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Murphy Henry

Murphy Henry

I just realized I should have taken a picture of the three Bobs: Bob Mc, Bob A, and Bob V! In lieu of that, I will paraphrase a nursery rhyme: 

Murphy, merry, quite contrary
How does your jamming go?
With Silver Bells and three-ply shells
And three Bobs all in a row.

Not my best effort, to be sure, and no one in the jam plays a Silver Bell banjo, but I'm guessing there are some three-ply rims!

We welcomed back banjo-picking Bob Mc who now lives in Florida but still makes the occasional foray back to God's country! With Bob A and Bob Van on guitars, that was quite a collection of Bobs. And, for a time, they were all sitting in a row. And then they were sitting in a row with Kathy G in the middle, a rose among the thorns, as we say here. ...continue reading

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Murphy Henry

Murphy Henry

We resumed shooting our new DVD, Kickstart Your Jamming, on Friday after a two-day hiatus. On one of those days Casey and I took her son Dalton to the Shenadoah County Fair. I could write a whole blog about that but will settle for letting you see a picture of our lunch, since I seem to be really into food pictures right now:

Schaffer's BBQ!

Schaffer's BBQ!

Friday morning we were back in the saddle again with me playing the Roly Poly versions of the songs I'd previously taught, but this time with Casey accompanying me on guitar. On this DVD, for the first time ever, we are including some songs that I don't teach breaks to. These songs (Worried Gal, I'll Fly Away, Foggy Mountain Top, to mention three) are so similar to the songs I DID teach that I decided to let you, the students, make up your own Roly Poly breaks. To aid and abet, I vamp and sing the song while Casey plays guitar. Then we leave a space for you to play (with me still vamping, but not singing) and at the end I play my version of the Roly Poly break. I think you'll really like this and it's all done super-slow. ...continue reading

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Murphy Henry

Murphy Henry

And thanks to Diane for the lovely blog title! It's one of those sayings that makes sense, only you're not quite sure WHY it makes sense. She said it to Gregg toward the end of the jam after he'd been valiantly trying to do the Roly Polys all night long. She called it "jamming by fire hose" and I wrote it down. We all knew exactly what she meant. 

Gregg, you might recall, started taking lessons from me and coming to the jams in July, right after Kaufman Kamp. At that time he sorta knew two songs: Cripple Creek and Boil Them Cabbage Down. I let him keep his version of Cripple Creek, but finally told him I never wanted to hear him Boil the Cabbage like that again. It was confusing his hands.

Anyhow, I was telling you all that to tell you this: Since he was coming to the jams, I had to give him a crash course in Roly Polys so he could play on more songs. So he didn't get the slow, let's-ease-into-it-one-song-at-a-time version. He got: "Here's a G Roly Poly, here's a C Roly Poly, here's a D Roly Poly. Let's play Bury Me Beneath The Willow!" Which is a song that Chuck was learning to sing.  ...continue reading

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Murphy Henry

Murphy Henry

Again, a quick blog about our recording today. I got through all of the upgrades to the Roly Polys! Hooray! Red may have a time with the editing, but the footage is there. For upgrades (meaning harder licks) I included the Tag Lick, the Foggy Mountain Breakdown Lick, the D lick first taught in Do Lord, the Roll In My Sweet Baby's Arms lick, the 8th-note walk-down C lick (which does NOT have a good name!), a hammer-on to the fourth string for the C Roly Poly, the D lick from Foggy Mountain Breakdown, and finally, that cool Ralph Stanley lick that I first teach in When The Roll Is Called Up Yonder. WHEW!

So these are all substitute licks for the basic Roly Poly Breaks which I recorded yesterday. I can only HOPE that the students (this means you!) will not move too fast through the DVD or skip around too much.

When we got done about noon, I didn't even have time to MAKE a sandwich to take with me to my teaching place. So, alas, I had to stop by McDonald's which was on the way. Here is a picture of my lunch:

Lunch

Lunch

I don't know why I'm suddenly compelled to tell you what I have been eating! Maybe because recording takes so much focused energy that I stay hungry all the time!

We still need Casey to add the guitar parts and I am getting Red to play the mandolin on Daybreak in Dixie so you banjo folks can hear what the song sounds like. Much better than me HUMMING through the chords! But we are closing in on being done! Except for that all-important cover shot!

Stay tuned. And thanks for all the positive comments about looking forward to this DVD.

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Murphy Henry

Murphy Henry

I'd hoped to have more energy to blog in detail about our first day of recording the new DVD, Kick Start Your Jamming! (And a tip of the big ol' Stetson hat to Texas Tim for helping with that title.) This DVD will teach you everything you need to know about the Roly Polys!

We recorded nine songs, from Blue Ridge Cabin Home to Somebody Robbed the Glendale Train, and will be adding the upgrades tomorrow. Then Casey will join me later in the week to add the rhythm guitar. I am extremely pleased with how the DVD is turning out. Can't wait for you to see it!

Post-DVD meal: Eggs and grits

Post-DVD meal: Eggs and grits

Here's a picture of our post-DVD meal: eggs and grits. Cheese grits! I cooked the eggs, and Red made the grits. This has always pretty much been our go-to supper especially when we were playing bluegrass full time and coming back home from a festival or being out on the road. (Okay, sometimes we did resort to that quick Kraft Macaroni and Cheese! Yummy!)

So, I'm not sure how well you can see the things spread out on our eating table (my Mama made the tablecloth) but Red's plate has the most grits on it! Mine are in a bowl. We are also having green beans (compliments of J.P., my fiddle student, who had already strung and snapped them!), cantaloupe, and toast made in the oven and topped with Casey's homemade apple jelly!

But now, it's time to crash and do some serious vegging in front of the TV. I hope there's a pre-season football game on!

We'll be recording some Roly Poly upgrades tomorrow! Stay tuned!

Murphy Henry

Murphy Henry

We had quite a crowd at the Wednesday night jam this week including  the young brothers Rhys on fiddle and Drew on banjo with their parents Jason on guitar and Amber on mandolin. Can you say "family band in the making?" I hope so!

So this story is about Drew: Somewhere in the middle of the jam, I decided we needed to get into the Key of B, so I could sing Katy Daley, that great Ralph Stanley song that Dan has been learning on banjo. (Casey's Custom Lesson!) Dan was the only one taking breaks, so all Drew had to do was vamp. After we finished that one--with Dan doing a jam up job on the banjo--I asked Diane to sing Do Lord in B, so we could do one more song there without having to fool with the banjo capos and the inevitable retuning. Do Lord is a song that Drew knows how to play, which was one reason I chose it. The problem was  that Drew doesn't have spikes in his banjo yet so he couldn't tune his fifth string to the requisite B note. Taking a page from Casey's book, I took his banjo and tuned the fifth string so it sounded just like the first string. (Off the cuff, I have no idea what that note is, not that it matters. I think it's an F-sharp. But that sounds scary!) I told Drew that the break would sound a little strange with the fifth string tuned like that. I even played it for him so he could hear the strangeness. It did sound pretty weird. ...continue reading

Recently David Morris wrote an article for the online magazine Bluegrass Today suggesting rather strongly that Hazel Dickens should be in the IBMA Hall of Fame. Since Hazel, and her singing partner Alice Gerrard, are both featured in a chapter of Murphy's book, Pretty Good For A Girl, that topic is right down Murphy's alley. So, as soon as she remembered her user name and password (which involved getting a new user name and password!), she posted a comment. You can read the article and all the comments here.

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Murphy Henry

Murphy Henry

John, one of my North Carolina students, made the long trek to Winchester for some Marathon lessons and jamming this week. John, who has attended both our Beginning and Intermediate Camps, was so convinced of the power of the Tip Jar Jam that he took the bull by the horns and rounded up a teacher to lead a jam for him and some of his picking friends in North Carolina. Jamming has done wonders for John's playing. As I told him, he is more confident and he knows the jam ropes: how to listen for the chord changes, how to vamp quietly, how to alternate breaks, how to come in on time for his breaks, and how to use the capo (at least in A; C was a challenge!). These are the things you just can't learn in a lesson setting.

Trying to maximize his picking time, John had set up lessons on Tuesday and Wednesday so he could stay for both jams. Tuesday was the smaller jam with Janet, Kenney, and Doug. We had a good time alternating between the songs John played and the more advanced songs that Doug played (Theme Time, Cheyenne, Lonesome Road Blues). Janet made her jam debut with Arkansas Traveler, picking it in open D on the guitar. It was so good, she even amazed herself! Naturally, I got out the fiddle and played along. ...continue reading

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[Betty Fisher, a Tip Jar Jam regular, was kind enough to blog about her recent jamming experience. Betty has been having some problems with bats in her house, hence the blog title. She is also a very, very good sport!]

My friend and neighbor Stephanie is a beginning guitar student of Murphy’s.  She and I have been threatening--or rather promising--to get together and jam as Murphy has suggested.  Finally on Sunday we were able to do that.

A shining example to all! Betty, left, and Steph, right, jamming.

A shining example to all! Betty, left, and Steph, right, jamming.

We sat out on Stephanie’s beautiful new stone patio in the shade with a nice breeze blowing.  Steph warned me that she had not practiced for a couple of weeks.  She had also let Murphy know that things would be on hold for a short while, then she would get back in gear with her lessons.   ...continue reading

Casey Henry

Casey Henry

I have a bunch of new custom lesson I've added to my list and here they are:

  • Big Country (Bela Fleck) (A) Watch clip. - This is a great tune of Bela's. Definitely advanced, but on the scale of all of Bela's tunes, not that hard.
  • Cattle In The Cane (A) Watch clip. - This is a fiddle tune, and it really gave me a time working out an arrangement. There is NO way to play it scruggs style. It ended up being a mixture of melodic and single string.
  • Daisy A Day (B) Watch clip. - Easy strumming arrangement to sing along with.
  • Greensleeves (B) Watch clip. (Single note melody version.) - This tune is also on the Casey's Christmas Collection DVD, but that version is much harder than this. Here I just teach the meldoy, one note at a time. Also the guy who ordered it stiffed me, so I'd appreciate it if some of y'all ordered it...
  • Gum Tree Canoe (High Break) (I) Watch clip. - I already have the low break to this on the list. The high break is much harder, but really fun in a kind of ridiculous way. I'll include both breaks when you order this song.
  • In The Gravelyard (I) Watch clip. - A Blue Highway hit. This is Jason Burleson's kickoff break.
  • Rockwood Deer Chase (Don Stover) (A) Watch clip. - A really, really cool tune in D tuning. Jim Mills also recorded it.
  • You Are My Sunshine (I) Watch clip. - Nice, familiar tune that lays out well on the banjo. This is an intermediate arrangement.

You can order any or all of these on my website: caseyhenry.net