Blogging Before Breakfast

Murphy Henry

Murphy Henry

The nice thing about working at home, as Casey has pointed out, is being able to work in your pajamas. So, here I sit at the computer, in my red pjs with my morning cuppa (tea), writing my blog before I’ve even had breakfast! My tummy protesteth!

This past weekend, as you know, we recorded a new banjo DVD, Beyond Vamping: Fancy Scruggs Backup. This was totally Casey’s idea and her concept of teaching a series of backup licks and then adding them to the same song so you get a whole song’s worth of backup is brilliant. You’re gonna love hearing Casey talk about the “short vamp diddley” and the “long vamp diddley” and what the Flint Hill Flash called the “Townhall Lick.”

My job throughout the shoot, in addition to playing guitar and singing and making sure Casey didn’t accidentally say anything wrong that she didn’t catch herself, was to keep an eye on Earl. Earl? Yes, Earl.

Casey has this wonderful gold necklace (which she wore on the Grand Ole Opry) from which hangs a tiny Earl Scruggs figure, possibly an inch high, with his banjo. What could be more appropriate for a Fancy Scruggs Backup DVD than to have a token of Earl actually in the room?

But a problem surfaced early on. Earl would occasionally be overcome with shyness and turn away from the camera. My job was to make sure Earl was always facing forward. This elicited comments from me such as “Earl’s getting a little sideways there” and “Earl’s a little crooked” and “I think Earl’s giving you a little kiss.” We had a lot of fun with Little Earl. (Which, by the way, is what Red and I named one of the chipmunks in our yard.)

Since my job didn’t require a whole lot of effort once Earl was in position, I took the liberty of writing down a few choice remarks that Casey addresses to the students. Which I will now share (if they pass Casey’s editorial powers!):

About the “long vamp diddley”: That’s a tricky little move. Get the timing in your fingers. I expect you to pause the video and go practice right now!

About the “Townhall Lick”: This lick takes an awful lot of left-hand dexterity.

About the “Cabin in Caroline Lick”: I’m about to sound like a broken record when I say, Get the notes down before you start to worry about the timing.

And my favorite (which she used several times): Take off your ring finger. Perhaps I’ve read the Lord of the Rings trilogy too many times, but each time she said this, I envisioned someone actually taking their ring finger off of their hand. With no help from Gollum!

Place your advance orders now. Operators are standing by. (One of them will be eating breakfast!)

8 thoughts on “Blogging Before Breakfast

  1. Murphy

    She (or he) thinks that the bell in the Flint Hill town hall chimed the hours with this lick. And reminds us that this is the lick behind the guitar at the beginning of Six White Horses. (Like anybody ever listens to Six White Horses anymore!) But even the Flash is not sure about how Earl fingers the left hand on this lick. And as I found out during the DVD shoot, Casey and I actually do it differently! OMG!

  2. martha carlton

    Hey Murphy,

    I love this blog. I can imagine you in your pj’s pecking away at the computer. I hope by now you are having yhour breakfast. I have already pre-ordered this DVD. It will be great.


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