The obvious most important thing about Christmas is Jesus, no doubt about that, and I am thankful His grace was injected into this old world. The Christmas Pageant is my favorite part of the holiday, ’cause it is all about His birth, and I have to admit I have fond memories of my Marie as a donkey, too.
Next to the Pageant, though, my second favorite event in the county is the Recital. Every year Darrell gathers up all his students and coaxes them onto the stage where he backs them up on a tune. They are beyond cute.
My job is backstage manager. My most important role is to be sure their instruments are in tune, and I sometimes wonder what they might have sounded like over the years without the assistance. And too, many of the little ones are scared half to death, and I’m proud to say old Dr. Bibey can always calm ’em down, and no, I don’t use any medicine on ’em. I never was too big on nerve pills, and believe it best to play music to calm ones anxieties. (I realize it doesn’t work for everyone, I wish it could.)
I’d give the same last minute admonition I’d told my own young’uns when they were coming along, “It’s like doing neurosurgery, if you mess up just don’t say oops,” or at least I did until Lee Stewart’s (the famous neurosurgeon) nephew got a hold of the phrase, and began to use it in the school yard. Dr. Stewart was a little upset that people might think he did his work that way (I assure you he does not) so I stopped telling them that.
About the only bump in last night’s show was when little Amy fell and bruised her elbow, and came running across the stage hollering for Dr. Tommy right in the middle of “Mary Did You Know?” (She was O.K.)
It was all good, but I especially enjoyed this one little guy who about wore out his D18 on “Christmas Times a Coming.” He was chomping away on a big wad a gum and had a “tabula rosa” stare with a spooky reminiscence of the Warbler, our lead singer. That nonchalant look as one rips through a near impossible passage is imperative to reach the upper echelons of our music, and is present in almost every bluegrass virtuoso I have ever known. Here is the secret that is so hard for the non-bluegrass world to understand, and I’m gonna quote it ’cause I said it. “If they wuz worried all the time they couldn’t pick like that.” So, NTW.
Of course, Darrell has had the look ever since I’ve known him, but he held back to let the kids shine tonight. Still, there was no mistaking his wonderful back-up on “Silver Bells,” and that little single aught Martin he played worked the mic like a champ.
There were mandolin duets and trios, and even one old mandolin orchestra number, “Carol the Bells,” like what you might have heard around the turn of the last century.
Preacher Vincent did a fine recitation of Grandpa Jones’ “Christmas Guest” and Summer the girl singer sang a bluegrass version of “Oh Come, Y’all Be Faithful.”
Then the whole gang came back to the stage to close it out with “Silent Night,” and we all went home in the Christmas spirit.
This is my last post before the big holiday. All the young’uns are in, and we’re gonna enjoy seeing them. I’ll be back right after Christmas. To all you folks who have taken the time to read my crazy weblog, and be a part of the County, I wish you the best- Peace on Earth.
-Dr. Tommy BibeyDarrell, memorable gigs