Archive for June 2010

Red White and Bluegrass Early Sales Figures

June 30, 2010

        It’s early evening. A cool breeze has knocked off the heat. The cidadias sing in the trees. My brand new virgin white Ez-Up tent tried to trap me like an octopus changing clothes in a phone booth, but I out-witted the rascal, and didn’t even pinch my fingers. A talented new family band is on the stage.

        I get my mandolin off the stand at my side and play along.  I’ve never been a biz guy, but early sales are brisk. I send the profits with my Marfar to scout for supper, and I know we have enough left over for Mr. Harold’s home-made ice cream too.

        Doc is a pig in mud. The business plan was only enacted one hour ago and it works to perfection. I’m where I’ve always been, just nowadays I have a book and a tent instead of sitting in the sun. This is total tranquility. Y’all come visit.

 Dr. B


Easter Egg Hunt Kids, Limited Edition Books, And a Moon Pie per Typo

June 28, 2010

        We all have a gift; it’s just a matter of finding it. Years ago there was a boy in Harvey County who had a knack. He was dark-haired and had dark brown eyes; a mischievous child with a quick smile and big dimples. He was blessed with excellent hand-eye co-ordination and was good at golf and pool. That was not the boy’s gift though; his was the Easter Egg Hunt. He won three years in a row.

        There was a problem, though. He was so good he found all the eggs right away. The other children went home empty-handed and in tears. The mothers were angry and demanded something be done. My friend ended up as the only kid I ever knew who was banished from the Harvey County City Park Annual Easter Egg Hunt. 

        It made no never mind though. After they banned him, he went the next year after the hunt was over and all the other children had gone back home. He found dozens of eggs the other kids didn’t find and had left behind. He’d save up the chocolate ones and take ’em to opening day at the Harvey County pool where he’d give them out to the girls in those new two piece bathing suits.

        One year the boy went out after the Harvey County Annual Easter Egg Hunt and didn’t find a single egg left behind. He spotted a young blond girl with a full Easter egg basket at the end of the field. He tried to catch up with her but she disappeared into a thicket just beside the second hole of the golf course; the one with the big hill where we used to sled every winter.

        Years went by. The boy broke his leg in a water skiing accident. Back then that’d land you in Harvey Memorial Hospital for a week. His nurse was a pretty young blond woman. One day it hit him. “Hey, you’re the Easter Egg girl.”

        She smiled. “That’s me.”

        “I was good, but you were even better. How’d you find those Easter eggs?”

        “I don’t know. I can just see things other people can’t see. My mama is the same way.”

        The boy was one of those types who wasn’t threatened by a girl who could out-do him. Two years later he married her. They lived happily ever after.

        Oh, I guess you wonder what this has to do with limited edition collectable books. The now somewhat past middle-aged, dark-haired man with the streaks of gray and his lovely blond wife bought “The Mandolin Case.” They wrote to tell me how much they enjoyed it, but they wanted me to know they did find a few typos. I called my agent to tell him.

       “Man, I can’t believe it,” he said. “The publisher had a first-rate MFA go through it. Tell those folks they have a gift.”

       “I will, boss. Would you talk to the publisher about putting the ‘Easter Egg Kids’ on the payroll?”


       “These guys were childhood Easter Egg hunt winners. I’m telling ya, I think kids who grew up as ace Easter Egg hunters can out copy-edit the copy editors.”

        “Bibey, where do you come up with all these people?”

        “I dunno, boss. Every story in Harvey County is a long one, I guess. I e-mailed you their corrections. There aren’t many, and they said it didn’t take away from the charm of the story one iota. They loved it.”

       “Okay, I’ll forward the patch on to the publisher.”

       And now you know why the first 1,237 copies of “The Mandolin Case” are a Limited Edition Collector’s item.

       Someone else musta figured it out too, ’cause I saw it on the Internet with my own two non-Easter egg eyes. From some kind of speculator I guess: (paraphrased) “From our collection of hard-to-find used rare and out-of-print books, “The Mandolin Case,” by Tom Bibey. $68.69.” (They had it discounted to $61.82)

       I won’t tell you who the speculator was, but my agent and publisher were not involved with this particular offer. (Neither was I.)

       So, I want to reassure you “The Mandolin Case” is still on Amazon for 18.00. In fact, Amazon just discounted it to 16.20 to compete with the Barnes and Noble price. 

       I gotta admit the notion of being a “collectable” gave me a chuckle. I’ll have ’em at Red White and Bluegrass, and I assure you they will be eighteen bucks. I’ll even sign ’em and inscribe them as “Red White and Bluegrass Limited Edition” if you like.

        At this point I think we’ve gotten shed of all the typographical errors. In fact, I am so confident that if you find one past the Limited Edition Version, I’ll send you a Moon Pie per typo via U.S snail mail or give you one in person at the festival. Boy Scout’s honor.

       See ya soon.

Dr. B

Turn Your Radio On (WNCW 88.7)

June 25, 2010

        Well guys, Dr. B is gonna be on the airwaves, so turn your radio on.

        I never hear this old Albert E. Brumley song that I don’t think of John Hartford. Years ago I went to two of his Christmas picking parties and they were a dandy; folks like Earl Scruggs, Benny Martin, Bill Monroe, and Marty Stuart were there. I recall Earl’s brother Horace turned to me and said, “Pick that mandolin like that Stuart boy.” (I tried but I’m still a doctor)

         Here was Dr. B jamming with all the legends. My old Harvey County picking buddies Indie, Rossie Douglas, and Moose Dooley went with me. Chattanooga real estate man Fletcher Bright and Indie did some twin fiddle numbers. Indie really dug Fletcher’s fiddling; they were two peas in a pod.

        So bring back some memories, and turn your radio on. To be specific, tomorrow 6/26/2010 at 12:00 noon good old Doc B is gonna be on the radio. When “The Mandolin Case” hit number one on Amazon’s country books category I got invited by Dennis Jones to be a guest on his show.

        Folks, that’s like a shot at batting practice with the Cubs. Just ask any touring musician, Dennis is one of the most knowledgable bluegrass DJs in the world, and a wizard sound engineer. Everyone wants to cut that gig.

        It’ll be a free wheeling thing and you can call in and ask them to play anything you want as long as it is related to “The Mandolin Case” or bluegrass in general. Dennis said he would give me some choice the music selection for the hour. I told him I’d kinda like to honor the bands with ties to the Carolinas since I’m a North Carolina boy, so y’all write in or call and ask for groups like Darin and Brooke Aldridge, III Tyme Out, the Grascals, Balsam Range, Alan Bibey (Cuz) or the Steep Canyon Rangers. WNCW is an old-fashioned station; they still pay attention to what their audience wants, so you can have a hand in the radio program by your input.

        Dennis will set the agenda. He’ll ask about Indie or Harvey County, and I might divulge a few clues in “The Mandolin Case.” Just remember though, this is physician bluegrass fiction. Sometimes I have so much fun I can get carried away, so don’t worry if some of it seems a bit far-fetched. After all, this show not about diagnosing cancer. I’m proud I do that in my day job, but art is so we can forget our troubles for a moment. When I think about the power of radio I always recall Orson Wells in “War of the Worlds.” So, don’t take me too seriously; my gig Saturday is all for fun. Remember; art isn’t a matter of life and death it’s much more important than that.

        Don’t worry of you don’t live in range of the airwaves. In Harvey County we tune in WNCW 88.7 via 24/7 Internet stream. So if you’re in New Zealand at whatever time 12:00 noon EST time comes to and bored out of your ever-loving mind, tune us in. We promise enough fun to forget your troubles for an hour or so. 

        Here’s the link. Try it out so you can tune in for the ‘Going Across The Mountain’ show Dennis hosts every Saturday. I’ll be on at noon tomorrow. 

        I’m even gonna have a prize. Whoever calls in from the longest distance will get a signed copy of “The Mandolin Case.” Who know, someday that and fifty cents might get you a cup of coffee, so call in and let ’em know you’re out there. 

Dr. B

A Formal Book Release Announcement

June 21, 2010

        I guess after all these years of yapping about it a formal book release announcement is last Tuesday’s news, but ta da! -today is my day.

        My book is now officially released. I was gonna tell you last week, but my agent made me wait. There were a few glitches in the Amazon link and the publisher wanted all the corrections to filter through the Internet before we went live and activated our website link.

        Somehow people found it anyway, though. Felix Miller bought the first copy. After just a few days the Amazon rank of “The Mandolin Case” went from 3 million to just over 100,000 in the world. I’m not sure how they found it, or who else bought it. This Internet is pretty big, I guess. I figure if I can get inside the top 100K and someday sell 3,001 copies that’s a hit for this country boy.

        Boy Scouts honor, my agent called last night to say it made it to number 56 in Amazon’s “country” book category before it was released. Beats anything I’ve ever heard of.  

        No one is an island, and this is more true for me than anyone. I can’t name everyone I should thank, but a short list includes my wife and kids, office staff, patients, agent, editor, picking pals, and blog buddies. It takes a community to make a writer out of a doctor and y’all did it.

        My folks weren’t too involved in this process; I felt like at their age they didn’t need the drama, but my Dad taught me to work hard and my Mom instilled my love of books. She put me in speed reading as a kid when I wanted to play baseball instead. I owe her all. I dread her reading the cuss words; it’s just not her style. I had to show the truth, though. (I’d rate my book PG-13 for language and tangential references to sex.)

        My book will not make everyone happy. Along the way some folks didn’t understand me. Without fail they were the rich and powerful. My wife said it was the plaid shirts and the mandolin. One big shot said, “You tell him I don’t negotiate with a hillbilly.” 

        He has since retired. I do not know the circumstances.

        I had to write it. After a lifetime in medicine I’m not the least bit cynical. I live by the 80/20 rule. I believe most people in medicine (and likely other walks of life I don’t know as much about) are good and want to do right. They fall in the eighty percent category.

        The trick is how to deal with the other twenty percent. All you have to do is figure out what motivates them, be it power, money, etc, and push the right buttons. Then you can put them in a position where they have no choice but to do right. They won’t like it, but they’ll go along because they have to.

        You remember Tom Cruise in “The Firm?” In the story he managed to get the Mafia positioned where it was in their best interest to stay at arm’s length. I didn’t deal with devious behavior of that degree, but it was the same dynamic nonetheless. At the end of the movie Cruise responded to someone who semi-apologized and said something like, “No, you did me a favor. The rest of my life I gotta look over my shoulder and worry every time I turn the ignition key my car might blow up, but you made me remember why I got into law to start with.”

        I am what I seem, a simple country boy who just wanted to raise a family, help a few people, and play music on my weekends off. I never forgot why I went into medicine, but I gotta admit a few people along the way did things that forced me to examine my position to a greater depth. 

        When you run into a bully, remember me. I’m like a bullfighter. I know that old bull is a lot bigger and stronger than I am. The brute is about half-testosterone poisoned and could kill me with one head-butt. I have to out-smart him. So, I’ll use a cape to obscure the brick wall behind it. I’ll wave it like a red flag and smile. “Please don’t charge through that cape, pal. I know you are big and strong, but I don’t think you can do it.”

        He’ll snort around and paw the ground in a fury. “No matador in a plaid shirt’s gonna tell me what to do.”

        Then he’ll charge headlong into the cape, and I’ll whisk it to the side at the last second. Of course, the bull crashes into the brick wall and gets knocked out. When he wakes up, he’ll ask what happened.

        What I never understood is the next time he’ll do it all over again. You can count on it.

        So, with “The Mandolin Case” and the series to follow I hope to show how to not let the bull (or bullies) run over you, just like Indie taught me. Who knows, it might come in handy for you someday.

        By definition if you enjoy my book, you are in the 80 group and not the 20. All I want to do is help you stay there. Perhaps you can enable your people to thrive too. What the bad guys don’t understand is that all of us who long for grace and dignity depend on each other, and we’re thick as thieves. To this day they still don’t know what hit ’em. (They ran into a brick wall!)

        So, now my book is out there. You can order it via my website. The link is  If by some chance that link fails you, go to, check out the books category and search for “The Mandolin Case.” I’ve been told it is all operational now. 

        As always, any feed-back is appreciated. If you find errors, I’ll correct them. Doc’ll take all the help he can get in life. I appreciate all of you and thank you for sticking with me.

        All the best,

Dr. B

New Pages and Gettin’ Antsy

June 20, 2010

        I put up two new pages today, “The Mandolin Case”- Web Site Link and Quotes and Book Tour Schedule. The link for these pages is on the right hand side of the Home Page. The link to the website is I also added it to my blogroll for good measure.

        Any day now I should be able to post a formal link to Amazon on my website. As it turned out, when the info was first transmitted to Amazon the publisher was not given proper credit by the powers that be, and they weren’t happy about it. If they were gonna take a chance on an unknown crazy doctor they at least wanted to recognized for it. I don’t blame them for that. They won’t let me link to Amazon from my website until they clear up the confusion. I’ve come this far, so I’m gonna respect their wishes and not foul it up now.

        Publisher or not though, somehow people have already found “The Mandolin Case” and have begun to order. I hate to tell the publisher, but there’s no way to corral in this Internet crowd. Like bluegrass people, the blog community is an independent bunch with a mind of its own. Might as well try to herd up those wild mustang ponies out on the Outer Banks. It just ain’t gonna happen.

        As far as this old Doc is concerned, between the blog world and this new publishing paradigm we’ve got free speech on steroids. We’re aren’t going away any time soon.

         I’m gettin’ antsy to go live. I’m gonna lean on ’em hard first thing in the AM. I figure that’s the start of the work week and a good time to get after those business types. Y’all wish me luck.

        See ya out there soon. Having fun.

Dr. B

An Average Weekend in the Life of a Country Doctor

June 19, 2010

        Old Doc’s still rocking along.

        Friday I got to tell a young mom her biopsy result was not melanoma, but just a mole. Don’t forget your sunscreen, kid. I dang near cried. I worry over those ragged dark moles. 

        I sat in last night with a swing band at the Winery. It’s two doors down from the Kingdom Hall of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. You can’t miss it. Go by Harvey Memorial and take a right at the Crystal Sea of Galilee Fish Camp, then left at Vernie’s picking barn. Turn in by the split rail fence on the little gravel road. You’ll see a bunch of grape vines there. It’s as close to French as you’ll find in Harvey County. (Polly Voo Who?)

        A favorite patient drove herself to my gig, and even got up and danced one tune. She came up to speak. “Doctor, did you know it was my birthday?”

         “Well, Happy Birthday. I hope I do half as good as you.”

        She said she had to drive home before it got too late, but I could forgive that; she just turned 90. I wish I could take credit for it, but I’m sure it’s because she picked out good ancestors.

        I’m booked with Irish singer-songwriter Al Donnelly today. It’s the Farmer’s Market gig and old man Turner will have those homemade fried pies I love so much. 

        The Farmer’s Market is right there at the court-square. We have one of those southern squares where the Bermuda grass is lush and green and there’s a white-washed brick courthouse. A lonely solider stands guard in the shade of the old oak tree. His rifle has rested on his shoulder since I was a little boy. As a kid I always imagined he’d jump down and defend us. I’m thankful he hasn’t had to fire yet.

        There’s a WWII Memorial on the west side. My uncle died in France. I always go by and read off his name and wonder why I have been so fortunate and so many were struck down so young.

        I might mow some grass before it gets too hot. Tomorrow I’ll ask for forgiveness for any and all mistakes I’ve made, wipe the slate clean, and go try again. 

        For the most part it was a good week, though. I didn’t have to tell anyone their mama died, and no one turned up with cancer. I’ll take that luck and run with it.

        I hope to make a formal book release announcement very soon. I wish it was today, but with the kind of week I’ve had it’d be wrong to complain.

Dr. B

3,001 or Bust -Great Expectations

June 17, 2010

        I’m like a large child at Christmas. They tell me the presses are rolling and the Amazon link should be up any day. Now all I can do now is wait. I recall the words of Paul Howey, my editor at The Laurel of Asheville, “patience my boy, patience.”

        Oh well, I guess it keeps old Doc young. As soon as it comes out I’m gonna have to get back to work on “Acquisition Syndrome.”  I’m the type to always have something to look forward to.

        Once “The Mandolin Case” is out there, I have to move forward. I look at it not as the finish line, but only a chance to get to the starting gate. I feel like a pony who has trained for years and now they’re gonna let me on the track to run. I hope I don’t stumble and break a leg before the first turn. I’m not the type to be nervous about much; as a doc I have seen a lot, but I gotta admit my heart is in this book, and I hope it doesn’t fall too flat.

        My only sales goal is 3,001. I have high hopes, but I know it ain’t “Great Expectations.” I only got one critical review in the run-up to publication. One fellow said he thought all the music needed to be changed to opera and insinuated bluegrass people wouldn’t read. That made me mad. It’s okay to diss me but don’t get after my people. (I’m like Indie on that)

       That man’s last book sold 3,000 copies. There is nothing wrong with that, and I’m not very competitive by nature, but the human in me wants to whup him on that. Kathy Boyd and Phoenix Rising of Portland, Oregon reserved copy number 3,001. So, it’s 3001 or bust. The kid has faith, so we’ll see.       

        As I have mentioned I’ll be at the Red White and Bluegrass festival in Morganton N.C. July 1-4. After that, my agent has about four more stops lined up for me for the rest of 2010. As soon as dates firm up on that I’ll let you know.

        Starting in 2011, my wife plan about 6-8 outings a year. That’s about all I can do and still tend to my Doc gig. I still like the job and love my people. I’m not ready to give it up. Besides, if I retired I’d drive everyone crazy; way too much energy. I’m just an overgrown boy.

        Years ago one of my buddies on the bluegrass tour told me he made it all the way to California and back. He said they met great people, ate fine food, played a lot of music, and sold enough CDs to come home with ten more dollars than he started with. 

       He’s my hero and that is my goal. Some day we want to make it all the way to California and points in between so y’all watch for us. We love a great jam session and will pick for food. See ya out there.

Dr. B

The Journey of the People’s Mandolin, June 2010

June 15, 2010

        This is my favorite photo from our trip to New England. It is from my friend Ted Lehmann, blogger and Northeastern bluegrass photojournalist. It’s one of those shots that captures so much of what I hoped to say with my writing.

 Here are three people of diverse ages and backgrounds, and yet through art they have a common bond. It’s like I said at Strawberry Park. “I know you must wonder what an old doctor from North Carolina and a pretty young girl from New England could possibly have in common. The answer is we both love mandolins, we both love the same music, and we both have families who love us. This makes us the lucky people.” 

        All of us who are that fortunate need to do what we can to pass it on, and I hope the “Journey of the People’s Mandolin” will be some small part of that process.

        Isabelle, wherever you are out there, when you pass it on get your folks to take a photo and send it in. Work hard and play hard. When the tough questions in life come around turn to your parents and grandparents to search for the answers.  See you down the bluegrass road, and take care kid.

See more photos at Ted’s blog:

Dr. B

The Strawberry Park Kid’s Camp “Teach Your Children Well”

June 14, 2010

        Today I wanted to update you on “The Journey of the People’s Mandolin.” On its second leg of the journey it stopped at the kid’s music camp at the Strawberry Park Festival in Preston, Connecticut.  We were there when Irene Lehmann handed if off to Isabelle, who was one of the camp children.

        I got an e-mail this weekend from Vicki and Tim, who were some of the lead instructors at the camp. They have a fine legacy in progress in New England; a very organized effort to pass the music on their children. All of us who love the music, and our children, can learn something from them.   

        I couldn’t help but contemplate what kind of world we might have if we all set out to teach our children music and not the hate and aggression that is so often passed along. I guess we have to have our dreams and our art to keep going. I believe they will make the world a touch kinder for their efforts. I posted some of the pics I took of the kids below. There are more on Vicki and Tim’s website at http://www. and also at Ted Lehmann’s blog. His address is:

        The book website is now google-able, and they tell me the Amazon link to order will be operational soon, so stay tuned. 

       All my best to Vicki, Tim, Isabelle, and the other camp children and instructors. You have my respect for your preservation of traditional music, and for your wisdom to “teach your children well.”

Dr. B

Wall Street Bluegrass

June 12, 2010

        I know a fellow in Charlotte who is a financial guru, a flat wizard about money even in these hard times. I was always a doctor and a music guy, and to be honest he talks a lingo I am not very familiar with.

        But, he knows of my love of the music, and has even gotten interested enough through my writing to attend some events. That thrills me. I always hoped my efforts would bring in some new people.

        One day my friend was reading the “Wall Street Journal” (I am more inclined to “The New England Journal of Medicine” or “Bluegrass Unlimited”) and saw an article by Barry Mazor.

        He called. “Hey, Doc. Do you know any of these people?”

        I pulled up the link on my computer. “Know ’em? Lord have mercy friend, that’s the Grascals. The kid on the right is my little buddy Kristin Scott Benson. She looks like the girl next door, but she’s a seasoned pro; a two-time IBMA banjo champ.”


          “Yep. She’s married to my mando brother Wayne Benson. Man, he’s a mandolin genius. I’ve studied under him a couple of years now and I haven’t scratched the surface of what that cat knows. Pure genius.” 

        “Doc, you’re right. You bluegrass people are thick as thieves.”

        “Don’t spread it too far, but we think we might have descended from the horse traders.”

        He laughed. “So, are these Grascals pretty good?”

        “They got their start when Dolly Parton chose them as her back-up band a few years back.”

        “Well, I’ll be.”

        “Check ’em out sometime.”

        “And where can I see them?”

       “Let me send you their links. The Grascals will be at Red White and Blue on July 2, 2010, and III Tyme Out will be there on the 4th.”

        “You’ll be there too?”

        “Wouldn’t miss it.”

       “Hm. I might just come.”

        “You won’t regret it. Make sure to get some of Harold’s homemade ice cream. Tell ’em Dr. B sent you.”

        “Sounds good. Thanks for the tip.”

        Here they are:

        The Grascals:

        Russell Moore and III Tyme Out:

        By the way, here’s the quote Kristin sent after she read a draft of “The Mandolin Case.”

        “Dr. Bibey honors the truth and simplicity of rural southern life and traditional music.  Finally, an author resists the hackneyed stereotype to accurately portray the integrity of bluegrass music and the people that love it.”  -Kristin Scott Benson, member of Grascals, IBMA Banjo Player of Year 2008 and 2009  (And she wrote this before Wall Street ever discovered her)

        And here is the link to Barry Mazor’s article. Who said bluegrass people weren’t sophisticated? It ain’t just country doctors any more. Now it’s the “Wall Street Journal” for heaven’s sake. Y’all check it out.


Dr. B