Posted tagged ‘bluegrass characters’

Have you seen this man?

December 22, 2008

        There was man who came to Harvey County right in the middle of the Mandolin Case.  He went by initials.  It has been around two decades, and I can not recall for sure, but it was either G.B. or B.G.  We had several jam sessions at the Holiday Inn Lounge, and he was right in the thick of them.

        He was tall, about 6’2,” and around 215 pounds.  He was middle aged then, so he’d be on towards elderly now.  He had a big silver belt buckle like what you’d see a rodeo cowboy wear.  But he wasn’t a cowboy.  In fact, I thought he was of Native American descent though he never said for sure.  He wore string ties and had cowboy boots that looked like rattlesnake skin.  I remember he always wore a turquoise bracelet, and sold Stuart Nye jewelry out of the trunk of his car.  He was a dealer in musical instruments too.  He traded in banjos and guitars, but mandolins were his specialty.  In fact he built a few, and they were quite good.  He also did some fine woodcarvings and sold them also.

        Since the Mandolin Case I’ve lost track of him.  I remember he said he got a lead on a prewar flathead banjo from a guy named Crow down around Tupelo.  Crow (not J.D. Crowe) said the banjo was at a shop in Oklahoma.  I recall he had planned a trip out there to get it.  I bet that banjo is worth something nowadays.

        If anyone has run into him direct him to my blog- I’m looking for him.  Again, he went by BG or GB as I recall.  We never did figure out why he came to town, but I think he was important.

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

Memories of Charlie Waller

December 2, 2008

        Charlie Waller (of ‘Fox on the Run’ fame for non-bluegrassers) and the Country Gentlemen used to do a song called ‘Remembrance of You.’  I have it on a recording somewhere, but couldn’t find it.  My vinyl collection is a pre-IPOD disorganized jumble.  It’ll turn up, though.

        He didn’t do a  bad version of it, but my favorite was his last band’s rendition.  My Marfar and I and I had been married for decades when we’d go hear that band play, but we snuggled up like high school kids when he’d sing that one.  It was of many of ‘our songs’ over the years.  

        I thought about Charlie on my lunch hour yesterday.  I was at Johnny’s Jewelry and Pawn, our local music store, and some lady came up to me and asked me if was Tommy Bibey.

        “Yes, Ma’am.  Pleased to meet you.”

        “Didn’t you play with Charlie Waller?”

        “Oh no ma’am, at least not professionally.  I did go out on the road with him some though.  I’d ride the bus with the band to Lucketts School in Virgina.  Charlie sat up front and we picked and sang all the way home.”  It was a fond memory for sure.

        “He had the voice didn’t he?”

        “No doubt.”

        “I knew Charlie when he was young.”  She was on towards elderly, but had an impish cute teenager’s smile.  “Did you know he lived on a boat for a while?”

        That got my attention.  She had to be legitimate.  Charlie used to live on a boat in Washington DC in the 50’s.  He and Eddie Adcock shared the rent there a few years.  Charlie’d look out over the traffic on the bridge and say (paraphrased)  “Eddie, don’t you feel sorry for all those people who have to go to work every day?”  It was the era right before Eddie’s stint as a California rock and roll musician under an assumed name.  This lady was real.

        “How’d you know Charlie?”

        She smiled.  “I worked at the Smithsonian, and had a DC apartment.  My gerbil died.  I hated to just throw it out in the trash, and there wasn’t anywhere to bury it.  Charlie invited me out to the boat.  He played the guitar and sang ‘Amazing Grace,’ and we buried the gerbil at sea.  

        “Dang ma’am.  That must have been the best gerbil funeral in the history of the world.”

        “Yes it was.  Charlie had the best voice right up to the day he died.”

        “He sure did.  I got in a session with him at a place called the Bomb Shelter not six months before his death.  Some folks from England were there that night and said it was the best jam session they’d ever been in.”

       I grabbed a guitar off the wall, and we broke into ‘Fox on the Run.’  Johnny joined in and we did it as a trio.  I wish we’d had another- the tune is always better with four foxes instead of three.

        But I really wish Charlie had been there.  What a singer.  He was one of the best.

Dr. B

Dr. Tom Bibey- by request

September 25, 2008

        I have had many folks ask for a picture, so here it is.  This was a sketch mid way through the Mandolin Case.  My hair was jet black then so I did ‘doctor’ the photo to reflect my current hue.  I believe Pande would call it blond, or perhaps chrome, as they say on her blog, but in reality it is salt and salt.  It ain’t even got enough tinge to look like that stuff y’all put on the roads up North when it snows.  In fact it looks like the snow- I was generous with the sketch to give it as much color as I did.  In real life the pepper is, as the song says, “gone but not forgotten.”

        There are reasons for the sunglasses.  For one, the work I had to do in the Mandolin Case involved some quaisi CIA-like activity.  This is part of the reason for the secrecy.

        The other though, is not known to many folks so y’all don’t share it.  Since the Mandolin Case is now history, I suppose I can give up this much.  Tommy Bibey has one green eye and one blue eye. 

        I only lose about three golf balls a year, but if you play in the South and find a Titleist marked with a green dot on the left, and a blue one on the right, you will know that Tommy Bibey was there.  It stands for one green eye, and one blue one, but also for BlueGrass.

        Now that I have given up my identity if you run into me on the bluegrass road come up and and shake and howdy.  I’d love to meet ya.”

Dr. B

Old Green Eye/Blue Eye

Old Green Eye/Blue Eye

Indian Summer Gig

September 21, 2008

        We had a gig down on the river today. 

        I think I told y’all, but Indie’s Cabin washed away in the great Eastern N.C. flood.  Well, I knew they had a cabin down there a lot like Indie’s old place, so I got a notion to check him out of the Nursing Home and take him with us.  We carved his name in an old tree stump and told him the bluegrass folks dedicated it to him-  ‘Indie was here,’ it said.

        Indie loves the fall of the year.  Always has.  He says the autumn air is crisper and his lungs fare better.  Besides, fall always reminds him ain’t nothing permanent.  After Blinky died Indie was a bit more melancholy, and fall suited him better than ever.  He’d lived eight days a week anyway but after Blinky was gone, he seemed to make even more of an effort to do so.

        He had a big day, a large time as he says.  He sat in his lounge chair and smoked cigarettes and greeted old music friends who hadn’t seen him out in a while.  He got inspired and fiddled a slow one with us- ‘The Kentucky Waltz,” and rendered it pretty, too.  I don’t think Indie had played in public since he wound up in the Nursing Home.

        He drank a Coors or two, and when we played the second set he went to the river and helped the kids with the ‘Rubber Ducky Regatta.’  Indie ain’t nothing but a big kid anyway.

        After the gig I took him back to the Nursing Home, and got him tucked in.  Ms. Jenkins is gone now, and all he has left is me and Barney the skeleton.  And his roses- he stops to smell them every day just like he tells me to do.

        The other day I found some old sketches of Indie I thought you might enjoy.  I should have dated these- I think they were about mid-way through the Mandolin Case.  It was a pressure cooker, but except for the fact his pal Blinky was gone I don’t think it changed Indie too much.  You know how it is – some things never change and them bluegrass folks are like that.  And Indie was bluegrass people as much as anyone I ever knew.

        Here he is:

Fine Doc and Master Fiddler

Fine Doc and Master Fiddler

The World’s Perfect Financial Plan/Act Naturally (Indie rallies)

September 4, 2008

       Things are looking up a bit for Indie.  After the shock wore off, I had Griz check him and Indie agreed to a bronch.  (Indie said he was only gonna do it ’cause I was gonna worry.)  Indie’s lung function is awful- worse than what Griz thought- so surgery is out of the question- he can’t stand to lose any part of that lung, but Griz thought it might one that could respond to chemo.  He sent the slides down to a pathology pal of his at Sandhills who is a lung freak, so I’ll let you know what the word is.

        Indie seems a bit energized.  “I ain’t gonna die any time soon, Bibey.  I got too much to live for.”  He went on to tell me all about his roses and how all the ladies at the Nursing Home counted on him.  He told me he started giving fiddle lessons to his niece.  “Damn if she ain’t the next Alison Krauss, Bibey.”

        Then Indie asked me about my book.  “You’ve gotta get on that book thing, Bibey.  I wanta live to see it.”

        “Indie, I thought you wanted me to wait till after the funeral to send the manuscript out to my agent.  I promised you and I’m gonna stick to it.”

        “No man, I’m digging the blog.  I want you to get it out there.  Besides, I remember your agent said it would be a year and a half after he got your rough draft before a book would see the shelves at Walmarks.  I want to see my name in lights before I’m outta here.”

        “Good grief, Indie, the best I’ve ever done is to get us on the Marquee at the Walmarks.  I don’t think I’m gonna make you a movie star or nothing.”

        “Hell, Bibey, I am a star, just an old undiscovered one.  A man has to have his dreams, you know.  Maybe I’ll make it on the Buck Owens routine- you know, “Act Naturally.”

        Indie always could call for the right tune.  The words began to run through my head:

        They’re gonna put me in the movies

        They’re gonna make a big star outta me

         ……..  And all I gotta do is act naturally.”

        By the way, the Beatles did a fine version of the song too.  They were more influenced by country and bluegrass than you might think.  They say Paul McCartney is a big Bill Monroe fan.

        Indie was right.  A man has to have his dreams.  “I’ll see what I can do, Indie.”

        “Good.  I ain’t gonna die till I at least see my name in the book,” Indie said.

        “Then I’m gonna hold out as long as I can.”

        “Times a wasting Bibey.  Get on it.  Griz says even with treatment and good luck, I can’t last much more than a year and a half.  I want our book to beat me to the finish line.”

        “O.K. Indie, but I’d rather see you keep on keeping on any day.”  I liked the thought of it being our book.  Indie was so unique- one I just had to preserve for posterity.  There will never be another one like him.

        “I can’t go forever.  Besides, I’m gonna run out of money before long, unless I get lucky on the ponies.”

        “Don’t worry about that, Indie.  If you do, I’ll get you on Medicaid.  My Marie is a specialist in that- she’ll do all the paperwork.”

        “Hey Bibey, you know what Barney says about it?”  Indie hooked Barney by the rib with his cane, pulled him close, and cupped his hand to his ear as if to listen to the old bones’ wisdom.

        “What’s that, Indie?  Lord, there’s no telling.”

        “Barney says the world’s perfect financial plan is when the check to the undertaker bounces.”  Indie laughed out loud.

        I had to laugh too.  That dang Indie warn’t just gonna whistle in the graveyard, somehow the cat was gonna play the fiddle at his own gig.  “Tell you what Indie.  I don’t think Bert over at the funeral home would find that so funny.”

        “Hell, Bibey.  He’s the one what told it to me.  He’s gonna give me a casket liner upgrade professional courtesy- I sent him a lot of business over the years, you know.  Like I say, dance with who brung ya.”

        “Lord have mercy, Indie.  You are plum morbid.”

        At least Indie ain’t lost his sense of humor.  I don’t think he’s dead yet.

Dr. B