Opening for David Holt

        Well the ladies did just great.  After only two years of playing they opened for David Holt and did a fine job.  The Banjo Diva had ’em up and stomping to ‘Foggy Mountain Breakdown’ and Ms. Emma wowed ’em to the point of singing along on ‘When You’re Smiling.’  Kelly on the rhythm guitar and my Marfar on the bass were a solid rhythm section and old Doc was the snare drum backbeat on the mando.   As we anticipated, the sound guys were seasoned pros, and made it easy.

        I was like a proud papa.  They told me I could stay as long as I wanted.  All of them are younger than me, but they even promised to pick me up at the Nursing Home when the time came so I could keep on playing.  I like loyalty.

        I have to admit my favorite part was a duet with my Marfar on ‘Gold Watch and Chain.’  You know the line.  When we got to the word ‘love’ she’d cut those big brown eyes my way as if to say, “Old man, I don’t how you keep getting me into these things, but O.K. yeah, I do dig playing to 1,000 people.  Cool gig.”

        If you’ve never been to a David Holt show please go.  He is the world’s leading authority on old time music.  The man went to the source and lived in the N.C. mountains for years to study traditional music.  He is an expert on clawhammer banjo, guitar, jaw harp, harmonica, percussion oddities of all sorts, story telling, and Appalachian history.  His bass man was Will McIntrye and he is steeped in three decades of traditional music too.  If you want to see something real, go see them.  David is an American treasure.  We sure were proud to open for him.

         We hadn’t eaten all day, so after the show me and Marfar went to the Waffle House to get a bite to eat.  As we sat there, I thought about how lucky I am.  I have been a full tilt Doc all my life, but my partners are willing to cover me long enough to pursue my other life too.  I’ve gotten to open for some of the best musicians in the world.

         But most of all I have  a lovely wife who plays a mean bass, sings good, and is still a cute girl who is willing to follow me on my crazy journey with enthusiasm.  I’m at the age where a lot of women would want me sit home and watch T.V. and I just can’t do it.  And she still counts the Waffle House as a fine place to go on a date and has no complaints when it is all that is open.

        I don’t see how a man could ask for more than that.

        I got an e-mail from my agent.  A couple of publishers are intrigued by our story.  They say, “Let me see if I got this right.  A Doc who plays bluegrass music.  A complicated medical legal saga solved by bluegrass musicians and the hospital maintenance man in a small County in North Carolina?  And the Doc’s best friend was part Choctaw Indian who drank too much and played the fiddle?  Is this guy for real?”

         I expect those of you who have been reading my blog a while would have the same reaction as my wife did at the Waffle House.  Some one came up and asked, “Is he a real Doctor?”

        Marfar smiled and said, “I’m afraid so.  You want to hear the whole story?”


         Marfar handed her a card.  “Read his book when it comes out.  If you get him started we’ll be up all night, and the boy is gonna wear me out.”

       The lady looked at the card and stuck it in her pocket.  “O.K. I will.  We enjoyed the show.”

       We waved bye to her.  “See you out on the bluegrass road,” Marfar said.  “You haven’t seen the last of us I’m sure.”

        “Oh, I hope not.  It was a fun show.”

       I’m gonna crash for the night.  Before I do though, I’m gonna say a prayer for my little Australian buddy Possum who is scheduled for open heart surgery.  And then I’m gonna add one for the kids out there I don’t know who face something similar.  Y’all sleep tight.  This old energizer bunny needs to put the battery on recharge.

Dr. B

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6 Comments on “Opening for David Holt”

  1. Karen Says:

    Dr. B., I’m so glad that the concert went well. Maybe one day we’ll get to sit in the audience and sing along 🙂

    • drtombibey Says:

      Ms. Karen,

      As I drifted off to sleep last night, I had a vision of a small gathering at an Australian bookstore. A tall strapping young man comes over and extends a vigorous handshake.

      “Hi, Doc,” he says. “My name is Possum.”

      “Lord have mercy boy, I remember you when you were this high. So good to meet you in person. Your mama doing well?”

      “Yes sir. She’s getting things ready at the church. We appreciate you coming over for the Heart Association fund rasier.”

      “Son, I cut my long teeth on those kinda gigs. If a man is lucky enough to see seventy years, he sure needs to give some back.”

      “Hey Doc, I appreciate all those bluegrass prayers.”

      “Well it looks like they did you good. Hard to beat that bluegrass crowd.”

      “So true. Hey can you show me the middle part to Roanoke?”

      “Sure. Wayne always says I play it kinda quirky, but I’ll show you what I know….”

      Dr. B

  2. Billy Says:

    David Holt has followed his dream and I wish I would have had the guts to have the fun living he spreads on the stage. Anyone who has not seen him should. has a great 20 minute presentation of his. If anybody is MR BLUEGRASS it has got to be David Holt.

  3. drtombibey Says:


    David grew up in Texas and went to college in Santa Barbara California. He got his degree, landed a good teaching position, then decided to take a year off to study traditional music. The rest is history.

    His degree was in no way wasted though. The man has a lot of teacher in him still, and one of his shows is a history lesson in old time music. I learn something every time I see him play.

    Still, as he said, I bet his parents were shocked when he finished his degree and then announced he was going to be a banjo player!

    David is a hero to me because he did follow his dreams. My dream is a little different than David’s, because I felt my life was to be a hometown Doc and I didn’t think I had the temperament for the road full time. But at the same time I never could let regular life force me to give up my artistic bent.

    Another dream I have is that David Holt might one day read my book and offer a few words of wisdom as to what traditional music can mean to the non-professional players like me. I hope it will inspire others to not miss out on art just because their profession is in science. I didn’t get up the nerve to ask him last night, but someday I’m going to.

    Didn’t mean to go on so long, but David Holt is a true American legend and deserves a big place in the history books for preserving traditional music. Some of it would have been lost if not for his efforts.

    Dr. B

  4. Dr. B, you and your Marfar remind me of my parents as I think I’ve told you before. You make me believe that real love and love for life is possible – too many times do I hear about how all the magic disappears through the years and the hardships, but even though I’m sure you and your sunglasses girl had rough times of all sorts [because that’s life] you still seem to be as much in love as a fresh new couple.
    The show sounds like it was absolute fun, not to mention an honor being able to open for a musician like that. I can’t wait to be able to read your book – I’m so glad that publishers are interested!

  5. drtombibey Says:


    And you remind me much of my young’uns; wise beyond your years.

    It ain’t all been perfect, but we have always stayed loyal to each other, and have accepted each other flaws and all. I guess when you get play music with your girl and she still can at least pretend you are a cool guy (by anyone’s standards I am close to old) then you can keep the magic going.

    A couple publishers have shown interest and my editor thinks the story is a winner, so we’ll see. If the bad economy wins out, I’ll self-publish in 2010 and do what I can with it.

    We have music friends scattered across the country we want to play a few tunes with, and they’ll help me with book store/music store type gigs. I know we are going to at least have a bunch of fun, and at our age that is the number one goal. See you in the Big Apple!

    Dr. B

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