Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Mandolin Case by Dr. Tom Bibey - Book Review

The Mandolin Case by Dr. Tom Bibey is, as the sub-title says "a Novel about Country Doctors, Honest Lawyers, and True Music."  That might be all I need to write to send readers of this blog cascading to the usual sources to buy this very good read.  Readers familiar with Dr. Bibey's very entertaining blog already know the cast of characters in this book. Now they get a chance to read the whole story of how Dr. Henry (Indie) Jenkins and his friend Dr. Bones Robertson take on the medical establishment in Harvey County, NC over the mysterious death  of Blinky Wilson.  Along the way, readers are introduced to a delightful cast of characters who are, for the most part, interesting and likeable people.  As a reader you come to care about Indie, Bones, Snook, Tag, Gibson Taylor, Marley Mason and all the other people who traipse through this entertaining, humorous, and engaging journey among worlds you might think don't interact very well: bluegrass music, medical error, golf, and court-room drama, but it all works.

Dr. Tom Bibey is the pseudonym for a real physician/musician who lives and practices in rural North Carolina.  He prefers to maintain his anonymity, but bluegrassers in his region are pretty well clued in.  People who have come to know him through his writing on line realize that he often deals in coded language that takes a little deciphering to figure out.  In The Mandolin Case he uses such language, well-crafted dialogue, and straight-forward story telling to present a tale that grabs readers early and keeps them involved to the very last page.

Blinky Wilson has died in the hospital under somewhat mysterious circumstances suggesting that an overdose of a usually benign pain killer administered by Dr. Jenkins is responsible.  Jenkins, a locally beloved and respected "country doc" is blamed by the hospital administration and the grieving widow, both of whom seem to have reasons to want Indie out of the way.  What ensues is a delightful romp through the several worlds the characters inhabit.  Many of the people in The Mandolin Case are bluegrass players who get together weekly to jam.  Several of them find the music to have therapeutic as well as recreational value.  Like many people in the bluegrass world, they play music at a level below professional, but with a high degree of competence and pleasure. A characteristic of bluegrass music is the truth and honesty of its lyrics and tunes.  Much of the pleasure of this book lies in watching the trusting world of bluegrass musicians encounter the less reliable world of malpractice lawyers and hospital administrators.  Fortunately, many of the characters are also golfers, another activity where honesty and truth are a central value.  As these world interact, relate, and clash the truth emerges with a series of twists that keep the reader involved to the last page.

The Mandolin Case represents a new paradigm in book publishing.  Readers were first introduced to Dr. Tom as well as the characters in his book through an Internet blog.  Over the past couple of years, as the book emerged, Bibey was busy creating a ready-made audience for it.  He continues to write at least twice weekly at Dr. Tom Bibey's Weblog where he posts about the real world of bluegrass music and the coded, fictionalized world of small town medical practice as well as letting us keep an eye on his golf game.  Furthermore, he has started another web site devoted to marketing his book and following a mandolin he has started traveling about the country to help introduce people to the joy of playing bluegrass music.  The Mandolin Case can be ordered from Amazon.  If you click through from The Madonlin Case web site to order, Dr. Bibey will get credit for the sale. You can also order autographed copies from his web site.  In recent months, Dr. B has been attending a few bluegrass festivals where he sets up his booth to sell and sign books as well as meet and greet new friends in the bluegrass world.

The Mandolin Case is published by Ford, Falcon, & McNeil (Chattanooga, TN) 2009-2010, ISBN 978-98-9827252-0-7 and sells for $18.00.  Support your local independent bookstore by asking them to  order it.  Also available from Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million, and Borders.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

MACC 2010 - Saturday

Every bluegrass festival has it's own vibe - a feel, a spirit, an ambiance, a special unique being. MACC, probably because of the cause it supports especially has this sense.  As the event builds from Wednesday to Saturday, there's an increasing sense of community, a community joined together annually to accomplish great things through music and fellowship.  It was HOT on Saturday.  There's no denying it.  The music started at 11:30 and continued all day and into the night, closing out sometime around midnight.  The excitement level rose all through the day, climaxing with the MACC Opry, a musical experience not to be missed.  Here's the story.

MACC Children's Band

This year the children's band had fewer participants than in the past couple of years but made up for the lack of number in the quality of their performance.  Ranging in age from 2 - 18, the kids did a wonderful job representing the future of bluegrass.  Anyone worrying that the music is dying needs to see these kids.

The Winner of the Raffle Guitar

I've posted an extensive collection of MACC Children's Band pictures as a Picasa Web Album.  Here's the key: 

Parents, friends, and anyone else interested in seeing more of these great kids is welcome to view the album and download the pictures enjoy their beauty and enthusiasm.  

The Snyder Family Band

Young Zeb and Samantha Snyder, from North Carolina, have been attracting lots of attention in the past couple of years as their musical accomplishments and personal warmth have received increasing attention. They're not just good for their age, they're flat out good!

  Zeb Snyder

Samantha Snyder

Shay Sparks

Joe Mullins & The Radio Ramblers

Joe Mullins plays and supports traditional bluegrass music with the best of them.  He's been a national figure in bluegrass for many years as a performer, promoter, and owner of some radio stations in southern Ohio that play lots of bluegrass.  He's returned to performing in the past few years.  Good thing, too.

Joe Mullins

Mike Terry

Tim Kidd

Evan McGregor

Adam McIntosh

Ronnie Bowman
From his early days with Lost & Found and The Lonesome River Band, Ronnie Bowman has been a star.  As a performer and a song writer in both bluegrass and country music, Bowman has been continually recognized for his work.  He's a consistently dynamic performer who's not to be missed if you can see him. His song "Here I Am," sung in the voice of the Evil One, is perhaps the scariest and most arresting song I know. 

Garnet Imes Bowman

Chris Harris and Greg Martin

Jeremy Boling


 Angela Minkis

 Shelley Burleson
Larry Cordle & Lonesome Standard Time
Larry Cordle

Chris Harris (Yes...He's Everywhere)

Jody King

James Donczecs

Kim Gardner

Jim Reed and Darrel Adkins

Randy Kohrs Band

Ashley Brown

Tony Wray
Mike Sumner

Pasi Leppikangas & Gage Boecker


Dr. Tom Bibey author of The Mandolin Case

Lonesome River Band

Sammy Shelor's dynamic banjo work and the rock tinged sound of The Lonesome River Band have been exciting fans for nearly a generation.  Through a range of changes, they've continued to lead the way, bringing audiences screaming to their feet in venues throughout the country and the world.  They continue to energize audiences wherever they perform.
Sammy Shelor

Brandon Rickman Changes a String on the Fly

Andy Ball

Newlywed Mike Anglin

Mike Hartgrove

Theresa Anglin holding Briar Rickman with Amy Rickman

Carl Jackson, Bradley Walker & Val Story Rehearsing

Brandon Rickman & Briar (Better than a Dog)

The SteelDrivers

When the SteelDrivers lost their lead singer, there was a lot of concern about the future of this popular contemporary band.  Not to worry!  Singer/Songwriter Gary Nichols has stepped in with a fine voice that blends perfectly with the band's vibe and brought some new songs with him as well.  The band is, if anything, improved by the change.
Gary Nichols

Tammy Rogers

Mike Henderson

Richard Bailey

The Trio
Tammy Rogers, Mike Fleming, Gary Rogers

Bradley Walker & Brandon Rickman

Jerry Salley

Grand Finale - The MACC Opry
Each year at The MACC, Carl Jackson, Larry Cordle, and Jerry Salley lead and coordinate a group of the best singers available anywhere all on stage at once to sing and celebrate together.  This finale always packs a huge emotional wallop and this year was no exception.  This year the finale began with a procession of veterans coming to the stage and then saluting the flags as the Jackson, Cordle, and Salley sang the national anthem with beauty and fervor.  It would have taken a heart of stone not to be moved by this brief ceremony.

For the next ninety minutes the Opry musicians sang selections from the catalogs of the three principals as well as other favorites of the participants.  This was truly a magical period for everyone concerned, so emotionally loaded it's difficult to describe. I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.  The evening ended with the singing of the new Dale Pyatt song, "Life Goes On," which has been chosen as the title song for the new MACC album, soon to be released to help continue the fund raising activities for St. Jude Children's Reasearch Hospital year round.

Carl Jackson

Jerry Salley

 Larry Cordle

Aubrey Haynie

Charlie Cushman

Val Story
Bradley Walker

Ashley Brown & Randy Kohrs

Ronnie Bowman

Mike Anglin and Chris Harris
 Dale Pyatt

And so it ended..... I want to write about the spirit of MACC in a little more detail and will post that in the next few days.  See you next year.