Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Avenue Beat says Goodbye

VERY SAD TO hear the Quincy girls who make up Avenue Beat have decided to call it quits. Sami, Sam and Savana moved to Nashville right out of high school and have made some great music. They have one final album coming out next month and the new song is "Goodbye," and it is bittersweet watching the video.

Ruin That For Me and Delight are perfect pop masterpieces. Throw in the success of the F-2020 last year and you had a trio ready to rock the world. Before Covid, they were scheduled to tour with the likes of Rascal Flatts and other big names. They were this whisper close to "making it," whatever that really means.

Back at the beginning ... Sam, Savana and Sami.
You know what the difference between being a star and just another face in the crowd is? Nothing. The girls have more talent in their pinky fingers than anybody topping the charts these days. Just when they were ready to rule the world, the plug got pulled, and they never really recovered.

Playing and writing music for a living is a grind. "Oh, how cool, you just get to write songs and get up there and play, and it seems like so much fun!" Right. The first line from the song Goodbye says it all, "Goodbye to hometown expectations." Whether they admit it or not, I think the girls felt pressure to "make it" in Nashville. 

The other amazing line in the song Goodbye is "Goodbye to respect in the room." The girls were getting noticed, people were listening, and that's a rare and precious thing. For every amazing gig where people are paying attention, there are 10 where the crowd doesn't care and it's just a social occasion. Avenue Beat was commanding respect.  

It's a strange business. A few years ago Avenue Beat landed a spot opening for this little kid who dressed up as a cowboy and yodeled. I am not making it up. The girls killed it to an OK response and then this boy went out there and people went nuts and thought he was the most amazing thing.

Who knows why bands break up. Band are made up of human beings, and human beings are fickle creatures, to put it mildly. And the bottom line is that it's none of my damned business, or yours. The girls had a great run. They've decided to end it and move on, and that's that.

Or is it? Savana and Sam are still writing and making music. Sami has decided to step away from it and is working outside the business in Nashville, and seems pretty happy. Good for all of them. 

I'm sad they are saying Goodbye. I'm proud they are from Quincy. And kudos to Avenue Beat for rocking and rolling and living the dream. 


Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Happy birthday DC

MY BOSS AT The Whig, Don Crim, has a birthday today. He was a great journalist and is a dogged competitor on the golf course, and one of the funniest men I've ever met. I've learned a lot from him and wish I had more time to spend on the golf course with his one-liners and insistence we, uh, stay hydrated.

Today is also the 25th anniversary of my arrival in Quincy. I had worked for seven years in Alpena, Michigan and accepted the job as sports editor at The Herald-Whig. I drove to Grand Rapids on a Friday and had dinner with my mom, then stayed with my longtime friend David Wilkins. My recollection is that we had some other friends over and a poker game broke out, and I distinctly remember getting up early the next morning and David was a little green behind the gills. 

Ah, the old days, when I could drink a few beers and then get up the next morning without many issues. Long gone are those times. At least I left an impression on David. GUH.

Anyway, I made the long drive to Quincy for the first of many times. I rolled into town on Saturday afternoon. The Whig put me up at the Hotel Quincy - my family joined me in Quincy a month or so later. Making matters more interesting was the fact there was a massive kart race going on downtown and I had to sneak through a few barricades to get close.

That night I went to a party on Vermont Street for the former sports editor who was having his 40th birthday party. His name was Don Crim. I met a lot of great people and called it a night. 

So happy birthday, DC. Sorry I missed our get together last Monday. I can't believe it has been 25 years in the Q-Town. I blinked, and it went by. We should both have a beverage or two to celebrate tonight - but we won't do it up like the old days, that's for sure!

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Stay out of it, Mayor

THERE WAS AN ordinance introduced at last night's City Council that would give the mayor the authority to appoint the chiefs of police and fire department. Not only that, the chief's term would end when the mayor's term ends. 

Ludicrous, underhanded and reeking of partisanship are descriptions that come to mind when looking at the issue. 

First of all, the chiefs are picked by a three-person commission. These three men, all good citizens of our city, take the applications and carefully go through an exhaustive process. The idea is to let them do their job and to keep favoritism and politics out of the process. And it works.

The commission got it right when they hired Rob Copley chief of police all those years ago. They got it right when they hired Joe Henning as fire chief. But now the commission is being called into question shortly after they picked longtime Quincy Fire Department firefighter Bernie Vahlkamp as the new chief to replace the retiring Henning.

Mayor Mike Troup says the ordinance was introduced because of cost issues and "accountability" after the commission picked Vahlkamp.

Read between the lines here - "cost" has never been an issue before. And "accountability" means somebody got their feelings hurt and threw a fit when their candidate didn't get the fire chief's job. 

Interesting how the ordinance was posted on the agenda on Friday, yet neither chief nor many of the aldermen were contacted about it or told it was coming. Neither were the commissioners. This is a big issue and it caught a lot of people by surprise. Intentional? You decide.

Look. If you are the mayor, or an alderman, or a member of the city administration, you are not supposed to have your buddy or your friend or your guy be the chief of police or fire chief. You are supposed to work with the person in charge, not manipulate or direct them to any certain policy. 

Why change something just because your person didn't get picked? Or are there other issues out there we don't know about? It give the impression that the mayor and his administration are trying a power grab to gain more authority. 

All I can tell you is the three men on the commission - Steve Meckes, Barry Cheyne and Kerry Anders - are good men who have quietly done a good job for many years. Ironically they are selected by the mayor to be on the commission. In fact, the commission was formed in 1972 and has rarely missed the mark when picking a new chief. 

Stay out of their way, mayor. They know what they are doing. It's one less thing you need to worry about.

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Bank robbery across the street

THERE WAS A robbery at Mercantile Bank yesterday afternoon. It's right across the street from Second String Music. The man came in, got an undisclosed amount of cash, and took off on a motorized bicycle. This was about 1:15.

A few minutes later we noticed Quincy Police officers standing on the corner, and more officers arriving. They locked down the doors and stood in front of the entrances. They found a guy who saw the robber flee north on Fifth Street. Instantly the Web Warriors started making the usual ignorant comments on one of the social media sites, like "good for him" and "only in Quincy." 

This was the first bank robbery I can remember in a while. There were some horrific robberies when I was at The Whig. Hannibal banks got hit a bunch of times in a row and I'm not sure they caught the bad guys. The notorious Richard"Sincere" Carr, one of the biggest dirtballs to ever float through Quincy, robbed the credit union that used to be near 14th and Maine, right across the street from Quincy Junior High School. They locked down the school and eventually evacuated all the students to the high school. That was one chaotic and messed up day. Thanks, Richard. I'll never forget you or all the other stupid and downright evil stuff you did. And I assume you are still enjoying the hospitality of the Illinois Department of Corrections.

More than two hours after the robbery, Quincy Police officers noticed a man at 18th and Broadway who matched the description of the bank robber. They quickly moved in and apprehended him. QPD says all the money from the robbery has been recovered. So it looks like they got their guy and all is well.

The man's name is Samuel Kenwick. He looks vaguely familiar. But it's hard to say if he's a downtown regular or just a drifter. One thing I learned writing about crime and courts is that there are two sides to every story and often more to the story than meets the eye. But in this case, it's hard not to speculate.

Maybe he needed bigger tires on his motorized Duicycle. He might not quite be all there - police said the suspect was wearing clothing that matched the description of the bank robber. Who would be seen at the busy intersection of 18th and Broadway just a few hours after robbing a bank? Change your clothes, you silly goose! Maybe he was having a cold one at the local tavern, or getting a prescription at the drug store near the corner, or at the gas station scratching off a lottery ticket.

The one thing not to take lightly is the trauma induced on the bank tellers. There was no mention of a weapon being displayed, but we tend to downplay just how terrifying it can be to go through a robbery. There was a really good SSM customer who was in the store just after it happened. He is a therapist. "I probably will get some business from this," he said. And he wasn't joking or being facetious. It's a terrible thing to go through. And with this mask business going on, you can't blame the tellers for being jumpy or wondering just who is going to wander through the doors next.

Anyway, we are glad nobody was hurt, the bad guy was presumably caught, and the money recovered. Just another afternoon at Fifth and Maine!