Keegan Ales in Kingston hosts musical benefit for a beloved musician this Sunday
Even on the slim chance that you don’t know Peter Buettner, Keegan Ales in Kingston is the place to be this Sunday. You’ll hear many of the Hudson Valley’s finest musicians perform, and you can place bids for Silent Auction items of rare, practical and wondrous value. Most importantly, the afternoon-into-evening event will show you how the people of the Hudson Valley put heart and soul into assisting a talented and beloved member of their community. All proceeds from “Playing for Peter: A Musical Benefit and Silent Auction for Peter Buettner” will go directly to Buettner, who has recently been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and is now adapting to a new way and view of life.
Due to the tremors associated with the disease, it’s no longer possible for Buettner to work as a carpenter or to perform on his beloved woodwind instruments. The benefit and an online GoFundMe drive were initiated to help him to offset lost wages, to pay for treatments not covered by his health insurance and to buy him some time while he transitions away from his longtime livelihoods.
Buettner says that he has had tremors for years, and people had noticed “a little shuffle in my walk.” About a year ago, he went to a neurologist and was told to check back in three months. “I was in denial. I didn’t want to know, but by midsummer, I knew I had to go. One way I knew I needed to get myself checked out was that the instruments were moving too much in my mouth to get a good sound,” he says. “I was performing on my flute with a choir at the monastery and was shaking so badly I could barely play.”
Now that the medicine prescribed for him is kicking in, he can do a little flute-playing, but it will be a while before he can play out again. He voluntary gave up carpentry because it was dangerous and ineffective for him to be a part of a crew, but now he has to figure out how to make a living again.
One “blessing in disguise” following on the heels of acceptance has been that he’s writing a lot of music. “I was ready to get out of the building trades, and wanted to have more time for composing, but this wasn’t the way I thought I’d do it,” he says. “I’m taking full advantage of that, and have been using a Sibelius notation program to write music for woodwind quintets and classical art music ensembles. The software has a large number of orchestral sounds and plays back pretty well. I’m not sure yet how or if I’ll be able to make a living from doing it, or if I’ll be able to raise the money to pay performers; but there is gratification from doing it for now.”
Thus far, the degenerative disease has not affected Buettner’s strength, balance or digital dexterity, and he is still able to drive, cook, stack wood and complete other functions of daily life. “It was tough, initially, but I’m dealing with it, and have come to accept the prognosis and am getting on with my life,” says Buettner. “All the bitter tears in the world won’t make any difference.”
Meditating frequently, reading Tibetan Buddhism books and spending time at Karma Triyana Dharmachakra (KTD), the Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Woodstock, have all helped enormously, he says, adding, “Deterioration of the body is inevitable. All of us will be in the hot seat at some point. It’s not like any of us can escape that. Meditation helps keep my mind calm, and watching my diet, acupuncture, qigong, yoga, exercise, taking walks and runs…all are helping to strengthen my immune system and assist my body in dealing with the stresses of the disease.”
Buettner has lived in the Woodstock area for 35 years, and many know him for his fine carpentry work and for his musical performances with PRANA, Futu Futu and Mambo Kikongo, as well as his longtime affiliation with musicians from the Creative Music Studio. He admits that the outpouring of support from musicians, friends, tradespeople and others has been “astounding. I really love this place, and the people for it. It’s been amazing, inspirational, and it makes me want to help others, too,” he says. “I mean, I always did help others, but now, just, oh my God – the interconnectedness of all of us is a very special thing about this community.”
And, he advises, if you notice that something in your own body just isn’t right or you’re experiencing tremors that won’t go away, “Get yourself checked out. It’s not always Parkinson’s; there can other neurological disorders – even Lyme disease or vitamin and mineral deficiencies – that can cause tremors.”
Broadening to a wide perspective, Buettner – who has himself performed countless benefits for others in need over the past many years – adds, “Be kind to one another as often as you can. We’re all in the same boat, and I feel like this diagnosis has changed my life for the better – even facing physical disability. I was always afraid of getting something, and now that I’ve got it, it’s real. It’s here. There’s a lot of energy and research now around Parkinson’s, and things like new drugs and deep brain stimulation techniques are not a cure, but something will come up.”
The musical lineup, as of presstime, will be the Lindsey Webster Band, the D Squared Blues Band, Blue Food, Kyle Esposito & Friends (featuring members of Naked and Backburners), Gus Mancini’s Sonic Soul Band, Mark Marshall, Kevin Chase, Mister Kick, the Gold Hope Duo, Joe Beesmer, Feast of Friends, Willie Smith, Petito, Levin, Lawrence & Siegel and the New Review.
Silent Auction items donated, to date, include: Guru Padmasambhava, drawing and calligraphy by Jamyang Dorjee Chakrishar (stamped and signed by the artist and by His Holiness, the Dalai Lama); a Spector Rex 5 bass; Charm, oil on canvas by Kathleen McGuiness; a full day of recording or mixing at Area 52 Recording Studio with engineer Dave Cook; plus an array of artwork, photography, classes, books, gift baskets and gift certificates from service businesses, restaurants, retailers and individuals. Donations are still being accepted at www.playingforpeter.com.
In addition to the fundraiser on Sunday at Keegan Ales, a GoFundMe account at www.gofundme.com/745pmhpw has been established for online monetary donations.
Playing for Peter: A Musical Benefit & Silent Auction for Peter Buettner, Sunday, November 1, 2 p.m., $10+, Keegan Ales, 14 St. James Street, Kingston; www.playingforpeter.com.