The Cast of Junk – Finally

September 18, 2015

The Cast of Junk performing Finally. (C) 2015 Butterfly Moo | Plastic Moon

From the album Junk (Original Cast Recording), available on iTunes.

The Original Cast of Junk recorded 13 songs for the soundtrack from the Bass/Hartman musical comedy that premiered with a sold-out run in The Firemen’s Kitchen at Hickory Theatre. Directed by Pamela Livingstone. Developed for the Stage at Hickory Arts & Hickory Theatre.

Track 13, “Finally,” the finale (see what we did there?), sews everything together. It reminds us that no matter where you are, there you are. You can’t run or hide from your problems. “It’s up to you.” What are you waiting for?

The album is available on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify and more. Physical CD’s can be purchased at Hickory Arts and through Molly Bass.


Original Release Date — August 9, 2015

A play about a yard sale and a mermaid.


A Bass~Hartman Musical

1. Everything Must Go (1:42) 2. Treasure Hunters (1:45) 3. Crystal?s Ball (2:27) 4. Fish in That There Sea ? Lifeguard (1:40) 5. Dwight?s Plight (2:02) 6. Never Forever (3:28) 7. Crystal Lite (1:35) 8. La La La (2:24) 9. Fish in That There Sea (Reprise) [1:26] 10. The Extra (3:19) 11. Bite You (3:00) 12. Begin Again (3:06) 13. Finally (3:53)

Featuring Grace Bollinger, Connie Bools, Joni Coppinger, Bill Boyd, Daniel Breuer, Nathan Crabtree, Anne Elliot, Carol Anne Hartman and Shannon Underwood

Musicians — Winds: Steven Foster | Piano: Jeff Hartman | Bass: Charlton Seaver

Words and Music by Molly Bass and Jeff Hartman
Arrangements by Jeff Hartman

Produced by Butterfly Moo and Plastic Moon
Engineered by Chris Garges, Old House Studio
Mixed by Jeff Hartman, Hickory Arts
Mastered by Dave Harris, Studio B Mastering
Art by John David Brown III

For Charles

Butterfly Moo | Plastic Moon © 2015. All rights reserved.


November 16, 2017

Maulik Pancholy

I just returned from an extraordinary “networking” trip with a friend and colleague. I’m grateful beyond words. One of the main reasons for “Trippin’ with Molly” was an anti-bullying event called the Upstander Legacy Celebration for the Tyler Clementi Foundation. Maulik Pancholy of 30 Rock hosted. Composer Lance Horne testified and performed a gut-wrenching tribute to Tyler. Mitchell Gold from Hickory, Tipper Gore and hundreds more were in attendance.

Molly Bass has gone to extraordinary lengths to start a conversation and build awareness of resources available for victims of bullying and mental illness in Hickory. Awareness is everything.

Merriam-Webster defines bullying as “abuse and mistreatment of someone vulnerable by someone stronger, more powerful, etc.” Etcetera is the worst.

Bullying can be incremental. It can stare you in the face. It can hide behind a screen or an institution. It feasts on inaction. It can hold you hostage. It can manifest as guilt. It can, it can, it can until we can’t.

Life’s been very good to me, yet I’m a suicide survivor. Severe depression is hard to acknowledge and difficult to treat. Managing it requires acceptance, self-determination, patience—and a good sense of humor doesn’t hurt. I’m living proof it can happen to anyone.

Bullying isn’t reserved for after-school specials. It happens to the best of us. I’ve been bullied by everyone from a friend’s insecurity to a musician’s ego to a pastor’s pride to an organization’s indifference—all at different stages in my life. Are those bullies solely responsible for my depression? No. Did they help? Certainly not. Did they “pull the trigger?” No. In that moment, you’re not thinking; you’re only feeling. You forget your only control is how you react. You forget everything that matters. You’re tired and meaningless. You just wanna close your eyes. You don’t wanna hurt anymore.

In counseling students and in my own case, the most common denominator is alienation; truly believing the world would be better off without you.

Even when the dark comes crashing through, when you need a friend to carry you and when you’re broken on the ground, you will be found.from Dear Evan Hansen

Another common denominator is feeling forsaken. John Lennon penned, “Nobody loves you when you’re down and out.” Folks desert and resent you in your moment(s) of grief and despair, more often than not. “Tough shit.” “Get over it.” “That’s life.”

When you’re falling in a forest and there’s nobody around, do you ever really crash or even make a sound?

It isn’t a question of “should” we expect support. Why wouldn’t we? The reality is, people fear what they don’t understand. Empathy requires sacrifice; out of self. Love. Jake Colsen suggests we give our affection only to those who serve our interests and withhold it from those who do not. Who’s interested in another’s pain? The answer is someone. It may not be the someone(s) you want or expect, but someone.

Ugh. As much as I want to and as hard as I try, it’s impossible to boil all of this down to a single thought. Philip Larkin wrote, “Man hands on misery to man… until someone breaks the cycle.”

Woe is me? Woe is you? Hell, no. Once you find your footing, forgive and continue moving forward. As much as you need it, accountability is unlikely, so don’t wait around for it. Break the cycle. Never give up. I’ll leave you with a rally cry from an unlikely source.

Anytime somebody bullies you, you should thank them every day. Right now, this bully is the only person in your life who’s giving you an actual challenge. Everybody else is anesthetizing you; hugging the power out of you; making you weak. You think the struggle of living in the world gets easier? People stop giving you a hard time? Learn to stand up for yourself now and give it right back to them. Otherwise, shut… up.“D” from Chance

Being Brad

June 19, 2017

Great Grandpa Bloss and Jeff

Mom’s painting is everything Dad wanted to be and everything Dad wanted for me, crafted by the person we cherished most.

I can’t remember a time it wasn’t known to me that Dad’s grandparents were the rocks in his life. I don’t believe there was a better man in his eyes than his grandfather.

Dad devoted his life to others, joined the rank and file of responsibility with the East Brunswick Police Department and, to paraphrase Elijah Price from one of my favorite films, “he could’ve done of ten thousand things, but in the end, he chose to protect people.” (from “Unbreakable”)

I have no delusions about our imperfections or the relationship I had with my father. His right brain and my left brain too often required Mom to translate—well into my twenties!

I paid strict attention to the man Dad was. He never imposed an expectation on anyone more than to do one’s best. I agonized over wanting, trying and failing to be more like him. It never occurred to me that we had one flaw in common. We both could be too focused on measuring ourselves against those we admired most rather than being the best version of ourselves we could be; which is why what comes next means more to me than he ever knew.

I’ll never forget the day I was fixing his computer, as I often had to do, when he walked in. He’d recently left a lucrative job to pursue his dream of being a golf Pro. It meant big changes—anxiety, fear, resentment and all of the things that accompany taking risks. I was in the middle of taking my own risk, opting to pursue a career as a singer/songwriter until it was no longer an option. He thanked me and told me I inspired him to take his risk. Me? The prodigal son who wanted to be more like his selfless dad who wanted to be more like his inimitable grandfather?! That’s like Superman telling Seinfeld he inspired him to hang up his cape and fulfill his dream of quilting—in a good way. He said he was never happier.

We both learned the hard way that dreams can be nightmares, but they’re worth their weight in what-if’s. He was at my side when few were, once a week for months, when it became clear we were sharing a proverbial cake we could no longer eat. We woke from those nightmares—together.

When Dad became “Grandpa,” he became something far greater than my great grandfather. He became the best him he could be.

I’ll never be Dad. I’m a Jeff. Thanks, Dad. Happy Father’s Day.


Painting of Great Grandpa Bloss with Jeff by Kathy Hartman

Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.Oscar Wilde

Carol Anne

March 26, 2017

Carol Anne Hartman

Carol Anne and I found each other doing theatre. I’ve written many odes to our relationship throughout the years, but it was when she had the opportunity to play the role of Mary Poppins in 2015 that I became aware of the perfect quote from that script to describe the Carol Anne I know.

My world was calm, well ordered, exemplary; Then came this person, with chaos in her wake.Mary Poppins

I can say, with no uncertainty, that life would be a clean, well-organized, routine bore; free of change, risk and imagination without Carol Anne. It would be too easy or cliche to say “she completes me.” We spar. She challenges me. She doesn’t make me better. She inspires me to want to be better.

Carol Anne

I’ve never met someone with more faith in faith. Even in her most frustrating, doubtful moments in people, unforeseen circumstances or situations simply out of our control, she finds a way to keep moving forward with a strange blend of childlike optimism and wisdom beyond her years. She sets high standards for others to think bigger in simpler ways while prescribing a healthy dose of expectations.

She isn’t my “other half.” She’s my partner. We put our relationship first to allow us to put our children first. She’s seeded an independence in our kids that I know will be an advantage to them in their darkest hours. She wears herself out for our family as she does, for anyone, at any given moment, if that’s what her heart is telling her to do.

I am never unaware of the endless possibilities of what she’s given up for me and her boys. Nobody deserves Carol Anne. I wouldn’t wish her crankiest moments on ISIS anymore than I would wish her most selfless moments on me. She makes me feel alive in a world that I’ve easily let myself not want to be. It’s that spectrum of unpredictable predictability that keeps me on my toes and discovering new ways to love her. And she’s hot.

Photo Courtesy of Darbey Delaney Photography

Hickory, NC – Clowee Issabelle House Concert

Celebrate original music on Friday, March 31, 2017 with the first in this year’s series of Hickory Arts house concerts featuring Clowee Issabelle. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased online at Only 40 seats available. Tickets will not be sold at the door. Doors open at 7:30 pm for an “eat & greet” with the artist. Performance begins at 8 pm.

  • Friday, March 31, 2017
  • 7:30 pm
  • Hickory Arts
  • 720 Second Avenue SW, Hickory, NC 28602
  • $20

Buy Tickets

Hickory, NC – It’s All HIS Fault House Concert

Please join us in October for Hartman, Jeff & Carol Anne Hartman with John Coffey and Special Guests. The “It’s All HIS Fault” House Concert: Celebrating 20 years since John cast Carol Anne and Jeff in The Fantasticks, stoking a romance that led to their marriage and three kids; featuring original music, songs from The Fantasticks, The Last 5 Years, Junk, Once, The Phantom of the Opera, West Side Story and other shows they’re too old to do.

  • Saturday, October 22, 2016
  • 7:30 pm
  • Hickory Arts
  • 720 Second Avenue SW, Hickory, NC 28602
  • $20

Buy Tickets


July 18, 2016


Face it. (See what I did, there?) I’m hardly on Facebook, anymore. I’ve opened and closed various accounts and public pages since 2008 or ’09.

I’ve used Facebook as a means by which to connect, to reconnect, to share, to blog, to network, to promote, to update, to advocate, etc.

It used to surprise me how sensitive folks can be to a post; myself included. Since I’ve mostly detached from all social media, what’s been more surprising is a sensitivity to my inactivity.

On July 5th (of this year) I received the following message from someone I haven’t seen, heard from or interacted with personally in any way for 9 years.

I appreciate you dropping me as a friend. Thanks for tainting my good memories on what kind of person you must be. Hope you have a great life. Real shitty dude. Real NOT COOL and shitty. Thank you for letting me know what you think about me, you know without saying a thing. (You could have had some balls and let me know what the hell I did to make you not want to ever be connected with me) I will make sure I remove all your pics from my page as well as any nice reviews on you. Wow – SUPER OFFENDED.

I wasn’t aware this person was connected to me, followed me or had any opinion of me. That’s her point. And it’s mine.

My “friends” list topped 2,000 at some point. That’s absolutely impossible to personally (meaning, “in a personal way”) manage and because I have to stay tethered to Facebook for parental, business and other 21st Century, post-modern purposes, my goal is to limit my personal, private account to family. That’s all, folks. Nothing sinister.

Most of us grew up without any of this. How did we survive? Nobody prepared us for this. Facebook, for me, has become more of a stress and worry about what I don’t do vs. what I do; a chess move with game-changing consequences I fail to predict. Did I forget to post an impersonal “Happy Birthday” on someone’s wall that I’ve never met? Did I “like” that picture of someone’s half-eaten breakfast? Did I “tag” enough people in a “Cucumber Scares Cat” YouTube video? 374 unanswered “pokes.”

Perception isn’t something anyone has ever been able to control and social media doesn’t help. All of this has enabled us to insulate and produce ourselves in a virtual reality show that validates our own ideology and disengages us from those who challenge it. It’s made the world a smaller place, but it’s also made the world a much more polarized one. It allows us to reach more, but permits us to invest less in others.

I begin with, “I believe” because I’ve learned the hard way that some folks will fail to recognize I acknowledge the subjectivity in all of this. I get it. So, I believe tagging yourself in a selfie at a Trump or Clinton protest doesn’t do as much for your sincerity as surrendering any desire for relevance when supporting a cause or a friend. If I had to choose another reason for avoiding Facebook, then I’ve little patience for self-indulgent, disingenuous, at-arms-length (at social-media’s-length) activism. How many times have you changed your profile picture in solidarity? I have. That’s not a bad thing. Now, how many times have you compromised, risked or even forfeited your own interests for a friend or a cause?

It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.Harry Truman

I believe folks who exclaim, “I don’t care what people think!” are disingenuous and irresponsible. We should care what people think. It governs our sensibility. “What people think” can’t rule our lives, but I believe it separates the thoughtful from the thoughtless. I care very much that the person who sent me that message perceives a choice I made about social media and my privacy as a negative reaction to her in any way, shape or form. I wasn’t given an opportunity to respond. She sent the message and then blocked me. I still made an effort to contact her. I believe challenging someone without rising to that challenge is counter-intuitive. Facebook has allowed us to exploit one another, to hold each other hostage with expectations unbeknownst to those we’re digitally connected to; disappointed in how you’re portraying a role in someone’s world you’re unaware you’re playing a part in!

In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. Life?s most persistent and urgent question is, “What are you doing for others?”Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I’m the biggest mouthpiece for the idea that inaction speaks louder than words. This isn’t that. You can be a voice or make a choice that says, “This is not okay.” How many times have you said that? How many times have you said it out-loud? How many times have you said it to an actual human being or THE human being responsible or those who allow whatever “this” is to be okay? How many times have you stuck around for a response?

Like anything, we can all choose to be productive or destructive with these wonderful toys. The time-wasting, passive-aggressiveness and the weaponizing of Facebook and other social media isn’t something I want to participate in. It’s hurt the relationships in my life and those around me more than it’s helped. I’m drawing this line in an effort to erase one. I don’t believe social media should be the only means by which to cultivate relationships. Considering I survived 34 years of my life without Facebook, I think I’ll survive a few more.

My arts and business pages are out there for anyone who wishes to keep up with any of that. My website hasn’t changed since 1999 and has always been the main source of sharing what I do (meaning, “for a living”).

If you’d like to keep up with me personally, please do… personally. I would say, “Facebook is too easy,” but doing less with Facebook has proven just as provocative. So… a needle pulling thread.

We Are Sydney Cline

October 16, 2015

Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex. It takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.E.F. Schumacher

I was given a tremendous gift, this past Saturday. Let me begin by sharing and paraphrasing the email I received.

On Oct 7, 2015, at 11:24 pm, Sydney Cline wrote:

Hey Jeff! Long time, no talk. 🙂 The deadline for the Tori Kelly audition submission was moved to this coming Monday, Oct. 12th. Thinking I would have to have the video recorded and edited by this past Monday, though, I went ahead and made a “Lay Me Down” cover by Sam Smith in the campus library’s music room, last week, anyway, just so I could submit something and compete. Sunday, when I got back to school, I went back to the library and quickly filmed, “Riptide.” Long story short, I’m home again for fall break; now until Sunday. I would love to make this video and song my best work; something I’m proud of and want to share with everyone, so they can vote. This being said, I would love your guidance and help. I know you are extremely busy and I would be grateful for whatever time you could offer. If you have any free time and would be interested in helping me, I would love it. I have this break, now, to focus on making it perfect, so I thought you could definitely help make it my best.

Sydney Cline was one of my Voice and Artist Development students for almost two years before being accepted and heading off this fall to North Carolina State University. From day one, she managed her own sessions. That includes her scheduling, her goals, her responsibility – her everything. That “everything,” in my experience, makes the biggest difference between those who “will” and those who “won’t.” Those who “should” and those who “shouldn’t.”

Sydney, like most (if not all) artists I know, is indeed a perfectionist. What I’ve come to realize and encourage through years of trial and error, is that there’s beauty, originality and style in imperfection. Imperfection is the very thing every artist should explore and exploit. But, that’s a blog for another day.

So, “Squyd” and I meet at the studio. She shares both videos with me. Half-way through viewing the second one, I asked her to stop. I was beaming with pride. It was imperfectly perfect. Sure, her voice sounded great. Sure, she had the right amount of variation and creativity. All the technique in the world didn’t compare to the initiative she took. I’m not talking about blind ambition or ego. She didn’t go big. She went smart. She knows who she is. She found the right track and arrangement for her voice. She secured a room at the library. It was clever. She recorded, edited, uploaded and submitted the video on her own terms, making the most of her resources on campus, for a campus-related event; as opposed to filming an expensive, technology and production-saturated chef-d’oeuvre. At the end of the day, that’s what makes the biggest difference to me. Simple. Smart. Autonomy.

Sydney gave me the greatest gift I could ask for as a teacher. Trust. I don’t define what I do or how I do it by how much I get done by the end of the day. Did I make a difference in someone’s life? The “she’s got this” kinda’ difference? She answered that question on Saturday. Thank you, Squyd.

Sydney Cline isn’t Hickory Arts. We are Sydney Cline.

Jeff Hartman, Artistic Director