Posted tagged ‘The Mandolin Case’

Where to Get a Free Copy of “The Mandolin Case”

December 14, 2011

        If you are a member of Amazon Prime you can download a copy of my book, “The Mandolin Case,” for free. The novel was accepted by Amazon as part of their Amazon Prime program.

        I have just started to learn about Kindle Prime but the way I understand it, you pay a yearly fee and then have access to be number of free books, free shipping, and other perks. So, check it out at

       If you are a member of Amazon Prime or know folks who are, ask them to take advantage of a free download of “The Mandolin Case.” Even though it is free it still helps me in that Amazon pays the author a fee based on the number of down-loads, and also it is great publicity. Amazon is huge and I was both surprised and tickled they wanted my book on the list. (I’m one of the little guys!) It also helps spread the word about our music. Most of my readers are bluegrass folks but the novel has begun to spill over into other groups of people. Many of them are curious as to why we are so passionate about the music. And too, I am certain the whole program helps Amazon too. They are not naive as to modern business. They are big biz outfit but I gotta admit they have treated my Lit agent, and therefore me, fairly the whole way.

        Y’all have a blessed holiday. I’ll post once or twice more before Christmas and also will be on FB each day, so I’ll be in touch.

Dr. B


Blinky’s Grandchild (and Child)

January 19, 2011

        I’ll get back with more on Mississippi soon, but I did want to pass along this story first.

        Bones Robertson was at his desk finishing dictation for the morning when Peg beeped him. “Doc, there’s a young man here to see you, says he’s “Bull” Wilson.”

        “Lord, that’s Blinky’s grandchild, send him on back.”

        The boy was now a grown man with high cheekbones, jet dark hair and eyes, and a smile like a string of pearls.  Bones hugged him around the neck. “My goodness, you’re a grown up young’un. I haven’t seen you since Indie’s funeral. What you up to these days?”

        “I’m V.P. of the lease division for Phipsy Motors, Harvey County’s Honest Used Car Dealer, only the best for the best.”

        “Well I’ll be. So you work for Phipsy now.”

        “Yes sir. I put you down as reference, I hope that was OK.” 

        “Of course. I’ve known ya forever.You come from good stock; old Blink had his troubles, but he was a good man. He sure stuck by your grandmother. So how’s your Dad?”

        “He died of a heart attack in Baton Rouge, only 42.”

        “I’m sorry. I didn’t hear.” Bones paused. “And your mama?”

        “She’s a waitress at The Waffle House down there. I’m gonna buy a house and get her back home someday.” Bull’s eyes flashed. “Grandma Betty made sure no one in Harvey County heard about it when Dad died.” He clenched his fist. “She always called him half-breed.” 

       Bones sat silent.

        Bull was now 6’3″ and about 240. His neck was thicker than Bone’s skinny hamstrings; a tough kid. His eyes welled up. “Doc, there’s something I want to tell you.”

        “Sure. What’s that?”

        “Blink wasn’t my grandfather, at least not my biological grandfather.”

        Bones sat down and twisted his mustache. “Whadda you mean, Bull?”

        “Grandma Betty pretty well kicked Daddy out. He’d a been an orphan, but a Choctaw Indian named Eagle took him in.” He pulled a picture out of his wallet and showed it to Bones.

        Bones studied the photo, then looked back at Bull. “Son, he looks just like you.”

        “I reckon he would. He’s my grandfather.”

        Bones was silent for a moment. “And Blinky?”

        “I’m sure my grandmother never told him.”

        Bones scratched his head. “You mean to tell me when Betty Wilson got pregnant it wasn’t Blinky’s?”

        Bull nodded.

        “Damn.” And put Blink through all that hell? Bones thought. He paused to compose himself. Why’d she do that, pray tell?”

        “Her daddy hated Native Americans. Would have never allowed the marriage to a full-blooded Indian.”

        “But Blink was part Choctaw.”

        “Old man Langhorne said it didn’t show. Said Blinky might look European, but he still didn’t like him.”

        “Dang. Did it not occur to the man the Native Americans were here first?”

        “I guess not.”

        “So Eagle….

        “Yes. He’s Daddy’s real father; my grandfather.”

        “Well, I’ll be.”

        “You know what?” Bull said. “I loved Blink too. He thought he was my grandfather. Dad never knew Blinky Wilson wasn’t his father. Betty did her best to keep us all apart. I couldn’t bear to tell Blinky. I thought it would kill him. Eagle thought so too, so we didn’t tell.”

        “You’re a good young’un, Bull Wilson.”

       Now it all made sense to Bones. Indie made Betty settle with the scholarship so she wouldn’t have any choice. She was forced to be kind. That dadgum Indie was so wise he even figured how to box in Betty Wilson where she had to do right.

        “Bull, let me ask you one more thing.”

        “Yes sir.”

        “Indie always said he and Blink both had some Choctaw blood. You think they were brothers?

        “I dunno, Doc. I always thought they might be too. I know one thing. Indie Jenkins was the wisest man  I ever knew.”

        Bones smiled. “I agree, Bull. I agree.”

        Bones shook the boy’s hand, and Bull left to go to work. He stopped at the door and turned around. “You know what, Doc? It sure is good to be back in Harvey County.”

        “Good to have you back, kid. Tell Phipsy I’ll be over when I need a new truck.”

        “Yes sir.”

       Bones sat his desk for a minute and twirled his stethoscope. Who said you can’t go home again?  He got up and went to see his next patient.

Dr. B

I dedicate this post to lady mandolin player Beth Tibbitts. She is the bluegrass reader who tracked down Bull Wilson and sent him my way. As more people read “The Mandolin Case” I continue to learn more about the story. (I guess we never stop) I am in the debt of my readers for their research, and esp so today to Ms. Tibbitts.

The Mandolin Case on Kindle

September 9, 2010

        “The Mandolin Case” just made it to Kindle and I wanted to post the link in time for your Christmas shopping. I haven’t got a Kindle yet, but I plan to get one this year. I’ve always wanted to see my book on a computer screen with the typos cut out, and this is my chance.

        I’m okay with the electronic gizmos, but I don’t recommend them at the beach; not sure how well they will fare mixed with sand and sunscreen. 

          We used to say if you didn’t like our CDs they’d make a nice frisbee or a coaster for your coffee cup. Somehow I can’t picture my favorite Kindle on the coffee table with all those unsightly rings that tarnish the cover, so it doesn’t cut that gig. Still, though nothing wrong with high-tech as long as it preserves the traditional, and I believe “The Mandolin Case” does that regardless of format.

        Here’s the link:
Dr. B

The Mandolin Case Cover- A Mystery

May 27, 2010

        I had planned another post about my agent today, but I’ve put if off a day or two. I have breaking news. Last night I got an e-mail from my publisher and they asked me to go ahead and release the cover of my book.

        Okay folks here it is, and also here’s the story behind it.

        Long before anyone had heard of a carbon fiber mandolin, Indie predicted they would one day be an item. “Bibey,” he said. “If we can put a man on the moon, someday they’re gonna make guitars and mandolins out of this space age stuff. You wait and see. They’ll be indestructible. They won’t warp even if you leave ’em in the trunk of the car.”

        Several years before “The Mandolin Case” a man came through Harvey County and showed Indie a synthetic prototype mandolin made out of carbon fiber. He claimed it sounded as good as a mandolin made of spruce and maple tonewoods, but was impervious to the elements. The man wanted Indie to invest in his company. Indie liked the mandolin but was a conservative investor. (Colorful as Indie was, he always said a good investment was a boring mutual fund.) He declined to buy any stock in the man’s company, but didn’t forget the mandolin.

        I didn’t see this mandolin when the man came through, but Indie described it to me. Years went by and I forgot about it. However, when I began to research the back story of “The Mandolin Case,” discussion of the prototype synthetic mandolin resurfaced. Indie would say, “Son, that carbon fiber mandolin was the clue wasn’t it? I’m not sure we’d have found out without it.” Then he’d take a sip of Jim Beam and drop the subject.

          All I knew was it was a carbon gray “F” style mandolin. Indie said at that time it was the only one he’d ever seen that didn’t have the traditional F holes. After the publisher read the story they decided this mandolin was so significant it needed to be on the cover. They asked me to forward a picture.

         I had a dilemma. I not only didn’t have a photograph, I’d never even seen it. All I could do was describe it to the best of my ability. It was somewhat like those composite sketches the police do when they search for a suspect.

        What to do? Indie was gone and I couldn’t ask him. Dang, I should have done the cover first. The publisher sent dozens of drawings. One morning I sipped my coffee and opened my e-mail. I jumped up to call. “That’s it, that’s it! I’m sure that’s the one; well at least as sure as I can be given I never laid eyes in  it myself. Where did you find it?”

        “We tracked it back. The e-mail was bogus. The trail went cold. Address unknown. We don’t know.”

         So there you are. All this research, countless hours of interviews with everyone who would talk, and I still have one last mystery on my hands. Indie knew the synthetic mandolin was a player in the case; he told me so many times. 

        Someone out there knows another clue about ‘The Mandolin Case.” Hm. Maybe they know the Navajo or perhaps it was the Navajo who sent it in. 

        I know the truth about “The Mandolin Case,” but of all the ironies I don’t know where the mandolin on the cover came from. All I can tell you is I am sure whoever sent it in has to be someone on the inside, and I won’t rest until I get to talk to them. If you run into them let me know.

       Dang that Indie. He had a great memory and didn’t bother to document much. Why didn’t he take a picture? It woulda saved me a lot of trouble. Oh well, we’ll find out.

Dr. B

‘The Mandolin Case’ case

November 30, 2009

        Billy the truck driver wrote and said he didn’t believe I really had a ‘Mandolin Case’ case.  In this case, I guess a picture is worth 85,200 words.  (the number in the novel as of the seventh major revision).  Here is the story behind the case.

        In ‘The Mandolin Case’ (the book) the mandolin is symbolic of truth.  Some knowledge of different types of mandolins (Loar, Gibson, Weber, carbon fiber synthetics, etc.) will be helpful to get some of the clues, but the reader with no prior knowledge of mandolin lore will also understand the symbolism.  My editor got deep inside my head and came to understand the intersection of the worlds of medicine, mandolins and golf.  (Hint: sometimes folks cheat at golf or medicine, but never with the mandolin; it only responds to the truth)   Her job was to be sure I had conveyed the concept in a way the reader who did not walk in those worlds every day would also understand.  It was a lot of hard work, but she is confident we got there.

        You see, the mandolin is an often mis-understood little instrument.  Many times its players were overlooked at first.  Bill Monroe made the mandolin famous, but even he took it up because his brothers already had claimed the guitar and the fiddle.  On the other end of the spectrum, Tommy Bibey got started because his band could not find anyone else to play one.

        In the Mandolin Case, Indie was a in a lot of trouble.  He and his mandolin pal, James ‘Bones’ Robertson, were but country docs; your basic “Family Dollar Store’ of medicine types.  But they had a secret the rich and the powerful did not understand.  It was in the mandolins, in music, and in the folks who were the players. 

        There are a number of mandolin players I plan to have sign my case.  They all will be someone I have played at least a song with along the way.  Each represents some truth, and therefore carries some symbolism for the story.  Marty Stuart was the first signature on the case.  Who more than Marty represents the mandolin truth in today’s country music?  Marty has stuck to real music the whole way.

        My pal Darin Aldridge is gonna sign it soon.  He taught me more than anyone, and is my number one mandolin mentor.  Darin played for seven years with the Country Gentlemen.  No one gets better tone than Darin. The Darin and Brooke Aldridge Quintet have a new CD due out soon. Just wait. Trust me; it is that good. 

        Wayne Benson will be on there.  You’ve heard his fine work with III Tyme Out.  Wayne is the best teacher of practical theory as applied to improvisation I have ever worked with. He also studies classical mandolin.  The truth is these guys are far more sophisticated as musicians than what the world knows, and I intent to show anyone who will listen.  

        Rebecca Lovell just signed it.  She was on Mandomania at MerleFest with Darin last year.  She’s a cute kid who just got a driver’s licence and yet is already a virtuoso player.  My generation cut their teeth on Monroe and hers came up on Thile, but we still speak the same language.  If you worry young people don’t dig our music, go see the Lovell Sisters.  When I was coming along bluegrass was a bit of  a boy’s club, but that has changed for the better.  I don’t know as many female mandolinists as I should. I hope to get Sierra Hull to sign it one day although so far I have not played a tune with her.

        I did an article for Tony Williamson one time, and I’ll get his next time I’m by Mandolin Central.  Once I was in a workshop with Mike Marshall.  Maybe I should a left my mandolin in the case for that one.  What a player.  Cuz (Alan Bibey) and I have picked several along the way.  He was the World Champion when I was a young doc; more than enough to convince me to hold onto my day job. 

        I’ll get Sam Bush on there for sure.  How can you have a mandolin project of any kind without Sam Bush?  Sam is about at rock star status nowadays, and is always a highlight at MerleFest.  I played with his sound man years ago (he is a fine mandolinist in his own right) and have played a note or two with Sam at a radio station one time.  I know Sam gets more publicity than what this doc can help him with, but I still want to do what I can to tell new audiences about his music.  

       Sam was at Butch Baldassarri’s seminars back in the 90s.   I still miss Butch.  I have his signature and will reproduce it for the case with the disclaimer that it is only a copy of the original.  Bill Monroe was at John Hartford’s Christmas party and I was fortunate to pick ‘Rawhide’ with him and get his autograph.  I’ll do the same with his and replicate it as an ‘original copy.’  Over time I hope to gather many more.

         It’ll be a fun project.  I promise I’ll make it worth the time of anyone who signs it, ’cause where Tom Bibey goes, so goes “The Mandolin Case’ case.  I hope to bring the mandolin to all kinds of folks who don’t know as much about it as I would like for them to.   Everyone needs to know about the mandolin, ’cause even though ‘The Mandolin Case’ is fiction, it stands for the truth.  We all search for that, and I’m gonna keep on digging.
        So, look for ‘The Mandolin Case’ at a venue near you, and pick one with me.  How bout singing the lead too.  I’m only a part singer and always need all the help I can find to make it in this world.      

Dr. B

Glory Hallelujah Gonna Lay my Burdens Down

September 4, 2009

          I turned in my last deep revision of ‘The Mandolin Case’ to my editor, Jenny Lynn.  This was the same night I was getting shed of a kidney stone.  “Glory glory Hallelujah, I’ve laid my burdens down.”

         I was humbled by the fact that Ms. Sharon, a young lady all the way over in Australia, understood ‘The Mandolin Case’ was more than just a book or a project, but like a kidney stone was something I had to get out of me.  Women are so intuitive.  She picked up on it right away.  It’s like the English Professor’s wife said, “when a man writes like that there is a reason.”

        I have been blessed all my life, but I have seen a lot of wrong.  Somehow I’ve avoided trouble all these years.  There were rough spots along the way, though.  To me medicine is all about praying you can help a few sick folks.  I am sad to report to you to some it is about power and money and greed, and the story is not always pretty. 

        ‘The Mandolin Case’ is about some Docs I knew who did their best to live right.  It wasn’t easy.  They became involved in a very ugly and complicated human confrontation.  The docs were able to reach the far shore and lay their burdens down.   They were able to do so and not compromise their dignity or integrity.  They were careful to protect the privacy of people involved, even the guilty ones who did not deserve that discretion or earn the privilege to be treated with respect.  I have to give Indie most of the credit for how they pulled it off.

        The night I finished my revision, as I struggled to pass this stone, I had peace.  I knew I was gonna get my job done.  I laid my burdens down.  Illness always reminds us we are mortal.  I told my family, my agent, and my editor if anything were to happen to me press on and get it out there, because it has to be told.

        “The Mandolin Case’ is more than a book.  It is a saga about how to face adversity, learn from it, and come out better on the other side.  And in ‘The Mandolin Case,’ except for the few who were wicked beyond human hope, everyone involved came out with a deeper understanding of what it means to be human.  I still pray for the ones who didn’t get it, but I ain’t the Judge.

         We meet with a publisher in late September.  I hope they take it on because it will see a wider audience for their efforts.  But if they don’t I have no fear.  I’ll self publish and “have mandolin will travel” will see you out there in 2010.  My story has to be told.  My dream is that humans will put aside their differences and always seek the truth.  I hope my book and my music will be a small part of that.  I’m not a Pollyanna.  I know it isn’t gonna happen in my lifetime, but it ain’t gonna stop me from trying.  After all, a man has to have his dreams, and mine is that in eternity I’ll get some small little corner where I can lay my burdens down forever.

Dr. B

Mandolin Players Anonymous

June 7, 2009

        Today I dedicate my post to a new group of FaceBook friends.  They are called ‘Mandolin Players Anonymous.’  If I have ever run into a group of folks I felt a more immediate kinship with I do not recall it.

        You see, mandolin players are the same everywhere you go.  We all know the same tunes, we tell the same jokes, and we play instruments that are eerily similar in appearance.  We are thicker than thieves. 

        For many of us, we didn’t find the mandolin, it found us.  Bill Monroe himself was that way; a small, cross-eyed, self-conscious boy who became a giant.  He picked up the mandolin because his older brothers already claimed the fiddle and the guitar.  Bluegrass history is so fortunate for the quirk that it worked out that way; we’d a never been the same otherwise.

        For me, the mandolin came to me because my band needed one.  I played guitar and banjo, but we couldn’t find a mandolin player, so I took it up.  I fell in love with it.  My wife loved it.  And even though I am old anything that impresses your girl is still a good thing.

        I am primarily a bluegrass mandolinist, and I have been fortunate to study under two great players, Darin Aldridge and Wayne Benson.  They would be the first to tell you the mandolin is not confined to bluegrass, and I have heard them play many different styles.  The thing is great for the blues, country, gospel, classical, Celtic, old time, orchestra, pop, and even even rock ‘n roll.  Because it is tuned in fifths it serves as ultra- logical ongoing music theory lesson.  More important, it is just plain cool.  If I were advising a young man as to how to meet girls, I would say to learn to play the mandolin.  You can’t go wrong with with it. 

        As a Doc I have been very fortunate.  With God’s help I’ve even saved a few lives.  My patients are my friends, and I love ’em almost as much as family.  Many of them are musicians.  But mark my words, my mandolin has brought more friends my way than my stethoscope ever dreamed of.

         When my book comes out, the mandolin players are gonna have an inside track to the truth.  For example, if a man was trying to sell you a Loar and it didn’t have a dovetail neck joint every mandolin player in the world would know right away the man was a fraud.  I expect certain passages in the book are so carefully encoded the mandolin players will have to interpret for their friends and family.    

        Check out the picture for Mandolin Players Anonymous on FaceBook.  Maybe I’m old, a mandolin freak, or just happily married, but I would rather have that Loar of Bill Monroe’s grace my study than an SI swimsuit girl, and I ain’t kidding.

        So, to all my new mandolin pals, y’all watch for my book, ‘The Mandolin Case.’  Mandolins players of the world may have been the underdogs ’till now, but for one time, at least in my book in the year of 2010, our little instrument is gonna go down in the history book as heroic, even to an outside world that knows so precious little about it at this time.  And once it is written down, no one can ever take it away. 

        It’s like my friend Wayne Benson says, “We are bluegrass, and we aren’t going away.”  See you out on the bluegrass road, and y’all keep on picking.

Dr. B