Sam Bush

        Sam Bush was at the Neighborhood Theatre in Charlotte last night.  My wife had a church meeting and couldn’t go.  It was a long drive and she knew we’d get back late so she insisted I invite a friend.  I decided to call up a buddy who was new to bluegrass.  He’d been introduced to the genre listening to me play the mandolin at some local shows.

        “Hey, Matt.  You want to go see Sam Bush?”

        “Who is he?”

        “Good Lordy man, he’s a mandolin hero.”

        “So he’s pretty good?”

        “Good?!  Man he’s among the very best.  In my top three in the world.”

        “Sure Doc.  If you recommend him he’s good by me.”

        So we took off.  We got there late.  Some cute young lady was the opening act and was on her last number.  We waited for what seemed an eternity.  Every so often a stage hand would come out and bring a rack of instruments.  When he opened the curtains you could see the shadows of the performers backstage.   Some of  the sound equipment was still stenciled with the logo ‘Nash Ramblers’ from Sam’s days with Emmy Lou Harris.  The mics emitted an impatient low hum as they waited.

        The lights went down, and there was an opening drum roll.  Steve Mougins’ electric Strat guitar screamed ‘Take me out to the Ball Game.”  The game was on.

        If you never seen Sam Bush, go.  Two and half non stop rocking hours.  Sam dripped in sweat and worked the stage like a mandolin Mick Jagger.  It was everything from from Scott Vestal’s hard driving banjo on “Roll in my Sweet Baby’s Arms’ to Marley’s ‘One Love.’  When you intro ‘Bringing in the Georgia Mail’ with five minutes of perfect right hand reggae rhythm and choreograph it with snatches of interpretive dance, you are an eclectic artist and THE  mando man.

        There was ‘Eight More Miles to Louisville” with in your face Bill Monroe down-strokes, plenty of ‘Howling at the Moon,’ piercing Mandocaster electric licks, and new tunes from his upcoming October release.  (I’m gonna leave it to Sam to tell you about it, but it’s gonna be another class CD.) 

        “River Take Me,” I was a pig in mud.

        My buddy was mesmerized.  On the way home I asked him what he thought. 

        “Doc, I didn’t you could do all that on that thing.”

        “Neither did I pal.  That’s why I’m still a Doctor.”

        If you like any kind of music, if you need to clear your head of your troubles for a night, or if you just don’t want to miss an American icon, go see Sam Bush.  He’s at the top of everyone’s mando list.

Dr. B

Explore posts in the same categories: favorite known bands, Mandolin Players I Know, memorable gigs, Writing


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6 Comments on “Sam Bush”

  1. junebugger Says:

    I typed ‘Sam Bush’ on youtube and found several videos of him playing! Awsome stuff.

    • drtombibey Says:


      Ain’t he great? Sam is on towards middle age now, but still just a rocking along. One thing about this music is the people are very loyal. I have been listening to Sam since the early 80s and I discovered him late!

      Dr. B

  2. junebugger Says:

    Very loyal indeed! Since the early 80s? goodness. I guess his music is like…for example..Beethoven’s music. No matter how often you listen to his pieces, you can never get bored. It just touches your soul so deeply that there’s no tiring of it.

    • drtombibey Says:


      That is a great analogy ’cause in our music Sam is a classic. I like Beethoven too, and I bet Sam does also.

      One thing about traditional music; the fans and the players (often they are one in the same) tend to be forever.

      Dr. B

  3. rekx Says:

    Dr. B

    Check out these vidoes of Sam that the “Bluegrass Blog” just put up. Sam is a cancer survivor, and he does great work with the childhood cancer organization “Conner’s Heroes”. Sam Bush is amazing, but it sure makes his music easier to listen to when you consider what a great guy he is also.

    Also you can get a taste of Sam’s sense of humor from a recording of him I put on my blog a couple of months ago. Only Sam could rock the “White Rabbit” on the mandolin!

  4. drtombibey Says:


    Sam is a survivor for sure. Folks who have seen what he has often have a better sense of how precious life is.

    Appreciate the clips; hope my readers will check them out.

    Dr. B

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