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

Beneficial

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.