My Boy, A Martin Guitar, and a Wedding

        I’ll be back in the morning with part III on my agent search but I wanted to tell you about a wedding first. We played one yesterday.

        The groom was the Harvey County Banjo Diva’s son. Any wedding is important to family, (I cried at my boy’s) but this one was special to us too. Your bluegrass people are close to family.

       The tune was “The Westphalia Waltz.” If you don’t know the song it sounds like one of those things you’d hear accompany one of those ballerinas who goes around in circles when you open a music box.

       My son is a paramedic and had to work the night before. He rushed in at the last-minute toting his old Martin. It was my first good guitar, a D28 I bought for $700.00 with my first check as a doctor. When my boy got his own house I gave it to him. The preacher once said give your best to God. Well, it was my best guitar and I gave it to my son. I figured God and his mama gave the kid to me, so I hoped that was close enough. I’m only human; I have no idea how God gave His only Son. It was all I could do to let mine get married.

        Even when I gave it to him it was beat up, and that was a while back. It had a couple of cracks that had been repaired, the finish was worn to the bare wood in spots, and the pick-guard has begun to lift off one edge from when I got too close to the wood stove at the Bomb Shelter. It looks road weary and smells like campfires and barbecue. He strummed a “G” chord. The smoky low-end matched the aroma.

         We warmed up under a shade tree. It was noon and the sun beat down but we had some protection from the maple leaves. Tommy Jr. called for “Catfish John” which I used to sing to him as a kid, and his mom played the bass and she and I did “Gold Watch and Chain.” Mary Sue, the guitar lady for my wife’s band played rhythm and Tommy covered the lead. We went over “Westphalia” twice. Tommy hadn’t played it in a while, but he got his part just right down to the minors. To play music with your family borders on spiritual.  We got to jamming and then the wedding director gave us the quiet sign. (She’s a school teacher) It was time for the wedding. Even I knew to be reverent.

        Storm clouds hovered but the sky turned blue again. I wouldn’t know if the bride wore chiffon or chenille but my wife said it was a spun gold beaded and gathered satin gown with a layered train. (Is that about right ladies?) I do know she was a pretty girl and a skinny little young’un. The groom was a sturdy ex-Marine, about 6’3.” You ever notice how straight and white young folk’s teeth are?

        It was hot as blazes and they had those little hand-held fans like what we used to have at my grandmother’s church. If you grew up in the South before air-conditioning you remember ’em. Those had Jesus on one side and the football team schedule on the other. The bride and groom opted for a simple version adorned with their names. For an outdoor southern wedding take note. This accessory is a must. It was a very nice touch for this old doc.

         I noticed the father of the groom as he fanned away. It was his youngest boy. Lord I felt for him.

        It all went according to plan except one of the little flower girls got to dancing like a ballerina and we weren’t sure exactly when to quit playing the waltz. The wedding director gave us the cut sign and we fashioned out a nice outro from the “A” part and sat back down. The kids sailed right through the vows and never missed a beat. The next thing you knew it was a kiss, a cool subtle high five and a presentation of a new couple. Even a man knew it was elegant.

        Afterwards I saw the father of the groom at the reception. He mopped his brow with a handkerchief. “Doc, I worried all day we might have rain.”

        “Me too, brother. I know how you feel.” I did too. I still recall how hard it was the day my son got married.

         Afterwards we went home and took a nap then eased over to the Dairyo and had some Coke floats. We sat at the genuine imitation wrought iron tables they imported from Raleigh and contemplated the significance of the day. My wife told funny stories about the kids growing up. We all wished Marie could have been there, but she was out of town for the weekend. I looked over at my boy, a big strapping kid now. “Son get out that Martin. Can you still do “Jerusalem Ridge?”

        “Sure, Dad.” We broke out the instruments and played a few tunes. I looked up at clouds and it set me to dreaming. I really am a simple man. In spite of the fact not many modern humans would consider this all that special of a day, to me it was the best life has to offer. I figured I was about as lucky a country boy as anyone could be.

        I’ll be back tomorrow to tell you of the final leg of my agent journey. Today though, I had to tell you of what is really important.

Dr. B

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9 Comments on “My Boy, A Martin Guitar, and a Wedding”

  1. newt221 Says:

    Dr. B…
    I closed my eyes and I was right there with you guys at that wedding. It must be a special blessing to have family. I am one of four but often feel like an orphan. My sibilings and I don’t get together that often and never to play music.

    Glad you got to enjoy the day. I am sure those coke floats were good too!

  2. Levonne Says:

    Lovely story, descriptions, emotions. Thank you.

  3. That’s a great story. I can remember the first guitar given to me.

  4. drtombibey Says:

    Hey guys,

    Thanks so much. Well Cindy, as far as we are concerned you are bluegrass and that makes you part of our extended family.

    Levonne, I was a regular testosterone poisoned, baseball playing, red blooded boy but my mom and teachers always said I had a soft side too. The first time I met the great lady banjo player Alison Brown she told me I had a feminine non-competitive aspect to my personality, and I considered it a high compliment. Listen to her banjo work sometime; she’s quite a talent.

    lessonsthatrock, I’ve given away a lot more guitars than I own, but I gave my favorite one to my son.

    Dr. B

  5. I love that the couple high-fived. That’s totally what I’ll do if I ever get married!

    As usual, Dr. B, I was so moved by your descriptions… That sounds like such a beautiful, simple and lovely wedding. Big, too-grandiose weddings have always weirded me out. I think marriage can be a beautiful thing, and it can definitely be a reason for a party, but it ain’t a reason to flaunt all the money that mom and pop have – it should be a party that’s celebrating the commitment of two people and the love of friends and family on that day.

    • drtombibey Says:


      Yep, it was a very cool young couple, and a very nice low key wedding where the parents made sure it was all about the bride and groom.

      Dr. B

      • Felix Miller Says:

        “…a very nice low key wedding where the parents made sure it was all about the bride and groom.”

        Wonderful parents. I have married off a son, and thankfully, all parents concerned felt the same way. Makes for a meaningful and moving ceremony.

        Ah, you gave your favorite guitar to your son. You are a parent after my own heart.

  6. drtombibey Says:


    They are indeed excellent folks, and I’ll brag a minute and tell you they are true bluegrass. You seldom go wrong with people like that.

    Since you have a married son, I’m sure you know how we felt that day.

    Dr. B

  7. […] know this is a bit off-topic but this is a great little story about a physician–who happens to play bluegrass–and the Martin D28 acoustic guitar that […]

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