First Jam of 2015: Bass Player Gets Uppity!

Murphy Henry

Murphy Henry

Our first Tip Jar Jam of the New Year was a cold one. We had two or three inches of snow on the ground and a windchill factor down near zero and still five hardy souls braved the elements to come jam. Thank you Kathy H, Ben, Kasey, David, Dan, and Steph.

So, about halfway through the jam we're singing Do Lord in the Key of C so Kathy and Dan can practice playing their breaks un-capoed in first position. Ben has moved from banjo to bass. Now, we've been playing Do Lord in the jam since we first started over two years ago. It is a Beginner Level Song which uses three chords no matter what key you're playing in.

Let me remind you that Ben went to Bluegrass Camp at Augusta Heritage this past August where he took the bass class. He learned to play simple songs in all the keys---A, B, C, D, E, F, G. So why in the name of Earl (or even Cedric Rainwater!) was he screwing up the chords Wednesday night? Who knows? I gave him The Look but that didn't seem to help.

When the song was over I looked at him and said, "What was THAT about? What was going on?" He looked right back at me and said, "It is what it is."

It is what is it? Nobody has ever said that to me in a jam before!

I fired right back at him: "And I think our bass player is getting uppity!"

Instead of being chastened, Ben looked at me and said, "You'll have that." This remark prompted puzzled looks all around the circle, sort of like a collective "Huh?" Then Ben told us that that was one of his grandfather's favorite sayings. He would use it if they were out cutting trees and a tree would fall the wrong way or if a piece of equipment would break down: "You'll have that." Ben's philosphical take is, "It's a saying that works so well in keeping you from getting upset when things things go wrong. Step back, look at it, and say, 'You'll have that.' You see it, it happened, get over it, move on. I use it all the time. Helps me!"

Aside:  Just for fun, I googled "You'll have that." This is what came up: "A phrase of southern origin which can be used interchangeably with phrases like "That's life" or "Stuff Happens."

Note to Ben: This does not work for bass playing mistakes on easy songs. Groveling works. Abject apologies work. Looking pitiful works. And saying "Opossum!" always works! [That last one is a little Dalton word. Something about the way he says it just cracks me up. See the Thanksgiving Blog. We're still saying it!]

The other half of the Smelser duo, Kasey, did not give me nearly that much trouble. She has recently taken up guitar so I asked her to bring it (and her banjo) to the jam. At her one lesson before Christmas I showed her how to play Wagon Wheel which came pretty easy since she already knew her chord shapes. (She had looked them up on the Internet!) Then I also showed her how to do the bluegrass strum for I Saw The Light, which she also sings. Ben said she was practicing up a storm and had even enlisted him to do some singing so she could play more songs.

We didn't have any G singers at the jam (no Bob A, no Bob Van, no Chuck, boo hoo!) so at the start of the jam we played as many instrumentals in G as I could stand and then I said, "We've got to go to C to do some singing!" Kathy started us off with Circle and then I asked Kasey to get out her guitar. Then I sat her right next to me because I figured Bob Van would be okay with Kasey sitting in his chair. I did NOT get out the duct tape, though! Didn't need it!

"Let's do Wagon Wheel," I said. "Do I need my capo?" she asked. "Yes, if you're going to sing it in C" I replied. "Do I have to sing too?" was Kasey's frightened comeback. "Duh, yes," I said. "You're among friends. And I've got your back." Well, as it turned out we kinda split the singing with some big hints from Kathy as to the words! But it sure was fun. Then Kasey kept the guitar for the rest of the jam. Having her on guitar right allowed me to take some guitar breaks. I'd turn to her as I was getting ready to play my break and say, "Alright, now give me some good strong rhythm." And she did. Fun! I told her we were working up to her playing and singing Rocky Top, which has an F chord in it!

I was going to include a picture of Kasey and me that Proud Papa Ben took, but the darn thing was too out of focus to use. So I texted Ben to ask if he had a better shot.

Ben: That's all I got. The others were worse.

Murphy: You'll have that!

Alright, gotta quit. Dalton is here and it's time for my second shift. During my first two-hour stint (8-10 am) we watched football (at his request while he ate bacon and dates and I drank coffee), played with the Sorting Hat (Harry Potter!) and let it sort his stuffed animals out (!), set up the chess game and then used the pieces to play an imaginary game in which Dalton hid under the big Santa Claus doll and the chess pieces had to find him, played Tetris on my iPad while I ate my cereal, and then put three puzzles together and played with the Chinese checker marbles. Whew! And now Red is texting for relief! Life is good! Happy 2015!

2 thoughts on “First Jam of 2015: Bass Player Gets Uppity!

  1. Dave Locatell

    REALLY sounds like a lot of fun. Wish I could come and join you once in a while. Unfortunately, it’s a longgggg drive from Northern Calif. Maybe sometime time in the future, I can come there and get a private lesson from you/and, or/ Casey.

  2. Ralph Morrison

    Sounds like a great environment and a fun setting in which to learn. Love the Ozarks in my home state so I find myself wishing you would schedule a camp in Mtn. View, Ark. It is only the bluegrass capitol of the south. Thank you Murphy & Casey for what you do! A friend always, Ralph

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