PLEASE HELP ME RECOVER FROM MY HEART ATTACK
This GoFundMe campaign was originally (and very reluctantly) created to help get my trio's debut CD project "across the finish line" after a series of setbacks--including my contracting pneumonia--threatened to prevent it being completed in time for our two April CD release events. [See the original campaign story & photos below.] We quickly reached our $2,000 goal (thank you everyone!!), so we cut off donations.
However, everything changed this Friday (3/22), when I suffered a major heart attack during a gig. One of the major arteries to my heart (the LAD, aka "the Widow Maker") had become completely blocked. Thanks to quick action from my wife Tracy, bandmates, friends, and the coronary team at Peacehealth hospital in Vancouver, WA, I'm still alive following the insertion of two stents into the artery. I was released from the hospital yesterday after a three-day stay and am feeling almost normal. Fingers crossed, I may not have sustained damage to my heart. But I'm suddenly facing the greatest challenges of my life, so we've decided to re-open this GoFundMe campaign (with a goal of $8,000 beyond the $2,000 raised earlier for the CD project).
Like most musicians, I don't have a safety net. When I'm unable to work for any length of time, I'm in real trouble. The doctors' orders are no "strenuous activity" for at least two weeks, so I'm having to cancel or sub out a bunch of upcoming gigs. Fortunately, I have decent medical insurance (Medicare, plus a "medicare advantage" plan thru Regence). But the insurance won't cover all of my medical expenses. We have no idea what the medical bills will total, but they will certainly come to thousands of dollars. That's not to mention the cost of medications and 2-3 times weekly physical therapy. In addition, since the start of my hospitalization Tracy has had to stop working and switch to caretaker mode.
But the biggest financial threat stemming from this heart attack is to my career going forward. Those of you who have attended my gigs--particularly those who have been present during load-in and load-out--understand that I have a very physical job. At the least, I'm anticipating the need to hire help to get my heavy gear (organ, Leslie speaker, bass pedals, and more) loaded in and out of my gigs for the next month or two. After that? I just don't know yet. I will likely have to "downsize," sacrificing musically for the sake of my health. I've always joked that in my next life I'd play the flute. :-)
What else? No doubt Tracy and I will face additional financial challenges going forward that we're not aware of yet. I'm new to the "Heart & Soul Club," as Curtis Salgado termed it. But the bottom line is that, during this period of adjustment, I could really use a bit of help from any of you who can afford to pitch in.
Having said that: I realize that a LOT of us are facing financial challenges these days, so please don't feel any pressure to contribute. I've been absolutely overwhelmed by the support I've received since the heart attack: via texts, phone calls, emails, and responses to Tracy's Facebook posts. That moral support has meant as much to me as any financial contribution could. I never even suspected that so many people cared about me, and finding that out is one of the great "silver linings" of this life-changing experience.
Louis “King Louie” Pain
Frankly, I’m not a fan of GoFundMe campaigns to finance recording projects. Not when so many good friends are desperately trying to raise money to deal with medical emergencies. But we’ve gotten the King Louie Organ Trio’s debut CD project, “It’s About Time,” so close to completion on our own, only to get stalled by unexpected setbacks—including medical ones—with less than a month left before our two April CD release events. The thirteen original instrumentals have been written, arranged, recorded, and mixed, and the design is complete. All that’s needed is another $1,500 to $2,000 to get the CD mastered and manufactured. But the latest setback--my coming down with pneumonia a couple weeks ago--is truly "the straw that broke the camel's back." Just as the CD project was at the finish line, I had to cancel gigs and music lessons and I missed critical mixing sessions at the recording studio. That one-two punch of lost income and lost time have really put the project in jeopardy.
I should explain that this recording project is very special to me. After only writing a handful of instrumentals during my long musical career, I recently went on composing binge. The CD includes eleven of those new tunes, plus one each by my bandmates Renato Caranto and Edwin Coleman III. Each song is different and highly personal: inspired by and dedicated to an important person in our lives.
When we started playing the songs at our gigs a few months ago, the response was immediate: friends & fans wanted to know when they could buy the songs on a CD! The problem was financing, but an angel stepped up at just the right time in the form of Long Play Recording’s owner/engineer Jim Hage. Jim offered us a fantastic rate for recording and mixing the project—even co-producing it for us. Three very special guest musicians also came aboard gratis: Mel Brown and guitarists Dan Faehnle & Bruce Conte.
Everything lined up like a dream until the aforementioned setbacks hit us. First, out of the blue we had to replace the water pipe running from the street to our home: $2,200 plus water bill overages due to a leak in the aging pipe. Then came a $450 car tow (the gas station waited a grand total of one hour before calling the towing company). But the knock-out blow has been medical. Like a lot of you, Tracy and I have frequently been sick this winter, costing us income. (My rheumatoid arthritis is in remission thanks to a biologic drug I take, but the downside is that the drug weakens my immune system.)
Meanwhile, Tracy’s two failed ankle surgeries (for a severed peroneal tendon) have forced her to retire from the airline business and even made her Uber driving problematic. On top of that, Tracy has had to make periodic trips to Hawaii over the past two years to help care for her disabled mom, who is recovering from cancer surgery. (Tracy’s islands posts may make it appear she’s on vacation, but nothing could be further from the truth.)
Thanks to a couple of recent organ sales and long hours of driving by Tracy, I still thought we were going to be O.K. Then the final straw came the past two weeks, when my third cold of the season turned out to be pneumonia--initially misdiagnosed. I’ve missed five more gigs and counting and an equal number of lessons. But worse, with our April 8 CD release deadline bearing down on us, I was unable to attend mixing sessions prior to mastering, with the result that we now have to remix & remaster five songs, then pay extra for expedited shipping & manufacturing.
Well, thanks for reading all this. If you’re able to pitch in, even with a few dollars, we’d be hugely grateful. If you’re not able to help, we’ll understand 100%; times are tight for a lot of us these days!
Louis “King Louie” Pain
But as the old saying goes, "close only counts in horseshoes." That goes for my heart attack as well. I try not to dwell on how close I came to dying; the bottom line is that, thanks to Tracy's fast thinking & driving and thanks to the wonderful cardiac team at Peace Health, I survived. Hey, we have close calls all the time in life--e.g., the near-accidents on the freeway--and we just shrug and continue on. Right?
I'm now back to working, but thanks to the post-heart attack donations, I'm able to slow down--cancelling some gigs, and hiring help for others. I also don't have to worry about paying for my hospital bills, physical therapy, medications, etc. The donations should cover all that, or at least take a huge chunk out of it. Thank you all again from the bottom of my still-beating heart!
Meanwhile, we've been doing numerous earlier-scheduled interviews about the King Louie Organ Trio's debut CD and our two upcoming CD release parties (this Monday at the Lake Theater & Cafe and Wednesday at the Jack London Revue). Please don't be concerned that I've been overdoing it: Tracy has been doing the driving--I've just been doing the gabbing!
If you're interested in checking out those interviews, below are links to three of them. Thank you again for helping us out when we needed help the most!
Please send Tracy and me a note with your mailing address, and we'll send a copy of "It's About Time" to you as soon as we receive them. If you enjoy the CD, I hope you buy a copy or three as gifts to your friends (they'll make great stocking stuffers)!
The CD will be available at Music Millennium. That store is a Portland treasure and I'm a big believer in supporting it. But the CD will also be available beginning in mid-May at all the usual on-line sources, including cdbaby, Amazon, etc.
A quick shout out and acknowledgement to the man who made the CD project possible: Long Play Recording's owner/engineer Jim Hage. The CD was a labor of love for Jim, who went WAY beyond the call of duty in not only recording & mixing, but also co-producing it with me. I highly recommend Long Play Recording, especially if you value the sound and vibe of old fashioned analog (tape) recording. It makes a HUGE difference, as I think you'll hear on "It's About Time!"
Please get me your mailing addresses so that I can send each of you a CD as soon as I have them. I hope you love the music!
P.S. Here's a photo of Mel Brown, Dan Faehnle, Renato Caranto, and me hard at work on the CD. :-)