It was a fine weekend. I had Friday afternoon off, and Snookers and I played nine holes of golf. Marfar caught us at the turn to remind me we needed to get to the Don Gibson theater for the Darin and Brooke Aldridge and the Snyder Family show. We “crunk” up the Neuse River converted school bus and turned on the GPS. I forgot to re-set the gadget from last week, and it routed us via York but we enjoyed the scenery.
I’ve often said if I made the Grand Ole Opry it wouldn’t be in a Prevost bus, but the maintenance crew would let me in the back door. That’s about the way it was. I gave Marfar her ticket and she went on in. I went around back and opened the door. The sound man spotted me. “Hey Doc, how was your game?”
“Huh? How’d ya know?”
“The golf club, Doc. It’s a bit of a give-a-way.”
“Oh yeah, I guess so.” I took a swing. “Boy, this is a good’un. Got a little extra snap at the bottom. Old man club.”
“So, how’d ya do?”
“39. Not bad, but Snookers clipped me for a cheeseburger.”
“He’s tough. We’ve got some chicken and ribs. Go past the dressing room and take a right.”
“Great, thanks.” I could hear the Snyders in the background. Man, those kids can play.
I walked on in. “Now let’s see, was that left or right? Where’s that GPS when ya need it?” I took a left. My goodness, it was the stage at the Gibson.
I called over my shoulder to the sound-man. “Hey, tell the boss not to worry. I know amateurs aren’t allowed on the Gibson stage, but I know not to take a divot.”
He laughed. “Gotta re-do the floor every winter anyway, Doc. He demands the best.” I took three steps and there was Dennis.
“Lord have mercy; Dennis Jones. My favorite bluegrass DJ in the history of the world. How in the world are ya?”
“Great, Doc. Let me introduce you to the audience.” He cranked up the mic and gave “The Mandolin Case” a fine plug. In return, I gave him some medical advice as to shoulder discomfort, then went to get some ribs and take in the rest of the show.
I stopped at the artist sign-in board. Hm. Lots of famous names here. Alison Brown, Marty Stuart, Darin and Brooke Aldridge, the Snyders, Marianne Faithful. “Oh, what the heck.” I got out a perma-marker and drew a caricature of Bibey peering over the fence, and signed it. “Bibey was here.”
The unknown now mingle with the famous. I couldn’t help but wonder at the reaction. Who the heck is that?
Infiltrated by some old country doc. Hard to hold ’em down I guess.
The “Bluegrass Sweethearts,” the Aldridges, turned in another fine professional show as they always do. Hard to hold them down too. They find new fans every week now.
I let Marfar drive home as we wanted to get in before three AM. The next day we took in the Dennis Jones WNCW 88.7 show, “Going Across the Mountain.” Check it out sometime; you can access it by Internet stream anywhere in the world. Here’s the link: www.wncw.org
In Harvey County you can hear Dennis and WNCW one of two ways. We do have the Internet now, although it’s still on the party line. It works great as long as you don’t mind sharing with your neighbor, (I don’t) and we usually listen to the station that way.
Sometimes we still gather at City Hall to crowd around and listen to the show. City Hall’s right there in the back of the Dairy Queen. For a long time it and the old State Theater were the only places in town with air conditioning. Mayor Clay rigged up an antenna on an out-of-service telephone pole, attached a couple of rabbit ears, then wrapped ’em up in tin foil. (It’s how we used to pick up Fred Kirby over in Charlotte)
If you leave the contraption pointed west you can get WNCW 88.7 without fail. When the cloud skip is just right, it’s extra clear. In Harvey County we like it at least as good as the Grand Ole Opry. (Don’t tell Eddie Stubbs I said that. I think a lot of him too, and when I go to Nashville I want to be just as welcome there as here in Harvey County or on the Gibson stage.)
We spent Sunday morning with Dennis and “The Gospel Truth,” then in the afternoon cruised over to Indie’s cabin. We had a late lunch of chicken on the grill, ‘mater sandwiches with Duke’s mayonnaise on light bread, and corn on the cob, then floated around in inner tubes most of the afternoon with a glass of Arnold Palmer. (half lemonade and half sweet tea)
The old “Sail With the Pilot” clock at the cabin still turns backwards the same way Indie rigged it up before he died. I’ll never forget Indie’s lessons. It’s important to be the best Doc you can be, but it’s also important to live large and not hurry. Me and Marfar are gonna keep doing that even when the modern world protests.
My agent sent me a book review from England. The gentleman enjoyed “The Mandolin Case,” and found it a quaint laid-back way of life he didn’t know still existed anywhere these days. He liked the spare writing and the pace of the story. I was humbled by his kind review.
I gotta admit it wasn’t all that hard to write even if it did take me a decade. I just thought everyone lived this way. All I had to do was show what I’m lucky enough to see every day.
So, back to the Doc gig. Remember my advice to Dennis, my bluegrass brother and King of the Harvey County airways, “If it hurts, don’t do it brother.”
All the best,