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Bozeman Health News

Section: Employee News

Cookin’ Up Some Cosmic Sounds With Squirrel Gravy

05/24/2016

By day, they are serious and dedicated doctors; at night, they trade professional attire and stethoscopes for flannels and jeans, guitar and bass. As “Squirrel Gravy,” two Bozeman Health physicians and band mates have been performing music they dub “Cosmic American” just about every month around Bozeman for the past year and a half.

Brothers Steffan May, MD, of Bozeman Health Internal Medicine Clinic, and Kenneth May, MD, PhD, of Bozeman Health Cancer Center, enjoy pursuing music as a break from medicine, but also view it as contributing to the care they give.

“There’s been good word-of-mouth around the hospital about the band, and now some of our patients are coming to hear us,” said Ken. “I’ve had patients come to a show with their families just a couple of weeks before they passed away and really have a good time. The music really brings people together.”

“We want people to come out and socialize, and we’re really happy to help people do that,” Steffan said. “Our ideal is to get people up and moving around.”

The pair have been groovin’ on tunes together practically since birth. Coming from a musical family, they first learned harmonies as their parents rocked them to sleep singing Beatles songs.

“There’s probably some brotherly genetic connection that makes our harmonies interesting,” Ken smiled. “Our music is really duet driven,” added Steffan. Their sound is a blend of classic rock and country rock, with a bit of bluegrass style and funk influence, all designed to be danceable.

Both brothers began playing instruments in high school – guitar for Ken and bass for Steffan – but Steffan became the better guitar player, said Ken, so they switched. They put together their first band, “The May Natraction,” while both were attending The Ohio State University College of Medicine. Joined by lab mates on drums and mandolin, they played covers and original tunes written by Steffan for two years, including frequent gigs in Columbus and their hometown of Dayton.

After Ken graduated, Steffan continued to perform solo, and has since recorded three CDs of his original songs, on which he plays all instruments—guitar, bass, drums, banjo, keyboard and more. Steffan now is learning the steel guitar, while Ken improves his bass playing. That’s been made easier now that drummer Brett Goodell joined the band, since it’s hard to learn to play bass without a good drummer, according to Steffan. “I just try to do a good job playing whatever Steffan wants me to,” Ken acknowledged.

Squirrel Gravy also has a fiddle player, Michelle Magart, and friends who sit in occasionally, including Terry Mann, MD, of Gallatin Valley Anesthesia on mandolin. Squirrel Gravy or Steffan’s solo act have performed at the Haufbrau, American Legion, Filling Station, Wild Joe’s, 406 Brewing, Cold Smoke Coffeehouse, Lockhorn Cider House, Sacajawea Bar in Three Forks and Katabatic Brewery in Livingston, with more dates scheduled for 2016.

Although they have no intention of giving up medicine, the two joke they are waiting for their big break in music. They played one major gig already, opening this past summer for country star Terri Clark at the Gallatin County Fair. “We felt like rock stars, playing on such a big stage,” Ken said.

Music will always be part of their lives, the two agreed. “One of the greatest joys of my life is playing music with my brother, who is my favorite musician,” said Ken. Added Steffan, “We love reaching out, being part of the community and bringing people together.”

For more information on the band and a schedule of upcoming shows, visit the Squirrel Gravy Facebook page or www.steffanmaymusic.com.

Categories: Employee News