A musician in the audience


With a fiddle, a guitar, and bass,

The auditorium served up the space

You couldn’t go wrong

With a fine blue grass song

And the mandolin followed the trace

SYNOPSIS:  I’m a Family Practitioner from Sioux City, Iowa.  In 2010 I danced back from the brink of burnout, sold my share of a private practice, and, honoring a 1-year non-compete clause, went to have adventures in Alaska, Nebraska, Iowa, and New Zealand.  I returned to take a part-time position with a Community Health Center, now down to 40 hours a week from 54.  Right now I’m in Petersburg, Alaska, on a 1 month working vacation. 

Thursday clinic went a little long, but I finished documentation by 530.  Tired, sleepy and hungry, I shopped the grocery store with a bias towards instant gratification, then came home and bolted cheese, garlic toast, artichoke hearts and sun-dried tomatoes.  Then I drove back to the high school.

I haven’t seen much of Petersburg High School besides the auditorium.  It serves as the movie theater for the island, but it also serves as the venue for live music.

I arrived while the opening act finished their first number.  I took a seat at the back.

Double Rock Band performs bluegrass locally.  Three siblings play, respectively, fiddle, mandolin, and guitar; a fourth woman plays string bass.  The oldest has not yet attained the age of 16.  They played well, they even sang with Appalachian accents.  If an opening act or back up group functions mainly to make the headliner look good, Double Rock Band will never succeed; they perform too well.  Even if their showmanship hasn’t acquired polish their musicianship shines and they play from the heart.

After four numbers, they left the stage and they left the audience fully impressed.

The audience conversation buzz filled the room while the stage made minimal changes.  I saw half a dozen people I’d seen in clinic.  In a town this size, everybody knows everybody.

I napped.

I suppose lessons in the performing arts start with making the audience wait, and by the time the Ruth Moody Band came on stage I had come to appreciate Double Rock’s lack of polished showmanship. 

Ruth Moody played two sets.  Billed as a bluegrass band, in the 60s I would have called them folk.  While most of the audience just enjoyed the music, I noted the bass and the fiddle had fantastic coordination.  Ruth herself sang well and with passion.  From time to time I slipped into the moment and I just listened.

When I played with Synergy in Barrow (see entries this blog from the summer of 2010) I lived in the moment while the music rolled out of my saxophone.  I find it harder to get into the moment while listening.  But the last number, Troubles and Woes, brought me there.  Justifiably, it brought down the house.  They saved the best for the last. 

Then came the predictable standard standing ovation and the encore.

Outside, the night had warmed and smelled like snow coming.  More tired than hungry now, I dropped into bed before 10:00.

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