How to Find Good Bluegrass Music in N.C.

        We just got back from a long stretch of play.  I’m recharged and ready to be Doc.

       This go round I realized I know the secret on how to find good bluegrass in N.C.  The answer, like all truth, is simple.  Follow Mr. Harold.

        You can’t miss Mr. Harold.  He is the middle aged gentleman the Carhartt overalls.  His eyes are a soft brown.  They look you right in the eye you when you speak to him.  His beard is flecked with gray.  He stands 6’3″ tall.  His day job is as a farmer.  He knows how to make sorghum molasses from cane sugar. I went out to his farm to watch him once.  His hands are callused and his handshake is firm but somehow not too much so.  He always smiles.

        I don’t know if he always smiles ’cause of a long happy marriage, lots of bluegrass music, or that homemade peach ice cream he makes and sells at festivals.  It might be all three.  But he always smiles.  Whenever I see him he’ll say how was your week, Doc?”

         I might say, “I don’t know, Mr. Harold.  It was a tough one.”

         He’ll smile and say, “Well now, Doc.  No one here is sick, and you’re gonna be around music all day.  Everything’ll be all right.  Care for some ice cream?  Just what the Doctor ordered.  It’s on the house.”

       I fish out my wallet.  “Oh, I couldn’t let you do that Mr. Harold.  They don’t let you rent this booth for free, you know.”

        He hands me my 1,000th cup of homemade peach ice cream and a flier.  “You need to come to the Coot Williams Festival on Sept 12th.  Blue Highway’ll be there.  So are Darin and Brooke.”

        “Thanks.  Believe I will.”

        Oh, I promised I’d tell you how to get to the best bluegrass festivals in N.C.  Go to Mr. Harold’s farm and sit at the end of his driveway.  Make like a detective with sunglasses and your hat pulled low.  Smoke a cigarette (don’t inhale) and wait.  I wouldn’t try to drive up the road.  It is a dirt path with deep ruts and pot holes.  There are several twists and turns and you could get lost.

       In time, you will see a silver and gray truck crest the hill.  A trail of dust will be kicking up behind it.  It will be Mr. Harold.  When he pulls out of the driveway follow him.  A couple times out of ten you might wind up at the Post Office or the Piggly Wiggly, but most of the time he will lead you to the best bluegrass in N.C.

        When you meet him, ask him for some of that ice cream.  The peach is my favorite.  Tell him Dr. B sent you.  He’d be your friend anyway, but it won’t hurt you any with him, ’cause me and Mr. Harold go back a long way.

Dr. B

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4 Comments on “How to Find Good Bluegrass Music in N.C.”

  1. Mr. Harold sounds like a man worth knowing – the kind that can lift your spirits with merely a look and a smile. The kind of friend you can not see for a year, but when you see him again, the friendship and mutual admiration is there as strong as ever.
    I promise to follow Mr. Harold if I’m ever in N.C.!

    • drtombibey Says:


      You can’t go wrong with Mr. Harold.

      Folks are more than welcome to follow me too, but eight times out of ten they’d wind up at the hospital. Besides, Mr. Harold would lead to me. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a N.C. festival and not run into him.

      Dr. B

  2. Smitty Neuse River Pres. Says:

    Sounds like he has a nose for smelling a good bluegrass gathering. I wonder if you could call him Dr. Bluegrass for his cure of what is ailing the spirit?

    Doc, got another question. If a fellar had to buy a Doc Watson or Tony Rice CD, what would you recommend?

    • drtombibey Says:


      Dr. would fit ’cause that peach ice cream will sure cure what ails you.

      Doc and Tony are both great, and they both pick better than I could ever dream of. Tony is a touch more modern, but if I were stranded on a desert island and could only have one flatpick guitar artist to listen to from now on, I’d have to choose Doc.

      Doc speaks to my soul more than any guitarist, perhaps more than any musician, I’ve ever known or listened to.

      Dr. B

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