Barry Berman, MD, a long-time, dedicated pediatrician, began his career nearly 30 years ago.
Long before that, he began his life as a musician.
“I started playing the piano at 8 years old, and I’ve been in bands since I was 13,” said Dr. Berman.
As a teenager, he played many different genres of music in many different bands. But it wasn’t until 15 years ago that he teamed up with a group of musicians he’s still with today.
The Slick Rhodes Band, made up of Dr. Berman on keyboards and vocals, Dean Kershaw on drums, Robert Roomet on bass, Ron Ruggiero on guitar, and Jeff Smith on guitar, perform twice a month in the local area.
“Any more than that would be work,” Dr. Berman said.
He compared his experience with the band to a song.
“You know the song, ‘The Life I Love is Playing Music with my Friends’ by Willie Nelson? That’s why we do it. We just have the most fun.”
As a pediatrician, Berman deals with the stresses of medicine every day. Music is a kind of escape from that stress.
“Playing music really is a great mental health balancer.”
And he uses his experience with music to guide some of his patients.
“I talk to my teenage patients about careers,” Dr. Berman said. “I tell them to make sure they get a job that they can not only say, ‘Thank God it’s Friday,’ but can also say, ‘Thank God it’s Monday.’”
The Slick Rhodes Band plays mostly classic rock – a style Berman’s wife isn’t a fan of.
“We have a deal,” he said. “The deal is whatever money I make at my hobby, pays for her hobby.”
Mrs. Berman enjoys scrapbooking, stamping, and crafting.
“So, when I say I have band practice, she happily asks when my next gig is,” he said.
Their extensive song list includes classics such as “Gimme Three Steps” by Lynyrd Skynyrd, “Wonderful Tonight” by Eric Clapton, and “Long Live Rock” by The Who.
When asked what song gets the crowd the most excited, he said it’s an uncommon choice.
“Johnny Cash, ‘Folsom Prison Blues,’” said Dr. Berman. “We often omit ‘Folsom Prison’ from the set list. But we frequently read the crowd, look at each other and say, ‘Let’s play it.’”
As soon as the crowd hears the guitar intro, they flock to the dance floor.
Sometimes those people are patients he knows from the practice.
“One time we had just gotten done playing and I saw a guy making his way through the crowd,” he recalled. “The guy said, ‘You look just like my kid’s pediatrician.’”
“It’s just fun,” he said. “We do it because we love it.”
Dr. Berman is board certified in pediatrics. He completed his residency in pediatrics at Saint Vincent’s Medical Center of Staten Island, and earned his medical degree at Noreste University School of Medicine, Tampico, Tamaulipas, Mexico. He also holds a Master of Science in Clinical Pharmacy from St. John’s University in New York.
Check out slickrhodesband.com for more information and upcoming shows.