Kaufman Kamp: Wednesday

Murphy Henry

Murphy Henry

I got pulled over by the Po-leece last night! As Red says in one of his stage raps about Clermont Hosford, "I saw those red and blue lights blinking in my rearview mirror and I figured it was as good a time as any to take a break!"

It was about eleven o'clock p.m. and I was driving back to the hotel having successfully performed a four-song set of blistering bluegrass with my "merry chicas." (That is a shout out to the DVD grandson Dalton is currently enthralled with, "Robinita Hood And Her Band Of Merry Chicas.") I had stopped en route to go Krogering and pick up some Ben and Jerry's and was eager to get back "home" and chow down.

So, I've just about reached the red light where I will turn left to go into the hotel complex when I notice the aforementioned colorful display. There is no doubt in my mind that the lights are for me, so make the turn and find a place in the parking lot to pull over. I roll my window down and the cop was there immediately. Very young, very cute, very serious.

"Ma'am, I pulled you over because you were doing a lot of weaving back there. Were you texting or talking on the phone?"

"Well, to be honest with you I had my blue tooth in and was talking on the phone." (The phone was right there in plain sight and so was the blue tooth so I figured honesty was the best policy. Actually I didn't have the presence of mind to think, I just blurted that out.)

"Do you still live in Virginia? Are you just visiting here?"

"Yes, I live in Virginia. I'm a banjo player and I'm here teaching banjo at Steve Kaufman's music camp over at Maryville College."

"Where are you staying?"

"Right here." (I point to the hotel.)

"Can I see your license and insurance?"

I dig out my license and start looking for my insurance card (which I never do find) while he goes back to his car to check me out and see if I'm a good citizen. He comes back and says, "Ma'am I'm going to let you off this time. But next time, you be able to produce your insurance."

"Yes, sir," I say. "Thanks for the break."

WHEW! That was a close one!

Murphy and her Band of Merry Chicas: Sally Jones, Murphy Henry, Missy Raines, Annie Stanaic

Murphy and her Band of Merry Chicas: Sally Jones, Murphy Henry, Missy Raines, Annie Staninec. Photo by Ned Luberecki.

But even getting pulled over by Maryville's finest didn't diminish my euphoria over the show. My all-female pickup band included Sally Jones on guitar (she is a monster guitar player, having learned from Harley Allen!), Missy Raines on bass (IBMA bass player of the year umpteen times), and, all the way from California, Annie Staninec on fiddle. Annie plays in Kathy Kallick's band and as Kathy texted me, "She is adorable and the fiercest fiddler." (I kept that text from a year ago!)

I had already determined that we would do a set of three-chord bluegrass and, since I don't perform on stage much anymore I knew I needed to follow the rule I tell my students: Play something you know. Meaning play something you know WELL.

And what do I know well right now? The songs I do every week at the Tip Jar Jams! So my set consisted of Lonesome Road Blues, Somebody Robbed The Glendale Train, Take Your Shoes Off Moses, and I'll Fly Away! Thank you Tip Jar Jammers! OF COURSE I did the feminist version of Glendale Train. And to make sure the audience was listening to the words, after I kicked off the song and sang the chorus (with harmony from Sally and Annie), I had the band "vamp" behind me while I gave a little explanation of this version of the song. I said, "This song is about a train getting robbed and, as usual, the engineer and the baggage man are both men and the robbers are all men and I got tired of singing about men so I flipped the gender on this song and this is the feminist version of Glendale Train!" And then I launched into "Charlie Jones was the engineer, she had twenty years on the line..." And when I got the last line of the first verse, "Girls on horses, girls with guns, and no sign of a bra" the audience CHEERED! It was awesome!

I wish I had time to tell you more, but the old clock on the wall says I've got 30 minutes to shower and eat breakfast before I have to leave for camp.

One more tiny thing. The Larry Stephenson Band played an afternoon show yesterday and I got to see Kenny Ingram picking the five-string. Kenny and I go wayyyyyyyyy back--he was playing banjo for Jimmy Martin when I was playing bass for Betty Fisher--and I talked to him some after the show. He is playing Sonny Osborne's old Vega banjo and he had that thing cracking. Kenny is still one of the greatest banjo players on the planet. He can really put the thumb to the five (to borrow from Alison Brown). If you ever have a chance to see Larry's show, take it. Larry, too, is a great singer, and great m.c., and puts on a great show. (Way too many "greats" in the sentence but I'm moving fast....)

On to my oatmeal.....!!!

5 thoughts on “Kaufman Kamp: Wednesday

  1. Anne Reynolds

    I’m glad you didn’t get a ticket AND made it “home” before your ice cream melted!

  2. Betty Fisher

    It sounds like you are having a great time. Hope you are recording these performances? In regard to the cop pulling you over. Take it from my, my police colleagues so appreciate honesty. I have many of them say that when someone does not try to BS them, they let them go. Hope to see you soon and hear you all about camp!

  3. Kathy Jaeck

    Would have loved to see your Chica Band perform! I’m really looking forward to women’s banjo camp in July!

  4. Doug Sherburne

    Murphy’s set at KK was TERRIFIC. It came at a time when I was missing some straight-up hard driving bluegrass at the evening shows. Lots of great music earlier in the week but much of it was non-traditional and in some instances quite classical in nature. The band sounded like they had played together for years although I am sure that they had only 1-2 minutes backstage to “rehearse”. Murphy’s banjo was straight ahead Earl and Annie’s fiddle breaks sounded like many of the first generation fiddlers. A tight, high-energy group! I must also mention that the other 3 banjo instructors at KK had good things to say about Murphy, her teaching method and her adherence to Scruggs-style pickin’. I figure that when a 4-time national banjo champ has such nice things to say about her approach to teaching a certain Scruggs lick, all of us Misfit students can feel very fortunate to be in such good company.

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