A Day For An Old Banjo Man

        I’ve told y’all about my wife’s band before- ‘Guitared and Feathered’ is their name.

        And I’ve also mentioned she is excellent at befriending elderly men. They all love her.  (Can’t say I blame ’em.)

        Last week they had a gig.  She called me on her way home.  (Sometimes I help them out, but I had to work that day.)   They had played at Hospice, and some guy wheeled up and said he was a banjo player.  He had someone go back to his room and they returned with an old open-back banjo; one of those with a calf skin head.

        Two strings were missing, but Betty Jo, the banjo player for Guitared and Feathered, broke open a pack and tuned it up.

        The guy sat in the wheelchair and picked along with them.  Marfar said he missed a few notes, but she could tell he was a player in his day.  They introduced him to the crowd as a celebrity guest for the band.

         Don’t you know it made his day?  Heck, it made mine for her to call and tell me about it.  I’m glad I’ve got her.  She’s an expert on elderly men, and I’m closing in on it in a hurry.

Dr. B

Explore posts in the same categories: Guitar-ed and Feathered, memorable gigs, Writing

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16 Comments on “A Day For An Old Banjo Man”

  1. Amber Says:

    Isn’t amazing how a little kindness like that can do the world of good for someone. It can touch their soul and make them feel so proud! You give her a hug from me. What a wonderful woman you have! You are lucky indeed!

  2. drtombibey Says:

    Ms. Amber,

    A little kindness does go a long way.

    She’s a fine woman and not a bad bass player, either.

    Dr. B

  3. She sounds fabulous and hopefully she is a doomed coffee drinker also – – we can all have quite a time – my husband is a bass player also, so maybe they could have a caffeine -fueled bass-off.

    Random acts of music can make most anybody’s day – so glad someone out there is taking the time.

  4. I’m imagining some sort of forties setting for your anecdote here – I can’t help it. A sweet elderly man, a talented woman being sweet with a twinkle in her eye and the elderly man busting out with some sweet tune and a tear in his eye as the crowd cheers. All this accompanied by fedora hats and smoke rings of course.

  5. Pamela Villars Says:

    Dr. B,

    Thank her for me. I used to work in hospice and treating folks like the living instead of already dead is a gift, which she and her band clearly have.

    May you all live and rest in peace!

    Ms. Musings

  6. drtombibey Says:


    Yeah bluegrass and coffee go together like ham and eggs. Random acts of music- I love it. Thanks for visiting.

    Dr. B

  7. drtombibey Says:

    Ms. slightly,

    Well you are quite right- we are very old fashioned people. Most of us bluegrassers are.

    Dr. B

  8. drtombibey Says:

    Ms. Pam,

    You are correct about Hospice. They have injected much dignity into something that is not easy. I hope I get to play music the whole way too, like that gentleman.

    Dr. B

  9. Cindy Carter Says:

    No doubt, your wife is a mighty fine woman. So are the ladies she plays with. They bought joy to an old man’s heart. He felt, at least for a while, what he felt as a young man. He will carry that memory for a long time.

    Kudos to the lady who restrung the banjo too!

  10. Ted Lehmann Says:

    Oliver Sachs, in his book Musicophilia (http://www.oliversacks.com/) writes movingly about the power of music to enable people in various stages of dementia to re-assert skills thought lost to them, remember lyrics, or even use song as a route to hold conversations. I reviewed his book here (http://tedlehmann.blogspot.com/2007/12/musicophilia-by-oliver-sacks.html) about a year ago. Ms. Marfar’s act of kindness also represents the rehabilitive power of music in people’s lives. I, too, can see the twinkle in her eye, but even more than that the deep well of compassion that lives in there, too. – Ted

  11. drtombibey Says:

    Ms. Cindy,

    Yeah they are are kinder and gentler bluegrass for sure. I hate I had to work for that gig.

    Dr. B

  12. drtombibey Says:


    I believe music has redemptive powers. Martin Luther said it is was right up there with theology.

    Dr. B

  13. amcn Says:

    It sounds as though bluegrass is a love that you and your wife both share. That’s an amazing thing. I hope one day, when I am married, that I will have something that I am passionate about that I can share with my husband. Do you ever play together?

  14. drtombibey Says:


    Yes we do. I play mandolin with her band when I can. Many of their gigs are during the day when I am at work, though. When they play the weekend gigs I help out if my band is not booked. And when they have a big gig, I make sure I’m off.

    We also play in the church band together. I always say she’s good for a lifetime. She gave me two beautiful children and a Gibson mandolin, plus where would I ever find another bass player that good?!

    Come back and visit. We did have a different life, and I’m having fun writing about it.

    Dr. B

  15. Smitty Neuse River Pres. Says:

    Doc, enjoyed the story as well as the comments. I love to read about people who take time to care and notice and Marfar is one of them. She had her eyes glued on you during our Hee Haw production. If ya’ll would of had a couple of goo goo eyes, ya’ll would have acted like newly weds.

  16. drtombibey Says:


    She’s a good’un, and I’ve been a handful at times.

    I wrote a scene about playing music all night and then taking a shower and going to work and my agent could hardly believe it. It is true I can’t do that now, but we did it all the time twenty years ago.

    Marfar has been there the whole way, too.

    Dr. B

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