Tip Jar Jam #16: Music Sounds Great, Play On!

Murphy Henry

Small piece of info: The place where I am teaching now—and where I hold these jams—is in the downstairs apartment of a big old three-story house. There are people living above me and in the basement apartment below me. I have never met any of these folks.


So here’s the story: Before the jam started last night, I checked to see if the mail carrier had delivered anything to my mail box. There was, of course, the usual junk mail but nothing with a stamp on it. I did, however, see a piece of yellow notebook paper folded in half. Curious, I pulled it out, read it, and laughed out loud!


Hi Downstairs Bluegrass,


If you heard banging, sorry! There was a slow moving wasp which I beat with a kitchen pot. Stepped onto my porch and then the music stopped. Thought I heard someone upstairs, though it could have been wind. If you stopped because of the banging, I apologize! Music sounds great, play on!


              Your upstairs audience,

              [Name of person]


And, truth to tell, I had heard some banging during Kenney’s bass lesson the night before, but I never thought anything about it. I certainly didn’t think anyone was telling us to stop the music! But it’s nice to know that the neighbors appreciate good bluegrass!


On to the Tip Jar Jam: We were few in number last night because of our upcoming camp. (And I really missed getting the latest fashion tips from Kasey, our resident “fashionista.”) But I was delightfully surprised to see Marty walk in about 6:30. I knew he was coming into town Thursday for a lesson and the Thursday jam, so my first question to him was, “Is this Thursday???” As busy as I have been (just getting back from my square dancing weekend) I thought I could have lost a day! He assured me it was Wednesday and I breathed a sigh of relief.


He joined Bob V., Janet, Suzi, Scott, and me to make half a dozen jammers. Two guitars, two banjos, one fiddle, with me playing whatever seemed necessary at the time. It’s always fun to have Suzi at the jam because having a fiddle forces me to think outside the banjo box. So in addition to all our golden oldies we pulled out Turkey in the Straw (with Bob picking a lead break on guitar), You Go To Your Church And I’ll Go To Mine (which Suzi had learned off an old cassette I’d recorded her lesson on—I had no idea that song was also on the cassette and it surprised the heck out of me when she played it), Tennessee Waltz in D (on which Marty played some nice ¾ time backup which I will steal and teach!), and, at Marty’s suggestion, What A Friend We Have in Jesus. Also, since Suzi likes the gospel songs we leaned heavy in that direction, playing I’ll Fly Away, When the Roll is Called Up Yonder, and Somebody Touched Me. Oh, yeah, and Marty suggested Life’s Railway To Heaven on which both Bob and Scott were able to improvise breaks! Way to go, guys! I could sit and sing gospel songs all night long. Somehow I managed to soak up tons of words to hymns during all those Baptist church services during my childhood, probably when I should have been paying attention to what the preacher was saying.


We closed out with Bury Me Beneath the Willow (again at Marty’s suggestion) and found that one to be a keeper. I sent Marty back to his hotel room with an advanced copy (uncorrected proof) of my book. He had been urging me onward for years so much so that I finally began referring to it in our emails as TDB: That Damn Book. The release date of TDB (official title Pretty Good For A Girl: Women in Bluegrass) is in May or June and you can actually pre-order it from Amazon right now. WOW! We’ll be telling you more about that in a blog real soon.


But right now I need to go and pack up the merch for our Intermediate Camp. I’m looking forward to seeing all of you who have signed up. “There’ll be guitars, fiddles, and banjo picking too / Janet and Murphy singing That Good Ol’ Mountain Dew / Zac and Logan playing fast, my goodness what a sight / At the Murphy Method banjo camp this Saturday night! (With apologies to the Grand Ol’ Opry song on the first Will The Circle Be Unbroken album!) See you real soon!