Archive for the ‘favorite known bands’ category

Darin and Brooke Aldridge- in case you missed it

April 16, 2012

I hope you got there; what a fine festival. In case you missed it; there is a way to see these young folks in the next best venue to live. Darin and Brooke’s new DVD, recorded at the Easter Family studio in Charlotte N.C. is as close to the excitement of a live show as you’re gonna get.  Invite over family and friends for popcorn; you can’t go wrong with this DVD.

        Go to thier website to order:

Dr. B


Carolina Lightnin’

January 12, 2012

        I thought my readers would enjoy this clip. I first met Tommy Edwards way back when he was with “The Bluegrass Experience,” the 1972 Union Grove World Champion band. Here he is joined by some fine musicians and friends old and new. Dr. Peter Temple and Tommy were my first big bluegrass influences. If you are ever in the N.C. Research Triangle area (Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill etc) look for them at places the Q Shack, The Blue Note Grill, and the Pittsboro General Store. Check ’em out. Fine picking and singing; the real deal for traditional music.

Dr. B

I Thought I’d Seen it All

July 17, 2010

        Along the way I’ve converted more than a few folks to our music. Every so often someone will ask, “Doc, what is it about this music you love so? I just don’t get it.”

        I might give ’em a CD, or better yet, take ’em out to eat and then to a show. Every time I do this and take them to see Darin and Brooke Aldridge they end up quoting their song title, “I thought I’d seen it all. Wow are they good!”

        Your father’s bluegrass was great music and I love it, but the young artists have gone to a whole new level.

        Darin and Brooke are natural musicians, but they’ve worked hard too. As a kid, Darin would stay up all night and dissect out his last show for even the smallest of errors. By the time he auditioned for Charlie Waller it was, as Charlie said, “like he’s been playing with me for years.” He hired Darin on the spot.

        Brooke is a cute little country girl with the big voice. Hear her one time and you’ll never forget her. She’s sung in church and wowed crowds at County Fairs since she was a tyke. You hear about family values; well these young people live it and share the family talent with us somewhere on the bluegrass road almost every weekend.

        You can nominate them for any IBMA award and not go wrong, but the categories of “Emerging Artist,” “Female Vocalist” and “Gospel Project” seem extra apropos. Check out their website: Hearing is believing. Don’t take my word for it. Go see ’em.

       They are in Boone today at the High Country Festival along with my other favorites, Balsam Range, the Harris Brothers and more. Here’s that link:

        The grass needs cutting but my Marfar said, “Oh honey you can work any time. Today you need to play.”

        How could a man not love a woman like that?

        I’ll be back to fiction next week, but I wanted to tell you of my friends first. See you then.

Dr. B

Bluegrass Doctor Weekend

April 9, 2010

       We got a jump-start on the weekend last night. I played with my wife’s band (Guitared and Feathered) at Harvey Nursing Home. It’s just as regular tour stop for them as the bar scene is for aging rock ‘n rollers, but they don’t need chicken wire to protect the stage from flying beer bottles. The bass player is really cute, doesn’t chew tobacco, and takes me home after the gig! (She’s my wife) I have the life.

      A big thunder storm came up right as we were ready to go. They almost called it off because of the weather. The residents met. Their leader is a lady who will be 100 in May.  She said, “tell ’em the show must go on. For all we know we might not be here next month.”

        I don’t know about y’all, but I ain’t ever gonna turn down anyone that brave. The ladies rocked the house, and at the end of the show that elderly woman went down the hall on her walker singing “Bye Bye Love.”

        Today I play in a bluegrass celebrity golf tournament. (They forgot to ask if I was a celebrity so I signed up anyway.) I’m not sure who drew J.D. Crowe. Don’t tell anyone, but I am paired with a former Florida mini-tour veteran who once played in the British Amateur. I heard Greg Luck was gonna be there, and I figured it was my only shot at him. Greg is a stout player. He knows good and well I’m old, have a bad back, and can’t hit it anymore, so he usually feels sorry for me.       

        Wednesday I made sure the old Neuse River converted school bus was up to another tour season. I pulled away the canvas circus tent cover that protects it for the winter, climbed in, and turned the key. As one old bluegrass boy said, “She crunk right up.” Me, Moose Dooley, Rossie Douglas, the Warbler, and the whole gang are gonna troop over to Cherryville, N.C. for the Darin and Brooke Aldridge festival. It’s the good old days all over again.  Check their web site for all the details.

        What a line up. Tonight it is Closer Walk and also the youth band. The kids are often amazing talents; I always scout for who might play for me when I get to the Nursing Home. Darin and Brooke will play a set too.

        Saturday kicks off with the eclectic Rev. Al Dunkelman and New Plowed Ground, and then the Harris Brothers come on.  They are one of the best blues bands I’ve ever heard. Balsam Range is there; they are some the finest new progressive bluegrass guys on the planet, and so is J.D. Crowe, the master of the traditional 5 string banjo. And Lord knows Darin and Brooke are my favorite husband/wife duo anywhere, a blend of modern acoustic country duets, gospel, and bluegrass that is unsurpassed. 

        Me, I’m gonna take it all in. In beween stage shows, I’ll sit under a shade tree with my wife, count my blessings, and jam with anyone who comes along and wants to play.

        Come pick one with me if you get a chance. I’m the old guy is a straw hat and sunglasses; can’t miss me. Y’all have a fine weekend; old Doc is gonna rock the best he can.

Dr. B

The Bluegrass Way- Portland West to North Carolina East

April 7, 2010

        All us bluegrass folks are more alike than we are different. The other day I got a CD from a group all the way out in Portland, Oregon, Kathy Boyd and Phoenix Rising. It was a gospel project titled “Walk Humbly.”

        Isn’t that a great title? Bluegrass people everywhere tend to be more humble than much of modern society. They are so talented, and yet do not seek celebrity, but play because it is a spiritual thing. I’ll bet they are a lot like the bands I have been in over the years. We did some private parties and shows, but much of it was for nursing homes or schools, or a fund-raiser for some poor soul struck down by illness. We played because our souls could not get by without music.

        The CD liner notes and pictures remind me of our people right here in North Carolina. Ms. Boyd is a petite dark-haired lady bass player (as is my wife) surrounded by a trio of tough-looking hombres in cowboy hats and beards. I noticed their fiddle man doubled on the mandolin. Unless the cat can play both of them at the same time, I might just have to sit in with them on the mandolin if we ever get out to Oregon. My favorite was “Faith, Hope, Bluegrass Music.” Those three things sustained me through some very lonesome times in the doc gig, so the band spoke my language with that cut for sure.

        Check out their website at

        Guys, if you ever tour North Carolina look up old Doc.  I’m the one in the straw hat and sunglasses, and I often wear some wild Sam Bush Hawaiian shirt with pineapples on it. I know all the best jam sessions around. One time some folks were in from England to take in MerleFest. We were the opening act for Larry Sparks at Perry’s Auction Barn in Statesville just before the big festival, and someone sent the visitors over to ask me where they could play. They hung out with us and jammed with Charlie Waller at a regional bluegrass hang-out called the Bomb Shelter the next night. They said they liked that better than MerleFest! I’m not always that lucky but we’ve had a great run of it.

        I hope to post soon on a North Carolina event coming up this weekend. Rising stars Darin and Brooke Aldridge have their own festival, and it promises to be a dandy. Look over the line-up at

        I’ve got some doc paperwork to catch up on, but I’ll be back with some more stories soon. I hope to have an announcement on my book any time now. As my agent says, he’s gonna go out on the patio and switch on the party lights. When he met me he had only a very peripheral knowledge of bluegrass. The good news for us is now he’ll insist on a bluegrass band for the music. 

        When an old doctor can get an intellectual man to realize bluegrass music is like “Using your Bible for a Road Map” as to how to live life you’ve done something right, but I gotta give Indie all the credit. I learned it from him, and I’m gonna pass it on to you in “The Mandolin Case.”

        Talk to you soon.

Dr. B

In The WNCW Studio With Balsam Range

March 11, 2010

        Mountain Home records has it going on.  This little label is setting it in fire North Carolina. The have two of my favorites bluegrass bands on their roster, Darin and Brooke Aldridge and Balsam Range.

        It is clear to me the label is progressive and looking for the young bans who refuse to put out cookie cutter art.  I spend an afternoon in the WNCW studio with Balsam Range. Like other fine modern bluegrass bands, they respect the tradition, but are innovative and keep pushing forward. When you listen to their music, you’ll hear plenty of bluegrass, but also country, blues and jazz.

        When I was a kid our world was segregated, but I used to love to watch the African-American spirituals on Sunday morning television. The picture quality was poor; an old grainy black and white black and white, but it didn’t diminish the soul of the music one bit. These guys even have some of that kind of sound too.  They didn’t wear those cool old robes though.

        My wife and I joined them for a sound check. Dennis Jones, the bluegrass voice of the airways in the Carolinas (and the world via Internet stream) gave them their final instructions.  Once on the air it didn’t take long for the boys to break out of the mold. 

        “Let’s see. It’s been a while since you guys have been here. When was your last visit to the studio?”

        Marc Pruett: “1947.” 

        Everyone laughed and it was on.  If you go see Balsam Range plan on a good time.  They are gonna have fun whether you like it or not. 

        Dennis Jones is a masterful engineer. He sat at this huge console that has about 4,000 knobs and buttons, only 1,000 of which I knew what to do with.  He could see the little boy in me dying to play and called me over.

        “Put on these headphones, Doc.”

        “Thanks. Man what a rich sound.”

        “The kids call it ‘pfat’ nowadays, Doc.”

        “Hey, what does this knob do?”

        He smiled.  “It controls the volume in your mix.”

        I eyed the board.  Fascinating to an old doc. “How ’bout this one?”

        “I wouldn’t mess with the other ones, Doc. They can shock you if you don’t know which ones to twist.”  He broke into a wide grin.

        “Yes sir.”

        Man could he dial you in. Most bands I have played in work off the economy mix. We all hear the same thing in our ear monitor, and have to compromise a bit to make everyone happy.  The WNCW Studio B set-up allowed each player to ask for more or less of each component until the mix suited them.  I know for a fact this is a band that gets along, ’cause every one of ’em asked for more banjo!

        They mentioned on air Balsam Range will be at the Darin and Brooke Aldridge festival on April 10.  There will be some very traditional bluegrass bands like J.D. Crowe, but also a fine blues band, the Harris Brothers. Darin and Brooke are the host band. They are bluegrass, but also lean towards modern acoustic country and gospel.  This festival is a good introduction for folks not familiar with our music as it offers variety, the highest quality, and a very reasonable price. It is a festival that needs to be on every southern bucket list.

        Balsam Range is not afraid to be different.  If you have a Romanian folk dance number you like send it to ’em.  They might just give it a whirl. Check ’em out at  Visit WNCW 88.7 too at Dennis Jones has one of the best Saturday bluegrass and Sunday morning gospel shows in the world. You can pick ’em up on Internet steam if you visit their site. One of these fine days good old Tommy Bibey might come across the air and play you a tune.

        I don’t think I’ll twist too may knobs on that board, though.  It is pretty electrified for bluegrass, and I don’t want to get shocked. 

Dr. B

Standing Room Only

January 19, 2010

        We got a call last night from Darin and Brooke Aldridge.  Today is their official CD release day.  Their show at the Don Gibson theater sold out.  Maybe I should say it ‘Souled Out’ as Johnny C. would sing, ’cause they have soul and aren’t afraid to show it.  

        There is a reason for all this.  Folks love their music. There is nothing more to it than that.  Dennis Jones of WNCW 88.7, the bluegrass voice of the Carolinas and Internet stream radio predicted their success over a year ago.  Eddie Stubbs of WSM Grand Ole Opry radio loved their CD and told the  world.  Kyle Cantrell of Siruis radio has an interview on tap in February.  

        As big as that is though, it is more than that.  These folks are professional musicians, but they haven’t forgotten to sing from the heart.  They aren’t pro-tooled or fluffed up or marketed or packaged in some pop culture homogenized cookie cutter art.  They are real.

        They are red clay and mica; mountain church suppers and funerals, late night jam sessions and endless road miles in search of their voice.  Their people want to hear this kind of music.  The barbers and preachers and teachers and mechanics and doctors and all kinds of regular people who are weary of a greedy world spoke for these artists, and they spoke loud.  As Indie would said, we are all gonna have a large (bluegrass for big) time.

        The Aldridges are in music because they were both born and called to it.  They aim to use their gift to let us forget, at least for a moment, all the senseless hate, power, and ego that often dominates our modern world.  

        As the Stanleys would say, ‘It’s standing room only.’  For the fine people who have music in their heart and didn’t wind up with a ticket, I sure am sorry to say there are no more for this one, but there will be many more shows. 

        For some folks it is ‘Standing Room Only Outside Your Heart.’  For them I hold no animosity, but only regret they are so hard-hearted they don’t even take a minute to hear what these kind of artists have to say, or even worse do their best to degrade traditional music by preconceived notion.  This you can be sure of: we will never go away.  One way or another you have deal with us.  

        I believe people who love true music have grown tired of the status quo.  If I never in my life see an artist exploited by some dude out to make a buck who can’t play the first note, it’ll suit me just fine. 

        It is obvious from the turn-out I am not alone in that opinion.  Folks like me have always been out there, but we have begun to find each other.  Through the power of the Internet, the grass-roots movement has taken hold.  It is now much more than just a bit of kindling smoke a few of us die-hards breathe on to keep the fire burning.  Bluegrass based country music is poised to make a serious comeback via young artists like Darin and Brooke Aldridge. 

        If you don’t believe me, ask Dennis Jones or Eddie Stubbs.  They are experts.  Or you can come to the Don Gibson Theater and see for yourself.  It’ll be standing room only but the Fire Marshall might let you stand in the back a minute and take it all in. 

        Marty Stuart sold out his show there, and now Darin and Brooke Aldridge have too.  My guess is theaters like to see a full house in these hard times, so traditional music seems to be off to a good revival in Shelby N.C.  Given it is the home of Don Gibson and Earl Scruggs it is as it should be.