Tip Jar Jam #33: When You’re Hot, You’re Hot!

Murphy Henry

Murphy Henry

Today's title comes courtesy of an interaction between Kasey and her dad, Ben. We were playing Glendale Train, which everyone has had to improvise a break for. This was not the first time Kasey and Ben had played those breaks, but you know how it is with improv. You make it up on the spot, and then you pretty much forget about it until the next time you have to play it. Then you make it up again! Luckily your hands usually have some vague idea of what they did last time, even if your brain is clueless!

So, as we went around the circle for the breaks, Ben played before Kasey. He did a creditable break using lots of hammers from 2-3 on the second string. Glendale Train, however, has a LONG break and he did get a tiny bit lost--although he never stopped playing. Then Kasey takes her break--cool as a cucumber in her silver sparkle shoes, her hot pink scarf, and her gorgeous tan--and she starts off with the Roll in My Sweet Baby's Arm lick which eats up musical turf in great big gulps. You can play the whole first line of break (the chorus) with that one lick: Somebody robbed the Glendale Train this morning at half-past nine. Then you throw in a four-beat C lick, a tag with pinches, and your are a quarter of the way through the break with little thinking involved! And the rest of the break is simply variations on that sequence of licks. ("A" is the "off" chord.) Kasey totally gets this. (Even if she couldn't explain it that way.) She caught on to using the Roll in My Sweet Baby's Arms lick early on and has made it her main "go to" lick.


Ben, her doting father, is sitting there with his mouth open just watching her rip through this break. When we got done with the song (7 breaks!), he said, "I give up!" To which I responded, "When you're hot, you're hot!" Meaning Kasey, of course. (And thinking about that Jerry Reed song...) Next time I'll let Kasey play her break first, so Ben can copy what she does! I remember Logan used to do that to me all the time. I loved it! And believe me, Ben loves it when Kasey outplays him!


One thing I'm trying to introduce in Glendale Train is the idea of the "split break." Splitting a break simply (!) means one person plays the first half of the break, and then the second person plays the second half. Naturally, it's much harder than you think! Not every break lends itself to being split, but this break is so long, that splitting is becoming a necessity, given that we have so many people in the jam who are taking breaks. (Which is a good thing!) Scott and I worked on splitting the break during his lesson, with him taking the first half (up through the A chord) and me taking the second half. And, of course, we played it perfectly during the lesson. But when crunch time came....well, let's just say we'll get it next time!

NOTE: You absolutely cannot split a break with someone unless you GET THE NOD from the person who starts the break. It is the height of rudeness to jump in and take the second half of someone else's break, even if you are dying to do it because it will sound so good! This is really a higher-level jam skill, but the Tip Jar Jammers are definitely getting close to this territory.


Now I have to brag on Bob Mc. We did a fast version of Foggy Mountain Breakdown (after first doing a slow version for our newcomer, Frank) and had Kasey kick it off at "Zac" speed. She said she couldn't play it that fast, but she did make it march. Bob, who played after her, stepped right up to the plate, and blistered his break. He did not falter, he did not fail, he kept his hands on the throttle and his eyes on the rail and not once did his fingers leave his hands! I was so impressed. And told him so. He gave me his "oh shucks, I'm all shy and modest look" but I could tell he was pleased.


We had quite an crowd of jammers last night, twelve counting me. We ended our session with Kathy singing more verses to her "Misfit" song, sung to the tune of Glendale Train. (We're really liking Glendale Train, as you can tell!) In her verse about Kenney and Janet she had Janet "crooning" and the two of them "spooning." Kathy even made up a verse for our newbie, Frank, while Barbara was singing the real Glendale Train! Her "Frank" verse had this prominent local doctor--and beginning banjo student--acting "silly" and turning into a "hillbilly." Good thing Frank has a sense of humor! As do we all!


We do have the best time at this jam. We'll be jamming all summer so come join us! Every Wednesday night, 7-9. Call or email for directions.


We're Murphy's Misfits and we're real proud,

Of the music that we can play.

We keep coming back every week for fun

Cause we know we'll never get paid.

If you ask us why it feels so good 

To be part of these Tip Jar Jams,

We'll tell you all it's just because,

We just don't give a damn!

---Kathy Hanson

One thought on “Tip Jar Jam #33: When You’re Hot, You’re Hot!

  1. Martin Bacon

    Life’s Railway to Heaven is a good song to split the break and both halves are pretty much the same. It can be played at various speeds and sounds good sloow or fast. Maybe they would want to try that one:)

    I wish I had a tip jar jam to go to.

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