Some believe that music has healing abilities and Sacred Heart Hospital on the Gulf in Port St. Joe saw it first-hand.
Before this year’s Blast on the Bay songwriters’ festival even started filling Port St. Joe and Mexico Beach with songs straight out of Nashville, visiting writers Tim Buppert, Bob Regan and Wil Nance paid a visit to the hospital to perform for patients who wouldn’t be able to make it out to the weekend’s festivities.
At a previous festival Buppert told Paulina Pendarvis, Physician and Volunteers Services Advocate for Sacred Heart that he’d be interested in playing for the patients. This year, before the Blast could begin, Pendarvis reached out to take Buppert up on his offer.
Buppert enlisted the help of some of his friends and they arrived at the hospital with guitars and fiddles in tow.
“It was a great experience and the people were wonderful,” said Bob Regan, a Grammy-nominated Nashville songwriter whose tunes have been recorded by Hank Williams, Jr., Reba McEntire and Keith Urban.
The festival brought Regan to Port St. Joe for the first time and he accompanied Buppert and Nance to the hospital where they visited five patients and played a mix of cover songs that included Motown hits and even some western swing. Regan also wrote original one-verse songs for each patient.
“I remember being in the hospital a few years back, and it can get a little boring,” said Regan. “Hopefully we broke it up.”
In addition to being a full-time songwriter and musician, Regan spends one day a week playing music for veterans in the Nashville area with PTSD and traumatic brain injuries.
“I’ve seen first-hand the therapeutic benefits of music,” said Regan.
“They spent about 20 minutes with each patient, making them forget about where they were, and making them feel so very special,” said Pendarvis. “It’s a testimony to the healing power of music.”
Pendarvis praised the Blast on the Bay event and said that she’s seen an increase in songwriters showing interest in giving back to the community while they are in town. One patient sung along with the writers while staff gathered outside the doors to listen in on the performances.
“We were the first ones to benefit from the songwriters’ amazing talent,” said Pendarvis. “How often do we get artists of their caliber in our area, more or less get personal concerts with three of them?”
Pendarvis is currently on the hunt for a musician to visit Sacred Heart to play music for patients on a regular basis. Those interested in volunteering can download an application online at www.sacred-heart.org or contact her at 229-5627.
“Music has the power to help us forget our pain for the moment and to put us in a happier place,” said Pendarvis.