Author Archives: admin

Ben Smelser

Ben Smelser

Trying to help Murphy again on these blogs so here goes. At 12:30 campers began checking in and picking up their name tags. After looking around I could tell that some of these faces I had seen before. Yep I was right!! Returning campers from last year's intermediate camp. Going around the room listening to introductions I noticed that some folks did a great deal of traveling. Maine, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Georgia, and Southern Virginia. Plus I noticed that most of our heads were grey/white except for one teenager, the gentleman from Maine, and one Banjo instructor. The other instructor's hair has been altered. [Ha, ha!] I would say the average age for this Camp would be probably around 55. Where are all the young people? We've all gotta do better job of getting the youth involved. How many of us wish we wouldn't have waited so long to start playing? Encourage the young! ...continue reading

Ben Smelser

Ben Smelser

Yep, that's right folks, the Thursday night Jam was held at the Courtyard Marriott to help accommodate the Murphy Method Intermediate campers who are living there the next few days while attending camp. So....that makes a big house. Bigger than mine anyhow! 

Oh yeah, I'm blogging, not Murphy, trying to help her out cause she is busy with the camp. Since we had so many folks there last night I won't get into names. But here's my take!

Once we got the room set up and everyone got in the circle we were ready to jam. I missed the first song due to Murphy forcing me to drive to her studio and get the bass. But I rushed and that was the only song I missed. [It was a 15 minute version of Banjo in the Hollow!] ...continue reading

Ben Smelser

Ben Smelser

[Note from Murphy: Once again Ben Smelser steps in to help me out with a blog. Between getting my wisdom teeth pulled and shooting a DVD with Ned Luberecki this week, my blog time is non-existent. Thanks, Ben!]

Okay, the title of this blog comes from an old gentleman who used to spend countless hours riding with me throughout the region while I looked at trees for customers. Everytime we'd hit an old dirt road or back mountain byway that we had never traveled he would sound off with "Alright, new territory, new territory!" After more than seventy some odd years of life he still got excited at seeing something new. Head hung out the window just taking it all in.  So basically that was our jam last night. I would have to say it was all new territory from start to finish. Thanks to Al Landis for planting the new territory slogan in my head. I miss you dearly. ...continue reading

Kasey Smelser

Kasey Smelser

Note from Murphy: Kasey's dad, Ben, wrote a blog on February 9 about what led him to start taking banjo lessons with his daughter. Recently, Kasey had to write an essay for school that focused on something she'd had to learn. Naturally, she wrote about the banjo. Naturally, her dad emailed it to me. Naturally, I asked him---and Kasey---if I could use it as a blog. Naturally, they both said yes! So here's Kasey's take on her banjo-playing experience.]

My Dad and my brother always had a special bond, but since my brother went to college he has become more independent and doesn't need my Dad as much anymore. Now that my brother is not at home my Dad decided he wanted to do something to stay close with me. Out of nowhere my Dad asked me if I wanted to play an instrument. I'm really into music so I just said yes. I had no clue he wanted me to play the banjo. ...continue reading

Chris Henry will be playing with Peter Rowan on the following dates in VA and NC and then heading to Australia for a month!

Friday, Feb 21st - Court Square Theater - Harrisonburg, VA
Saturday, Feb 22nd - Aycock Auditorium (at UNCG)- Greensboro, NC

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If you need more details about any of the Australian dates Peter's website is woefully lacking. Try contacting Chris directly.

Casey Henry

Casey Henry

Here are the new custom lessons I've worked up lately. Some really interesting tunes here, including the "Car Talk" theme song (which is titled "Dawggy Mountain Breakdown"). As always, you can order these on my website.

  • Amazing Grace (Murphy's break from the "Picking Up The Pace" DVD) (I) Watch clip.
  • Dawggy Mountain Breakdown (Car Talk Theme Song) (A) Watch clip.
  • Good Woman's Love (Bill Monroe) (I) Watch clip.
  • I Guess I'll Go On Dreaming (Red Allen) (I) Watch clip.
  • I'll Go Steppin' Too (Flatt and Scruggs) (I) Watch clip.
  • I'm Using My Bible For A Roadmap (Reno arrangement) (I) Watch clip.
  • Southern Flavor (Bill Monroe) (A) Watch clip.
  • They Are Holding Up The Ladder (I) Watch clip.
  • Thirty Years Of Farming (I) Watch clip.
  • You Could Be Happy (Snow Patrol) (I) Watch clip.

[Thanks again to Kathy for blogging about our Sunday jam!]

Neither snow, nor ice, nor lack of heat can keep us from our appointed jams!  Okay, so I took some liberties with the U.S Postal service credo, but it certainly is apropos for our most recent Picnic Hill Jam this past Sunday. Despite the arctic temperatures, icy driveway, and sketchy heat situation in our home due to a broken furnace, we had a great turnout once again.

Even though this jam is hosted in Maryland, Virginia was well-represented. In fact, Kristina and I (Kathy) were the only two people from Maryland in the group, and that is only because we live here!  Maybe we need to move. After a lengthy Earl discussion about why he wore his banjo strap over only one shoulder (it was all about being able to put his strap on and off over his hat easily), we got around to some music.   ...continue reading

Casey Henry

Casey Henry

Since it's release a couple years back Red and Chris's CD Centerville Road has only been available in person at performances. Now, at long last, you can get it through our website. It's got lots of great music and can testify that it holds up to repeated listening. My son would ONLY listen to this CD in the car for an entire YEAR, and I still didn't get tired of it! I'm playing banjo on about half the cuts. John Hedgecoth takes the five on the rest while I switch to bass. Mike Bub handles the rest of the bass duties. Good original and traditional music here.


This guest post is brought to us by Betty Fisher, who takes lessons from Casey and regularly attends the Tip Jar Jams.

So it’s New Year’s Eve and I am picking up my banjo for the first time in more days than I care to admit. (Sorry Casey and Murphy. You can kick me later.)

I had gone through my repertoire and have now capoed up to A. I don’t know what happened but somehow things got badly out of tune and I seriously over cranked the first string and it snapped. Scared the bejeebers out of me! (Couple of bad words flew.) So now I knew I had to re-string it. I had bought new strings on the advice of Murphy after the last jam that I attended. She told me if I was the least bit mechanically inclined, I could do it on my own. I am mechanically inclined. Having been a previous surgical nurse, there were many occasions when I had to get a malfunctioning piece of equipment working again in the middle of surgery while a surgeon stomped his feet and yelled, “Just fix it!” Also there is a very embarrassing story (for my husband) about a broken washing machine that he couldn’t fix, but I did in about 5 minutes….but I digress.

...continue reading

The blog theme we were using started to not display our blog title, so we had to change. It's still a work in progress, so bear with us. All the content is still here, though!!

...and it looks the same again! Still going back and forth!!

Thanks for your patience!