Art of Sound Part Three- Mike Marshall

        On Sunday afternoon, Mike Marshall put on a concert with the Shelby High School Orchestra.  Schools used to do these things.  In fact, at the turn of the century, (the 20th that is) there were even mandolin orchestras all over the country. 

        It was an interesting mix.  Marshall grew up in bluegrass, but had a teacher early on who insisted on formal music theory and the ability to read music.  Because of that, he was able to teach these kids from both perspectives.  They not only did a Vivaldi Concerto, and a Concert Piece in G composed by Mr. Marshall, but learned to improvise and play bluegrass and other traditional music. 

        As Mike put it, music is like the wind.  It knows no borders or divisions, and blows freely across any artificial boundaries.   I liked the concept.  And I was moved not only by his virtuoso performance, but his ability to communicate with these high school kids and bring out the best in them.  If you have a child in high school orchestra, give consideration to a weekend with Mike Marshall.  For the kids I talked to it was an experience they’ll never forget.

        I was touched by his performance and went to speak to him.

        “Hi, I’m Tommy Bibey.”  We shook hands.

        “Yeah, we met the other night.  Good to see you.”  He looked me in the eye.  “You do have one blue eye and one green one.”

        “Yep.  It’s me.  Blue and green for bluegrass, I guess.  Thanks for working with these kids.  I’m an old mandolin guy.  I sense before you are done our favorite instrument is gonna make a comeback.”  I envisioned mandolin orchestra in my hometown.  “I hope you get there.”  

        “Thanks, Bibey.  I’m gonna try.”

        “My agent says there are only a few truths that have stood the test of time.  To me music is one of ’em, and the mandolin is at the top of my list.”

        “Me too, Bibey.  Good luck in your travels.”

        “Same to you, Mike.”  We shook hands and parted ways, but I am sure we have not seen the last of each other.  It is always good to make a new mandolin friend, and Mike Marshall is talented beyond my understanding.  There is much I can learn from him in my quest.

Dr. B

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4 Comments on “Art of Sound Part Three- Mike Marshall”

  1. Ted Lehmann Says:

    Great series of posts, doc. We had hoped to get to Art of Sound, but spent the weekend at the Kruger Brothers festival in N. Wilkesboro. Great stuff here, too, but I’m jealous reading your account. I have the Flint Hill CD and they’re a really good band. We saw Josh Pinkham play with his family band at Springfest in Live Oak, FL a couple of years ago. I think at that time he was about 14. There’s no shortage of great young mandolin players coming up while there’s still plenty of room for old codgers like you. We saw Jim Brooks play on Saturday. He was a Bluegrass Boy with Bill Monroe back in the sixties and is also Cindy Baucom’s Dad. Also, don’t forget that Mike Marshall is also one of the great record (?) producers in the business. He produced the latest Cadillac Sky CD. You must have had a great time, and I’m sure low country medicine didn’t suffer a bit in your absence. – Ted

  2. drtombibey Says:


    Mike is so talented. His resume runs from gigs with Stephan Grapelli to Bill Monroe. What a treasure.

    My gas tank is full again, and I can go back and be a doctor.

    Dr. B

  3. Billy Says:

    Dr B — why don’t you put on your site [maybe on the side] the top ten in Bluegrass music for the week. Maybe you could even give some kind of 5 star system on new works your readers vote for. I know little about Bluegrass but would like to learn more.

    I have bought a few Bluegrass CD’s that are OK when I am on the road, but when I hear it under a tree, or on a front porch with a small crowd it is like heaven — you cannot hear anything better.

    If you guys make a CD you should do it with a live crowd, and all the crowd noise right there with you. To have a studio recording of Bluegrass is like eating peach cobbler in a closet. What good is it if you cannot let everyone at the table see your joy.

  4. drtombibey Says:


    This is an excellent idea, and I am going to start on it.

    The band has talked about a CD. It is strange you suggest a live one, because we had considered a get around the mike and cut it deal.

    Dr. B

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