Posted tagged ‘gigs’

My Kinda Gig

November 8, 2010

        It was my kind of gig; a crisp fall day with clear blue skies. The trees had so many colors they looked like they were right out of a Norman Rockwell painting. We knock off the chill with black coffee and pinto beans and gallons of hobo soup in a big cast iron kettle. I go back for several refills. The soup is hot and the fire is warm. Soon we smell like hickory smoke.

       Leonard sings songs like “Church at Hickory Grove,” and we pick “The Black Mountain Rag.” Phipsy the car dealer thumps out perfect time on the bass. Someone in the crowd asks if we know “Rocky Pass.” Phipsy is a relative newcomer to bluegrass (five years) and knows I’m a veteran. He scans my features. He realizes I don’t know the tune, and decides it must be obscure.

       He asks, “Do you mean ‘Rocky Top?'”

        “Maybe that’s it.”

       Ben kicks it off on the banjo. The lady breaks into a big smile. It musta been the one she had in mind.

      We take a break. I get some boiled peanuts and go look at the tractors at the show in the parking lot. One is a restored John Deere from ’38 or so; one of the old kerosene burners. Another is a Massey Ferguson about like Leonard’s. I used to pick cotton on my grandmother’s farm. I can’t understand why folks think we have it so hard nowadays. Leonard and I both remembered when we still had mules. Hard way to make a living.

       The tow-headed Moore Brothers arrive. Jacob tugs on his Mama’s arm. “Hey Mama, Dr. B’s here.”

        “Honey, your imagination’s gotten away with you. Dr. B doesn’t live around here.”

       She was right in that it wasn’t my neck of the woods, and it wasn’t my band. Leonard’s fiddle man was out for surgery, so I filled in. (I stuck with the mandolin and didn’t try to sub on fiddle; I didn’t want to ruin their reputation.)

       Soon she realizes the child is correct. “Dr. B, what in the world are you doing up this way?”

       The Moores invite me to sit in on a few tunes. The Dad handles the guitar back-up, Mama sings a few, and the two talented young’uns wow the crowd. We jam some twelve bar blues. I think back to when mine were little. The circle is unbroken.

      We play a second set. A young woman and several middle-aged men set out a plywood board and clog. It reminded me of John Hartford. The Moore boys wanted to take a picture. I tell Jacob to say hello to Wayne. “Tell him if he keeps working with that old gray-haired doctor he might make a mandolin player out of him yet.”

      He smiled. “Yes, sir.” The Moore brother’s parents are raising them right. It’s the bluegrass way.       

       I ride home with Leonard and nap part of the way in.

       Marfar has another pot of soup on and pours up a bowl. I could live off soup. “How was the gig?” she asked.

       “It was great. Leonard and the boys were tight and the Moore Brothers were there and I got to jam with them. I think we raised a fair amount of money for their church.”

       “Very cool.” She put on some coffee. “Awful cold out there today. Good to have you home.”

       My life is so simple modern people often don’t believe it’s true, but that’s how we live. I wouldn’t change anything. Today’s another day in the salt mines. I’ll go back to the tough modern medical world and do the best I can to treat folks with grace and dignity. I do what I do because in my prayers I’m told it’s my job, and I hope I’m pretty good at it.

       People ask why I play music. My answer is always the same. “It’s so I can continue to be a doctor but still get to be human.” Modern medicine is a very hard business.

       As my daughter would say, “Some things never change, Daddy, and you’re one of ’em.”

Dr. B


Having Fun

January 31, 2010

        I played a gig not long ago with Al Donnelly, the Irish folk rock singer-songwriter I’ve told you about before.  It isn’t straight bluegrass, so you gotta stay on your toes.  He’s organized though, and even sends me a few chord charts ahead of time so I can prepare for the gig.

        Still, I think at least the musicians in the crowd know I’m winging part of it.  One came up after our show.  I know him well, as he does a lot of the guitar and all the uke work at Harvey Methodist.  He said, “Didja hire Dr. B as your side-man tonight?”

        “Yes sir.”

         “Man, I dug ‘There is a Time.’  Enjoyed the show; loved the singing; cool clawhammer, good mandolin breaks, too.  I tell you one thing, I’ve never played a gig with Doc and not had a good time.  The boy’s gonna have fun.”

         Donnelly smiled.  He knew it was true.  I considered it a most high compliment.  I’m a serious doctor, but when I put down the stethoscope and pick up my mandolin I am but a large child.

        Let’s go play.

Dr. B

Coming to a Bookstore Near You- The Tom Bibey Tour

April 1, 2009

        The Facebook folks have asked me about my tour schedule.  I asked  them to come visit over here at wordpress so I could bring them up to date.  Some of this will be familiar to my regular readers.  But as you guys know, in spite of the fact Dr. B is a simple man, he never seems to have a simple answer to anything.  It’s like my little daughter said, “Daddy, you’re so simple it’s complicated to folks.”

          This is a sad day, ’cause I am sure Indie is not going to make it to Easter.  I promised him I’d tell his story and I am going to, and that has put some of my gigs on hold.  You can’t make a promise to a dying man, especially my friend Indie, and not follow through.

          Somehow it seems appropriate he is going to leave us around Easter, because Indie was a very redemptive man for me.  Not as big as Jesus of course, but very important.  He showed me how to deal with adversity with grace and dignity, and I am forever in his debt for it.  Any book tour would have to be to his credit.  I would not be what I am without him.

        As my regular readers know, I’ll keep you posted on a schedule.  If nothing else Indie taught me to be adaptable.  So, it might change some, but here is the plan at this time.

       I am mandolin guy, so much of this will revolve around my mandolin friends.  The book store tour will be during the week, and our gigs will be in between their weekend schedules. 

       Here in the central part of the state, the Tobacco Triangle area, Tony Williamson (of Mandolin Central) is gonna help me out.  Y’all know him; he is a player.  I wrote up a nice article on him my agent hopes to place in a national music magazine.  I do hope it works out.  Tony sure deserves the press.

        In western N.C.  it is all about Darin Aldridge.  He and his lovely wife Brooke will join me there.  I can’t wait for you to hear them.  Darin’s mandolin tone is the best I know, and Lord can Brooke sing. Check out their new CD, ‘I’ll go With You.’

        I’d dig playing a gig with Reggie and Ryan Harris.  You ain’t lived till you have heard those boys sing the blues and play slide guitar, bass and the electric suitcase.  Over in Knoxville the Sawbones Grass boys, an all doctor bluegrass band has promised a reunion show.  And what I would give to sing one with Jerry Butler of Carolina Road over there.

        In upstate S.C. my friend Wayne Benson will strike a lick with me when III Tyme Out is off the road, and maybe I can convince his wife Kristin to play one on the banjo if she is home from a Grascals tour.  Wayne and Kristin have won more wards than I can list, and she is the current IBMA banjo player of the year.

        Down around Myrtle Beach Alan Bibey is a monster player.  All y’all know him.  We believe we might be distant relatives, but we aren’t sure.  When I was an intern, young Alan was the world Champion on the mandolin.  He is a far better player than me, but still a bluegrass brother in spite of the talent gap.

        In California, and I can’t believe this , but I might play a few with Mike Marshall.  Hm.  Maybe I’ll just carry in his case and watch; what a player!  I need to get out to his seminar, he is a master.

       I have all kind of mandolin pals scattered around like rekx in Dallas, Texas.  We have not played together, but I look forward to the opportunity.  He is a mandolin man, and his wife is a Doc, so they have a good handle on my world, and have promised to be my guide to the music scene down there.

         I am lucky to know a bunch of singers and songwriters.  Megan Peeler won the national Colgate Country Showdown and is gonna play a few with me in Nashville, although I worry she might be too famous by then for me to afford her.  But she is a good country kid, and me and my wife have promised to visit when we are there and take her out for some chicken if we can find some that reminds her of home.

         All the above leaves a lot of gaps, but I’ll fill ’em in.  I hear from folks around the country all the time who’d help me out when they are in between shows, and most of this work will be be when the regular bluegrass gigs aren’t  rocking.  I figure ain’t too much music cooking on a Tuesday morning in Tupelo, and I hope to pick up a good gig wherever I go.  Of the folks I mentioned, I can’t carry any of their cases, but after twenty-five years I am decent side man and part singer, so I’ll find my way.

         So there you have it.  A precision plan, huh?  After all, I am a Doctor, so it has to be such.

Dr. B