Oh Tommy Bibey, Where Art Thou You Rascal?

        My blog just made a milestone- 15,000 hits.  My agent says this is real good for a fiction blog.  I’ll be honest, I ain’t got no idea.  All I know is I am an over grown doctor country boy who loves to pick bluegrass music and read, and this Internet thing is an endless word candy store.

        The blog has grown to the point that a number of folks have e-mailed and asked where to see Neuse River play, so I’m gonna tell you about that today.  Betwixt doctoring and music, Tommy Bibey has never has gotten around to a  myspace page or such as that.  Bluegrass folks are so dadburn spontaneous it is hard to get ’em to write down a set list, much less a performance schedule, but I will keep you guys posted on the blog.

        Here ‘s what I mean.  Not long ago the Moose called me.  “Hey Bibey, you on call this week-end?”

        “Nope.  What’s up?”

         “Call Jenny (his wife) and tell her you got us a gig at the Beach,”  he said.

        “I ain’t got us a gig at the beach.  What you talking?”

        “Yeah you do.  We’re gonna open for Chubby Checker at the Pavilion.”  Only the Moose is ingenious enough to convince the Pavilion a bluegrass band needs to open for Chubby Checker.  “I got us the gig, but she’ll be a whole lot more likely to let me go if you call her.”

        And so it goes.  I run interference for the boys all the time.  In a way I understand.  Moose was a bit of a rounder in his day, and Jenny trusts me to keep all the women shooed away from the band.  Not that it is needed.  After the Moose married Jen, he settled into domestic life just fine and is 100% faithful.  I think Jen just wants to be sure if opportunity tries to knock on his door I slam it shut.  By the way, we did great at the gig, but Strober K, who subbed for Simpkins on the bass that night tried to steal the alligator they kept in a cage out front and take it home for a pet, so we didn’t get invited back.

        Yep, you can count on spontenaeity from these boys.  One time we had a show in Virgina, and Stroker got all the way up there and realized he’d left his shoes at home.  How do you get to Virgina and not realize you ain’t got your shoes?  We had to stop at the Walmarks and get him some brogans.  One thing though, he never forgets his guitar- Stroker is a player.

        So, I apologize in advance for not being more organized, but you can see what I deal with here.  Here’s how to find us, though.

        Should you be in Harnett County, stop at the first gas station.  The attendant will be a good old boy wearing a blue shirt with his name, Joe, on a white patch over the left front pocket.  Roll down your window, and act bluegrass.  Say something like, “Y’all pick any bluegrass music in these parts?”

        The man will say, “Yep.”

        Then say, “You know Dr. Tommy Bibey?”

        “He’ll say, “You ain’t from around here, is ya?”

         Then deliver your punch line.  Say, “You know Jack Lawrence what picks with Doc Watson?  He wanted me to bring this here pre-war herringbone for Bibey to check out.”  Point to a guitar case in the back seat.  “It rocks.”

        Then you must be prepared for his next statement.  It will be, “How much ya want fer it?”

        Say, “It ain’t fer sale.  Jack just wanted him to see it.”

         The man will say, “You know where the Burger Barn used to be?  Well, you go there and take a right at the light, go two blocks, then left at the tracks.  Then go right by the cement block factory take a right at the body shop and you’re there.  Can’t miss it.”

        Of course, you’ll have to admit you don’t know where the Burger Barn used to be, and he’ll say, “I knowed you warn’t from around here.”  He’ll take one last look at you, then say, “Awh, hell, just follow me, I gotta go to town.  I drive you right by there.”  Folks around here are very accommodating.

        The best place to see me is at a gig.  I’m the old gray haired guy on the mandolin.  I think I may have seen some of y’all before at my shows.  You remember the gig at KT’s Archery and Radiator?  I think Ms. Amber was there- dark haired slender woman about half my age?  She’s got people in N.C. I know.  And one time we played up near DC at the Birchmere.  I swear there was a lady there who coulda been mrschili- she had a whole little brood of stair step young’uns what favored her.  Was that you?  I know for a fact the English Professor was in our area once, ’cause they told me he was at the Bomb Shelter and I only missed him a week or so.  I don’t think I’ve run into Ms. Pande, but then she lives in dadgum Greenland or somewheres up that way, and we ain’t had a gig that far North.  And we’ve not been out to Oklahoma yet, but if we do I hope Ms. Susan will catch our show. 

        Heck, even right here in N.C. one time the Neuse River converted school bus broke down near a farm, and a dog named Ranger made it clear not to invade his turf.  He realized we were bluegrass folks, though, and led us right down a dusty rutted lane to a farm house where Ms. Cindy let us use the telephone. 

        Maybe the biggest compliment I’ve had to date about my blog was from a bluegrass guy who said Tommy Bibey was the gestalt of bluegrass, almost the durn spirit of it, in that he was everywhere.  I hope to tell a lot of people why we love our music so.  To me, the music is bigger than all of us.  It represents an effort to remain human, all it’s flaws and imperfections non-withstanding, in what can be a mean modern world.

        Y’all watch for me on the circuit.  You’ll know me by the gray hair.  (and the mandolin)

Dr. B

Explore posts in the same categories: bluegrass characters


You can comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.

22 Comments on “Oh Tommy Bibey, Where Art Thou You Rascal?”

  1. Cindy Carter Says:

    That’s right, you got to use the phone but till I figured out that you were okay guys, I had my gun on you the whole time. When you all pulled your insturments out and played a tune or two waiting for a tow, that made me know youall were okay fellas. Me and Ranger even danced a little to the music.

  2. drtombibey Says:

    Dang Ms. Cindy I KNEW it was you! (Y’all Ms. Cindy inspired that tune the Darlings did on the Andy Griffith show- you know- “git along home Cindy, Cindy”- that one) That was some good music. And ole Ranger is a protective one- Moose waited in the Neuse River converted school bus till he was sure Ranger knew we was bluegrass guys. Moose is very intuitive he said that was one more loyal dog and if he warn’t sure we wuz bluegrass he’d chewed somebody’s leg off.

    Dr. B

  3. Cindy Carter Says:

    Ernest T. Bass is my first cousin. He taught me how to hurl them rocks through windas just like he does. Cept I can’t yell “it’s me, it’s me, it’s Ernest T”. I yell, “it’s Cindy Lou and I got you!”

  4. drtombibey Says:

    SHAZAM!!! Hey Sammy Shelor with the Lonesome River Band does an instrumental called Ernest T. Grass.

    Dr. B

  5. Susan Shay Says:

    Come on to Oklahoma. People around here LOVE bluegrass! I’ll be first in line to buy a ticket!

  6. drtombibey Says:

    Ms. Susan,

    At this stage we are just lucky to get booked as the opening act for bigger bands that come thru N.C., but you never know. I’m sure there is no MTV market for old Docs, but the bluegrass world has always welcomed me with open arms. Maybe someday we’ll do a show with Byron Berline- he’s an Oklahoma guy and a great bluegrasser.

    Dr. B

  7. Amber Says:

    Doc, I believe that is bluegrass for spinning one hell of a yarn!

  8. drtombibey Says:

    Ms. Amber,

    I’ve got a notion you go to some of those bluegrass shows. When you do, stick out your hand and shake and howdy.

    Dr. B

  9. Parson Bob Says:

    Well, congratulations, Doc. 15,000 is a lot of anything, especially “hits” here in Wonderland. But does your agent really characterize this as a “fiction blog”? Goodness, gracious. I suppose he knows, but what I know is that I’ve read a pretty good slice of reality in these postings.

    Then again, we’ve a neighbor whose truck (and yes, that’s a two syllable word around here) has the bumper sticker, “Reality is a crutch”.

    Keep ’em comin’, Doc! Go for another 15K.

  10. pandemonic Says:

    My guess is that you are too busy to maintain a MySpace page. Maybe one of your fans could volunteer?

  11. drtombibey Says:

    Parson Bob,

    There is indeed a lot of reality, but as the good Lit Professor said, “For it to be good fiction, it need not necessarily have happened, but it must be true.”

    My agent gets on me if I don’t keep it in the fiction genre, ’cause that is what my book is, but I do slide into reality at times, esp when I hear a band or a CD I like.

    We went to the early service today, and our Parson talked about how God doesn’t call us to do anything easy. I felt a little guilty, ’cause my life has been one long walk in the park. I hope I did some good along the way in both medicine and music, and I hope I will with my writing too, but for me all of it has been fun. As my wife says, I’m gonna go a whole lifetime and never go to work!

    Dr. B

  12. drtombibey Says:

    Ms. Pande,

    All my fans in town are these little elderly women who are over at the Nursing or Rest Home. I love ’em dearly, but most of them are computer challenged.

    Maybe one day someone will volunteer to do that. Tommy Bibey’s only absolutes are that he maintain his independence, his persona, and privacy to the degree he and his Marfar can travel around a bit before I check in over there at the Nursing Home with my fans. (Then I’m gonna invite folks for free mandolin lessons in exchange for a visit- I am too gregarious not to be with a bunch of folks.)

    Maybe someday Marfar and I will do a book tour (heck the book ain’t even published yet, what am I talking?) and if someone could keep up with what library we are gonna be at that would be a cool thing.

    Dr. B

  13. K. Jayne Cockrill Says:

    Your writing is thoroughly entertaining. You create a world in which readers can really see what it’s like to be there, to live in it. Nice.

    It’s a hoot! as we say in Texas.


  14. drtombibey Says:


    Shoot fire we say that here in N.C. too!

    Yeah, the guys I play music with are an endless source of inspiration. And it is a fun world indeed. The Moose has been my banjo sidekick and best friend for a quarter century, and he is a book’s worth of material all by himself.

    Dr. B

  15. Ted Lehmann Says:

    I took pics of guys I thought might be you at several festivals, but nothing ever came of that. Then, up in the area of the University Triangle I thought I had you, but some guy named Cory tripped me and his wife Lorena sat on my head until you got away. Last weekend we drove through the Neuse River Basin, but didn’t have time to look for you because we were headed to the Parson’s 50th wedding anniversary party. I’ll keep tryin’ though, and we’re going to spend about six weeks in NC this fall. Are you goin’ to be at MACC (Musicians Against Childhood Cancer) this coming weekend? Pretty good cause. – Ted

  16. drtombibey Says:


    When you come to N.C. give me a shout.

    Musicians Against Childhood Cancer is a wonderful event, but I am a doctor that weekend. I wish I could jump in a phone booth and come out a bluegrass musician for that one, though.

    For anyone who can take it in, all the best bands will be there, and there could not be a better cause.

    Dr. B

  17. Smitty Neuse River Pres. Says:

    Doc, 15, 000 hits is great. I want to extend my greasy hand to you on your purpose in life. For all you folks that want to see ole Doc play the mando, he is real easy to pick out in the band. He is not kiddin’ about the silver hair thing. I am one of the few people in the world that has Neuse River on my ipod. Well, got to go Doc and start to plan our fall membership drive for the Neuse River Fan Club west of the Tennessee. Gestalt.

  18. drtombibey Says:


    “Cause of Smitty Doc is known west of Tenneesee,

    And I come to Mississippi with a mando on my knee.”

    Smitty for President. (Oh wait a minute, he already is) Salt and Pepper chicken in a black skillet and Jerry Clower forever.

    Dr. B

  19. Cindy Carter Says:

    Doc, thanks for checking in on Ranger D. Oh, what got him started this morning is that he thought he saw Moose. Ever since he heard that Moose tried to steal that Gator at the beach, he has been specially cautious about patroling out house and yard.

  20. drtombibey Says:

    Cool. By the way Ms. Cindy, my writing agent enjoys your contributions to my weblog. He he will fire me if I ever give out his name, ’cause he is innundated with queries, but on the other hand if you get to the book stage, I think he will be reading your blog.

    Of course, I am proof that a book deal is of the same odds as a trip to S.C. to buy a winning lottery ticket, but I am compelled to try.

    Glad Ranger is on the mend. He is wise to be wary of the Moose, ’cause he can be a tough cat. But he is a loyal soul who never forgot Ranger’s hospitality, so no fear.

    Dr. B

  21. Cindy Carter Says:

    Well, I already have two names for the book. It will either be “Is She White?” or “The Saga Of Cindy”. If he ever just wants to drop on by the blog, tell him to do so.

    Heck Fire, I just speak or write what is on my mind. And, I got plenty to say! LOL

  22. drtombibey Says:

    Ms. Cindy,

    I dig your blog ’cause like me it makes no apologies for being Southern and/or country. I feel sure he cruises over there some.

    One thing though, he has a bunch of red pens and ain’t afraid to use ’em. He made me read “Self-Editing for Fiction Writers” and write an essay on what I learned before he would read any of my stuff. I have to give credit where due- he has tightened up my style quite a bit. (But I still have a long way to go.)

    Dr. B

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: