Archive for August 2009

Man Cave Hyperlipedemia- Country Doc Rule Number Five

August 14, 2009

        Just to let you know, Doc can learn from the student too.  Julius has gotten in the habit of giving folks a package insert on new start drugs.  He goes over the basics then asks them to read up it and get back with us if they have questions.  It covers a lot of ground in a hurry.

        His recent contribution was the spark for this post.  Today I’d like to post a Julius rule.  I’ll tell more of mine later.  Rule number five is to make learning fun.  I have always believed that, but Julius is young and has taken the concept to a new level.

       The other day we were at lunch and Julius said, “You know Doc, I wish I had my dart board here for lunch.”

        “Dart Board?”

        “Yeah.  At home I have one in the apartment.  Some of my buddies come over at night and we toss darts after we cook on the grill.”

       “Is that like one of those man caves they talk about?”

       “Yeah, exactly.  Could we have one here?”

        “Darts at lunch?  I don’t know man.”

        “Hold on a minute.”  He went out to the car.  In a minute he was back.   “Look here.  This is how I memorized the hyperlipemia guidelines.  I call it the Simvistatin Dart Board.”  The bull’s eye had the number 70.  “See, if your patient is diabetic you want to hit the 70.  (An LDL of 70 is the goal for a diabetic.)

        “Son, that is the coolest teaching aid I have seen in some time.”

        Before you know it we had the hyperlipidema dart board up and running.  At lunch Julius and I invent clinical scenarios, decide on the correct LDL goal indicated, and take turns at darts.

        I held a dart and poised to throw.  “O.K. Julius, my patient is a 67 diabetic, and status post coronary artery by-pass.  What’s my target?”

         “Trick question, Boss.  By the time the next guidelines come out 70 ain’t gonna cut the gig.  Like blood pressure and golf, go low.”

         “You are a good kid.”  I winged my dart past the coffee maker.  “Bull’s eye!”

        Julius laughed.  “Never bet against old Docs at golf, darts, or bubble tests.”

        Our lunch break is usually 20- 30 minutes and we’ve taken to darts for half of it.  We went all out.  We’ll order a bacon swiss cheese burger basket take-out from Lou at Harvey Billiard and Bowl.  We put some of those frosty beer mugs in the refrigerator to pour up our Co-Colas in.  We even got a dish of dish of cocktail peanuts and took to betting nickels.  We left off the swinging doors though.  I think Corporate has a rule against alteration of the physical structure.  After a week we’d memorized every algorithm known to the Heart Association, and had gotten dang good at dart tossing too.  Hm.  Makes me wonder if we’ve got room for a pool table.

         Last night when I got home Marfar asked how my day was.

         “It was great hon.  Me and Julius are having all kinda fun.”

          “So, what did you do?

          “Oh, today we went to a bar and threw darts.”

         She gave me a sideways look and smiled.  “Whatever winds your clock, dear.”  She knew there was no point in asking.

Dr. B


Darin and Brooke Aldridge and Jerry Salley- Studio City

August 12, 2009

        Folks, I have secretly commandeered the studio computer while these guys work.  Don’t tell ’em I let you walk right in.

       They are near the end of the session.  Everyone is tired and I see a bit more gray hair this week than last week.  I want to be the first person on the planet to tell you this will be a groundbreaking CD.  I hear country duets here that deserve international exposure.

        Darin Aldridge is as much a music perfectionist as I am a Doc.  He’s driven to dig deep and give his best; always has been.  So is this Salley guy.  Every note, each phrase; it has to be right or it won’t fly.  Brooke sings in the stratosphere, the harmony is solid down to the last trill, and the instruments ring acoustic true as Darin somehow coaxes out a tone old Doc can’t comprehend.

        Read ‘Appetite for Self Destruction.’  The end for business as usual is at hand.  The Internet and grass roots word of mouth is gonna free us all, and music will be by musicians and for people.  And for my money, that is as it should be.  I’m for the artists.  They are the ones who move me.

        The money folks who have exploited the artists will have to buy a ticket to the show.  Don’t worry, they can afford it.  Who knows, maybe they’ll come to love the music.

Dr. B

Breaking News: Julius is an Ace

August 11, 2009

        You may have noticed I haven’t mentioned Julius in a few days.  He was off to take Part II of his Boards, which by the way is the gateway to Doctor City.

        I gotta tell you this is my proudest day ever as a Doc mentor and teacher.  Julius came back to home base with the biggest grin I’ve ever seen.

        “How’d you do kid?” I asked.

        “Great Dr. B,  just great.”  He laughed out loud.  “Man, I was just whistling through the whole thing.  I’ve done my best with books, but at every turn I remembered all these old cases you’ve told me about over lunch or breakfast, and all these patients we’ve seen in the office who you’d rattle off ten years of history without a chart.  Man, it was a breeze.  All I had to do was fill in the right bubbles.  It was all your stories that carried the day.”

        I all but cried.  “Julius, that makes me prouder than anything I’ve heard as a teacher.  I am humbled.”

        “Yeah Doc, honest to God half the time I’d recall some bluegrass tune you imprinted on me to remember all the right answers by.  You remember the lady we diagnosed with temporal arteritis?  You said, ‘Ain’t no way she’s gonna go blind for lack of Prednisone while I’m off playing ‘Dim Lights, Thick Smoke.’  Get a sed rate, too.’  It was easy.”

        “Good Lord have mercy, boy.  A+!”

        “Yeah man, I applied Temple’s Law a couple times, and I never x-rayed a pregnant woman.  I diagnosed a heart attack when it looked like indigestion.  I rocked the house.”

        By now I was in tears.

        “Hey, we had a fill in the blank section at the end,” he said.

        “We didn’t have those in my day.  Back then it was a straight bubble test.”

         “Yeah, they asked about the value of a screening chest x-ray for lung cancer. ”

        “What didja tell ’em?”

        “I knew I’d already aced the thing,  so I penciled in a chest x-ray to screen for lung cancer ain’t worth a fart in a whirlwind.”

        “That’s My Boy!  How to go Julius!  I’m as proud as punch of ya.”  Lord y’all, I hope the world can take another one, but I might have created another me.  I didn’t know what to say.

        “I ‘preciate ya Doc.”

        “Son, you are a good kid.  You’re nice to people.  Don’t you ever change.” 

        “Yes sir, I won’t.”

        “You stay like you are.  The Doc gig ain’t about money or status or nothing else but people.  There are too many people in this business who chase the wrong things.”

        “Doc, that’s the best advice you’ve given me yet.  ‘Don’t chase the wrong things.’  I won’t forget.”

        I sent Julius to interview the next patient and closed my door.  I said a prayer and thanked the Good Lord for blessing me so profoundly.  After I’m gone there’ll still be some people Doctors left as long as Julius is around.  To have been any part of that just broke me up, and I had to recompose myself to get ready to go back to the salt mines.

Dr. B

Harvey County Cooter Cook

August 11, 2009

       This weekend we have the annual Harvey County Cooter Cook.  I know these old boys who will jump in a river and feel along the banks under the water for snapping turtles.  They grab ’em by the tail and toss them onto the bank where another man waits with a burlap bag.  You have to make sure to grab the right end of the turtle.  A few of those boys have some nubs for fingers that will attest to that fact.  Those cooters are powerful, and could snap a broomstick in two.

        Make fun if you like, but if I’m in a foxhole I want one of those boys with me.  All I know is how to write prescriptions and play the mandolin.  Neither is a basic survival skill, although the mandolin comes close to that for me.

        They’ll have cooter stew and deer ribs, and groundhog and quail.  For  the more conventional visitors there will be all sorts of fish and fried chicken.  They’ll also will have home fries, onion rings and hush puppies, and there’ll be gallons of sweet tea.  One of the ladies will cook up hot dogs and hamburgers for the young’uns.

        After we eat we’ll gather around the campfire and pick some tunes.  Maybe I didn’t make a ton of money as a picker, but that little mandolin got me into all the best parties, and I wouldn’t trade lives with anyone.  Because of it, and my doctoring on those guys, I get into the annual Cooter party free and don’t have to grope around the river bank to earn an invitation.  For that privilege, I am forever grateful.

Dr. B

The Grace of the Good Lord, Bluegrass Music, and Door Knob Diagnosis

August 9, 2009

        Don’t worry, I ain’t gonna preach at y’all.  I’m not good enough to tell anybody how to live.  I’m just as imperfect a  sinner as the next guy.

        I do want to tell you though, that what humble success I have had in this world is not my doing.  I was blessed beyond what anyone deserves.  I can’t tell you how many times I had my mind made up on diagnosis, and right as I got to the door, a voice would call and say “Son, I’d advise you rethink that.” 

        Sometimes it’d be when my patient asked one last question.  “Hey Doc, by the way…”  Other times it was because they had a funny look  their face; just a hint of disappointment that Doc had only made a ‘B’ on that encounter in a business where anything less than an ‘A+’ is unacceptable.  And often it was simply the voice.  “Son, you didn’t finish your job here.”

         I call it a door knob diagnosis.  My hand was on the door to open it and move on the next room, and but for the Grace of God I would have.  There were a few times along the way where the implications of difference were so profound I had to go in my office, close the door, and sit there for a minute and dry up the tears and recompose myself.

        God also sent me my music.  He gave me just the right amount of talent; enough to enjoy it to the fullest but not enough to get confused about what I was supposed to do for a living,  If anyone loves it more than me I am happy for ’em, but as the song says there are 1352 guitar pickers in Nashville.  If Steve Earle knows the competition is stiff, Doc didn’t have to be brilliant to know he’d best keep his day job.

         I’m don’t think I’d a made it without music.  Many a night I drove home dead dog tired and only stayed out of the ditches ’cause the cassette player in my Scout blared away Flatt and Scruggs or some other favorite.  I listened to  a lot of bluegrass going back and forth to the hospital.  If you ever played a note I thank you ’cause somehow it filtered down to old Doc and very well might have saved my life one of those lonely nights.

            Well I said I wouldn’t preach so I’ll get off.  God bless all my music pals.  Life as a Doc can have some hard times, but between the Good Lord, my family and bluegrass music I managed to get me by.  I hope all of you have a blessed Sunday.

Dr. B

Bluegrass Wonton

August 7, 2009

        Every Friday for a quarter century, at least in the absence of a medical emergency, I eat at Chang’s Chinese.  They have the best oriental chow in Harvey County.

        You can set your watch by it.  When my daughter would drive home from college, if it was 12:30 she didn’t bother to call, but would proceed to Chang’s to eat lunch with me.  She never miscalculated.  You can count on old Doc to be where he says, and I was without fail.

         Julius and I went to Chang’s recently.  The waiter had seen me on the local cable channel.  They put us on T.V. when they run out of news in Harvey Country, which is often.

       “You Dr. B, right?” he asked.

        “Yes sir.”

         “You play little guitar.  Sing songs about mountains?”

         “Yes sir.  They call it a mandolin, but yes sir that’s me.”

          “Very good, I like.”

          “Thank you.”

          “What you have today, Dr. B?”

          “Oh, the buffet would be fine.  I’d like a cup of wonton also.

        “Very good.”

        “Hey,” I asked.  “Would y’all toss some white rice in the soup?   I call it bluegrass wonton.”

        “Bluegrass wonton?”

       “Yes.  Just a little rice.”

        “Yes.  Ms. Chang she will do right.”

        In a minute he returned with Ms. Chang who brought a bowl of wonton soup, and with rice.  She smiled broadly.  I never realized exactly how white her teeth were.  They were like pearls.

        “New soup, Dr. B.” she said.  “We call it Dr. B’s Bluegrass Wonton.  We very proud.”

        “Dang a mercy Ms. Chang.  I ain’t never had a soup named after me.  Bluegrass wonton.  Imagine that.”

       I sipped a spoonful.

       “You like?”  she asked.

       “Very much.  Perfect.”

        You might recall from our country Doc rules Julius and I tip well when we are out to eat on the ‘Starving Medical Student Foundation.’   “Julius, we need to go all out today; 30%.”

       We did just that.  I’ll never be an international bluegrass star, and as a Doc I was only an in the trenches foot solider.  I’m certain I am not in line for the Nobel Prize.

        But after today there is one thing no one can ever take away from me.  How many people have a soup named after their favorite music?  They’re gonna put in on the menu next time they print one up.  Bluegrass Wonton.  I love Harvey County.  I hope they remember me after I’m gone.

Dr. B

Homing in on the Galax Old Time Fiddler’s Convention

August 6, 2009

        Today I’d like to show you around the Galax Old Time Fiddler’s convention.  If you are true bluegrass you will already know much of this, but I hope you’ll enjoy the post anyway.

        The bluegrass crowd doesn’t need a GPS or even a map to find Galax.  They have a built in geomagnetic homing device (? is it in the hippocampus) similar to migratory birds.  By instinct they flock to Southern Virginia and have done so every second week of August for the last 74 years.

         If a child in the Carolinas or Virginias starts school and is short on supplies it is not that the parents can’t afford them.  They might miss a back to school Walmarks shopping  trip, but they will not miss Galax.  Come August all the Sams and Sophronies from hundreds of miles (some come from as far away as Europe and Australia) putter up and down the mountain to land in the greatest tent city of the bluegrass world; Galax, Virgina.

        My brother in law, Casey Jones, met me in the early hours Tuesday.  I only had 24 hours and was determined to make the best of each one. I found my best Hawaiian shirt, put on my straw hat, and threw my sunglasses on the dash of truck.  With no more provisions than an extra large thermos of black coffee, two liver mush and egg sandwiches from Harvey Billiard and Bowl, and a large bucket of chicken, we snatched the paper out of the morning dew and lit out.

         From Harvey County all you gotta do is go up through the country past Yates Glenn’s farm, hang a right by the old cemetery and go eight miles up Richmond Highway.  There is a short cut down a dirt road but I don’t want to lose you.  You’ll come to a sign that says I-40 that way 6 miles.  Take it.  When you get to 40 you’ve got it made.  But if you are lost just follow the trail of chicken bones we’ll toss out along the way.  You’ll find us. 

          Follow I-40 West on past Raliegh towards Statesville, then go North on I-77.  If you get to Perry’s Auction Barn turn around; you went too far.

             From there it’s easy.  Take I-77 to the Virginia line, and the first exit is the road to Galax.  Consider a home cooked meal at the Wagon Wheel if you’re hungry.  Stop at the cash register and point at the picture of a small frame house on the wall, turn to your friend and say, “Well I’ll be.  That right there is Andy Griffith’s homeplace in Mt. Airy.”  They’d treat you good anyway but this won’t hurt.  Most of the waitresses will call you ‘Honey’ but they don’t mean anything by it.

        We got there and checked in with banjo picker Moose Dooley at the gate.  It was 10:30.  He’s the early riser in the crowd.  He dialed up his wife on the cell so I could tell her Moose wasn’t in any trouble.   We sure have gotten modern.  Years ago we had to wait for a pay phone.

        We walked down the midway.  Folks were set up for the week in an assortment of campers, tents, and old buses.  One fellow had an old model T and a tarp draped over the driver’s side door.  I picked up his mandolin.  It was cracked and faded and half the finish was worn off.  (Auto-distressed model) 

        “What year is it?” I asked.

        “The car or the mandolin?”


        “The car’s a ’29.  Got 438,000 miles.  The mandolin is from ’88.”

        “It looks older.”

        “Uh well, yeah, one time my boat sunk, and well…’s a long story.”

        “I need to get all of that one some time.”

        “Come visit.”

        Moose took us to our first jam session of the day with a man named Popsicle who played a mean mandolin.  Barry sang old time tunes in a voice seasoned by hickory smoke, cigarettes and whiskey.  They offered up a can of mixed nuts just chock full of cashews and almonds. 

        “Don’t mind if I do,”  I said. “These are the ones for company though.”

        “”We’ll put the peanuts back in after a while, Doc.  First jam you’re company; after that you’re family.”

         We wandered from tent to tent.  Barry Kratzert of Bulldog Mandolins recognized me from Mandolin Cafe.  He let me play his newest creation.  Man it smelled good.  (Mandolin players often sniff the wood and varnish aroma of a new one.)  It was a hoss.

        As I walked by Pammy’s tent I heard some fine three finger style guitar.  I sat in and we jammed along on ‘I am a Pilgrim.’  I liked this guy’s style, and  it sounded quite familiar.  Suddenly it hit me.  It was Steve.  We played the Tut Taylor stage together at MerleFest.  We shook hands; and were glad to be reacquainted.  Steve would be a good man for some book store gigs in the Statesville area.  Folks need to hear him.  I took his card.

        We took advantage of an afternoon thundershower to take a quick nap.  After the rain there was a lot of mud that squished around, but I have seen it up the ankles so it wasn’t too bad.  After the nap we went to find some chow.  I recommend the pork chop sandwich.  The Snappy Grill in Mt. Airy has a similar one.  I meant to ask if this one was patterned after the Mt. Airy version.

         After supper I got into another fine jam session.  Some boys had a green carpet laid out in front of their camper to serve as a stage that caught my eye.  Storm clouds were a rising again and they had a nice tarp cover too.  I noticed they didn’t have a mandolin player, and got mine out of the case.  The thundershower rolled in and we huddled in the center as the rain pattered on the tarp.  They had a song book set up in the middle of the circle and everyone got a chance to sing one.  A new picker with a nice voice flubbed a line every so often.  He’d break into a wide grin and shake his head.

       Someone encouraged him along.  “You’re gonna get there son, just keep at it.”

        Another young man emerged from the camper with a mandolin.  I assumed he was the regular mando man for the group and deferred to him when it came time for breaks.  A few times someone called for one he didn’t know and he’d nod at me to cover it.  He also was just a kid and favored a high school lanky lifeguard.  Despite his youth he was already a player.  We did some fun twin mando work on one number.  Man these kids are good.  I’m glad I held onto my day job.  I noticed they all called me ‘Sir.”  Bluegrass young’uns are the best.

        On the way to the mandolin contest I ran into Jr. Sisk.  Jr. is as fine an example of an authentic country bluegrass singer as I know.  If you think he sounds powerful from the stage, you need to sing one with him in person.  Man, the shock waves from his vocals thudded into my chest wall.  This crowd was all pro pickers.  I hung around the periphery of the jam but Jr. called me up to sing one with him.   We did ‘All I Ever Loved was You.’  It was a thrill for old Doc to sing harmony with Jr.  and he did it every bit as good as Whitley and Skaggs. 

        Buddy Wrong put down some fine tracks.  Rumor in camp was someone had mistaken him for Mary Ann Mobley.  My night vision ain’t what is used to be, but I was 100% sober and I just couldn’t see the resemblance.  I believe someone had to have been into too much white liquor to make such a statement.

        I went on to the mandolin contest.  The man in line with me had just retired from a syndicated bluegrass T.V. show.  We traded cards.  A fellow named Gale did ‘Angeline the Baker’ which inspired my ‘Song of the Day’ a few hours later.  He looked just like Samuel, but Sam wasn’t gonna be in till Wednesday. 

        I did ‘When You’re Smiling ’cause it’s my wife’s theme song.  I didn’t wreck it but I am sure I didn’t place (top ten) either.  There are hundreds of pickers at Galax and 98.7% of them are dang good. The ones that aren’t will be soon if they hang around a few years.  I did get a blue ribbon though.  We all did.  Like a grade school soccer game, everyone at Galax is a winner.

        We crashed out early at 2:00 am.  I had to get up in a few hours to get back for a big Doctor meeting.  In spite of the fun I ain’t exactly an international bluegrass star, and the day job called.  Even though it was one of those years when the doctor gig had to come first we had a fine 24 hours, and I’ll be back next year.  We have to.  It is part of what we are.  Like everyone else there, the Galax homing instinct is our nature.

Dr. B

Recitation of a Country Picker

August 3, 2009

        Years ago there was a old blind man in Harvey County everyone called Popeye.  Popeye was very matter of fact about his eyesight and coined his own nickname.  He often traveled with a hot Tele man named Roger.  Roger was a mechanic.  He’d say from the stage he kept up Popeye’s car, but didn’t bother to change the windshield wipers ’cause Popeye didn’t need ’em when he drove in the rain; he couldn’t see anyway!”

         Popeye owned a country store near Harvey High.  We’d sneak over there and buy a soda pop and a pack of nabs and pick the blues with him after school.  I kept up with him all the way through medical school and he became one of my early patients when I set up shop as a Doc. 

        Every year at Christmas he’d call me and banjo man Moose Dooley to play a gig with him and Roger.  It was for the Lion’s Club party for the blind.  We always went.  My boy played the bass for several of them when he was in high school.  I told him we’d better go.  Popeye was a good man, and besides I was afraid God would strike down a man who wouldn’t help out Popeye.  The man didn’t own much besides his beat up Hummingbird guitar, but he said a lot of his friends weren’t as lucky as him and he was gonna go entertain ’em. 

        Popeye knew a lot of county songs, but I thought he was at his best when he did a recitation.  You don’t hear ’em much now.  They were those sad stories about someone who lost their girl and then got drunk and wrecked their car or some such thing.  They’d drone on and on as we played some somber back-up, and would get sadder with each verse.  Often me and Moose and Roger would hum a three part harmony in the background.  Popeye’s voice would take to quavering and he’d wring every bit of emotion out of the tune.

         One year he did one about an old Preacher whose boy had gone bad.  I can’t recall the name of it; this was years ago.  It was a prodigal son type of story where the boy had been in prison and was about to be released.  His old father the Preacher had prayed for him for many years.

         One day the Preacher got a letter from the boy.  He was gonna get out on parole and wanted to come home but was scared to ask.  After all the cussing and gambling and fighting and drinking and so on he knew he was the black sheep of the family.  By the time Popeye got half way through everyone was choked up.  I looked over at the Moose.  The boy is an ex-All State football star and a genuine tough guy but he could barely hold back the tears.  Later we agreed it was the saddest thing we’d ever heard.

          At one point the Prodigal son’s letter said he was gonna ride the train home and if he saw a yellow ribbon around the old oak tree he’d know he was welcome.  If there was no ribbon well, as Popeye would recitate;  Well Papa I’ll just keep moving on…  because I know….yes I know papa I’m not worthy ….. and yes I know I’ve sinned…. oh and I’m so sorry Papa…. 

         Some kid in the audience began to cry.  He had a sax with him, and and jumped on the stage with us and wailed away on it.  By the time Popeye got to the part when the train rounded the bend and the boy could see all those yellow ribbons tied to every branch of the tree even the most cynical human being in the room was tore down.

         Popeye is long gone, but I still think of him every so often.  Any man that can bring together a mechanic who plays Telecaster guitar, a banjo man who is an ex-football star, a young doctor mandolin picker, his middle class teen-aged boy bass player, and an African American saxaphonist and move them all to tears… well that man is an artist, even if he wasn’t famous. 

        The only guy I know who as good with a recitation as Popeye was Hank Williams.  There is no more authentic a country artist than Hank, but on a recitation Popeye was near his equal.  I’m glad I got to be a part of those old gigs.  Popeye was a salt of the Earth old soul and you don’t meet many like him along the way.

Dr. B

This is a True Story

August 2, 2009

        You might not believe this, but my wife is so nice she makes friends with folks who dial a wrong number.

        Several months back the phone rang one Sunday morning.  I heard Marfar say “No sweetie, I’m sorry.  This is the Bibey residence.”

        It wasn’t but a minute and it rang again.  Marfar listened a minute, then said, “Oh, our number ends in a 7.  I think you just dialed the wrong number, but it’s good to hear from you.”

       I asked who it was.  “Some little lady.  She sounds lonely.”

       Every so often now the lady dials a ‘wrong number.’  It is usually on a Sunday morning.

        I heard Mafar talk to her this morning.  “Well, yes.  I’ll say a prayer for you.  Most certainly.”

         I am certain it really did start as a wrong number, but I have a notion the lady mis-dials on purpose these days.  She doesn’t stay on long.  She always says she didn’t mean to bother us, and she has to get off the line.  We still don’t know who she is, but I guess she needs the human contact.  She sure couldn’t have dialed a better wrong number to to get Marfar; the girl giggles and goes on with her like they went to school together.

            I’m gonna go get her another cup of coffee; she deserves it and more.

Dr. B

Sam Bush

August 1, 2009

        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