The Difference in Bluegrass Men and Women

        Now I know what you are thinking; we don’t need a Doc to tell us this.  And you are right.  But after the post about ‘Guitared and Feathered,’ I thought I ought to tell her as far as bluegrass bands there are some differences when you play with women as opposed to men.

        None of this has anything to do with ability.  All you have to do is listen to Sierra Hull play the mandolin- old Doc can’t hang with that kid, and I’ve been a player a long time.  Or check out Kristin Scott Benson.  She doesn’t weigh much more than a Gibson banjo in a Mark Leaf case, but she is the IBMA banjo player of the year.  No one could argue Rhonda Vincent is not a sharp business woman as well as a fine player and singer.  And Alison Krauss long since put to rest the rumor you had to be old and ugly to play the fiddle.

        But in spite of all that there are differences.   The last time I played with ‘Guitared and Feathered’ there was a discussion of what type of soap they were using  at the time.  Now I’ve picked bluegrass music with our banjo man Moose Dooley  for almost three decades, and I have no idea what kind of soap the boy uses.  And talk about snacks. They had all kinda little sandwiches you can eat in one bite, and birthday cakes every time you turn around.  No beer and pretzels for those cats.

        They are versatile instrumentalists, too.  You have to play your mandolin in all sorts of different keys to accompany their voices.  Bill Monroe himself said it was up to the musicians to adapt to where the singers were comfortable, not the opposite.  If Monroe said it it is in the bluegrass Bible.

        They have even helped me in my quest to be a writer.  You better learn how to express yourself with some degree of sophistication and subtlety.  They expect you to understand English without having to hit you over the head with a ball bat.

        And even if my Marfar is the bass player I have to say they are quite a bit cuter than Moose or Warbler in Neuse River.  It might be Chanel Number 5 instead of Old Spice, but it is still bluegrass, and a fine version if I say so myself.

Dr. B

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12 Comments on “The Difference in Bluegrass Men and Women”

  1. Cindy Carter Says:

    I could say all the “trite” things like women are more sophisticated and care more. But, that just aint true. We are less afraid to show who we really are. And, we don’t have to act all “macho”. And since most men have a “woman” of some type in their life, you all don’t need to know about soap. You just open the cabinet and there it is.

    Put a woman with you men and she would wonder what you all were talking about when you talked about 10/30 oil or who was full back on your favorite football team.

    All it is is culture. And, we “pretty much” all fit the mold. “Guy” stuff and “Woman” stuff. You just need to listen to learn.

  2. drtombibey Says:

    Ms. Cindy,

    As always you are right on. We just have to take each human being for what they are, huh?

    I got admit though; life is a little better for the likes of Guitared and Feathered. I’m esp smitten by the bass player.

    Dr. B

  3. Smitty Neuse River Pres. Says:

    Doc, nice job of getting yourself into this article and getting out. I agree with the man and women band member. The two that are in our group are always concerned about what part they are going to take in the song. The tenor, alto and soprano get over in the corner during practice and work it out. When they get that done, the song starts to sound great.( I know how to make a band sound good, get singers, not clanging cymbals) The rest of us join in on the lower notes and it sounds even better. The other noticable thing in our band is when we use the one mike it is easy to sing right over the top. You have played with us and we have some tall band members. We have to watch out for the fiddlers’ bow but we have that figured out now. It doesn’t take but one in the nose to find out where to stand.

    How is the book? How do you get the little pictures added to comments, say yours is the mando?

    I have been doing a little research for you, stay tuned.

  4. drtombibey Says:


    The time I played with you guys in Mississippi, you directed the music traffic better than a bluegrass Lawrence Welk.

    The book is coming right along. I should finish the MS revision no later than mid Jan. My agent has a contest he wants me to enter in Feb, so he might whup me if I missed that deadline, but I am sure I’ll make that. Then we’ll have to see if a publisher picks it up. If not though, we’ll go the self-publish route. I’d rather have a publisher, ’cause I think the artistic result is a higher level due to the stringent quality control, but a new writer is a tough sell these days.

    Publishers do have it tough now, though. As my daughter said when I started the project, “Daddy, that sounds like a lot of fun, but you need to realize not many folks my age read.”

    Oh well, country doc, bluegrass musician, book writer, I guess I’ll not get rich at anything but I keep following my heart.

    Are there some Brashears down there? I found out Indie’s mama was a Brashear.

    Dr. B

    P.S. On the little avatar picture, I started mine when I signed up with wordpress. I used a digital picture of my mandolin. As far as I know, you have to establish a wordpress blog to get one, but there may be another way.

  5. Smitty Neuse River Pres. Says:

    You know Doc, that name sounds familar historically, let me do a little thinking around the Nathez area or it may be a Natchez Trace Parkway name. The hunt is on. Thanks again for the update on the book.

  6. drtombibey Says:


    I have this strange notion the book is gonna do O.K. in N.C., Mississippi, and New Hampshire. I hope it catches on in other locales.

    But even if it doesn’t sell well, I have to write it.

    Dr. B

  7. Ted Lehmann Says:

    OK, doc, I got one for you. Yesterday I met a woman mandolin player who’s a sociology professor at Smith College in MA. No kidding. And that gal can pick, too! I told her all about you, so I wouldn’t be too surprised to have her drop in on your blog. I invited her. – Ted

  8. drtombibey Says:


    Man that is great. I hope she comes to visit. Like I told Smitty, I have this strange notion I’m gonna catch on in Mississippi and New Hampshire. Maybe MA will log on too.

    My theory all along has been the bluegrass crowd is of a higher socioeconomic and educational status than what folks knew. Maybe she will speak to that.

    Of course, maybe everyone is just studying this Appalachian monkey in the zoo, but I am digging all this perspective from all over the country. (And world for that matter)

    Dr. B

  9. pandemonic Says:

    I guess if you have it in you, you have it in you… 🙂

  10. Billy Says:

    I put state stickers on my truck door of all the states I visit. If you ever redesign you might at least all the states and countries that you get readers from. Then when the Neuse River runs it will know where to stop.

  11. drtombibey Says:


    My Marafar has got it going on for sure.

    Dr. B

  12. drtombibey Says:


    I need to start trying to find out where they are from. I know it ranges from Australia to Scotland to Texas and Oklahoma and Mississippi to New Hampshire and points beyond. One of these days I am going to put bumper sickers from some of my readers on my mandolin case.

    Dr. B

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