Rep. Obey Plays Some Killer Harp to Dancing Fans
Those who have worked with (or against) House Appropriations Chairman David Obey (D-Wis.) know him as an intensely focused budget wonk with a very short fuse. But those who have jammed out with the 69-year-old Obey, as several House members did Tuesday night, know him as a "killer" harmonica player who gets crowds jumping to their feet and shaking their stuff.
"Obey's a killer harp player," says fellow musician Rep. Paul Hodes (D-N.H.). "The dude can rock."
Hodes, who played guitar while Obey was on harmonica at Tuesday's fundraiser for the Democratic National Club, readily acknowledges the description doesn't fit with Obey's bookish persona. "He's not wearing pencils in his pocket when he plays," Hodes joked.
Hodes and Obey joined the House's one true legitimate rock star, Rep. John Hall (D-N.Y.), whose old band Orleans claimed the one-hit wonder "Still the One." Also joining in the jam fest were Reps. Dennis Moore (D-Kansas) and Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.), former Appropriations Committee staffers David Morrison and Scott Lilly, and Hodes' wife, Peggo Horstmann Hodes.
Peggo, as she's known professionally, is an active classical soloist and jazz singer. Hodes met Peggo in his third year of law school at Boston College when he answered her newspaper ad in the underground Boston Phoenix paper seeking a guitarist for her band.
"The band didn't last but we did," the congressman told us. (Peggo and Paul, as the musical duo were known, went on to make sweet music and record several albums together over the years.)
As for Tuesday's jam fest at the Democratic club, Hodes described it as "an astonishing pastiche of retro folky music." They played everything from "Turn, Turn, Turn" and "Jet Plane" to "Not Fade Away." "This wasn't the Dead version though," Hodes said. "It was a unique Hall and Hodes version."
The motley crew managed an effort at reggae with "Stir It Up" and, according to Hodes and others, people actually danced to their music.
"The good news is, nobody got hurt," Hodes joked.
Mary Ann Akers
April 2, 2008; 7:20 PM ET
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