In the summer of 2014, my boss at the Seattle School of Rock got a call from one of the moms of the school, Gayle Scherrer, who also happened to be the Life Enrichment Coordinator at Chateau Bothell Landing, a retirement community for senior citizens. Gayle wanted to know if he, or any of the other teachers at the school, might be interested in performing music for her “memory care” residents, and my boss thought of me. It was serendipitous for me as I had been thinking about doing those kinds of shows for a while, so Gayle and I spoke and we set up my first show.
I had really no idea what to expect or what songs I should play at that show, so I just put together a motley set and headed to Bothell. When I arrived, they had a piano set up in a small courtyard and I sat down to play. In my audience were a woman holding a baby doll, another with a very angry look on her face, a sleeping man, and a woman who walked around the whole time with a huge smile making playful noises. It was the most unusual show that I had played to date, but also, somehow, the most enjoyable.
When I got home, I gave my brother, Noah, a call and told him about the experience. “It was strange,” I said, “but I also really enjoyed it. I got the feeling that I was making a difference in these people’s lives. Gayle said that it even makes the workday easier for the staff because the residents are easier to serve afterward. Would you maybe want to come play some of these shows with me?”
He said yes, picked out some guitar parts and harmonies, and after our first show together, Noah was as thrilled as I was. We settled on the name “The Music Brothers” for our duo because it seemed to describe us in a simple and memorable way. We spent the next three years developing our repertoire to include super fun songs that catered specifically to the kind of music these people enjoyed, namely popular music from the 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s, sing-alongs like “Goodnight Irene” and “You Are My Sunshine”, some other folk standards, and even the occasionally instrumental classical piano work. Our audience grew to include the standard residents at Chateau Bothell and even other communities like Chateau Pacific in Lynnwood and Ida Culver House in Broadview. It is always a joy to meet all of these new people and share something we know will be appreciated with such joy.
In 2017, Noah was promoted to Executive Director at his job and could no longer participate like he had before. It was sad to see him go for several reasons: the residents loved him, he was a joy to play with, and I really didn’t want to go this alone again after having gotten used to performing with a partner. As it turns out, after several solo shows, including holiday and birthday sing-alongs at Brookdale in Queen Anne, people still have a great time and I still get plenty of wonderful, positive feedback.
Nevertheless, I wanted to have someone to play with from time to time, and I thought of my longtime friend and colleague, Christian Fattoruso. Christian is a wonderful guitarist and singer himself, and has a great sense of humor. We’ve played several shows together now, at Chateau Bothell, Ida Culver, and Northgate Plaza MBK. I'm happy that he has been welcomed as my “surrogate Music Brother”, as I’ve sometimes referred to him. He has also challenged me by adding new and delightful songs to the repertoire, such as “All of Me”, “As Time Goes By”, and “Making Whoopee”. We love these songs and we love sharing them with our audience.
I’ve never left one of these performances, whether it’s a solo show or a Music Brothers show, without a huge smile on my face. I always look forward to seeing our audiences and sharing this joy with them. I feel very blessed to have these experiences in my life.