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Keeping Up With The Grandkids Requires Lots Of Living And Lots Of Fun

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	If it’s true what they say about cats having nine lives, then I want what they have. With only one life to lead, when will I ever find time to learn what the grandkids have been up to? 
	I long to follow their careers, see what paths they’ve chosen to take, what they’ve accomplished along the way, meet their life-long mates, and watch how their lives take shape. They’ve taken different roads, all exciting and adventurous, and now I’m finding it extremely hard to keep up with them. That’s why I desperately need those nine lives.
	What a pleasure and great joy it’s been to follow the many roads taken by our very first and oldest grandson, Matt, and to watch his exciting career bloom during his four years at SIU Carbondale where he majored in music. I thought for sure he would choose a college to play sports, having been named Most Valuable Player time and again in basketball at Cobden High School. But he chose music, which turned out to be exactly the right choice for him. While still at school, he started a popular band called “Stank Willie,” and played at several events. 
	After graduating, he moved to northern Illinois with his band to play more music in the Rockford and Chicago area. Sometimes it was rough going, but it meant three extra years of good experience for a budding musician. 
	Somewhere along the line he asked if it was okay to use my maiden name of “Martino” as his stage name. I said of course he could. It’s so much easier to spell than “Engbring.” 
	And then it was time for him to try his hand in Music City, Nashville, Tenn., a town full of excellent musicians all hoping for success. There you have to be standing in the right place at the right time with the right song. Matt performed several times at Nashville’s famous Blue Bird Café, offering his latest original songs. 
	Matt bought himself a house, and found work at a company called Market St. Enterprises, where he was introduced to the world of finance. 
	While in Music City, Matt established a recording studio, put out two great CDs loaded with songs he wrote, and then decided to go back to school at Belmont University in Nashville to earn a certificate in financial planning.
	 It was 10 years later that he sold his Nashville home, moved back to southern Illinois, and started his own finance company. 
	Besides returning to school and joining the business world, Matt took on another adventure. He purchased two large historic buildings in downtown Alto Pass with rental units to tend to. I believe the buildings are over 100 years old, so you know that maintenance is a high priority and a challenge. New roof, new windows, new staircase, new laundry room. He has a “To Do” list that never seems to shrink, and thank goodness he has his Dad Jeff around to lend a hand. 
	But Matt is doing well as a successful financial advisor, working on his buildings, and still doing what he loves best, playing music. Besides all that, he has dear friend Kendall Bolsen to help schedule his gigs and cheer him on. What’s not to like about a life like that?
	Now Matt does much solo work, where a unique network pairs him with hosts who want music played in their homes with their invited friends. It’s a growing trend. He also plays at casinos, and has a standing Sunday evening job playing at a nearby casino restaurant. He also has gigs that take him to other cities and states, and he couldn’t be more content because he’s playing just for the fun of it. 
	To me, basically, he’s still a musician, a good one, making people happy, and as he grows older, I find he is now more polished than ever, and so easy to listen to. 
	A few weeks ago, when many family members were home for Mother’s Day, we all got together to hear Matt perform at the old Varsity Theater in Carbondale. A good crowd came to hear him, and you could tell he was having a good time. Some of his old musician buddies were also on the program with him. He has a following in Carbondale, which means one successful show after another. 
	He’s considered a “Blue-eyed soul singer,” belting out songs in a sultry way as he tells his story in music. When he played the song “Georgia” on his saxophone, it was so sweet, smooth, and soul-searching that it brought down the house. The program didn’t end until the audience brought him back for encores.
	Like everyone else in the family, we’ll be anxiously waiting for Matt’s next concert. The grandkids keep surprising me. The more I think about it, I won’t need those nine lives after all. What I have to do is play one of Matt’s CDs and remind myself of the one good life I already have.
An accomplished piano player, Matt Engbring accompanies himself as he sings a variety of songs he composed. He’s considered a mellow “Blue-eyed soul-singer.”

By Lucy Engbring If it’s true what they say about cats having nine lives, then I want what they have. With only one life to lead, when will I ever find time to learn what the grandkids have been up to?  I long to follow their careers, see what paths they’ve chosen to take, what …

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