Music marathon, auction on tap

Eight-hour event proceeds benefit guitarist Donald Oesher

Eight-hour event proceeds benefit guitarist Donald Oesher

March 13, 2003|by KATE COLEMAN

When he was a kid in Falls Church, Va., Don Oesher's grandmother bought herself a little Swedish guitar.

She never learned to play it, but when Oesher was about 14, he did. He played piano, and he played the trumpet in school, but the guitar became his instrument.

"I guess it spoke to me," he says.

Oesher, 49, continued to play, becoming a professional guitarist, playing lead with five bands. He played a variety of venues through the years, opening for headlining performers, including Jerry Lee Lewis, the Fabulous Thunderbirds, NRBQ and The Ramones. He was a regular at The Childe Harold in Washington, D.C., from 1978 to 1980.

Like many musicians, Oesher, who lives in Keedysville, has needed day jobs.

On Dec. 13, he was working as a cabinetmaker when a multiblade saw cut off the ring and middle fingers of his left hand below the top knuckle.


These are the fingers that press the strings onto the guitar neck, choosing the notes, forming the chords, making the music.

Oesher is healing. He's doing occupational therapy, and he's exploring alternative ways to play the instrument that has been such a large part of his life for many years. "It's very frustrating and depressing," he says.

Beginning at 4 p.m. Sunday, there will be music - a marathon of music for Oesher - at the Shepherdstown Train Station in Shepherdstown, W.Va.

The event, which will include an auction, will help with Oesher's medical expenses, therapy and eventual prosthesis.

But it's about more than that. A community of artists and friends will come together - some from hours away - to join in music and love and support for artist and friend Don Oesher.

Trombonist Cam Millar has played with Oesher for a few years in the Lisa Lafferty Quintet.

"Don is extremely versatile," he says. Oesher plays rock, folk, jazz and classical guitar, as well, he says. Millar, who is working on his master's degree in New York, will travel about five hours for the event.

Millar's wife, Kitty Clark, a Shepherdstown dancer and choreographer, will not perform but also is making the trip.

"It's important. It's what you do," she says.

Oesher hasn't seen Catfish Hodge for 18 years. But bluesman Hodge, with 25 albums and the first Western Maryland Blues Fest in Hagerstown on his list of credits, will come to play Sunday in Shepherdstown. Hodge describes his music as "Catfish music," American roots music.

He'll drive in from Cleveland, after performances there and in Michigan. He heard about the accident when Oesher's wife, Laura First, called him.

"Is there anything I can do?" he asked.

He'll be doing it at the Train Station. He'll be there because he can be there.

"I know what the darkness in the hallway looks like. I know what it's like to feel like your life is over," Hodge, 57, says.

He says Oesher is a great guitarist, and he's glad to be part of the event. Money will be raised, but Hodge says he sees the event as more of an emotional and spiritual support for Don Oesher.

Hodge has known darkness, but he's also seen sunshine.

The gathering of artists and friends in an event for his benefit makes Oesher uncomfortable.

But his friend and fellow musician Lafferty set him straight.

"It's not about you," she told him.

First agrees. "They need to do it," she says of their friends, their musical community.

Oesher says he's not ready to look at the accident as a godsend, but he acknowledges that a lot of new doors are opening.

Music Marathon & Auction

4 p.m. to midnight, Sunday, March 16

Shepherdstown Train Station

Audrey Egle Drive

Shepherdstown, W.Va.

The event is a benefit for guitarist Don Oesher. Suggested donation is $15.

Guests are asked to bring an appetizer or main dish to share. Drinks will be sold. Tableware will be provided.

Directions: From Hagerstown take Md. 65 south to Sharpsburg. Turn right on Md. 34 west. Take 34 through Sharpsburg, across the Potomac River into Shepherdstown.

Turn left on German Street at four-way stop. Go through downtown and four-way stop. Turn left to Train Station parking lot on Audrey Egle Drive.

For information, call 1-304-876-2690 or 1-304-876-6055.

The Herald-Mail Articles