Doctor discovers healing touch through music

BRIAN BAKER/TOWN CRIER EMOTIONAL RESCUE: Gynaecological oncologist Dr. Jason Dodge, who is releasing his second album Sept. 26, says the source of his inspiration is his line of work.

BRIAN BAKER/TOWN CRIER
EMOTIONAL RESCUE: Gynaecological oncologist Dr. Jason Dodge, who is releasing his second album Sept. 26, says the source of his inspiration is his line of work.

Inspired by patient, Jason Dodge embarks on musical journey

Dr. John. Dr. Hook. And Dr. Dodge.

Of all those musicians who have the doctorate designation in their name, Jason Dodge is the only practising physician.

He’s a gynaecological oncologist at Princess Margaret Hospital, and he plays several instruments — piano being his mainstay.

The Leasider shares this while sitting in the front room of his home. He’s preparing for the Sept. 26 CD launch party at the El Mocambo for his second album, Always.

His first album, Life Between Pings was released in 2012. It’s a mix of genres, including ’80s power ballads, bluesy pop ditties and slow Nashville-inspired jams, a la Eddie Rabbit.

Dodge admits he’s always been musical. He was in theatre during his youth, and was a member of Western University’s marching band for nine years.

Still, how did a doctor, who tends to many patients on the palliative care floor at PMH, get into cutting two full-length albums?

Simple: one of his patients, a well-known member of the art community, encouraged him to.

“I met Kate, my patient at work. She was an art director for a living, and she and I spent a fair bit of time talking about life and art,” he says. “She was dying of cancer, and sitting and talking was what we liked to do. I was fortunate that we bonded in ways besides talking about her disease.

“We became friends, talked about music, and she asked me to play a little bit, so I did,” he adds. “In fact, I had written a song that didn’t have words at the time, so I included that in the little concert I played for her on the palliative care floor at the hospital and clearly there wasn’t a dry eye after I did that concert.”

He’s soft-spoken when he recalls Kate, adding out of respect he avoids giving her surname. There’s a subtle tremble that threatens to break his composure, but it ebbs, and he continues to narrate his 2010 experience.

“She said, ‘You need to be the entertainment at my — not wake, but party. I’d like you to play the song you did, and here’s a list of a couple more. I’d like you to do your thing’,” he says, adding the service for Kate was held at the Art Gallery of Ontario. “That really touched me and I think it was her way of saying this something you really have a gift for, and ‘Sharing it with other people, like you did for me, would be very special’.”

Two years later, Life Between Pings was born, thanks to the help of a colleague’s husband, Dave Ward, who was a music producer.

Dodge parted ways with Ward, but with the help of new producer Michael Bloom session musicians Bob McAlpine (guitar), Don Dixon (drums) and Mike Gresko (bass), Always was brought to life, and will be available on iTunes, Oct. 1.

There’s even talk of the third album being cut in Los Angeles.

“It’s incredible to get the opportunity to do that,” Dodge admits.

But that begs the question: will he give up oncology to follow his musical dream?

“I don’t think I’d leave it completely,” he says. “I think I’m too passionate about caring about people.
“Would I take a break for a little while, to be able to share that side of me with people too? Sure. But I wanted to be a doctor since I was 3.

“Caring for women of cancer and their families is an important part of who I am, and I don’t want to lose that or give that up.”

 

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Toronto-based journalist, fighting the power one deadline at a time.

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