young man came in and looked at our Fender Mustang G-100 amp. He asked if we match the internet price. Sheryl said yes. After he left, she looked it up and much to her dismay discovered it was $50 cheaper online.

So we made the adjustment but worried he would probably just buy it online.

This morning we were out on the sidewalk sipping coffee and figuring out life when up walks the young man and he wanted to buy the amp! We thanked him for his patience and for asking if we matched online prices. Figuring out our mistake saved him $50 bucks and he is happy, we are happy and he has an awesome new amp. We march onward to the next small retail challenge.

It is illegal for bigger retailers to advertise below MAP price, the minimum amounts resellers agree  to advertise items. If Amazon has 100 Epiphone guitars that are $300 each, but they are just sitting in the warehouse, Amazon can't legally advertise them for $250. They do it all the time anyway.

If you come in and see an item and you think we are above the MAP price, let us know. It's part of doing business and we are all about being the best (only?) music store in town.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Have The Women Read The Directions

I WAS IN a lesson this morning and Sheryl worked with three older gentlemen who wandered into the store and were interested in a wireless micophone system and PA. They grumbled about guitars and how Martins and Taylors were superior, blah blah blah.

"Well, we are Takamine dealers and they are fabulous guitars," Sheryl said. "Garth Brooks even plays Takamine guitars."

"He doesn't actually play them," one of the guys said.

"Uh, yes he does. He's no Elvis," Sheryl said. It seemed to register and the three guys nodded their heads in agreement.

They were looking for equipment for a "church." Actually we suspect they were looking for equipment for their gun club in rural Missouri, and there's all kinds of fun we could have here but we'll be polite and move on. Sheryl quoted them a system we got last year for a local place, and they were impressed. It's the advantage of working with a small business and an owner who cares and knows her stuff.

"Man, I've been in three music stores and you are the first person who has actually helped me," one of the men said.

Then there was talk about how to put the system together. Sheryl said, "Look. Get a couple of women to READ THE DIRECTIONS and then you'll get it right."

They laughed and they all agreed she was right. They left the store in a good mood. Sheryl laughed while telling the story. And that, friends, is how it works at Fifth and Maine much of the time.

I'm going to the house to trim the grass. I hope the trimmer doesn't run out of wire. I'd have to read the directions or call Sheryl to change it. She's read the directions.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Loft Tours and another busy weekend

AS USUAL DOWNTOWN is rocking and rolling and another busy weekend awaits. It starts with Kayla Obert playing in our Plaza concert series at noon Friday, lots of great music Friday and Saturday nights at downtown venues (HartLyss is at the Tap Room Friday night and at Red Light Saturday afternoon) and the Farmer's Market Saturday morning. It's also a Shop Local Saturday, and we encourage you to shop local every day!

The highlight is Saturday's District Loft Tours. Three properties are on display, including the soon to be home on North Sixth Street of the Quincy Brewing Company. For those who think downtown Quincy is dying and not relevant anymore, the loft tours are an eye-opener and great chance to see how far we've come, and how far we can go.

We are hopeful the Bayview Bridge opens soon. It's been closed more than a week due to flooding, but the Mississippi River is slowly going down and it looks like we've endured the worst. We notice our traffic goes down when the bridge isn't open - it's the main portal into downtown and used by our numerous Missouri and Iowa customers.

Come see us this weekend! We've got new Fender and Gretsch guitars in stock and all kinds of great guitar amps and Fender Passport PAs to show off. As usual, it's great to be at Fifth and Maine and we hope you have a great weekend.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Another Denver shooting hits close to home

MY SISTER LIVES in Denver. Specifically, she lives in Littleton, a beautiful suburb with big open spaces and views of the mountains. She and her husband and two kids love it there.

She lives just a few miles from Columbine High School. You know what happened there 20 years ago.

Yesterday in Highlands Ranch, two miles from her house, another school shooting took place. And a few weeks ago schools were locked down when a woman flew to Denver from Florida with plans to shoot up schools.

"I never thought I would have so many conversations with my kids about this," she says.

As usual, it takes a person involved in sports to really put it into perspective. This is Mike Malone, coach of the Denver Nuggets basketball team. The Nuggets are playing the Portland Trail Blazers and are a game away from reaching the conference finals. Denver is the sports capital of the country right now with the Avalanche and the Nuggets both perched to move on in the playoffs.
And it doesn't really matter. Just watch the first minute of his post-game press conference last night.

Thank you, Coach Malone, for your compassion and keeping things in perspective.

Monday, May 6, 2019

Parades, Lincoln, gardens and more

WHAT A GREAT weekend in the Q-Town. So much stuff going on! The Dogwood Parade Saturday was a blast, thank you to Sgt. Adam Yates and the Back The Blue group for hanging out. You really haven't seen Quincy unless you've marched down Maine Street in front of thousands of people. Also, I'm the best sign holder ever. EVER.

- The Lincoln In The District in Washington Park Saturday was really well done. Lots of people milling around, interesting displays and demonstrations, and the music was amazing. It's a great fit for Dogwood Weekend!

- The Stew Boys rocked it at Red Light Saturday night. Speaking of Red Light, HartLyss is there Saturday afternoon from 2 to 5 for Red Light's special Mother's Day event. Hoot and holler with us on a Saturday!

Great vibrations at the Unitarian Church
- Sheryl got her garden planted Saturday. She put in a lot less stuff than previous years, thinking that some of it will spring up on its own.

- She also took her bike to Madison & Davis just down the street to get fixed up. Love love LOVE spring in the Q. It even motivates you to get moving! Speaking of moving, we are recovering from near-record flood levels on the Mississippi River, but more rain is forecast this week so keep our fingers crossed. Tucker and I went down there yesterday afternoon and there's something peaceful but unsettling about the river when it's so high.

- And finally, we thoroughly enjoyed the music at Sunday's Unitarian Church service. Steve Rees, Mia Meacher and Michael Vera Eastman did an amazing job with a bunch of interesting instruments - gongs, bowls, guitars, violins, and other different things. Music, my friends, is everywhere and comes in many forms.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Rising waters and bridges closing

THE MIGHTY MISSISSIPPI River, a mere five blocks from Second String Music, is not a thing to be messed with. Torrential rains and massive snowmelt north of us have caused major flooding issues since January. Now it's getting critical.

We are at 28 feet now, way above the flood stage of 17 feet. Fortunately it's supposed to drop this weekend, but more rain is forecast and we are by no means out of the woods (or water) yet. Just ask the poor folks up in Davenport, Iowa, who saw their levee break and flood downtown.

We are on the bluff here in Quincy which means we have no danger of flooding. But our riverfront is under water and folks along Bonansinga Drive are having issues. SSM employee Steve Rees has been dealing with it all spring and it's no fun. Then rain and high winds caused a bunch of bricks from the Lincoln Douglas Hotel at Fourth and Maine to fall into the street early this morning, so traffic is really bunched up and lanes are closed along Fourth.

The Memorial Bridge in Quincy has closed. The water is lapping right to the Missouri side, so our other Bayview Bridge is now two-way. It was a mess yesterday afternoon and slow going this morning, from what our store customers tell us.
The one on the right is practically under water today.

Maine Street between Fourth and Fifth will probably be closed this weekend for Dogwood and Lincoln In The District, but if the bridge is closed it doesn't matter, so we'll just wait it out and hopefully people can still get to the store.

About 2 this morning another thunderstorm rolled in and woke up Sheryl, two cats and three dogs. Angus is moping around this morning and sleeping it off under the counter, since he was up all night, and Sheryl is struggling too. Me? I didn't hear a thing.

We tilled the garden Sunday and it's ready for plants, but right now it's a soupy mess and there's no way Sheryl can get in there. Maybe this weekend. Wait ... we are dodging showers again downtown, so who knows.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Inside the old bank at Fifth and Maine

THE HISTORY OF our historic Dodd Building utterly fascinates me. Sheryl says I'm obsessed. She's right. I love history and our building has been a big part of Quincy history since 1896.

I've seen almost every old photograph of our building, from the time it went up to when it had the addition constructed in the early 1920s. It hasn't changed much, though the owners in the 1980s and 90s put blue siding and strange awnings on it.

I published some photos of the inside a couple of weeks ago on a Facebook page, and the post got tremendous response. I've seen very few old pics of the inside, and wouldn't it be interesting to see old Bedford Dance Studio photos or pictures of the Wilson & Schmiedeskamp law firm. Somebody had to have taken pictures of the two women who manually operated the elevator.

A women sent me a photo (above) of the Mercantile Bank employees, taken on the main floor where our music store is today. It's probably from the 1940s or 1950s. A large group of employees is standing in front of what is now our stage toward the east end of our space, facing west. Behind them is a massive marble counter, and the building still has tons of marble pieces from when it was sadly dismantled.

If you look to the left, you'll see the old sky light. It was boarded up after this photo was taken, presumably because it was leaking and no longer needed to cool and heat the building. There's also a cage to the far left, and what appears to be audio speakers on the pillars. They are still up there. The flooring is rather interesting, too.

The safe has a sign on it. We were looking closely at it today and we wonder if it was boarded up. There are screws and what appears to be wooden molding over where the sign was located, and we are attempting to take a peak and see if the sign is still there. In what is now Electric Fountain Brewing, we took a plate off the safe and discovered the Mercantile sign. It would be a lot of work to take a look, but we are curious ....

It also looks like the counter extended around the pillar on the left, so that's gone now, too. I really wish the camera would have swung a little bit left, because I bet we would see the staircase that leads to the basement and to the huge basement safe.

Last week a customer came in and said she used to work for George Lewis, former building owner. She had an office in the first floor safe, and from what she described the whole layout was a lot different.

Thank you for the photo. If you have any old building pictures, especially of the interior, we'd love to see them.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Mystery of missing Gretsch solved

WE KNOW WHAT happened to the missing Gretsch guitar. Yes, it left here without permission and caused us a lot of stress. But we'll chalk it up to a giant misunderstanding and eventually it was figured out.

Somebody, and I won't mention any names but his initials are RODNEY BEEPING HART, didn't lock the door Saturday night after we closed. Actually I did the first time but I came back with Tucker to grab a guitar and I must have just brain-farted and not double checked that the door was closed and secured. I didn't alarm it because I had to come back later for something else. Sometimes the door doesn't close by itself and you have to push it in and hear it click to make sure it is locked. Details. They are important.

We have a customer, a really good customer who has purchased a lot of stuff from us, come by Saturday around 5:30 or so. He thought we were open until 6 (we aren't, just until 4 on Saturdays). So he came in and looked around and didn't see anybody. He had his eye on the beautiful Gretsch and sat playing it for some time, waiting for someone to appear and help him. He started to feel uncomfortable sitting in the empty store, and for some reason he decided to take the guitar and the case. He had a guitar in for a restring so he knew he would be back on Monday and would take care of it all then...

We are still not sure why he at least didn't call us or leave a note or something. At least we wouldn't have FREAKED OUT on Monday morning. Let's just say it was a very looooonnnngggg and stressful day in the store. We felt exposed and angry that someone would steal anything, let alone that beautiful Gretsch.

He came in Monday afternoon around 3:30 with the money, and quickly realized he'd messed up. He was very apologetic and he paid for the guitar in cash. Then he bought another guitar. Sheryl had a long "talk" with him about it because by then I was in guitar lessons. She is straightforward and polite but firm when we have problems. I'm really glad she handled it.

There was a misunderstanding because he told me he wanted the guitar, but I wasn't sure when he was coming back. I assumed it would be while we were open. He meant no harm and he thought we'd know he was the one who took it and would be back Monday to pay for it.

There was a lot of discussion about the fact the door wasn't locked. That's on me. I try to always double check it, but will do more than try from now on. And next time I'll just set the alarm, even if I'm coming back soon.

Thank you to all of our awesome Second String Music customers for sharing news of the missing guitar on social media and for having our backs. We are here because of you and your support means a lot.

Just another adventure at Fifth and Maine!

Monday, April 29, 2019

Stolen Gretsch

The guitar has been found. 2nd half of the story on tomorrows blog...
beautiful Gretsch hollow body guitar from us over the weekend. I remember seeing it Saturday afternoon. I was in the store alone and a strange dude kept asking about the Gretsch guitars. He walked up to it behind the counter but didn't take it off the wall hanger. I'm not saying he was the one who took it when my back was turned, but who knows.

It's a Streamliner with a Bigsby tremolo. Not only did it get stolen, somebody stole the custom black hardshell case, too. So they knew what they were doing.

I can't figure it out. I think it was still on the wall when I left Saturday. Everything was locked up over the weekend, the alarm was on when I came in this morning, and that's when I noticed it was gone.

This. Really. Pisses. Us. Off. We've had stuff walk out of here before but not like this. Sheryl is angry because she actually took some time off Friday and Saturday and it was a nice break while she had some other stuff going on. I had a pleasant Friday and Saturday in the store, not too busy but we did some business. Then we come in Monday to this crap.

Now I'm going to look very carefully at people who come in and we are going to be paranoid about shoplifting, and that takes extra energy and effort away from running a retail business.

We have called the police, filed a report, checked with our local pawnshops. Now we'll wait and probably never see it again, and chalk it up as a loss. Maybe what we've lost isn't going to make or break us, but it sure makes us wonder if it's worth the effort to keep the doors open.

I  have some advice for the POS who took this. First off all, don't get caught. This isn't a threat and I'm not advocating physical violence, but Sheryl might.

Secondly, don't take it out and play it. It's a small world, the Quincy music circle.

Third, don't brag. Ooops. You probably already have. Maybe there's a chance we get it back after all.

And finally, get out of town if you plan on  selling it. Far, far out of town.

On a positive note, we got in the gorgeous American made Fender Acoustasonic Telecaster today. Come in and buy it!

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Acoustic Singer amps have arrived

SECOND STRING MUSIC just got new Boss Acoustic Singer amps. They. Are. Amazing. We have the 60-watt version and it retails for $499.00.

Now, you might think that's a lot for a small 60-watt acoustic amp. This thing, however, is far more than an amp. It's two channel so you can plug a microphone and guitar into it, an included foot-switch and it has a looper and an amazing harmonizer.

I've heard a lot of singers used harmonizer pedals and most have really flat and processed tones. Not this one. You can add delay and reverb to it and add a fifth harmony above your main melody. It has three settings, high, melody and low. It's loud enough for small venues and can be plugged right into a PA system too.

We have a good store customer who was using the Fishman Loud Box amp. He heard the Boss and said, "I'm getting this instead."

Here is video of local guitarist Spencer Smith, who teaches at Vancil Performing Arts and plays for local band Raised On Radio. He was impressed with the amp and made it sound really good yesterday afternoon.

If you are interested in taking your acoustic guitar playing and singing to the next level, check it out at Fifth and Maine!

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Late night hockey and caring

THE LAST TWO nights of the NHL playoffs have been nuts. On Monday, Dallas and Nashville played an incredible game, up and down and chance after chance. Much of the time in the playoffs teams play cautiously and try to lock up, but not those two teams. It was thoroughly entertaining.

Blues fans, beware. Dallas is really, really good.

Last night I worked at The Whig and got home late. I flipped on the third period of the Sharks-Knights game, and Las Vegas was ahead 3-0. I was about to turn the TV off and go to bed when Joe Pavelski got hurt and the game suddenly shifted.

In all my years of watching sports I've never seen anything like it. San Jose scored four goals during a five-minute power play. They were dead in the water. Now they were leading. Las Vegas tied it up in the last minute, and the game went into overtime.

I was asleep by the time San Jose won it. Sure, it was amazing, but sleep is sleep and it was after midnight when I dozed off.

I was trying to explain this to Sheryl this morning. It's not that she doesn't understand sports, it's that she really doesn't care. Is the world going to turn any differently because San Jose made a miraculous Game 7 comeback after a disputed penalty?

Nope. But it was a thrill just the same.

This is just the first round, too. The games will get even more intense. The only team I really care about is St. Louis and I hope they do well the rest of the way, but it's OK to sit back and watch two teams you don't care about bash each other around for a trophy.

Also I hate the Boston Bruins and I hope they get blown out in four straight.

Not that I care, really.