Tuesday Jam: Speak Sotto Voce and Carry a Big Banjo!


Murphy Henry

Murphy Henry

No one provided a great title for the jam so we'll just see what develops as I write. [I just figured out the title. See below!]


We were nine students strong last night including Ron, who had driven all the way in from Arkansas to take some lessons and who stayed for the jam. He was leaving for home right after the jam (with his Monster Energy Drink in hand!) so I guess as I'm writing this he is still driving. Safe travels, Ron! We also had one guest, Mado, who is friends with Mark and Ellen. She loved listening to us and clapped ferociously after almost every song. It was great to have an audient!


Beginning student Betty Fisher was back for more jamming and she did even better than she did the first time. She had more confidence and played stronger. She said that coming to the jam had inspired her to practice even more. Yea! She played lead on the Big Three: Banjo in the Hollow, Cripple Creek, and Boil Them Cabbage Down and did extremely well. Again, we first played each tune all together and then we started the tune again and took separate breaks. Betty kicked off her tunes and took the last break, coming in for her second break in exactly the right spot. You know, being able to do that is a Much Bigger Deal than people think it is.


I told her after her excellent rendition of Cripple Creek that she had a very good teacher. (Casey is teaching her!) Betty said she agreed, and that Casey was one of the most patient people she had ever known. Of course, Bobby could not let that one go. He was sitting right beside me and I heard him say, sotto voce, "Not like some teachers I know." Of course I couldn't let THAT go, so I said, "Yeah, if she had been your teacher she'd have thrown you out on your a-- a long time ago." At which Bobby chuckled maliciously and said, "I knew I could get a cuss out of you." To which I replied, "Dammit, Bobby!" (Note: I've always wanted to use the phrase "sotto voce."  Of course, when I first typed it, I misspelled it as "sotto voice." I've got just enough book learning to be dangerous....!" I'm glad I've never had to pronounce it. I might have got the "sotto" part right, but I never would have thought to pronounce "voce" as "voe-chee." Ah, I think I've got my blog title.....!!)


Splitting the breaks on Glendale Train is old hat now, so we've moved on to learning how to play Dueling Banjos as a group. Mark has been working on the lead guitar part, so he and I tried putting it together with the banjo, which always requires some tweaking since there are so many different arrangements out there. Once we had an idea of what we were doing, I asked the other folks to provide some rhythmic backup. It was a little hard to figure out where the rhythm should come in, but we managed it. I told Janet to work on remembering her lead guitar part and I'm sure Bobby will be right in there, also. The banjo break is an easy improv, so pretty soon we'll have everyone involved, which is how a jam should work.


And today, September 11, is Kasey's 13th birthday! So a big HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU, KASEY! She was telling us last night that she'd had to get some teeth pulled in preparation for getting braces (or, rather, the 21st century equivalent of braces--something having to do with "invisible" something.) The first time, she said, she'd gotten "happy gas" so she'd didn't feel a thing. This time, though, they hadn't given her as much, so she could feel a thing, and what she felt was not pleasant. Naturally, I couldn't resist the opportunity to rag Ben about being too cheap to pay for "happy gas." I said, "I guess it was either the banjo or the "happy gas." (He'd gotten Kasey a Deering recently.) He laughed and said, "She's tough. A few hours after she had her teeth pulled she was home helping me can beets." Then Kasey said, "Yeah, but I didn't go to school the next day!"


I love our jam!


Gotta run. We'll be jamming again tonight! Y'all come!

One thought on “Tuesday Jam: Speak Sotto Voce and Carry a Big Banjo!

  1. Betty Fisher

    Oh my! You guys are too generous. I am so loving this. I need to get a list of the songs you play so I can at least sing. (My singing voice ain’t pretty but it’s loud and it gives me something to do. I am SOOOOOOO loving these sessions. You are all so kind. (Except Ben who speeds up the tempo…..Ha. Just kidding.) It was so cool to meet Ben’s daughter and watch them play together.

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