HighlinePlcMusic is a busy place for me to be these days. Admittedly, it’s a long way from the old days of riding a tour bus or playing in some hotel lounge band helping Mom and Dad celebrate an anniversary or just the fact that it’s Friday night! No, it’s taken on a different flavor and meaning for many of us and, in many situations, it has changed it’s category from “entertainment” to “service.” The “service” category relates to the Music Practitioner work I get to do in hospital settings, while “entertainment” is mainly playing music and entertaining “retirees” in Retirement Communities.

Entertainment is the category we’re talking about this week.

There is no doubt about it, maybe by advances in health care or the fact that many of us have quit killing ourselves with tobacco products, the population of our nation is growing older.  As we grow older many have chosen to move into retirement communities rather than do all the work it takes to keep up a house and a yard and everything else that goes along with it!

In “retirement communities” one of the fastest growing categories today is memory care and that’s the one we’re going to focus on today. Memory Care is a large category in its own right, and runs all the way from forms of mild dementia to full blown Alzheimervillage people‘s disease. This is the business that Highline Place is in and they do it very well!

If you’re familiar with Denver, one of the main arterial streets running north and south is called Broadway (how’s that for an original name) and it runs all the way from north Denver, south through Englewood,  all the way to Littleton, and I have no idea where it goes after that! Actually I’m just kidding but Broadway does run a long way across the city and, if you go far enough south, you’ll come to 6767 South Broadway. If you look over on your right you’ll see a beautiful, quiet, restful setting with a large pond and manicured lawns and you’ll be looking at Highline Place.

Highline Place is an Anthem retirement property whose focus is memory care but from my casual (and very amateur) observation, their attitude also seems to be on openness and a casual interaction between the residents. Their residential capacity is in the mid seventies and the first word I would use to describe the situation when I went to entertain recently, was “friendly.” Friendliness seemed to me to be springing from everywhere as well as a feeling of openness and community rather than any kind of solitude or isolation. Obviously, privacy is a very important consideration as well, and they seem to have been very cognizant of that need in the building design. I couldn’t help but be impressed with the thoughtfulness and care that must have gone into this whole thing during the design process and that impression stayed with me during my visit.

retireOne of the most glaring facts that faces you when you’re setting up to entertain is that women outnumber the men by a high percentage. The next thing that crosses your mind is that, after a couple of minutes, how accepting and friendly they become. It’s kind of like, “OK, we’ve been there, done that, seen it all, done it all and you’re no big deal so let’s just relax, enjoy ourselves, and have a good time!” That’s exactly what we did! We sang and teased and laughed and joked and generally let an hour of good times slip through our fingers like it was no time at all!

One of the early rules of the road that you learn as an entertainer in any capacity is that, when the audience is with you it’s heaven, and when they’re not, it can be hell! This week at Highline Place for me, was another small slice of heaven and I hope we get to do it again sometime soon!

Please send your comments and critiques. I’ll be sure to read them all and use them if I can.

Have a great week everybody!

Thanks again,




My Forrest Gump Moment!

ForrestmomentThey’re not unique and they’re not unusual. I believe that everyone who lives a normal life from time to time, gets to have what I like to call….a Forrest Gump moment!

My most recent one of these happened recently at the Denver Veterans Hospital where I was playing my guitar and trying to bring a little musical joy to the Vets over there. As best as I can recall, it goes something like this;

My usual routine is to park my body at the nurse’s station at 9:00am and play a few tunes to warm up before heading down the hallway to the patient’s rooms. The head nurse sits me right beside her because she says she likes to hear me play but I think she does it so that I won’t get run over by all the traffic in the hallway!

This week, as I’m sitting there noodling along, a fellow rolls up to me in a wheelchair. He’s kind of rough cut with one leg amputated at the knee and the other at the ankle. He’s wearing a truck driver hat that says “Gilley’s,” and when he smiled, some of his teeth were missing. I distinctly remember thinking how this fellow reminded me of Cap’n Dan from the movie “Forrest Gump” and then realizing, “If he’s Cap’n Dan, then that would make me Forrest wouldn’t it?”wheelchair

He rolled up to me real close for a minute, squinted his eyes and said, “Ya know any Merle Haggard?” Nothing in my CMP studies had prepared me for this, and since I’d never given much thought to the therapeutic healing values of “Okie from Muskogee,” I lied, and said something like “not right now.” He just continued to give me that hard stare and said, “Ya better learn some or I might have to whup me some ass!” I wasn’t too worried. Even as old and slow as I am, I can probably still outrun a guy in a wheelchair! He then turned his attention to the head nurse who seemed like she might have dealt with him before, and announced to her that someone had stolen his cell phone and if he ever caught the so-and-so that did it, there was going to be hell to pay!

The head nurse immediately showed the proper amount of concern and asked all the right questions. “Did you check the night stand?” or “Did you look in the bathroom?” etc. He came back negative on all those questions and his voice level was raising along with the color of his vocabulary. Finally, a young orderly who was working at the station asked the gentleman what his phone number was and when he dialed it up on his own phone, suddenly there was a muffled ringing from the seat of the wheelchair and our friend in the “Gilley’s” hat realized that he’d been sitting on his phone all along! He looked like he’d been stuck with a hot poker and I think you could probably hear the laughter half way to Castle Rock!

On a more solemn note, yesterday was the opening day of professional football season. It was also the day that Pat Bowlen, owner of the Denver Broncos, announced that due to the fact that he was battling Alzheimer’s disease, and had been for two years, was relinquishing control of the franchise and turning over the reins to others within the organization.

This brings reality home to everyone on this planet. You always hear excuses for the causes of this disease like, improper lifestyle, improper diet, not enough exercise etc., all the things people come up with to deny the truth. Alzheimer’s doesn’t play favorites. It goes wherever it wants to and attacks whomever it feels like. So far, the only thing we’re capable of doing is to care for these folks in the best possible manner we know of and to my knowledge, there is no known cure for this one yet.

In my music travels, I get to play for plenty of folks with Alzheimer’s. It’s sad to see people who were once active, functioning members of society be reduced to someone who needs constant care and attention but, sad to say, that’s the way Alzheimer’s works. Pray for a cure.

Thanks again for your donations. Please send your comments and critiques. I’ll be sure to read them all and use them if I can.

Thanks and have a great week everybody.