A group of doctors affiliated with Southampton Hospital has been trading scalpels and stethoscopes for instruments of the musical kind, trying to combat their own stress with some blues — and some rock and roll.
Gathered in a Wading River basement, Dr. Denise Myers and six other doctors, along with the director of security at Southampton Hospital, recently prepared for a show they will perform in Riverhead in just over a week.
The band, appropriately named Side Fx, has grown from five members to eight in the past two years. And the members say they consider music their therapy – their release from high-pressure hospital life.
“We all work like 80 hours a week, and to be able to get away from that is fun,” said Dr. Jason Argiro, a hospital physician, or hospitalist. “It’s not death and dying. This is fun, happy.”
Dr. Myers, a respiratory therapist, and Dr. Scott Hilton, an internal medicine resident, handle vocals while Dr. Rachel Hughes, also an internal medicine resident, plays keyboard.
Dr. Francis Yoo, another resident, plays base guitar and Dr. Raymond Mantovani, a pulmonologist, plays electric guitar. Steve Ormond, director of security, backs them all up on the drums. He has been playing since he was 3 years old. Dr. Argiro plays the saxophone, and speech pathologist Dr. John Amado supports the band on vocals and guitar.
Band members range in age from 27 to 67, which they say brings real character to their performances.
“It brings a different feel to the music,” Dr. Myers said. “We do some of the oldies and now more of the updated stuff with these young guys.”
Their set list includes everything from the Blues Brothers’ “Soul Man” to Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep.”
While some members are classically trained, including Dr. Hughes, who has been playing since age 5, others began playing more recently. Dr. Hilton had never performed vocals previously, while Dr. Myers has been performing professionally since age 16. She also performs solo shows a few times a month on the side.
Hectic schedules make finding time to practice difficult, so Dr. Myers keeps a stash of instruments in her hospital locker for spur-of-the-moment practices. A miniature keyboard and guitar do the trick, Dr. Myers joked.
As the band practiced, Dr. Mantovani was on call, receiving calls about patients.
Band members say the best part of performing is the support they get from fellow hospital staff, and even a few patients.
“We represent so many different areas of the hospital,” Dr. Argiro said.
“I’m always surprised at every performance, at which people show up to see us. Well-respected members of the hospital, nurses and even some kitchen staff come,” Dr. Hilton said. “There’s always a buzz around the hospital a week or so after a show.”
Side Fx’s next show is scheduled for 6 p.m. Sunday, June 30, at the Outerbanks Restaurant at Indian Island Country Club in Riverhead.