It is always an honor for me to take the stage at Uptown Bill’s Coffee Shop in Iowa City. I’m old enough to say, when I play there, that often I’m the only person in the room who actually met Bill Sackter.
Many of you know the Bill Sackter. Bill spent four decades warehoused in a Faribault, Minnesota mental institution. He was befriended and brought to Iowa City by Barry Morrow, who had taken a position in the University of Iowa School of Social Work. With the help of Tom Walz, who passed away earlier this year, and others in the Iowa City community, Bill settled into a career as manager/proprietor of Wild Bill’s Coffee Shop in North Hall. I say I knew Bill because I would study in Wild Bill’s when I took classes in the Social Work department during my undergraduate years.
An essay by Barry Morrow about Bill’s assimilation into the community caught national attention, and resulted in production of the Emmy-Award-Winning made-for-TV movie, “Bill,” starring Mickey Rooney and Dennis Quaid. Bill Sackter passed away about the same time as the release of a sequel.
That was 35 years ago, but the memory of Bill Sackter has been kept alive by the Extend the Dream Foundation and its flagship, Uptown Bill’s, providing a host of services to persons with diabilities in the Iowa City area. Uptown Bill’s has a bookstore, a media production facility, and a coffee shop which is a prolific venue to regular musical performances and other events.
For the past several years, I have played two shows at Uptown Bill’s, in addition to being a part of Uptown Bill’s annual Birthday Bash, celebrating Bill Sackter’s Birthday. Among the benefits of being a part of this is the opportunity to enjoy the other entertainment scheduled before me and after me. I am especially excited this year to be up before the legendary Dave Moore and Phil Heywood (http://www.philheywood.com/).
Bill’ Birthday Bash runs Friday and Saturday. Come early and stay late. Help support the good work they do at Uptown Bill’s. I’m up at 6. Dave and Phil are on at 7.