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

Monday, May 28, 2007

Maine Center, Gus

Two things to hit briefly on Memorial Day (and a badly-needed day off it is, too!).

First, the show Friday night at the Maine Center was incredible, one of the best live experiences I've had. There was some sort of issue with having it in the coffee shop, so it was moved to a room upstairs. Jon and I were unsure of what to expect .... acoustic blues in front of a bunch of high school kids isn't normally what we do. But we were stunned at the great reception they gave us. They actually listened to our songs and really got into a couple them, including Breakdown by Tom Petty. Craig Garkie from The Collapse told me kids these days actually like this kind of stuff and it really makes Jon and I feel good. We aren't the best players in the world but as long as you have the energy and intent the show will be good, and it was great fun during our half-hour set.

Young bands November Silence and The Collapse were awesome. The Collapse is discovering the power of playing before an enthusiastic audience. Singer Ryan Hanson at one point said, "It's so cool when people are singing along to your own songs." They've released a five-song CD called The Rooftop EP ( and it's playing right now and I can't stop listening to it - soon to be included on The iPod Shuffle!

Second - Gus Macker. Gus was great again and there were very few problems, just one idiot on a high school court who used some rather poor judgement. Emily and I officiated an 11-12 year old boys court and the parents were great, and except for a few minor incidents, the players stuck to playing. I was very proud of Emily, who blew the whistle down low for five games and did a great job.

To the person who posted on Rocky's site about Gus - don't blast us unless you come down and check it out. Yes, there are usually a few people who act stupidly, but the positive experiences of having 15,000 people downtown far outweigh the few negatives. And don't ever bother comparing the Free Fall convention to Gus, they aren't even remotely the same type of events.

Once again, The Funions are pretty much off in June, with some big events coming later in the summer .... we'll keep you posted!

Sunday, May 20, 2007


Wow. That about sums up our Washington Theater Make It Happen Musicfest Saturday.

Every group and performer was awesome. Ben Bumbry's cool jazz drifted through the historic structure like a breeze on a warm summer day. Come to think of it, it was a warm (late spring) day!

Jason and Warren from SevenD2 played acoustic versions of their many original songs. You have a good song when you can strip it down and make it sound good.

Young Quincy High School band The Collapse had about 40 of their classmates and buddies show up and rocked the house. Learn more songs, boys! These young men are getting a taste of the power of a live performance.

Cheeks McGee and Big A showed up a few minutes late, then blasted through Cheeks' acoustic driven songs. Then came our buddy Roosevelt and Jon Barnard playing acoustic blues. Roosevelt drove down from Kalamazoo, Mich., to play and his beautiful voice boomed through the old theater.

The Funions had fun, as usual. That great big stage gives you lots of room to run around. Good for my chiropracter's bidness, too. Thank you, Gail and Gary. Thank you, Jamie, Angie and Evanne. Thank you to new Funions fans (hopefully) Dave and Glenda.

Fielder delivered a shortened but satisfying set (more in a minute). And PreDawn Hour roared through their set before a big crowd. Jorge Cate and the boys play a heavier style of music but they are tight and have great original songs, and when their fans sing every word, that has to be a cool feeling.

Thank you, Kristin Hoxie and Clint Begley. Thank you, Marianne Barnard and Rochelle Busby, troopers and promoters to the end. Thank you, Gaybos, for the awesome BBQ from the sidewalk in front of the theater.

Thank you, Chris Cornwell, drummer extraordinaire. He donated the sound system with his dad, Pat, from Vegas Music. Chris and I met at 8 a.m. Saturday and it was a long day inside the grand old place, but worth it.

After Chris finished his set with the Funions, he received word his grandmother was ill. He also plays drums for Fielder, which recruited Jorge Cate and Danny Mabie from Predawn Hour to play a few more songs.

Chris donated his time and lugged heavy equipment all day without one word of complaint. He is the guy who packs the punch in the Funions, always has a good attitude, for some sick reason actually likes playing music with a bunch of old guys.

We raised $500 for the Friends of Washington Theater. More importantly, we had hundreds of people actually get inside and see what was, sadly what is, and what could be.

"We gotta restore this place to its former grandeur," Jorge Cate said.


Sunday, May 13, 2007

Sports Fanatic ... NOT

Just got done reading Bill Simmons excellent book called "Now I Can Die In Peace," the collection of columns he wrote about the Boston Red Sox leading up to their improbable 2004 World Series title.

Simmons has a sickness called being a sports fanatic, and at one time I had it. Perhaps because I moved so much I never really adopted one official team, though if pressed I'd have to say my beloved Montreal Canadiens and Expos were my passions, since I spent a few years growing up in Montreal.

But I lived in Ontario and got attached to the Leafs and Blue Jays. In 1992, I hid behind my couch when Mike Timlin fielded Otis Nixon's bunt, held my breath for what seemed like an eternity, then finally exploded when Timlin threw him out to give the Jays the World Series. The next year, I again hid behind my couch until Joe Carter launched Wild Thing's meatball into the left field bleachers, then went out into the street and screamed with joy.

Did I mention I was living in Michigan and my Tiger-loving neighbors wanted to kill me?

I grew attached to the Red Wings living in Michigan, but of course they didn't break their Stanley Cup futility until I moved to Quincy.

I cannot root for St. Louis teams. If you grew up around here, I understand it and you have my respect. But I hated Mark McGwire and all the "He and Sammy saved baseball" BS, and Cardinal fans are a bunch of crybabies. They just won the World Series, and yet two months into the 2007 season all they do is bitch about their current team.

The Blues? HAHAHAHA! And if you think John Davidson and Co. will turn it around, well ... dream on.

I actually like the Rams because of the Kurt Warner thing, but those days are long gone and they are back to being average again.

Chicago? Forget it. Love the Cubs, hapless as they are. Hate the White Sox, especially because of their inept and annoying announcers. Bears? Ugh. Blackhawks? Like 'em because my teams always beat them. Bulls? Prolonged their series tonight with the Pistons, which is good, because the Pistons shouldn't be sitting around waiting for Cleveland and New Jersey to finish bashing each other's brains in.

Tonight Anaheim beat Detroit in overtime, a crushing loss for the Wings, to tie the series at 1-1.

I just turned off the TV and finished by Simmons book. It didn't have much of an effect at all.

Still play softball, still smack that stupid little white ball around the golf course. Haven't hooped it up in a few years, but I spend my summers working for Gus and that takes care of the basketball Jones.

But it was a lot more fun when I was 14 and cheered for my beloved Habs, even as my classmates in London, Ont., ridiculed me. And I miss having that passion.

Miss it a lot.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Signs of Summer

A sure sign summer is upon us — softball season has started!

After a bye week and a rainout last week, the Herald-Whig Demons finally took the field and eked out a 4-2 win tonight over Uncle Bob's Bar. Feeble bats were over come by good pitching from Carl Grape Ape and stellar defense.

For a full recap, check out Don O'Brien's blog at

Speaking of O'Brien, can somebody tell me when the Bulls-Pistons series starts?

What's that? It's already started? And Detroit leads 3-0?


Monday, May 07, 2007

Esther Remembered

An incredible Toronto Star column about cousin Esther Hart, who battled colon cancer to the bitter end before passing away last month.