Tip Jar Jam: Follow Your Fingers!

Murphy Henry

Murphy Henry

Last night we welcomed Kristina and her mandolin back to the jam. It's been a while since we've had heard her steady chop which is always a nice addition to the rhythm section. Ben, on bass, supplied the downbeat, Kathy G, Dan, and Kasey (looking Pretty in Pink) tickled the fives, and Bob and Diane played lead guitars.

With this combination of players we were able to stretch out and play Soldier's Joy in D since Kasey and Dan play it on banjo, Kristina plays it on mandolin, and Bob plays it on guitar. To play Earl Scruggs' version of Soldier's Joy, which is what we teach, you have to tune the fourth string of the banjo down two frets AND capo all the strings up two frets, which of course causes major retuning problems. Therefore it's always a good idea to play other D tunes once you've gone to all that trouble! So Kasey and Dan also played Liberty. (Kasey can also play Arkansas Traveler, so better start working on that, Dan!) Then, in the interest of minimizing tuning problems we went to A, which meant we were still capoed two, but were now playing in G position. All the banjo players had to do was pull the fourth string up to the correct note which was E. I'm sure that is clear as mud!

And I have to brag on Kathy G who has been working hard on her Roly Polys. [Editorial note: Casey tells me I absolutely cannot use an apostrophe to spell "poly's", thusly. I get the whole plural vs possessive thing but I thought the apostrophe made it easier to read! Ixnay, says she. Who must be obeyed, even by her mother. Sometimes....!] Kathy, who was one of my first roly poly test cases, can roly poly to any song with three chords. She can also add the tag lick between lines and at the end of her break. Now she is learning to add the D lick from Foggy Mountain Breakdown in place of the roly poly D7. She can do that pretty easily in her lesson, but of course it's harder in the jam when there is so much else to think about. Still, she hit it several times which made us both happy. She also sang I'll Fly Away with all three verses.

Bobby's empty chair.

Bobby's empty chair.

I was just starting to write that we were all pretty civil to each other last night--Ben was too tired to start anything and Bobby was absent. (Missed ya! I took a picture of your empty chair. I wouldn't let anybody sit in it!) Then I remembered this tiny thing. We were playing Old Joe Clark and Dan flubbed his entrance after Bob's guitar break. (In all fairness, Dan usually hits his entrance, but this time, as he said, "My mind didn't believe what my fingers wanted to do." His fingers, of course, were right. Muscle memory! Unfortunately, he went with his mind, which is always a mistake when playing the banjo. When in doubt, follow your fingers!) Anyhow, Kasey heard him floundering and generously played a few notes to show him where he should be. He caught up immediately and finished out his break. When the song was over, I thanked Kasey for helping out. Dan said, "Yeah, thanks, Kasey. Not many women would do that. They would just let you sink." To which I responded, "Or throw you an anchor!" Bada boom! Appreciate laughs from all.

As you can tell, we always have a good time at our jams! If you are passing by, come join us. We'll be jamming every Tuesday and Wednesday, 7-9 pm, except for the week I'm at Kaufman Kamp, June 15-21. Looking foward to seeing some of you there. We will be roly polying, improvising, and working hard on ending licks! Shave and a hair cut, two bits!

3 thoughts on “Tip Jar Jam: Follow Your Fingers!

  1. Suki

    Forget Soldier’s Joy, call it Diane’s Joy! so happy to play. and laugh. and play. and flub. and play some more. =)

    I missed Bob caused I could hear myself!!!

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