Jamming: One Easy Time, and one Challenging Situation

Red Henry

Last weekend I went over to Nashville for the International Bluegrass Music Association convention. During the day I helped Casey with our Murphy Method booth, but both nights I went over to my uncle John's house to pick. John Hedgecoth is a banjo player with long-standing credentials including a stint in Bill Monroe's band in the 1970s. He can also play ANYTHING on a banjo, from bluegrass ro jazz to classical, so it was good to pick with him. He invited a few other folks over, and we played a whole lot of tunes. We picked quite a few Bill Monroe numbers. We played lots of traditional tunes. We also played some entertaining numbers like 'Sweet Sue,' 'Baby Elephant Walk,' and "When I'm 64." John played them all on banjo with aplomb. Nothing could be easier than picking with him, and it was all good.

Then last night, back here in Winchester, I went over to the weekly Thursday Night Jam. Playing music there was a different situation. About 15 local musicians were playing for an audience of about 50, inside a greenhouse. (It wasn't any stranger than it sounds, but the acoustics were not the best.) There were about 7 guitar players, three mandolin players, two each playing banjo and fiddle, and (thank goodness) a string bass. So I got near the bass player and played firm rhythm on Randy Wood #3-- a mandolin with unexcelled projection-- and the rhythm was there. Not great rhythm, but adequate. The on-beat was there from the bass and the off-beat was there from the mandolin, and everybody hung together adequately. And everybody had a good time.

Congratulations to Murphy's student Zac, who won the banjo contest at Burlington, WV last Sunday! Way to go! We had him play 'Foggy Mountain Breakdown' at the jam, and he did quite well with both the low break and the high break. Good picking--

Posted in By Red, Improvising, jamming and tagged , , on by .

About Red Henry

Began playing mandolin, guitar, fiddle, and banjo in 1967-69. I married Murphy in 1974. We led the Red & Murphy bluegrass band, playing professionally, from 1975-87. Since then I've handled the technical side of Murphy Method cassette, videotape, and DVD production. When you call I usually answer the phone, and I'm normally the one who sends out the orders.