Mississippi Part II/The Great Grand Mandolin Push Pin Book Tour
First of all I have to give credit where due. My new book tour title comes from Ms. Sharon at the sunlitdesk in Australia. Her blog is very appropriately named. From what I have read, there is a lot of sunlight down there, and along with Ms. Karen she shines new light on the word world for me every day. Check out her site at: www.thesunlitdesk.wordpress.com
I guess you might wonder how I fell in love with Mississippi. It is very simple. They were the first folks outside of my hometown who began to read my short stories and show interest in my work. I’m the same way as a Doc. My first patient is still my most special one, and always will be. She put her faith in me when I was too young to deserve it, and I have never forgotten her.
After my stop at Tupelo and Saltillo, Mark, the manager at The Jamison recommended I check out Square Books in Oxford Mississippi. He said Oxford was a prototypical New South town; big on the arts with lots of music and books; one I should not miss. Smitty had said the same. I try to never ignore good advice, especially when I hear it it twice, so we got in the car and went to Oxford.
As you might expect Square Books is right on the square in downtown Oxford, Mississippi, the home of Ole Miss. Upstairs they had a fine ice cream shop. Cold ice cream and mandolin picking mix real good on a hot summer Mississippi day. I got out my Gibson and played a few. The next thing I knew a small crowd gathered.
“Do you know ‘The White Spire?” one asked.
I knew this was an insider. “Whiskey Before Breakfast?” I asked.
He smiled. “That’s the tune. Who are you?”
“Tommy Bibey.” I stuck out my hand. “Pleased to meet you.”
“Greg Johnson. I’m in charge of the Blues Archive here at Old Miss.”
It turned out Greg played in a Celtic band. He invited me to stay and play that evening, but we had promised to be be in Memphis by dark-thirty and had to go. He promised if I came back he could get me in the best jam sessions around. Since then I have studied a bit of Yank Rachell blues mandolin. Even though I am not an expert on the blues, I have at least some of that musical vocabulary. It should make for great book store gig when the time comes.
I paid my bill and thanked the lady for the ice cream. “Ma’am that was extra good.”
“When your book comes out I want you to come back and play another tune.”
“I will as long as you promise I can have some of that ice cream.”
“Yes sir. It’s a promise.
In addition to Greg, I have a young friend at Ole Miss I need to catch up with. She goes by MJ, and she is a writer too. MJ was one of the Mississippi school kids I became pen pals with, and we have stayed in touch.
You might wonder what an old Doc and a young Pharmacy student could possibly have in common. I hope MJ will weigh in, but here’s how I see it. I am about 80% scientist and 20% artist. MJ might have a somewhat different percentage in mind, but I have a notion she has a similar perspective. When I was young I met a mentor who had combined the two with success. I hope young people like MJ will look at old Doc and say, “if he can do it so can I” and know they also can live their dreams. MJ is a good little writer. Y’all check out her blog at: www.fictionpress.com/~mjskywalker
So I hope all of you will get out your ball of string, and see if you are anywhere near my path. If you know of stops on the great grand mandolin push pin book store tour I need to visit I hope you’ll let me know. I’ll get out my push pins and put you on the tour master map. I also have some contacts in Louisiana. There is a romance writer there who is a semi-professional alligator wrestler. A woman with that resume is bound to know of some good independent book stores.
And Ms. MJ, we’ll see you in Oxford at a book store signing. Maybe you’ll have few short stories ready to share with the group. (It might be tough to get a novel done while in Pharmacy School.) If you’ll recommend a not too fancy but good place to eat my wife and I will take you and a friend to dinner. If your folks are in town have them come along. As kindred spirts all us scientist/artists gotta stick together.
Dr. BThe tour, Writing
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