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

Friday, August 29, 2008

Off to PHX

Like Blogvine, I'm off for the next few days ....

I love packing for Phoenix. Five minutes and a small Gus Macker duffel bag later, I'm ready to roll.

The price of fame, or infamy, goes up all the time.

Jessica Martin's blog about how to arrange shows is a must-read for young bands. I put a comment on the post about sound systems.

Speaking of sound systems, The Funions worked hard on original material last night and it's starting to come together. We are planning on recording at Jack's Pillar Productions Studio beginning in about a month.

We finished the Quincy Park District softball season last night as well by, believe it or not, getting rained out. At least we got in 2 1/2 innings. I felt like the Bishop in Caddyshack, all the lightning and rain coming down and Carl Spackler saying "I don't think the heavy stuff is going to come down for another hour. I'd play."

Utah is in the Big House tomorrow. Repeat of the fiasco a year ago? Let's hope not.

But really, it's all good, especially because Michigan's real football team won its opener Thursday night. Dan Lefevour for Heismann!

Oh. By the way .... they beat Don O'Brien's Eastern Illinois Panthers. Just thought I'd mention that.

Have a safe and great Labor Day Weekend!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Big Ten Memories

So I just got home to grab some lunch and I flip on the tube and the 2000 Orange Bowl is on the Big Ten Network.

I love the Big Ten Network.

I remember this game well because Michigan beat Alabama in overtime. Wish I could have been there to see Tookie turn blue in the face.

The night before I worked at The Whig doing turn of the decade stories. That day I remember going to church at Trinity and a great standing room only crowd at the service.

Then that night the Orange Bowl was on and it was a fantastic game. The family was up in Michigan for New Year's and I had the basement to myself and it was glorious.

I think I hid behind the couch during the overtimes ....

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Useless Olympic Events

While catching bits and pieces of the Olympics it's been fun viewing different sports.

But they lost me today with something called rhythmic gymnastics and the preening synchronized swimming.

Wonder if anybody will stay up to watch the U.S. play for the gold medal in men's basketball ... game starts at 1:30 a.m.

Sure sign fall is near - QND football practice and Frank Cash on the PA during last night's Blue-Gold scrimmage.

And ... hearing the Heidelberg German Band all the way from South Park into Calftown.

Thinking about going to see the Jimmy Buffet thing tonight downtown ....

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Music Scene

A music scene? In Quincy?

You bet.

Lots of good stuff this weekend, including Blues In The District Friday night (Reverend Raven) and the Jimmy Buffet tribute band Fins downtown Saturday. Don't forget about Germanfest Friday and Saturday at South Park with the Heidelberg German Band, a good time outfit if there ever was one.

Kudos also to Jessica Martin of The Herald-Whig and her new blog on the local music scene.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


I put together an eight-song demo last night for The Funions. They've been recorded over the past few years on my home studio system.

It will be interesting to see what they think. I am hoping for maybe four or five to really shine when we tackle the band CD project.

They'll turn out much differently when the band does them. I remember I did a few demos for "Just Pretending" and they weren't very good, fortunately Chris and Mark rescued some songs and made them a ton better. But one song, "Gone," was better on the demo than the recorded Funions version, in my often wrong opinion.

We've played a few of these new songs during shows, like "Stay Strong" (about Frank Calkins) and "Who Hears You Tonight" (the band liked it and JB and Jack were really into the solos).

I'd like to get Pat to do more lead singing, and work on harmony vocals.

Chris is getting better and better in filling the guitar role. With Jack and JB, it will be very interesting to see what ideas we come up with how lead-heavy it will be. I am an average rhythm guitar player, it lets the other guys step up and shine.

I do the demos on my Boss home recording system. I think they are fine for what they are, demos and ideas, not necessarily finished or polished products. Wish I had the tenacity and knowledge to work the system better, especially with drum tracks and "squeezing" the sound, compressing it to make each instrument come out.

A great adventure awaits!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Guitar Lessons

I'm starting guitar lessons with a new student and it's very interesting to hear motivation and inspiration for learning.

Most of my students have been younger. They pick it up in a hurry and quickly move on.

Right now I'm working with two students. One is a girl in junior high who is playing the bass and really rocks, she's at the point where we just basically play a few songs and she experiments.

My new student is a mom in her early 30s who has always wanted to play. She says she's always been frustrated when siblings try to teach her.

I taught myself and I'm living proof you don't need to be a musician to play an instrument. Certainly you want to play well, use good technique, learn your craft. The Funions have really good musicians, but our band is about energy and the vibe, not how well or perfectly we recreate a song.

So I'm looking forward to a new challenge with this gal and I think it will be fun. She wants to learn. She's already shown she can do it. It's up to her to see how far she can go — I'll get her started, and she can zoom from there.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Iron Eagle

Nothing is better than mindlessly watching the Olympics and Iron Eagle, one of the worst 80s movies ever, playing on AMC.

Catching my breath now because this is another busy weekend in the Q-town. Working the weekend shift for The Whig, Fielder tonight and Blue Healers tomorrow night at Turner Hall, the K of C BBQ, and Gus is in Macomb for a one-day tournament Saturday.

Wring me out Sunday morning ....

Good luck to Brown Eyed Girl on the big move today!

Also, more Macker staff bad dancing here.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Goony Beach Race

To see the Lake Michigan Goony Beach Race of Doom, click here.

I can still feel the water, taste the suds, the sun on my face and not a thing to worry about.

Not a thing.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Back From The Beach

Thank me very much for bringing the beautiful Michigan summer weather back to Q-Town.

Made it back at about 2:30 this morning. An amazing four days in Belding working for Gus - it's all about family and making friends. I am now the proud owner of a Miss Elizabeth's Fan Club jersey and a Flying Knueppel Brothers T-shirt. HUGE ...

Did the PA in Belding and had a blast on the Front Porch, just beside the main stage, where I interviewed people and teams. Tom Cole and Bill Gorman, Macker legends, busted out into a "Forever" dance with Jennifer Elvis Pressley and it was so bad it was good.

We work hard but we have some "serious fun" as Shey Fey likes to put it.

Time to suck out all the Lake Michigan sand from the car, pay the bills and get back to life itself. Sigghhhhhh .....

Friday, August 08, 2008

Staff games

This morning we had the Gus Macker "Hall of Fame Classic" pickup games onsite in Belding. I actually got to play with one of the famous Kneuppel brothers, Klint. What an honor! I am terrible at basketball, what they call an all-airport player - looks good walking down the runway, can't take off.

At least my back hurts and I can't walk.

Tonight is the Hall of Fame induction ceremony. It's great to get back here and see old friends and strike up new friendships.

Tournament starts tomorrow, on the downward side of vacation ....

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Working For Gus

Scott and Mitch McNeal, the two brothers who started Gus Macker 35 years ago, are having a blow-out bash this weekend at the Belding, Mich., tournament.

At today's golf tournament at the gorgeous Candlestone in Belding, blasts from the past showed up and the laugher rolled through the course. They don't call this thing the "Macker Hacker" tournament because Tiger Woods is here ....

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Never leaving the beach ...

It's 105 in Quincy?

Bwahahahahhahahahahaha ....

Except for sunshine, waves crashing into the beach, cool nights and my aunt Helen's awesome coffee, nothing to write home about from Lake Michigan.

So the big decision this morning has been made - a run into civilization to re-stock the cooler.

You'll find me in nowhere ... on a beach that time forgot.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

No More Dirk Harts In GR

My father announced Saturday he is selling his Grand Rapids condo and moving to Louisville.

We moved to Grand Rapids in the summer of 1980. My old friend David Wilkins reminded me last night of how my father and I came a few weeks before the actual big move from London, Ont., and cleaned up the house on Rosewood.

My father sold that house in the late 1980s and eventually bought the condo off of Breton just south of 44th. It was a good move for him and the condo retained value.

Now he's leaving, moving to the city where my sister Kathy lives.

Much has changed in 28 years. Five of the seven of us are left and are scattered around the country - Phoenix, Denver, Quincy, Louisville.

I now have no official attachment to GR, save my mother's grave site. Still have good friends, especially the Wilkins in Hudsonville, and my father's brother, Peter, who lives on Lake Michigan and whose beach I'm about to claim for a few days.

Here's to being home, wherever home is.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Bee You Ta Full

Simply gorgeous in West Michigan ... the beach awaits tomorrow with family and good company on the way.

Golf with Rev. Dirk Friday, more golf with Hooterville Hoser today .... life is good.

Geesh do I LOVE vacation ...