Kit Kamien, the fine Washington guitarist who dropped out of the local scene five years ago when he developed multiple sclerosis, will be making something of a comeback tomorrow night in a free concert at Fort Reno Park. Kamien recently underwent experimental therapy that has enabled him to resume playing on a more active basis.
"I had MS for 12 years, but didn't know it until 1978," Kamien says. "But I did this procedure in October where they're using chemotherapy on MS. It was remarkable. It's like I got my playing back."
Kamien says the treatment has " shades of gray--for instance, I'm still in a wheelchair. And all your hair falls out, and that's kind of bad on your self-esteem when everybody tell you you look like Telly Savalas and you can't stand Telly Savalas. But I've been able to cope, to get around a lot of problems."
"On the positive side, I can feel my fingers, I can tie my shoelaces and button my shirt up. My sense of balance is still trashed from the MS, which is why I still use a wheelchair, but my muscle strength has really gotten a lot better, and my stamina is a real mind-blower--I've been able to outlast most of my friends."
The therapy, he says, is a one-shot procedure whose benefits have been shown to last "three years on the outside, but it's been positive for 80 percent of the people they've done it on. Because it's a new procedure, they don't know how often to do it, but I feel like I really want to go for it . . ."
On Monday, Kamien and his Backroom Players will open for the Seductones: besides Kamien's guitar, the band includes bass, guitar, electric viola and drums. They'll be playing mostly original material, which he's been writing on a Casio computerized music keyboard. "I put the songs and arrangements together on the Casio and then I ask the players to copy what that thing is showing." Thanks to the therapy, Kamien can show them personally this time around.