Archive for the ‘Moose Dooley’ category

Blugrass Inn #2/ A Good Fund-Raiser/ Doctor Sponsored Bluegrass Side-man Sick Pay Plan

February 12, 2012

        I played Saturday night with singer/songwriter Al Dunkleman and sat in for part of a set with Max McKee at the Bluegrass Inn #2. It was great fun. I’m not up to a commitment to an every weekend gig, but the arrangement with Al is perfect. He does all the prep; I am just the side-man, but I try to be a reliable one. We play somewhere about once a month. In March we have a big fund-raiser for the Abuse Prevention Council at Cleveland Community College. It’s one of my favorite gigs. I know I am a Pollyanna but I belive if everyone was busy with their family and career and played music they would be too content (and tired) to be so dadburn aggressive.

        Right now my health won’t allow me to reliably front a regular band. In fact, until someone wants to hire a doc for two hours of light activity followed by an hour nap and a shower, I’m not up to the regular doc gig either. However, even if disabled I will always visit once or twice a week as long as I am able to walk. The patients and the staff mean too much to me not to.

        I miss not having a regular band. At the Shelby Music Center jam last Saturday I got to pick with my old band mate, banjo man Moose Dooley. It brought back memories. One time years ago we did a banjo duet on a flat-bed truck stage at the Harvey County court-square. Moose suggested “Remington Ride.” I kicked it off, but lit into the wrong song. When Moose realized what I’d done he switched to the tune I kicked off,  so were in synch for a moment. Then I managed to break into “Remington Ride” while he continued on with the tune I first kicked off. It was an unusual duet! I was always doctor first and musician second. I learned a lot of music from those boys.

        At the jam, one mandolinist told me he had to have some surgery and was gonna be out six weeks. He asked if I would fill in if they had a gig to come up. I said yes of course, and it led my brain to dream up “The Doctor Sponsored Bluegrass Side-man Sick Pay Plan.” I’ll fill in with any local or regional band, health willing, and do so professional courtesy. I figure I’m the only side-man around who can cover your gig, write you a doctor’s excuse, let you get sick pay for your gig, and have zero motivation to try to steal your job while you are out. I am not up to any regular commitment anyway, so no one needs to fear that kind of treachery from me. (They didn’t before I was sick either) My only reservation is that I do have to be sure the gig is not the week of chemo. I missed one because I failed to account for this variable and was too sick to play. It was the only show I ever missed, and I felt bad about it.

       We are semi and near retired and live out in the country. We wanted to be near the home of Earl Scruggs, but still be within shouting distance of good old Harvey County and also the central part of the state where my daughter lives. So if you need a side-man and the gig isn’t in chemo week, well, have mandolin will travel. (short distances only) I’ll go about an hour’s drive from Charlotte N.C.; any direction with enough notice. We love the mountains too and get to the Asheville area every so often, and I’ve played in Fletcher at the Feed ‘n Seed. Of course much of this is big talk; if I’m sick I can’t make the gig, but I do my best to never promise what I can’t deliver.

        Y’all play hard.

Dr. B


Where to Find My old Recordings

June 6, 2011

        I am what I seem; a country doc who played in a lot of semi-pro bands over the years. Much of it was Neuse River for local BBQ church suppers and fundraisers. But I also had a secret life a while back I’m gonna tell you about. I played with several very high level regional bands. We recorded several CDs and saw good reviews in BU and other reputable trade magazines. I also thought I was the weak sister as far as talent, but I found my place. After all, how many bands can claim an on-staff doctor who can take care of you if you are sick, write you a doctor’s note to be out, fill in on either mandolin or guitar, sing the baritone, play the gig, and donate your cut for the gig as your sick pay?

         It will take a little time, but my old pal Moose Dooley plans to organize, archive ,and catelogue all those CDs and offer them for sale to the public. In keeping with my long-term plan to separate my doctor and art life as much as practical, all these CDs were played under a stage name, but no fear, you will know it is really me. I give you my word.

        When people buy a CD I like for them to know where the money goes. In keeping with my long-standing belief that money needs to go to the artists, not the biz people, Moose has assured me all the profit will go to the artists on the CDs. (There will be some expenses to get the project going, as some of the recordings are out of print. I was one of the artists, so I will see about 20% of the profit. In roughly equal parts, I plan to do the following with my share. I’m gonna buy my sweet wife some tokens to thank her for all her care. If I live, (and I think I will, a big part of the credit is to her. We have great health insurance, and few needs, but I might use some for a few incidentals that aren’t covered, such as an extra cane or another pair of balance shoes. The rest I’m gonna send to MACC. These kids need it a lot more than I do.

        Look for a link on the right side of my weblog page titled “Where to Purchase my old CDs” It may be several weeks, but I will keep you posted. It will have contact info for Moose Dooley Enterprises once he gets the operation up and running.

         And before too long look for some Moose Dooley stories too. I know a lot about him from his rasslin’ days.

Talk to ya soon.

Dr. B

The “I’m Busted” Blues

March 1, 2010

        When Ray Charles renders “I’m Busted” he sings it like he means it.  I’m sure he does.  For all his success he saw plenty of hard times in the early years.

        Most people who sing the blues with feeling have lived it at some point along the way.  If a guy was to sing the line, “My attorney has a significant difference of opinion with my spouse’s counsel as to the correct interpretation of our prenuptial agreement” it just doesn’t carry the same power as “that woman done tore my heart out.”

        When I hear a fellow say he has it tough because “the first quarter portfolio statement did not reflect our anticipated yield” I can’t say I feel sorry for him.  But when Ray Charles sings “I’m busted” I believe it even though I know he was likely quite well-to-do at the time.

        Years ago we added on to our house.  The dry-wall man was a fine banjo player.  I’d come in from work and have him take a break to show me some licks.  My wife had to shoo me out so we could get our new bedroom finished up.  When we finished the project we had an open house to celebrate and he brought his band to play.

        The lead singer was a red-faced man who sweated profusely as he sang some of the saddest stuff I’d ever heard; things like the Stanley’s “Daddy Please Don’t Drive Drunk No More.” It was a great private concert. After a few songs, I turned to my pal Moose Dooley and said, “I wish I could sing like that.”

        Moose said, “Doc, you ain’t drunk enough whiskey to sing like that.”

        Moose was right. I never did make much of a blues singer. I’ve had too much good luck to be very authentic in the genre.  But at least I did sympathize with the folks who were down on their luck, so I learned to sing a little bit of the blues.  It’s like what they say about my mandolin work; “You ain’t bad for a doctor.”  

        If a man was to say, “Given your chosen profession as a physician your vocal skills have reached a reasonable level of proficiency,” then I would know for a fact they were no blues singer before we struck the first note.

        But if a man flops his hat on the sidewalk for tips and sings “I’m Busted,” then I’ll probably sing along with him the best I can and buy him some lunch.  I ain’t got the blues, but I know it when I see it.

Dr. B

World Tour T-Shirt

December 7, 2008

        Years ago we had a World Tour T-Shirt.  It read, ‘Neuse River World Tour 1988.’

        The band’s picture was on the front.  We listed our highlights for the year on the back.  The gigs were things like “Live at the Convalescent Center,’ or ‘Harvey County Tractor Pull.’

        We had some big gigs that year too, like opening for the Doug Dillard Band. (The banjo player for the old Andy Griffith Darling Family)

         Moose Dooley, our banjo man, went to the beach one year and swore some hot chick was wearing one, but I think he was telling a tall tale.

        If y’all see one of those shirts, let me know.  I haven’t spotted one in years, but I’m on the look-out.

Dr. B

Bluegrass Dress Code

July 18, 2008

        I’m gonna dedicate today’s post to the English Professor- tomorrow is his birthday.  Happy 49th Birthday from everyone in the bluegrass world, brother Ted.

        The English Professor had some thoughts on bluegrass band attire he wrote up on one of the bluegrass forums, and it brought back memories for me as to Neuse River’s dress code.

        For years, we would have band meetings to decide on a uniform dress code for our gigs.  Our lead guitar man, Elam James, was elderly and favored conservative attire.  “Boys, I think we need to dress right for out show dates.  People don’t forget how you look on the stage.”

        I would agree.  “Elam is right y’all.  Whadda you want to wear?”

        Moose concurred.  “We need to look sharp.  Dark pants, white shirts, string ties.”  Everyone would nod in agreement.

        Come showtime, though, they all forgot.  I remember one year at Galax.  We were due on stage in fifteen minutes.  Elam and I waited in our dark slacks, white shirts and string ties.  Simpkins had on a suit and tie, but wore a Country Gentlemen hat in honor of Darrell, the only one in our crowd to turn pro.  (Darrell was on tour with the Gentlemen at the time.)  Stroker, the lead guitar man, showed up in a tie dyed shirt and a bandanna.  Oh well, Stroker has been voted coolest cat at Galax eight years running, so I was not surprised.

        “Where is Micheal?” (The Warbler)  I asked.

        Simpkins had seen him in the line for “Common Tater” baked potatoes.  I found him there engrossed in a conversation with some young lady from Peru who looked like the team captain for the high school cheerleader squad.  We were still missing the Moose.

        Moose arrived directly.  He wandered out of Double D’s trailer/warm up room, and stumbled when he missed the first step.  It was no wonder.  He had on some sort of novelty glasses which made him appear cross-eyed and in the low light of near dusk the boy couldn’t see a lick.  I convinced him to save the glasses for the stage- they were dangerous.

        Here Moose had gotten all of us to wear standard issue duds, and he was decked out in some wild Hawaiian shirt and a western frontier vest with leather fringes like the Dillards used to wear.  He sported a dime store dreadlocks hairpiece, and a giant ill fitted Mexican sombrero was perched atop his head.  Evey time the wind blew, he’d have to catch it- hard to play the banjo like that I tell you.  When we got on stage, Raymond would knock it off with his fiddle bow on the hot breaks.

        In spite of all that we did well, and finished 12th that year.  We might have won, but the Moose broke into a Rastafarian version of Pretty Polly on the last banjo break.  The judges at Galax are very traditional, and I don’t think they were amused.

        Like the English Professor, I have found bluegrass bands to be eclectic non-conformists who march to a different drummer.  I guess we are hopeless romantics who think the cure to the world’s ills is but a song away, and while immersed in the music there can be no pain or suffering. 

        Bluegrass musicians are like country docs- to try to get them to all think or dress the same way is harder than herding stray cats.  Or maybe it’s akin to English Professors from up North who pick bluegrass music- you have to expect the unexpected when it comes to us musicians.

Dr. B

Moose goes to Merle Fest

November 26, 2007

        One day the Moose called, and said Neuse River needed to take a road trip.  He had heard through the bluegrass grapevine (this was before the days of the Internet) of a new festival way up in the mountains.  He thought it had potential, and the band needed to go.  It was in Wilkesboro, and was called the Watson Festival.  Moose was right- it was to be a big one, as it morphed into the now famous Merle Fest.

       Me and Moose, Rossie Douglas, and Jimmy Coltrane all loaded up the Neuse River converted school bus and headed west.

        We didn’t even have reservations.  We landed in the lobby of the only hotel in town at the time, instruments in tow.  Merle Fest was still a small affair in those days.  The lady checking us in spotted our instruments.

        “Welcome to Wilkesboro.  Are you boys artists?”

        “Howdy, ma’am.  My name is Dr. Tommy Bibey.  Yes ma’am, we are artists- we heard about the festival and….”

        Moose elbowed me, and motioned for me to move aside.  He saw an opportunity not to be overlooked.  “Yes, Ma’am.  We are.”  He produced a business card and flipped it on the counter.  “Neuse River- Harnett County.  We need to pick up our artist’s badges, if we could.  Also, if you would please show us to our rooms.  We’re opening for Peter Rowan at seven, and need to warm up.  I apologize for our tardiness- Dr. Bibey there ain’t much of a driver.”

        The woman went back into the adjacent office, and began to sift through some papers.  She looked flustered, and made a few calls.

        “GG, (Good Grief) Moose.  When she asked if we were artists, I think she meant like performers on the stage.  You’re gonna get us in trouble.”

        “NTW, (Not to worry) Doc.”  Moose was confident.  “You worry too much- it’s bad for your health.”

        In wasn’t but a minute, and the woman retrieved some documents indicating we were on the bill.   “I’m sorry for the delay, Mr. Dooley.  Your room will be available shortly.  Let’s see, that is four artist badges, is that correct?”

        “Yes ma’am, and thank you.”

        I couldn’t believe it.  When we got to the room, I inspected the contract.  All of us could read it, so the boys were certain I had nothing to do with it.  This was the work of the Moose. 

        “Hey Moose.  Where did that come from?  Is it forged?”

        “I dunno.  You worry too much.”

        And so it went.  Thanks to the Moose, and those passes, we had the run of the place.  We ate breakfast with Mac Wiseman and Earl Scruggs, and rode to the festival every day in the courtesy van, one day with Doc himself, the Moose chatting away with him like a long lost friend.  We picked in an onstage jam with Jack Lawrence- I thought we pushed our luck there- Moose was a fine banjo man, but I think Jack had some doubts about the qualifications of the mandolin player- and hung out backstage all weekend.  All in all it was large time, as we say in bluegrass.

        Even then, with no advertising other than word of mouth, it was clear Merle Fest was special.  It was slated for indoors at the Community College, but the venue was quickly overrun, and a second stage was set up outside on a flat-bed trailer.  It was just the kind of setup we were accustomed to, so the Moose was again right at home. 

        It might be hard to believe now, but back then the bluegrass business was new to Wilkesboro, and local law, as well as the public, were unfamiliar with the music world.  For most of them, their background in event security had been crowd control at the local NASCAR race.

        New Grass Revival was up next,  and the Moose was slouched over a fence waiting to take in the show.  About that time Bela Fleck came running up.  He was late and had left his I.D. badge at the hotel.  He was spotted by a burly security guard who was determined to deny him access.

        “I’m sorry son, if you don’t have a badge, you can’t come backstage. College President orders.  No tickee, no washee.”

        “But I’m Bela Fleck.  I play with Newgrass- we’re on in twenty minutes.”

        Moose noted the commotion, and moved to intervene.  He waved at the officer and flashed his artist pass.  “It’s O.K., officer, he’s one of us.” 

       The officer inspected Moose’s badge, called in on his two-way, motioned Bela on in, and turned to the Moose to apologize.  “Sorry, Mr. Dooley.  This music thing is new to us here.”

        “NAP, (Not a problem) Boss.”

        As so it continues to this day.  I learned early on it was best to have the Moose run interference for you, and filed away the experience for future reference.

        Merle Fest has since become the biggest acoustic music festival on the East Coast- check out their web site- it is sure enough one Dr. B recommends, and that ain’t fiction.

Dr. B

Moose Dooley “Live at the Rex”

October 8, 2007


        One year Neuse River played the Rex Theater in Galax, Virginia.  Quite a good show it was, and the exposure on the radio throughout the southeast took the band to another level.  We did a couple numbers with the Blue Mountain Diva, and she was a heckuva girl singer. 

        Hey, if you are in Galax, try the Galax Smokehouse.  Along with the gig came a complimentary meal, and it was extra good.  If you play bluegrass music, you become an expert on barbecue, and the ‘cue at the Galax smokehouse was on par with our hometown Bee Bridge’s BBQ, as high a rating as I can give.

        We finished up the show around eleven, and left town precipitously.  I thought it was ’cause the girls were after the Moose, but it turns out that Buddy Wrong heard the Warbler, our lead singer, on the radio, and was on his way to Galax to make good on the twenty bones we still owed him from a gig.  It was late, and all  the banks were closed.  We couldn’t cash our check from the gig, and barely had enough money to get home.  Moose convinced the Virginia State Patrol of the authenticity of a threat on the band’s safety, and we left under police escort.

        Once we got back to the Interstate, it was smooth sailing.  The Highway Patrol waved us off, and we proceeded south through Fancy Gap.  Man, that was the worst pea soup fog I had ever seen.  Moose ain’t never scared of anything, but I could tell being wedged in between those eighteen wheelers with visibilty limited to about twelve feet was not his favorite gig. 

        I wasn’t worried.  Every once in a while, Moose would wake me up to help navigate.  It was one of the few times I thought he  needed any assistance, so I would stay awake for a while, but once I saw he wasn’t having any trouble negotiating his way down the mountain, would drift back to sleep.

        The Rex is a fine gig, an old time live radio show like what you used to see all the time.  If you are in that area, and you like live bluegrass music, it is worth checking out.

Dr. B