Archive for the ‘The Monday Morning Post’ category

Another Way to Rent-A-Doc (or other) Books (Free!)

January 16, 2012

        When I did my book show at the Neuse Regional Library in Kinston N.C. I noticed how young the staff was. They seemed very tech savvy too. Like everyone else in this new cyber world they have to be to stay viable.

        My agent just wrote me about a new way to read “The Mandolin Case.” If your library has the service you can download it to your Kindle just like you’d check out a book at the library. Very cool! Harvey County Library is old-fashioned and hasn’t changed much. It is still right across from the mill; just a few doors down from Bolt’s Drug Store where they made the best Orange-Aide in town. Harvey Library is all dusty shelves and hardback books with broken spines, and thumb smudged pages with a musty smell I still love, but they aren’t into high-tech yet. However, I called a few counties west to my adopted home of Cleveland County. I was not surprised to find out the home of Earl Scruggs and Don Gibson was hip to new ways. They have the art going on over there. The librarian at the Cleveland County library in Shelby, N.C. said if you have a Kindle and an Amazon account and a library card, and you could check out “The Mandolin Case” (and many other titles) for two weeks. If you have a PIN number you can even do so from home. Great news for the shut-ins on these cold winter days! 

        I’m all for it. I’ve always loved libraries. If it hadn’t been for my wife and books, this country boy would have never survived.

        So, if do a lot of your reading on Kindle, call your local library and see if they are on board with the idea. In the long run it would save money to check it out at the local library instead of buying it. (It’s OK with me if you buy it too!) and it is another tool to help keep libraries afloat in a tough new world for them. Check it out!


Dr. B


Grandchild Christening

January 1, 2012

        This weekend was the christening service for the grandchild. My goodness.

        All of the family made it in force. The preacher had plenty of good words of wisdom out of The Book, and the baby didn’t fuss over the sprinkling. My daughter-in-law wanted us to play “Amazing Grace.” Darin was there and I brought a guitar and a mandolin so we were more than happy to comply. We also did “”What a Friend We Have in Jesus.” My brother’s wife asked for “Jesus Loves Me,” so we cooked up a quick rendition of that. I guess twenty years from now when he asks about the ceremony they can say the denomination was Christian, Methodist, and Bluegrass Gospel. The parents were the boss of course, so we let them plan it and did what we could to help make it happen. It seemed like a fine way for a baby to start out to me.

        We went back home to ham, all kinds of sides, Mom’s homemade potato soup, good bluegrass black coffee and pecan pie. Mercy!

        Darin and I picked a few more tunes, mostly out of the old Bomb Shelter repertoire from when my children were growing up, songs like “Catfish John,” “Don’t This Road Look Rough and Rocky,” and “I Wonder How the Old Folks Are at Home.” Everyone sang along. My son joined in on the stand-up bass, so that brought back memories too. 

        We raised ours in the music and it all worked out fine. My son and his wife want to raise the new baby in it too and I’m gonna help all I can.

        I’ll post pictures soon. I hope y’all have a Happy New Year. 

Dr. B

Grandpa’s Mandolin Book, a Coloring Book for Children of all Ages.”

December 26, 2011

        My Song of the Day on FaceBook was “Beautiful Dreamer” by Stephen Foster, as played by me. This one makes a fine mandolin lullaby for a grandchild. I feel sorry for families who have no music traditions.

        With severe illness you need some motivation to live, and I had plenty, but this new grandchild gives me more resolve than ever. I can just picture me teaching him mandolin out of my children’s book in five years or so.

        “Grandpa’s Mandolin Coloring Book” is a light-hearted romp through the Creation, ancient Greek history, Bill Monroe, Roy Huskey Jr, the light spectrum of the rainbow, music intervals, and more. I had several test readers on this one and they all offered excellent suggestions. Perhaps my favorite input so far came from a prominent family of professional musicians. In their house the children dug the book so much they got an old mandolin out of the closet and took up the instument. (This was a banjo, guitar, and bass household, but like many of the bluegrass families the adults can play ’em all.)

         It is very appropriate that children would like my book, perhaps even more than adults, because I never grew up. I’ve often said I’m nothing but an overgrown child who God blessed with a decent grown-up doctor brain and a fine wife, otherwise I think I’d a starved to death.

       The book prototype will go back to the graphic artist for some minor revision right after the first of the year, and I hope to have it out in a couple of months. I am very excited about it because it is dedicated to our grandchild and it revives the tradition in our family; we pass it on. My children play several instruments and love music because of the influence of both me and their Mom. I am very proud we passed it on, and the thought the book might facilitate other families to do the same thrills me. And don’t worry, even if your family has no music background this little book will be an easy, fun, and inexpensive way to start a new family tradition.

       Hope y’all had a blessed Christmas and will have a prosperous New Year. Here’s to traditional music in 2012. Let’s all do what we can to raise awareness for the art form. I believe the world longs for real music and our people play it.

Dr. B

Blessed be The Readers

December 18, 2011

        Here we are near the end of the year. Bless all of you readers and artists out there. I developed a very bad illness (brain tumor; it’s hard to type that) late last spring and you have helped me so much. Prior to the tumor my day revolved around my patients. It was  a constant human interaction and while it was stressful, I enjoyed it. I miss them. All of you, my electronic human connections, have bridged the gap and allowed me to feel useful while I am confined to bed or chair much more than I have ever been used to.

        Also I must add I would have never made it through the year without my wife who now has a 210 pound baby on her hands. She is the best. My children have been most helpful too. Even though they have busy lives, they call often and visit as much as they can, which is pretty regular. God bless them too.

        I continue to peck away on my projects. This year I have all plans to release the children’s mandolin coloring book, my second novel, “Acquisition Syndrome,” and a mandolin duet CD with Darin Aldridge (  Also Wayne Benson and I will start “Practical Theory for Mandolin,” which may take a year or more to complete. It is based on Wayne’s lesson plans. I believe his method via this book (or personal lessons with him) will help the less gifted musician (like me!) play at a higher level. Check out “My Art Projects” page on the right hand side bar of my blog for more details on these projects.

        Again, if you are an Amazon Prime member “The Mandolin Case,” and also “The Bluegrass Brain Cancer Boogie” are available as a free download as part of Amazon’s promotion of their program. Check in with Amazon and see my post of 12 14 2011 for details.

       I hope all you have a blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year. As a writer, and a man who thrives on social interaction, I thank you. If you are a writer, musician, blogger, FaceBooker, (At first I though it was called “My Face”) a commenter, reader; really any human being who cares about a life of grace and dignity, I thank you. I am confident I would not have fared as well without you.

        I’ll be back soon.

Dr. B

ALVIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (The Chipmunk Christmas Song or “Christmas Don’t Be Late”)

December 11, 2011

        Back when my boy was in grade school, they did the Chipmunk song (“Christmas Don’t Be Late”) in the choir’s Christmas recital. There he was in the little Alvin outfit complete with the letter sweater with the “A” on the front and the novelty thick black rimmed glasses. They all swayed with the music in perfect time. You know the song. “Christmas, Christmas time is near….”

        My son was like me; he got the “part singer” gene but not so much the lead. But then right on cue he broke into his line “Me I want a hoo-lee-hoop!!” It was loud, clear, on perfect pitch and such a dead ringer imitation of Alvin’s voice I stood up and yelled Alvin!!!!! He broke into a broad grin.

        I told him later that it was perfect and also of the bluegrass way. If a fellow doesn’t have a natural lead voice if he’ll take on the novelty or comedy numbers he can still have a role in the band. (That’s how I learned “I’m My Own Grandpa.” My son still plays and sings and it has all been a lot of fun through the years.

        Y’all have a blessed Christmas.  ALVIN!!!!!!!

Dr. B


November 28, 2011

        This post is to update folks on my art projects. As my last post indicated, my brain cancer diary in now on Amazon. We also hope to publish it in a booklet form soon. You can look it up in Amazon under Kindle Store and “Brain Cancer Boogie.”

“Grandpa’s Mandolin Book,” a coloring book for children of all ages, is now at the prototype stage. It still has some flaws and will go through at least one more revision before it goes to press. A half-dozen prototypes are in the hands of musicians, both professional and amateur, for advice. I hope it will be available after the first of the year, no later than late winter. More details are in my blog archives.

I am almost finished with my final edit of “Acquisition Syndrome.” After that it goes back to my editor Dorrie for her final touches and then on to my agent and the publisher. We are still on track for a spring release. I always liked old Bones Robertson. In this story he shows more than ever how to be decent person but not be trampled on. The lessons were so powerful I felt compelled to pass them on before I’m out of here. (There is no evidence my time is near, so don’t worry yet) In addition there is plenty of bluegrass subplot here, this time with more banjo in the mix. (Can’t have bluegrass without banjo huh? (( except for the “Manzanita” LP perhaps) 

“The Kid and Dr. B” A mandolin duet CD with Darin Aldridge that also features story-telling and a bit of doctor advice. I anticipate early spring on this one.

In January 2012 I plan to start a mandolin instruction book with Wayne Benson called “Practical Theory for Mandolin.” It is based on Wayne’s lesson plans. ((I have taken from him once a month since late 2007)  I plan to devote most of 2012 to this project. This book is designed for the amateur mandolinist who wants to get involved in jam sessions, be in regional bands and play for small festivals, church socials, fundraisers, and private parties. A working subtitle might be “How to play Mandolin if you thought you could only play the Radio.” So if you want to sound like Wayne, my pal Darin Aldridge, “Cuz” Alan Bibey, tone master Adam Steffy, rocking Sam Bush, Darren Nicolson of Balsam Range, red-hot melody man Emory Lester, Mike Marshall or Chris Thile….well, this book alone will not do it; be prepared to start young and spend six hours a day.

        Instead this book is designed for folks who do something else for a living but still want to play the best they can. I am of the opinion that if you start the mandolin as an adult, have a job, kids, bills, etc that it is unrealistic to for most of us (me included) to expect to play at a top shelf professional level, but my hope is this book will allow you to approximate that level of play after you learn some fundamental improvisational skills out of Wayne’s play book. He is going to proof every stage of this project because it is based on his knowledge and lesson plans. 

        After 2012? Who knows? I might be a little less productive on the blog for the rest of this year. My wife loves Christmas, (I call her “The Christmas Queen”)  the kids and grandchild will be in, and I love the holidays with all of them. I will be in touch though so don’t give up on me.

Dr. B

Minnie the Myna Bird

November 20, 2011


        If you read “The Mandolin Case” you know of Minnie the Myna bird at Lou Bedford’s Billiard and Bowl. Since those days she has learned a  new trick.

        In the past she served as a doorbell of sorts and would let out a loud call if anyone had arrived at the B ‘n B front door. Over the decade or so after “The Mandolin Case” Lou taught her some different whistles.

       When Bones came to visit she mimicked a loud perfect imitation of an ambulance siren. For Snookers Molesby it was always a wolf whistle. And when Riley Harper showed up one day the bird instinctively chose the generic “bad guy” call Lou taught her; Darth Vader’s “Imperial March.”

        I know it seems like trivia, but when “Acquisition Syndrome” is released this spring you will have a leg up on the new reader.

        I’ll be on the blog this week, but the kids will be in for the holiday, so it’ll be somewhat limited. Talk to you soon.

Dr. B

A Circle be Unbroken Moment with The Tar River Boys at the Kinston Neuse Regional Library

November 13, 2011

        This weekend was my first book signing/bluegrass picking gig since I got sick. I don’t see how it could have been a more appropriate venue. It was an “old home week/Circle Be Unbroken moment” as I got to visit with my daughter then be on the stage with Dr. Peter Temple and the Tar River Boys for the gig. Peter was my first community medicine mentor and the man who showed me how to combine medicine and music and not compromise the quality of my work as a doctor. He always said I was his only student who made an “A” in both medicine and bluegrass. Back then he had a front porch jam session with guys like Greek, Junior, and George every Wednesday night. As you can imagine, I was never late for class!

        Neuse Regional Library in Kinston is a library with a plan. Young David Miller has regular programs and gets the word out. It was well attended and the crowd was enthusiastic; just the kind of book signing any author hopes they will have. We had a retired English teacher and the long-time promoter of the Kinston Winter Bluegrass festival. (She saw the review of the book in N.C. Our State magazine and recommended the library get in touch with me) There were several musicians, friends of the library, and a number of docs. Several of the doctors were my classmates. There was a neurosurgeon, a pediatrician, and OB/Gyn, an interventional radiologist and  two Family docs.  

        The gig was just the kind I like, very informal and interactive. I’d read a passage from the book, then we’d do a few tunes and I’d explain how the music was connected to the story. Who knows, maybe “The Cherokee Shuffle” will wind up on a movie soundtrack before it is all over.

        So, special thanks to David Miller at the library, and also to the Tar River Boys. Dr. Temple was a life changing mentor for me way back when. As far as I know, Dr. Temple and I are the only two doctor/bluegrass pickers ever featured in N.C. “Our State” magazine.He invited two of the Tar River Boys, witty song-writer/mando picker Roger Sauerborne and precision banjo man Buddy Zincone, who also picks with Greenville Grass to join us. It was a fine session. Most of all I send thanks to my wife who makes all these gigs work these days. I could not manage it alone.

       We tied this show in with a library card drive. If your hometown library wants to get new people interested in the library in a public awareness campaign, esp if you’d like to join me for an impromptu jam session, let me know. I am limited to about one show every other month for now, and need to stay within a hundred fifty miles or so of central N.C. but I’d love to do  more gigs like this one. As Dr. Temple would say it was a large time.

Dr. B

Slow News Day

November 6, 2011

        Not much to report today. For the first time in my life I had to miss a gig due to illness. Don’t worry, it was only a medication adjustment situation and not advancement in my illness. Enough about that. I only like to read of sickness in journal articles. I do apologize to anyone who was expecting me. It couldn’t be helped.

        So, instead of boring you with all that sickness biz I decided to update you on my projects. “Grandpa’s Mandolin Book, a Coloring Book for Children of all Ages” is coming together. This weekend my Lit agent e-mailed me the illustrations from the graphic artist. He captured what I was trying to say. I am very excited about this book. I believe it gives a way for adults to interact with children and for both to learn some basic music concepts.

        In the edit of”Acquisition Syndrome” I should finish my revisions by mid December. This will give my editor Dorrie time to go back over it one last time and then submit it to the publisher. We should make my self-imposed deadline of sometime this spring to release this novel.

        I have a mandolin duet CD in the works with Darin Aldridge. Our first session was excellent and we believe we will finish sometime before the first year. This should be ready for a spring release also. I don’t get away from home as much as I used to but Darin will have it for sale in his travels. Also my Lit agent will see to it that it is available on Amazon. I hope to have some bluegrass/book venues in 2012 if they are within 150 miles or so of home. This would be N.C., S.C. and maybe some in Virginia and Tennessee.

        I will be back with more fiction posts soon. I am recovering from a couple bad days but again moving in the right direction and there is no evidence that I’m gonna be overwhelmed by this. We have an old saying at the office. “Don’t worry till Dr. B says worry.” Y’all don’t worry yet.

Dr. B

Acquisition Syndrome- My second novel (in progress)

October 30, 2011

        “Acquisition Syndrome” is the story of Bones Robertson and medical practice in Harvey County after the death of Dr. Henry”Indie” Jenkins. After Indie died things were about the same in Harvey County over the next decade. The doctors continued on in mom-and-pop type practices that financially floated from month to month. They  made house calls, nursing home visits, and hospital rounds as well as office work.

        Slowly things began to change. Change came to the cities first, and over time it made its way to rural areas. Bones recalled when the first managed care folks came to Harvey County. He was always suspicious of people from out-of-town who showed up in fancy cars and wore expensive watches who were here to “help.” Medicine became about money, power, and control. It became increasingly difficult for small entrepreneurs to stay in practice and became nearly impossible to recruit young doctors who were not inclined to join small organizations that did not have significant capital reserves. Bones began to realize without some changes in the way they did the business of medicine the practice he started, Harvey Family Practice, would not go on after his time. He and his partners decided their hand was forced and they would need to align with some larger entity to stay solvent. “Acquisition Syndrome” is the story of that transition.

        As you might suspect, Bones gathered much of his intelligence from nontraditional sources; car dealers, his old buddy Snookers Molesby, and banjo pickers and other assorted bluegrass musicians.

        A major subplot of the story and involves the development of Billy Spurgeon.  Billy grew up and Harvey County and was the only student at Sandhills University Medical Center who gave consideration to rural primary care medicine, but Billy was concerned about the future. He trusted Bones to make the best decisions for the group he could and planned to come home as much own faith as anything else.

        Bones never claimed to be a businessman. His goal was to align with an institution that would also allow him the latitude to practice medicine in the most patient friendly manner possible, and also not be taken advantage of. It was quite a struggle for him. I’d tell you how worked out but it would take a blog post of novel length, and besides it’d ruin the story for you so I guess I’ll wait till spring when we anticipate the book will be released. We are in the final edit and it still has to go through layout, graphic artists, test readers, line editor, etc. etc.

        So, stay tuned. I will keep you posted as to the progress.

Dr. B