IT’S TIME FOR one of our favorite events of the year, Blues In The District. Friday’s show in Washington Park starts at 5:30 p.m. and features Kansas City band Trampled Under Foot. There are more great acts lined up for this summer, and here’s a couple of things to consider when you are going to Quincy’s biggest summer party.
- SUPPLIES: Necessary items are chairs, blankets, bug spray and your own beverage. There are good food vendors at every event, but many people bring picnic stuff, too.
- BEST WATCHING SPOTS: To get a full sound and feel for the band, right in front of the fountain is a good place. That’s usually no-man’s land for the first hour or so until a few brave souls get limbered up enough to dance. A good band will have a bunch of happy feet and happy people by the end of the night. If you actually want to hear and see the band, get there early, because the park fills up fast.
- THE PARTY: Blues In The District is a social event. Many people enjoy the music, but they are there to socialize first, and listen to the music second. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this.
- ADMISSION: I once heard a snobby blues person complain about a Blues In The District band. I said, “Well, at least you can get your money back if you don’t like it.” That didn’t make the snob any happier, but here is the point – Blues In The District IS FREE. There is NO CHARGE to watch the band and hang out in the park. None. As in, nada, zilch, zippo, the big zeee-ro. Maybe not every band will float your boat, but you can appreciate the different styles and performances since it costs you nothing. Did I mention Blues In the District is free?
- APPRECIATION: A lot of people work very hard to put this event on, including Travis Brown at the Quincy Historic Business District. Sponsors are appreciated, too. And I have never met a performer who didn’t come off the gazebo and interact with the crowd. They love it. If you think the band is great, go say hello and tell them yourself.
- BEHAVE: Let’s face it – Blues In The District works because it’s on a Friday night, it’s free, and you can bring refreshments into the park. There have been very few problems over the years and we aim to keep it that way, so enjoy yourself in moderation, and bring somebody to drive if a group is gathered to party. We want to see you back at the next show.
I PLAY IN a band called The Cheeseburgers. It’s more fun than should be allowed. We play a lot and in some very cool places, so I still pinch myself once in a while.
Every now and then, we will play at a fundraiser and do it for free. Saturday at The Grove in Quincy, we play at 2 p.m. for a United Way sand volleyball tournament fundraiser. One of the band members has a significant other connected with the event, and we’ll get lots of love and PR out of it, plus it should be a lot of fun if the weather cooperates.
If you play in a band and want to get known, playing at events like this is a good idea. It gets you exposure and gets you out playing in front of people. My old group, The Funions, used to play a lot of these events when we were mostly an original music band.
If you are putting on an event and want a live band, here are some things to consider.
1. Time is one thing. Guitar strings and drum heads are others. It’s not cheap to play music and keep your equipment in order. Sure, we make a few bucks playing, but not nearly enough most of the time to cover expenses.
2. Plan your event well in advance. Don’t call a few weeks before and ask if a band is available. The good ones usually book shows months in advance.
3. Pay the band, if you can. Let’s say you have a great fundraiser and make a few bucks. Not only will the band love you, they’ll make sure to tell everybody they know how much they love you. Weigh the percentages, and if paying the band costs you less than 5 or 10 percent of what you take in, it’s worth it. Plus a good band will bring a sound system and you’ll be able to use it to make announcements, etc.
4. Don’t be mad if the band says no. We all try to do the best we can, but we all play music because we love it, not because it’s a career. There are some weekends and some dates that just don’t work.
5. Know the band, if you can. “Oh, I’ve heard they are good, maybe they will play at our fundraiser” doesn’t cut it, most of the time. If somebody I know calls me, there’s a better chance of us playing.
6. Know your event. Sometimes having a band isn’t a good idea. If you want to gather people for a good cause, it’s nice to have live music but it won’t make or break your efforts. If it’s mostly friends and family and outside at a picnic shelter, play games instead. Remember, a live band is loud and the band expects people to pay attention and listen. An acoustic duo or a friend who plays guitar and sings might be better.
7. Live auctions and bands don’t mix. I’ve been to too many fundraisers where the live auction drags on and on and on. Meanwhile the band sits at the side of the stage and wonders when, if ever, they are going to play. This happened once a few years ago with The Funions, and we ended up playing acoustic music in the hallway.
Best of luck with your fundraiser. It’s a ton of work and not easy to pull off. You’ll find out a small group of people does most of the work. And when it’s over and you’ve raised money for a worthy cause, well … it’s music to your ears!
RYAN “CHEEKS McGEE” Christian has always wanted to do a music video, so he got down to business with the good folks from Table 16 Productions last weekend.
The result is a video for Christian’s song “Leopard Curtains Lime Green Walls,” the title track from his CD recorded last year in New Jersey. The video was shot over Memorial Day weekend and locations included a friend’s house, downtown Quincy and Woodland Cemetery.
“It was awesome,” Christian says of making the video. “The Kellys were fantastic to work with and they really made things fun.”
Christian says the song is about heartbreak and moving on. The video stars Natalie Siebers, and Christian’s friends Krystyna Freeman and Kathleen Birsic also have roles. Freeman’s house has a room with a lime green wall, so it was used in the video, as well.
The video will be debuted Tuesday, June 4, during a party at Martini at 515.
IF YOU ARE a music lover and are bored this weekend, there is something really wrong with you.
There is so much going on it’s tough to keep track of. It starts with the Gus Macker basketball tournament in Quincy and goes from there. If you can brave the masses, come hang out with me at the Dream Court, Fifth and Maine, and watch some great hoops in a fun atmosphere all day Saturday and most of the day Sunday.
Musically, we need to break it down. Please check The Local Q for times and the various establishment web pages for addresses, with links provided below.
FESTIVALS: The big one featuring a number of local bands is Iarocfest in Fort Madison, Iowa, about an hour from Quincy. Leper’s Throne, Somewhere In Between and All’s Forgotten play Saturday, and Canton, Mo., based band Harlot has a great spot on the main stage Sunday night. On Sunday, the fourth Bobbo Fest takes place at Lake Linda near Carthage, Ill., and the 10-band lineup features local acts The Texas Funerals and The Dukes of Hancock, among others. It starts at 2 p.m. and proceeds go to support Aplastic Anemia research. And one of the coolest shows of all time is up in Keokuk, Iowa, Friday night – and annual Back Alley Fest along Main Street. George Cate and Steve Stoner are among the 11 acts performing.
RAP: The legendary William “Motion Plus” Sterns of Quincy is kicking off Gus Macker weekend with a Jump Off show at the Cougar’s Den Friday night. There’s also a big rap show in Hannibal Saturday featuring Money Mark and MME at Fitz’s Lounge.
ROCK: One Restaurant features Reasonable Doubt Friday night and Raised On Radio Saturday. One is a great place to catch a show, just a block away from the Macker site at Sixth and Hampshire, with no cover charge and lots of room to dance the night away. In Carthage Sunday night, Deuce Coupe plays at the Lake Hill Winery. Seven Days Fuller and Beau Becraft play Friday night at The Blind Pig. Also Saturday night, catch Exit 52 at the Dock, one of the better outdoor venues in the area if the weather cooperates.
COUNTRY: The Holler and Swaller Saloon is at Third and Hampshire and has the Mighty Mississippi Band Friday and Jarod Harness Saturday night.
ACOUSTIC: If the laid-back scene is more your thing, Cellar 21 is the place to be Friday night for the McKay Brothers and Saturday for Kathy Brink and Mike Coultas. Cellar 21 is on North Fourth between Maine and Hampshire, just a stone’s throw from the Macker registration tent in Washington Park. On Friday night, catch Esther Moore at the State Street Bar and Grill, 17th and State. Friday night features Cheeks McGee and Saturday afternoon has the talented Tim Hart at Spirit Knob Winery near Ursa.
Have yourself a safe and fabulous Memorial Day weekend!
NOTHING IS MORE frustrating than dealing with musicians, promoters or venues that don’t return phone calls, have no idea how to promote their work and who don’t understand the concept of how media and advertising works.
I’m coming at this from both ends – both as an ex-newspaper reporter and as a guy who has played in bands for many years. The first thing any band should realize is that first impressions are huge, but so are things like following up and being professional.
For starters, every band out there has to have a Facebook or Web page. It’s a must. I’m not going through some written list of bands that might be out there. I can find your band on The Local Q, but hopefully you have another page where I can find out what you do. Are you a country band? Do you play originals? Are you heavy or classic rock?
Make sure there’s a phone number. Yeah, I know, it’s quite the concept, picking up the phone, but a lot of people prefer the whole personal contact thing.
If you play original music, have a short sample on your Web page so we can hear a little bit. If you are a cover band, there’s no need for samples.
Have a picture of your band. And most importantly, if a venue or reporter or promoter calls you, have a photo ready to email to them. This means a nice color photo with a high resolution. When requested, do not wait for a week to respond. This does not work. We all have deadlines, and we all move on if we don’t hear from you after a few days.
Somebody in the band has to be articulate. Sorry. It’s a must. If you don’t like cameras or microphones, you are in the wrong business. You don’t have to seek them out. But you have to deal with them.
There are plenty of choices out there. Once you make a name for yourself, the promotional thing takes care of itself, but don’t assume everybody knows you and your name automatically gets you the gig.
Playing is the easy part. It’s all the other stuff you have to work at, from practicing to loading in and tearing down, to promoting your band. Over the years I’d say 90 percent of the local musicians have it figured out, and they are way better off for it.
THIS IS THE kind of post that can get a guy in a lot of trouble. I’m going to pick my favorite singer, guitar player, bass player, drummer and overall musician. It’s tough because I’m friends with many of the musicians in Quincy, and this is not a popularity contest, but certainly I mean no ill will if I leave a name out. If I did, I forgot, and I’m getting older, so there it is.
That being said, here are my favorites in the categories. I am leaving out the guys I am playing with right now, but not musicians from previous bands. Please feel free to let me know your favorites, you can catch me on Facebook or right here.
GUITARISTS: I have played with many great guitar players and seen a lot of good ones come and go. To me, the best guitar player in town is Jim Bier, formerly of the band Groovestick. Jim played guitar during the Forever reunion last summer and tore it up. He is technically sound but can groove and improvise, whether it’s jazz, rock, blues or acoustic. He plays right now with the duo The McKay Brothers. Go see him if you get a chance — he is amazing. I’d put former Cheeseburger guitar player John Hodge, now playing with the Backwoods band, as tied with Jim. John is working with Zeke Cernea on a CD project right now and it will be great to hear his chops on good original material. HONORABLE MENTIONS: George Cate, Matt Lawless, Chris Weinand, Justin Haubrich, Joel Neally, Seth Fenton.
BASS: Nobody thumps harder or is more solid than Big Jon Walker of the band The Pimpkatz. He’s versatile enough to also play with Seven Days Fuller, a very different band. HONORABLE MENTION: Carl Thomas, Jeff VanKanegan, Alex Tappe, Josh Brueck, Alex Sanders, Zak Haubrich, Harry Swank, John Williams, Gary DeClue.
VOCALS: Megan Peters of the band Eleven does a great job, and having a female lead singer really sets the band apart (especially with the entertaining Korey Haner). My favorite male singer is the new alderman, Jared Holbrook. He has great vocal range and his band, The Gentleman, does some cool music few bands around here dare try. HONORABLE MENTION: Jay Slater, Logan Kammerer, Cheeks McGee, Kirk Neally.
DRUMS: Wow, does this area have a lot of great drummers. Winnowing it down is next to impossible, but for my money, the hard-hitting Danny Mabie of Further Ado tops the list. A long time ago my old band, The Funions, had a slot at a Turner Hall show, and our drummer called in sick. Danny came in at the last second without ever playing for us, and pulled it off with style, ease and incredible timing. HONORABLE MENTION: David Stegeman, Chris Cornwell (who now plays bass and guitar in several Quincy bands), Aaron Haubrich, John Bartz, Bill Machold, Adam Yates, Chris Franklin, Steve Cowser, Kevin Vandament.
OVERALL MUSICIAN: Not even close — it’s the one and only and legendary Jack Inghram, still going strong on the sax and vocals. Jack was playing rock and roll before most of us, heck, most of our parents, were even around. He was with Freddie Tieken & The Rockers in the 1960s, and Jack still cranks it up with several local bands, including Reasonable Doubt. HONORABLE MENTION: Steve Buckman, Mike Schull.
IT’S A SURE sign of summer when the Y Men’s Club kicks off its Down By The River concert series in Hannibal on Friday, May 10.
Raised On Radio is the first band to hit the stage by the mud volleyball courts on Hill Street. The Y Men’s Pavilion is one of the best places to catch a show because it has a roof but still has the open air feel, with the beer counter within easy reach.
Hannibal is the epicenter of all things rock as the summer kicks off. The next night, the first Epic Music Showcase takes place at the new Tanyard Gardens just down the street from the Y Men’s Pavilion. Scheduled to play are George Cate, The Pimpkatz, All’s Forgotten, Hindsight and Nowake.
On the same day, Culver-Stockton College hosts the annual Hillstock show in Canton, Mo.
Looking ahead to Memorial Day Weekend, Fort Madison, Iowa, is the home to IAROCfest, and several local bands are playing at the shows. Believe it or not, the first Blues In The District concert is only a month and a half away in Washington Park, and the Mid-Summer Arts Faire also has local musicians playing the last weekend in June in Washington Park, with the schedule to be announced soon.
MORE THAN MUSIC: Quincy and the area have a lot to offer in addition to music. This weekend, The Quincy Community Theatre unveils “The Rainmaker” at the Oakley-Lindsay Center facility, and it promises to be a great show.
If you want to try something different, check out the Dark River Derby Coalition, Quincy’s women’s roller derby team. They start a new season May 11 with a home bout at Scotties Fun Spot, and it’s great entertainment.
THERE SEEMS TO be more acoustic acts playing around town, and there are good reasons to catch a mellower live act.
Friday night in Quincy is a good example. The McKay Brothers are at One Restaurant, Zeke Cernea is at Cellar 21 and Esther Moore plays at the State Street Bar & Grill. They are all a bit different. The McKay brothers feature two excellent guitar players in Jim Bier and Eric McCaughey, and they play mostly familiar cover songs. Zeke is working on a CD project with other local musicians and plays a lot of his own stuff, as does Esther.
Thursday night features Kathy Brink at Bailey’s Fudge in Quincy, and Logan Kammerer plays Sunday afternoon at Spirit Knob Wintery in Ursa.
First of all, not everybody wants to go see a full band and listen to music in a party atmosphere. It’s louder, more chaotic and in many cases a lot of fun, but it’s not everybody’s cup of tea. Sitting and listening to a performer isn’t everybody’s thing either, but it’s more relaxing and certainly you can devote more attention to the performance.
Secondly, solo acts or duos are a lot cheaper to hire. A full band charges two to three times the amount of a solo act. The smart bar owners around here aren’t afraid to spring for a good band, because they know the band will draw a good crowd and sell more beer, with everybody having more fun, etc. But some places simply aren’t big enough for a band, or the owner simply wants a different crowd.
Whatever your taste in music is, take advantage and get out to see a live act!
HERE’S A BIG “Atta Boy” to Jesse Mazzoccoli, guitar instructor extraordinaire at Quincy University. Jesse has brought some incredible guitar players to the area for concerts and workshops, and he’s got a great one planned this weekend. Dr. Guilherme Vincens is performing and doing clinics Saturday at Culver-Stockton College, Sunday at Southeastern Community College in Keokuk, and Monday at Quincy University. Click here for schedules and more information.
BANDS COME AND go, and most of the time they become hazy memories remembered with chemical grins.
Local band Days Taken, however, has decided to do something very cool after announcing they are disbanding.
On the band’s Facebook page, singer Charles Scarber broke the news and said family and job responsibilities are the main reasons for the band calling it quits.
When most people go to see a band, they watch and say, “What a great life.” Well, I’m here to tell you it isn’t all glamor and glory. It takes a lot of work to put a band together, practice, buy all the gear, organize the shows, deal with “band drama” and not get taken by shady promoters/venue owners.
Day’s Taken has been around for about five years, a long time in band world. They were a hard-rocking outfit chasing the dream with some well crafted original songs, and they developed a decent following in the area, along with opening for some bigger bands along the way.
Scarber and his bandmates have decided to sell all their remaining band merchandise and donate the proceeds to the Children’s Miracle Network. Kudos to the band members for their time, effort and energy these past five years, and the parting gesture is a class act.
SOUTH SIDE JAM: The annual Quincy South Side Boat Club jam takes place Sunday, starting at noon. The only band announced so far is Unknown Faces at 5 p.m. At one time this was one of the biggest music events in Quincy. Hopefully they have a full lineup and a bunch of people in the Front Street building.
QU BATTLE: Quincy University’s national honorary band fraternity, Kappa Kappa Psi, is sponsoring a battle of the bands Saturday at the new Connie Neimann Reception Hall at North Campus, 18th and Seminary Road. The event starts at 4 p.m. and QU junior Andria Ard says five groups have signed up so far. There will be prizes and raffles, and contestants are vying for instrument prizes. Cost is $3 at the door, $2 for QU students.
THE QUINCY PUBLIC Library is taking a new approach to attracting teens with an open mic night event on Thursday, April 18.
The library’s Teen Advisory Board came up with the idea, and it replaces the Poetry Slam sessions. Click here for more info.
“We were just thinking about something fun we could do that would showcase your talent,” says Deborah Riddell of the library staff. “It’s very casual and we think it’s going to be a good idea.”
There are no prizes and the names will be drawn after registration. Riddell says 10 people have already signed up. Microphones and a small PA system are provided, just plug in and play. Acts are asked to keep it clean and appropriate.
There are several traditional guitar and vocal acts expected to perform, and even a few comedy acts.
The most important thing young artists can do is perform in public. It doesn’t matter if it’s just a group of friends, a backyard jam or a church band — get out and play! The experience is immeasurable, and kudos to the Quincy Public Library for offering such an opportunity.
STONER/MCKAY CD: Former Quincy resident Ryan McKay has just released two 1990s albums by his old band, Stoner/McKay, called “No Time Like The Present” and “Liberty City.” Ryan now lives in Phoenix and plays with Louis Prima Jr. & The Witnesses, and has other projects going on as well. He appeared with Prima and band members last year at One Restaurant, and he is hoping to be back in Quincy soon. Click here for the Stoner/McKay CD info on iTunes.
MOTIONPLUS: Speaking of music available online, check out Quincy resident and rapper William “MotionPlus” Sterns and his site by clicking here. Sterns, also known as Bill Blast, is hosting “When Worlds Collide 4″ at Turner Hall Friday night. His newest nine-song release “SoulSonicStimulation” does not have a price on it and can be dowloaded for free. “Or you can give a dollar, $5, whatever you can afford,” Sterns says. “I released it last week and it’s already doing very well, more than a 1,000 downloads.”
MORE COUNTRY: Bands are still being sought for a contest to determine who opens for Madd Hoss Jackson and Tracy Lawrence at the Adams County Fair in June. The show is put on by the Local Firefighters 63.
KICK FM and the Holler and Swaller are sponsoring the event. Entries are being taken until April 15. Click here for more info.