Archive for December 2011

I Resolve…

December 31, 2011

        I don’t make many New Year’s resolutions; I’m a perpetual planner already. I will make this one though. I’m gonna do everything I can to be here this time next year to make some more resolutions. I realize we don’t have much control over it, but we can at least play the odds to live; don’t drink and drive, wear seat belts, be a non-smoker etc. I had too much fun with the grandchild around to not make my best run at another year.

        Here’s to a healthy and prosperous New Year for all my family and friends; y’all are the best.

        Will post more Monday; I’ll have some fun things to report on.

Dr. B

Grandpa’s Mandolin Book, a Coloring Book for Children of all Ages.”

December 26, 2011

        My Song of the Day on FaceBook was “Beautiful Dreamer” by Stephen Foster, as played by me. This one makes a fine mandolin lullaby for a grandchild. I feel sorry for families who have no music traditions.

        With severe illness you need some motivation to live, and I had plenty, but this new grandchild gives me more resolve than ever. I can just picture me teaching him mandolin out of my children’s book in five years or so.

        “Grandpa’s Mandolin Coloring Book” is a light-hearted romp through the Creation, ancient Greek history, Bill Monroe, Roy Huskey Jr, the light spectrum of the rainbow, music intervals, and more. I had several test readers on this one and they all offered excellent suggestions. Perhaps my favorite input so far came from a prominent family of professional musicians. In their house the children dug the book so much they got an old mandolin out of the closet and took up the instument. (This was a banjo, guitar, and bass household, but like many of the bluegrass families the adults can play ‘em all.)

         It is very appropriate that children would like my book, perhaps even more than adults, because I never grew up. I’ve often said I’m nothing but an overgrown child who God blessed with a decent grown-up doctor brain and a fine wife, otherwise I think I’d a starved to death.

       The book prototype will go back to the graphic artist for some minor revision right after the first of the year, and I hope to have it out in a couple of months. I am very excited about it because it is dedicated to our grandchild and it revives the tradition in our family; we pass it on. My children play several instruments and love music because of the influence of both me and their Mom. I am very proud we passed it on, and the thought the book might facilitate other families to do the same thrills me. And don’t worry, even if your family has no music background this little book will be an easy, fun, and inexpensive way to start a new family tradition.

       Hope y’all had a blessed Christmas and will have a prosperous New Year. Here’s to traditional music in 2012. Let’s all do what we can to raise awareness for the art form. I believe the world longs for real music and our people play it.

Dr. B

Blessed be The Readers

December 18, 2011

        Here we are near the end of the year. Bless all of you readers and artists out there. I developed a very bad illness (brain tumor; it’s hard to type that) late last spring and you have helped me so much. Prior to the tumor my day revolved around my patients. It was  a constant human interaction and while it was stressful, I enjoyed it. I miss them. All of you, my electronic human connections, have bridged the gap and allowed me to feel useful while I am confined to bed or chair much more than I have ever been used to.

        Also I must add I would have never made it through the year without my wife who now has a 210 pound baby on her hands. She is the best. My children have been most helpful too. Even though they have busy lives, they call often and visit as much as they can, which is pretty regular. God bless them too.

        I continue to peck away on my projects. This year I have all plans to release the children’s mandolin coloring book, my second novel, “Acquisition Syndrome,” and a mandolin duet CD with Darin Aldridge (www.darinandbrookealdridge.com)  Also Wayne Benson and I will start “Practical Theory for Mandolin,” which may take a year or more to complete. It is based on Wayne’s lesson plans. I believe his method via this book (or personal lessons with him) will help the less gifted musician (like me!) play at a higher level. Check out “My Art Projects” page on the right hand side bar of my blog for more details on these projects.

        Again, if you are an Amazon Prime member “The Mandolin Case,” and also “The Bluegrass Brain Cancer Boogie” are available as a free download as part of Amazon’s promotion of their program. Check in with Amazon and see my post of 12 14 2011 for details.

       I hope all you have a blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year. As a writer, and a man who thrives on social interaction, I thank you. If you are a writer, musician, blogger, FaceBooker, (At first I though it was called “My Face”) a commenter, reader; really any human being who cares about a life of grace and dignity, I thank you. I am confident I would not have fared as well without you.

        I’ll be back soon.

Dr. B

Sleigh Ride

December 17, 2011

        This is my song of the day. I recently heard a Carol King version I liked a lot.

        We used to play this in the high school band. One day we were practicing it for the Christmas concert. The trombone section got together and decided to jazz up our solo. (I was the lead trouble-maker) When our time came we stood up and blared out the hillbilly jazz, swaying our trombone slides to the music as we went. Lots of fun.

        The band director protested but with a smile. He knew better than to try to snuff out a mischievous love of music. It became to nucleus of a small group called the stage band, and we were the first players he called on.

        I think I was all the way to college before I realized the world had any problems.

Y’all have a Merry Christmas.

Dr. B

Charlie Brown Christmas

December 16, 2011

        My computer is acting up and would not post this on FaceBook today.

        My Song of the Day is “Hark The Herald Angels Sing” Artist: Charlie Brown and the gang, Linus on the piano.

        I send this out to all the Charlie Browns of the world; the humble kids who’s rather sing than fight, preferred to play music instead of football, shy but sociable; you know ‘em. Most of them found their way to an adult life of grace and dignity.

Merry Christmas Charlie Brown!!!

Dr. B

Where to Get a Free Copy of “The Mandolin Case”

December 14, 2011

        If you are a member of Amazon Prime you can download a copy of my book, “The Mandolin Case,” for free. The novel was accepted by Amazon as part of their Amazon Prime program.

        I have just started to learn about Kindle Prime but the way I understand it, you pay a yearly fee and then have access to be number of free books, free shipping, and other perks. So, check it out at www.amazon.com.

       If you are a member of Amazon Prime or know folks who are, ask them to take advantage of a free download of “The Mandolin Case.” Even though it is free it still helps me in that Amazon pays the author a fee based on the number of down-loads, and also it is great publicity. Amazon is huge and I was both surprised and tickled they wanted my book on the list. (I’m one of the little guys!) It also helps spread the word about our music. Most of my readers are bluegrass folks but the novel has begun to spill over into other groups of people. Many of them are curious as to why we are so passionate about the music. And too, I am certain the whole program helps Amazon too. They are not naive as to modern business. They are big biz outfit but I gotta admit they have treated my Lit agent, and therefore me, fairly the whole way.

        Y’all have a blessed holiday. I’ll post once or twice more before Christmas and also will be on FB each day, so I’ll be in touch.

Dr. B

ALVIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (The Chipmunk Christmas Song or “Christmas Don’t Be Late”)

December 11, 2011

        Back when my boy was in grade school, they did the Chipmunk song (“Christmas Don’t Be Late”) in the choir’s Christmas recital. There he was in the little Alvin outfit complete with the letter sweater with the “A” on the front and the novelty thick black rimmed glasses. They all swayed with the music in perfect time. You know the song. “Christmas, Christmas time is near….”

        My son was like me; he got the “part singer” gene but not so much the lead. But then right on cue he broke into his line “Me I want a hoo-lee-hoop!!” It was loud, clear, on perfect pitch and such a dead ringer imitation of Alvin’s voice I stood up and yelled Alvin!!!!! He broke into a broad grin.

        I told him later that it was perfect and also of the bluegrass way. If a fellow doesn’t have a natural lead voice if he’ll take on the novelty or comedy numbers he can still have a role in the band. (That’s how I learned “I’m My Own Grandpa.” My son still plays and sings and it has all been a lot of fun through the years.

        Y’all have a blessed Christmas.  ALVIN!!!!!!!

Dr. B

Mandolin Christmas Music and Chemotherapy Infusions

December 7, 2011

       Today was an infusion day and at the request of some of the other patients I have gotten to know I took my mandolin and played Christmas music. I know it helps me and hope it helps them; they seemed to like it. I am the first patient ever there who has played the mandolin while getting an IV infusion. I’ve always believed there is some power in the music and the others seem to agree; at least it makes  a tough experience more tolerable.

        The mandolin Christmas book I work out of and recommend for players of all levels is Roland White’s. It is not too difficult and yet his liberal use of rich double stops makes it sound more complicated than what it is. So, thanks Roland for your help to make a group of patients happy today. You never know where all the mandolin will take you.

Dr. B

“The Donkey Coat” (The Friendly Beasts)

December 4, 2011

        This is a re-run from 2009, but it is one of my personal favorites.

        My daughter has a coat we call the donkey coat.  Her mother made it for her years ago, and she still wears it. She is a hip young lady, and says all her friends find it very chic.  They don’t know we call it the donkey coat and we won’t tell.

        It is a brown wrap-like thing. Maybe you’d call it a shawl. I’m a dumb man; I’m not sure.  Her mama knitted it years ago. When my daughter first wore it, it went all the way down to her ankles. She was in the church Christmas pageant, and it was the coat that served to dress her up as a donkey. (She graduated to being Mary the next year) The outfit had a hood with some floppy ears too, but I don’t think she wears that part of the get-up now.

        For years I got out the video of her as the little singing donkey. You know the line: “I said the donkey, shaggy and brown…”

       We had an open door policy at the house, and I forever had friends show up to visit. Sometimes it was to ask about a tune they were looking for; sometimes it was a blood pressure question. I didn’t mind, but the down side for them at Christmas was they had to suffer through the donkey video. They didn’t seem to mind; she grew up in music and wasn’t a bad singer. About the time she turned thirteen she began to protest a bit so we put it away for a while.

        I remember one of the last times I shared it with anyone. One winter Wednesday it was bitter cold out. I was off work. It was way too cold for golf and no one was picking any music, so I was at home. We had a lady who helped us some in the house back then. My wife and daughter had gone out shopping.  When they came back home me and Ms. Violet were sitting on the couch watching the donkey video. 

        “I said the donkey shaggy and brown…”   The ears flopped down over her eyes. Marie flipped them aside and never missed a beat. “I carried his mother up hill and down…” 

        “Lawdy Mr. Tommy if that ain’t the sweetest thing I ever saw in my life.”

        “Ain’t it, though?”

        Marfar and Miss Marie came home and found us there. Marie rolled her eyes. “Daddy, you’re hopeless.”

        “Uh… well… yeah, uh… my contacts are bothering me, that’s all.” 

        I hadn’t shared the donkey tape with anyone in years, but when Marie came home wearing that shawl, I knew what it meant.

        She brought it up first. “Daddy, don’t you want to watch the donkey video?”

        “Sure kid. Let’s see. I wonder where that old thing is?  Hm.” I went over and opened a few of the drawers of the end table near my seat in the den.  “Hey.  Look here; it’s on DVD now.”

        She smiled.  “Just don’t tell anyone you still watch it, Dad.”

        “Okay, sweetie. I won’t; I promise.”  

        “I said the donkey, shaggy and brown…”

        “You know, you always did have a nice voice.”

        ”But don’t give up my day job?”

        ”Right, right. But I tell you what’s the truth, that’s some good singing.”

        ”Yes, Daddy.”

Dr. B

 

 


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