Yeah, I have an illness, but here’s plenty of reason to keep on trying.
I hope you got there; what a fine festival. In case you missed it; there is a way to see these young folks in the next best venue to live. Darin and Brooke’s new DVD, recorded at the Easter Family studio in Charlotte N.C. is as close to the excitement of a live show as you’re gonna get. Invite over family and friends for popcorn; you can’t go wrong with this DVD.
Go to thier website to order: www.darinandbrookealdridge.com
We just got in from the Top of Georgia festival and in Dillard, Georgia, and we recommend it highly. The resort is as if Heaven dropped it into green rolling pasturelands nestled in between a couple of Appalachian mountain ranges. The accommodations ranged from rooms to chalets; old-fashioned southern hospitality and charm with all the modern amenities. That bathroom heater when you get out of the shower was the ticket! The food was great and the band line-up was as strong as you’ll see anywhere. We ran into many old N.C. friends and some new ones from Georgia too.
They have two bluegrass events a year. Here’s their web site and also a photo: www.gabluegrassjamboree.com
It was a sad weekend in that it marked the passing of my med school friend, professor, and mentor, Dr. Peter Temple. Still, there was hope. His receiving of friends, as one might expect, was a big party that showed how many people he influenced. Not only does he leave behind a wonderful nuclear family, but many folks like me whose lives were enriched by him. Dr. Temple showed me how to be a doc but still enjoy life; he perfected the art.
The celebration of his life was friends and food and drink and music. Kids ran through the yard, splashed in a puddle, played with some new puppies, and climbed the cedar trees around the house. In addition to ham sandwiches and fruit and cheese there was sushi and edamame and chocolate cake and of course bluegrass on the front porch. Folks there included guys like George on the banjo, who played with Peter and Junior and Greek in the Tar River Boys back when I was in med school. We played standards out of Temple’s set list; numbers like “I Wonder How the old Folks are at Home, and “I’m Using my Bible For a Road Map.” My daughter had to pull up the lyrics for it on her cell phone, but we honored his request that we do “You Go To Your Church and I’ll Go To Mine,” one that I had promised him years ago I would play for him whenever the time came.
I was sad to see him pass, but glad he has no more suffering. One thing is certain; there will never be another one like him.
Ralph Stanley had a CD out several years ago by this name. Tis the bluegrass way, huh? It was that kind of weekend for me. Saturday night I had the pleasure to sit in with Charles Ebert, the jovial West Virginian, and Timberline Bluegrass at at Barley’s Taproom in Spindale, N.C. It was great fun, fine pizza, and music therapy for Doc. I told the mandolin player of my bluegrass side-man plan from a few posts back and he was cool with that. I don’t like to crash anyone’s gig, but if I can help out I enjoy that.
Then Sunday morning I talked to the church Praise Band about doing a little fill in work. (My health won’t allow any full time commitment right now, esp during chemo week. They have young lady on the mandolin so if she’s out I’ll cover her part, but when she’s there I’ll either do some mandolin harmony work or play mandola. If we do a Hee-Haw type gig, I can cover the banjo. (At least the basics) It is all so good for me; makes me feel needed.
I should have news on “Acquisition Syndrome” before long. One publisher is ready to go, but a couple others have it under consideration, so my agent wants to hear from them before we make a decision. I hope to be able to tell you more soon.
Here’s wishing all of you many Saturday night/Sunday morning weekends. Years ago one med student told me I both worked and played harder than anyone he’d ever met, and he was gonna go back to the Medical Center to get some rest. I didn’t miss much along the way, stayed out of trouble, and had a lot of fun. I have no regrets regardless of where this tumor takes me. (So far still moving forward; don’t worry till Dr. B says worry.)
We just got back from BGFC; the traditional N.C. festival season kick-off for the last seventeen years. Spring is gonna get here. It was all music and food and fellowship. Best of all was our new grand-baby; all smiles and chuckles. Great stuff.
It was more activity than I am used to these days, so I’m gonna rest for a few days, but I’ll be back in touch. thank goodness for the bluegrass community. It is one big extended family. The prayers, music, and well wishes did my heart a lot of good.
I played Saturday night with singer/songwriter Al Dunkleman and sat in for part of a set with Max McKee at the Bluegrass Inn #2. It was great fun. I’m not up to a commitment to an every weekend gig, but the arrangement with Al is perfect. He does all the prep; I am just the side-man, but I try to be a reliable one. We play somewhere about once a month. In March we have a big fund-raiser for the Abuse Prevention Council at Cleveland Community College. It’s one of my favorite gigs. I know I am a Pollyanna but I belive if everyone was busy with their family and career and played music they would be too content (and tired) to be so dadburn aggressive.
Right now my health won’t allow me to reliably front a regular band. In fact, until someone wants to hire a doc for two hours of light activity followed by an hour nap and a shower, I’m not up to the regular doc gig either. However, even if disabled I will always visit once or twice a week as long as I am able to walk. The patients and the staff mean too much to me not to.
I miss not having a regular band. At the Shelby Music Center jam last Saturday I got to pick with my old band mate, banjo man Moose Dooley. It brought back memories. One time years ago we did a banjo duet on a flat-bed truck stage at the Harvey County court-square. Moose suggested “Remington Ride.” I kicked it off, but lit into the wrong song. When Moose realized what I’d done he switched to the tune I kicked off, so were in synch for a moment. Then I managed to break into ”Remington Ride” while he continued on with the tune I first kicked off. It was an unusual duet! I was always doctor first and musician second. I learned a lot of music from those boys.
At the jam, one mandolinist told me he had to have some surgery and was gonna be out six weeks. He asked if I would fill in if they had a gig to come up. I said yes of course, and it led my brain to dream up ”The Doctor Sponsored Bluegrass Side-man Sick Pay Plan.” I’ll fill in with any local or regional band, health willing, and do so professional courtesy. I figure I’m the only side-man around who can cover your gig, write you a doctor’s excuse, let you get sick pay for your gig, and have zero motivation to try to steal your job while you are out. I am not up to any regular commitment anyway, so no one needs to fear that kind of treachery from me. (They didn’t before I was sick either) My only reservation is that I do have to be sure the gig is not the week of chemo. I missed one because I failed to account for this variable and was too sick to play. It was the only show I ever missed, and I felt bad about it.
We are semi and near retired and live out in the country. We wanted to be near the home of Earl Scruggs, but still be within shouting distance of good old Harvey County and also the central part of the state where my daughter lives. So if you need a side-man and the gig isn’t in chemo week, well, have mandolin will travel. (short distances only) I’ll go about an hour’s drive from Charlotte N.C.; any direction with enough notice. We love the mountains too and get to the Asheville area every so often, and I’ve played in Fletcher at the Feed ‘n Seed. Of course much of this is big talk; if I’m sick I can’t make the gig, but I do my best to never promise what I can’t deliver.
Y’all play hard.
If we’re gonna dream, we might as well dream big, but I sure would love to see some real music at half-time. Sousa would be excellent, and if they wanted to get way out there a bluegrass band on center stage at the fifty yard line wouldn’t hurt my feelings. (Flatt and Scruggs used to play in town on top of the concession stand at the drive-in movie theater)
I could picture myself playing mandolin at half-time but there are at least four thousand who deserve to be in line ahead of me, and I’d be the first to vote for ‘em. But I sure can’t picture myself and one of those little guys in the genuine fake imitation gold-plated amour protective suits with the gold curly cue horns. I guess I’m old, but it’s just not my style.
Oh well, to each his own. I went for popcorn at the break. At our house it is still very much in style.
Today my FaceBook Song of the Day was “Bringing in the Sheaves.” When I was a kid I thought we were singing “Bringing in the Sheep,” and kept a check on the back door to see when they were gonna bring in the sheep. This led to a lively discussion from readers. It turned out readers had similar thoughts in childhood. Dennis Jones, the great bluegrass and gospel DJ at WNCW radio had a cousin who heard it as “Bringing in the Sleeves,” I suppose for the kids who needed some patch work on their shirts.
Jim Moore, who has just started a book called “Adventures of Growing Up in Church” always thought the Christmas carol was ”Hark the Harold angel Sings.” I guess he never did find poor Harold. Also from Jim: ”washed in the blood of the lamb”. I thought I was going to have to take a bath in lamb’s blood. Growing up in the country, at early age, I had witnessed slaughter time.”
From Pam Warren: “When I was a kid I thought the pledge of allegiance said “One nation under guard,” which is actually pretty close to the truth.
Naomi Carroll McClellan heard the song about the same as I did, except she thought it was “bining in the sheep.”
From Jewell Burke: ”Even as a child, I used to try to visualize what the words in the songs and sermons meant! Oh boy did I ever come up with some humdingers! One ‘activity’ I enjoyed was reading the hymnals titles on both pages together! “Just as I Am, Down By The Riverside”. etc.
After reading these and some family discussion we came up with some more. My daughter remembered a kid from school days who heard the line “2 plus 2 equals” and was on the lookout for two eagles for weeks. Another heard a phrase as “For all “intensive” purposes.
Heck I remember one fellow in the pre-med program who wondered why Clarence didn’t ever come to class after a discussion of the physiology concept ”creatinine clearance.” (Don’t worry; he didn’t make it)
I think Jim ought to make “How Kids Hear Hymns” the subject matter for one chapter in his book, don’t y’all?
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!!