Posted tagged ‘Sam Bush’

April 28, 2012

A recent FB”Song of the Day” for me was “All of Me” as rendered by Don Stiernberg. From his ‘Swing 220’ CD. If you like jazz, swing, big band era, or just all around fine mandolin playing, you’ll like this recording. Jethro would be proud. Cuts also include ‘Caravan, ‘Limehouse Blues,’ ‘Pennies From Heaven,” “Honeysuckle Rose,” “After you’re Gone,” “Lady Be Good’ and more. Excellent work!

Here’s his website: WWW.DONSTIERNBERG.COM

“ivealways heard when New Grass toutred through the Chicago area, the band always allowed some extra time in the schedule  so Sam Bush could take in q lesson with Jethro Burns and  Don Stirenburg. I figure if the material is worthy of Sam’s 1me…


Sam Bush (North Carolina Memories)

May 3, 2010

        I had all plans to start a series today about the writer journey, but I was so inspired by MerleFest, I decided to wait a week. Look for that next Monday. It will be a run-up to an announcement about my book, which after all these years is now very close.

        Today I’m gonna tell you about Sam Bush. For those of you who don’t already know, Sam is the number one rocking mandolinist in the world.

        I first saw Sam years ago with Newgrass Revival at a club called Green Acres. Green Acres was way out in the country. The closest town was Bostic, N.C. and it was not easy to find. I got there because a patient told me about a guy named Rocko. I never knew his real name. The deal was he’d drive you there while he was sober if you’d agree to drive him back home after the show. At age twelve he’d driven the gas truck to deliver fuel oil for his father’s business, so he knew every pig path out there.

       “The sheriff don’t even know this road,” he say. “Never did get caught for no license or DUI either one.”

        I’m not sure you can even get to Green Acres in the daylight. We followed moonlit moonshiner back roads by old abandoned school houses and still occupied graveyards. I went several times before I was sure I could find my way back alone. When we got there it was dim lights and thick smoke. Some of the chairs were long benches like church pews and others were old movie house seats salvaged when the local theater burned down. We stood in the back in the event of fire. A fellow named “Little King” came up to greet us. He was slightly rotund, and had a long white beard that woulda made Santa Clause proud.

        As it turned out “King” was the local Health Department director. He was a solid honest man, but I promise you all the society people didn’t know what to make of him because he spent his money bringing new acoustic music acts to town instead of paying country club dues. We’d never heard of most of the bands he brought in, but they were all good. The first great one that came through was Newgrass, and Sam Bush was the mandolin player.

       It was a Halloween masquerade party. Sam was dressed up like a pirate and had a patch over one eye and some kinda peg leg. I recall Bela went as Bela and was dressed in the standard checked shirt he wore in those days. Pat Flynn was red hot on the guitar and we’d never heard anyone sing like this Cowan guy they brought. I went as Dr. B with a stethoscope around my neck. (If you believe your doctor should be boring I’ll do.)

        The crowd hoisted some fellow overhead who had on a  turban and a white robe. Everyone shouted “Bagwan, Bagwan, Bagwan,” to the top of their lungs as they passed him around the crowd. It was my first time to hear Newgrass and it changed my life. I think they did “White Freightliner” ’cause we learned it right about then.

        Years later I stood in line at Merlefest to get Sam to sign a pack of strings. (I still have the autograph) “I ain’t gonna bother you man,” I said, “but I gotta ask, this is a bigger gig than Green Acres, huh?”

        He smiled and nodded. I moved on. There were hundreds who wanted to speak to him, and he looked tuckered to me.

        In the mid 90s, I ran into Sam at one of Butch Baldassarri’s workshops. We thought we could play a little, but when Sam cranked up I put mine in the case, latched it up, and listened. He filled up the room with music all by himself. Recently at Merlefest Mandomania Sam said you can learn something from every mandolin picker you hear. I sure did learn a lot back then. For one thing I learned I’d better hold onto to my stethoscope, this guy was good!

       Another time Sam was at a local radio station and my friends called me to come over at lunch. He let me play his old Gibson, (Hoss) which is even more weathered in person than it looks in pictures or on T.V. The case was about to fall apart. He toted a Goldrush mandolin that day too. I was at work on “Brilliancy” at the time. I played a few bars. Sam looked over my shoulder and flashed that crooked grin and look of surprise he gets as if to say he was gonna “steal” a lick from me.

       “Shut up man,” I said. He laughed out loud. If you are against a good time, don’t hang out with Sam Bush. He’s gonna have fun. 

        Nowadays Sam plays to sixty thousand people as a headliner at MerleFest, but I want to tell you I don’t think Sam Bush has changed except he is a deeper artist than ever. Every time I have seen the man play a show he has gone all out to give his best. I admire that. There are days when I feel bad, but I try not to show it to my patients. They are owed my best every time. I bet Sam sees it the same way.

        So now you understand why I was so appreciative of him this weekend. There were dozens of people tugging at him backstage, but he took the time to sign “The People’s Mandolin” and had a photo-op with it and all the players on Mandomania.

        So, I want you to come away with this for today. Sam Bush is pure acoustic music enthusiasm without fail. Go see him and buy a CD; he is a true artist who gives his best be it the old times at Green Acres or nowadays at MerleFest.

        I know one thing. If the man can make me forget my troubles for a few hours and get an old button-down shirt doc to howl at the moon he’s a powerful entertainer. Y’all check him out. Here’s his website:

Dr. B

Sam Bush- Part One. ‘Circles Around Me’

December 2, 2009

        Sam Bush is one more rocking right hand mando man. In fact, if you know anyone in the world who lays it down better than Sam please let me know so I can buy all their CDs and study them too. If Doc Watson calls you to cut the mando tracks for your project that shows it all.

        Sam’s new CD, ‘Circles Around Me’ speaks to coming full circle.  It is Bill Monroe, New Grass, side-man and front-man all wrapped into one disc; a must record for anyone with even the slightest interest in what traditional music is all about.  I know it isn’t what Sam meant by the title, ’cause he is not a bragging sort of fellow, but it also hit me that Sam can pick circles around all of us.

        When Sam hits the stage he gives it his all.  Pretty soon he is drenched in sweat and red-faced.  He just ain’t gonna let you show up at his gig and have a bad time.  His band is the same way.  Sometimes I wonder what drives a man like that, but then I don’t have to look too far.  I could never be the kind of mandolin player Sam is (few on the planet are) but as a doc and even in my humble efforts as an artist I always want to give my best.  Sam seems to be motivated to do the same.

        Writer Larry Nager wrote up an article on Sam in the latest issue of  ‘Bluegrass Unlimited.’  If you don’t get BU at least go buy a copy of this one and read this article.  I love Sam’s quote at the end.

        “It’s interesting, ’cause at age 57, I’m just trying to improve as a player and a singer. And I hope on this new record, it sounds that way to the listener. I’m not satisfied. You hear so many people, especially in this town of Nashville- they just want to be famous; that don’t mean it’s a good thing. I just want to play and sing better, and I don’t think I’m there yet. I’m still searching.” -Sam Bush BU Dec 2009

        As good as the cat is, and he is the best, he’s still digging to try and be better.  Isn’t that what should drive us all?  I think as a doc what I did yesterday doesn’t make a bit of difference if I don’t give my all for my people today.  To me that is why the work of an artist like Sam inspires me.  It’s also why I worked so hard on my book.  I wanted to give it my best effort to show what I believed to be true.  Sam does that with his mandolin.  I don’t think fame has got a d@^^ thing to do with any of it and I admire him for it. 

        There’s more I want to tell you, but I gotta go to the doc gig.  I’ll edit and publish this in the morning, and I plan one more post on Sam this week.  Y’all go take in a Sam Bush show.  Take it from this doc; he’s good medicine.

Dr. B

International ‘Play it Again Sam’ Day

September 9, 2009

        One of our fellow writers, Ms. Karen Collum, has a son who is having open heart surgery today.  The boy is named Sam, and goes by the nickname ‘Possum.’  In the bluegrass world, I have dubbed him ‘Australia Sam.’

        He has an ASD, or atrial septal defect.  To break that down into real doctor talk he has a small hole in his heart they gotta patch, but he should be okay, ’cause as far as those things go, it sounds bad but most of the time they can fix it and the patient will do well.

         His surgery is today, so in the world of bluegrass we have declared this ‘International Play it Again Sam Day.’  We want him to get back to play and kid stuff pronto, and to leave all the fear and pain behind.  The good news is kids are very resilant and all odds are he will do just that.

        One time one of my children had surgery, though not this serious.  I had been a Doc a long time but I was not prepared for the helpless feeling.  Post-op all I could do was sit up all night and wait for the storm to pass.  She did fine, though.  Ms. Karen might feel like she’s leaving Casablanca in the fog and rain on a prop plane this evening,  but tommorrow the sun is gonna shine, and Sam is gonna play it again.  

        For that matter there are a bunch of kids out who face something similar today.  So I’m gonna send up a prayer that they have a minimum of suffering and life returns to normal very soon.

        I believe prayer and music have power to heal.  I’m sure someone has done a study and played music to post-op mice and realized they healed up faster than the ones without any social support.  So from the bluegrass community around the world, all the best Sam.  Play it again.

        My song of the day on FaceBook is Sam Bush’s ‘Brilliancy.’  At one time I had this one under my fingers, though no one can play it like Sam.  I’m gonna get out my mandolin and play it for Australia Sam as soon as I finish this post.  I hope my fellow musicans will do the same.  The writer world is much like the bluegrass one.  We all try to make sense of a crazy world through art.  I find both genres are often misunderstood so all us artists gotta stick together.

        All prayers to Australia Sam.  Play it again soon, kid.

Dr. B