As part of the Tune In & Tune Up program, an 11-piece band made up almost exclusively of practicing physicians performs at The Met to raise awareness for musicians.
Patrick Anderson Journal Staff Writer patrickanderso_
PAWTUCKET, R.I. — Late nights, constant travel and hours of loud noise in an alcohol-soaked environment: Being a musician can be bad for your health.
To make matters worse, gigs often don't pay that well and never come with health insurance benefits, so many musicians go years without a trip to the doctor.
"I noticed a lot of guys out on the road didn't take care of themselves. As they got older it was taking its toll on them," said Don "DC" Culp, veteran session drummer and co-chair of Tune In & Tune Up, the Rhode Island Music Hall of Fame's musician health awareness program.
Now Tune In & Tune Up's efforts to promote musician health have lead to the Rock'n Docs, an 11-piece band made up almost exclusively of practicing physicians.
They played for the second time Sunday night at The Met in a charity performance for Tune In & Tune Up that was the rare rock show featuring free blood pressure screenings.
"We thought if we were going to do a benefit concert, why not get a group of doctors together," said Dr. Al Puerini, Culp's personal physician and the organizer of the Rock'n Docs. "We put the word out and were surprised how many people responded."
The Rock'n Docs, which play classic rock and R&B, have two saxophone players, two guitarists and two keyboard players.
They also feature a urologist, eye surgeon and a child psychologist.
Four members of the band were in a separate band called "beyond therapy," but others did not know each other or had not been in a band in years. Culp said he provided some pointers, but the band came together quickly.
Puerini said they plan to play a benefit show at least twice a year.
Culp: "All doctors want to be musicians and all musicians want the salary of doctors."
At the Feeling Alright Health Fair and Concert this summer, where the Rock'n Docs played their first show, a musician who came complaining he wasn't feeling well was examined and diagnosed with severe tooth decay, Puerini said.
The patient was referred to a sympathetic dentist and later outfitted with dentures.
For a profession that has lost many of its most famous members to substance abuse, the ongoing opioid epidemic has heightened the importance of health care.
Pierre Manzo, who plays drums in Rock'n Docs, said he lost a brother to opioids.
Rebecca Boss, director of the Rhode Island Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals, is a supporter of Tune In & Tune Up and was backstage Sunday evening with the Rock'n Docs.
"A lot of local musicians are recovering," Boss said, adding that a lot of band members spend a lot of time together on the road. "If we can educate them to identify the warnings signs it would be a big help."
On Twitter: @PatrickAnderso_
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