Archive for the ‘The tour’ category

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


A IBMA Awards, and a Word From Our Sponsors, Cedar Creek Custom Cases and Lakota Straps

October 2, 2011

        Last week after chemotherapy we hopped in the car and drove as far as we could. We made it to Harriman, Tennessee by dark-thirty, then got up the next morning and went on in to Nashville for the IBM trade show and awards ceremony. Winners included Balsam Range, N.C. boys who are now International. We are very proud of them for Song of the Year and Album of the Year, “Trains I’ve Missed.” (Correction: The album of the year was “Help My Brother” by the Gibson Brothers. -Sorry guys.  Dr. B)

        Also from N.C. The Steep Canyon Rangers and Steve Martin won the Entertainer of the Year award. They are very deserving, not only because they are wonderful performers but also because they will bring new folks to traditional music and in large numbers too. They are managed by the Don Light Agency out of Nashville, one of the big talent agencies out there for many years. Look for more and more exposure for bluegrass from all these guys.

       All of my personal favorites didn’t win but everybody who did win was quite deserving of their award. It’s like they say on the PGA Tour “these guys are good.” For example on the mandolin there are players who have never won like Wayne Benson of III Tyme Out, (and needs to win someday soon) my pal Darin Aldridge who we don’t hear play as much mandolin these days because he’s busy with the guitar and fronting his band, Emory Lester who mixes hot play and melody as well as anybody I know, “Cuz” Alan Bibey of Grasstowne who is both jazzy hot and bluegrass all at the same time, Joe Walsh of the Gibson Brothers adds just the right touches to those wonderful brother duets; the list goes on and on. There are many others. There are countless journeymen players who are far better musicians than I am who might never as well-known as they should be. I think they all deserve an award, so I send them all a special commendation for the pursuit of excellence; often against all odds.

        While we were there, Tom Dougherty of TKL Cedar Creek Custom Cases presented me with a new custom mandolin case. It is the official “Case of the Mandolin Case” case. Tom and I have worked several shows together and when I got sick he did not abandon me as a sponsor as of my book tour. I have not been able to do this much in return for him as I would like, but I am confident my health will improve and we’ll work some more together. In the meantime he does have some books on hand, and will include a free book with the next half-dozen or so cases ordered. 

        I’ve included some pictures off my new case below.  Tom was very kind. He wanted to match my hair color and thought “Vintage Silver” salt and pepper was about right. I’m probably closer to electric silver (or white) these days but I appreciated the compliment. I still have a some dark hair left and appreciate his recognition of that. If you want one the official color is “Vintage Silver.” the inside is a beautiful burgundy. 

        Here is their website: If you need a new mandolin case he can build you one just like mine (he official case of “The Mandolin Case” or he build one to any custom specs you like. They also build guitar banjo and other instruments.

         I also touched base with Lakota instrument straps while we were there.  For my money this is the softest and most durable instrument strap in the world. They are hand-made by the Lakota Indians out of bison, buffalo, and elk. No one has more experience with these materials than the Native Americans; they go back long before the Europeans arrived! With their relationship with Lakota the company has a genuine interest in Native American culture. They have connections with the Navajo and plan to ask some of them to read “The Mandolin Case” case for authenticity as far as the references to code talkers. Website: Website:

       In addition my book tour is sponsored by DR strings. I did not get a chance to get up with them while we were there as we had to come back home. Don’t tell too many people but I had a rock ‘n roll gig with my solid body electric mandolin Saturday night. It looks like a Telecaster that got hung up in a clothes dryer. (Don’t worry I’m still bluegrass guy at heart.) We played some blues including B.B. King’s “The Thrill is Gone” and also Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition.” I also included a picture of this gig below.

         I have several books and art projects in the works. Over the next few weeks I will try to bring you up to date as to their progress. After I got sick my blog became more of a running personal diary for my children and upcoming grandchild to look back on in case something happened to me. However, all indications are this is not going to kill me so I hope to return to more of a freewheeling fictional blog instead of just a personal journal before long. 

        Talk to you soon.

Dr. B

ADK- Harmony in the Hills (Four Part Harmony)

April 11, 2011

        I want to thank all the ADK folks for hosting a session about the book journey of “The Mandolin Case.” It was my first teacher convention and they made me feel right at home. The theme was “Harmony in the Hills,” so I fit right in. While I was there I found out they support great causes like St. Jude and the Food Bank, so I was all about being a part of their gig.

       Don’t tell my agent but I never did write down my outline. He knows I am always writing in my head and stays behind me to download it to paper. (I’m thankful for him, I’m a touch ADD and might not get it done otherwise.)

      So in keeping with the theme, I’ve decided to call the hour session “Four Part Harmony.” The four parts were as follows:

        1. Why I write

        2. How I became a writer

        3. How to get published (at least how I did) and

        4. How to use the Internet to promote your work.

        I opened with a song (not surprised there, huh?) then gave a synopsis of the plan. Then I introduced each section with a brief overview. At the end of each part I reviewed, played another song, took questions, then launched into the next segment. I kept an eye on my watch and kept each segment to about fifteen minutes.

          My wife was very pleased. “Honey, that’s the same technique teachers use in the classroom. How did you know to do that?”

        “I dunno. I figured they were teachers and when you’re in Rome you do as the Romans do.” (I never was a teacher except with my med students, but I’ve attended many a lecture in my time.) “I gotta admit they made it easy, though. They all paid attention and asked intelligent questions. No one threw paper airplanes at me or anything. They have to work a tougher crowd than I do, and I guess they wanted to make it as easy on me as possible.”

        So thanks again guys for a fun gig. My Mama was a teacher, and I fell in love with one years ago, so I always have liked teachers. Your banquet speaker said teachers have the opportunity to influence people more than any other profession and I agree. My life would have never been the same except for my teachers so here’s to you this Monday morning. Tell your students Doc said they better pay attention. You never know when the things you learn might come in handy.

Dr. B

An Upcoming Physician Bluegrass Fiction Tour Stop

March 13, 2011

        This week I have a Chapel Hill medical conference followed by a book signing at the Music Loft in Carrboro on Saturday March 19, 2:00 PM. In addition, I may have a radio slot to tell you about; more to follow on that.  

        I guess no one can say my gig is not unique. My life roles of Doc and bluegrasser are so intertwined deep in my soul they are inseparable. In chemistry I would be called a compound, “a substance formed by the combination of elements in fixed proportions,” and one which can not be separated.

        You are welcome to sign up for the Medical Conference if there are any more spaces available. It is at the Friday Center at U.N.C. this Wed-Friday, and promises to be a dandy. Then again, while it all fascinates me, I have found my friend’s eyes glaze over if I go on too long about new advances in angiotension receptor blocker hypertensive therapy for patients with concomitant chronic renal disease. 

        In truth my doctor brain can sometimes grow weary, and needs a periodic re-charge. That’s why I play and write. So, after the Doc conference I’ll be over at The Music Loft with “The Mandolin Case” at 2:00.

        If you live near Chapel Hill, I hope you’ll come visit. While you’re there if you need some new strings support your local music store and buy ’em at The Music Loft. If you buy anything in the store over fifteen bucks while I’m there, I’ll give you a three dollar discount on my book if you ask for ‘The Carolina Coupon.’ 

       So see ya there. Catch me on break at the Friday Center (Wed-Friday) for a cup of coffee and an animated discussion of state of the art treatment of thrombosed hemorrhoids, or come to The Music Loft Saturday and jam with me on “Jerusalem Ridge.” I’m at home in either venue.

        By day it’ll be the Doc gig, but by night keep a look out for Tommy Edwards, who played with “The Bluegrass Experience,” the 1972 Union Grove World Champion Bluegrass Band. I might jam a couple of tunes with him, and I’ve meant to have him autograph his “Collection” LP from back then for several decades now.

        I know that might be hard for the non-bluegrass world to understand, but as Lester Flatt said, “in this music you are in it for life.”  

Dr. B

The Return of Tommy Bibey- Reed’s Bookstore

January 12, 2011

        Well sure enough I wound up going to Mississippi in 2008. I met the school kids in the library and also their English teacher Ms. Turner. Some of the kids dubbed me as an “Honorary Mississippian.” I recall I said to a student named Carrie, “You’re a smart girl and a good writer.”

        Her little pal who stood next to her puffed up with pride and said, “Carrie is real smart; she’s going to Ole Miss next year to study pharmacy.”

        I like people like that. A friend of mine says “true friends are never jealous or envious.” This little girl wanted to make sure some stranger come to town knew she was proud of her friend Carrie.

      We stayed at the Jamison Inn, and I promised Mark the manager I’d play a mandolin tune before I left. April from housekeeping was there when I checked out and we sang “Glory Hallelujah Gonna Lay my Burdens Down.” I think we did it in “E.” The lady was a powerful singer.

        We did a Hee Haw show fundraiser at Smitty’s church and they had a slew of fine pickers there. Since then I’ve run into Marty Stuart. He’s a Mississippi boy; so there’s a lot of music in those parts. That night we went to Smitty’s mama’s house and had that fried chicken and Mississippi Mama’s famous chocolate cobbler. Lordy.

       Smitty and I played golf the next day with Elvis, Conway, and the Preacherman from the Hee Haw show the night before. I called my Lit agent to tell him how much fun I was having.

       He said, “Son, you don’t even know where you are do you?”

       I replied, “Yes sir, I’m right down here in Saltillo. It’s next door to Tupelo, the home of Elvis Presley. I saw his house and the hardware store where his mama bought his first guitar.”

       He laughed. “No, as far as books, you don’t even know where you are.”


       “Ask them about Reed’s Bookstore.”

       “OK. Sure.”

      Smitty gave me directions and we drove to Reed’s. We went in to visit. The lady who helped me was named Susan. I noticed a stack of Grisham signed copies on a table and inquired. Susan said when Grisham has a new book release he always debuts it at Reed’s. It’s hard to believe now, but when Grisham started out things were kinda slow an Mr. Reed was kind enough to let him do his book signings there. I guess Mr. Grisham never forgot it.

      I told Susan about my book, and played the staff a song on my mandolin. It was “The Kentucky Waltz.” I looked over at the stack of Grisham books again and said, “Ma’am, I’m no Grisham and never will be, but I think we do have one thing in common. I believe we both know to dance with who brung us.”

      “Yes, he is a very nice man.”

      “Well, let me ask you something. If I ever get my book published would y’all consider having me here for a book signing?”

      “Yes sir. You just call us.”

      “Great! I’ll be back someday, and I’ll bring my mandolin and my book too.”

      When I called last week young lady named Emily answered the phone, and she remembered me from 2008. “You were that tall gray-haired doctor who played the mandolin. I’d just started working here when you came through. Yes, we’d love to have you visit.” 

       And that is how Tommy Bibey, the world’s only physician bluegrass fiction writer wound up scheduled for a book signing this Saturday Jan 15, 2011 at 1:00PM at Reed’s bookstore, one of John Grisham’s favorite hangouts. Unbelievable.

       In my next post I’m gonna tell you what I hope to get done at the Reed’s Bookstore gig. (Hint: I’m a doctor, but I view part of my job as a teacher) One thing about it, I might as well relax and just be me, ’cause I sure ain’t Grisham. No one’s gonna top that cat, ‘cept maybe Twain. 

       If anyone reading this is from that part of Mississippi I hope you’ll drop by. Go see the home of Elvis Presley while you’re there; he’s really famous. It’s a good exhibit that shows all about his raising. Elvis was just a county boy who loved his mama and the gospel, but man could he sing.

Dr. B

Smoking Ed’s BBQ Book Signing

July 30, 2010

         There’s a first for everything and today is my first Barbecue Book signing. We’re at Smoking Ed’s in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

        My agent called some time back. “Can you do a book signing at lunch before the Mountain Opry at Signal Mountain that night?”

        “Sure, boss, as long as it’s bluegrass.”

         “Whadda ya mean?”

         “Well, first off, it needs to be barbecue.”

        “No problem. We’ve got plenty of barbecue in Chattanooga.”

         “Great. But, it has to be true bluegrass.”

         “How’s that?”

          “Of course it has to be good cue. That’s a given. Barbecue is one of the four food groups in bluegrass.”

         “Okay, what else?”

        “Gotta have a train.”

        “Shouldn’t be problem there. This is Chattanooga. Anything else?”

       “Yeah, boss. Really need a church on the hill and a graveyard.”

        “Good Lord, son. You gotta be so contrary?”

        “I’m bluegrass, boss.”

        He drove me out to the place. Smoking Ed’s. We no more than got there and the Norfolk Southern rolled by and blew the whistle. “Looks good, boss.”

       “Son, look up on the hill.”

        It was a graveyard and a country church.

       “Boss, as Earl said about Vassar Clements, this’ll do. I wish Norman Blake could see this. He loves trains.”

       The first customer was a young lady who asked for “The Kentucky Waltz.” Very cool. Smoking Ed’s BBQ, 1:30. It looks just like the set on “Fried Green Tomatoes.” Y’all come out.

Dr. B

Where I’ll Be (And Also Would Like To Be)

July 16, 2010

        I have already started to find out I can’t be everywhere I’d like to be. I’m committed to a life as 80% doc and 20% artist. As much as I am flattered by the fast start of the book, I found out right away this gig could overwhelm me. I’m booked a lot for July but after that I’m gonna try to hold it to a max of one weekend and one Wednesday per month.

        Here’s where I’m gonna be (and also where I’d  like to be) for now. I updated my Tour Schedule page on the blog and also will add these to my website.

        July 22-24 Columbus Ohio. Musicians Against Childhood Cancer (MACC) One of the biggest charity events in all of bluegrass. They start on Wednesday; we will arrive on Thursday the 22. website:

        July 30. (Friday) Chattanooga Tennessee. Late lunch book gig (1:30) at Smokin’ Ed’s Barbecue.

        July 30. Signal Mountain Opry  Jam session and book gig. approx 7:00 PM. (just outside Chattanooga)

        Where I’d also like to be: Grey Fox. They have been very kind to me. We met Lisa Husted of Grey Fox on our first visit to New England at the Strawberry Park Festival in Preston, Connecticut. She read the author’s note of “The Mandolin Case” and then inscribed the words “A beautiful understanding of the healing power of music.”

       I was stunned ’cause she got it right away. Lisa arranged for Grey Fox to have 48 signed copies of The Mandolin Case  available at Grey Fox. She’s read the whole story now, and I’m certain she could give you a very accurate synopsis if you’d like to hear a bit about it.

        Also it looks like The People’s Mandolin will change hands at Grey Fox. This will be the first transfer I’m not able to witness. Guys, all I can say is thanks for your kindness and I wish I could be there. I just had to tend to some doc biz at home and couldn’t make the 14 hour trip this time.

        Lisa, I’ve been told you’re one heck of a fine singer. I’ll be back to New England, and next time we’re gonna have to jam a few tunes.

Dr. B


Over the Rainbow

July 8, 2010

        The release of “The Mandolin Case” borders on surreal. It is out of stock on Amazon right now, though they have promised it will roll out again in 24-48 hours.

        WNCW 88.7 radio was my first media gig. I was relaxed and yukked it up with Dennis Jones as if we were on my grandmother’s front porch swing eating MoonPies and picking bluegrass. At one break he told me how many people listened to WNCW and I ’bout freaked, but then settled down okay. It ain’t as scary as acute myocardial ischemia (heart attack) but it was new experience.

        I guess I did okay, ’cause first thing Monday morning an upstate S.C. television station e-mailed and wanted to arrange a T.V. interview. It is now 99% set up, but I’m gonna wait until I have more details to announce it. I decided right away all these spots will have to be on Wednesdays (my day off) or weekends when not on call. I have to keep the balance right to be happy and want to give my patients my best. It might sound strange, but when I see them I seldom think about the writer gig unless they ask. Few of them even know I write, and that might be for the best. I want to stay on at the Doc gig as long as they’ll have me; it’s all I know. 

        The great Alison Brown is in Asheville Friday. We’ll be at her show, but I won’t have any books there. I don’t have many anyway, but also I don’t want to impose on another artist’s gig. Y’all need to come out and hear Alison; the young lady is a world-class talent with a band to match. Part Harvard business woman, part banjo picker, Alison and her husband Gary own Compass Records in Nashville. They not only carry fine bluegrass, but also a wide selection of jazz and Celtic music.

       Saturday me and Marfar are gonna be in Jackson County at their annual bluegrass festival.  I have few books left and will have them there. This is a nice low-key event at a lush green meadow nestled between a couple of North Carolina mountain ridges. It should be a touch cooler up there, and it will be a reprieve. Harvey County hovers at 100 right now.

         A decade ago, I decided I had to write a book to show how to be a decent human being and doctor even under duress, and also to promote the music I love. It looks like I might done just that. I think modern bluegrass music is the last relatively undiscovered American art form, and I hope to be some small part of the transformation I believe to be imminent.

        I’ll always be 80% doctor and 20% artist. My doctor brain is practical, predictable and boring. The artistic side of me can’t help but chase dreams and rainbows. Somewhere over the rainbow me and my Marfar have already found more enjoyment than any human beings deserve. Y’all come join us when you can.  

Dr. B

Turn Your Radio On (WNCW 88.7)

June 25, 2010

        Well guys, Dr. B is gonna be on the airwaves, so turn your radio on.

        I never hear this old Albert E. Brumley song that I don’t think of John Hartford. Years ago I went to two of his Christmas picking parties and they were a dandy; folks like Earl Scruggs, Benny Martin, Bill Monroe, and Marty Stuart were there. I recall Earl’s brother Horace turned to me and said, “Pick that mandolin like that Stuart boy.” (I tried but I’m still a doctor)

         Here was Dr. B jamming with all the legends. My old Harvey County picking buddies Indie, Rossie Douglas, and Moose Dooley went with me. Chattanooga real estate man Fletcher Bright and Indie did some twin fiddle numbers. Indie really dug Fletcher’s fiddling; they were two peas in a pod.

        So bring back some memories, and turn your radio on. To be specific, tomorrow 6/26/2010 at 12:00 noon good old Doc B is gonna be on the radio. When “The Mandolin Case” hit number one on Amazon’s country books category I got invited by Dennis Jones to be a guest on his show.

        Folks, that’s like a shot at batting practice with the Cubs. Just ask any touring musician, Dennis is one of the most knowledgable bluegrass DJs in the world, and a wizard sound engineer. Everyone wants to cut that gig.

        It’ll be a free wheeling thing and you can call in and ask them to play anything you want as long as it is related to “The Mandolin Case” or bluegrass in general. Dennis said he would give me some choice the music selection for the hour. I told him I’d kinda like to honor the bands with ties to the Carolinas since I’m a North Carolina boy, so y’all write in or call and ask for groups like Darin and Brooke Aldridge, III Tyme Out, the Grascals, Balsam Range, Alan Bibey (Cuz) or the Steep Canyon Rangers. WNCW is an old-fashioned station; they still pay attention to what their audience wants, so you can have a hand in the radio program by your input.

        Dennis will set the agenda. He’ll ask about Indie or Harvey County, and I might divulge a few clues in “The Mandolin Case.” Just remember though, this is physician bluegrass fiction. Sometimes I have so much fun I can get carried away, so don’t worry if some of it seems a bit far-fetched. After all, this show not about diagnosing cancer. I’m proud I do that in my day job, but art is so we can forget our troubles for a moment. When I think about the power of radio I always recall Orson Wells in “War of the Worlds.” So, don’t take me too seriously; my gig Saturday is all for fun. Remember; art isn’t a matter of life and death it’s much more important than that.

        Don’t worry of you don’t live in range of the airwaves. In Harvey County we tune in WNCW 88.7 via 24/7 Internet stream. So if you’re in New Zealand at whatever time 12:00 noon EST time comes to and bored out of your ever-loving mind, tune us in. We promise enough fun to forget your troubles for an hour or so. 

        Here’s the link. Try it out so you can tune in for the ‘Going Across The Mountain’ show Dennis hosts every Saturday. I’ll be on at noon tomorrow. 

        I’m even gonna have a prize. Whoever calls in from the longest distance will get a signed copy of “The Mandolin Case.” Who know, someday that and fifty cents might get you a cup of coffee, so call in and let ’em know you’re out there. 

Dr. B

New Pages and Gettin’ Antsy

June 20, 2010

        I put up two new pages today, “The Mandolin Case”- Web Site Link and Quotes and Book Tour Schedule. The link for these pages is on the right hand side of the Home Page. The link to the website is I also added it to my blogroll for good measure.

        Any day now I should be able to post a formal link to Amazon on my website. As it turned out, when the info was first transmitted to Amazon the publisher was not given proper credit by the powers that be, and they weren’t happy about it. If they were gonna take a chance on an unknown crazy doctor they at least wanted to recognized for it. I don’t blame them for that. They won’t let me link to Amazon from my website until they clear up the confusion. I’ve come this far, so I’m gonna respect their wishes and not foul it up now.

        Publisher or not though, somehow people have already found “The Mandolin Case” and have begun to order. I hate to tell the publisher, but there’s no way to corral in this Internet crowd. Like bluegrass people, the blog community is an independent bunch with a mind of its own. Might as well try to herd up those wild mustang ponies out on the Outer Banks. It just ain’t gonna happen.

        As far as this old Doc is concerned, between the blog world and this new publishing paradigm we’ve got free speech on steroids. We’re aren’t going away any time soon.

         I’m gettin’ antsy to go live. I’m gonna lean on ’em hard first thing in the AM. I figure that’s the start of the work week and a good time to get after those business types. Y’all wish me luck.

        See ya out there soon. Having fun.

Dr. B