April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.

— opening of “The Waste Land” by T.S. Eliot

May is the saddest month.

— dubbatrubba

We miss Scott

May has been a bummer since 2018, when Scott Hutchison, lead singer of Frightened Rabbit, took his own life that month, after battling anxiety and depression for years. He was 36.

Scott and yours truly at a music festival photo op, September 24, 2016

“Scott’s voice will always be with us. His words will always be with us. I’m not going to stop shouting from the rooftops or screaming from small stages about how amazing he was. I think it’s important that we remember him through the beautiful things that he put into the world.”

James Graham, lead singer of The Twilight Sad and friend of Scott Hutchison

Looking beyond their grief, Scott’s family established the Tiny Changes charity focused on mental health among young people in his native Scotland.

We miss John

This May has been particularly cruel, and overwhelmingly sad. John Erhardt, a guitar player with two local bands I adore (with names guaranteed to keep them in semi-obscurity: Ass Ponys and Wussy), passed away suddenly on May 4th. He was just 58.

John gave us a beauty that we’ll never see again. A combination of love, friendship, stability and that amazing swirling sound. Truly a wonder. A backdrop to everything that we are, in the band and in life.

Chuck Cleaver, John’s longtime friend and bandmate in both Ass Ponys and Wussy

John also was an outstanding director of photography and cinematographer in the Cincinnati area, well revered by his peers. Most importantly, he was by all accounts a prince of a man – kind, humble, caring, joyful, thoughtful, wonderful.

John also struggled with mental health. His family and friends are channeling their grief in a positive way – here’s the text from the GoFundMe linked below:

The untimely and sudden passing of our friend John Erhardt has us all asking, “What can we do to honor his memory?  How can we continue John’s legacy to have a positive and lasting impact on others?”

As John’s wife, Denise, and his daughter, Elizabeth, experience their grief, they are determined to channel what they are feeling into a way to help those who struggle with mental health, as John did.

To support the cause, a fund is being established to assist organizations whose focus is advocating for and helping individuals and their families who contend with the disease of mental illness. 

But I’ve hidden the real headline, because I’m in denial.

Back in my 97X radio days, we had a student intern named Steve. Great kid. Smart. Funny. Kind. Caring. We’ve managed to stay in touch over the years, as he migrated back to his Chicago home, got married and started a family. He’s one of the few (read “three”) regular readers of this blog.

Steve, center, with his old college roomie Joe (also a good friend and former 97X intern) at left, after a concert in Chicago in September of 2018

Sadly, tragically, Steve’s son Patrick chose to end his life on Monday, May 4th, after a long battle with severe anxiety and depression. He was just 18.

As you can only imagine, Steve, his wife Fronzie, and Patrick’s older brother Ben and younger sister Magdelene are heartbroken, devastated… a sadness beyond words. Inconsolable.

But to their eternal credit, they too are looking beyond their own grief, and hoping to help others. Patrick’s memorial service was online due to coronavirus restrictions. In a way, that’s a blessing, because the video message that Steve and Fronzie recorded, while heartbreakingly sad, is also a profile of courage and a message of love and hope to others who are struggling. Steve has given me permission to share it, and it should be shared. Please spend nine minutes of your day watching Steve and Fronzie’s tribute to their son, whom they love so much.

“It warms our hearts to know that Patrick’s life made an impact on so many.”

Fronzie and Steve Roemer

In light of Patrick’s battle with depression and anxiety and the sadness left in its wake, the Roemer family and their friends are in the process of creating a foundation dedicated to supporting young people who are suffering from mental illness. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial contributions be made to gofundme. com/f/support-the-roemer-family. 100% of all future donations will be directed toward this foundation.

We know there are many people like Patrick who fight the same war against depression and anxiety. Your battles are real.

Steve and Fronzie Roemer

Please send your warm thoughts, your positive energy, your good vibes, your prayers – they give strength to the Hutchisons and the Erhardts and the Roemers. Please donate if you can – it’ll provide hope to other families facing similar challenges with mental health.

While I’m alive, I’ll make tiny changes to Earth…

Scott Hutchison