Archive for the ‘Mandolin Players I Know’ category

April 28, 2012

A recent FB”Song of the Day” for me was “All of Me” as rendered by Don Stiernberg. From his ‘Swing 220’ CD. If you like jazz, swing, big band era, or just all around fine mandolin playing, you’ll like this recording. Jethro would be proud. Cuts also include ‘Caravan, ‘Limehouse Blues,’ ‘Pennies From Heaven,” “Honeysuckle Rose,” “After you’re Gone,” “Lady Be Good’ and more. Excellent work!

Here’s his website: WWW.DONSTIERNBERG.COM

“ivealways heard when New Grass toutred through the Chicago area, the band always allowed some extra time in the schedule  so Sam Bush could take in q lesson with Jethro Burns and  Don Stirenburg. I figure if the material is worthy of Sam’s 1me…

Left, Right…Left, Right.. (A Mandolin Method)

January 25, 2012

        I once knew a golfer who had a standard reply if he’d had a bad day.

        “How’d you play?”

        “Army golf. You know, left right, left right.”

         It had two meanings. One was the obvious: he’d hit one shot left and the next one right. The other was more subtle: On that day he’d been unable to co-ordinate right and left brain activity.

        That doesn’t work in golf or music. Especially in music, if you need one more it might be the right side. I know players who seem predominately right-brained who play great, and left brainers who often have a lot of book learning but have trouble expressing it in their play.

        Now being a doc who came up in books I was afflicted with this malady at times, but I found ways to adapt. One answer for me was my bluegrass young’un, Darin Aldridge. He taught me so much over several decades. I am forever indebted to him. The second influence came along a bit later and that is my bluegrass brother Wayne Benson. I had known Wayne for years and began to take some lessons from him in 2007. As I have said many times if a man can’t learn to play with Darin on his right hand and Wayne on his left he’s hopeless.

       Wayne and I just stated a book project based on Wayne’s teaching method. His lesson plans are the first method I have seen that teaches practical mandolin theory to the student’s left brain and shows them how to transfer that intellectual knowledge to the right side. Instead of Bonaparte Crossing The Rhine” it is “Benson Crossing the Corpus Callosum,” the partition that divides the two cerebral hemispheres of the brain. It won’t make us play like Darin and Wayne but the knowledge will help move us in that direction. If should be fun.

        It’ll be at least a year before the book comes out, so in the meantime go to these guys if you live near them or book some time with an instructor in your area. There’s a bunch to learn, and it sure is easier with an experienced instructor to guide you.

        Left right, left right!!

Dr. B

“The Kid and Dr. B” at Riverside Studio

January 21, 2012

        Darin Aldridge is my “bluegrass young’un.” I have two biological children who I am very close to. Darin has been such a close friend that he is right next to family. He would often drop by the office at lunch to show me a new tune, and taught me a lot of mandolin over the years. I always wanted to do a mandolin duet CD with him, and we are have almost finished with it now.

        We recorded with Greg Luck at Riverside Studios, and bless his heart he took the time to work with old Doc and make it right. There are some pics on Darin Aldridge’s FB page of the day at the studio. We still have to mix and master and line up art work etc, but we are close. Like books, CDs take a lot more time than what folks know.

        The title of the CD is “The Kid and Dr. B- Mandolin Music Memories and Stories.” As far as I know this will be the only mandolin duet CD which also features story-telling and also a bit of generic medical advice; I always was a little different.

        Carmen Claypool from Missouri picked up on the fact that several cuts will serve as a companion CD to “The Mandolin Case.” There has been some talk of a movie. If that ever happened, I hope y’all will lobby for our version of “The Cherokee Shuffle.” Darin and did the mandolin duet and then Darin overdubbed  a guitar track and Luck filled in the bass line. We left several cuts spare by design and for a certain effect we wanted, but filled in this cut in case there was ever a soundtrack. Also I had any say in it the “Lost Indian” cut by Wayne and Kristin Scott Benson with Wayne’s super-talented N.C. student Jacob Moore would also make fine soundtrack material.

        Of course most of this movie talk is only daydreaming by an old Doc having fun, but the CD is a definite, and we hope to release it in a few months. As far as movies, well, a man has to have his dreams, and I think it is time for another good bluegrass movie, don’t y’all?

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

Updates

November 28, 2011

        This post is to update folks on my art projects. As my last post indicated, my brain cancer diary in now on Amazon. We also hope to publish it in a booklet form soon. You can look it up in Amazon under Kindle Store and “Brain Cancer Boogie.”

“Grandpa’s Mandolin Book,” a coloring book for children of all ages, is now at the prototype stage. It still has some flaws and will go through at least one more revision before it goes to press. A half-dozen prototypes are in the hands of musicians, both professional and amateur, for advice. I hope it will be available after the first of the year, no later than late winter. More details are in my blog archives.

I am almost finished with my final edit of “Acquisition Syndrome.” After that it goes back to my editor Dorrie for her final touches and then on to my agent and the publisher. We are still on track for a spring release. I always liked old Bones Robertson. In this story he shows more than ever how to be decent person but not be trampled on. The lessons were so powerful I felt compelled to pass them on before I’m out of here. (There is no evidence my time is near, so don’t worry yet) In addition there is plenty of bluegrass subplot here, this time with more banjo in the mix. (Can’t have bluegrass without banjo huh? (( except for the “Manzanita” LP perhaps) 

“The Kid and Dr. B” A mandolin duet CD with Darin Aldridge that also features story-telling and a bit of doctor advice. I anticipate early spring on this one.

In January 2012 I plan to start a mandolin instruction book with Wayne Benson called “Practical Theory for Mandolin.” It is based on Wayne’s lesson plans. ((I have taken from him once a month since late 2007)  I plan to devote most of 2012 to this project. This book is designed for the amateur mandolinist who wants to get involved in jam sessions, be in regional bands and play for small festivals, church socials, fundraisers, and private parties. A working subtitle might be “How to play Mandolin if you thought you could only play the Radio.” So if you want to sound like Wayne, my pal Darin Aldridge, “Cuz” Alan Bibey, tone master Adam Steffy, rocking Sam Bush, Darren Nicolson of Balsam Range, red-hot melody man Emory Lester, Mike Marshall or Chris Thile….well, this book alone will not do it; be prepared to start young and spend six hours a day.

        Instead this book is designed for folks who do something else for a living but still want to play the best they can. I am of the opinion that if you start the mandolin as an adult, have a job, kids, bills, etc that it is unrealistic to for most of us (me included) to expect to play at a top shelf professional level, but my hope is this book will allow you to approximate that level of play after you learn some fundamental improvisational skills out of Wayne’s play book. He is going to proof every stage of this project because it is based on his knowledge and lesson plans. 

        After 2012? Who knows? I might be a little less productive on the blog for the rest of this year. My wife loves Christmas, (I call her “The Christmas Queen”)  the kids and grandchild will be in, and I love the holidays with all of them. I will be in touch though so don’t give up on me.

Dr. B

Acquisition Syndrome- My second novel (in progress)

October 30, 2011

        “Acquisition Syndrome” is the story of Bones Robertson and medical practice in Harvey County after the death of Dr. Henry”Indie” Jenkins. After Indie died things were about the same in Harvey County over the next decade. The doctors continued on in mom-and-pop type practices that financially floated from month to month. They  made house calls, nursing home visits, and hospital rounds as well as office work.

        Slowly things began to change. Change came to the cities first, and over time it made its way to rural areas. Bones recalled when the first managed care folks came to Harvey County. He was always suspicious of people from out-of-town who showed up in fancy cars and wore expensive watches who were here to “help.” Medicine became about money, power, and control. It became increasingly difficult for small entrepreneurs to stay in practice and became nearly impossible to recruit young doctors who were not inclined to join small organizations that did not have significant capital reserves. Bones began to realize without some changes in the way they did the business of medicine the practice he started, Harvey Family Practice, would not go on after his time. He and his partners decided their hand was forced and they would need to align with some larger entity to stay solvent. “Acquisition Syndrome” is the story of that transition.

        As you might suspect, Bones gathered much of his intelligence from nontraditional sources; car dealers, his old buddy Snookers Molesby, and banjo pickers and other assorted bluegrass musicians.

        A major subplot of the story and involves the development of Billy Spurgeon.  Billy grew up and Harvey County and was the only student at Sandhills University Medical Center who gave consideration to rural primary care medicine, but Billy was concerned about the future. He trusted Bones to make the best decisions for the group he could and planned to come home as much own faith as anything else.

        Bones never claimed to be a businessman. His goal was to align with an institution that would also allow him the latitude to practice medicine in the most patient friendly manner possible, and also not be taken advantage of. It was quite a struggle for him. I’d tell you how worked out but it would take a blog post of novel length, and besides it’d ruin the story for you so I guess I’ll wait till spring when we anticipate the book will be released. We are in the final edit and it still has to go through layout, graphic artists, test readers, line editor, etc. etc.

        So, stay tuned. I will keep you posted as to the progress.

Dr. B

A Mandolin Duet CD – “The Kid and Dr. B”

October 26, 2011

        I just started work on a mandolin duet CD with Darin Aldridge. It is titled “The Kid and Dr. B.” Darin is no longer a kid, but I have known him since he was one, thus the name. As far as I know it will be the only mandolin duet CD which also features storytelling and some generic medical advice; something different anyway, huh?

        The first session went well. If you hear a few clanger notes I assure you it is me and not Darin, but we are working with Greg Luck and he’ll help me pare away the flaws to a minimum. The CD has several goals. One is to honor the relationship with Darin, who has taught me a lot of mandolin over years. Also, I have worked with Wayne Benson since late 2007. I’ve often said if a student can’t learn the mandolin with Darin on his right hand and Wayne on his left there is no hope! As they say on the PGA tour, “these guys are good!” Wayne and his fine student Jacob Moore, and also Alan Bibey (“Cuz”) and one of his students plan to put one cut on the CD. I studied under Alan at the Roanoke sessions and some of his workshops years ago. If you could pick three instructors, I didn’t do too bad huh?

        We have another session scheduled next month so I’ll keep you posted as to the progress.

Dr. B


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