We were talking about the T-shirts that the Murphy Method is offering for a limited time. (Order by July 4 if you want one!) The shirts that say "Pick Like A Girl!" (I got that idea after seeing a shirt supporting breast cancer awareness that said, "Fight Like A Girl!") Many of the women at the jam said they'd like to order one. Ben (Kasey's dad) said he'd like to order two. I said, "What for?" He said, "I'm getting one for me." I said, "You are? You're gonna wear a T-shirt that says, 'Pick Like A Girl!'?" He said, "Yeah! I'd be happy to pick like any of you girls!" Bada bing! (I quoted Marty Bacon saying the same thing in my book!) I absolutely love it when the guys say this! Thank you, Ben! Thank you, Marty!
We were small in number this past Wednesday, which gave us a chance to try some different things. I was playing the banjo since Kathy was the only other banjo player in the jam to start with. (Ben was late, late, late!) As she was getting ready to kick off Cripple Creek (on which none of the guitars took a break) I said to her, "Just you and me. We get to take all the breaks! What could be better?" Without missing a beat Kathy said, "Just me!" Bada bing again! And touche! (I frequently tell the jammers that my favorite jam is the one in which I'm the only banjo player. Actually my most favorite jam is the one in which my banjo is the only lead instrument! Okay, I'm just kidding about that last one...mostly!)
At Kenney's request, Kathy sang Will The Circle Be Unbroken in the Key of C, with Janet and me adding the two harmony parts (low baritone, high tenor) to give us a full-fledged women's trio. (Or, as Red used to call it when my sisters and I sang together, a "woperdaughter" trio. He would explain that even if he called a women's trio, the word women still had the word "men" in it. And if he called it a "woperson" trio, that word still had the masculine "son" in it. So he substituted "daughter" for the "son" in "person" to get "woperdaughter"!) Anyhow, our Circle trio sounded great! Kathy had added a way cool last verse that referenced Mother Maybelle, but I can't remember those words. Maybe she'll post them in the comments?
That sounded so good that I sang Mountain Dew in C, getting Janet and Kathy to sing tenor together. Kathy said she could follow the tenor as long as Janet was singing it, but wasn't quite ready to do the tenor alone. (She told me to bring her our Harmony Singing Made Easy DVD where the amazing Janet Beazley explains all about harmony singing and I sing exactly what she tells me to!)
Since we were trying new things, I asked Bob Van to sing Give Mother My Crown, a song we'd sung at his lesson. I had realized as he was singing it that the melody sounds almost exactly like that Don William's song Amanda. ("Amanda, light of my life / Fate should have made you a gentleman's wife...") Unfortunately for Kenney, on the bass, the song is in 6/8 time (that's a real fast, pulsing 3/4 time) and Bob sings it in the Key of A. So it wasn't really fair to throw that at Kenney with no warning. He made a valiant effort but finally stopped playing so he could just listen. He said, "It sounded so good, I didn't want to mess it up." Sweet guy, Kenney.
I made it up to Kenney by playing a couple of banjo tunes at a blistering pace. (He loves to play fast!) First we did Old Joe Clark at a medium pace so everyone could play and then I kicked it into overdrive. I was pleasantly surprised to find that Kathy and Ben were doing a pretty good job of keeping up. Then, to end the jam, we did the same thing with Foggy Mountain Breakdown. We usually call that "Zac" tempo!
Finally let me brag on Ben. He survived the jam even though his sidekick and our resident Fashion Queen, Kasey, couldn't make it. (And I was wearing new purple Chico's pants with a purple Chico's cami and a white Chico's shirt over it just for her! And purple earrings!) With Kasey playing hooky, Ben had to do all his thinking himself. (If he can't remember how a song goes, Kasey usually quietly shows him the break!) But when we did Blue Ridge Cabin Home (which Kathy had just learned off the Improvising DVD), Ben split his break, playing the first half high and the second half low. It sounded great. I asked him about it afterwards and he said he'd heard Scott do something like that last week. Ben recognized that Scott's high break sounded a lot like the high break to Boil Them Cabbage Down so Ben just copied what he could remember of that and added the choke lick at the end, like Scott did. Then he took his regular low break. I was impressed at his ingenuity. (I'm fairly sure that having Murfton, the Binkie, hanging from his banjo helped!)
Copying stuff from other players is a time-honored practice. Bill Monroe himself advised "steal from the best!" As he did. And a jam is a good place to steal licks, try them out, and make them your own. Bob Van stole Bob A's high-string break to John Hardy! I don't think Bobby had ever thought of playing it on the high strings (G, B, E; 3, 2, 1) until he heard Bob A play it. I loved it when Logan stole stuff from me in a jam. And I loved it when I was able to steal stuff from Logan! And one time, when I was playing fiddle with Dalton Brill's Wildcats (Scott Brannon, Marshall Wilborn, and David McLaughlin were the other Wildcats) David stole this super-simple fiddle break I'd made up to Rocking Alone In An Old Rocking Chair. Stole it off of me right after I played it and used it for for his next break! I will have to say that tickled the hell out of me. David McLaughlin stealing fiddle stuff from me! Of course, I told him to make up his own damn breaks and quit stealing from me!
The Tip Jar Jammers will be jamming all through the summer, every Wednesday night. Come join us!
NOTE: Casey and I are gathering suggestions for a Performance DVD we plan to record in August. If you have any songs or tunes that you would like to see us play--primarily from the Murphy Method teaching repertoire or from Casey's Custom Lessons--send us an email. Or add a comment to this blog. We will be doing them at performance tempos. We may include some of our original songs and tunes--just for fun! They just have to be songs we already know!