Tip Jar Jam: One Big Happy Family

Murphy Henry

Murphy Henry

Since the subject of this blog is family, I'll share this picture to start with. I took it to send to Ben who's been at the beach for the last week with all his kids and grandkids. He says he's been practicing banjo every day!

Kenney, Betty, Janet, Bobby

Kenney, Betty, Janet, Bobby

You know, the more we jam, the more we become like one, big happy family, complete with sniping. Before we even got started last night Bobby was ragging Betty about being a "suck up" for saying all those nice things about me in the blog. I told Bobby that somebody had to make up for all the grief he gives me and that I loved the comments. I said I couldn't get enough of them. So when Val posted a comment today about Kaufman Kamp saying, "What an honor to have your guidance. Thank you for another amazing week. You are an inspiration!" naturally I had to text that to Betty and Bobby! (Thanks, Val. Your singing was pretty amazing too!) Betty responded thusly: "Ha, ha. I hope he doesn't have that person's contact info." I haven't heard from Bobby yet, but I'll see him this afternoon for his lesson...

Since Betty was the lone banjo player last night, with Kenney, Janet, and Bobby keeping rhythm, I got out my Stelling to get us started. In true "testosterone" fashion, I launched into the first song without announcing what I was going to play. (Banjo In The Hollow.) But instead of ending the tune when it was my time to play again, I plowed into Cripple Creek. That took Betty by surprise and it wasn't until I started into the chorus that she realized what was going on. I saw her give a grin of recognition when the light came on. She came in perfectly for her break with that long, first-string slide. Then I kept the medley going with Cumberland Gap, but by now Betty had realized what I was up to and she was mentally there from the git-go. I was having so much fun I was going to segue into Foggy Mountain Breakdown but I figured I might have exhausted the patience of the rhythm section so we quit on Cumberland Gap. As soon as we got done Betty said, "That was AWESOME!" Love that enthusiasm, Betty!

Trying to provide equal time for the guitar players, we played Soldier's Joy and Arkansas Traveler, both in D. Janet was wailing away on Soldier's Joy but she wasn't too happy about having to play Ark Trav since it's a much newer song for her. We compromised by having all three guitars play it together. That B part was still giving her fits, however, and I remembered that when I finally learned to play the tune in a jam setting, I had used a much simpler B part than the one I had taught her and Bobby. So, guess what Janet's gonna be learning next week? I'm a BIG BELIEVER in playing it simple and getting that into your fingers before stepping it up to something harder, but I had totally forgotten about my simplified version.

Small diversion: Just so you know, not being being able to play a break that I play perfectly at home happens to me too. I had a big dose of that when I started playing mandolin with the Valley Dolls years ago. I could already play mandolin (I thought) but I'd never played it on stage. It was a huge shock to me to realize that all those fabulous breaks I had worked out at home were completely unplayable on stage. They were too damn hard. I started shucking notes right and left and finally got my breaks pared down to something I could actually play on stage. They were much, much simpler than what I could play at home. Later, I got to where I could fancy them up a bit--but not much.

Back to the jam: In one of my everlasting attempts to keep Bobby happy, I asked him to sing Step Off On That Beautiful Shore, which he and I do as a duet with the two guitars. I took the first half of the first break and then nodded at him to take the second half, which he did. Yet, after we'd finished the song he said, "You caught me off guard when you threw the second half of that break at me." To which I could only respond, "Really? After all these years? We split it almost every time! Where is your brain?" I'll not share his reply. It had something to do with anatomy.

We closed out with Amazing Grace because Kenney has got that one nailed on the bass now and Janet has a beautiful guitar break. Then, realizing that was way too slow to end with, we did Foggy Mountain Breakdown, slow and then fast. While it's important to keep Bobby happy, it's much more important to keep Kenney happy since he's playing bass!

Kenney's bridge go KABOOM!

Kenney's bridge go KABOOM!

Which brings me to this picture. Kenney was not happy with this! He tried to move his bass bridge a little bit, with the tension still on it, and KABOOM! It fell! It sounded like a shot and scared Janet and me. Luckily this happened at the end of the jam.

We'll be jamming tonight (Wednesday, June 25) and all the Tuesdays and Wednesdays in July, as far as I know. All Murphy Method students are welcome to join us. Suggested tip is $20. If you play slow, we'll play slow with you. If you play fast, we'll try to keep up! Just one big happy family!

3 thoughts on “Tip Jar Jam: One Big Happy Family

  1. Jon Christensen

    I sure miss the sessions and the people – but reading about them helps. Landed in Monterey – not much of a BG crowd out this way. Anyway, just wanted to say hello!


  2. Betty Fisher

    Well since Bobby knows our plan now there is no use in carrying it out. (I accidentally answered Murphy’s group text in which Bobby was included, laying out my plan to lay the “suck up” on really thick replying to today’s blog just to yank his chain.) I then got a reply from HIM reminding me that he DID have MY contact info! Too funny. But we are kind of like a family. I miss that Tuesday night crew and since Bob was there on my first jam and has been there a couple of times, I include him in that group. He is the person who inspired me to get and READ Murphy’s, “And There You Have It”. …….Now Murphy don’t you start in on me for sucking up to Bobby! I’ll smack you both……you’re family…….I can do that!

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