Musings on music, sports, life in general from Quincy, Illinois.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Rocky Mountain High

I'm heading West for a week off in the Rocky Mountains, but I'll check in on occassion to make sure it's all good in Q-Town.

Other than bank robberies, cat hoarders and the usual cast of suspects, nothing new to report. Also been working on a story about the Daniel Ramsey murder trial looming next month, make sure to check out The Whig April 1.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

More Willow feedback

Getting some great comments and feedback on the Willow Creek post. But the last comment bothered me.

The person wrote: "Now don't get me wrong -- I enjoy Rock & Roll, but don't ever recall hearing a rock song that is profoundly beautiful and touches the soul."


Have you ever listened to Roxy Music's Avalon? The second side (dating myself here) of the Police's Synchronicity? How about U2's Joshua Tree? "One Tree Hill" still makes me cry. Eric Johnson's "40 Mile Town" makes mere mortals crumble. "I Am Waiting" by Yes. "To Be a Man" by Boston, beautifully sung by the late Brad Delp and haunting knowing he just recently took his life. "Romeo and Juliet" by Dire Straits used to make an old college girlfriend cry, and she hated rock and roll. "Sad Lisa" by Cat Stephens brings me back to my days listening to my mom's old records in the living room.

I'm shooting myself in the foot by listing just a few of hundreds of rock and roll songs that "touch the soul."

Why do you think I listen to music? To have something in the background while writing a story? Yes. To be moved by melody and lyrics? YES YES YES! I was walking the other day listening to my iPod Shuffle when "Don't Give Up" by Peter Gabriel from Secret World Live came on and all of a sudden I was at the other end of South Park and I had no idea how I got there.

Are we "dumbing down" by offering a service appealing to youth and contemporary audiences? With that attitude, there simply won't be a church in another five or 10 years, at least not at 12th and Maine. Organ music and 300-year old hymns just won't do it anymore. It's not wrong and if it moves you, it's where you should be.

Music should inspire and connect, whatever form you choose.

Listen. If I watch the show "Ozzie & Harriet" today, I'd be bored out of my mind, and it's a personal choice.

And seeking something more isn't wrong.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Playing For Republicans

Jack, Alan and I played for an Adams County Republican gathering tonight at the Senior Center. Alan sings and plays trombone, Jack wails on his sax and I stay out of the way on guitar. We play our elavator muzak and sometimes I have to laugh, but people seem to like it and it's perfect background noise at a gathering.

For us, it's just a gig. If the Dems call us, we'll play for them, too.

It was nice to see Bob and Anne Mays get honored, they are really good people.

The bank robbery in Payson has the people up there in a stir. Don't know much about it yet, but we'll dig up more info in the morning for tomorrow's paper.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Willow Creek

I went to Chicago on the train this weekend to hang out with the Reynolds family. I miss them a lot since they moved from Quincy and we had an awesome weekend. Saturday we went downtown and then to Lincoln Park to join in the St. Patrick's Day festivities. It didn't take long for us to realize we were about 20 years too old, so it was an early night but a fun experience.

They live in Inverness, near Palatine, and Willow Creek Community Church is just down the road (in Chicago, just down the road means anything less than 10 miles). So we piled in the van this morning and went to the king of the mega-churches, because I've heard so much about it. Young Mike Reynolds says, "It's like going to a rock concert!"

He was right, in more ways than one.

This place is huge, a series of space ship buildings connected on a massive lake-fronted property. This is the church built on being non-traditional, built on bringing people in who would otherwise not go to church, and they've struck a chord with many of the late baby boomers and now Gen Xers — DON'T make it like a church. This is not your father's church. And that's the whole idea.

You know it's a huge place when they have guys wearing orange vests directing traffic in the parking lot.

You don't walk into Willow Creek as much as you stream in with a lot of other people. There is this sort of expectation hanging in the air — something I've almost never felt when going to church. There is a coffee shop area, a bookstore, a huge commons area to just hang out, a "front porch" area to meet people, computer kiosks with Internet access. "It's like a mall," Tom Reynolds said. "God's mall."

There are signs pointing to the different sections of the worship area, just like a major sports venue. We took one of two escalators to the second of three levels and looked at the "bulletin," which isn't a bulletin at all but a "playlist" of the week's activities and an explanation of the message. This place is huge and it's hard to guess how many people it holds — 6,000, more maybe? It sort of looks like a giant movie theater morphed into the bridge from Star Trek. The stage has about 30 televisions placed on strange angles, and there are two giant movie screens on either side of the stage.

Nope. Not Rev. Dirk's old churches. Not even close.

The band hand, and I mean this is a real rock and roll band, had a couple of guitar players, bass player, a drummer behind a massive Plexiglas encased kit, a keyboard player and a singer. One of the guitarists/singers also plays sax. They opened with a rock instrumental and I kept thinking how strange it was, until I realize it's not that different from the organ music you hear to start church. Same principle, anyway.

There was a greeting and then a video "Behind The Music" look at the band, their influences, and why they play music. It all tied into the message of "How To Save A Life" and was interspersed by the band playing some of their favorite songs.

Have you ever been to church and heard the band break out into The Police or Bon Jovi? Neither have I. Until this morning.

Teaching pastor Nancy Beach's message was highlighted by a drama, the band playing The Fray's "How To Save A Life" and a Nickelback video. That's right. A FREAKING NICKELBACK VIDEO. All loosely tied into the message of bringing church to the unchurched. Suddenly it was 70 minutes later and we were wrapping it up with the band playing "Lifesong." Unfortunately it was the only the song the congregation (again, old and outdated term) sang, but I was told they usually do more songs.

The critics say the mega-churches don't teach the doctrine, that's it's too easy to be too anonymous, that they don't differentiate between the church and the outside world.

Maybe so. But here's the question I kept asking myself — when was the last time I really got something out of church, or really looked forward to it for the right reasons? And if I have a chance to go to Willow Creek again, why would I jump at the chance and be genuinely excited?

This will make some people who read this blog mad, but it has to be said — churches that don't change, that don't update themselves, that stubbornly refuse to accept we are living in 2007, not 1967, are doomed to failure. I should know. I go to one. And it's on the fast track to extinction. And ... it will be very hard for me to go back there after experiencing something like Willow Creek.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Funions 2007

So we have a new guitar player, Howard Schroeder, who plays with Dr. Brei in Crossroads. Howard is an excellent player and better yet a great guy to hang out with.

Jon Barnard is playing slide and acoustic guitar.

Jack Inghram is on board playing sax and keyboards.

These additions make us sound a little different, but at practice last night we just had a blast.

To play in bars and in front of new fans, you gotta have songs people know. We will still be playing "Just Pretending" songs and new original material (wait until the upcoming benefits, we have some new stuff with a lot of potential). So last night at practice we learned a bunch of songs. I won't give any away, but "every girl's crazy bout a sharp dressed man ...."

Here's the schedule so far for the coming months. Some of these shows are still in the planning stages, so check back here or email me at to make sure we are playing.

Funions World Parking Lot Tour 2007
Friday, April, 6, 8-9:15 p.m., North Side Boat Club with Recoil, Slink Rand Band
Saturday, April 21, 5:30-7 p.m., America’s Best Value Inn, Gil Feld Benefit
Sunday, April 29, 3:30 to 5:30 p.m., Casino Starlight, Frank Calkins Benefit
Saturday, May 19, 6-7 p.m., Washington Theater, Make The Music Happen Festival
Saturday, July 14, 6:30-8:30 p.m., Downtown Quincy (with Slick Woody)
Saturday, July 28, TBA, Susan White Benefit, Downtown Quincy
Saturday, Oct. 13, 8-midnight, Barney’s Tavern, QND 10-year reunion

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Farewell Brad Delp

Brad Delp died yesterday. The 55-year-old singer for Boston was alone at home when he passed away.

You need two things for a great rock and roll song. One, of course, is the song itself. Two, you need a voice. This is why The Funions are happily mired in small town rock and roll mire. If we ever get a singer ....

Boston is often criticized for its arena rock album oriented songs. But the first album is one of the best ever made and still sounds great more than 30 years later. Tom Scholz revolutionized guitar rock and maybe he is right to be so methodical about putting out his music.

Brad Delp made the songs sing. To Be A Man from Third Stage is haunting and Holly Ann sends chills up your spine. On the last album, Corporate America, Fran Cosmo and Kimberley Dahme did more singing, and Delp didn't have quite the range when they toured the next year. Dr. Brei and I saw them in Springfield and the band was in fine form. Delp looked like he was having a blast as always. He even joked about not being able to hit the high notes and wisely let the younger singers do much of the higher end vocals.

From what I read he was also one of the nicest guys in rock and roll (, He did a lot of charity work and was tinkering with various projects.

Scholz apparently is always making Boston music. I wonder what's out there with Delp on vocals, but knowing Scholz, it might never get out. And this may spell the end for Boston, which wouldn't be the same without Delp — Foreigner and Journey are good examples.

Farewell, Brad Delp. I loved your voice and your music. My iPod is full of Boston songs, and I'll keep listening.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Great Show

In the immortal words of the late Peter Boyle, while portraying Frank Barone .... "HOLY CRAP!"

What a great time at America's Best Value Inn. Slick Woody was awesome and played more than an hour later than advertised. We had fun, we need to get tighter as a band but that will come with practice. The hotel did booming bar business, both bands got paid and everybody, and I do mean everybody, had a good time.

I won't be able to walk tomorrow.

I promise the rest of the band will learn 8675309. "Junie Junie, who can I turn to?"

Thanks Jamie for bringing your girls. Thanks courthouse crew, you guys rock!

And here's the best part of the night.

I met Rocky Cola and his wife.

I quit. There's nothing else even remotely comparable.

Next Funions Shows: April 7, North Side Boat Club, opening for Recoil and Slink Rand

April 21, America's Best Value Inn, benefit show TBA

Saturday, May 19, Washington Theater!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

New Look

We are really looking forward to Saturday's show at America's Best Value Inn with Slick Woody. This is the old Shepherd's Inn and Ramada across from the Oakley-Lindsay Center. It's in the bar upstairs and it's cozy, so get there early.

We play first at 7:30. We have a new look and I'm really eager to see what we sound like.

The Slick Woody guys have been playing music for a long time and they have what very few bands have — awesome harmonies, good playing and good songs.

See you Saturday!