Archive for the ‘All Things Southern’ category


February 23, 2012

        Tis almost here. I hear spring peepers tonight and banjo frogs too. A balmy breeze wisps by my ears; not a smidge of chill to it. As Russell Moore used to sing in “I’m Leaving Detroit,” ‘I’m going where those southern breezes blow.’ (Me, I get to stay here.) Little springs of green have begun to sprout and the birds wake me up in the mornings. I believe they are bluegrass birds; they seem to sing in three-part harmony.

        I went out this evening to hit some shag balls. It doesn’t even resemble golf, but it is still fun to be out in the sun and the breeze. It reminds me of when my boy was young and would go out with me at dusk to hit a few. He was  a quick study and was good at the game in a few seasons. Like music it’s best to start young. He doesn’t remember not being able to play. Hm. Maybe I’ll be struck with youthful exuberance and somehow learn the game again. Tonight’s wild shot dispersion reminded me of the days of youth when I took up the game. (around 12 or 13 years old.) Hey, I can still be a kid for a while!

        Before the sun sets I sit on the back porch with my wife, have a Coke float, and pick on the banjo. (Just loud enough for my own amusement but not enough volume to bother the neighbors). I’m such a simple man; simple things made me perfectly happy and content. As my daughter always said, “Daddy, you’re so simple you’re complicated to people.”

        Y’all have a blessed spring. It is almost here. Say a prayer for our recently departed here at home who didn’t get the luxury of one more season.

Dr. B


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

Southern Comfort/Southern Conflict

April 15, 2011

        We’re at the Southern Writer’s Conference in Chattanooga this week. Southern Comfort. It conjures up images of whiskey and bluegrass music. Bill Monroe wrote an instrumental called ‘Southern Flavor,’ but half the time I call it ‘Southern Comfort.’ Southerners can play some cool roots music and tell stories and cook pigs. There’s a lot of comfort in the culture, and yet also there has always been great conflict in Southern life.

        Even as a kid I thought we had a peculiar institutional gentility that seemed so odd. Some of our comfort was derived from the conflict of others, yet no one openly acknowledged it. We had a black lady named Georgia who worked in our home. I couldn’t understand how anyone could be prejudiced against her, but people were. No one was prejudiced against Georgia’s fried chicken though, I promise you that.

        Good fiction has to have conflict, and southern life yielded some powerful writing. Twain once said (paraphrased) “when he saw trouble he’d write his way through it.” I grew up in relative comfort but it was clear to anyone who had their eyes and heart open everyone wasn’t so fortunate. For fifty cents we could play golf all day long, but a black kid couldn’t set foot on the property. Very strange.

        In spite of it all, though, people are drawn back to the comfort of home, even if it was conflicted in their youth. I hope nowadays the South can offer all people more comfort than conflict. Guns and violence are part of southern culture too. I realize that’s part of the landscape, and maybe has to be at times, but as for me I’d rather play music. Maybe everyone doesn’t like my music, but that’s okay. Everyone is entitled to their personal preferences. I suppose that would be considered a conflict for some people, but at least if folks don’t care for the mandolin no one dies over it.

        ‘Southern Flavor.’ (‘Comfort’) It’s a fine old tune. I think I’ll go learn a new version.

Dr. B

My Reed’s Bookstore Gig Goals

January 14, 2011

        In my last post I promised I’d tell you my hopes for my gig tomorrow at Reed’s. At first glance you might say, “You’re a writer, your goal is to sell books.”

       On the surface, that is true I guess, but it isn’t my number one objective. “The Mandolin Case” has sold well enough that if it keeps this up in another year I’m gonna be on the bottom of the N.Y. Times best seller list and someone up there might just ask, “Who the h#** is Tommy Bibey?”

        I believe a man not satisfied with all that stands even odds God will strike him down to prove a point, and I’ve had the fear of God in me since my mama put it in me as a boy.

        So you might ask; what is my goal?

        I’ll be at Saltillo High School today. I hope some of them will come to Reed’s Bookstore tomorrow. I hope to show the kids that one can find a life of grace and dignity through the arts. If even one decides a life of materialism and celebrity is just too shallow a goal and decides to pursue another route to happiness, I’ve done my job.

        All I’m gonna do is what I did at West Henderson High; ask the kids to consider what folks like their teachers like Mr. Cliff Searcy there or Ms. T. in Saltillo have to say. Every so often an outsider needs to come around to remind folks, but your heroes are right there in your hometown, just like they are here in Harvey County.    

        And that is my goal.

        If I sell enough books to make gas money back home that’s just gravy on the biscuit.

        See you at Reed’s tomorrow. Y’all bring a guitar and come pick a tune.

Dr. B

The Return of Tommy Bibey- Reed’s Bookstore

January 12, 2011

        Well sure enough I wound up going to Mississippi in 2008. I met the school kids in the library and also their English teacher Ms. Turner. Some of the kids dubbed me as an “Honorary Mississippian.” I recall I said to a student named Carrie, “You’re a smart girl and a good writer.”

        Her little pal who stood next to her puffed up with pride and said, “Carrie is real smart; she’s going to Ole Miss next year to study pharmacy.”

        I like people like that. A friend of mine says “true friends are never jealous or envious.” This little girl wanted to make sure some stranger come to town knew she was proud of her friend Carrie.

      We stayed at the Jamison Inn, and I promised Mark the manager I’d play a mandolin tune before I left. April from housekeeping was there when I checked out and we sang “Glory Hallelujah Gonna Lay my Burdens Down.” I think we did it in “E.” The lady was a powerful singer.

        We did a Hee Haw show fundraiser at Smitty’s church and they had a slew of fine pickers there. Since then I’ve run into Marty Stuart. He’s a Mississippi boy; so there’s a lot of music in those parts. That night we went to Smitty’s mama’s house and had that fried chicken and Mississippi Mama’s famous chocolate cobbler. Lordy.

       Smitty and I played golf the next day with Elvis, Conway, and the Preacherman from the Hee Haw show the night before. I called my Lit agent to tell him how much fun I was having.

       He said, “Son, you don’t even know where you are do you?”

       I replied, “Yes sir, I’m right down here in Saltillo. It’s next door to Tupelo, the home of Elvis Presley. I saw his house and the hardware store where his mama bought his first guitar.”

       He laughed. “No, as far as books, you don’t even know where you are.”


       “Ask them about Reed’s Bookstore.”

       “OK. Sure.”

      Smitty gave me directions and we drove to Reed’s. We went in to visit. The lady who helped me was named Susan. I noticed a stack of Grisham signed copies on a table and inquired. Susan said when Grisham has a new book release he always debuts it at Reed’s. It’s hard to believe now, but when Grisham started out things were kinda slow an Mr. Reed was kind enough to let him do his book signings there. I guess Mr. Grisham never forgot it.

      I told Susan about my book, and played the staff a song on my mandolin. It was “The Kentucky Waltz.” I looked over at the stack of Grisham books again and said, “Ma’am, I’m no Grisham and never will be, but I think we do have one thing in common. I believe we both know to dance with who brung us.”

      “Yes, he is a very nice man.”

      “Well, let me ask you something. If I ever get my book published would y’all consider having me here for a book signing?”

      “Yes sir. You just call us.”

      “Great! I’ll be back someday, and I’ll bring my mandolin and my book too.”

      When I called last week young lady named Emily answered the phone, and she remembered me from 2008. “You were that tall gray-haired doctor who played the mandolin. I’d just started working here when you came through. Yes, we’d love to have you visit.” 

       And that is how Tommy Bibey, the world’s only physician bluegrass fiction writer wound up scheduled for a book signing this Saturday Jan 15, 2011 at 1:00PM at Reed’s bookstore, one of John Grisham’s favorite hangouts. Unbelievable.

       In my next post I’m gonna tell you what I hope to get done at the Reed’s Bookstore gig. (Hint: I’m a doctor, but I view part of my job as a teacher) One thing about it, I might as well relax and just be me, ’cause I sure ain’t Grisham. No one’s gonna top that cat, ‘cept maybe Twain. 

       If anyone reading this is from that part of Mississippi I hope you’ll drop by. Go see the home of Elvis Presley while you’re there; he’s really famous. It’s a good exhibit that shows all about his raising. Elvis was just a county boy who loved his mama and the gospel, but man could he sing.

Dr. B

“The Mandolin Case” – a Review in N.C. “Our State Magazine”

January 5, 2011

        Last week I started a new page called “All Things Southern.” My first entry was North Carolina’s “Our State Magazine.” (Don’t forget, southern is a state of mind, not a geographic location)

        It was very appropriate, because I’ve lived in North Carolina all my life. As a kid I thought all dirt was either red clay or Sandhills, mica was a some kinda precious gem, and if all you owned was a new baseball glove from the Green Stamp store you must be a rich kid. I recall if we splintered a bat we’d use little tacks to piece it back together, then wrap it tight as we could with this sticky black friction tape. If you hit a home run you’d often lose the ball in the honey-suckle vines at the end of the field. We’d shoo away the bees and find it, but we’d take a break and eat too.

        I know it’s hard for modern people to believe but we had swimming holes and muni golf courses where you could play all day for fifty cents, and picked enough cotton in the summer to realize we’d better study hard. In the winter we’d ride old car hoods down Hillcrest Road when it snowed. This was long before ski slopes came to the N.C mountains; now we have several.

        When someone coined the phrase “Variety Vacationland” we didn’t understand. We thought if you went on vacation it’d be to go see Annette Funicello out there in California, though we’d never been. The marketing guru was right. As kids we’d been on vacation in North Carolina our whole life; we just didn’t know any better.      

       When I first went to the Outer Banks I thought it was the wildest untamed territory I’d ever seen. I loved to hear the ‘Haigh-Tyders’ talk in the old English kinda brogue of theirs. Isolated, unspoiled, and not yet homogenized by mass media, they seemed as free as the wild ponies that swam ashore years ago when the Spanish ships wrecked along the N.C. coast. (they called it the graveyard of the Atlantic) The lighthouses still stand guard there. If you venture down east and want to splurge, go to Tony’s Sanitary Fish Market and Capt’ Bill’s in Morehead City and then the T & W Oyster Bar down in Swansboro all in the same week; we love all of ’em.  

        So as you can imagine, a review in North Carolina’s “Our State Magazine” was a big thing for this old doc. “Our State” is just flat hip, one of those cool glossy old-fashioned yet modern magazines you’ll see in the dentist’s office or the Governor’s Mansion for Heaven’s sake. “Our State” covers the full gamut of the North Carolina’s cultural scene; everything from fine symphonies and ballet to my beloved bluegrass. 

        And they found “The Mandolin Case” to be true to North Carolina. I’d summarize the review, but I’d rather you get to read it, so here’s the link:

       After it opens click on “arts and culture,” scroll down just a touch, and voila, there it is. Good old Dr. B, your basic country doctor next door who picks the mandolin on his weekends off, and there’s my book right smack on page sixteen of “Our State,” one of the most respected publications in North Carolina. It is more than I can comprehend.

        I hope you enjoy the review. I’m gonna do all I can to make my sequel, “Acquisition Syndrome” even better. Like “The Mandolin Case” it is a true fiction physician bluegrass story where the names and circumstances have been changed to protect the guilty. Now that “Our State,” my home state, has recognized me like that I’m gonna work extra hard, ’cause I sure can’t let the home team down.

Dr. B