Jesse Peterson doesn't really think of himself as rock star. Not many middle school teachers do.

But after appearing recently on the Late Show with David Letterman with Jeremy Messersmith, the local indie artist for whom Peterson plays violin, it's hard not to think of him that way.

"Yeah, I still can't believe it really happened. I watch the video of it on YouTube just to prove to myself that I was really on the show," Peterson said. "It seems too good to be true."

Peterson, an orchestra teacher at Anoka Middle School for the Arts, has been playing violin for Messersmith for about four years, right after the release of the album Reluctant Graveyard.

He's been able to balance both gigs by virtue of the fact that his performances with Messersmith typically occur long after the school day has ended.

Appearing on Letterman on Aug. 20 has been a highlight for Peterson who's been a fan of the comedian since he was a kid.

The band arrived at the Ed Sullivan Theater in the wee morning hours of the performance to set up the equipment. After rehearsal, it was time for hair and makeup.

"The guy doing my hair told me: 'These fingers have done the hair for the last three Presidents, so really, there's only one degree of separation between you all,'" Peterson said. "What do you say to that? I did get a kick out of it though."

Performing the song "Bubblin" on the show was a bit of a blur for Peterson. But he does have a video of the performance to jog his memory.

He showed that video to his middle school students on the first day of school.

"Maybe the song isn't their jam, maybe it is, but they all understand how cool it is to be on TV, and I think students find it cool to see their teacher playing an instrument on the Late Show," Peterson said. "Hopefully it was a moment of inspiration for them."

Jesse Peterson, left, walks into the Ed Sullivan Theater with his band mates. Photo by Nate Ryan of The Current.