Archive for July 2010

Mountain Opry: Signal Mountain

July 31, 2010

        I am reminded what Doc Watson once said from the stage. “If you came looking for a fancy show, this ain’t it. If you want to hear some real music, you came to the right place.” 

       Signal Mountain is true bluegrass. The man at concession stand showed me the sign-up sheet. I signed in as “Tom Bibey, mandolin. Will play for food or for free.”

       I got in with a strong girl singer and a solid lady bass player who sang fine tenor. A raconteur banjo man in a straw hat with a sheaf of cool original songs of old Chattanooga needed a mandolin player for the night and asked me to join in too. A country kid named Matt was a stout lead singer, and I covered some harmony for him. He dedicated his portion of the show to his grandpa.

       They had popcorn in an old-time machine just like the one Lou Bedford has at the Billiard and Bowl at home. (He bought it when they closed down the old movie house) The hot dogs were as good as the ones Snookers Molesby always beats me out of at the River Run pro shop. A thousand pictures of musicians who’d toured through over the years lined the walls.

        I played so hard I forgot all about my book for a while. My agent gave me a signal it was time to go. When they introduced me Matt realized he hadn’t gotten my name. I held up a copy of “The Mandolin Case” and said, “I’m the guy with the book.”

       Several people came by to get a copy including one young lady from St. Louis who was interested in rehab type work. I told her all us baby boomers were getting old and she’d never be out of work. She promised she’d look after me in the nursing home if she came south and landed near Harvey County. 

       My agent asked a promoter in the crowd what made bluegrass different from other music. The man said he promoted two festivals. One was of another genre. He said when the other festival was over he had to get several trucks to carry away the trash. “After the bluegrass crowd leaves you can go through the grounds and gather it up with one hand.” Ain’t that us, y’all?

        There is one other difference too. On the way home my agent asked, “Don’t you guys ever get tired?”

       “No boss. We can live off music, hard tack, and coffee. We are bluegrass.”

        “Well son, you’re about to wear me out.”

         This is a great gig.

        If you’re in the Chattanooga area check out the Mountain Opry at Signal Mountain. Tell ’em Doc said hello.

Dr. B


Smoking Ed’s BBQ Book Signing

July 30, 2010

         There’s a first for everything and today is my first Barbecue Book signing. We’re at Smoking Ed’s in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

        My agent called some time back. “Can you do a book signing at lunch before the Mountain Opry at Signal Mountain that night?”

        “Sure, boss, as long as it’s bluegrass.”

         “Whadda ya mean?”

         “Well, first off, it needs to be barbecue.”

        “No problem. We’ve got plenty of barbecue in Chattanooga.”

         “Great. But, it has to be true bluegrass.”

         “How’s that?”

          “Of course it has to be good cue. That’s a given. Barbecue is one of the four food groups in bluegrass.”

         “Okay, what else?”

        “Gotta have a train.”

        “Shouldn’t be problem there. This is Chattanooga. Anything else?”

       “Yeah, boss. Really need a church on the hill and a graveyard.”

        “Good Lord, son. You gotta be so contrary?”

        “I’m bluegrass, boss.”

        He drove me out to the place. Smoking Ed’s. We no more than got there and the Norfolk Southern rolled by and blew the whistle. “Looks good, boss.”

       “Son, look up on the hill.”

        It was a graveyard and a country church.

       “Boss, as Earl said about Vassar Clements, this’ll do. I wish Norman Blake could see this. He loves trains.”

       The first customer was a young lady who asked for “The Kentucky Waltz.” Very cool. Smoking Ed’s BBQ, 1:30. It looks just like the set on “Fried Green Tomatoes.” Y’all come out.

Dr. B

Guest Post- Melissa

July 30, 2010

Remembering My Writing Journey (So Far)
By: Melissa Wright

        Maybe you could say I was born to be a story-teller. I can remember the first time I put pen (okay, crayon) to paper and wrote a story. I was five years old and I had stories to tell. Even back then, I knew being a writer is what I wanted to do. I was meant to do this.

        As my school years went by, my love for writing developed more and more. My stories involved pets, friends, unicorns, family, etc. You name it, I probably wrote about it when I was a kid. I even wrote a story about a dinosaur coming to my school and chasing me and my friends around. Let’s just say, I had a very over active imagination.

        Once I got to college, my life became all about the “college life.” Hanging out with friends, going to classes, writing huge amounts of papers. I’m sad to admit that I didn’t make the time to write. At all. I actually started to write a screenplay during my sophomore year, but it wasn’t really the same as writing a story. To be honest, I’m still working on that screenplay…

        It wasn’t until last year when I graduated that I decided to make my dream of being a published author a reality. I remember where I was when I got the idea for the book I’m working on right now. I was sitting in my room, listening to music when my main character, Ben, invaded my mind. It was almost like he was telling me his story right then and there. He was urging me to tell his story for him. Of course I couldn’t say no.

        I didn’t waste any time. I got to work, making plot outlines and character sketches. I did the usual research, but this book is about an issue that I’m quite familiar with. It’s something I can relate to. I hope others will feel the same.

        I’ve struggled with this book. Being a young, college graduate, people expect you to do a certain thing. I live in a very rural area where girls usually become nurses or teachers. They go off, get married, and have a few kids. They don’t go off to college and then come back to write a book.

        That’s unheard of! What I like to say is this: “I don’t like to fit the mold.” They tell me I’ll struggle and I have. They tell me it’s not worth it, but it is. What they don’t realize is that I was born to do this.

        Sure, I have to deal with the people who doubt me. They’re loaded with constant negative criticism. I’ve built up a wall to deflect all that while I’m writing. My stories are going to mean something to someone one day. I write to give people experiences they’ve never had before. I write to give people knowledge of issues they don’t really understand. Take a walk in my characters shoes and everything may become clear. That’s why I don’t listen to the doubts.

         As writers, we all get that negativity from some people. We all learn to deal with the frustrations that we may feel from time to time. The other day, I sat at my computer, staring at the screen, feeling so emotionally drained from a difficult scene that lay ahead. I didn’t know if I could do it.

        At that moment, Ben came back into my head, and I saw my purpose again. It’s funny how sometimes your characters can remind you of what you have to offer. You see, I have a dream of becoming a published author, so I can share my stories with the world. For now, I’m an unpublished author, looking to share those words, eager to do so. It’s been quite a journey for me. Going back and reading that first story I ever wrote about my cat gives me motivation to keep going. It keeps me determined to be successful as I finish this book and go out on my search to find an agent. I may be a “rookie writer”, but I can write. Soon, my stories will reveal that.

        Do you remember the moment you knew being a writer was what you wanted to? Do you still remember what it felt like to create something from your imagination and make it real for others to see? I do. I was five years old when I first started this journey. Now, I’m 26 years old, and I still have stories to tell.

-Melissa Wright

Dr. B- Melissa’s blog link is:

Fire and Rain

July 28, 2010

        Sorry for such a short post, but some things came up beyond my control. Come to think of it, most of this gig on Earth is beyond our control, huh?

        My song of the Day on Facebook was James Taylor’s “Fire and Rain.” My personal health has been good so far, but as a doc I’ve seen a lot of sadness. Sometimes I feel like a war survivor, and wonder why I have been so lucky. It can all change so fast. All I can say is hold your people close and always be prepared for Eternity. We are all only temporary visitors here on Earth.

        I’ll be in Chattanooga Friday, July 30 at Smoking Ed’s BBQ for a late lunch, (1:30) and then Signal Mountain Opry that night. There might be a bit of blue in my bluegrass, but I’ll solider on. If you live in that area I hope you’ll come visit. I’d love to see anyone interested in the arts and a life of grace and dignity.

        The Lord gave me a decent doctor brain and I can make do as a mando side-man and part singer, but if I sing lead I’ll set the music back a decade. My goals with “The Mandolin Case” were multifactorial, but one was to help the music I love and pay tribute to what it has done for me over a lifetime in the doc gig. I’ll need all the help I can get and would love to jam with you, but if you can sing lead I’ll leave that part open for you.

        We all gotta be what we are and there’s no use for old Doc to pretend to be a singer, so y’all cover me if you can. See you there.

Dr. B 

Guest Posts

July 26, 2010

        Not long ago a young lady blogger named Melissa asked me if I would do a guest post for her blog. I decided to do so, and I’m glad I did. It forced me to think about how to write to a different audience. After all, the whole world does not consist of old doctors and bluegrass pickers.

          At first I wondered what I could write for a group of young people. I walked by a picture of my daughter, and it came to me. Write about what you know and love. Easy enough.

        I recalled the words of my agent several years ago.

        “Son, you need to start a blog.”

        “What’s a blog?”

        “Here’s one to check out.” He gave me a link to click on. “A new writer has to have one. Your readers will teach you how to write.”

        He was right. Over the years I have gotten a lot of feedback from readers and have learned something from all of them. On my last post I got one from Sharon of Australia that said a lot about why we write. I love this comment.

        “Good writing is so much more than stringing pretty sentences together. Good writing is connecting with people; it’s writing what everyone knows, but most cannot express; it’s delivering a good story that others can recognise and identify with.”

        After my guest post for Melissa, and then Sharon’s comment, I decided to expand this interactive process, and would like to open my blog for guests. I post twice a week, so I’m gonna revise my publication schedule. I’ll post on Monday and Wednesday, but I’d like to leave Friday open for my readers to weigh in with their perspective.

        As usual, I’m laissez faire about the whole process. I don’t have too many rules about the blog or life in general. If you want me to be serious, book an appointment to talk about cancer or heart attacks, but this is art, so let’s have fun. After all, writing isn’t a matter of life and death; it’s much more important than that.

        I’d like to hold each post to less than 800 words, ’cause I have found if I exceed that by too much no one reads mine. Also I do ask that you limit it to PG-13. My mom reads my blog, so anything stronger than that I’ll have to ax. Other than those restrictions, I’m flexible and prefer to let it run wherever it might go.

       I’m gonna reserve the first Friday for Melissa since she inspired the idea. Here’s the link to her blog: I hope Sharon of Australia will consider the second one. Sharon’s blog is: I’d like to see Ted Lehmann, Cindy, and slightly do one, and I hope over time all my readers will have their say. Also, I’d be happy to return the favor for anyone who wants me to. We’ll see where it leads.

       To update you on “The Mandolin Case,” I’m pleased with the early progress. It has some nice reviews on Amazon, my friends all seem to like it, and my wife and I are having fun promoting it. We’ve already made a lot of new friends, and have been asked to several festivals we’ve not been to before.

        We have two stops in Chattanooga this weekend. On Friday July 30, I’ll be at Smoking Ed’s Barbeque for a late lunch (1:30) and then at the Signal Mountain Opry that night for a second book signing and jam session for the day. I’m off-limits Saturday and at a wedding my wife is in, so I’m gonna be a good husband and leave the mandolin in the case. After that, I’ll be back at the Doc gig for a while. We’ll be at IBMA this fall, and also have a couple Saturday outings close to home planned.

        The first month I got carried away and booked too much, so I’m gonna try to limit it to one weekend and one Wednesday a month. When you’re on the road, get homesick, and long to listen to your monthly CME tape on “Advances in Urinary Incontinence,” I guess old Doc is still afflicted with the “I wanna be a country doctor and help people” syndrome. Co-dependency can be a beautiful thing if you harness it right.

        If you have places you’d like for me to show up with my strange physician bluegrass fiction dog and pony show let me know. I’ll do my best to work ’em into the schedule over time.

       It’d be the least I could do ’cause my agent was right; you are the folks who taught me to write. Y’all think about a guest post; I’d love to have you come visit.

Dr. B

First Day at MACC and Why I Write

July 23, 2010

        I met Darrel Adkins, the promoter for MACC, over breakfast backstage. The man had a walkie-talkie in his ear, a cell phone that went off every minute or so and a couple of beepers. He went over some paperwork and the ground rules. I listened intently. I had a notion if I was gonna do as the Romans do this was Caesar.

        As I got to leave he said, “Son, I’d like to sit and visit. They’ve got me kinda busy.”

        “Yes sir, I understand.” The man was pulled in more directions than a country doctor on Monday morning. “Thanks for having me.”

        He smiled and waved as he answered his cell phone. 

        Irene Lehmann led me to our site and parked us right under a large shade tree. “The boss said to hitch old Tenbrooks in the shade. You’re gonna be here three days and it’s supposed to get to 100.”


        “Darin and Brooke will be right next door. MACC wanted you to feel at home.”

        Hm. He’s read my blog. I’m gonna be next door to old friends. “Tell the man thanks.”  

        “Will do.”

        The first day of MACC was a whirlwind. I met all kinds of people; radio personalities, surveyors, a urologist, mechanics, a nuclear scientist, software gurus, tennis players, golfers, and of course lots of mandolin players and bluegrass pickers. Many of them had read my blog. Some were only curious as to what a physician bluegrass fiction writer might look like and others wanted to buy “The Mandolin Case,” and get it signed. They were all different, and yet in many ways just the same.

        One was just like me and about my age. His mama also put him in a speed reading class as a kid. “Finished the book by lunch!”  He came by to give me a thumbs-up. He found the one serious typo that still bugged me, and inked in a correction and dated it. “Makes it a collector’s item, Dr. B.” Cool guy.

        Another fellow walked by and grinned. “Stopped at page four for now Doc, but I’ll get back to it. Good book.”

        I heard from my agent last night and we had made to #60 in legal mysteries in Britain. I thought that was pretty good in the land of Sherlock Holmes. I figure the Brits know a thing or two about mystery books – by the way much of our music came from across the pond too.  If you live in Britain, and have any trouble finding it, here’s the link:  Go to the page at and click on GREAT BRITAIN  

        I continue to be humbled by the whole journey. Some time back one fellow told me he wrote literary fiction and he didn’t think so much of commercial fiction.

        As I sat in the shade at MACC, I thought of him. I wanted to tell him mine hadn’t even made commercial grade yet, although MACC was shaping up pretty good. I’ll get to give a little to the cause, meet a bunch of new people, and come home with a few dollars more than I started out with, and this done paid for catfish sandwich was as good as home.

        I recall this man told me my book was a bit too common for his taste. He was somewhat resentful the public wasn’t more supportive of his work.

       I read some of his, and have to agree; it was quality literature. He’s a better writer than I am, and that doesn’t bother me. I listened to his complaints for a while and think I figured it out, but I didn’t want to hurt his feelings.

       I wanted to say, “Well, sir. You’re a fine writer. I’m not sure why not enough folks have read your book. The only thing I can say is maybe you wrote over everybody’s head. We all have our expertise. If I write too much about idiopathic hypertrophic subaortic stenosis, I’ll bore people to death. By the same token my car mechanic could write a novel about hot rods in a such a technical way I’d not be able to understand it.” I held my peace, though.

      The way I saw it, this man wrote his book to show people how much smarter he was than everyone else. I wrote mine to try to show how we are all the same; and after ten years I’m just getting started on the project. 

       I debated a call to invite him to MACC. I dug into my ice cream for a moment, then reconsidered and decided against it. I was off and very relaxed. I didn’t want to ruin the mood and have to get in any kind of crazy debate today.

       I remember a fellow I knew in med school. He was the smartest cat I ever met in any genre. He was so smart he never bragged about it, and I never saw him get drug into an argument on the subject, either.

       Maybe I can get this writer to send some money to the cause, though. How can anyone argue with raising money for children with cancer? That is one issue no one can debate, so I’m gonna sit back and take it all in. I’m just too old to argue about anyone’s intellectual superiority, and besides I’ve already met plenty of people smarter than me in life; there ain’t much to prove there. I’ll just have to be me and let it go at that; it’s all I’ve got.

Dr. B

The Journey of the People’s Mandolin July 2010

July 21, 2010

        About a week ago I got  a note from Tim And Vicki at Strawberry Park in Preston, Connecticut. They reported the People’s Mandolin would change hands at the Grey Fox festival held July 15-18, 2010.

        This was most appropriate.  The first proof copy of “The Mandolin Case” was delivered to us in New England at Strawberry Park. There we ran into Lisa Husted from Grey Fox. She was the first person outside of my immediate circle to recognize the relationship of music and healing in the story.  (Right away she became just as Harvey County to me as all the rest of us.)

        I wish I could have been at Grey Fox. The release of the book has been a whirlwind, and I found out real quick I wasn’t gonna be able to be everywhere I wanted to be. However the next best thing is to hear from them. Here’s the note I just got from Isabelle who passed the mandolin on this weekend.

        “I had the honor of having the Peoples Mandolin from June 1st until July 18th. I had Sarah Jarosz and Ron Thomason of “Dry Branch Fire Squad” sign it. I was sad to give it away, but I’m glad someone also gets to enjoy it for a month. I want to thank Tim and Vicky for picking me to play this mandolin for a month. I also want to tell Dr. Tom Bibey that this was a really cool idea and thank him for recognizing mandolin players and making them feel extra special. GOOD LUCK ZOEY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”


       Isabelle and Zoey are cute kids, and I’m glad they are part of the Journey. One person at a time, we’re gonna keep true music alive and well.

        After all, Lisa is right. Music has the power to heal better than pills for this old Doc, and we need to pass it on.

Dr. B

Musicians Against Childhood Cancer (MACC)

July 19, 2010

        This week we are going to a festival I have wanted to attend for many years. As a doctor there are not many cases that tug on your heart more than a child with cancer. MACC, or Musicians Against Childhood Cancer, was started by the Adkins family after they lost their daughter Mandy to cancer several years ago.

        I admire them. I am not at all certain how I would cope with such a loss. I don’t know the family, though I hope to meet them at MACC, but I guess all they could do is figure out some way to help others in similar circumstances.

        They’ve done a great job of it. MACC had become one of the premier fund-raisers in bluegrass. Here’s the web site:  They start on Wednesday, but we won’t be able to get there until Thursday July 22, 2010.

        I began to write “The Mandolin Case” about a decade ago. I had several goals. For one, I wanted to show people about our music and how it can be important to the non-professional musician like me. I make my living as a doctor, but the music and my bluegrass friends have seen me through many hard times.

        I’ve never been very hung up on sales figures, but I did hope it would do well enough to fund some travels for me and my wife and lead us to new bluegrass friends. It has already done that. We made enough on our first show at Red White and Bluegrass to get to Ohio, and if we sell a few at MACC we can get back home!

          I dreamed the novel might allow me to show how docs can deal with difficult circumstances and not get run over, but still be a decent human being. Indie showed me that. I’ve seen some tough things along the way, but none harder than a child with cancer. If you live up near Columbus, Ohio come visit at MACC. You’ll get to know all the best in bluegrass. I checked the line-up and all the best ones congregate for this one.

         Another goal I had for my book was to be able to use it to promote causes I deemed worthy. I’ll gonna make a donation while I’m up there. Go if you can. If you can’t make it, check out their website and consider a contribution to the cause. This is my first visit but by all accounts this is one of the most worthy causes in all of bluegrass music.

        Hope to see you there.

Dr. B

I Thought I’d Seen it All

July 17, 2010

        Along the way I’ve converted more than a few folks to our music. Every so often someone will ask, “Doc, what is it about this music you love so? I just don’t get it.”

        I might give ’em a CD, or better yet, take ’em out to eat and then to a show. Every time I do this and take them to see Darin and Brooke Aldridge they end up quoting their song title, “I thought I’d seen it all. Wow are they good!”

        Your father’s bluegrass was great music and I love it, but the young artists have gone to a whole new level.

        Darin and Brooke are natural musicians, but they’ve worked hard too. As a kid, Darin would stay up all night and dissect out his last show for even the smallest of errors. By the time he auditioned for Charlie Waller it was, as Charlie said, “like he’s been playing with me for years.” He hired Darin on the spot.

        Brooke is a cute little country girl with the big voice. Hear her one time and you’ll never forget her. She’s sung in church and wowed crowds at County Fairs since she was a tyke. You hear about family values; well these young people live it and share the family talent with us somewhere on the bluegrass road almost every weekend.

        You can nominate them for any IBMA award and not go wrong, but the categories of “Emerging Artist,” “Female Vocalist” and “Gospel Project” seem extra apropos. Check out their website: Hearing is believing. Don’t take my word for it. Go see ’em.

       They are in Boone today at the High Country Festival along with my other favorites, Balsam Range, the Harris Brothers and more. Here’s that link:

        The grass needs cutting but my Marfar said, “Oh honey you can work any time. Today you need to play.”

        How could a man not love a woman like that?

        I’ll be back to fiction next week, but I wanted to tell you of my friends first. See you then.

Dr. B

Where I’ll Be (And Also Would Like To Be)

July 16, 2010

        I have already started to find out I can’t be everywhere I’d like to be. I’m committed to a life as 80% doc and 20% artist. As much as I am flattered by the fast start of the book, I found out right away this gig could overwhelm me. I’m booked a lot for July but after that I’m gonna try to hold it to a max of one weekend and one Wednesday per month.

        Here’s where I’m gonna be (and also where I’d  like to be) for now. I updated my Tour Schedule page on the blog and also will add these to my website.

        July 22-24 Columbus Ohio. Musicians Against Childhood Cancer (MACC) One of the biggest charity events in all of bluegrass. They start on Wednesday; we will arrive on Thursday the 22. website:

        July 30. (Friday) Chattanooga Tennessee. Late lunch book gig (1:30) at Smokin’ Ed’s Barbecue.

        July 30. Signal Mountain Opry  Jam session and book gig. approx 7:00 PM. (just outside Chattanooga)

        Where I’d also like to be: Grey Fox. They have been very kind to me. We met Lisa Husted of Grey Fox on our first visit to New England at the Strawberry Park Festival in Preston, Connecticut. She read the author’s note of “The Mandolin Case” and then inscribed the words “A beautiful understanding of the healing power of music.”

       I was stunned ’cause she got it right away. Lisa arranged for Grey Fox to have 48 signed copies of The Mandolin Case  available at Grey Fox. She’s read the whole story now, and I’m certain she could give you a very accurate synopsis if you’d like to hear a bit about it.

        Also it looks like The People’s Mandolin will change hands at Grey Fox. This will be the first transfer I’m not able to witness. Guys, all I can say is thanks for your kindness and I wish I could be there. I just had to tend to some doc biz at home and couldn’t make the 14 hour trip this time.

        Lisa, I’ve been told you’re one heck of a fine singer. I’ll be back to New England, and next time we’re gonna have to jam a few tunes.

Dr. B