Archive for the ‘Darrell’ category

Christmas Recital

December 22, 2007

        The obvious most important thing about Christmas is Jesus, no doubt about that, and I am thankful His grace was injected into this old world.  The Christmas Pageant is my favorite part of the holiday, ’cause it is all about His birth, and I have to admit I have fond memories of my Marie as a donkey, too.

        Next to the Pageant, though, my second favorite event in the county is the Recital.  Every year Darrell gathers up all his students and coaxes them onto the stage where he backs them up on a tune.  They are beyond cute.

        My job is backstage manager.  My most important role is to be sure their instruments are in tune, and I sometimes wonder what they might have sounded like over the years without the assistance.  And too, many of the little ones are scared half to death, and I’m proud to say old Dr. Bibey can always calm ’em down, and no, I don’t use any medicine on ’em.  I never was too big on nerve pills, and believe it best to play music to calm ones anxieties.  (I realize it doesn’t work for everyone, I wish it could.)

        I’d give the same last minute admonition I’d told my own young’uns when they were coming along, “It’s like doing neurosurgery, if you mess up just don’t say oops,” or at least I did until Lee Stewart’s (the famous neurosurgeon) nephew got a hold of the phrase, and began to use it in the school yard.  Dr. Stewart was a little upset that people might think he did his work that way (I assure you he does not) so I stopped telling them that.

        About the only bump in last night’s show was when little Amy fell and bruised her elbow, and came running across the stage hollering for Dr. Tommy right in the middle of “Mary Did You Know?”  (She was O.K.)

        It was all good, but I especially enjoyed this one little guy who about wore out his D18 on “Christmas Times a Coming.”  He was chomping away on a big wad a gum and had a “tabula rosa” stare with a spooky reminiscence of the Warbler, our lead singer.  That nonchalant look as one rips through a near impossible passage is imperative to reach the upper echelons of our music, and is present in almost every bluegrass virtuoso I have ever known.  Here is the secret that is so hard for the non-bluegrass world to understand, and I’m gonna quote it ’cause I said it.  “If they wuz worried all the time they couldn’t pick like that.” So, NTW.

        Of course, Darrell has had the look ever since I’ve known him, but he held back to let the kids shine tonight.  Still, there was no mistaking his wonderful back-up on “Silver Bells,” and that little single aught Martin he played worked the mic like a champ.

        There were mandolin duets and trios, and even one old mandolin orchestra number, “Carol the Bells,” like what you might have heard around the turn of the last century.

        Preacher Vincent did a fine recitation of Grandpa Jones’ “Christmas Guest” and Summer the girl singer sang a bluegrass version of “Oh Come, Y’all Be Faithful.”            

        Then the whole gang came back to the stage to close it out with “Silent Night,” and we all went home in the Christmas spirit.

        This is my last post before the big holiday.  All the young’uns are in, and we’re gonna enjoy seeing them.  I’ll be back right after Christmas.  To all you folks who have taken the time to read my crazy weblog, and be a part of the County, I wish you the best- Peace on Earth.

                                           -Dr. Tommy Bibey


Singing the Gospel

November 5, 2007

        Darrell and Summer, the girl singer, sang the gospel last night at Maple Springs Church.  How anyone could come away from there and not be a believer is beyond me.  Summer has always been a powerful singer, but now the young’un has taken up mandolin, and did a fine Skaggs sounding break on “River of Jordan.”  She must have a good teacher.

        Darrell and Ed “Lightning” Littlerod did a new old brother duet on “Stormy Waters” that made the hair stand up on the back of my neck.  It was one of those spare arrangements with just guitar and the two singers.  Fine work. 

        The dobro man was right on, and told some funny country tales.  Banjo Bryan nailed his usual professional performance, and the boys let old Doc play a couple tunes. 

        It was all good.  Get out and see ’em sometime, and tell ’em Doc Bibey sent you.

         Tis Monday am, gotta go turn into a Doc.  See ‘ya.

     Dr. B

Twin Mandolins

October 10, 2007

        Darrell had a recent show in our area, and decided to bring me up on the stage to do a twin mandolin number.  He was in town a couple weeks before we were to play, and gave me a quick lesson on the piece.

        “Daybreak in Dixie.”  Of course, I knew the number, and had done in with Neuse River a number of times.  When Darrell works up a piece, though, it goes to the next level.

        He dropped by the house one evening and put a copy of Grisman and Bush into the changer.  The two players blazed through the solo.  What a remarkable performance.  Lightening fast, and yet the harmony was perfect on every clean note.

        I listened intently, and had to laugh.  “Come on Darrell, maybe you can play like that, but I can’t cut that gig.  I’m a doctor, man.” I grumbled. 

        “NAP, Doc.” (Not a Problem)

        “Maybe for you.”

        Darrell played through the Gris part first.  Exactly how he could extract the solo out of the mix, I don’t know, but when he did, it could hear it.  Yep, it was Gris all right.  A little Monroe, some characteristic jazz and double stop slides, and some signature pentatonic licks thrown in for good measure.  All clean- it was Gris, no doubt.

        “Yeah, well that cuts the Gris gig.  What are you gonna do about Bush?”

        “That’s you, bros.”

        “Right.  You ain’t got that much time.  The show date is in two weeks.”

       “You can get it.  Darrell took my mandolin from my hands, and slowly worked through the piece, as if he were injecting it with some kinda magic to speed up the process, and then handed it back.  After fifteen minutes, I was starting to get a handle on it.  Somehow I doubted Sam was worried about his role as a bluegrass rock star.  Better keep my day job.  Finally some semblance of the tune began to emerge.

        “That’s it, you’re about there, let’s take it up to speed.”

        Of course, I wrecked that, but Darrell kept tinkering with it, and after a while it began to take shape.  Finally I realized what he doing.  He was getting me to play it my best, but where I couldn’t match Sam note for note (which was often) Darrell would fill in the blanks.  The rascal was taking me to the highest level he could (I’ve been told I play good for a doctor) and then would make up for my deficiencies by injecting some extra notes into his part.  In essence, he was playing Gris, and some of Sam, and I was playing Tommy Bibey!

        He did a fine job of it, ’cause come show time, the number was actually quite good.  It was like singing along with the stars on the way to work in the morning- when you are traveling with the right company, you can sound pretty good.  Alone in the studio the tape doesn’t lie, but on stage, with Darrell covering the lead, I was pro for a day.  Several people came up to me afterwards, and said it sounded just like the record.

        I thanked them, but didn’t give up the secret.  At the same time, I cast a glance towards my stethoscope.  Better not give up my day job.  Besides, I had a full schedule at the office come Monday morning.  The way I saw it, someone needed to doctor on the musicians when they got sick, and who better than a Doc that at least had some idea of what they were doing.

Dr. B