Archive for July 2008

Darin Aldridge/Brooke Justice Quintet

July 13, 2008

        Someone recommend a new little festival to us called “The Coot Williams Road Bluegrass Festival” so Marfar and I decided to take it in.  It sounded like just like the kind of event we like- small, family owned and family oriented; a quaint reminder of simpler times.

        It was all that and more.  When I go to a new festival, I check out the chow first thing, and I could smell the hamburgers on the grill when I opened the car door.  Excellent country cooking.  A nice spot in the country, the thoughtful touch of a big shade tent, a great sound system, wonderful regional talent, and a couple headliners like the reliable pro Rhonda Vincent insured a memorable day.

        The big surprise to the crowd was the emergence of a new group to the circuit, the Darin Aldridge/Brooke Justice Quintet.  They weren’t but a song into their set, and I began to make cell phone calls to folks to spread the news.  I noticed others doing the same, and veteran bands gathered around backstage to catch the set, a sure indication of a group that is gonna make an impact.

        As a group they are new to the bluegrass tour, but they are far from neophytes to the industry.  Darin Aldridge played mandolin and sang tenor for Charlie Waller and Country Gentlemen (Fox on the Run fame) for seven years, and has been on tour with the Circuit Riders for the last few years.  He is a seasoned pro, and a meticulous bandleader who insists on quality.  Brook has sung the gospel for years, and she and Darin have played churches over the Southeast for the last couple of years before embarking on this tour.

        The band members have been around too.  Chris Bryant, (banjo) Eddie Biggerstaff, (bass) and Perry Woodie (dobro) have played in national level groups such as the Gentlemen and Blue Ridge for years.

        I was not the only observer of the scene who saw the potential. There were a number of industry insiders there, and the opinion was unanimous- this is the best new group any of us have heard in some time.

        Brooke is a powerful singer, and when she and Darin sang their duets, the hair stood up on the back of my neck, and tears began to well.  The picking was perfect, too.  Darin might be the premier multi-instrumentalist in the Carolinas- he sure gets my vote.  He is that good.  For those of you who have the mistaken notion bluegrass music is just a bunch of old gray haired guys (like me) and is played of of tune and time and sung by marginal singers, I hope you will give a group like this a listen before you make any final judgments.  To my ear, their acoustic music is as fine as played on Planet Earth today.  Trust ole Dr. B- as you listen, it’ll take your troubles away if but for a moment.  For me, that is what music is all about, and no one plays it better than these two young people.

        They have a new Gospel CD out on the Pinecastle label titled, “I’ll Go With You.”  Their official CD release party is tonight at the First Baptist Church in Cherryville, N.C.  We had to go back home last night.  I had prior commitments and don’t see how I can get back over that way tonight, but if you live in that area, and have not heard these guys, go.  Check them out on their myspace page or if they perform in your area.  I give them my highest bluegrass recommendation.

Dr. B

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Doc Watson update

July 12, 2008

        The Bluegrass Blog posted an update on Doc Watson today.  Doc had some minor surgery, but is doing fine, and should recover completely.  The post was from Jack Lawrence, who has played guitar alongside Doc for many years.

        Doc’s Doc commented that Doc was 85, but had the body of a 50 year old.  I had to add that not only was that true, but Doc has the brain of a 35 year old, and a soul and spirit that are timeless. 

        One time I had the privilege to open a show for Doc.  I got to sit backstage and talk and pick for a while.  I told Doc he was one of the players who had kept me going in life.  Many a night I drove to the hospital and back home dog tired, but made it in listening to the likes of Doc Watson.

        He said, “Son, thank you for telling me that.  That’s why we play this music.”  It made my year.  What a memory.  Man, I’d have paid to open that show.  Not only is Doc Watson a fine performer, he is as genuine a human being as you will ever run into.  

        I have many favorites, but Doc might be the all time most sincere and authentic traditional musician I know.  It bears re-quoting Wayne Benson.  “When Doc sings, I believe every word.”  Right on, Wayne.  Doc is the best. 

        Jack says Doc is already on the mend, and I sure am glad to hear it.  Get well soon, Doc!

        Card and letters can be sent to Doc via the Bluegrass Blog:

        The Bluegrass Blog

        P.O. Box 1069

        Pulaski, Virginia 24301

Dr. B

WNCW 88.7 Radio Free Bluegrass

July 11, 2008

        Years ago Stroker, our lead guitar man for Neuse River, called me about a road trip.  There was a new radio station in the western part of N.C. and they promised bluegrass was gonna be a big part of their weekly program.  Given the paucity of our kind of music on the radio at the time, we had our doubts.  I gotta give ’em credit.  All these years later they are still carrying on the tradition.

        They got off to a good start.  They chose to bring in Doc Watson for the kick-off concert.  Doc can play wonderful straight bluegrass, but also does a blend of blues, country, traditional, rock-a-billy and a touch of Tin Pan Alley.  I have heard flashier guitar players in my time, but none speak to my soul like Doc.  He is the best.  Stroker had studied Doc from way back, so he was all about the trip.  I love the way Doc Watson sings too.  As Wayne Benson says, “When Doc songs, I believe every word.”  Wayne is an old pro in the traditional music business, and he has it right.  There are no more authentic performers than Doc Watson.

        Over the 4th, I ran into Dennis Jones, the man who fronts the bluegrass shows on WNCW.   Dennis not only plays traditional bluegrass on his show, but gives air play time to modern artists, too.  He hosts live performances in their state of the art Studio B, and even gives good local and regional bands a shot at exposure.  Bluegrass artists like Darin Aldridge got some of their first radio exposure because Dennis Jones and WNCW saw their talent early on, and put them on the air before they were well known in the bluegrass world.  Dennis’s show on Saturday is called “Going Across the Mountain” and Sunday morning is “The Gospel Truth.”  Both are excellent, and well worth the listen.

        My readers have asked where to hear good bluegrass, and WNCW 88.7 is an excellent place to start.  They are an NPR station (national public radio) so there are very few commercials.  It is radio free bluegrass, but also they are a very eclectic station which has a variety of styles music and other programming.  Of course, nothing is free and they do defray their costs with a twice a year fundraiser, but they have Internet streaming, so one can go on-line and listen free of charge anywhere in the world.  They are on my blog roll, so ya’ll give ’em a listen and tell him Tommy Bibey sent ya.

Dr. B

A Little Help From My Friends

July 10, 2008

        I saw a patient today who goes back a long way with me.  A few years ago, he lost his health insurance, and I did what I could to help him along.  I gave him samples at each visit, and charged less than what was indicated every time too.  We never talked about it, but he was a smart guy, and I know he knew what I was doing.

        When he got another job, and some health insurance, he scheduled a visit right away.  “Doc,” he said.  “I appreciate all you done to carry me along last year.  I’ve got me some health insurance now, and I want you to do everything you have- run up a bill for a grand!”  He held both arms out as a gesture to draw blood work.

        I had to tell him it didn’t work that way, but I did appreciate his concern for me.  Here he was  gonna sacrifice his body to help me out.  It was a thoughtful response, and it sure meant more to me than the thousand dollars would have from his insurance company.  Besides, we are a little country office.  I’m not sure we could run up that kind of bill in a day, anyway.  If we did, I’m certain they would take notice.

       But, as much trouble as insurance companies give us, it was a nice thought, and it got me through the day.  I appreciated an offer for a little help from my friends, even if I could not partake of it.

Dr. B

Coca-Cola Klepto

July 9, 2008

        A post from Auntie (mrschili’s sister) got me to thinking about our office, and inspired today’s entry.  Someone was stealing her salad dressing out of the refrigerator at work.  From her story, and the responses, I’d say this is a universal problem, and it reminded me of a similar problem in my office.

        Every day at 3:00, unless there is a desperate emergency at hand, Dr. Bibey proclaims, “School’s out!” and we take a break for a Coca-Cola.

        This behavior goes back to grade school.  I’d get home and my mom would let me have one Coca-Cola before I went out to play.  They were the ones in those little green bottles.  She’d pour ’em up over ice in these metal glasses that’d get real cold and condensation would form on the outside.  I’m telling you, when I was a kid, I thought a well struck golf ball, a Martin guitar, and an ice cold Co-Cola were the three best things in the whole wide world.  They still rank mighty high.

        Anyway, my co-workers know I don’t ask for much, but a sure way to get a hound dog look outta me is to say we’ve run out of Co-Colas.  They don’t let it happen often.  When Paig semi-retired, she told the new office manager, little Marcie Presto, “Dr. Bibey ain’t hard to please.  Just don’t let him run out of Co-Cola.”  She hasn’t done it yet.

        Years ago, though, we’d get down to the last one, and someone would open it up, drink about ten percent, then put it back in the refrigerator.  I had too much on my mind to play Sherlock Holmes, but I had an idea who it might be.  I suspected a single perpetrator, but never could prove it.  Without fail, they’d drink ten percent, about down to the top of the label, and then place it in the back right corner.  (Like I couldn’t find it.)  It would sit there and mock me.  It was water, water everywhere and nary a drop to drink or however that old English saying goes.  (mrschili, help me out here!)  I coulda taken it better if they’d downed the whole thing and thrown the bottle away.

        We only have a few cardinal rules at the office.  Each time someone breaks one….  well, those folks don’t work with us anymore.  The number one absolute rule is not to put one’s personal needs above the needs of the patient.  Once an employee wanted to leave early on a Friday.  This former employee told a patient he didn’t need to come in to the office that afternoon, but did not consult the clinical folks for a decision.  (A major no-no.)  I won’t tell you the details, but the patient 100% needed to see a doctor- the employee gave bad advice and it was against office policy.  She did so to convenience herself. 

        My patient was lucky, the problem that could have resulted in a serious outcome.  They healed, but it wasn’t cause of what I did for them come Monday, I assure you, but only due to the grace of God. 

        I was furious, and told her so.  The employee left work that day and didn’t return.  After that employee never came back, I noticed I never had a Co-Cola theft again.  You can’t trust someone who’d steal your Co-Colas.  She was the one I suspected all along, but I didn’t have enough evidence to fire her.  (My employees say Dr. Bibey will somehow forgive if you drink his last Co-Cola, but don’t roll no dice with his patients.)

        Over time in an office, people’s character traits emerge.  It is much like being married.  After a while you know all about your people- maybe not as well as your wife, but just shy of that.  I’ve been lucky- mine are the best.  In all these years, I’ve only had one Co-Cola thief, so I count myself blessed.

           All I can say Auntie, is watch out for whoever is steals your salad dressing.  They might not be as bad as a Co-Cola klepto, but it sounds like they to are up to no good.  You can tell a lot about folks who steal the things that get you through the day.

Dr. B

SIRIUS Satellite 65 Bluegrass Radio

July 7, 2008

         SIRIUS Radio, channel 65 on your bluegrass dial, did a live broadcast from the Red White and Bluegrass Festival over the 4th.  These guys are a crowd who can spread the bluegrass gospel in a hurry.  They are a force to be tuned in for sure.

        Chris Jones and the Night Riders were there as the SIRIUS ‘house’ band.  Chris is a a fine singer and songwriter, and his banjo man, Ned Luberecki, is the real deal on the five string.  Not only do they talk a good game on bluegrass radio, but they live it.  They can play it with the best of ’em.  I especially liked the last number they did, a take off on an old Bill Monroe lick.  Cool stuff.

        Of course, after the show Tommy Bibey had to go up and shake and howdy.  In spite their celebrity, in the bluegrass way, they were real down to earth.  

        I told Ned about my book, and he he thought a bluegrass novel about a fiddling doctor whose crisis resolution was directed by a loyal band of bluegrass boys would be a cool thing.  He said he’d love to read it when I’m finished.  (Projected date 2009)  If he likes it I hope he might give it a plug on the radio.

        Ned asked me what I hoped to accomplish and I told him I wanted to bring bluegrass to a million new folks.  He laughed and said, “Well good luck, Doc. I hope you make it.”

        Of course, Ned knows as well as I do that is not a realistic goal, but he also knows not to take away hope.  After all, if an old gray haired Doc can’t have big dreams and bluegrass music, life would be a mightly dull indeed.

        And you never know.  My readers range from professors and teachers to bankers, school principals, farmers and accountants.  Many of them are new to bluegrass.  Ned runs a segment on the show every so often where he asks folks how they first heard about bluegrass.  If ya’ll catch that, and I introduced you to the music, tell him you learned about it from Dr. Tommy Bibey.

        If a mandolin is played in the proverbial forest and no one hears it, there ain’t no music.  If one writes a book, and no reads it, there would be no point in the effort.  So, all my readers are very special- one in a million.  Like a Doc for his patients, as a writer you are my reason to be.  If you call in to Ned, tell ’em you are one in a million to Tommy Bibey.  He’ll get it.  All them bluegrass people is smart; you can’t get nothing over on ’em.

        Ned knows I’m a long shot, but so was Seabiscuit.  For that matter, who’d thought a banjo picker’d wind up a national radio celebrity, either.  Ya’ll tune him in.  As soon as he speaks into the mic, you know it is a radio voice.  His show is authentic bluegrass, and has much to say about our music.

        Hey, when my book comes out, I hope some folks say they heard about it from Ned Luberecki and SIRIUS Satellite 65 Bluegrass Radio.  His sponsors will dig that.  (I don’t have any of those ‘cept me at this point, and the blog will always stay free, and have few classified ads either for that matter.)  The plug will help ’em out.  It is the bluegrass way.

Dr. B

Ottis Casar, Bass Player

July 3, 2008

        Ottis Casar was a bass player who lived way up in the country.  He grew corn for “medicinal” purposes.  His great grand-people came here from Scotland, and wanted to get a fresh start, so they changed their last name.  They meant to name the family after Julius Caesar, but misspelled it.  And Ottis was named after his Uncle Otis, but they misspelled that too.

        Ottis was a farmer but he only grew corn, and he became somewhat of a chemist.  For a long time he was odds with the government, but made peace with them near the end when they hired him as a paid consultant on a gasohol project.  His white corn liquor was well known, and won a blue ribbon at the Galax Old Time Fiddler’s Convention one year.  Moose Dooley is my best friend, and I’ve heard Ottis passed the recipe on to him before he died.  Moose has never told me for sure, and has stayed close to the vest on the subject- says it is a matter of national security.  Ottis worked for the government a while you know.

        I was Ottis’ doctor, and he lived a pretty good long while- 67- if you consider his usual breakfast was BBQ potato chips, a beer and a cigar.  I’m not the greatest nutritionist, but I told him it was too many browns.   He said on Sunday he’d leave off the beer and drink white corn liquor instead, like that made any difference.  On Saturday night, he’d put in some strawberries.  By morning they sat on the bottom of the Mason jar like they’d been weighted down with lead.  Maybe they had been, I don’t know.  I’m a doctor- I wasn’t gonna drink that stuff, even if Ottis did say it was medicine.

        Ottis was a fine bass player, even though he could not read a lick music, or anything else for that matter.  He once met the great Roy Huskey, Jr. and adopted his method to think of music in terms of colors.  Ottis became the local expert at the technique.  He’d say, “Doc, I swear, that line right there calls for a green note, don’t you think?”

        “Whatever you say, Ottis.  It sounds good by me- I ain’t much of a bass player, though.”  Truth was even though I was his Doc for years, I never could get inside Ottis’s head, I had to just accept him for what he was.

        So help me Lord, what I am fixing to tell you is a true story.  One night Ottis came to the ER, and said, “Ya’ll put me in the hospital, I’m gonna have a heart attack ’bout midnight.”  Given his EKG was normal, and he had no symptoms, the ER doc was skeptical.

         “Mr. Casar, I don’t see any reason you have to be in the hospital.  Everything looks fine.”

         “Boy, you don’t know what the hell you’re talking ’bout.  You call Dr. Bibey and tell him Ottis Casar is gonna have  heart attack and to put me in that new ‘tensive care unit.”

        Ottis didn’t have any give up in him, and the ER Doc gave in and called me.  I know he expected me to send the man home, but I said, “If Ottis Casar says he’s fixing to have a heart attack, I wouldn’t bet against him.”

        “He meets no criteria whatsoever.  What is your clinical rationale?”

        “I think he must hear a blue note,”  I said.

        “Huh?”  The ER doc was confused.  There wasn’t enough time to teach him the bass, so I came on over.

        When I got there, Ottis was spittin’ mad.  “Bibey, what kinda young fool Docs y’all hiring nowadays?  If Ottis Casar says he’s gonna have a heart attack, he’s gonna!”

        “It’s O.K., Ottis.  We’ll hold onto you.  Don’t worry.”  There was no objective reason to admit him, but I wasn’t about to send him home.

        Ottis did fine until about midnight, when he had a sudden burst of ventricular fibrillation, and a cardiac arrest.  He was in the right place, though.  They had him shocked back into a normal rhythm before I could crawl out of bed and get back to the hospital. 

        When I walked in the ICU, he sat right up in bed, and said, “Lord have mercy, if Ottis Casar says he’s gonna have a heart attack, a man had better listen.  He’d best listen to Tommy Bibey, too, by God.  You’s the best Doctor in the County.”  Ottis wouldn’t rest till we had the ER Doc come up and apologize, then he settled down.  He did fine for years, but died at home one night.  (This was long before implantable defibrillators.  When they came out the first person I thought of was Ottis Casar.)         

        One thing I might add.  Ottis had Vfib, but technically it was not a heart attack, ’cause his cardiac enzymes were negative, and subsequent studies did not demonstrate any damage to the heart muscle.  I wasn’t about to tell him, though.  Ottis was so stubborn I was afraid he’d have one just to prove me wrong. 

        I never figured out exactly what happened to Ottis that night (and neither did some fine cardiologists) but I think what the ER Doc didn’t get is all Ottis wanted was for someone to listen to him.  (modern folks would say he sought validation, but Ottis wouldn’t a put it that way.)  I’ve read a lot of books and articles since that night, and I still will never know, but it is a good a theory as I can come up with.

Dr. B

July 4th

July 2, 2008

        My staff can tell when I’m scheduled for some time off from work without a calender, ’cause I’ll get out the office Martin and play a few tunes at lunch.  This time it was ‘Greencastle Hornpipe,’ an across the pond number Wayne Benson says is as Celtic as you can get if you grew up two blocks from Burger King.  Then I played the blues, one of mine called “It’s Done Come Time.”

        The words to the chorus go:

        “It’s done come time to not know nothing

        ‘Bout what you’ve done to do me wrong,

        You ain’t been nothing but trouble

        I’m glad you’ve up and done moved on.”

        (sorry for the poor grammar, mrschili, but you have to use bad grammar when you do a blues number or it doesn’t sound authentic.)

        Since it is coming up on the 4th, I closed it out with a patriotic medley, but if you want to hear it done right listen to Doyle Dyke’s version.  He is the best.

        At two bells, I put my stethoscope back on, and turned back into a doc.  At five I shut the mental computer down to get ready for the holiday.  I’m not on call this go round, so I am gonna exercise my God given American freedom and do nothing.

        I love all the holidays, but July 4th is my favorite.  Our 4th is a day at the lake on an inner tube, and like everyone we watch the fireworks at night.  I think they are extra good when viewed from a boat out on the water, though, and my kids like the tradition from way back too.

        I like the 4th ’cause it is so laid back.  My wife works too hard at Christmas and Thanksgiving.  On the 4th I put bratwurst on the grill, and we cook up some corn on the cob.  After supper, we have  watermelon for dessert down at the boat dock.  Everyone spits the seeds in the water and watches the fish chase after ’em.  We all wear T-shirts and bathing suits and generate almost no laundry, and work as little as possible. 

        Another tradition for us the last few years is the Red White and BlueGrass Festival.  It is in Morganton in western N.C. and is a bluegrass event that is now a fixture for everyone in the Carolinas bluegrass community, so we get to see a lot of old friends that week.

        And, at the risk of being labeled the Syndicated Southern Sap, I like the 4th ’cause it is so American.  Even though our freedoms have been significantly eroded in recent years, I still think we are more free than most places in the world.  Like I said at the outset, I figure a weblog like mine would be banned in many countries.

        My favorite posts are the interactive ones.  How do you guys spend your 4th of July?  Wherever you are,  I hope you have a good holiday, and a relaxed one.  And I pray we remain at least somewhat free to be whatever we want to be.  I realize as a WASP, that might be easier for me than for some other folks, but I wish for it for all of us regardless of race, color, creed etc.

        HAPPY 4TH OF JULY!!!  I’m off to be lazy.  Will be back on line soon.

Dr. B