Archive for August 2010

First TV gig for “The Mandolin Case”

August 26, 2010

        Thought y’all might enjoy this clip from the TV show on WSPA Ch 7 from Wednesday August 25, 2010. It is an interview with me about “The Mandolin Case” and with Darin about the Darin and Brooke Aldridge CD. After that Doc got to pick mandolin with Darin Aldridge and Wayne Benson of III Tyme Out. It was better than batting practice with the Cubs. Here’s the link:

        Yesterday was beyond memorable. Bless Darin’s heart, he spent the whole day with me in Greenville, S.C. to help me jump-start “The Mandolin Case.” I’ll bet the kid got thirty phone calls about the bluegrass biz during the day.
        We picked with Wayne Benson on T.V., then had an interview on the Jack and Kimberly Show. After lunch it was a bookstore stop at Fiction Addiction, then that evening we jammed with Kristin Scott Benson and David Snyder at Horizon Records.      
        My Song of the Day on FaceBook was “Lonesome Road Blues.” In bluegrass there are few lonesome roads. I’ve seen a lot of hard times for my people, but not too many myself. When I do though, I’m thankful I never travel alone. And that, folks is the point of “The Mandolin Case.”  
        Y’all have a blessed day.

Dr. B


A Day for the Bluegrass Family

August 23, 2010

        Wednesday promises to be a nice day for the bluegrass family. It isn’t every day our music gets on big-time commercial T.V. but that is exactly what’s gonna happen. Megan Heidlberg from WSPA Channel 7 asked me to be on the morning show to talk about “The Mandolin Case.” I told her I thought it would be a stronger presentation if I could bring a few friends to play, and she agreed to do that. We’ll be on at 10:00 AM on August 25, 2010.

        It is so appropriate. Other than immediate family, my bluegrass friends are the most important people in my life. In many ways they are like family. On a day when I have a family member who has potential to be in harm’s way (can’t talk about it) my bluegrass young-un (Darin Aldridge and my bluegrass brother (Wayne Benson are gonna play some triple mandolin with me on live T.V. When you see them, buy their CDs and tell ’em Doc said his life was so much richer for knowing them. I see a lot that is hard, and the music saved the day for me at times. I assure you this will be the case Wednesday.

        After the morning T.V. show I’m gonna find some lunch for me and my pals and put it on my official “Physician Bluegrass Fiction” account. (I have faith we’ll sell enough books to cover expenses) Then at 2:00 I’ll be at a book store, Fiction Addiction, for a book signing along with Darin. (Wayne has a recording session at that time) Check out their website. The store is owned by women but they do not discriminate against old male doctor/bluegrass pickers. This is also most apropos, ’cause about 90% of my readers are female. (My daughter says that’s because men don’t read that much; she’s probably right.) Here’s the website for the bookstore. 

        Thanks for having me, guys. I hope you’ll find something you like in “The Mandolin Case.” If you don’t, all is not lost. Wait till you hear Darin play the mandolin. Take one of his CDs home with you. The kid is beyond gifted and his wife is one of best new singers in bluegrass. (or any genre) 

        After that we’ve got few hours to kill. We’ll probably sit on a park bench to pick music and eat ice cream. Then at 5:00 we’ll be at Horizon Records. Here’s their link: This is an institution in Greenville, and likely the number one source for traditional (and other genres) music in the area. We may well have a special guest for a song, but I’m not gonna announce anything till we are there. As I get to know my bluegrass friends better, I am forever impressed at the personal juggling act they have to perform every day to bring us all this fine music. It involves buses and planes and car drop offs and hitching rides to Kentucky and a barrage of text messages and phone calls to make it all work.

        Again, and I can not over emphasize the point, if you like what they do, buy their CDs. They love the music and are about art first and business second, but that is the only way they can stay out there. For them to be able to go deep into the art they must have our support to make it work. It’s the only way we can have the music.

        “The Mandolin Case” was written on many levels, and for many reasons, but one was to make this point. Art, and the mandolin and bluegrass music in particular, saved this old Doc’s life. I rode home from the hospital many a night dead dog tired and arrived safe because my artist friends rode with me via my cassette player. All I’m doing with this part of my message is paying them back. It is that important to me, and I’m never gonna forget to show anyone who will listen.

Dr. B

Passion for Music, Books, and Friends

August 20, 2010

        Some people wonder why I am so deep into the arts. I’ve had a few people say doctors oughta just stick to prescribing pills. It just can’t be that way for me.

        After all, books saved my life long before I wrote one. My mama saw it coming early on. She put me in speed reading ’cause she knew that’s where my future was. I was one heck of a speed reader, but didn’t have too much of a fastball.

       Music came a little later. Mama wasn’t quite as enthusiastic about that at first, as she feared it might derail my doctor gig, but after a quarter century as a doc/musician those fears have been allayed. The music ended up saving my life all over again. I could not have dealt with all the pain and suffering I saw without it.

        Part of my mission with my book was to bring my favorite musicians to the attention of folks who were not aware of their artistry. Come Wednesday I’m gonna do just that.

        When I was on WNCW 88.7 radio I got an email the next Monday AM from a nice lady at WSPA Channel 7 Spartanburg, S.C. She wanted me to come talk about “The Mandolin Case” and play a bit. She kindly agreed to let me bring some friends. Some of them are under management kind of contracts that can pull them away at the last minute, so I’m not gonna share the details of who’s gonna be there yet, but I know at least two are gonna help me who will amaze you with their skill level.

        At this point in my life I’m not nervous about much of anything. Scared is acute myocardial ischemia when there’s an ice storm and the choppers are grounded. This is just mandolins and T.V. so it should be no big thing for me as a doctor with an artistic bent.

        But as the event drew closer, I found I had a few pangs of anxiety in the pit of my stomach. “How can this be?” I asked myself.

       It took a while before I realized why. The guys who are coming to play are pros. I’ve jammed with them before and we are friends. It shouldn’t be an issue. Why did this bother me so?

       Then it hit me. My friends were on big time T.V. It was a lot of exposure for bluegrass. What if I wrecked the gig? It could reflect on them and they do this for a living. What have I done to put them in such a spot?

      The answer came in prayer. It was Lester Flatt’s voice on the tune “I’ll Take the Blame.” (The song is about a different issue, but the title was apropos) So, I’m gonna tell you now. If you hear a clunker note when we are on television I want you to understand ahead of time it was old Doc and not my bluegrass pals. I already know this before we get there, so I might as well inform you now so I can take the pressure off. If you hear something you like, go buy their CDs and tell the T.V. folks you enjoyed traditional music on television.

        My friends play with a tone and precision that has to be heard to be believed. They sure don’t need old Doc to make great music, and are just being kind to let me play along. They do it because they know what the music means to me and because we are friends.

        I’ll tell you more about the gig Monday but watch for us on WSPA channel 7. It will be filmed Wednesday AM August 25 in the Michelin on the Main studio in Greenville, S.C. and then will air at 10:00 AM that same morning.

      After that I have two more book stops in the Greenville area the same day. I’ll outline all the details Monday, but right now I gotta split for the doctor gig. Talk to you then.

        Full disclosure in writing is a beautiful thing. Now I am no longer nervous.

Dr. B

Bookie (Pronounced Boo-Key)

August 18, 2010

        The best thing about my writing is all the new friends I’ve met. Someone read the golf passages in “The Mandolin Case,” and wanted to introduce me to a character named Boukie (pronounced Boo-Key) Murdock. “Doc,” they said. “I promise you there ain’t but one Boukie in the world. There ain’t another one like him.”

        They were right. Boukie is 6’1′ and about 230. He walks with a limp after a scaffolding collapsed at a construction site in the 80s. He lost his left eye years ago. (It wasn’t a fight; he got hit by golf ball.)

        Here is my warning. Do not be fooled. Boukie is past Medicare age, but still can drive the ball 260 yards. He holds scores of course records and has 13 hole-in-ones. Unless you have played professional golf your entire life I would not play Boukie for more than a  hot dog and I would only do that if you just want to see a good game and buy the man’s lunch.  That swing is as sweet as maple syrup.

        He kinda reminds me of Snookers Molesby. My matches with Snook were just one extended golf lesson for Doc punctuated by a perpetual cheeseburger plan for my old buddy.

        Before I met up with Boukie I did my usual background check. The last time I played the choose-up at River Run I went out to the practice range and asked the boys, “You guys know a cat named Boukie?”

        Snook stopped mid-swing. “Boukie Murdock? Doc, you ain’t gambling are ya?”

        “Naw, Snook. I know better.”

        “Well, it’s a good thing. You’ve got some game, but you can’t hang with Boukie. He’s the only cat within three counties I gotta play straight up. Used to run with that Crump fellow out of Charlotte.”

        “Yeah, I remember Crump. Heck, Trevino only gave him a shot a side when he was in town at Quail Hollow.”


        Boukie is a gambler, but he’s not a hustler. There’s a difference. A hustler tries to sandbag you, and get shots he doesn’t deserve. A gambler will tell you straight up; he wants a money game and he can play.

       Again, don’t bet more than a hot dog. Boukie’s been known to play for a house. And by the way, I wouldn’t play gin with him or shoot pool either. I haven’t seen him shoot pool, but I can just tell. His nephew used to own a pawn shop and pool hall before he retired, and I understand Boukie always hung out there when he wasn’t on the golf course.

          I don’t know everything, but a man is best off to stick to what he knows to make a living. A doctor ain’t gonna whup a guy with one eye named Boukie. I’m glad he’s my friend. 

Dr. B

WNCW 88.7 Weekend

August 16, 2010

        It was a fine weekend. I had Friday afternoon off, and Snookers and I played nine holes of golf. Marfar caught us at the turn to remind me we needed to get to the Don Gibson theater for the Darin and Brooke Aldridge and the Snyder Family show. We “crunk” up the Neuse River converted school bus and turned on the GPS. I forgot to re-set the gadget from last week, and it routed us via York but we enjoyed the scenery.

        I’ve often said if I made the Grand Ole Opry it wouldn’t be in a Prevost bus, but the maintenance crew would let me in the back door. That’s about the way it was. I gave Marfar her ticket and she went on in. I went around back and opened the door. The sound man spotted me. “Hey Doc, how was your game?”

        “Huh? How’d ya know?”

        “The golf club, Doc. It’s a bit of a give-a-way.”

        “Oh yeah, I guess so.” I took a swing. “Boy, this is a good’un. Got a little extra snap at the bottom. Old man club.”

        “So, how’d ya do?”

        “39. Not bad, but Snookers clipped me for a cheeseburger.”

        “He’s tough. We’ve got some chicken and ribs. Go past the dressing room and take a right.”

        “Great, thanks.” I could hear the Snyders in the background. Man, those kids can play.

        I walked on in. “Now let’s see, was that left or right? Where’s that GPS when ya need it?” I took a left. My goodness, it was the stage at the Gibson.

        I called over my shoulder to the sound-man. “Hey, tell the boss not to worry. I know amateurs aren’t allowed on the Gibson stage, but I know not to take a divot.”

        He laughed. “Gotta re-do the floor every winter anyway, Doc. He demands the best.” I took three steps and there was Dennis.

        “Lord have mercy; Dennis Jones. My favorite bluegrass DJ in the history of the world. How in the world are ya?”

       “Great, Doc. Let me introduce you to the audience.” He cranked up the mic and gave “The Mandolin Case” a fine plug. In return, I gave him some medical advice as to shoulder discomfort, then went to get some ribs and take in the rest of the show.

       I stopped at the artist sign-in board. Hm. Lots of famous names here. Alison Brown, Marty Stuart, Darin and Brooke Aldridge, the Snyders, Marianne Faithful. “Oh, what the heck.” I got out a perma-marker and drew a caricature of Bibey peering over the fence, and signed it. “Bibey was here.”

       The unknown now mingle with the famous. I couldn’t help but wonder at the reaction. Who the heck is that?

       Infiltrated by some old country doc. Hard to hold ’em down I guess.

       The “Bluegrass Sweethearts,” the Aldridges, turned in another fine professional show as they always do. Hard to hold them down too. They find new fans every week now.

       I let Marfar drive home as we wanted to get in before three AM. The next day we took in the Dennis Jones WNCW 88.7 show, “Going Across the Mountain.” Check it out sometime; you can access it by Internet stream anywhere in the world. Here’s the link:

       In Harvey County you can hear Dennis and WNCW one of two ways. We do have the Internet now, although it’s still on the party line. It works great as long as you don’t mind sharing with your neighbor, (I don’t) and we usually listen to the station that way.

       Sometimes we still gather at City Hall to crowd around and listen to the show. City Hall’s right there in the back of the Dairy Queen. For a long time it and the old State Theater were the only places in town with air conditioning. Mayor Clay rigged up an antenna on an out-of-service telephone pole, attached a couple of rabbit ears, then wrapped ’em up in tin foil. (It’s how we used to pick up Fred Kirby over in Charlotte)

       If you leave the contraption pointed west you can get WNCW 88.7 without fail. When the cloud skip is just right, it’s extra clear. In Harvey County we like it at least as good as the Grand Ole Opry. (Don’t tell Eddie Stubbs I said that. I think a lot of him too, and when I go to Nashville I want to be just as welcome there as here in Harvey County or on the Gibson stage.)

       We spent Sunday morning with Dennis and “The Gospel Truth,” then in the afternoon cruised over to Indie’s cabin. We had a late lunch of chicken on the grill, ‘mater sandwiches with Duke’s mayonnaise on light bread, and corn on the cob, then floated around in inner tubes most of the afternoon with a glass of Arnold Palmer. (half lemonade and half sweet tea) 

       The old “Sail With the Pilot” clock at the cabin still turns backwards the same way Indie rigged it up before he died. I’ll never forget Indie’s lessons. It’s important to be the best Doc you can be, but it’s also important to live large and not hurry. Me and Marfar are gonna keep doing that even when the modern world protests.

       My agent sent me a book review from England. The gentleman enjoyed “The Mandolin Case,” and found it a quaint laid-back way of life he didn’t know still existed anywhere these days. He liked the spare writing and the pace of the story. I was humbled by his kind review.

      I gotta admit it wasn’t all that hard to write even if it did take me a decade. I just thought everyone lived this way. All I had to do was show what I’m lucky enough to see every day.

       So, back to the Doc gig. Remember my advice to Dennis, my bluegrass brother and King of the Harvey County airways, “If it hurts, don’t do it brother.”

       All the best,

Dr. B

“The Mandolin Case” radio clip

August 14, 2010

        I thought you guys might enjoy this Chattanooga Public Radio clip. My agent and the Publisher set it to a slide show, so it was kinda fun. Hope you enjoy. Here’s my number one feedback question. If you were not familiar with bluegrass music would this make you want to know more about it?

Dr. B

Guest Post- Cliff Searcy

August 13, 2010

        Today’s guest post is from Cliff Searcy. He is a fellow mandolinist and a true bluegrasser. Cliff is a teacher and former football coach who now teaches English Lit. He is genuine tough guy but one with a heart for kids and the arts. He and I have a school/bookstore/mando gig scheduled in Hendersonville in mid-October.

       Cliff plays with a fine band named Appalachian Fire. If you are in the Asheville area, you can catch them at the Fiddling Pig restaurant. (home base for Balsam Range; great music, ‘cue, and fixings)

Guest Post

        OK , so it’s Friday the 13,th but I’m not superstitious.  I’m just figuring that Dr. Bibey  gave  me this date to allow his English teaching, bluegrass pickin’, ex-football coach buddy a chance to use one of his big words. “Triskaidekaphobia,” the fear of the number 13. 

        That’s not much of a segue into the topic of this guest blog unless you understand the relationship between this 275 pound ex-lineman and his friend, the country doctor. How could two folks from such different backgrounds come to be “bluegrass brothers?” Call it destiny with a little help from FaceBook. With so many of the FaceBook friends, we make an acquaintance and seldom, if ever, correspond.  However there was an instant bond between Dr. B and me because, as he likes to put it, “We’re both true bluegrass.” I’m not sure all that the term implies, but I know it has something to do with honoring the tradition of this music we love.

        One of the enduring traditions of Bluegrass, is its recognition of faith through gospel songs.  In the example of Bill Monroe, most every set list for a bluegrass performance will include a few gospel numbers. I recently heard a famous musician say that many of the same folks who attend a Bluegrass festival this weekend will be at a Southern Gospel quartet singing next weekend. Both genres take heart-felt lyrics and deliver them with passion. For those of you who aren’t so familiar, may I suggest a little YouTube searching for the following:

Bill Monroe   “ A Beautiful Life”

Flatt and Scruggs  “ Crying Holy Unto the Lord”

Paul Williams and the Victory Trio  “ Sweet Beulah Land”

Ricky Skaggs  “I’m Ready to Go”

IIIrd Tyme Out  “How Great Thou Art”

Dailey and Vincent  “By the Mark”

Doyle Lawson and Quick Silver  “Little Mountain Church”

Rhonda Vincent  “Home Coming”

Darin and Brooke Aldridge  “The Last Thing on His Mind”

        This is just a small sampling of my favorites.  There are so many more wonderful artists and songs to be explored.  For so many folks these songs have a way of warming the heart.

Note from Dr. B  Tough guys can have a heart too, and I’m proud to call Cliff my friend. The best thing writing has done for me is help me find the people out there of like mind, and Cliff is sure one of ’em. His music choices are spot on. Any yeah, I ain’t a bit scared of Friday the 13th, ’cause I got the Good Lord and the tough guys on my team.

On The Road Again: Up and Running

August 12, 2010

       Well, this time we weren’t down long. The first go round we got caught by surprise and were out of stock a week. This time my agent saw it coming and got prepared ahead of time, and it was only a few days.

        I hated to have to be out even that long. I hope Version Three is the charm, but we had to get ready for Kindle and Ipad.  It should be available in that format soon, and is now ready in book form again. (Something about a physical book in hand I always loved)

        I’m glad we’re ready and re-stocked,’cause I’m gonna be on the road again for some short trips I’ll tell you about soon. One is a nice Wednesday AM TV spot in WSPA Channel 7. I’m proud of that ’cause I’m gonna get some of my bluegrass pals in front of 3/4 of a million people. I’ll let you know the details soon.

        Tomorrow night we’re gonna crank up the old Neuse River converted school bus and head out for the WNCW 88.7 fundraiser with Darin and Brooke Aldridge and the Snyder family at the Gibson Theatre, Shelby, N.C. Y’all come out and visit. See you there.

Dr. B

Souled Out and Where You Can Get A Copy

August 10, 2010

        “Souled Out.” John Cowan had an LP out by this title several years ago. It had tracks like “Soul Man” and “Mustang Sally.” (My wife loved that one)

       “The Mandolin Case” is temporarily sold out. This is only a minor disruption, though. They had to do some kinda formatting thing to get ready for Kindle and IPad, we had some new quotes I found important enough for the final version to warrant a temporary disruption. Also, the first two editions had a few typos I wanted to change.

        As happened last time, when the book went out of stock speculation drove up the price of some copies someone bought up ahead of time. They are going for 93.86 on Amazon right now. However, if history repeats itself, this will again drop back again as soon as we are back in print.

            You don’t have to get one from the speculators though. We are temporarily sold out on Amazon, but I have about twenty copies around the house to take to my gigs. Also, Lisa Husted at Grey Fox has a few left. You can contact them at  or call 888-946-8495. You can get one there while we get re-tooled, and it is even signed!

        One thing you can count on though. Even though I’m sold out for  a moment, I’ll never sell out. Not only will the presses roll again, but even more important, I’ll do my best to write the truth the best I know how to do, and if I get it wrong I’ll ask for forgiveness and go on. My mission is to show the truth in medicine is in the music, and I’m gonna go on till the end. (Stubborn boy, huh?) 

         I ain’t got as much soul as Johnny C, but we all gotta do our best, and I do promise you that.

Dr. B

Jesus, A Fine Wife, and GPS

August 9, 2010

        I hopped in the car and turned the key. “Okay hon, let’s go.”

        “Hold watcha got, let me plug in the GPS.”

        “I don’t need that thing. You remember where it is; down there in Rock Hill where Wayne played with Cowan a few years ago.”

        “The roads have changed since then. Let me program it. Now, where is it we’re going?”

        “Rock Hill. They said come by Tony’s Pizza first and eat supper.”

        “You ever been there?”

        “Naw, but Darin said it was right across the street from theater. We can’t miss it.”

        Mafar plugged the restaurant into the GPS and a map flashed up. “See, nothing to it.”

        “Shucks, I’m sure I could get there on my own.”

        “Yes, dear.”

       We cruised through the country-side. “Beautiful evening, huh? Hey, aren’t we supposed to turn here at #3 School?” I asked.

        She looked at the GPS map. “It says stay straight.”

        “But there’s a short cut that way. You go just past the Fish Camp and take a right, then go left at Roper’s junkyard. We used to come down here as kids for Camaro parts.”

        “You know what the children say about your short cuts. Besides, that was a long time ago.”

        “I’m only 42.”

        She rolled her eyes.

       We got within a mile. “Something doesn’t look right here,” I said. “Where’s the theater?”

        “I don’t know, hon. You said it was in Rock Hill.”

        “Your destination is on the left,” the GPS barked. “You have arrived at your destination!” I pulled in. Marco’s Pizza. No familiar cars. No theater across the street. Uh oh. Something’s wrong.

        I dialed up Rick, the road manager. He listened for a minute and then howled with laughter. “Doc, it’s Tony’s Pizza in York, not Rock Hill. It’s right across from the Sylvia Theater.”

        “Good grief.” We pulled out of the parking lot. I grumbled as we sped along the back-roads. “I never did trust those retro gizmos anyway.”

       Marfar laughed. “Honey, they can only take you where you tell ’em to go. You just think you’re some old rock star who wound up in the wrong town.”

        “I guess.” Marfar can set you straight but still not set you on your ear. Smart woman. You know men are; they never ask for directions.

       She found III Tyme Out on the IPOD. “He’ll Take You In” was the song. “If you give Jesus a chance, He’ll take you in,” she said. “We won’t be too late. You only missed it by one town.”

       By the time we cut through the country, (these GPS gadgets are the ticket) we were there only twenty minutes off schedule. I flung open the door and yelled out, “Hey y’all, when did they move the Sylvia Theater to York??!!” 

        My Sunday message was this: “Pray for guidance and don’t rely only on your own input for directions. You might take the wrong road alone.” It doesn’t hurt to have Jesus, a fine wife, and GPS either.

Dr. B