Archive for November 2011

Dealing With Cancer

November 30, 2011

        With a bad illness like this, you are forced to redefine yourself. I did my best to be the best doctor I could be. I think I am going to live, but I am concerned that residual impairments may preclude my ability to be that again. I am thankful my cognition is unaffected and my ability to play music is intact. I wasn’t a pro mandolinist before this hit me)

        In the end maybe I’ll play my mandolin at the rest homes and volunteer. No matter what I won’t give up on my people.

        All these thoughts led to a saying:

        “Maybe I won’t be what I used to be but I’ll be the best me I can be, whatever that is.”

        Y’all have a blessed holiday.

Dr. B



November 28, 2011

        This post is to update folks on my art projects. As my last post indicated, my brain cancer diary in now on Amazon. We also hope to publish it in a booklet form soon. You can look it up in Amazon under Kindle Store and “Brain Cancer Boogie.”

“Grandpa’s Mandolin Book,” a coloring book for children of all ages, is now at the prototype stage. It still has some flaws and will go through at least one more revision before it goes to press. A half-dozen prototypes are in the hands of musicians, both professional and amateur, for advice. I hope it will be available after the first of the year, no later than late winter. More details are in my blog archives.

I am almost finished with my final edit of “Acquisition Syndrome.” After that it goes back to my editor Dorrie for her final touches and then on to my agent and the publisher. We are still on track for a spring release. I always liked old Bones Robertson. In this story he shows more than ever how to be decent person but not be trampled on. The lessons were so powerful I felt compelled to pass them on before I’m out of here. (There is no evidence my time is near, so don’t worry yet) In addition there is plenty of bluegrass subplot here, this time with more banjo in the mix. (Can’t have bluegrass without banjo huh? (( except for the “Manzanita” LP perhaps) 

“The Kid and Dr. B” A mandolin duet CD with Darin Aldridge that also features story-telling and a bit of doctor advice. I anticipate early spring on this one.

In January 2012 I plan to start a mandolin instruction book with Wayne Benson called “Practical Theory for Mandolin.” It is based on Wayne’s lesson plans. ((I have taken from him once a month since late 2007)  I plan to devote most of 2012 to this project. This book is designed for the amateur mandolinist who wants to get involved in jam sessions, be in regional bands and play for small festivals, church socials, fundraisers, and private parties. A working subtitle might be “How to play Mandolin if you thought you could only play the Radio.” So if you want to sound like Wayne, my pal Darin Aldridge, “Cuz” Alan Bibey, tone master Adam Steffy, rocking Sam Bush, Darren Nicolson of Balsam Range, red-hot melody man Emory Lester, Mike Marshall or Chris Thile….well, this book alone will not do it; be prepared to start young and spend six hours a day.

        Instead this book is designed for folks who do something else for a living but still want to play the best they can. I am of the opinion that if you start the mandolin as an adult, have a job, kids, bills, etc that it is unrealistic to for most of us (me included) to expect to play at a top shelf professional level, but my hope is this book will allow you to approximate that level of play after you learn some fundamental improvisational skills out of Wayne’s play book. He is going to proof every stage of this project because it is based on his knowledge and lesson plans. 

        After 2012? Who knows? I might be a little less productive on the blog for the rest of this year. My wife loves Christmas, (I call her “The Christmas Queen”)  the kids and grandchild will be in, and I love the holidays with all of them. I will be in touch though so don’t give up on me.

Dr. B

The Bluegrass Brain Cancer Boogie- Now on Amazon

November 23, 2011

        When I was first diagnosed with brain cancer my Lit agent encouraged me to keep a diary. My nature is to write things down so it was a natural. He liked it so much he asked to publish it on Kindle and it went on sale today. It is only 2.99. This is not a big money item and I plan to use part of the proceeds to cover some of my cancer treatment not covered by insurance (don’t worry; I have good coverage) and give some to some kind of cancer charity. My number one goal was the hope the diary would make some patient’s burdens easier to bear.

        My publisher used the word “cure” on the cover and I said “wait a minute guys, I’m not there yet.” They replied, “Oh, we thought the music cured you.” What could I say to that but “Press on!”

        I have chemo today, but will post some links later. All you have to do for now is click on, enter the Kindle store category and search “Bluegrass Brain Tumor Boogie” by Tom Bibey and it’ll pop up.

        Y’all have wonderful Thanksgiving. Music is a big part of my healing, but all my friends, be they electronic or Harvey County flesh and blood, have been a big factor in my happiness and progress too. I hope you all have a blessed holiday.

Dr. B

Minnie the Myna Bird

November 20, 2011


        If you read “The Mandolin Case” you know of Minnie the Myna bird at Lou Bedford’s Billiard and Bowl. Since those days she has learned a  new trick.

        In the past she served as a doorbell of sorts and would let out a loud call if anyone had arrived at the B ‘n B front door. Over the decade or so after “The Mandolin Case” Lou taught her some different whistles.

       When Bones came to visit she mimicked a loud perfect imitation of an ambulance siren. For Snookers Molesby it was always a wolf whistle. And when Riley Harper showed up one day the bird instinctively chose the generic “bad guy” call Lou taught her; Darth Vader’s “Imperial March.”

        I know it seems like trivia, but when “Acquisition Syndrome” is released this spring you will have a leg up on the new reader.

        I’ll be on the blog this week, but the kids will be in for the holiday, so it’ll be somewhat limited. Talk to you soon.

Dr. B

A Circle be Unbroken Moment with The Tar River Boys at the Kinston Neuse Regional Library

November 13, 2011

        This weekend was my first book signing/bluegrass picking gig since I got sick. I don’t see how it could have been a more appropriate venue. It was an “old home week/Circle Be Unbroken moment” as I got to visit with my daughter then be on the stage with Dr. Peter Temple and the Tar River Boys for the gig. Peter was my first community medicine mentor and the man who showed me how to combine medicine and music and not compromise the quality of my work as a doctor. He always said I was his only student who made an “A” in both medicine and bluegrass. Back then he had a front porch jam session with guys like Greek, Junior, and George every Wednesday night. As you can imagine, I was never late for class!

        Neuse Regional Library in Kinston is a library with a plan. Young David Miller has regular programs and gets the word out. It was well attended and the crowd was enthusiastic; just the kind of book signing any author hopes they will have. We had a retired English teacher and the long-time promoter of the Kinston Winter Bluegrass festival. (She saw the review of the book in N.C. Our State magazine and recommended the library get in touch with me) There were several musicians, friends of the library, and a number of docs. Several of the doctors were my classmates. There was a neurosurgeon, a pediatrician, and OB/Gyn, an interventional radiologist and  two Family docs.  

        The gig was just the kind I like, very informal and interactive. I’d read a passage from the book, then we’d do a few tunes and I’d explain how the music was connected to the story. Who knows, maybe “The Cherokee Shuffle” will wind up on a movie soundtrack before it is all over.

        So, special thanks to David Miller at the library, and also to the Tar River Boys. Dr. Temple was a life changing mentor for me way back when. As far as I know, Dr. Temple and I are the only two doctor/bluegrass pickers ever featured in N.C. “Our State” magazine.He invited two of the Tar River Boys, witty song-writer/mando picker Roger Sauerborne and precision banjo man Buddy Zincone, who also picks with Greenville Grass to join us. It was a fine session. Most of all I send thanks to my wife who makes all these gigs work these days. I could not manage it alone.

       We tied this show in with a library card drive. If your hometown library wants to get new people interested in the library in a public awareness campaign, esp if you’d like to join me for an impromptu jam session, let me know. I am limited to about one show every other month for now, and need to stay within a hundred fifty miles or so of central N.C. but I’d love to do  more gigs like this one. As Dr. Temple would say it was a large time.

Dr. B

Slow News Day

November 6, 2011

        Not much to report today. For the first time in my life I had to miss a gig due to illness. Don’t worry, it was only a medication adjustment situation and not advancement in my illness. Enough about that. I only like to read of sickness in journal articles. I do apologize to anyone who was expecting me. It couldn’t be helped.

        So, instead of boring you with all that sickness biz I decided to update you on my projects. “Grandpa’s Mandolin Book, a Coloring Book for Children of all Ages” is coming together. This weekend my Lit agent e-mailed me the illustrations from the graphic artist. He captured what I was trying to say. I am very excited about this book. I believe it gives a way for adults to interact with children and for both to learn some basic music concepts.

        In the edit of”Acquisition Syndrome” I should finish my revisions by mid December. This will give my editor Dorrie time to go back over it one last time and then submit it to the publisher. We should make my self-imposed deadline of sometime this spring to release this novel.

        I have a mandolin duet CD in the works with Darin Aldridge. Our first session was excellent and we believe we will finish sometime before the first year. This should be ready for a spring release also. I don’t get away from home as much as I used to but Darin will have it for sale in his travels. Also my Lit agent will see to it that it is available on Amazon. I hope to have some bluegrass/book venues in 2012 if they are within 150 miles or so of home. This would be N.C., S.C. and maybe some in Virginia and Tennessee.

        I will be back with more fiction posts soon. I am recovering from a couple bad days but again moving in the right direction and there is no evidence that I’m gonna be overwhelmed by this. We have an old saying at the office. “Don’t worry till Dr. B says worry.” Y’all don’t worry yet.

Dr. B

Fish Don’t Need Snorkels

November 3, 2011

        Karen Collum, a writer pal of mine from Australia, just sent me a copy of her new children’s book, “Fish Don’t Need Snorkels.” Even a man knows this is a cute book. It explores the uniqueness of all of God’s creations, both in animals and human beings. I plan to read it to my new grandson the next time we are together. Here’s where you can order it in the U.S.

        One of the best things about writing is you make new creative friends of like minds from all over the world. Y’all check out Ms Karen Collum. She’s on my blogroll. I plan to send her my children’s mandolin book when it is finished. The character “Australia Sam” was created in honor of her son Samuel. I hope to release it after the first of the year.

Dr. B