Tip Jar Jam: Jamming By Fire Hose!

Murphy Henry

Murphy Henry

And thanks to Diane for the lovely blog title! It's one of those sayings that makes sense, only you're not quite sure WHY it makes sense. She said it to Gregg toward the end of the jam after he'd been valiantly trying to do the Roly Polys all night long. She called it "jamming by fire hose" and I wrote it down. We all knew exactly what she meant. 

Gregg, you might recall, started taking lessons from me and coming to the jams in July, right after Kaufman Kamp. At that time he sorta knew two songs: Cripple Creek and Boil Them Cabbage Down. I let him keep his version of Cripple Creek, but finally told him I never wanted to hear him Boil the Cabbage like that again. It was confusing his hands.

Anyhow, I was telling you all that to tell you this: Since he was coming to the jams, I had to give him a crash course in Roly Polys so he could play on more songs. So he didn't get the slow, let's-ease-into-it-one-song-at-a-time version. He got: "Here's a G Roly Poly, here's a C Roly Poly, here's a D Roly Poly. Let's play Bury Me Beneath The Willow!" Which is a song that Chuck was learning to sing. 

Then at the jam it was, Blue Ridge Cabin Home: "Do your Roly Polys, Gregg." Will The Circle Be Unbroken: "Take a Roly Poly break, Gregg."  Wreck Of The Old 97: "Play it, Gregg." Followed by my saying, "Wow, I didn't realize we were playing so fast!" Because, except for Chuck, who is rapidly developing into a solid guitar player and singer, the rest of the group consisted of experienced jammers: Diane, Dan, Bob A., and Kathy G. This bunch used to play slow, but not anymore, as Gregg was finding out! Still, he was hanging in there, trying the Roly Polys on almost every three-chord song, and watching Kathy, Queen of the Roly Polys, like a hawk.

Then after we'd played for about an hour or so, he said, at the end of one song, "I think Kathy is putting the tag lick in in the middle of her Roly Polys." BINGO! I was so proud of Gregg for noticing that! I said, "Good for you, Gregg! I would have showed you how to add the tag lick but I thought that it might be too much." Foggy Mountain Breakdown is where I teach the tag lick for the first time, and Gregg has just started learning it. And in order to add "upgrades" (new licks) to the Roly Polys you have to have the upgrades firmly in your mind and in your hands. Remember: the Roly Poly breaks are the "deer-in-the-headlights" breaks, breaks you do in a jam when someone looks at you and says, "Take it!" and you have no time to think. The basic Roly Polys, which Gregg was working with, are so simple that you have just the tiniest amount of brain space left to try to remember the chord pattern (on the fly) and do the Roly Polys. It's hard--as Gregg was finding out--but it is doable. And by the end of the night--and two hours of jamming by fire hose--Gregg was pretty much able to play a complete break doing the Roly Polys. Go, Gregg!

As you can see, I've got Roly Polys on the brain. That's because we've finished two days of recording our new Roly Poly DVD, Kick Start Your Jamming, and should be finishing it up tomorrow with Casey adding the guitar. The DVD will definitely be available by Christmas, but we hope to have it out much sooner than that! However, we have a beach trip to see Red's mom coming up soon and IBMA at the end of September and then Beginning Banjo Camp in October so all I can say is we'll get it out as fast as we can. And you'll know about it as soon as it is available. And thanks for asking!

Jam shouts outs to Diane for kicking off Glendale Train on guitar and for singing excellent harmony all night long, and to Kathy for doing an amazing Roly Poly break to Katy Daley. (She said, "I knew you looked happy, but I didn't know why." I cannot tell you what I said in reply but it was really funny and really risque!) Shout outs also to Dan for nailing his Earl and J.D. breaks to Wreck of the Old 97 and East Virginia Blues. No clams there! (We talked about the word "clams" being a jazz/swing term for screwing up big time.) But no comment on the break to Glendale Train....except you have to keep up with the old stuff! Chuck did great singing on Will The Circle Be Unbroken and most of Bury Me Beneath The Willow. ("I'll have the words learned next time!") And finally to Bob A., for again helping so much with the singing. You've still got a long way to go to get off the very thin ice you are treading on regarding That Song You Insisted On Learning Against My Better Judgment. You know how cold it will have to get before we do THAT in the jam!

A note on upcoming jams: There will be NO JAMS next week. No Tuesday jam (Sept 2), no Wednesday jam (Sept 3). Lessons, yes. Jams, no. Also, the Tuesday jam is currently on hold until I can figure out how many folks are available to come to it regularly. So, no Tuesday jams for a while. Everyone seems to be coming on Wednesdays!

Next jam: Wednesday September 10. 7-9 pm. All Murphy Method students are welcome. Suggested contribution, $20.

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