Rich Person’s Hootenanny

        Neuse River played a rich person’s Hootenanny this weekend and it was a real nice gig.  These can be identified in several ways.

        For one the parking lot ain’t pick-up trucks and Honda cars.  It is more like Lexus and Mercedes.  There are neat little checkered table cloths with perfect silverware settings fit for a debutante party.  No one’s gonna eat catfish stew out of a VW hubcap at these gigs, you can count on that. 

        Everyone dresses up in plaid shirts sort a like what those young fellows model in L.L. Bean or the Sears catalogue, and have red bandannas tied around their neck.  Some of ’em wear some nice boots made outta snakeskin.  It costs a lot to be a real cowboy these days.  

        And the chow is always- yep BBQ.  But they ask, ‘Do you boys ever have barbeque at your performances?’  instead of ‘We’s gonna cook a pig.  Y’all wanna come pick?”

        The pay scale is good too.  Once some well-lubricated patron wanted us to play Rocky Top.  Warb told the fellow we had just played it, and the man slapped a hundred bones on the sound board and said, “I said I wanted Rocky Top.”  Warb looked at the hundred dollar bill, put it is his pocket, and broke into the tune, “We spent hours on old Rocky Top…… Up in the Tennessee Hills….”  Another difference here:  In regular gigs we do requests for free, but in a rich person’s hootenanny, we take ’em on twenty dollar bills, especially if they yell at you like that man did.  Besides, he didn’t understand.  For a hundred bones, we’d a taken a stab at ‘Free Bird.’

        Then there is the money back guarantee issue.  One time we played a Christmas Party for the Lance cracker route drivers.  (By the way, for my money Lance is the best cracker in the South.  I am a Doc, but I suspect at least for me Nip Chee crackers and a Co-Cola might cure cancer.  The crackers are still the best even after they took the lard outta of ’em years ago.) 

        Anyway, this was a pass the hat gig for the drivers.  They fed us some fine slabs of steak, roasted corn on the cob, and baked potatoes.  As the evening wore on they had a nip or two and got more liberal with the donations.

        The next day they’d all sobered up and one came by the office.  “Doc,” he said.  “Honest to God, I didn’t mean to put all that in the hat.  It was my wife’s Christmas money.”

        “How much didja throw in Ronnie?”

        “Forty bones.”

        I reached in my wallet and fished out two twenties.  I felt sorry for him, and besides, I didn’t want his wife to hate bluegrass music. 

        And that is the other difference in a regular gig and a rich person’s hootenanny.  If that man who asked for ‘Rocky Top” were to have come by the office and wanted his hundred dollars back, I’d a told him we don’t have a money back guarantee.  After all, it was a rich person’s hootenanny.  They can afford quality entertainment.

Dr. B

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12 Comments on “Rich Person’s Hootenanny”

  1. Karen Says:

    Dr. B
    I seriously laughed out loud when I read your blog! As I mentioned before, my husband went to school in Asheville so I’m familiar with the good ol’ southern drawl, even though I’m an Aussie girl. I can just imagine you sitting on a front porch swing, wearing your bib and brace overalls, checkered shirt and telling tales such as these. And although I haven’t seen a picture of you, I have an image of what you’re like. And for right now I think I like not knowing for sure…

    Shows what a good writer you are, Dr. B – you create pictures with words!

  2. drtombibey Says:

    Ms. Karen,

    Thanks so much. Your image of me is right on. Plaid and flannel are high fashion for me.

    There are two places in this world I’d love to visit someday. One is Scotland and the other is Australia. If I ever made a world tour Australia would be on it for sure. The pictures of it look beautiful.

    Dr. B

  3. Ted Lehmann Says:

    Where would most bluegrass musicians be without the rich person’s hootenanny? We know your sixth cousin a bit, and he gets lots of work over on Kiawah Island near Charleston playing at corporate events. Without playing music, and not just bluegrass, for the convention crowd over there, he’s be hard pressed to make his living in music. There are so many good musicians making great music in so many genres that it’s hard to imagine even being confident enough to contemplate going full time. Think of that guy in western NC, I think you said his name is Darin Aldride, who teaches fifty or sixty students a week in every instrument that comes to mind so he can record and play at festivals. Bein’ a doc is a pretty good gig for a musician. – Ted

  4. Cindy Carter Says:

    Karen is right. I can see you all at the hootnanny!

    And, I have to ask, since you like Lance crackers so much. Did you ever call them “Nabs”? When we went to town with our mom, we would always stop by Mixon’s gas station for a coke and some “Nabs”. I like the cheese/peanutbutter or the nekot ones.

  5. drtombibey Says:


    You are 100% correct. The rich person’s hootenanny is a staple of the bluegrass way.

    I love my day job, but also I would be scared to death to give it up- there are so many great ones out there. The two you mentioned are two of the best, and I can’t carry the mandolin case for either one.

    I did carve out my nitch though. I used to have a hat that said, “The musician’s physician.” (Or was it the physician’s musician?)

    Dr. B

  6. drtombibey Says:

    Ms. Cindy,

    Oh yeah, we called ’em nabs all the time.

    And no kidding- with my hand on a stack of Bibles, the cheese/peanut butter and the Nekot are number two and three on my Lance cracker list.

    Dr. B

  7. pandemonic Says:

    🙂 That’s a great story.

    In my area of the country, there aren’t many hootenannies, although there are some rich people. I doubt if any of them would pay extra for anything.

  8. mrschili Says:

    I don’t think it’s so much that they can afford quality entertainment (though, of course, they CAN) but that they think they can be rude about it. I say the guy with the C-note got off cheap. I wouldn’t put up with being spoken to that way no matter what the price, but maybe that’s just me.

  9. drtombibey Says:

    Ms. Pande,

    I know one fellow who could buy and sell me many times over and make me his slave doctor, although I prefer my freedom.

    He buys all his scripts on the four dollar generic plan at the highest possible dose and then uses a razor blade to cut the pills into tiny bits to approximate the correct dose.

    It isn’t what I would recommend- the dosing is unpredictable, but then I don’t know much about money.

    Dr. B

  10. drtombibey Says:


    I thought Warbler was gonna flatten the man, and Warb is a big ole farm boy and coulda done it.

    I convinced him to let it go- bail woulda been the hundred bones and then some.

    That man was lucky I was there.

    We probably need a woman in the band. Folks are less likely to be rude, and when they are and a woman calls their hand, they don’t know how to handle it. (My daughter the black belt would be a good’un- she can sing good.)

    Dr. B

  11. Amber Says:

    Another interesting story from you Doc. 🙂

    As long as you have a good time… that is the main thing.

  12. drtombibey Says:

    Ms. Amber,

    Lordy, I’ve been living eight days a week for a long time. Now I’m trying to write it all down before my time is up. If anyone’s had more fun than me I’m happy for them.

    Dr. B

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