Misfit Jam

By Murphy Henry

What a thrill it was tonight to have one of the Original Misfits sit in with us! Yes, indeed, the Fabulous Ruth Steelman and her Gibson banjo joined Mark, Ellen, Logan, Bob Van, and me for an hour of hilarity mixed in with some rousing tunes. I wrote quite a bit about Ruth in my old Banjo Newsletter columns and more than a few of those episodes ended up in my book And There You Have It. Ruth wowed the other banjo players with her full chord Em “rake” in Foggy Mountain Breakdown and her numerous up-the-neck improvisations. She in turn was impressed by Logan’s clear, solid playing.

Numbers performed:

Banjo in the Hollow, Cripple Creek, and Cumberland Gap in unison to warm up

Foggy Mountain Breakdown (which Logan declared he did not like, surprising us all. Of course, today was his last day of school and he is now a rising Junior so I think he was feeling a bit feisty.)

I Saw the Light

John Hardy


Lonesome Road Blues

Blue Ridge Cabin Home

Roll on Buddy

For our closing number Ruth and Logan played Foggy Mountain Special on which Bob took a bass break, somehow managing to remember most of the notes in a solo he hasn’t taken in months.

Funny moment: At the end of John Hardy, Mark says, “Is the F vamp chord just two frets lower than the G?”

I say, “Yes it is. But why do you ask? John Hardy doesn’t have an F chord in it.

Mark: “I thought that F sounded funny!”

Now, one more quote, not from the jam, but from a lesson earlier in the day. When my first student walked in with his banjo I said, “How’re you doing, Frank?”

His philosophical reply: “I’m on the green side of the grass and there’s something to be said about that!”

And with that deep bit of West Virginia wisdom, I’ll say adieu!