Paul Hartley in Aspen (2005) with John Denver's #2 guitar
Paul Hartley is a Point Loma real estate broker with a power boat moored at Shelter Island. “My grandfather taught me to sail before I was five,” he says.
He’s also known as the singer/guitarist in Indian Joe and the Chiefs, a harmony-heavy classic rock quartet (think Eagles, CSNY) that’s been a fixture at Seaport Village.
“We’ve been playing for 26 years. About a year and a half ago Indian Joe told us that he had to retire and he asked us to retire the name. He told us he couldn’t do the licks anymore because of arthritis. We haven’t settled on a permanent name but we’re working with Paul Hartley and the Chiefs.”
Though a recent boating accident threatened Hartley’s music career, it seems the band didn’t have to cancel any gigs.
“I was helping a [Shelter Island boating] neighbor put fuel in his tank [on September 20th] so he could go to Catalina. We were coming back into the slip, but it wouldn’t go into reverse. We were trying to get the boat stopped. He asked me to get the stern line.... I got my hand close to the cleat.... I snapped off two and half fingers.”
Hartley says all the nearby boaters jumped in to help. “A half dozen others came out to find the fingers. One guy dove in to look for them. We only found one piece. The doctor decided it wasn’t going to work.”
Hartley’s right-hand digits now include the thumb and pinky.
“It’s been three weeks and I have no bandages. I’ve already been on a trip to Catalina and I’ve been golfing.” To help him play guitar, “I stopped into Mark’s Guitar [Exchange] in Point Loma and they helped me figure out how to use a thumb pick. The strumming is awkward. It will take some getting used to, but I’ve played four gigs already [the first was three days after the accident]. When I played in Catalina, the guys who I played for were very sympathetic. I got a standing ovation from 170 people.”
Hartley says he refuses to “wallow in self-pity.... A lot of people have had worse things happen to them than what I just went through. I’m going to have to get used to it. I want to live joyfully and enjoy this life the best as I can until I move on to the next one.... I just want people to know you always have a choice in how you react to stuff. And while it’s good to grieve, it’s better to move forward.”
Paul Hartley and the Chiefs appear Sunday 1–4 p.m. at the gazebo at the foot of the Hyatt in Seaport Village.