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.