Archive for the ‘favorite instruments’ category

Message in a Mandolin Bottle- The Journey of The People’s Mandolin

April 19, 2010

        As a kid I was fascinated with the idea of messages and far-away lands. I was just a country kid who loved to read books and had a big imagination. In reality, my odds of a Tahiti tour were about as good as Jimmy Stewarts’ character George Bailey in “A Wonderful Life,” but it didn’t stop me from being a dreamer at times.  I always wanted to put a message in a bottle, toss it in the ocean and see where it would wind up.

        As an adult I haven’t changed much. The life I chose was the right one for me, but it kept me close to home.  I was good with books and people and a country doc was just the right career. I loved music but didn’t have the talent or the temperament for the road. But at times I still dream. My wife and I plan to see some of the country before we get too old to go, and we hope my book will be our tour ticket to find all the right people.

        The other day I came up with an idea I want to run by my readers.  Even though I’m an old man, deep inside I’m a kid who still wants to float that message out to far-flung places I’ve never seen. I decided for me it had to be a message in a mandolin bottle.

        I’m sure you must wonder what I mean. Who ever heard of a message in a mandolin bottle? I guess it would take a fellow who wrote a book called “The Mandolin Case” to dream it up. Here’s how I’m gonna send it out there.

        I have an old Kentucky ‘A’ style mandolin I’ve had for many years. Sometime back a luthier friend dressed out the frets and replaced a broken bridge. The pick guard was lost years ago. It is not any kind of investment grade mandolin but it is very playable. I decided this mandolin was the perfect vehicle to float out my message. It is the people’s mandolin.

        The people’s mandolin will begin its journey at MerleFest, 2010. There I’m gonna turn it over to some picker who lives far away and ask them to kick off the journey.  After they play it and sign it, I want them to pass it on the someone else.

        There are only a few prerequisites to participation in the message. I ask that no one keep it more than one month. I want each person who plays it to sign the mandolin before they pass it on to the next person. You may pass it on to anyone you wish, but I hope you will try to choose true bluegrassers. You know who they are.

         I would like for folks to put on a case sticker to promo their geographic area or favorite band. Also, I want you to log onto the “Journey of the People’s Mandolin” page and leave me a note and picture of your neck of the woods so I can post it on my blog to document the mandolin’s travels. If my mandolin shows up at your favorite festival maybe a picture of you holding it beside a banner to promo your event would help your cause. My blog now has readers all over the world, so it can’t hurt.

        When you find it, leave me a post as to its whereabouts. I’ll plug it into one of those maps with the dots to show where it is and we can watch it criss-cross the country. Who knows, maybe I can convince one of my favorite bands to take it abroad when they tour Europe or destinations even farther removed.

         I hope at times it might serve to introduce kids to the instrument. If your grandchild were to borrow my little mandolin and learn “You are My Sunshine” off my double stop lesson of April 14, 2010, that would be very cool. I would want to hear about anything like that, and would love to post links to You-tube videos of this kind of thing.

        It is hope that my mandolin message in a bottle will find me new bluegrass friends and serve as a scout of sorts to show me and my wife the path to festivals and bluegrass events around the country.

        As the mandolin makes it journey if you are uncertain of its authenticity, you can take it to the record table of festival performers to be sure it is the right one. Mandolin pickers like Darin Aldridge, Wayne Benson, Alan Bibey, Mike Marshall, Darren Nicholson, and many others will verify that I am real and the little Kentucky is indeed my mandolin. Buy a CD from them, the road is hard and they make great music. Ask them to slap on one of their case stickers when you see them.

        Pass it on. I would like to get the mandolin back in five years or when I wind up in the nursing home, whichever comes first. But don’t forget, it belongs to the people.  After I get it back I want to donate it to some music museum if anyone will have it. They should, because anyone with any sense should know this music belongs to the people. If we all stick together, no one can take it away from us.

Dr. B


The Old Guitar All Brand New

October 10, 2009


        Billy found me at band practice Thursday night.  “I just couldn’t wait, Doc.”  He opened the back door of his car and pulled out the case.  “I added some more duct tape.  It’ll do, but I think we ought to get another case someday.  This one ain’t fitting for a man of your position,”  he laughed.

        He set it on the bed cover of my truck and opened up the case.  The top flopped back on the two hinges still left.  He’d rigged up the inside with some foam and towels to give some extra support.  The old guitar nestled there like a baby at nap time.  Moose Dooley came over to inspect. 

        It was dark-thirty but between the daylight left, a full moon, and a lone bulb on the Moose’s garage I could see he had worked a miracle.  I picked it up and sighted the neck.  Perfect.  I held the sound hole up to my nose.  “What kind of glue did you use, young’un?”

        “Hot hide, sir.  Fresh. The old stuff like they used to use in the Martin factory.  I re-set the neck and if it ever has to be reworked again it’ll be a snap… err …a breeze.  Sorry.”

        “It’s okay.  Raymond has him a guitar nowadays.  Don’t worry.”

        I strummed a few notes of ‘Here Comes the Sun.’  It was one I used to play for my wife.  “Boy, it frets good.” 

        He waved his hands, anxious to relay every detail.  “The frets are the best part, Doc.  I had a buddy who used to work at Gibson.  When they moved the high end guitars out to Bozeman he got a roll of 1953 vintage Gibson fret wire.  It was all green and moldy, but that cleaned right up.  We figured it’d be at least a close cousin to the fret wire on your Gibson mandolin.”

        “Lord have mercy, you went all out.”

        “We know how traditional you are.”

        “That’s as nice a spin on old and stubborn as I’ve ever heard.”

        He laughed. 

        I played a G run.  “How’d you get the fret board so level?”

        “I had to plane it, and I saved all the shavings.  Then I ground them up into sawdust, mixed in a little epoxy, and filled in the divots.  Good, huh?”

        I took a closer look.  “Good?  It’s perfect.  Who says a touch of OCD is a bad thing?”  (I have some myself I’m proud to say)  “Good Lord, kid……. my goodness, it’s like twenty-five years ago.”

        Every detail was tended to.  He had taken apart the old tuning pegs and reworked them.  The one he found one for the ‘B’ string that was such a close match I couldn’t tell it was the odd one out, at least in the moonlight.  He re-glued the braces and fashioned two new ones.  There were new bridge pins to replace the old gnarled up and broken ones.  He used real bone for the nut.   He buffed it all out by hand, and touched up some rough spots where the wood was exposed, but was careful to leave a vintage look. 

        It was now the ‘auto-distressed model,’ a look comparable to the factory reproductions folks pay thousands of dollars for.  Money just can’t buy memories.  This one was real.  The boy was young, but he had the wisdom to restore the guitar to playable and still not take away it’s character.  When I looked at it I could see my wife at twenty-two, or my kids tucked in at night before they knew the world had any problems.  I raked across the strings.  When I closed my eyes I heard echos of Raymond the fiddler wail the lovesick blues around a campfire at Fat Boy’s Barbeque.  It was bluegrass loud.

        The Warbler drove up.  “Whatcha got , Doc?”

        I gave some quick history and handed it to him.  He brushed the strings.  “Hey, this is good.  He broke into the old Bill Monroe number.  “Sitting alone in the moonlight….”  She’s bluegrass.”

        I motioned towards the kid.  “Billy here put it back together.”

        Warb played a few more notes.  Moose turned to to Billy.  “Son, that thing is good.  Play it under the moonlight and it stands as good a chance to cure cancer as old Doc does.”

        “At least it’d help a man live with what is,” I said.  “It’s got the sound, huh?”

        Warb resumed the tune.  “Wondering about my darling….I can still hear her say good-by….”

        Billy smiled.  It’s hard to satisfy a bunch of old pickers.  He had done good.  Forever more he was true bluegrass, and I’m certain he knew it.

Dr. B

My Old Guitar

October 7, 2009


        Tony Rice did a song called ‘Me and My Guitar.’  When I hear it, it always makes me think about mine.  I’m sure everyone’s guitar has a rich story behind it.

        I recall the first guitar I ever saw.  It was a dingy gray-ish hue (now they’d call it charcoal) Silvertone with a white pick-guard and Black Diamond strings.  It rested against the wall in the corner of my Uncle’s basement.  I thought it looked lonely.  It was the first of many strays I thought in need of a home.  It only had five strings.  I messed with it three months before I realized they usually had six. 

         I let my crew cut grow out and my parents were afraid I was gonna become one of those Beatles so I let it go for a while, but I dreamed of that guitar.  I saved up money from mowing lawns and bought one.  It was some no name knockoff dreadnaught, but it had a decent enough sound.  It was more than acceptable for a kid. 

       My buddies and I formed a garage band.  I got the job as the guitar man ’cause I knew more than three chords and made up a solo on ‘Louie, Louie’ that impressed them enough to get by.  We asked one boy to sing lead for the group.  He protested he didn’t know how to sing, but that didn’t matter.  We wanted him on board ’cause all the girls said he was cute and we figured they would come to our shows.  It worked.

          We were terrible though.  My parents were right.  I was much better at science than guitar.  When I got a date with the Homecoming Queen it wasn’t from my guitar skills, but because she needed help with Chemistry.  Early on it was clear I was destined to be an ordinary reliable guy and no rock star.  My friend made a ‘B’ in a tough course.  I made an ‘A’ and went on to medical school.  

        In spite of no apparent star quality I kept on.  I met my wife (then girlfriend) and played every kind of song you can imagine for the girl.  I even sang for her.  Bless her heart, she married me anyway. 

         With my first paycheck as a doc I got a used Martin D28, but I held onto the old one too.  We’d take it to the beach or the lake and out in the boat.  I loaned it to my cousin and he tipped over the canoe and dang near drowned both the guitar and his date.  She as not impressed.  They broke up.

         I played it and sang my kids to sleep at night.  My version of John Denver’s ‘This Old Guitar’ put ’em right to sleep.  I was never a natural singer, but I learned enough in those sessions to get a start as a part singer.  Years later Darin Aldridge helped me get to a passable level of vocal skill.

        The kids began to play it.  They’d run through the house with the guitar in tow.  It got hosed down in the lawn sprinkler one day.  By now it had several battle scar cracks.  The guitar only cost fifty bucks when I bought it, and was not worth a trip to a professional luthier, so I super-glued the cracks.  They held. 

        One friend’s wife hocked his D-18 guitar at The Jewelry and Pawn and then divorced him.  (She inspired the ‘Mean Woman Blues.’)  It turns out Johnny gave her a hundred dollars  for it, and held in under the counter until my pal could get back on his feet.  We took up a collection and Johnny sold it back to us for a hundred bucks.  Everyone involved knew a D-18 was worth far more than that except that woman.  We waited till the divorce was final, and then gave him his guitar back.  

        While he waited, I loaned him my old one.  He said he used to play it and watch Saturday Night Wrestling with his mama to get over the divorce.  When it came back home it smelled somewhere in between day old beer and the men’s locker room.  I left it on the porch for a few months to let it air out.

        The guitar became a perpetual loaner.  Raymond the fiddler landed a gig at a bluegrass bar as a guitar sideman and tenor singer.  The only problem was he did not own a guitar.  He borrowed mine for his audition, and I let him keep it for six months. I guess it was sort of like an worker’s insurance policy of sorts.  I figured he’d wind up unemployed if I got it back too early.   

        I should have had a better case for it.  It was still in the one that came with it, a vintage chip-board by then reinforced with duct tape.  It had Amtrak tags on it from the train ride when we took the kids to Disney World. 

        One night Raymond flipped his car on the way in from a show.  It snapped the neck of the guitar, but he expoxied it back into place.  It was straighter than you might think, and still very playable.  I was just glad it was the neck of the guitar and not him.  Guitars can be repaired; humans can be hard to fix up.  After that gig was up, the old guitar was covered with cigarette burns and sported a long gash on the back.  He couldn’t recall when that happened.  It aired it out on the porch again, this time for a whole summer.  

            In old age it became a starter guitar for the kids in the neighborhood.  I don’t know where all it traveled.  Sometime in those years it developed a wood smoke type aroma.  I suspect it survived Boy Scout campfires and countless bad choruses of Kum Ba Yah.  It would stay out late at night and I often had no idea of its whereabouts, but I trusted it to do right.  Later it would wind up back on my door step, often with a thank you note.

         In the end it was broken down.  I took it to my office as a final resting place, the equivalent of a guitar nursing home I guess.  The glue had worked its way loose in spots, and a couple braces were missing.  The top sagged and the bridge bellied up.  The face was covered with pits and gouges and the neck was warped like a ski slope.  The rutted fret-board looked like someone had taken a wood chisel and carved out a permanent G run road map.  One tuning key was lost to posterity.  The strings weren’t Black Diamond, but they looked the part and were rusted and dark.  Some kind of odd moldy growth infested the sound box.  I considered sending a culture to the lab just to worry them, but we were Corporate by then, and I wasn’t sure they’d take to the idea.  It sat in the corner of my office where I would tend to it on occasion, though it was unplayable.   

        One day a young man spotted it in the corner.  “Wow.  A guitar.  Can I fix it up?”

       “Sure, son.  I don’t think it’s worth much, but you can give it  a try.  It needs a new home.”

          That was two years ago.  Monday this kid calls me.  ‘Hey Doc, I’ve about finished your guitar.”

        “How do you mean?”

         “Refinished it.  A couple of us took a class on how to fix up guitars and we used yours to practice on.  She’s as good as new.”

         “Really?”  I finally stammered.

        “Yep.  You gonna be in Friday?  I thought I’d bring it by your office.  A bunch of us learned how to play ’cause of you and we want you to have it back.”

        “You gotta be kidding me.”

         “No sir, no kidding.  Man, it’s gonna be right.”

         “We’ll I’ll be.  Dang, I can’t wait to see it.”  I hung up the phone.  Can you beat that?  I can’t wait till Friday.  I’m gonna be like a kid again.

Dr. B

Heather’s New Home

March 15, 2009

        This post is not about stray animals, although we love them.  We have all we can handle, and should not take on any more if we want to stay in the good graces of the neighbors.  Musical instruments are another matter.  

        Take this new one I ran across.  I couldn’t help but fall in love.  She was a broken down little tenor guitar, and needed a home so bad.  We took her in and nurtured her like a lost puppy, and she has found new life.  We named her Heather, after a line in an Irish tune. 

        A couple years ago, I helped a fellow with his CD.  He played dulcimer and wanted a few mandolin tracks.  I was happy to oblige.  He offered to pay me, but I knew his project was on a tight budget and I wanted to help him out and do it professional courtesy.

        People don’t forget though.  I was looking for a tenor guitar to play with Al Donnelly, an Irish folk singer I sit in with every so often.  My dulcimer friend heard and gave me a call.

        “Hey Doc, I hear you are looking for a tenor guitar.”

        “Yeah.  Al would like some of that sound in his Celtic work.  I haven’t seen one in years.”

       “Well have I got a deal for you.  I found one.  You want it?”

        “I’d love to look at it.  How much do you want for it?”

        “It’s not for sale, but I’d love to give it to you.”

        “I couldn’t let you do that.”

        “You might change your mind when you see it.  It has been in my attic for years.  The thing is in pieces.  I forgot it was up there, but I saw it the other day and thought of you.  If you can put it back together you’re welcome to it.”

        It was in bad shape sure enough.  The neck hung by a thread and was bowed like a ski slope.  A couple of frets and a tuning key were lost to posterity.  There were several cracks and it was covered in tar and splatters of paint from when they remodeled their house.

       “She’s beautiful.  We’ll take it.”

        I had some old Stew-Mac banjo tuners at the house.  I put all of it in a cardboard box at took it down to Johnny’s Music.  Our local guitar guru opened the package and pulled out the pieces with tender care. 

        “I agree Doc .  She needs a new home.  Yeah, I can put her back together.”

      “How much?”

       “Hmn.  Fifty bucks and one office visit.”


        The ‘Harmony’ decal is half gone, and the lower bout has a huge crack we didn’t try to repair since it got auto-sealed with roof tar.  We couldn’t get out all of the splotches of paint.  It has nicks and gouges and probable bar room battle scars.  Lord if she could only talk.

        But then again she does talk her language.  Tenor guitar is tuned in fifths like a mandola, and has a dark lonesome sound.  When you play ‘Will Ye Go, Lassie, Go?’  it is, to borrow a line from my friend Wayne Benson, about as Celtic as man can get if he grew up two blocks from Burger King.  

        I played it this morning.  The thing looks like you drug it home tied to the rear bumper of your car.  We believe it dates back to the 40s, but is only worth about $75.00 on the market, though much more to me.  After all, Heather is like a stray pup and now part of the family.   She is a mutt, but they are always the best ones. 

Dr. B


Here is the chorus to ‘Will Ye Go, Lassie, Go?’

“And we’ll all go together

To pull wild mountain thyme

All around the blooming heather

Will ye go, lassie, go?”

Dr. B’s Secret Mandolin Finish

January 21, 2009

     Wasn’t Itzhak Pearlman great at the Inauguration?  I am not a violin expert, but I am certain he played a genuine Stradivarius.  What a player.  What tone.

        No one knows the exact secret to the sound of those violins.  Foremost is the talent of the builder.  (And the musician of course)  Many people think the wood indigenous to the area at the time was a factor, and others are convinced it was the varnish finish they used.

        Mandolins have similar lore.  The most prized ones, the Gibson Loars from the twenties, are the mandolin Holy Grail.  They now trade in excess of 200 grand, which has put them out of range for most pickers.  Some of the top level players own them.  Sad to say, but many of them have been snatched up by collectors and speculators, and are out of circulation for now.  I wish they were all in the hands of the best players.  That is where they need to be.

        Dr. B built three mandolins along the way.  In reality, I mostly just sanded and learned that maple was a very hard wood, and did some design and staining.  I also drank a lot of coffee and told old bluegrass tales.  The real work was done by my luthier friend Dick Strum.

        I did come up with the base for the stain and finish though.  The archeoligists will discover this when they dig up Harvey Country hundreds of years from now, but I am going to go ahead and tell you the secret.

       The finish on mandolins is often called ‘Tobacco’ or ‘Tobacco Sunburst,’ so named for the area of lighter shade in the center of the soundboard and back.

        Our secret strain carries on that tradition.  I took an old cigar a patient gave me when their baby was born and ground it up, added a small bit of saliva, (gross, I know) and poured in a splash of Old Spice.  Then I dissolved it all in equal parts coffee and Indie’s Jim Beam, and let it cure a few days.  It was perfect ’cause it smelled somewhere in between a Doctor’s office and Indie’s cabin.

        After that we combined the mixture with luthier grade varnish and applied it with as close to a French polish as a man who grew up in Harvey County could do.  We only put on a very thin coat.  It does not hide the flaws, and allows the top to vibrate with more freedom, hence improved sound.

        It worked.  Several professionals have played it, and they say it is very good, though no one thought it was the next Loar.  If fact, no one recommended I give up my day job either.  I like to believe that was ’cause they wanted me to keep at the Doctor gig, and not any inherent lack of confidence in my future as a mandolin builder.

        I kept one to play in church, and gave the others to my children.  Maybe it ain’t a Strad or a Loar, but I still think the cigar, coffee and Jim Beam aroma gives it some bluegrass authenticity.

Dr. B

Weber, Weber, and Weber (A Tale of Three Mandolins)

June 17, 2008

        No, this is not a post on a law firm.  (Most Docs are scared of lawyers, but I have several good friends in that profession.)  This Weber is a luthier, and in particular is Bruce Weber, a mandolin specialist.  He also builds mandolas, arch top guitars, and a variety of related instruments.  I have three of his mandolins from three different eras.  After a quarter century as a semiprofessional performer I know mandolins almost as well as know anti-hypertensives.

        I own one of his 2008 Weber Yellowstone “F” style mandolins.  It is as fine an example of the instrument I have ever played, and I have had the good fortune to try quite a few over the years.  Mine is the honey colored one with tortoise binding.  (It is imitation tortoise for the environmentalists out there.)  I have looked it over a number of times and there is not a single flaw in the craftsmanship. 

        Of course how it sounds and plays is far more important than how it looks.  It has a crisp, clear tone, and notes with ease.  The old joke about mandolin as Italian for “out of tune” does not apply here.  The intonation is perfect all the way up the neck, and the slight radius to the neck makes it easier to play for old Docs with arthritic hands, though radius is a personal preference thing- he also makes plenty of them with a flat fret board. 

        As far as professional quality mandolins go, the Yellowstone is moderate in price.  I find it equal to or better than instruments that cost tens of thousands of dollars more.  This mandolin was closure for me- cure of a disease known as mandolin acquisition syndrome- the endless search for the holy grail.  I have given up even my old daily habit of perusal of the classified ads.  The hunt is over.

        I have another Bruce Weber instrument from the 1990s, and I have even more emotional attachment to it, because my wife gave it to me.  It does not say Weber on the headstock, but it was also built by Bruce Weber.  It is from a famous company, but for legal reasons I do not wish to disclose the name.  I have several lawyer friends, but I have no interest to test their skills in any legal battles.  Back in those days even though Mr. Weber was building for another company, the mandolins were also excellent.  My daughter is learning to play and has this one right now.

        Then from the 1980s, I have yet another one from yet another company, but again built by the same Mr. Bruce Weber.  Again I cannot name the company.  This mandolin is an “A” style, and was retrofitted with a McIntyre pick-up.  At this time, it is out on loan to Darrell for a series of gospel performances.  I believe Mr. Weber uses McIntyre as his standard pick-up when he installs one at the factory.

        Mr. Weber has built fine mandolins for several decades, but as he says, now that his name is on them they are better than ever.  It is unsolicited, and I am a doctor, not a touring mandolinist, but IMHO (bluegrass for in my humble opinion) there are none better.  As far as my mandolin, I don’t leave home without it.

        If some of you mandolin aficionados out there want to guess the name of the corporations I will tell you if you are correct, but I won’t print the full names of the companies he built for before he started Weber Mandolins.  I have been successful to avoid legal trouble for all these years as a Doc, and I sure ain’t gonna get in trouble over my little mandolin.  But it is sure enough a good’un- the best in my book.  Y’all go check out Mr. Weber’s web site- Weber Fine Acoustic Instruments.  I think I’ll go practice, his mandolins sure are fun to play.

Dr. B

Mandolins and Kidney Stones

November 24, 2007

        I became a mandolin player by default.  I understand Bill Monroe picked it up the same way, when his brothers had already laid claim to the fiddle and the guitar.  (He got better than me, though.) 

        When I first came to town, I was a banjo player, but as soon as I heard the Moose pick the five, I switched to guitar.  Moose told me they were short on mandolin players in town, and I’d see more work if I learned how to play it, so I took his advice.  

        The first gig I ever played was a Halloween party at a local church, and it was a baptism by fire.  I only had my mandolin three weeks, and protested when the Moose called, but he was insistent- his regular man had run away from home with a French accordion player he met at Galax.  He knew a good man over in Raleigh, but he was out on the road with his regular band.

        As they say in bluegrass, it was rough style.  I hung back from the mic, and tried to chop along on the three chords I knew the best I could, and did one short solo on an easy piece Moose assigned.  We left the stage, and I complained it wasn’t very good.

        Moose said, “You’ve only had the thing three weeks- what didja expect- David Grisman?”  Still, I was his regular mandolin player from then on.  For the first ten years I guess he felt sorry for me, or maybe it was there was no one else in town who could play, but I never got fired.  (We knew of one band where the lead singer fired his mama, the bass player, on a regular basis.)  Maybe it was because I was reliable, never missed a gig, and was always on time and sober.  Come to think of it, maybe it was in spite of that.

        The day I knew I had the mandolin job permanently, though, was when the Moose missed his only gig.  We figured no one would know it was bluegrass without a banjo, and I was the only one in the group with some skill on the instrument, so I left the mandolin in the case.  It wasn’t very good. 

        More important though, was the fact Moose didn’t make the show due to a kidney stone.  I met him in the E.R. an hour before the gig.  As he told the rest of the guys later, “I knew Dr. B was a good friend, but I didn’t know how good till he showed up in the E.R. with that morphine.”  A kidney stone is everything it is cracked up to be.  After I passed mine, I called up several patients and apologized for my insufficient empathy.

        We are now another decade down the bluegrass road (the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band longevity record has been eclipsed) and I believe my spot is relatively secure.  Bluegrass bands are like baseball teams; everyone brings a different skill to the table- the trick is blend it into a team.  The Good Lord didn’t give me the pipes to sing lead, but I have worked hard to be a serviceable baritone (some say monotone) part singer, and I’m a decent but not spectacular utility mandolin guy.   As far as I know, though, we are the only semi-professional band in the area with medical benefits.

        As the boys always say, I play good for a doctor, and a fellow who can treat a kidney stone comes in handy every once in a while.

Dr. B

The Gift

October 24, 2007

        I once went to a picking party in Western N.C.  Some Doc was turning forty-five, and his wife threw a big shin-dig for him.

        By the end of the party, I reckon every picker there would have wanted to marry that woman.  You see, she gave her fellow a brand new Weber signed Gibson mandolin that day. 

        I hadn’t thought about that day in years, but I ran into that Doc at a festival recently, and he was still was playing the pride and joy.  Now the mandolin was old and battered, but still played true, and even though the Doc was noticeably gray haired, he hadn’t seemed to age much.  I reckon having a mandolin, and a wife, like that kept him young.

        I asked how his wife was doing.  She was fine, he said.  In fact, he had recently gotten back into guitar, and she had bought him a new Martin.

        Not surprisingly, he is still married to the same woman. 

Dr. B