Passion for Music, Books, and Friends

        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

Explore posts in the same categories: Mandolin Players I Know, memorable gigs, Writing


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11 Comments on “Passion for Music, Books, and Friends”

  1. Carmen Claypool Says:

    And haven’t you piqued my curiousity? I have a couple of guesses as to who they might be. Hmmmm.

    • drtombibey Says:


      I would announce it but one thing I have learned is the music world can turn on a dime and sometimes they have to split in multiple directions to make things work.

      It is all different for me, ’cause I doctor for a living, (that is a hard gig too with it’s own set of problems) but for Doc music and art is only an escape.

      Dr. B

  2. Martin Waddell Says:

    Back in 1974, I was finishing studying law at university, and looking for a place as a law apprentice in a local legal firm. The senior partner at the firm where I ended up was very concerned, at my interview, to know what, if anything, I did other than legal stuff, and he was very relieved to hear that I was involved in a local church, singing in a local choir, interested in reading, hiking in the Scottish hills and so on. His reason? “I want to make sure,” he said, “that we can make a lawyer out of you!” 30 years later, I’m still not sure if they succeeded, but it was remarkable that, as far as he was concerned, people needed outside interests if they were to succeed in their chosen profession. It’s very clear from your blog (and your book, for that matter) that bluegrass has made you the family doc that you are today – probably a lot more than the stuff you had to do at medical school!

    • drtombibey Says:


      Sometimes I think I just learned the vocabulary in med school. After graduation I was concerned enough to be scared not to hurt anyone if I could help it, and learned as I went along. (Still learning)

      The high tech specialties might be different, but for a country doc I think liberal arts might be the best background.

      I would think it’s probably also true for a general practice lawyer.

      Dr. B

      • Martin Waddell Says:

        This is very true, and it used to be recognised in the dim and distant past here in Scotland, when aspiring lawyers were expected to do an MA before even considering studying the boring legal stuff, and to keep up a lively interest in the liberal arts after qualifying, but in these more commercial days, no-one’s got time for that any more. You’re not expected to have a life outside the law, unless you’re a senior partner and can slope off to play golf while the assistants stay up to all hours doing the actual work and earning the humunguous fees for the senior partner. Something’s gone very wrong somewhere. I’m out of it now, and very thankfully so!

        Martin, Well I can tell you this: I’d want you on my team. (Just like I’d want Martin Taylor) -Dr. B

  3. I can definitely agree with that sentiment! Amazing how putting things down on paper (real or virtual) is helpful, isn’t it? Ah, doc, I wish I could watch you play on TV with your buddied like that! I know for sure that I didn’t hear a false note on the interview you linked a while back – I don’t think you’ll ruin the gig at all! You’ll just make it better, because y’all are friends, and what’s better than friendship to make music all the more real and heartfelt?

    • drtombibey Says:


      I bet it’ll wind up on YouTube or some website. Will keep you posted.

      I’m lucky ’cause I have bunch of friends in the music. I learn a lot from them every time out.

      Mark Twain once said when he saw trouble he’d write his way through it. I guess we have a bit of that in us huh?

      Dr. B

  4. aloysa Says:

    Interesting post. Made me think about how different people perceive art, writing, literature, music and how important it is in our lives. No matter what we do for a living…

    • drtombibey Says:


      So true. I’ve been a doc for many years. That’s what I do for a living, but I don’t think I could have survived this long, or been as happy, without art.

      Dr. B

  5. Melissa Says:

    I can’t imagine doing anything else but writing. I feel like some people are just born story tellers. It runs so deep that I could never ignore it. Writing has helped save me from different experiences as well. When my dad passed away when I was 15, writing helped save me from all that grief and confusion.

    • drtombibey Says:


      Amen kid. Those of us who write have to carry on in spite of the fact the world at large doesn’t always understand.

      Good to hear from and thanks again for your guest post.

      Dr. B

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