The thing people say most frequently to Bart Stringham on Thursday night is, "You look like you just came from work."
And while that's strange -- because he's working at the time -- it's also true.
"I don't know who else is playing solo jazz guitar around town, but apparently they don't wear a coat, tie or suspenders," says Stringham, who has a weekly gig at the Kalorama Cafe in Adams- Morgan.
By day, Stringham is an attorney at the American Petroleum Institute's office of general counsel, spewing out advice on contracts, publications and occupational safety and health issues. Most of his colleagues don't know of his double life.
"Around the office a couple of people will come up and ask me if I'm the same Bart they heard mentioned on the radio. But most times they don't put two and two together."
It's not that he keeps his guitar playing a secret. It's just that, well, what would he say? That though he has a motion due in the morning he'll be plucking away on "Don't Get Around Much Anymore" tonight?
"I'd like to think that I'm not a lawyer who sometimes plays guitar or a guitarist who's sometimes an attorney," he says. "I don't worry about where my priorities are -- I'm both, and I really believe one benefits the other." Usually.
"If it's a really bad week during the day, it makes for some bad playing at night," Stringham acknowledges. "The first hour while I'm in transition is the toughest."
But the biggest problem, Stringham says, is not his mind-set, but the lack of parking in the District. It's the primary reason he doesn't have time to change clothes before he changes hats.