Sam Bush- Part One. ‘Circles Around Me’

        Sam Bush is one more rocking right hand mando man. In fact, if you know anyone in the world who lays it down better than Sam please let me know so I can buy all their CDs and study them too. If Doc Watson calls you to cut the mando tracks for your project that shows it all.

        Sam’s new CD, ‘Circles Around Me’ speaks to coming full circle.  It is Bill Monroe, New Grass, side-man and front-man all wrapped into one disc; a must record for anyone with even the slightest interest in what traditional music is all about.  I know it isn’t what Sam meant by the title, ’cause he is not a bragging sort of fellow, but it also hit me that Sam can pick circles around all of us.

        When Sam hits the stage he gives it his all.  Pretty soon he is drenched in sweat and red-faced.  He just ain’t gonna let you show up at his gig and have a bad time.  His band is the same way.  Sometimes I wonder what drives a man like that, but then I don’t have to look too far.  I could never be the kind of mandolin player Sam is (few on the planet are) but as a doc and even in my humble efforts as an artist I always want to give my best.  Sam seems to be motivated to do the same.

        Writer Larry Nager wrote up an article on Sam in the latest issue of  ‘Bluegrass Unlimited.’  If you don’t get BU at least go buy a copy of this one and read this article.  I love Sam’s quote at the end.

        “It’s interesting, ’cause at age 57, I’m just trying to improve as a player and a singer. And I hope on this new record, it sounds that way to the listener. I’m not satisfied. You hear so many people, especially in this town of Nashville- they just want to be famous; that don’t mean it’s a good thing. I just want to play and sing better, and I don’t think I’m there yet. I’m still searching.” -Sam Bush BU Dec 2009

        As good as the cat is, and he is the best, he’s still digging to try and be better.  Isn’t that what should drive us all?  I think as a doc what I did yesterday doesn’t make a bit of difference if I don’t give my all for my people today.  To me that is why the work of an artist like Sam inspires me.  It’s also why I worked so hard on my book.  I wanted to give it my best effort to show what I believed to be true.  Sam does that with his mandolin.  I don’t think fame has got a d@^^ thing to do with any of it and I admire him for it. 

        There’s more I want to tell you, but I gotta go to the doc gig.  I’ll edit and publish this in the morning, and I plan one more post on Sam this week.  Y’all go take in a Sam Bush show.  Take it from this doc; he’s good medicine.

Dr. B

Explore posts in the same categories: Bluegrass CD Pick of the Week, favorite known bands, Mandolin Players I Know, Philosophy, Thought of the Day, Writing


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6 Comments on “Sam Bush- Part One. ‘Circles Around Me’”

  1. Paul Burke Says:

    long time fan of Sam’s since back in the 1980’s – he always was pumped up to play live – as a bit of a player myself I know the feeling – I’d do it every day if I could – I’m glad Sam is out there and making a living doing what he loves best.

    Paul Burke
    Author-Journey Home

    • drtombibey Says:


      Good to hear from you. I don’t know Sam all that well, but my guess is the man is still having a good time. He sure looks like he is. Appreciate you dropping by.

      Dr. B

  2. Billy Says:

    Excellent quote from Sam “I just want to play and sing better… I’m still searching.” I think I am going to get tatooed on my right arm so I never forget it.

    People think stars just shine. They don’t realize they have traveled millions of dark miles before you saw them. Artists draw a 1.000 pictures before they show you one. Writers rewrite for hours before they let you read. I drive hundreds of miles so you can eat peanut butter. No one rides the truck, but everyone wants to eat.

    Sam can ride in my truck anyday.

    • drtombibey Says:


      I find his words good ones to live by too. He’s seen many a mile and keeps on trucking. We all gotta do our best.

      Dr. B

  3. Patrick Says:

    Dr. Bibey,

    I’ve been following your blog for a few weeks now as I’ve been charged with tracking down the kind words typed and printed about Sam Bush in order to archive them on his website, among a few other things (full disclosure, yes?).

    I’m writing as I thought you, as well as some of your readers, would be interested in Sam’s new weekly video series at Sam Bush TV. In some episodes, Sam describes each song on his new record, and in the most recent episodes, Sam is interviewed about his roots and beginnings – he’s up to the formation of New Grass Revival in the most recent episode, #6, published yesterday.

    Thank you for your wonderful blog, and thanks for listening to a rambling fan!


    • drtombibey Says:


      Thanks so much for your visit. Tell Sam whether he is a peg-legged Halloween pirate at Green Acres or almost but not quite in the age category of Senior Statesman of Newgrass that he is my regaee mandolin hero just as sure as brother Metcalf is my hero and protector of Public Health in the free world.

      Y’all take in all of Sam’s shows and clips folks, ’cause he is real, and that ain’t fiction.

      Dr. B

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