Jam With the Pros

        When a guy like Darren Nicholson of Balsam Range invites you to a jam, make sure to go.  The room was full of Asheville’s best; people I had seen over the years on stage with a number of bands. Some of them were the featured performers on the show that night.  There was not a weak player in the room.  Their trio work was so strong it’d thump you in the chest from five feet away.  No need for microphones here.

        I went to another session for a while I’d been invited to, but Darren said to come back.  When I walked in they had taken a break.  Nicky Sanders of ‘The Steep Canyon Rangers’ was there.  I’d just heard him on the big stage a few hours earlier.

        I extended my hand.  “Great playing man.  I believe you’ve had some classical training.”

        “Oh, a little.”  He smiled.  I suspected it was a lot more than that.

        “And a bit of jazz too?”

       “Yes.”  He eyed my case.  “We’ve got two fifths of a band here.  Let’s play.”

        Someone handed a guitar to Caleb, the red-hot flat picker of Balsam Range.  Mike picked up the bass out of the corner.  Some kid I didn’t know sang ‘Down in the Willow Garden’ so high and clear it’d ’bout break glass.  It was on.  A crowd gathered.  Some of them had accents that weren’t hillbilly, but they sang along on several songs.  Someone said they were from Finland.

        It was everything from “Minor Swing’ to ‘Little Cabin Home in the Hill.”  I’m don’t play at level of these guys, but they didn’t complain.  Nicky called for ‘Fisher’s Hornpipe.’  It’s one of those tunes that came in from across the pond.  I hadn’t played it in years and my version was rough style.

        There wasn’t anything rough style about Nicky Sanders fiddle work. This guy had total mastery of the bow.  Even the highest notes were perfect in intonation.  He was the best fiddler I’ve ever stood beside in a jam, and the first person I’ve heard in a long time who can hold his own with Micheal Cleveland.  A true candidate for fiddler of the year here.

       My usual rule these days is to turn into a doc at midnight, but I broke it for this one and stayed up too late.  I’ve got to strap on a stethoscope instead of a mandolin tomorrow so I’ll take a nap today, but I’ll be ready.

        When I get a break Wednesday I’m gonna relearn ‘Fisher’s Hornpipe.’  If I’m gonna get to jam with the pros I’m gonna be ready for that too.

Dr. B

Explore posts in the same categories: memorable gigs, Thought of the Day, Writing


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6 Comments on “Jam With the Pros”

  1. newt221 Says:

    Sounds like your enjoyed youself Dr. B. Glad to hear it.

    Happy Heart Day. Did you get that wife of yours some flowers and a box of chocolates? Candelight and romantic music?

    Have a good one!

  2. drtombibey Says:


    It ended up being some bluegrass music CDs she wanted and a dinner with the kids at the Japanese steakhouse. It was all good; gonna write it up in the AM.

    Dr. B

  3. Smitty President Neuse River Fan CLub west of the Mississippi Says:

    Doc, I am wore out from reading all that you are doing, are you sure you are not on steroids? If not back of the double bowl of coco puffs.

    • drtombibey Says:


      Oh don’t worry about me friend; I’ve been a house a fire a long time. In med school I thought a lot of students were smarter than me. I didn’t make the absolute top of the class, but I did well. I’m pretty sure I out-worked most everyone.

      One time I had a med student who finished my rotation and said he was ready to go back to the medical center to get some rest; that he’d never met anyone who worked and played as hard as I did.

      I have always believed the Lord wants us to do the best we can with what he gave us, and I have done that. I’ve often said when St. Peter asks at the Gate if I did my best, I’m gonna say “YES SIR!!” and get ready to bust in.

      And He’s gonna say, “Hold on just a minute son, there are a few more things I gotta ask you.”

      I’m gonna tell Him I am humbly sorry for what I didn’t get right and promise to do better in eternity, ’cause I know by His Grace I will.

      Dr. B

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