School Gigs

        One of my goals with my book was to reach out to young people. Years ago I got paired in a golf game with a school principal from Saltillo, Mississippi. It was chance meeting and we became instant friends. (He just happened to be a mandolin player) On a whim, I sent him a short story, and he shared it with a lady English teacher who gave it to her class to study.

         In short order I became pen pals with the kids, and still keep up with some of them today. I recall one wrote, “I can’t believe a famous writer would write us little children in Saltillo, Mississippi and be interested in what we have to say.”

       I was stunned by that. At the time, I had just signed with my Lit agent and “The Mandolin Case” was early in its development. I called him right away. “Hey brother, we gotta straighten this out. I’m not a famous writer.” 

        He said, “You are now.”       

       His point was this: Once you touch someone far away with your written words, someone you have never met, then you by definition are a famous writer. I realized I now had a responsibility. You have to be careful what you write, someone might read it one day. I went on to visit with them and plan to go back this winter.

        Tomorrow I’m gonna be at West Henderson High School. I’ll be here to talk to the kids about writing, music, and medicine. Then we have a jam session with English teacher Cliff Searcy and his school bluegrass group. After that we’ll be at Tempo Music from 4:30 until 5:45, and then on to WHKP radio to be on Charles Hayes’ Grass Roots show around 6 pm.

        If I don’t show ’em anything else I hope to let them realize that through faith, family, and art, both writing and music, there is self-realization. We can come to accept ourselves for what we are; flaws and all. Art can help us to understand our friends and even our enemies, and find tranquility in a complicated world.

       If the esoteric approach is not successful, I’ll tell ’em if you play music you get more dates. They asked that I bring a picture of me when I was that age. My Dad brought one over to the office yesterday. Way back then I was a shy, skinny country boy, and guitar was just a way to meet girls. It worked too; that’s how I found my Marfar and that’s more than enough reason to be thankful I got into music. Two kids and a Gibson mandolin later, she injected grace and dignity into what would have been a rough go alone.

        If y’all have any suggestions, old Doc will take all the help he can get. What you want to hear about if you were a kid?

Dr. B

Explore posts in the same categories: memorable gigs, Writing


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8 Comments on “School Gigs”

  1. Lisa Husted Says:

    Awww come on Doc – scan and post that photo …. and HAVE FUN WITH THE YOUNGSTERS!!!

  2. GrannyPam Says:

    I want to see the picture, too.

    When I was a kid, I wanted to know that I wasn’t different. Funny thing about that, we are each unique, but a lot of kids want to be the same as the rest. I was like that because being singled out was painful for shy little me. I think kids need to know that being different is not necessarily bad, if the difference points out a useful, valuable, positive quality.

    • drtombibey Says:

      Granny Pam,

      We all wanted to be cool but in reality we were as country as okre and maters. I think we need to always celebrate that we are all a bit different. One thing about bluegrass is it is very democratic; if you love the music you’re in. I always liked that.

      Dr. B

  3. newt221 Says:

    Ditto on the picture!

    Music is a good way to meet people, I agree. But, it hugely depends on the music you play also…LOL

    Go getem Doc. You are an inspiriation about writing and being published even to us older than school age people!

    • drtombibey Says:


      Amen. I was lucky; the right music led me to the right people.

      On the picture it’s hard for me to visualize myself as a child after all I’ve seen, but I’ll post it in a few days.

      Dr. B

  4. Smitty Pres of Neuse River Says:

    Doc, I am glad that you are going back to connect with kids. The students will enjoy talking to a published author and man do you have a story to tell.

    Thanks for the update on your family. I will talk to Mrs. T soon and let her know your plans. Cindy brought up the other day it is about time to travel to the Carolinas.

    • drtombibey Says:


      Just got in. The gig today was so much fun. I am forever amazed how smart kids are nowadays.

      Back then all I was trying to accomplish was to get a date for the prom and know where the best milkshakes were in town.

      I look forward to Saltillo somewhere around January. Tell Ms. T. I’m still learning how to write, but I’m getting there.

      Dr. B

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