About Dr. Bibey

        My name is Dr. Tommy Bibey.  Everyone just calls me Dr. B.   I’ve had an unusual life.  I am a real doctor, and I’ve spent many years as a semi-professional bluegrass musician.  Yeah, I was different, but you gotta be what you are.  As one of my friends said, “Musicians are strange and doctors are weird, I don’t know where that leaves you.”

        Along the way I’ve met many memorable characters.  I learned many lessons, and decided I had to compile a written record to document our way of life.  Few modern Americans are aware of how we live.  While many a suburbanite snoozes in front of  television summer re-runs, our people tour the country, play music in every nook and cranny, and in general soak up every ounce of richness life has to offer.  Every once in a while one of our folks will get lucky and pen a hit for an established country star, but in general it remains a working man’s music. 

        It is a difficult music to play, but very little of the “star” mentality has crept into our collective psyche.  I suppose that is because everyone from the beginner to the expert started at the same place, the beginning, and didn’t forget where they came from.  (As Lester would say, “They ain’t got above their raising.”)

        Almost everyone in the music is dedicated to their craft.  As a result, the level of play on the circuit is quite high.  As in the early days of the pro golf tour, though, it isn’t all business.  Even the most celebrated players will take the time to give a few pointers to the uninitiated, or offer help to the unknown talented player who hopes to cut a bigger gig.   As a consequence, most of our amateurs are also very proficient, a fact that prompted one wag on Mandolin Cafe to comment, “real musicians have day jobs.”

        The focus of our genre is the music, and the search for excellence.  Like the old golf tour, the bluegrass circuit is full of characters who persist for their love of the game rather than the material gain they might be rewarded.

        It is becoming less common in this country for an art form to retain its genuineness to the same degree as in bluegrass music.  Even more unusual was the case of Dr. Henry Indian Jenkins. Indie’s story is “The Mandolin Case.”  In it, a band of bluegrass folks were the key figures who uncovered the truth in a complicated medical case.  It was a story that had to be told.

        ”The Mandolin Case’ was released in May of 2010.  Is is available from my website www.themandolincase.com or directly from Amazon.com. In the story, all the events were fictionalized to protect privacy and the guilty.  However, it is all true.  As my agent always says, “Son, you can never lie to your reader.”  To quote a Lit Professor, “For it to be good fiction, it need not necessarily have happened but it must be true.”

        I promise I’ll do my best to bring you the truth with my work.  Except for the fiction part, all my stories are true.  So, with that thought, I hope you will enjoy your journey into Harvey County.  They say you must write what you know, and I did just that.  Harvey County is the world of physician bluegrass fiction, and I know every back road in the county.  I can’t wait to show you around.  

Dr. B


135 Comments on “About Dr. Bibey”

  1. J.B. Says:

    Thanks for tipping me off to you blog. Already enjoying it!

  2. T.L. Says:

    Dr. Tom – I just fell across your blog from a mention in The Bluegrass Blog, I guess. I like it well enough to bookmark it, and if I keep liking it, I’ll be putting it on my blogroll. I appreciate the humor, the self-deprecation, and the thoughtfulness. I look forward to reading more. – Ted

  3. drtombibey Says:

    Thanks for the kind words. Being a doc can be tough- you want to do right by your patients and yet we always fall short of perfection.
    You picked up on what I hoped to say. All I know to do is my best, then ask for forgiveness on Sunday morning for whatever I didn’t figure out right, then go try again.
    Picking a little bluegrass on Saturday night doesn’t hurt either!

    Dr. B

  4. mindofandre Says:

    Thanks for stopping by Dr. B! Looking forward to following along about music and hopefully some doctor stories! 🙂

  5. doctordan Says:

    Dr. Tom–
    Dr. Dan here from thesidewalkpsychiatrist. Thanks for your visit. I do enjoy your site and will be back for a look-see now and then. Glad to hear that another string-strumming doc hasn’t gotten so caught up in people that you forget your art. I’m working my way back to regular guitar playing and find it a salvation from the work of the day.
    God Bless you and yours through this holiday season (and beyond!).
    –DH MD

  6. Paul M. H. Says:

    Dr. B ~

    Have had fun reading your blog. As for names and initials, I met a neighbor shortly after moving here from Arizona. He’d lived on the neighboring property his entire life, and his family for several generations prior. “Name’s Donald,” he said. “But you can call me B. Everyone does.”

    Somethings are more fun not to question.

    peace ~

  7. drtombibey Says:

    Tell Freckles hello. Y’all have a good holiday.

    -Dr. B

  8. Lowell Says:

    Hello Dr. B! Have really enjoyed your ramblings over the past few days!

    When you get a moment, could you contact me through the FORM on my web site? I’d appreciate it. http://www.jewelldesigns.net

    Thanks for the fun reading!
    Lowell J (friend of the “english professor”)

  9. bobleckridge Says:

    Tom Bibey, you’re going on my blogroll!
    Thank you for stopping by and commenting on heroesnotzombies.wordpress.com
    Your stories reveal a world to me that I had no idea existed and I suspect my little Scottish world here will be just a big a mystery to you! But strangely I feel connected! I’m still in practice as a doctor and I like you live in the same town where I was born but more than two doors away! I have a great love for books, music and stories. You’re an inspiration Dr B! You know I have a collection of fictionalised country Scottish doctor stories I’ve used in teaching medical students over the years – now I think they might just be worth turning into a new blog!
    I love your writing – its rich, real, funny, charming and totally engaging – you tell those folks to keep their hands of your hanging participles!
    – Dr Bob

  10. drtombibey Says:

    Dr. Bob,
    Thanks so much. We have had a few med students through on community medicine rotations and always enjoyed that. My partner and I would would take them to lunch every Friday- we told them it was funded by the “Starving Medical Student Foundation!”
    We might feel connected because I am of Scotch Irish descent, and in fact much of bluegrass music has its origins in the homeland.
    Check in with me periodically and I will do the same. Thanks for visiting.

    -Dr. Bibey

  11. Patrick Says:

    Dr. Bibey,
    Thanks for the comment on your blog. Yor writing is very good, I love the style. D-list bloggers UNITE!
    P.S. Don’t forget to sharpen your pencils!

  12. drtombibey Says:

    Take to the streets- we’ve got us a revolution!

    -Dr. B

  13. Blade Says:

    Dr. Tom,
    This is great stuff. My eyes have been rolling and my tummy jiggling. Keep it coming!

  14. drtombibey Says:

    Thanks for the visit- lets see, rolling and jiggling- should this persist, neurological evaluation may be indicated. If it lasts more than three days I would recommend you see your physician, and sooner if accompanied by night sweats, fever, chills, rash, general malaise, or any other symptoms I might have left out. (Standard web info disclaimer.)

    -Dr. Bibey

  15. mikzntrikz Says:

    Considering I’m a musician and a lawyer, I sort of understand where you’re coming from (in the non-conventional career path way). ~Trikz

  16. T. Aridas Says:

    Enjoy the bluegrass stories. Check out our website at http://www.jamesreams.com. Rather play bluegrass than have one of those stones any day.

  17. drtombibey Says:

    Nice site guys. Play hard. Dr. B

  18. Jed Says:

    Nice site Dr. B. Been meaning to write something for a couple weeks now. Kinda busy this time of year. I like the posts, responses, and generally overall writing. I’ve heard it said that everybody has a book in ’em, and I believe you do. Used to play a little guitar, now very little…my boy took over my best instrument…he’s much better than me anyway. Not to mention that I had this Doc Hollywood type guy take some chunks outta my neck in years past, so playing’s not quite as comfortable as it was. You seem very passionate for both medicine and music. I tend to think the two mesh well together. Keep being that ‘ole country doctor…I’ve got one of those, and they’re hard to beat. Good luck.

  19. drtombibey Says:


    Bless your heart for the kind words. Gotta keep playing ’cause it keeps me doctoring, and gotta keep doctoring ’cause that what I am. I am lucky, for all my belly-aching I wouldn’t be anything else.

    Keep checking in- I might have to write up some guitar stories one day to keep you at it.

    My boy is much better than me at golf now, but I keep at that too. Hate to give it up now- too much time invested.

    Dr. B

  20. dalkoyo Says:

    Hey Doc,

    How uncanny that you left a comment on my blog only for me to meet another bluegrass musician!
    I play mando and dobro for relaxation! Only old school stuff the real foundation!


  21. drtombibey Says:

    Extra good. Appreciate you dropping by. Mandolins, bluegrass, dobros- all good medicine.

    Dr. B

  22. bibomedia Says:


  23. rfgainey Says:

    Enjoyed your blog! Thanks for visiting my site, too…


  24. drtombibey Says:

    Hey thanks, I’ll visit again and hope you’ll come back too.

    Dr. B

  25. I loved reading about the jams at John Hartford’s house. I am the “real estate man” you referred to when we played the Lee Highway Blues. I loved John and Benny Martin as well. It really takes me back a few years!

    Fletcher Bright

  26. drtombibey Says:

    Hey Fletcher, so nice to hear from you.

    The night I played with you, you didn’t sit down for hours, and never played the same tune twice.

    Y’all, Fletcher Bright is a modest man, but Wayne Benson of III Time Out told me Mr. Bright knows as many fiddle tunes as anyone around, and Wayne is more of an expert than I am by far.

    Y’all check out his web site, and his band the Dismembered Tennesseeans- they are as real as it gets.

    Dr. B

  27. katkmeanders Says:

    Just swinging by to share a YouTube playlist with you. (I put the videos in for the songs, not the imagery so much.) It is quite a long list, but there are many songs on there I bet you’ll love. It’s ok to pull it up to play as “background” music if you want. *smile*


    Check it out, let me know what you loved, and what you didn’t like so much?



  28. katkmeanders Says:

    Check your spam filter, Askimet is holding my previous comment. Prolly cause there is a link in there. *smile*

  29. drtombibey Says:

    Ms. Kat,

    Lots of great stuff in there. I especially like Mark O’Conner and Tim O’Brien.

    Dr. B

  30. drtombibey Says:

    Ms. Kat,

    I find something I like about almost all music. There is so much good on the link it is hard to know where to start.

    Dr. B

  31. katkmeanders Says:

    Start at the beginning, and stop when it ends? *grin* Really, I put them in a good order, a “journey” if you will. *wink* There are “sections” to the playlist, yes. Some is meant more for soothing or quiet thought, some (the beginning) is meant to help the housework go faster.

  32. katkmeanders Says:

    Here is a Wikipedia article about Martyn Bennett, by the way. You can also find a link to his official site at the botoom of the article.


  33. drtombibey Says:

    Cool. I wondered about the order and if there was a reason.

    Dr. B

  34. katkmeanders Says:

    How are you liking Martyn Bennett, and Afro Celt Sound System, and Ikarus, and Vanessa Mae, and Banco De Gaia? (Vanessa Mae can fiddle, can’t she?)

  35. drtombibey Says:

    Somewhat outside my field of expertise (bluegrass) but still very cool. If I could fiddle like that I’d quit doctoring. Probably the Lord didn’t let me so I’d stay on in medicine.

    Dr. B

  36. katkmeanders Says:

    I guess I’m a “General Practicioner” of musical appreciation, to your more specialized self? Or, the way I usually phrase it is, “I’m omnivorous when it comes to music!” =D

  37. drtombibey Says:

    Oh I am too at least as far as listening, but I don’t play many styles well outside of the traditional. The best musicians I know are fluent in many languages.

    I’m afraid I’m an old self taught country musician as far as a player, but I am quite eclectic when it comes to listening.

    Dr. B

  38. katkmeanders Says:

    I bet it comes out in your bluegrass in ways you aren’t even aware of. Little phrasings that you do, that come from listening to other musical stylings. ‘Course that is the appeal of bluegrass, it is an omnivorous genre, isn’t it? It’s got a smidgen of everything thrown in there, beyond the kitchen sink.

  39. katkmeanders Says:

    Adding, song number five on that playlist is a particular favorite. It has Martyn Bennett playing the pipes on it. It is just so lively, you can’t sit still and listen to that song. It’s “soul” is very bluegrass with a Celtic flair, I think.

  40. drtombibey Says:

    Absolutely an astute observation. Many times I’ve played and someone familiar with my mandolin work will say, “You been listening to that jazz again?” and I have been.

    There is a reason we call it hillbilly jazz.

    Dr. B

  41. drtombibey Says:

    Will go back and check that one after work today.

    Dr. B

  42. Vana Roth Says:

    What a wonderful combination of talents! I intend to read more of your postings later tonight in hopes of learning more about Bluegrass. By the way, I like your ‘Disclaimer’. My personal thought is most things posted on the internet today fall under the same category as “Do Not Try This At Home”.

    Take Care!

  43. drtombibey Says:

    Hey Vana,

    Thanks for visiting.

    I find the Net to be like many other human inventions- capable of much good, but also much harm. WordPress has been a fun community. I started my blog because my agent thought it would a good writing exercise for me. (I am working on a book.) As it turns out, the weblog brought me many new friends, good ideas, and a sounding board for some of my thoughts I wanted to capture on paper. (Or cyberspace as the case may be.)

    Come back when you can. The log is 80% family, music, and medicine, but a bit of golf and other fun is thrown in too.

    Dr. B

  44. acountrydoctorwrites Says:

    Hello and thank you, Dr. Bibey, for noticing my recently launched blog. I think as doctors we need to play music and write poetry, novels or just blogs. We need to make sure medicine doesn’t keep us from being part of the rest of the world. I haven’t strummed my guitar or mandolin for a while, but glancing through your blog puts me in the mood…

  45. drtombibey Says:

    Cool. So good to hear hear from you. I agree with your philosophy 100%. I got started as a writer when I did some promo work for a bluegrass bands, and it became an important part of my life.

    I once read in JAMA that Docs needed to write, partly for self-expression, but also for communication to let others inside our world. That inspired me, and I am now working on a novel which I hope to get published in 2009.

    Keep me posted. I have added you to my blogroll.

    Dr. B

  46. Doc:
    Thanks for your encouraging words about my grammar! You made me smile!!!
    ROCK BlueGrass ~ that is awesome.

  47. drtombibey Says:

    Ms. Mandy,

    Hey thanks for the visit kid. If anyone gets on about your grammar tell ’em yours is better than some Docs you know.

    Dr. B

  48. HAHA!!!

    I’ll be sure to do that. Thanks for sticking up for me.

  49. drtombibey Says:

    Cool. Come visit the old Doc blog whenever you can.

    Dr. B

  50. pannonica Says:

    So wait, Doc Watson wasn’t really a doctor?

    By the way, came here from your recent comment on curlywurlygurly’s blog. First thing I thought of when I read it was the Far Side cartoon in which an old guy complains to a physician that he’s “come all the way from Alabama with this thing stuck on my knee.” Needless to say, it’s a growth that looks alarmingly like a full-sized banjo. Was unable to find a picture of it on the whole www.

  51. drtombibey Says:

    Hey pannonica,

    I know Doc a little. He is my favorite guitarist in the world. Not only is he a brilliant musician, but he is also a humble and gentle man. (They say he knows thousands of tunes)

    Doc is not a doctor, though. His real name is Arthel. When he was young he was playing a show. They introduced him as Arthel, and someone yelled out, “Call him Doc,” and it stuck. As far as I know, who called him Doc that day is lost to history.

    And I know some guys who all but do have a banjo on thier knee like that- serious about it they are.

    Dr. B

  52. pannonica Says:

    I didn’t know that about his real name, and thank you for gently informing me that he’s still with us. I’m very fond of his recording with Jean Ritchie at Folk City.

  53. drtombibey Says:

    Ms. pannonica,

    I got to do one show with Doc, and he is the best. Just as kind as he seems from the stage.

    Dr. B

  54. doctor2008 Says:

    Dr Bibey,
    Thanks for visiting my site and for sharing the quotes of William Osler, perhaps the most influential physician of all time..

  55. drtombibey Says:

    Hey doctor2008,

    Appreciate you dropping in.

    Yeah, as we say in bluegrass Osler was a good’un.

    Dr. B

  56. DR J Says:


    Your site is great. I like your insites and also really like how original you are.
    Hope you will come visit our site if you have not already and post some of your content and link back to your site…i know a bunch of docs who would be interested in reading content like yours.

    Best Regards,
    Dr. J

  57. DR J Says:

    BTW..our site is a physician exclusive social utility and networking site known as iMedExchange. Website is http://www.imedexchange.com


  58. drtombibey Says:

    Dr. J

    Cool. Appreciate the visit. I’ll come over and check out your site.

    Dr. B

  59. Doctors are strange and slimy. Musicians are hot. If you were a girl, I’d probably be your groupie. I’ll probably read every post you have here for this week since I lost my social life and all so… uhh… yeah…

    ~The almost-nurse.

  60. drtombibey Says:

    Hey Jofer,

    Yeah, I became a musician a long time ago to meet girls. Being a Doc wouldn’t cut the gig- too much of a nerd.

    After I met my wife I didn’t need to pick up any women, but music was already a habit and I stuck with it.

    They say a being good musician is a sign of a mis-spent youth.

    Dr. B

  61. I was just curious, when you do what you do being a doctor and all, do you play a background music?

  62. drtombibey Says:


    Sure do. I keep a running sound track in my head at all times. I remember patients by what tune was playing the day of their problem, and I seldom forget one.

    Like the lady 15 years ago with the inferior M.I. and a ruptured papillary muscle. We had to fly her out. Her tune was ‘Bringing Mary Home.” (It is an old ghost story) She made it and is still my patient today.

    Dr. B

  63. soulintention Says:

    thanks for stopping in Dr. Tom– bluegrass happens to be one of my favorite types of music — it is amazing the power of music in lifting the human spirit —


  64. drtombibey Says:


    I’m not an expert in poetry, but I gotta tell you anyone with the name soulintention has my vote. It makes me want to read more. Come back and visit, and I will do the same.

    Hey, try to find a video Bill Moyers did a clip on. It is by a guy named Mark Johnson and it is called “Playing for Change.’ I think it is on U tube.

    It is not bluegrass, but I found it excellent music and a noble concept too. It is about him going around the world and using music to help folks out of poverty etc. I believe you’d enjoy it a bunch.

    Dr. B

  65. folkface Says:

    thanks for stopping by my blog and letting me know you existed in the world. you are on my roll for sure. look forward to reading more of your work, I am intrigued!

  66. drtombibey Says:


    Thanks. Your clip of Monroe made my day. Appreciate you dropping in and hope you’ll come visit again.

    Dr. B

  67. lex Says:

    Dr. B,

    Thanks for dropping in. After browsing through a couple of your posts, I am fascinated. Looking at the history, I’m pretty amazing on how the bluegrass circuit works. Although I’m a big music fan of different genres, I haven’t exactly explored bluegrass. I guess it’s time to start exploring again.

  68. drtombibey Says:


    Cool. Modern bluegrass has gotten quite sophisticated. Check out bands like Blue Highway (Tim Stafford wrote a lot of early Alison Krauss material and played with her band) or iii Tyme out.

    From time to time I’ll mix in band or show reviews with book info.

    Appreciate yout visit-come back any time.

    Dr. B

  69. Jess Dee Says:

    Wow, Dr B
    You and I definitely write different stuff. 🙂
    Thanx for introducing me to a world I had no idea existed.

  70. drtombibey Says:


    There is an old bluegrass song that goes, “We live in two different worlds, dear…”

    I’m an old guy who has led a very unusual life, so much so I felt compelled to write of it. We had a great run of it, though, and I lived to tell about it.

    Dr. B

  71. thehoss Says:

    your blog is awesome. It’s especially inspiring to me because I really like to write, and I love bluegrass to the bone. I just performed earlier tonight with my band,
    I’m having a lot of fun with my blog – it started as a class assignment and I’ve found myself putting in some time into certain blogs. Fun stuff.
    I wish I could absorb all of your bluegrass wisdom.


  72. drtombibey Says:


    I dug yours too. Please stay in touch, and I will be over to visit more too. Look for my book, the Mandolin Case, in 2009.

    It is the unlikely saga of a flawed but loveable country doc who drinks Jim Beam and plays the fiddle. His name in Indian Jenkins, but we all called him Indie.

    One time Indie got in some big trouble. The truth was found in bluegrass music.

    All of us who play know this intuitively, but I hope to show it to the rest of the world. My agent thinks I have a chance.

    Dr. B

  73. beeha Says:

    Bluegrass and Blues. My favorite music. Figures you would leave on comment on our blog. We were meant to hear each other. Keep writing and playing…. http://2cob.wordpress.com will be listening.


  74. drtombibey Says:

    Cool Beeha,

    Appreciate you dropping in. I’m getting to the age where you figure no one ‘s gonna pay attention to anything you say.

    Hey, you’re the age where you can still take over the world!

    Come back and visit again.

    Dr. B

  75. rattusphere Says:

    I’ve never confessed to be young. . .or old. But I get it, I get -something- and that’s what this is all about.

    Thank you for stopping by, and for taking the time to comment on my blog thing. I appreciate it, I’ve been enjoying your narratives here. Thoughtful, sad, honest. Refreshing. Are you not real? *laughs* Either way, thank you. Live well, write well.


  76. drtombibey Says:

    Hey there rattusphere, (Melinda)

    You have a very cool name.

    What a wonderful comment. I hope you will visit again.

    I guess I am real- I try hard to be anyway. Thanks so much for dropping in.

    Dr. B

  77. donttakeitliterally Says:

    You have a very interesting profile, Dr. B. I enjoy reading your site. It’s refreshing and inspirational at the same time…

  78. drtombibey Says:

    Ms donttakeitlit,

    Thanks for dropping by. I am having much fun and meeting folks from all over the world.

    Dr. B

  79. Sharon Says:

    Dr B,

    Thanks for checking in on my site, it’s nice to have a doctor come to the patient for a change!

    I might just subscribe to yours.



  80. drtombibey Says:

    Ms Sharon,

    Hey that is a cool notion; an e- house call. Thanks for dropping in and I hope you’ll come back. I’ll check in on you too.

    My life can be serious but my blog is all a big bunch of fun.

    Dr. B

  81. PiedType Says:

    I don’t know how you happened to land on my blog earlier today, but I’m glad you did. Otherwise I’d have never known where to read the writings of a blogging, blue-grass-playing country doc.

  82. drtombibey Says:

    Ms. PiedType,

    Once a week I cruise through the writing section of the wordpress dashboard and stop on titles that seem unique. I found yours to be one of those that stood out of the crowd. Glad I did. Come on back by to visit. I am very serious about the Doc routine, otherwise I try not to worry much about life.

    Dr. B

  83. jeffhop Says:

    Dr. Tom,

    Let’s exchange books. I send you a copy of “Broken Under Interrogation”. Email me at irver28@gmail.com with your address you want me to send it to, and I’ll send you my address.

    Thanks and Keep doing what you do,

    Jeffrey M. Hopkins

  84. drtombibey Says:


    I dropped you an e-mail. Mine is still at the MS stage, but we believe it will go to press in 2010. Stay tuned, I think I’ll get there.

    Dr. B

  85. Dr Tom
    I’ve just had a quick squiz at your blog and so far I’m loving it. I love Bluegrass, but it’s been difficult to get hold of the good stuff here in Australia. Mandolin is one of my favourite instruments – you’ve inspired me to take mine up again and learn to play properly.

    • drtombibey Says:


      Wow, always love finding new bluegrass folks.

      Peter Gilchrist is a world class mandolin builder from Australia. He is widely regarded as one of the top three or so on the planet.

      Also a guy from there named Duff (Paul, I think) who is the same quality, though not quite as well known. A Georgia girl named Rebecca Lovell plays one of his mandolins. She was the first female and youngest ever winner of the mandolin contest at MerleFest. Good looking kid, too.

      Finally, there is a lady named Karen on my blogroll from your fair country. She lives in Queensland. She is a nice lady who has cute twin boys and is married to a minister. If I ever do a book tour of Australia, she has promised to show me and my wife that part of the country.

      Someday I am going to get to Australia. It seems the folks there are a very spirited people. Thanks for visiting my blog. Hope you’ll drift back by.

      Dr. B

  86. PiedType Says:

    Hey, Doc, been meaning to ask you if you know the Mountain Smoke boys. One of them, Hal Clifford, and I grew up around the corner from each other. Mountain Smoke played at my niece’s backyard wedding party years ago (the family could have afforded the most highfalutin country club reception in town) and it was far and away the best wedding party I’ve ever attended.

    • drtombibey Says:


      I wish I could say I do, but I don’t. I’ve played a bunch of those kinds of gigs over the years, and they sound like my kinda folks. If any of them are on FaceBook, ask if they would put in a friend request with me. I’d love to get to know them.

      Dr. B

  87. Dr B.

    I have a question for you re bluegrass, roots and Irish folk music. I listen to all it, favourites are Tim Eriksen, Alison Krauss, The Stanley Brothers, The Voice Squad. I think bluegrass is a kind of roots music. Am I right in thinking that roots has roots in Irish and Scottish music?


    • drtombibey Says:


      This is a great question. Bill Monroe was an Appalchian man, but his roots were clearly Scots-Irish. Lots of the old fiddle tunes came from there. (He even did one called ‘Scotland’ along the way) Jigs, hornpipes, and reels all have a place in the repertoire.

      He had a lot of influence from the blues, too, and also African American music. Many of the old slave sprituals have found their way into a bluegrass set.

      No question it is a roots music, and all those are in there, but if you had to list a number one influence it would be Scots-Irish, at least in my humble opinion. Some of the folks at the IBMA (International Bluegrass Music Association) study it all the time and are more expert than I am. A guy named Neil Rosenberg wrote a book, ‘Bluegrass: A History,’ and many consider it the definitive work.

      By the way your taste in the music is excellent.

      Dr. B

      • pannonica Says:

        Hi Sunlit (and hello again Dr. B).

        Just thought I would mention that Fiona Richie, on her syndicated National Public Radio program Thistle & Shamrock, has over the years dedicated several episodes of her show to the connections between Celtic music and ‘traditional’ American styles, especially bluegrass and Appalachian. An example that I found browsing the archives is program no. 1819, “Appalachian Connection” Here’s the playlist (podcast unfortunately not available):

        Benton’s Jig/Benton’s Dream • Patrick Street, No. 2 (Green Linnet)
        Pretty Polly • David Holt, Grandfather’s Greatest Hits (High Windy Audio)
        One, I Love • Karan Casey, Songlines (Shanachie)
        A Tribute to Peador O’Donnell • Jerry Douglas, Restless on the Farm (Sugar Hill)
        Chinquapin Hunting • Open House, Second Story (Green Linnet)
        Snow Dove • Duck Baker & Molly Andrews, American Traditional (Day Job)
        Drowned Lovers • Kate Rusby, Hourglass (Pure)
        Speed the Plow Medley • Yo Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer, and Mark O’Connor, Appalachia Waltz (Sony)
        Gypsy Laddie • Jack Beck, (live recording – not available) Jack Beck website
        Black Jack Davie • Sara Grey, (live recording – not available) Sara Grey website
        Cumberland Gap • Peggy Seeger, (private collection – unavailable) Peggy Seeger website
        Hey Ho, Nobody Home/Ah Poor Bird/Rose Rose • Atwater & Donnelly, Where the Wild Birds Do Whistle (Atwater/Donnelly)
        The Dawn, McGovern’s Piper on Horseback, Bay of Fundy, Stoney Point • Helicon, from Horizons (Dorian)

  88. pannonica Says:

    Correction: program no. 1319.

  89. Pannonica,

    Thank you! This is very helpful. I’m always on the lookout for new music. Being a lass of Irish decent (with red hair to boot)it’s always thrilling to find Celtic connections.

  90. Drifted here from delicate flowers blog.

    You’ve had an interesting career mix, medicine and music. Mine was psychiatry and fiction writing; not much different some might say!

    Best to you

    • drtombibey Says:

      Dave, Thanks for coming by. I always like to hear from other Docs with an artistic bent. Hope you’ll come back.

      Dr. B

  91. sdennard Says:

    Oooh, you have a very interesting blog going on over here. I’m intrigued, to say the least. And yes, I consider comments sort of like thank-you notes. My ma always taught me to send ’em as a child; I still do. As such, thanks for commenting on my own blog. 🙂

    P.S. My dad’s a “doc with an artistic bent”, too–he has a love of medicine and passion for photography. Perhaps it’s just better that way.

    • drtombibey Says:


      Thanks for dropping by, and I hope you’ll come back. I am having a lot of fun for an old doc.

      I bet your dad is a good doctor. The ones I know with at leaat one other passion seem to keep it all in perspective better. That can be hard to do in the doc business.

      Dr. B

  92. Barbara O' Brien Says:

    Dear Dr. B,

    My name is Barbara O’ Brien and my blogging at The Mahablog, Crooks and Liars, AlterNet, and elsewhere on the progressive health blogophere has earned me the notoriety of being a panelist at the Yearly Kos Convention and a featured guest blogger at the Take Back America Conference in Washington, DC.

    I’m contacting you because I found your site in a health and health reform blog search and want to tell you about my newest blogging platform —the public concern of health care and its reform. Our shared concerns include health reform, tort reform, public health, safe workplaces, and asbestos contamination.

    To increase awareness on these important issues, my goal is to get a resource link on your site or even allow me to provide a guest posting. Please contact me back, I hope to hear from you soon. Drop by our site http://www.maacenter.org/blog in the meantime.


    Barbara O’ Brien

  93. Dr B, I thought you might get a tickle out of this. Recently on She Writes Aussie Writers Group we listed our most favourite blogs, you made it in the top 15 (as nominated by me of course!): http://heatherconroy.wordpress.com/2009/11/12/blushing-aussie-she-writers-enduring-blog-crushes/



  94. Dr B, oops I see you’ve already discovered this.

    • drtombibey Says:


      I think I first ran across them from your blog. I am an old doc and 100% happily married, but I have to admit I was flattered to find out I was on the blogroll of a group of pretty young women in Australia.

      I am certain if I ran into them at a bookstore gig they would call me “sir” but that would be an honor for sure.

      Dr. B

  95. jackmoxie Says:

    Your stories remind me of my childhood in Southern Virginia. Thanks for sharing them.

    • drtombibey Says:


      Thanks so much. I hope you’ll visit again. I believe I’m having even more fun wriitng them than folks have reading them.

      Dr. B

  96. shutterboo Says:

    We have a Tim Barnwell exhibit in our Main library in town and his new photography book included Appalacian music.
    It was really neat to hear him talk about visiting musicians and craftsman throughout Kentucky and Tennessee. Wondferful photography and wonderful music.

    • drtombibey Says:


      Cool. Thanks so much for sharing this. And I gotta tell you, I loved the pics on your blog. They brought me in out the cold for a minute and we are about to freeze here.

      Dr. B

  97. wvgal Says:

    Hello Dr. B, Love your blog, at least that what I’ve read. It may take me a while to read it all but I look forward to do just that.

    • drtombibey Says:


      Yeah old Doc’s been at it for a while so it’d take a while to catch up. Think of it like an upscale bluegrass soap opra, though. The characters are the same folks and change slowly, (some never do) so if you pick up and start to read now after while you’ll know ’em like you’ve lived in Harvey County forever.

      Dr. B

  98. soupandsax Says:

    Dr. Tom

    So glad to see you are well and still spinning bluegrass yarn. As the years go by we still have one thing in common, our lifelong friends. They say if you have 1 or more when you get really old, you’re a lucky man. We all have made many acquaintances over the years, but true friends remain so no matter how long or far apart. Keep up the good work and keep telling about your adventures. Music is the very soul speaking its mind in a way that all people understand.
    Best wishes to you always.

    • drtombibey Says:

      Amen brother,

      The sax player in my old garage band is still dear to my heart but we all lost track of Buddy Slick.

      Dr. B

  99. Dr B, just to let you know i’ve passed the Prolific Blogger award on to you. Visit my blog for the rules

  100. Carla Says:

    I finally had time to stop in and read a little. You seem like an interesting fellow, Dr. B! I’ve enjoyed reading through some of your posts, and I’ll be checking back in from time-to-time. Take care, and keep on writing, doctoring and playing the music.

    • Carla Says:

      Think I’ll add you to my blogroll just to make it easy!

      • drtombibey Says:


        Thanks and I appreciate you dropping by. If you want to know about country doctoring and bluegrass music this is the place.

        Dr. B

  101. I like your phrase, “our people.” Gets me thinking about who my people are. Where did that profile pic of yours come from? Perhaps the answer is somewhere on here…



  102. drtombibey Says:


    Thanks so much. Yeah, as a small town doc you end up with a whole lot of people you feel loyal to.

    My agent chose that pic from several I sent. It was after a golf tournament and I was sunburned. I’m not very photogenic and he thought it was the only one that might not scare off my readers!

    Hope you’ll come visit again. Old doc is having a lot of fun with the blog gig.

    Dr. B

  103. Thank you for sharing your wisdom in my “Enjoying Today” entry. I am going to add you to my blogroll.

  104. drtombibey Says:


    Thanks so much. I’m just an old guy having fun, but I have seen a lot and wanted to share it with people before I’m gone.

    Dr. B

  105. Bonnie Says:

    Hello Dr. B! Thanks for visiting my blog – it really is a great feeling to have finished a book! Congrats on yours being published! I enjoy your blog, I can hear your accent in every word. 🙂 I’m looking forward to checking out The Mandolin Case. All my best to you!

  106. drtombibey Says:


    Yep, a book is a very cool item. I’ll be back to visit your blog again. Your voice was one that jumped off the page.

    Dr. B

  107. Wendy Says:

    Well my goodness, Dr. B, I don’t know how you found my blog, but I am so glad you commented. It sounds like we have a lot in common besides writing. I can tell from your posts that you live in the South. I haven’t found where yet, but if I had to guess I’d say NC. I lived there for several years during our military time. I also sang for a few years with a bluegrass group and had more fun than a hog in mud. I have a mandolin, but I don’t play it well. I know three chords and ‘play at it’ more than I play it.

    I do hope when The Mandolin Case comes out that you’ll be doing a signing somewhere near St. Louis. I’d love to come out and meet you.

    • drtombibey Says:


      About once a month I cruise across the wordpress dashboard and click on the blogs I think might teach me something about writing. About 10% of them capture my attention enough to comment, and yours was one of those in the journey. (every so often one will turn out to be a dud, though!)

      I thought your post captured the loneliness a new writer can have at a book signing. Most of mine have been okay but I had one when only a few people showed up, so your post made me feel like a kindred spirit.

      I am from N.C. but my wife and I hope to tour out that way in the next couple years, so keep an eye out for us. And keep on writing; you have a nice style.

      Catch me on FaceBook if you get a chance. I post a “Song of the Day” there. Most of them are bluergass, but I also comment on other genres.

      The Mandolin Case is now on Amazon, so check it out; good reviews so far.

      Dr. B

  108. Interesting! Thanks for connecting with me. You’ve done well and looks like you’ve had fun along the way! very cool. Keep it up.

    • drtombibey Says:

      Hey thanks for visiting. I like to hear from the young docs ’cause I can learn from them. (And they can learn from the old ones like me too!) The Mandolin Case just came out on Kindle. Check it out if you get a chance.

      Dr. B

  109. jel Says:

    VERY interesting!

    ya have had your blog, just about along as I have had my first one .

    Oh got to chapter 25 last night, in your book,

    is that a picture of ya, on your post?

    have a cool weekend

  110. Beth Says:

    Hello, Dr. B. Thank you for visiting my blog and leaving a comment. I’ve enjoyed meandering about yours and like your writing style. You are so blessed to be able to heal people through doctoring, music, AND writing. My son Benjamin, who has struggled with the difficulties of being autistic in a world that so often rejects those who are different, has found great salvation in his music. He taught himself to play by listening to Doc and Merle Watson, Chet Atkins, and Stevie Ray Vaughan. His talent is such a gift—not only to him, but to us as well.

    By the way, I noticed you like Clyde Edgerton’s writing. I just re-read one of his short stories yesterday—“Debra’s Flap and Snap.” What a wonderful story—the kind that lingers in your mind for some time to come.

    • drtombibey Says:


      Thanks so much for your visit. I was esp interested in the words about your son. I have always believed music has the power to heal. All the best to you guys.

      Dr. B

  111. I love your wordpress theme! Can you please tell me what it is so I can use it on my blog too please?

  112. inkspeare Says:


    This week (at Inkspeare) is all about Awesome WordPress Bloggers and your blog was featured today – http://inkspeare.wordpress.com/2011/10/21/day5-awesome-wordpress-bloggers/


  113. drtombibey Says:

    The theme is sapphire.

    Thanks inkspeare!

    Dr. B

  114. Mike Hamel Says:

    Good to meet you Dr. B. Musician and novelist Kinky Friedman once told his mom he wanted to be a musician when he grew up. She told him to make up his mind because he couldn’t do both.

    • drtombibey Says:


      My Dad was acountry doc. My parents were scared to death I was gonna become “one of those Beatles.” It all worked out.

      Thanks for dropping by.

      Dr. B

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