Let's review the chords in FMB: you start out with eight beats of G, and then you go to an E chord for a certain number of beats. Nowadays, most folks change to an E-minor chord for four beats, to match what the banjo is playing. That's how Murphy teaches it, because it's what almost everybody plays now. But on that old Flatt & Scruggs record, the band plays SIX beats of E-MAJOR! It's a wild and woolly sound. It's incredible. It's a hair-raising moment. It's lions and tigers and bears...
Murphy and I have played FMB with that 6-beat E-major chord for over 30 years. The first time we played FMB that way was at Diamond Jim's, a bar in Gainesville Florida. When we heard how the E-major sounded, we both about fell off the stage. Oh, my.
Not many other people play Foggy Mountain Breakdown that way. However, Christopher and I found a couple of people who do, when we were playing for a party in Baltimore last Saturday night. I was playing mandolin. Chris was playing guitar. Our band for the evening was a couple of outstanding area musicians, Mike Mumford on banjo and Ira Gitlin on bass. And guess what? When Mike kicked off FMB and hit that first E chord, EVERYBODY went to the E-major chord. For six beats. Automatically. It was a wild and woolly sound. It was incredible.
Listen back to that old Flatt & Scruggs record a few times, and then try it yourself. It's great. Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!
So were you all playing at “Madam’s Organ” in DC – where Mike plays often? Oh, no – I see it now – it was a private party !!!! Let me get this straight – Red on mando; Chris on guitar; Mike on banjo; and Ira on Bass – Ummmmmm, I wanna hear sum a THAT !!!!! THAT had to be a KILLER band !!!
Yes, it was a rather good band! Everybody had a good time.
We’ve known Mike for some time, and he can really play. Of course, Ira is a fine banjo player (and teacher) himself, but he is also a really good bass player. One thing I didn’t put in the post was that we played Bil Monroe’s tune “Lonesome Moonlight Waltz,” and Ira took an extremely nice BASS break!
Listen My Children And You Shall Hear…. « The Murphy Method Blog