Rock ‘n Roll Bluegrasser
Just so you’ll know, ole Dr. Bibey can be a versatile guy on occasion. I am a Doc, I play bluegrass mandolin, and after that I’m glad I have a very smart wife, ’cause she knows most everything. Every once in a while, though, I’ll take on a different gig.
Such was the case last night. Rock ‘n roll mandolin. Now I know the English Professor musta done a double take there, but it did happen. I’ll have to say I did a double take myself, especially when we did one called “Double Shot of My Baby’s Love,” and all these young women came up on the stage and started gyrating around. We’ve having a mild winter; I’m concerned about this global warming thing, but it was still way too cold for those girls to be dressed so skimpy. Most of ’em were patients of mine, and I felt like they might wind up with pneumonia, but Jimmy Martin, the drummer (his real name!) said they always dressed that way and not to make an issue of it.
The gig was the Harnett County Rock ‘n Roll All Star Jam, and it is held at Iggy Rock Pub, our only rock venue in the County, every year the week between Christmas and New Year’s. They have taken to being more inclusive, and this year I was invited as the token bluegrasser and mandolinist. I don’t know too much rock ‘n roll, but I like to be accommodating, so when Jimmy called to see if I’d do the gig, I agreed to it. I went to the closet, got out my solid body Tele-MandoCaster that I play on some sacred numbers at Harnett Methodist, found my only guitar cord, so I could plug in, and went to take in the adventure.
There is only one rule for the All Star Jam- no practice. Given my background in bluegrass music, Jimmy knew I’d fit right in, and I’ll say that as far as the music, I think I did. Now the rest of the gig, that was a different story.
For one thing, everyone there was blessed with youth and good looks, and I do not possess either. Jack Martino, the little hip heartthrob kid leader, all of twenty years young, was dressed in a black silk shirt that was open about half way down his chest, and had a gold chain dangling around his neck. He wore some of those new blue jeans you paint on rather than wear. He sported a soul patch, (I’d never heard of one of those) and spiked jet black hair. His dark eyes locked in with every young lady in the audience, half of whom wound up on the stage before it was all over.
I have to tell you, I stood out in stark contrast. Gray hair, bifocals, and I forgot to take out my pocket protector and pens, and left my omnipresent cell phone on my belt, but I wasn’t on call and it didn’t go off.
All the young ladies wanted Jack’s autograph, but he didn’t have nothing on me. A bunch of women wanted me to meet them after the show. They all wondered if if I took new Medicare patients or if I could help them get a lift chair. (I think it was senior discount night- now I know why they hired me- marketing.)
I’m sure young Jack must have wondered what in the world Jimmy Martin, who was a little closer to middle aged- about thirty- was thinking when he put such a old guy like me in the mix, and I reckon I wondered a bit myself. But it wasn’t long before the International Language of Music kicked in. Jack sang “Ain’t no Sunshine When You’re Gone” wailed away on the sax, then glanced my way, gave a nervous nod, and cued old Doc to take a break. Well, I was more hip than those boys thought, and got to bending those strangs like the ex-rock ‘n roller I somewhat am. (I didn’t tell ’em I’d played in a beach music band in high school- I didn’t want my bluegrass buddies to know.) Randolph, the electric guitar man, was so taken by it he walked over and stomped on a box on the floor they had me running through, and it made for some kinda wild distortion- my MandoCaster is a fine ax, but I never heard it sound quite like that. After the show I inspected my gear, and that little box was called a “Bad Monkey Tube Compression Overdrive.” I’d be willing to bet not many old docs have played a mandolin gig through a Bad Monkey Pedal before.
I did so good, even a few of the young ladies asked for my autograph. I hope they aren’t gonna try to pass it for a prescription at the Reveco by the River. The State Board has some pretty strict rules about these things, and somehow I didn’t think they would dig the fact I’d played a rock and roll gig even if I did overdrive a Bad Monkey.
But, unless they object, I’ll be back next year. Jimmy re-signed me, and I’d better be there, ’cause sure enough they’ll have it on Senior Citizen’s night, and I don’t want to let my fans down.
Well I came home, and all that cigarette smoke made me smell like I’d been to a bar (I guess maybe I had) so Ms. Marfar sent me straight to the showers and fixed me some hot tea, ’cause my throat was all raspy from having to talk over all those folks- that place was loud. Good thing she did, too. I didn’t need to wind up with laryngitis- it is hard as the devil to dictate charts when that happens.
It was a good gig, and very exciting, but for the most part, I’d better stick with bluegrass. I don’t know if my heart could take all that on any regular basis.