By Janet I. Martineau

Forget about doctors who wield scalpels and stethoscopes and are dressed in surgical blues.

Come Saturday, April 23, during the 8th Annual Saginaw on Stage concert, they’ll sing, play electric guitars and saxophones, and probably be dressed in blueJEANS.

“We call ourselves the Covenant Which Doctors Musical Consortium, and we formed about two years ago,” says spokesman Larry Daly, one of four members of the group who are not doctors but who work for the 4,000-employee Covenant HealthCare system. “We showcase a lot of talent not usually displayed in the operating room. Collectively there are 12 to 14 of us.”

And yes, it is Which Doctors, not Witch Doctors, because they’re never sure who will perform during a planned concert due to, well, a medical emergency.

The Covenant Which Doctors are new to this year’s Saginaw on Stage roster, which features 28 bands performing on five stages at the Apple Mountain Resort and Conference Center in Freeland.

Running from 4:30 p.m. to 11 p.m., the concert is sponsored by the Rotary Club of Saginaw as a fund-raiser benefitting local charities and groups. The Which Doctors will perform a mix of folk, blues and rock, but also on the bill from the other bands are country, Cajun, jazz, bluegrass, acoustic, Celtic and world music.

Daly, who is the director of planning and business development at Covenant, says the Which Doctors formed on a whim to participate in a Covenant employee talent show and then got hooked on the idea of continuing the concert gigs.

They split into a variety of acts, he says, “because it would be a sound nightmare to have nine guitarists up there playing all at once. We have a couple of solo and duo acts that are acoustic/folk, a bluesy band and a rock band, all of which will perform at Saginaw on Stage.”

Among the Covenant-employed performers, besides Levy, are

  • James Bersalona, a MedExpress physician.
  • Guy Boike, a oncological/gyn surgeon and advanced robotic surgeon.
  • Erica Canales, an OB/GYN physician.
  • Tim Eckstein, the medical director of the Covenant Occupational Medicine Program.
  • Peter Fattal, a cardiologist with MCVI and Covenant.
  • Chris Jarema, a surgical technician.
  • Tom Minnec, an OB/GYN physician.
  • Brent Racca, a surgical technician.
  • Brian Schroeder, medical director of the Covenant Hospital Medicine Program.
  • Al VanArsdal, director of human resources.

“Dr. Boike’s wife, Kris Ciesliga, joins us on harmonica and keyboards. Dr. Canales performs with her mom, Carol Levack. Terry Mohn joins us on vocals, and he is married to a Covenant surgical nurse

“For Saginaw on Stage, we’ll start with the folk and solo acts, then do the blues group and work up to the rock band,” says Daly, noting the rock ranges from Frank Zappa to the Black Crowes.

They’ll play a 90-minute set, starting at 6:30 p.m. in the Bierlein Room. The show schedule can be found here.

Getting the consortium together to rehearse is nearly impossible, Daly admits, “so there is a lot of homework, learning the lyrics and the music.” Their ages range from 30s to late 50s.

Other than hospital-related events, the Which Doctors have played in the Blue Line Club before Saginaw Spirit hockey games. Daly recalls that at one of those gigs, a girl in the audience was celebrating her seventh birthday. “I brought her up on stage and gave her a (guitar) pick and talked with her. We found out then not only was she she born at Covenant but she was delivered by Dr. Minnec. So it was a reunion of sorts!”

For Saginaw on Stage, there is a link as well. This year’s beneficiary is the Sleepsack Project at Covenant HeathCare. It provides every newborn with a sleepsack designed to reduce the risks of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

Tickets to Saginaw on Stage are $20 for adults and $5 for students in advance; $25 and $10 the day of the concert. To buy, call (989) 776-9425 or stop by the White Crow Conservatory of Music, 3636 Mackinaw; Westside Decorating, 3505 State, or Flagstar Bank, 4975 Bay Road. For more information, visit the Rotary website. 

Among the sponsors of Saginaw on Stage are Covenant HealthCare, Bierlein Companies, Stevens Worldwide Vanlines, Ziba Medical Spa, Merrill Lynch, and Hausbeck Pickles & Peppers.

© Janet I. Martineau, 2011