Saving Souls at the Roadhouse

        I am going to dedicate this post to my Australian pal Ms. Karen, who is on my blogroll.  She is a young lady married to a minister in Queensland.  They play Praise Band tunes in their church similar to the ones we play in Harvey County.  She posted one she wrote and I got out my mandolin and played right along.  The Internet is a cool item.  When I was growing up, such communication was impossible.


        Yesterday at church we had a rocking session.  The sending forth tune was ‘Amazing Grace,’ but we played it close to a roadhouse style.  I played my little solid body electric mandolin.  It looks like a ’52 Telecaster guitar that stayed in the drier too long.  (Check out Steve Ryder mandolins- mine is the EM-24)  Just like it’s big brother Tele, it has one pick-up that is downright twangy; an characteristic chicken picking kinda sound you can’t miss.

        At practice we rocked a bit too hard, and our music minister reeled us in.  “Now guys,” he said.  “That sounds like you’re playing down at the Tri County Bar and Grill.”  (One of those places where chicken wire  protects the stage from flying beer bottles; I’ve played there in years past.)  “It’s O.K. to go right up to the edge, but you gotta tone it down for the preacher a bit.  Remember, we are in church.”

           I knew he was right.  One time one of the ladies at the Country Club complained we sounded like some kinda honky-tonk band, which I took as a high compliment.  “Awh come on,” I said to our band leader.  “Can’t we at least play right outside the Roadhouse and try to save a few souls as they walk out the door?  After all, who better than a sinner like me to try to relate to a fellow human being?” 

        “Hmn.  I guess you’re right Doc.  Martin Luther himself said we shouldn’t let the devil have all the good music.”  He turned us loose and the Preacher dug it.  Afterwards a band-mate came up to me.  “You know Doc, I could play ‘Amazing Grace’ with you a thousand times, and I’d get something new every time.”

        “Yeah, me too brother.  I love your sax work.”

        “I tell you, a part of me would like to play more and take it to a higher level, but I love my life at home too much to leave it.”

        “I understand.  That’s why I pick for the Lord too.  I love to play, but I was called to be a Doc first and an artist second, and I’m a homebody too.  My prayers were answered when I got to have my bluegrass band and play here in church with you guys.  I feel like we get a little bit of His work done with this music.

         “Me too, brother Bibey.”

         Jerry grew up to be an accountant, but this is a cat who spent his youth as a strolling clown in a saxophone quartet at a theme park.  He was the donkey in the church play last year.  He ain’t one bit afraid to have some fun, so he is a kindred spirit.  I guess it is natural we’d see it the same way.

        But what even made me happier was I noticed that little lady clapping and smiling.  Her husband died a decade ago.  She’s had very little fun in her life, so if it made her day, that made the early morning fine tuning all worth it.

        I’ll go back to acoustic mandolin for a few weeks.  I don’t want to get tossed out of the Garden of Eden now.  I might have to go back to playing Roadhouses, and this is a much better gig.

Dr. B

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6 Comments on “Saving Souls at the Roadhouse”

  1. newt221 Says:

    You go Dr. B! There is a billboard sign near my parent’s house that says “God Rocks!” My mom does not like it because she likes the “old time” hymns and music. I explained to her that when Martin Luther was trying to get hymns of his time popular, he went out and “borrowed” bar ballads that had tunes that patrons would recognize and he changed the words. So remember that when you all are jammin!

  2. drtombibey Says:

    Ms Cindy,

    That is what the minister was talking about with Martin Luther. I just pray when this life is over to be forgiven for my shortcomings, get a spot in heaven’s bluegrass band, and keep on picking. I can leave the Roadhouse music behind if that is called for, but I think acoustic will still play.

    Dr. B

  3. Dear Dr. B,
    What a wonderful way to spend a day – playing and making people happy in a place you love and with people who you respect and like. I’m exceptionally glad that you got an old lady to clap along and smile a bit, because I know from my own grandparents how small things like this could make their day. The day my mom, aunt and me took my grandfather to a jazz concert will forever stand out in my mind – he had so much fun that night.
    Music is a wonderful creature, bringing love and excitement into what otherwise may be considered a dreary existence.

  4. drtombibey Says:


    Music is a unifying force, no doubt. A while back there was a petition (on the Mike Marshall post) to the Obama Administration to have a Secretary of the Arts. I am sure they have too much to think about right now, but I like the idea because of how it could bring people together.

    I don’t know anything about politics, but I’d like to see us spent one biliionth of what we spend trying to kill people on making friends with them. Music wouldn’t be a bad place to start.

    Somewhere on the Net a clip floats around called ‘One Love.’ (I think) On it, some musician started a campaign to take the song to every country in the world. I played my mandolin with folks from all sorts of different cultures for a while there.

    Dr. B

  5. Karen Says:

    Awwww…thanks Dr B! You made my day 🙂 And this is the perfect post for me – but you knew that! Nothing like good music to lift the soul – and it really doesn’t matter what style. Played with an honest heart, God takes those notes and makes them something we couldn’t possibly dream of, even on our best days. I’ve learned that my job is to show up with a willing heart. I’ll leave the rest up to God.

    Maybe some day I’ll be the not-so-old lady clapping along. God bless.

  6. drtombibey Says:

    Ms. Karen,

    I knew you guys were into Praise Bands, and I have to admit when we rocked ‘Amazing Grace’ it occurred to me my little blog pal in Australia would dig this tune.

    One of these days, I’ll play it for and you, your husband, and those fine kids.

    Dr. B

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