Posted tagged ‘bluegrass music’

Stanley Hammer Singer Part Two

January 31, 2009

        Since I came up with the Stanley Hammer vocal harmony method in Moose Dooley’s garage, I have expanded the concept to other venues.  For example, when we were in the studio, I fixated on a set of blinds that covered a window on the far side of the room.  I picked out several of the dividers as reference points and cut my baritone part by the intervals between the blinds. 

        Whenever we play a show I will focus on something in the distance, such as a set of bleachers, and concentrate on predetermined focal points to find my pitch.  I guess it is an obsessive doctor way of doing things, but it works, though I am no great singer by any stretch.

        However, as I mentioned in my last post, the method can have its pitfalls, and it did let me down once.  One time we played the Galax Old Time Fiddler’s Convention competition.  It was the year after we cut our record, so we were on top of our game.  After the first round, the rumor mill was we were in the top five.  The buzz around the campsites was that Neuse River might just win the thing.

        We picked a gospel number for our second selection.  It was Doyle Lawson’s ‘Sea of Life.’  If you have ever been to the Galax Fiddler’s convention you know there is big concrete grandstand where folks sit and watch the bands on the stage.  It was an excellent set up for the Stanley Hammer method.  All I had to do was focus on the steps.  In particular a handrail that divided the concrete stairway was perfect, and I set my notes all up and down the handrail.

        All that went fine until the second chorus.  Moose looked over and knew I was in a panic.  He leaned away from his mic.  “What’s wrong, Doc?”

      “Look at row twelve.  That’s my Stanley Hammer note.  Those kids have gotta move.”  Moose looked up in the stands.  Two kids had been walking holding hands and stopped at at my B natural note, leaned on the rail right at the spot that served as my focal point, and began to make out.

        “Oh, no.  Man, I can’t find my note.  Dang it kids, move for heaven’s sake.”

        Well, they didn’t take their clothes off or anything, but it still was a distraction.  Sure enough I was flat on my opening note when we came back in.  We finished 12th.

        I was dejected, but Moose was philosophical.  “Don’t worry Doc.  We weren’t gonna give up our days jobs.  It’s just a thing.”

        Of course Moose was right.  I’m still a Doc, and I got over the loss pretty quick.  I don’t know what happened to those two teenagers.  They wrecked my gig, but I forgave ’em, and hope they lived happily ever after.  It was the only time the Stanley Hammer method has failed me, so it still has a good track record.

Dr. B


Mike Marshall/PsychoGrass

January 9, 2009

        Remember how I told you I had a med student this month?  If you recall, I said he could get an ‘A’ in my rotation if he treated my patients with respect and dignity, and honored their privacy and confidentiality.  He could only get an ‘A+’ by the demonstration of interest in bluegrass or acoustic music.

        Last night he earned his ‘A+.’  Mike Marshall and PsychoGrass were in Winston-Salem.  My Marfar and Marie thought it too far for the old man to drive alone, so he served as my chauffeur and we took a road trip.  I could get used to having this kid around.

        It was quite a show.  Any time an alt-acoustic band can play to a full house in a large but acoustically perfect room such as the Stevens Center, they have my vote for a Grammy.  They drew a diverse crowd that ranged from hip kids to grandmothers.  

        If you have any interest in music, regardless of genre, PsychoGrass is one to check out.  If you are a musician, consider it an imperative part of your education.  Anytime you can see Tony Trischka (he taught Bela Fleck) bow the banjo (yes, bow) on Jimi Hendrick’s ‘Third Stone From the Sun,’ you have run into an innovative outfit.

        There was bluegrass and swing, Brazillian choro mandolin and violin duets mixed with Django/Grapelli kinda jazz.  The tunes ranged from ‘Doggy Salt,’ an upside-down ‘Salty Dog’ canine hypernatremia statement reminiscent of a musical version of Frank Wakefield’s ‘talking backwards’ to ‘Stroll of the Mud Bug,’ a bluegrass tribute to ‘Flight of the Bumblebee.’  And you thought it was just old Dr. B who was convoluted.  See, all us bluegrass folks are this way!

        It was, as Mike said, Thelonius Monk and Bill Monroe with corn dogs and Kool Aide.  As before you get the wrong idea, these guys fuel their imagination with music.  The show is one fitting for anyone from spiked-haired kids with nose rings to your mama’s Sunday School class. 

        The fiddler, Darol Anger said they follow the Hippocratic Oath and ‘Do no harm,” but they do more than that.  They stretch the boundaries of musical imagination but no one gets hurt; the kind of cats who inspire me to carry on another day in a crazy world.

        The band members are Mike Marshall, perhaps the world’s most versatile mandolinist, along with Darol Anger, violinist, hot flat-picker David Grier, Tony Trischka, innovative New York banjo man, and Todd Phillips on the bass.  They have more awards than I can list and I don’t want to leave any out, so check out Mike’s website .  The world needs more PsychoGrass, not less, so go see them when they come to a theatre near you.  

The link is:

Dr. B

Professor Bibey

December 18, 2008

        Y’all aren’t gonna believe it, but I’m a med school professor.  Well, not full time, but I’m serve as one of the community medicine preceptors for Sandhills U., my old Alma Mater.  Indie used to do it, and he was the best one there ever was.

        I really like this last kid they send me.  He’s well read, and kind to people.  It didn’t hurt his ’cause any that he’d done a paper on Flatt and Scruggs in college.

        I sat him down the first day and told him what I expected.  “Son,” I said.  “Don’t tell ’em back at the med school, but this might be the easiest ‘A’ you’ll ever make.”

        “How’s that, Doc?”

        “Well, all you have to do is treat my patients with respect.  And when you leave this office, you can’t talk about  ’em.”

        “No problem.”

        “Now.  The State Board Medical Board says we shouldn’t treat friends and family.  After three decades, that’s all I’ve got.   You report me and I’ll do everything I can to see you don’t get a liscense.”

        “Yes sir.  You can count on me.”

        “All I can really teach you is how to stay out of trouble.   I’m not gonna teach you the differential diagnosis of hemolytic anemia as well as Dr. Woodley down there will.  But I can help your gestalt.  For example, if anyone here has any complaint from the waist up and they’re over forty- five, you consider it heart ’till you prove it ain’t.  It usually won’t be, but you can’t miss anything that might kill ’em before you get another try at it.”

        “A little scary.”

        “Don’t worry.  I’ll check behind you on everything.  So far, it doesn’t count for you.  I’m just gonna help you to be ready when it does.”

        “And don’ t forget Temple’s Law.  Very important.”


        “Temple’s Law number one.  ‘A woman is pregnant till proved otherwise.’  In all these years I’ve never accidentally x-rayed a pregnant woman, and we ain’t gonna start this month.”

          He wrote it down.

         “And speaking of women, don’t chase any around here or I’ll send you packing.  I ain’t got time to run interference for any stupid behavior.”

        “Yes sir.  I’ve got a girlfriend back at Sandhills.  I’m very loyal to her.”

        “Good.  I like loyalty.  I think you might get an “A.”  I’ve never had one get an “A+, though.”

        ‘What do you have to do to get an “A+?”  

        “You have to play bluegrass music.  You don’t have to be a muti-instrumentalist, although there’s nothing wrong with that.  If you are good on one, that’ll do.  And if you can sing tenor it will cut the gig, too.  They’re almost as hard to come by as a good fiddler.”

        “Yes sir, I won’t forget.  Oh, I need to run out to the car.”

        It wasn’t but a minute and he was back toting an old battered case.  “Do you know Jerusalem Ridge?”  He opened it up, pulled out a fiddle, and low and behold rendered is as fine as anyone I’ve heard since Indie went to the Nursing Home.

        “Son, do you do the Cherokee Shuffle?”

        “Sure.”  He bowed it to perfection.

        “Have I ever got somebody who’s gonna want to meet you.  After we finish up, we gotta go over to the Nursing Home.  I’ve got a buddy over there, Dr. Indie Jenkins.  Man, he is gonna dig you.”

        “Sure boss.  Wherever you go, I’ll follow.”

        I knew I liked this kid.  He might be the most well prepared student I’ve ever had.  We’re gonna get along famously.

Dr. B

The Difference in Bluegrass Men and Women

December 12, 2008

        Now I know what you are thinking; we don’t need a Doc to tell us this.  And you are right.  But after the post about ‘Guitared and Feathered,’ I thought I ought to tell her as far as bluegrass bands there are some differences when you play with women as opposed to men.

        None of this has anything to do with ability.  All you have to do is listen to Sierra Hull play the mandolin- old Doc can’t hang with that kid, and I’ve been a player a long time.  Or check out Kristin Scott Benson.  She doesn’t weigh much more than a Gibson banjo in a Mark Leaf case, but she is the IBMA banjo player of the year.  No one could argue Rhonda Vincent is not a sharp business woman as well as a fine player and singer.  And Alison Krauss long since put to rest the rumor you had to be old and ugly to play the fiddle.

        But in spite of all that there are differences.   The last time I played with ‘Guitared and Feathered’ there was a discussion of what type of soap they were using  at the time.  Now I’ve picked bluegrass music with our banjo man Moose Dooley  for almost three decades, and I have no idea what kind of soap the boy uses.  And talk about snacks. They had all kinda little sandwiches you can eat in one bite, and birthday cakes every time you turn around.  No beer and pretzels for those cats.

        They are versatile instrumentalists, too.  You have to play your mandolin in all sorts of different keys to accompany their voices.  Bill Monroe himself said it was up to the musicians to adapt to where the singers were comfortable, not the opposite.  If Monroe said it it is in the bluegrass Bible.

        They have even helped me in my quest to be a writer.  You better learn how to express yourself with some degree of sophistication and subtlety.  They expect you to understand English without having to hit you over the head with a ball bat.

        And even if my Marfar is the bass player I have to say they are quite a bit cuter than Moose or Warbler in Neuse River.  It might be Chanel Number 5 instead of Old Spice, but it is still bluegrass, and a fine version if I say so myself.

Dr. B

A Day For An Old Banjo Man

December 11, 2008

        I’ve told y’all about my wife’s band before- ‘Guitared and Feathered’ is their name.

        And I’ve also mentioned she is excellent at befriending elderly men. They all love her.  (Can’t say I blame ’em.)

        Last week they had a gig.  She called me on her way home.  (Sometimes I help them out, but I had to work that day.)   They had played at Hospice, and some guy wheeled up and said he was a banjo player.  He had someone go back to his room and they returned with an old open-back banjo; one of those with a calf skin head.

        Two strings were missing, but Betty Jo, the banjo player for Guitared and Feathered, broke open a pack and tuned it up.

        The guy sat in the wheelchair and picked along with them.  Marfar said he missed a few notes, but she could tell he was a player in his day.  They introduced him to the crowd as a celebrity guest for the band.

         Don’t you know it made his day?  Heck, it made mine for her to call and tell me about it.  I’m glad I’ve got her.  She’s an expert on elderly men, and I’m closing in on it in a hurry.

Dr. B

Golf and Music- The Ties That Bind

November 29, 2008

        Now I know you might wonder.  What could be the common threads of  golf and music?  Before the Mandolin Case comes out in 2009, I wanted you guys to have a leg up on the rest of the world.  

        One time I had a case of the hooks.  There is a guy on the East Coast who is a very serious amateur golfer who got them straightened out.  He was not only a golfer, but knew a little music too, so I thought he might be able to get inside my head and solve the problem.  Here’s how it went.

        “Say you got a hitch in your swing?”

        “Yeah.  I’m fighting the hooks.”

        “Hmn.  Better learn a fade.  Like Trevino said, you can talk to a fade, but a hook won’t listen.”

        “He’s right.”

        “Tell me about your music, Doc.”

        “We play bluegrass.”

        “A lot of that is pretty fast isn’t it?”


        “There’s a reason they call ’em breakdowns.”

        “Sure.  Foggy Mountain Breakdown, Bonnie and Clyde.”

        “Oh even beyond that.  You see, if you get too quick your swing will break down.  Let me see your set-up.”

       I stood over the ball.

       “Hmn.  Not too bad.  Grip’s a bit strong though.  Turn your left hand to where only one knuckle shows.”

        “Like this?”

        “Yeah, that’s better.  And you’re too tight, too.  Sam Snead said hold the club like a small bird you want to return to the nest.  You’re gonna strangle the sumbitch.”

        I flopped my wrists in a lazy way.  “How’s that?”

        “Much better.  Now, take a back-swing.” 

        I took it back as near parallel as my old back would allow. 

        “Ah there’s part of it.  You need to finish your back-swing.  If you don’t you’ll get too quick and come over the top.  From there either you’ll hit a wild slice or trap hook it and go left.”

          “Trap hook- that’s it.  I never slice.”  I swung again.  “I guess I’m impatient.”

         “Golf’s like all the good things in life Bibey.  You have to be patient and give it some time.  Wait on it.”  He took the club out of my hand and demonstrated.  “See how I let the club lag?  Patience, my boy.”  He handed it back.  “You don’t double cross do you?”

        “Heck no.  I ain’t that bad.”    

         “Good.  Now about setting it to music.  Snead said he would think in terms of Waltz time- three quarters.  You know any waltzes?”

        “Sure. Tennesse Waltz, Kentucky Waltz, I know a bunch of old ones.

        “Older than that.  Think Lawrence Welk.  A one and a two..and a…”

        “Man if I think Lawrence Welk I won’t hit it 200 yards.  I’ll be like those old guys at the Club I used to make fun of as a kid.”

        “You wanta beat the hooks or not?”

        “O.K.  A one and a two… and a….”  I drew the club back.  Pow.  240 with a gentle draw.  Wow. 

        “See, told you.”

        He cured my hooks.  And as it turned out this guy knew a lot about medicine too, and was very influential in the Mandolin Case.  As to how golf and music intersect with medicine, well that’s anther story.  But it’s in the book, and it is real.  I’ll get to it another post soon.

Dr. B

Mandolas/Medicine/Dr. B’s music lesson

September 14, 2008

        Now I know you must wonder.  What the heck do mandolas and medicine have in common?  Well, it is more than you might think.  And after you read this post, you’ll forever remember more about mandolas than you wanted to know.  But just remember.  Like medicine, half of what I’m gonna teach you is wrong.  I just don’t know which half.

        To keep straight the difference in the two, all you have to do while you play is think of a mandolin with a thyroid condition, in particular a hypothyroid mandolin.

       You see, a mandola is shaped just like a mandolin except it is larger, a bit heavier, and has a bigger waist.   Also, it’s voice is lower.  And my hand tires faster on the mandola, so the fatigue factor is there too.  I don’t know if mandolas are more intolerant of cold than mandolins, but I do not recommend you leave either out in the car any longer than you would a baby, which is zero time.  Hypothyroidism offers no protection against extremes of temperature.  Instruments, fine as they are, can be replaced.  Babies- well, take no chances with them. 

        To be exact, a mandola is but a mandolin tuned one fifth lower.  For those of you who had kids in school orchestra, it is the exact same relationship of a violin and a viola. 

        Now before you get confused about fifths, in bluegrass music a fifth can also refer to a quantity of corn liquor, but in the case of mandolas it does indeed refer to music theory.  And by the way, I do not recommend children who play violins and want to try the viola be told about corn liquor- bad doctoring there.

        Here’s how it works when you play.  Make you a ‘G” chord on your mandolin.  Now close your eyes.  Get your assistant to hand you a mandola.  Now make the ‘G’ chord again, but when you open your eyes and see you have a big ole hypothyroid mandolin in hands, and if you memorized lesson one, just think one fifth (not booze) lower, and voila, you know you have made a ‘C.’  (Chord, not grade)

        Then, as you pick along, all you have to do is pretend your are working out of ‘G’ when they call for a ‘C’ tune.  Same thing for “D”- think ‘All I gotta do is make ‘A’ noise.  Now, to be sure you are with me, I am talking an ‘A’ note, not to be confused with ‘A’ style mandolin.  Or, if they want a ‘G’ tune play outta ‘D’ position on your mandola, etc.  However, this only works if you are a mandolin player at heart.  If mandola was your first instrument reverse all that.  And if the tune clips along pretty quick, you have to think fast. 

        To go back to the mandolin construction styles, (space limitations prohibit adequate room for discussion of playing style in this post- maybe later) there are two basic ones, the ‘A’ and the ‘F.’  (there are more but I don’t want to confuse everyone on the first lesson.) 

        The ‘F’ mandolin is so named for the little curly cue scroll and it has apertures called F holes.  The ‘A’ style mandolins are named for for the round body shape and not for ‘A’ holes.  Bluegrass is fine people and we don’t have any of those.  Well, once there was a band that was mean to folks, and everyone took to calling them ‘The Bluegrass Holes.”  They broke up.

        Now that I’ve posted my first (? last) on-line lesson, I will tell you I once told my teacher I might take up giving lessons myself, and he recommended against it.  I’m not sure why.

         If you want to hear a good example of mandola work, listen to Wayne Benson of Russell Moore and III Tyme Out.  His version of ‘John and Mary’ is the best one I’ve heard.

        The reason all this works for me is I never got around to reading music.  Most of the guys I pick with don’t.  One year the Philharmonic came to town and a real nice lady asked Raymond the fiddle man if he read music and he said, “Not enough to hurt my picking, but I do read ‘Rasslin Weekly.”

        Now the disclaimer.  The demographics on bluegrass indicate a very high educational level.  But it also is true that we don’t just march to a different drummer, we didn’t even know there was one.  So, if we seem a tad different we are, but we’re harmless.

       Hope you enjoyed the lesson.  See ya,

Dr. B

Oh Tommy Bibey, Where Art Thou You Rascal?

July 19, 2008

        My blog just made a milestone- 15,000 hits.  My agent says this is real good for a fiction blog.  I’ll be honest, I ain’t got no idea.  All I know is I am an over grown doctor country boy who loves to pick bluegrass music and read, and this Internet thing is an endless word candy store.

        The blog has grown to the point that a number of folks have e-mailed and asked where to see Neuse River play, so I’m gonna tell you about that today.  Betwixt doctoring and music, Tommy Bibey has never has gotten around to a  myspace page or such as that.  Bluegrass folks are so dadburn spontaneous it is hard to get ’em to write down a set list, much less a performance schedule, but I will keep you guys posted on the blog.

        Here ‘s what I mean.  Not long ago the Moose called me.  “Hey Bibey, you on call this week-end?”

        “Nope.  What’s up?”

         “Call Jenny (his wife) and tell her you got us a gig at the Beach,”  he said.

        “I ain’t got us a gig at the beach.  What you talking?”

        “Yeah you do.  We’re gonna open for Chubby Checker at the Pavilion.”  Only the Moose is ingenious enough to convince the Pavilion a bluegrass band needs to open for Chubby Checker.  “I got us the gig, but she’ll be a whole lot more likely to let me go if you call her.”

        And so it goes.  I run interference for the boys all the time.  In a way I understand.  Moose was a bit of a rounder in his day, and Jenny trusts me to keep all the women shooed away from the band.  Not that it is needed.  After the Moose married Jen, he settled into domestic life just fine and is 100% faithful.  I think Jen just wants to be sure if opportunity tries to knock on his door I slam it shut.  By the way, we did great at the gig, but Strober K, who subbed for Simpkins on the bass that night tried to steal the alligator they kept in a cage out front and take it home for a pet, so we didn’t get invited back.

        Yep, you can count on spontenaeity from these boys.  One time we had a show in Virgina, and Stroker got all the way up there and realized he’d left his shoes at home.  How do you get to Virgina and not realize you ain’t got your shoes?  We had to stop at the Walmarks and get him some brogans.  One thing though, he never forgets his guitar- Stroker is a player.

        So, I apologize in advance for not being more organized, but you can see what I deal with here.  Here’s how to find us, though.

        Should you be in Harnett County, stop at the first gas station.  The attendant will be a good old boy wearing a blue shirt with his name, Joe, on a white patch over the left front pocket.  Roll down your window, and act bluegrass.  Say something like, “Y’all pick any bluegrass music in these parts?”

        The man will say, “Yep.”

        Then say, “You know Dr. Tommy Bibey?”

        “He’ll say, “You ain’t from around here, is ya?”

         Then deliver your punch line.  Say, “You know Jack Lawrence what picks with Doc Watson?  He wanted me to bring this here pre-war herringbone for Bibey to check out.”  Point to a guitar case in the back seat.  “It rocks.”

        Then you must be prepared for his next statement.  It will be, “How much ya want fer it?”

        Say, “It ain’t fer sale.  Jack just wanted him to see it.”

         The man will say, “You know where the Burger Barn used to be?  Well, you go there and take a right at the light, go two blocks, then left at the tracks.  Then go right by the cement block factory take a right at the body shop and you’re there.  Can’t miss it.”

        Of course, you’ll have to admit you don’t know where the Burger Barn used to be, and he’ll say, “I knowed you warn’t from around here.”  He’ll take one last look at you, then say, “Awh, hell, just follow me, I gotta go to town.  I drive you right by there.”  Folks around here are very accommodating.

        The best place to see me is at a gig.  I’m the old gray haired guy on the mandolin.  I think I may have seen some of y’all before at my shows.  You remember the gig at KT’s Archery and Radiator?  I think Ms. Amber was there- dark haired slender woman about half my age?  She’s got people in N.C. I know.  And one time we played up near DC at the Birchmere.  I swear there was a lady there who coulda been mrschili- she had a whole little brood of stair step young’uns what favored her.  Was that you?  I know for a fact the English Professor was in our area once, ’cause they told me he was at the Bomb Shelter and I only missed him a week or so.  I don’t think I’ve run into Ms. Pande, but then she lives in dadgum Greenland or somewheres up that way, and we ain’t had a gig that far North.  And we’ve not been out to Oklahoma yet, but if we do I hope Ms. Susan will catch our show. 

        Heck, even right here in N.C. one time the Neuse River converted school bus broke down near a farm, and a dog named Ranger made it clear not to invade his turf.  He realized we were bluegrass folks, though, and led us right down a dusty rutted lane to a farm house where Ms. Cindy let us use the telephone. 

        Maybe the biggest compliment I’ve had to date about my blog was from a bluegrass guy who said Tommy Bibey was the gestalt of bluegrass, almost the durn spirit of it, in that he was everywhere.  I hope to tell a lot of people why we love our music so.  To me, the music is bigger than all of us.  It represents an effort to remain human, all it’s flaws and imperfections non-withstanding, in what can be a mean modern world.

        Y’all watch for me on the circuit.  You’ll know me by the gray hair.  (and the mandolin)

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

Banjo Picking Golfing Rasslin’ Preacher

July 16, 2008

        You remember me telling y’all about Preacher Vincent, the banjo picking minister who rassled the rangatang?

        Not long ago me and Darrell and his cousin Robert went out to play golf, and Preacher Vincent wanted to go along.  Now Robert is a good player, so he asked the Preacher what kinda game he played.  Preacher said “Well, brother Robert I ain’t as good at golf as I am picking the banjo, but yes, I can play.” 

        We hadn’t been out there long and it became apparent golf was not Preacher Vincent’s long suit.  But, me and Darrell didn’t care.  We was just out there to have fun.  Robert was a serious player though, and after a while all the shenanigans began to wear him down.  All that cutting up and so on made it hard for him to concentrate.

        We came to number seven, and Robert wasn’t happy ’cause he’d just made a double bogey.  He started to rag the Preacher, and it began to get on Preacher’s last nerve.  Well, Preacher proceeded to hit a low rope hook what dang near hit Robert in the leg.  The ball scooted out over the water, took a few skips about like a flat rock you’d skim across the lake just right, and then sunk.

        “Preacher, I thought you said you could play this game,” Robert said.

        “Well, maybe I ain’t much of a golfer, but I can rassle.  You wanna rassle?”  Preacher replied.

        “Yes sir, buddy.  I’ll bet twenty bones you can’t whup me.”

         I wouldna done that myself.  Before I could say a word the two had squared off.  Preacher let Robert have a few points to get him overconfident, then proceeded to do some kinda whirly-gig like maneuver, hoisted Robert up over his head and tossed him right in the lake.  That was one more embarrassed boy to have a Preacher out-rassle him like that.

        Robert hadn’t ever been around Preacher, and I know he didn’t realize what he was getting into.  Preacher is myopic from all that Bible study, but the glasses’ll fool you.  If you size up the situation he is a stout boy.  Robert had his blood up, though, and let testosterone poisoning trump reason.  A man should never do that, but you see ’em do it all the time.

        They say in golf if you’re at the 19th hole, and a man wants to bet you he can fling the ace of spades across the room and land it in your beer mug, you better think twice.  He’s been around and figured out some way to do it.  Same way with a preacher- if he bets he can out-rassle you, you can count on the fact he’s done some rassling in his day.  

        Too bad Robert didn’t ask me for advice.  I’d no more bet against a preacher who can out rassle a rangatang than place wedge shot wagers with an old Doctor who only plays golf on Wednesdays. 

        Gone to tee it up.  It is Wednesday, isn’t it?  I’m getting some age on me, and can’t keep my days straight when I’m off duty.    

Dr. B