Just a quickie here, folks, to let you know that our second Murphy Method Intermediate Banjo Camp was a rousing success! Sixteen students gathered in Winchester under the watchful eyes of Casey and me to play and play and play! They also did some learning, but I think the playing was the big hit of the weekend. After all, our motto is “Less talk, more playing!”
One of the surprise hits of the weekend was the singing of Barry, one of our LA students. (And I don’t mean Lower Alabama!) I’ve known Barry from meeting him at many camps over the years and I had no idea he knew so many songs and could sing so well. And since I caught a cold and could not sing (arrrgh!), he stepped into the breach and really helped out. His song choices were excellent—just plain old three-chord songs, but ones that were a bit unusual. The ones I remember are:
Let Those Brown Eyes Smile At Me
Long Black Veil
Your Love Is Like a Flower
Little Cabin Home on the Hill
Hand Me Down My Walkin' Cane
(Help me out, Barry! There was another one about drinking and the one you sang Sunday that had the word “Wander” in it....my brain is muzzy today!)
Barry also played the banjo as he sang and did the kickoffs to all these songs! The rest of the class then had the opportunity to improvise breaks to the songs, on the spot, and play them solo while everyone else vamped. (But only if they wanted to.)
Jim also came through with some good sing-along songs like Worried Man and I Saw the Light. And on Saturday and Sunday Zac came in to be our guitar man. Nothing like playing Blue Ridge Cabin Home fifty times at a very slow pace, is there Zac? He also played banjo on our Saturday night concert and did a bang up job. Bob Van Metre came in to play bass and provide some comic relief with his off-the-cuff remarks...he also provided the medicinal Jack Daniels and I am forever in his debt for that. I still couldn’t sing but I didn’t feel so bad about it!
If I had to describe what we did during the weekend with one word it would be “improvise.” We divided the class into Beginning Intermediates and more Advanced Intermediates and both sections worked hard on improvising. The BI’s learned about it from the ground up—finding basic licks to use in simple three-chord songs and then using those same licks over and over to play more songs. The AI’s improvised to Barry’s and Jim’s songs and to the version of East Va. Blues I managed to croak out. (Not pretty!) Everyone did fantastic, and no one’s break was the same. The AI’s also improvised a break, on the spot, to Bluegrass Breakdown, altho Roy (back again from England) later said he was just copying me. Hey, that still counts! You were doing it on the fly.
There is much more to tell, but I’m out of time. I’d love it if some of you students would chime in with your impressions.
We are already looking forward to next year’s camp which will be this same weekend in March (we hope). Mark your calendars! We picked up great ideas from the students for improvements we can make for next year and we are already laying the groundwork to implement some of them.
Thanks to everyone for making our second Intermediate Banjo Camp such a great one. And don’t forget about our Murphy Method Beginner Camp this October!!!! See you there.