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,”
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