There's at least one Starling who's taken to flying north each winter: John Starling, a founding member, lead singer and songwriter with the Seldom Scene. He left here several years ago for a medical practice in Alabama, but he comes back at least once a year for a weekend at the Birchmere. Next weekend, he'll unveil his progressive country band, the Ready Section Band, which also features another superb vocalist, Clair Lynch. "It's the remnants of some bands down here in Alabama that didn't quite survive the crunch of the music business," Starling says.

Though the Ready Section Band has been through some local warmup gigs, Washington is "more or less our debut show," Starling says. He's still committed to his ear, nose and throat practice in Alabama, but "I'm going to play as much as I can, which means probably going out on weekends as opposed to a formal tour; I can't get away that long." His second solo album, "Waitin' on a Southern Freight," has done well critically and commercially. Lynch, who recorded with Front Porch Swing, has also finished a solo album and is raring to hit the road on a part-time basis. She recently had a baby.

Starling says there's "a possibility of moving back" to the Washington area, though it's "oversaturated with doctors. My wife and I have never really lost our Potomac fever." Another possibility: "playing music fulltime . . . if I could make enough money at it. But the kind of thing I do is very stylized and I'm not really sure how much commercial potential it has . . . But as long as it's fun, I'd like to do some more of it."