Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Never too cold at Fifth and Maine

SECOND STRING MUSIC is open today. So is Electric Fountain Brewing coffee shop next door - there are some hardy souls in there drinking coffee as we speak. I think Schuecking's is open on the other side. But a lot of places are closed today because of the cold.

The Jeep temperature gauge said it was minus 10 this morning at about 9:30. The flags are whipping along Maine Street, so the windchill has to be in the neighborhood of 30-below. Ick bluck.

So ... stay inside if you don't gotta go out.

GR police helping out on Natalie's street.
Here's the thing - you can go stir crazy indoors, or you can suck it up, have your face hurt for 10 seconds, and you can brave your way downtown and hang out at Fifth and Maine. We are in the final two days of our Jackson and Fender guitar special (10 percent off), and we are giving away a bunch of T-shirts. Be careful and bundle up, but it isn't hard to take your jacket off when get inside the store.

 By Sunday it's supposed to be in the mid-50s, typical Quincy weather in the winter.

Friends and family in Michigan just got buried with a foot or more of snow to go along with the brutal cold. My cousin Natalie posted a photo of her snow-covered street and cars getting stuck, so you know it is really bad in Grand Rapids. Of course she decided to make a date night out of it and went to the movies last night - if you added a foot of snow around here, we'd be paralyzed for three or four days at least.

Anyway, we are open for bidness, the coffee shop is open and Angus could always use a good scritch if you come by. And .... spring is only a few months away!

Monday, January 28, 2019

Waiting it out at the Red Light

THE CHEESEBURGERS HAD an epic gig Saturday night at Red Light. It was packed all night and the sound was good, and we had a couple of guest appearances that made it really fun.

It did not start out well. We were told to not set up until after 7 p.m. for our 9 p.m. show. Normally we like to get there in the afternoon to take our time and work out any sound kinks and setup issues.

But when we showed up Saturday night, the place was packed. You couldn't even move inside the restaurant/bar area. And there were three tables by the "stage," which is just a spot on the floor by the bar.

Waiting it out with roadie and light guy Issac.
I hate stages, so that part was good. But waiting until people finished eating on a super busy night was a challenge. Fortunately the patrons were super cool about it and we managed to move some tables back, but we couldn't finish setup until after 8:30. The owners and staff were apologetic, but what are you going to do? It's not a bad thing to be super swamped all night.

Some bands freak out when facing challenges. Not us. We've seen it all. We did what we could and waited it out.

We finally squeezed it all together and started a few minutes after 9. It. Was. AWESOME. One of our best gigs ever. People were into it and even by midnight there was still a great crowd.

We were nervous because it's a massive room with a high ceiling, but Kirk dialed in our sound and we didn't mic any of the guitar amps, and it worked. We lost our floor monitors in the second hour and never did get them back, but I personally can never hear much on stage anyway - you just learn to adapt and figure it out the best you can.

Skeeter Whitaker came up and jammed on a song with us and sounded phenomenal, and Cori Lyssy sang a few songs with us and did her usual great job. There was a gal from Australia in the crowd who loved it and sent back photos of us Down Under. So now we have Cheese in the Outback!

Thanks again to everybody who came out. Every gig has a story or stories, and all in all it was a great night.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

New venue for the Burgers

You never know what will happen with The Cheeseburgers!
THIS SATURDAY THE Cheeseburgers are playing at the Red Light Bar & Grill. It's our first time in the historic Granite Bank Gallery building and it's going to be epic. I've done a few shows in there with Cori and as a solo act, but this is the first time for the band and we are really fired up.

I shudder to think of the number of places I've been in playing music. Most are awesome, some are not. From the big venues like the Oakley-Lindsay Center to the small watering holes and fields with stages, it's been an adventure.

With the Cheeseburgers, there's been some wild times ....

- My first show with the Burgers was in the summer of 2010 at Down On The Corner in Marceline. A party bus with a bachelorette party showed up. They started waving a giant inflated, well, private part in front of us and demanded we sign it. We went on break and I came up to a girl and said, "I'll sign your penis now." I mistook her for somebody else because she turned around and said, "Hi! I'm Mary, the bass player's wife!" Fortunately she still likes me.

- One night after a show at St. Anthony's, John Hodge and I were standing there and a cat came up to us with a chip bag on its head. It ran away, the bag still on its head. Hopefully it came off.

- At least 10 times people have drunkenly crashed into the band. Guitar player Tim Lawless has borne the brunt of it. At the South Side Boat Club in Keokuk (one of our favorites) a gal stumbled and landed on Hodge's pedal board and knocked my amp over. We didn't stop playing. We NEVER stop playing.

- Some stories I can't tell, like the Shroud of Urine in Warsaw. Ask about it sometime. Funny how many stories we have about Hodge, who now lives in Kansas.

- The worst gig was in Augusta, where the bar owner allowed everybody to smoke. I asked somebody why the no-smoking law wasn't enforced. He said, "Well, you can ask the mayor. He's sitting right there." Smoking, of course. Turns out the owners lived above the bar and it was considered a private dwelling. I couldn't get the smoke out of my hair and lungs for a week.

- In Carthage one night at the winery, we were playing for a maybe 10 people when a party bus from Quincy showed up with 40 happy citizens. Instantly the gig became electric. Those are the best!

- That same night, after we were done, a guy we know and good friend of the band came up and asked if he could sing a song. By then everything was shut off, so he grabbed my expensive acoustic guitar and started bellowing "Emergency" by George Strait. We just let him play. I did watch him closely so he didn't fall on my guitar. He has since become a great customer at the music store.

- At an outdoor gig, a private party, we were tearing down when a beer bottle whizzed by my head. I said, "Boys, we are out of here NOW." They were still brawling in the barn when we left.

- At another private gig, this one in a big shed just outside of Quincy, a big fight started in a room off the side. All I saw was people tumbling out the door and rolling around on the floor. Frank Haxel later told me about 20 people piled on top of each other while fighting over a girl. We didn't stop playing. We NEVER stop playing.

- In Plainville one night, they had a massive "Mud Bog" competition. Vehicles (mostly pickups) got a running start and tried to plow through a pond to the other side. I am not making it up .... everybody went nuts and mud was flying everywhere. This was at the end of a record summer drought. This gal next to us said, "We did fill this pond up special for this, you know." Yup. We know.

- Recently we revived the flaming drum sticks routine. At the Clark County Fair a few years back, Kirk threw his flaming drum stick at Frank Haxel, then our roadie. The stick landed by a big hay bale. We literally almost went up in flames. Another time we did it and set off the fire alarms at One Restaurant. The firemen hung around for a while and seemed to enjoy the music.

So if you want to have a great time, see you Saturday at Red Light Bar & Grill, 5th & Maine. Who knows what will happen! We do promise one thing, lotsa Cheesey classic rock fun.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

O'Griff's closes

IT WAS SAD to hear the news of O'Griffs Irish Pub closing. It's been a mainstay on Hampshire and the Washington Park block for years. It's never good when a business closes.

I loved O'Griffs. Back in my crime reporting days, it was a local hangout for many of the lawyers and law enforcement types. I learned very quickly that stuff didn't get done by sitting behind a desk and staring at the phone - you had to track people down and get them to talk. Let's just say if there was a big trial in town, I'd find the sources from both sides at O'Griffs. at Thyme Square, Boodalu, Chicks On The River, The Yum Factory, Electric Fountain Brewing and more.

I really wish I could resist reading the comments on social media sites. More discipline, hoser! This time I couldn't, and you'd think the world was ending. "Everything is closing" and "There are no good places in Quincy" and "Quincy is dying" and so on. Blah, blah, blah.

I do not know what led to the demise of O'Griffs. But I do know two new places have opened on the other side of the block, and they are awesome - the Red Light Bar and On The Rail. There's Park Bench/Revelry on the west side of the square. You can venture another block to Tiramisu.
NOT downtown Quincy IL

There's a lot of quality choices in downtown Quincy.

You wonder what will happen to the building. Winter's West Wing is one of the most underutilized and amazing concert spaces in town. There's also a huge room on the east side of the main bar. It could be way cool, in the right hands.

So long, O'Griffs. Loved ya. But time marches on and there are still plenty of great places to hang out in The District.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Reasons to buy a new Fender or Jackson

ALL OUR FENDER and Jackson guitars are 10 percent off this month. A young man just walked in the store and said, "I'd love to buy a new Fender, but ...."

There are lots of reasons to not buy a new guitar, but even more to pull the trigger. We can  help! Therefore, here are the top 10 reasons to buy a new Fender or Jackson guitar from Second String Music ...

1. You will pay less than the online price. Repeat. LESS than the internet price.
2. You can take it home after paying for it. You don't have to wait three days for it to arrive.
3. It's set up and ready. We set up every guitar when it comes in the door AND we will adjust it for you for free anytime because you bought it from us.
4. You can say hello to Angus. He is usually sleeping under Sheryl's feet but we make him get up to do his job, namely, to greet you at the door. He does enjoy hanging out in the store.
YUM, Coffee from EFB!
5. You can get out of the house or the office. Do it now .... ice and snow tonight, more snow on the way this weekend. The sidewalk is clear and the store is nice and warm.
6. Electric Fountain Brewing is open. The door is right there inside our store. RIGHT THERE. They have a bunch of new seasonal coffee drinks, and they do it right. Smells are free!
7. You get four free lessons at Vancil Performing Arts. Frank needs to be kept busy this year.
8. Have you actually played a new Fender Squier Strat? They are unbelievable for the money.
9. So are the Jacksons. We had a customer come in who has thousand dollar guitars, and he bought one of the Jackson Dinkys ($194.39 after the 10% discount this month). He couldn't believe how amazing it sounded and how well it played.
10. I'm the kid in the candy (music) store, and I'd love to help you get new gear. Indulge your inner child!

There are 100 more reasons. Find your reason and come on down to Fifth and Maine, save some money and get yourself and amazing new guitar. We are one of many awesome small businesses downtown that want to help you stay busy during the long winter days.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Get around get around I get around ... even in snow

WE GOT HIT with a good foot of snow in the Q-Town area. The result? Everything, almost everything, closed. We didn't come to the store Saturday. Electric Fountain Brewing shut down Saturday and Sunday. It's quiet in here today, though there are signs of life and people are moving around downtown.

Working hard at Fifth and Maine this morning.
The Cheeseburgers were scheduled to play a private party in Hamilton Saturday night. They finally called it off at 3 p.m., right before we left, thank goodness. So it was pizza, Grumpy Old Man from Goose Island and the NFL playoffs for me Saturday night, much safer and easier.

We are rescheduled for Friday night, but guess what? More snow on the way, so they say.

I drove around Saturday for a little bit and it wasn't good, but the main streets were OK. Yesterday it was a little better. Judging from social media it was the end of the world and nobody is out plowing and everything is going to hell and we are all going to die. I didn't see it - the trucks were out Friday afternoon even before the first snow hit, and our street was well plowed.

To all the Central Services employees, thank you.

Rest up, because it seems we're going to get hit again in five days.

Friday, January 11, 2019

No book required to learn music

I HAD A fantastic first week back of guitar lessons. There are a bunch of new students, mostly non-traditional, or what I'll politely call "experienced" people who want to learn. The bulk of the regulars are back too and they are a joy to teach - I learn as much as they do most of the time.

We spend a lot of time working on ear training, why notes sound the way they do, and why certain chords and scale patterns work. We don't glue our noses in a book. I do use the Hal Leonard FastTrack Chords & Scales book because everything is in there.

Former student Kent Embree posted this video the other day and I wasn't sure I should laugh or cry. It's a lot like Spinal Tap - it's hilarious but it's all so true and to the point.

Can you imagine Lemmy reading notes from a book? I didn't think so ....

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Trash debate

IT'S GOING TO cost more to throw away stuff in Quincy. The city is expected to raise trash stickers to $1.50 each. That's for a small white bag. If you stick two or three white bags in a big black bag, it takes two stickers.

Right now we pay 75 cents a sticker. Doubling the price is quite literally sticker shock, and a lot of people are going to be pissed.

But ... really? On average, if I pay around $12 to $15 a month for trash, is that so bad?

I'm trying to remember what it cost in other places. It was private, so it was a lot more. There are good reasons for the city to get out of trash, recycling and yard waste pickup, but there are good reasons for the city being involved, too.

The main thing is convenience. I put the recycling and the yard waste on the curb, and it gets picked up. Boom. That's it.

In December I had to make a lot of cardboard recycling runs for the store - have you ever been to Quincy Recycle when it's busy, which is much of the time? There's one way in and one way out, and if you are scared of big trucks and crazy people zipping in and out, well, stay away from Sixth and State, because it can be hairy.

So if it doesn't get picked up in front of my door, it's a lot more of a hassle to save the earth, one plastic container and one cardboard box at a time.

I realize we are in tough economic times as a city, and revenue is crucial. If I have to pay $12 a month for trash instead of $6, I'm not happy about it, but I'll do it.

Friday, January 4, 2019

New phone

SHERYL JUST GOT a new iPhone for me. It's bigger and better, supposedly. She's only cursed twice while getting it ready, which means it must be pretty good.

A few weeks ago Frank Haxel had to get a new phone, which involved several trips to the local phone store and eventually making an "appointment" to get the right phone. He says he's learned to turn it on, text and run NASA with it. His daughter-in-law, Morgan, was here last week and programmed it so he wouldn't get annoying updates, beeping noises and alerts about cat videos.

"I think I might be able to call somebody soon," Frank says.

I know the feeling. I'm completely useless when it comes to modern technology. Sheryl is getting everything updated and transferred from my old phone. "This one is a lot bigger. So you will be able to actually see what you are doing," she says.

As Bono from U2 once said, "Powerful little devices, cell phones. You can get into a lot of trouble with them."

Here's what's going to happen - it will be all set up, and I'll figure out how to make a phone call and cut off important phone calls by holding it the wrong way. Then I'll start tinkering with it and seeing what kind of strange noises it makes. Then I'll hit the wrong button and order a pizza for Schuecking's next door.

That's when I'll call for help. "Uh, Sheryl? I think I just shut down the electrical grid for the south end of Quincy. Can you reset this thing?"

Sheryl, of course, will come to the rescue. Business as usual when it comes to technology.