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Musician aims to ‘positively influence successful aging’

Wind Crest employee (and rocker) uses music to connect

Created date

January 22nd, 2013

Murry Mercier has always had a special relationship with the people who live at Erickson Living communities. He started working for the company in 2002 at Oak Crest, in Parkville, Md., as an information technology intern. He moved his way up the ranks to director for Aspen House, the assisted living residences at Wind Crest, in Highlands Ranch, Colo. A proponent of the company s mission, sharing our gifts to create communities that celebrate life, Mercier has been entertaining Wind Crest community members for years by playing the pianos located in the communities clubhouses. Whenever he has free time, he sits at the bench, puts his hands on the keys, and plays to both his and the residents delight. But Mercier has more gifts to share with the community, one in particular in the form of his band, Strange Americans, which released its first full-length studio CD, A Royal Battle, in 2012. The band has even played at Wind Crest, as well as for many other retirement communities in the area. Mercier plays different forms of piano, guitar, and backing vocals. The band s versatile music a mix of indie rock, blues, folk, and country is hip with a younger crowd, but it transcends generations and Wind Crest residents love it, according to Mercier.

Finding the perfect fit

Mercier s love for the senior population was planted at an early age when he visited his grandmother, who worked as a nursing home administrator. There, he saw the clich d version of the nursing home. In college, he took a gerontology class during the beginning of a culture change, when people were starting to voice that they wanted more than just a clinically based aging lifestyle. And Mercier though he played in bands since he was 12 and, in fact, started playing the piano when he was just 3 was in wholeheartedly. I wanted to positively influence successful aging, he says. And he has done just that by melding his two passions the senior population and music.

Blending one with the other

Mercier says his experiences working at Wind Crest help his work with the band and vice versa. It s all about communication and teamwork, he says. As an assisted living director, he works where people live and can focus on enhancing their lifestyle. Aspen House is Wind Crest s assisted living pilot program. Wind Crest converted apartment homes so that residents can receive the continuing care they need without having to leave campus and go to another community. Wind Crest is currently building Mill Vista Lodge, the new, on-site continuing care neighborhood due to open this fall. All the residents at Wind Crest support and encourage Mercier, especially after his band played the summer 2011 community picnic. The band perched on the Town Center Clubhouse balcony, and the audience could hear their music inside and outside the building. Thanks to the band s versatility, they can play anything from the bar scene to a children s hospital to a retirement community. We play to our crowd whenever we can, Mercier says. Wind Crest community members ask him if they can go to one of his gigs, and the residents at Aspen House all asked for a signed copy of Strange Americans A Royal Battlewhen it came out. He s grateful that the residents have shown a genuine interest in his music. Whenever the band is on podcasts or cable shows, residents gather around a television or computer screen and eagerly watch proof positive that music is a universal language, one that brings people together, one that speaks without speaking.