Archive for September 2011

Weekend Gig for Hospice

September 25, 2011

        I no longer try to manage a regular band, but I get enough work as a fill-in mando sideman and part singer to keep my hand in it. “Have mandolin will travel.” (At least if it isn’t too far from home) This one was with the Leonard McSwain Band. It was much like so many gigs I’ve played over the years; a fund-raiser for Hospice a couple of counties over. We pulled in and the church marquee advertised a spaghetti supper the next week to raise money for  a youth mission trip.  It was hot for fall, and we broke a sweat in the first set, but a cool breeze set in for the second. There were hamburgers and hot dogs and blonde brownies and peanut butter cookies and pound cake. Man, I’ve lived good for a doctor.

        Life is not back to normal but if I can work some as a doc and play two or three gigs a month I am content. We’ll see where all this chemo lands me. I still have a long way to go.

Dr. B


The People’s Mandolin and the IBMM

September 23, 2011




        The People’s Traveling Mandolin has a permanent home on display at the International Bluegrass Music Museum in Owensboro,  Kentucky. It was there for the Bill Monroe 100th birthday celebration, an event I had all plans to attend, but my illness forced me to stay home that week. (I’m better now. don’t worry) N.C. bluegrass kingpin Steve Leatherwood (WGWG 88.3 radio and Leatherwood Trading Company) and former Monroe bluegrass boy Yates Greene took it there for me.

        It was covered in signatures of famous bluegrass mandolinists by the time the weekend was over. Steve documented much of this on his FaceBook page and I will transfer some of those pics here over time. Thanks to Gabrielle Gray for a proper home fro the mandolin at the end of the journey. I can’t imagine a better place for it to rest.

        Also more info on the little mandolin’s journey is on my website http://www.themandolin

        Dr. B

Doc Watson

September 18, 2011

        Not long ago a friend arranged for me to spend a day with Doc Watson. Doc is the same humble gentleman he seems to be on stage. We opened for him years ago and he has not changed.

        He talked all about his early days of working a cross-cut saw and walking miles down a country road to play music in Boone.  He also learned how to do electrical work from his Dad. (He feels the wires) One time Earl Scruggs was home visiting his brother Horace. They had  a wiring problem and Doc said he’d fix it after everyone went to bed; that he didn’t need any light. I relayed that story to Doc and he smiled at the memory.

          Doc is world-famous and yet he wants to be remembered as a “regular person.” He was a humble,  spiritual and soulful man. He leads a comfortable but modest life-style. We went out to lunch for some good country cooking. All told it was a most excellent visit. I couldn’t begin to tell you how to get there. All I know is it was way up in the mountains. I was a bit under the weather that day and slept part of the way so I was lost. I send thanks to Harrill Blanton for the invitation; it was a trip to remember.

        By the way, my show with Al Dunkleman this Tuesday the 20th to open for Doyle Dykes at Shelby Music Center will start at 6:30 and Doyle goes on at 7:00 PM.

A Day Back at Work/Upcoming Shows

September 15, 2011

        My first day at work was great fun. I saw several of my favorite patients, took their history, and did my best to commit their personal saga  to memory and then pass it on to the doc of record for the day. It was old home week; all hugs and handshakes, high fives and homegrown tomatoes. Maybe a small town southen doc ain’t glamorous but is sure rates high for emotional satisfaction. My role is different for now, but at least I am there. Besides, where else can you get two docs for the price of one? 

        My Rx is working. I am feeling better and up to a few music/book shows a month.

        This Saturday at 2:00 I play with Al Dunkleman at the Boiling Springs, N.C. 100th birthday celebration. This is an all day festival and we play from 2:00-3:00. There will be other local and regional bands playing too. I love festivals. My daughter will be in town. She was raised on ’em so she and my wife will be there too. Y’all come out- can’t beat the price. (it’s free) I assume there will arts and crafts and vendors and good food; usual festival fare.

        And don’t forget Doyle Dykes will be at Shelby Music Center this Tuesday September 20th. There is a twenty dollar coverage charge for him but as I indicated a couple posts ago, he is more than worth it.

        Hope to see you out to support live music.

Dr. B

And the Rest of the Story (The Comeback Kid)

September 11, 2011

       I have cleared all medical scrutiny and get to return to work part-time. My doc role will not be the same as my health will not allow it. However I want to do what I can. Paul Harvey would say, “Now, for the rest of the story.”  I have to re-invent myself as this all evolves. My job will be different but thanks to the wisdom of my employer I will return Tuesday of this week on a part-time mentorship status. (advisory capacity and part time only)) I’ve been tested extensively. My cognitive function is intact. I’m at no risk for seizures. My balance is shaky in the mornings but stabilizes after an hour or two. My distance vision is fine. My close vision is a problem at this time. However, it may improve. I hold out hope I’ll be “The Comeback Kid.”

        When I first developed my brain tumor my only prayer was that even if I emerged impaired in some way that it would not destroy all of my ability to serve. Those prayers have been answered.  At the very minimum I should be able to serve as a mentor and advisor to a nurse practitioner. Over the next few years I should be able to transition my patients where they are not abandoned. Over time if I have continued improvement I may possibly return to full-time doctor status. It makes me happy to know that I’m not gonna be unproductive. I stay prepared and continue my medical education via The American Academy Home Study program. (Who’d want a doc who doesn’t keep up?)

        I want my patient’s to know I take no chances with them. I’ve been cleared by my radiation therapist, my oncologist, and by the Medical Director of our organization to return. As long as I have a set of eyes to help me I can be of help. 

        I have to tell you my Medical Director set the tone for the comeback. At the end of our interview he said, “Doc, I want to ask you one last question. Do you listen to your nurses?”

        “Yes sir,” I replied.”I have two Christian sister nurses I worked with for twenty-five years, and some fine new ones too. One major secret to my success is I listen to what my wife recommends at home and I listen to their advice at the office.”

        “Good. I’ll let you return if you promise to pay attention to what they say. If they believe you are doing too much and getting tired, I want you to report back to me so we can adjust.” You still have a lot of treatment to go, and we want your heath to come first.”

        When I went home tears welled up. How can a man not be loyal to an organization that takes that position?

        I have made enormous progress early on in treatment and that I have significant hope for survival. Because of Faith, Family, Friends, Music, and Fine Medical care I am gonna make it. 

        I have several book and artistic projects in the works and will update you on these over the next few months so stay tuned. I appreciate all of your prayers and concerns. You have been significant part of my healing process.

        Also I wanted to let my blog readers know I have improved enough to add another short post mid-week so y’all look for that too.

Dr. B

Doyle Dykes Sept 20th Shelby Music Center

September 4, 2011

       I have become very interested in the music scene in a medium-sized town named Shelby, North Carolina. Harvey County just doesn’t have anything like they do.  The Don Gibson Theater, the Earl Scruggs Museum, which is to open in 2012, and a very vibrant local and regional acoustic music scene; they have it going on. There is a regular jam session every Saturday afternoon at Shelby Music Center which I try to get to once a month. The owner,  John, hosts events that often feature musicians of world-class talent.

        On September 20, 2011, 7:00PM, the great Doyle Dykes will be at Shelby Music Center to put on a master guitar clinic. There is a $20 cover charge and he is worth at least twice that. His lovely daughter Haley, who is a wonderful little mandolin player and singer, often travels with him. The store phone is 704 487 7404 and e-mail is

        I’ve known Doyle for a number of years now. To give you an idea of his guitar skill when Chet Atkins planned his own funeral he asked Doyle Dykes to play when the time came!  Doyle is not only the best finger style guitarist I’ve ever heard, but even more important he is also a humble and kind Christian man who treats everybody with respect.

        As an additional bonus Al Dunkleman along with good old Dr. B have the honor to open for him; a true blessing for me. 

        I have rule I’ve gone by for years. If anybody shows up anywhere near home and they are the best in the world at what they do, I go regardless of genre. If they are the best I try to go see them whether they shoot pool, swim, water ski, or play golf. That rule has never failed me. I learn something every time and have enjoyed every experience. Come on out. You won’t regret it.

Dr. B