Author Archives: Red Henry

About Red Henry

Began playing mandolin, guitar, fiddle, and banjo in 1967-69. I married Murphy in 1974. We led the Red & Murphy bluegrass band, playing professionally, from 1975-87. Since then I've handled the technical side of Murphy Method cassette, videotape, and DVD production. When you call I usually answer the phone, and I'm normally the one who sends out the orders.

by Dalton Henry age 3 3/4

by Dalton Henry
age 3 3/4

This weekend, my grandmother Murphy (alias Gran) and my mama Casey put on a big banjo camp. There were 14 banjo students there, which is a lot. (But I can count to more than that. I can count all the way to twenty-eight, twenty-nine, twenty-ten and twenty-eleven.)

Naturally, the best part of banjo camp is that I get to play with Granddaddy for three whole days. I get to do a lot of stuff. For example, I like to play with Tinkertoys. I really get into the intense Tinkertoys experience:

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I make lots of interesting shapes:

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Then whenever I want to, we can go outside and I can play with the hose. I do good work with the hose. I wash the swing set:

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I wash the Dinosaur Rock:

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I wash the tree:

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...and I wash the bushes. I am very careful about washing the leaves:

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Then we go back inside and I get dried off and we do some more stuff. I like to build robots with my blocks. This is a robot car which I made all by myself!

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In case you couldn't see it well enough in that picture, here it is again:

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And then, sometimes Granddaddy reads me a story. But is is more fun when I read HIM a story. I especially like the sound effects. Here I am reading the story of Oink, when it comes to the part where the greedy pig bites the fake apple (which is really a balloon):

Well, as you can see, we had a good time. And I forgot to tell you about the pillow-fights, or the time we spilled the peas, or other good stuff. Those will just have to wait till next time.

Love,

Dalton

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By Dalton Henry

This last weekend, my mama Casey and my gran Murphy were teaching lots of people to play at their banjo camp. That meant that my granddaddy Red and I had the house and yard all to ourselves! We had fun.

We play a lot indoors. I like to make things with Play-Doh, which is an exciting new invention that I just learned about. Here I am at the table, having a great time making a mess with the gooshy stuff. (Granddaddy says that "gooshy" is a useful and respectable word.)

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We played in the yard, too. One of my favorites games with Granddaddy is the "Flying Baby." I ask for it over and over and over and over. Here is how I fly!

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When we got back inside, Granddaddy showed me a surprise: a Big Box. A REALLY Big Box. It was a lot bigger than I was. So I got into it, and started turning it over and standing it back up from the inside. I turned the box over on its sides, and turned it back up. I turned it on its ends, and then back up. I got Granddaddy to close the box, so I had my own house and pretended to be a wild animal. I played in the box for a long time!

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So, we had a good time for three whole days. I hope that all the banjo students had as good a time as we did. Granddaddy says that he may be able to move by Wednesday. Bye!

Dalton

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Or watch on YouTube.

"Formlessness Into Form" is a documentary exploring creativity with a focus on flow and dreaming. Through over forty interviews with some of Nashville's most creative minds, a narrative emerges starting with where the energy comes from, how it feels to work with it, what can be good and bad for flow, what creating with others can be like, the advantages and journey of finding one's own voice, how the ego plays into the process, on down to specific advice for folks just beginning to consciously unlock their own creativity.

I wanted to facilitate introducing some of my favorite people to more folks who haven’t had the opportunity to know the most interesting characters in the Nashville bluegrass community. It was also a reason for me to go and visit with some of my best friends and have an interesting conversation!

Hello, everybody! I just wanted to let you know that the Murphy Method Banjo Camp went great, along with the concerts both nights, and now all the happy campers are headed home. But the most important part of the camp, of course, was me, and how Granddaddy Red and I played for three days. We played inside and outside. We played upstairs, downstairs, and down in the kitchen.*

We played in the TV room too, and while we were there I climbed up on the coffee table. Well, I am almost 14 months old, and I should be able to climb onto the coffee table if I want to. Granddaddy did not say, "Dalton, don't climb on the coffee table," so I did. As Granddaddy's friend Clermont says, it is easier to get forgiveness than permission.

The only trouble was, that after I got up on the table, I couldn't figure out how to get down.

...but after a while, Granddaddy helped me.

We had a lot of fun at lunch on Saturday. I was having a good meal of baby applesauce, sweet potatoes, and peas, along with some apple cider to drink, when I thought I'd reach over from my high chair and grab the tablecloth, and see how far I could lift it up. It worked great. The jar of apple cider fell and spilled all over the floor! Granddaddy ran and got some dishtowels to clean up the cider with, and used lots of new words while he mopped it. I know he must have made up the words right then, because I had not heard any of them before.

I was going to write some of his new words in this story, but I realized that I cannot spell any words. So they will just have to wait for another time. But it was very funny!

Best regards,

Dalton Henry

(*An obscure bluegrass song reference.)

This year's Murphy Method Beginning Banjo Camp is in full swing, and my grandmother Murphy, my mama Casey, and the 15 campers are all having a fine time. So I get to spend three days playing with my granddaddy Red!

So yesterday, we went outside and played in the yard. We swung on the hammock. We went strolling. We played with acorns too. Then we went inside and played in the living room with blocks, toys, and cars. Then we went in the studio and played with more blocks, toys, and cars. Then we went in the kitchen and played with pots and pans, plastic bowls and lids, and more cars. We did all that about four times. Then we went and read books, because Granddaddy said he was tired. I don't see why he was tired. I was not tired! And we get to do it all over again today and tomorrow. Murphy Method Banjo Camp is definitely a fun weekend!

by Dalton Henry

Every year, my family holds a big 3-day picking party in Georgia to celebrate the wedding anniversary of my Aunt Argen and Uncle Mike. This year I was invited, and I accepted as long as I could bring my mama Casey and my granddaddy Red with me. Everybody said this was fine, so we left last Thursday for Georgia.

I do not sleep much in a car, so I considered it very important to keep my mama occupied so she would not get bored. I made her pay attention to me every second of the trip, so that she would have plenty of things to do. At about 8:30 p.m., I decided that we had gone far enough and it was time to stop for the night.

We spent the night at Johnson City and drove on into Hiawassee on Friday afternoon. I had a good time meeting people and visiting with everybody and being admired. People started coming by right away to meet me. Here is a family photo taken by Sarah, my Uncle Chris's girlfriend:

Uncle Chris, Great-Grandmother Renee, Granddaddy Red, Me, and my mama Casey.

I was showing off for everybody with my newest trick of putting blocks into a bowl when my Uncle Chris, who thinks outside the blocks, I mean box, turned the bowl over and used it for a drum. I thought this was quite amusing:

On Saturday the grownups played music all day, except for my mama, who paid attention to me except when Granddaddy gave her some breaks. I heard a lot of the music, and got to meet even more new people. I was very good and only threw up once!

Then on Sunday morning, my mama Casey took me to see a great big bathtub. She called it a "river," but I know it was actually a bathtub, because there was water in it. She let me dabble a little in it, which was fun:

On Sunday we left to go home, and I made sure that my Mama had plenty to to the whole way back. I decided that we would spend the night at Abingdon, Virginia, and we got home on Monday. This was a good trip. I would tell more about it, but excuse me now, 'cause it's time for my bottle.

Best regards,

Dalton Henry

Chris Henry

This weekend, I had the opportunity to go to Connecticut with some of my best friends to play at a church in Greenwich. On Friday night, I had a late gig up near Mammoth Cave in Kentucky, and got back to Nashville past midnight. The alarm was set for 5:15 so we could get to the airport by 6:30 to catch our flight. I put on my three-piece suit and red tie, which is my uniform of choice these days, and Mike Bub picked me up about 5:45am. We went to get our favorite fiery fiddle, Shad Cobb, and met Brad Folk, formerly of the band Open Road, at the airport. We flew into LaGuardia, getting there about 1:00pm.

Keith Reed, also of Open Road and now bluegrass professor at Colorado College, met us at the airport. He had gotten a call from his wife's best friend's husband, Kevin, who is the music minister at the First Presbyterian Church in Greenwich, asking if he could put together a band to play for their spring concert series. Keith's a great banjo picker and well-connected fellow and we were all looking forward to the trip even though that particular configuration of pickers had never all played together at the same time.

Shad, Bub, and I play a lot together in Nashville. Brad and Keith played for years together, and Brad and I have done a few shows together, so we were all confident that we could find the common ground and pick out some tunes and it would all work out. We all love traveling with Bub, who is a seasoned veteran and pro road-dog. He always seems prepared and is very resourceful, as well as being full of great stories to amuse everyone from his thirty plus years in bluegrass. Between Bub and Brad there were already a whole lot of laughs.

When we got to Greenwich, we headed straight to the church to check it out. It was a beautiful old granite building with a large, wooden, sanctuary featuring some of the finest stained glass windows I have ever seen. They had a gigantic pipe organ, which Kevin plays, behind the alter.

At that point we were all starving so we went and had a bite to eat at a local diner where Kevin joined us. After a good visit there, we headed back to the church for sound check. We were using just one mic, a large diaphragm condenser that Bub had brought, for all the instruments and vocals. Since it was such a great sounding room, that was plenty of reinforcement.

After deciding on "Pain in My Heart" as a good number, we launched right into it and from the get-go, we knew that the music was going to work out. Brad started singing and the grass was driving fine. Bub added the baritone and I added the tenor on the chorus and we had a powerful bluegrass trio and we were aces into the fiddle solo. Shad dug in and started stomping his foot and he rendered another heaping helping of the nail biting, intense, flawless fiddling. We got through another verse and chorus fine and then the only glitch was during the mandolin solo. Because there were no monitors, it was hard for everyone to hear exactly what was going on on some of the leads. I lifted the mandolin up to the microphone and charged impetuously out on the front side of the beat to play my break, and the beat ended up turned around because I had hit the gas so hard on it. Growing up picking with Mom and Dad, and Casey on the bass, I never had to think about where I was putting the beat because we were all so accustomed to the surging nature of leads that our family band played. I hadn't considered that we weren't playing in a circle where everyone can hear exactly what and where everyone else is playing. I was a little frazzled, but didn't say anything. We finished up all together and packed up the SUV and left for our lodging quarters.

We drove through some beautiful million-dollar neighborhoods and got to the residence of Steve and Sandy Waters who were part of the congregation. They had offered to put us up for the night - a generous and brave couple! They warmly greeted us and showed us each to our rooms and I took the opportunity to get some rest because I was already exhausted from the night before and traveling. Steve has one of the best collections of Yankee baseball memorabilia and in my room were great autographed pictures of different moments including Don Larson's perfect world series game.

I thought a long time about the mandolin break and what had happened, and why. I felt frustrated because I didn't feel like I had the communication skills to appropriately address the issue, and thought it was interesting that no one else said anything about it either. After a couple of hours of meditation on it, I figured it would be a good strategy to back off from where I frequently feel the leading edge of the beat to stay on the safe side. The rest of the guys spent the afternoon lounging and laughing in the Waters' back yard by the pool and I got some rest.

About 5:30 we were treated to a wonderful supper and had a good time visiting with the Waters discussing topics of local interest all the way to political fundraising. Mr. Waters had gone to Harvard Business School with Mitt Romney and it was neat to hear him talk about the presidential candidate as being just like he remembered him in school. It's unusual for us to be dining with folks who have ties to that world, so that was fun. It was the first time I can remember eating supper and having bread with a little plate for dipping olive oil like in fancy restaurants. We usually put butter on the bread, but I liked their way a lot too.

We finished up about 6:15 and Brad and I started tossing around numbers that we thought would come off all right, as well as a couple of gospel tunes we thought the folks would enjoy possibly singing along to. Bub, who has has so much experience with off-the-cuff stage shows, was confident we didn't need a set list, but Brad and I were a little nervous about the prospect, so we went ahead and dialed one in as well as we could.

When we got to the church, Kevin led us up to the music rehearsal room inside the large, four-story church complex. We hit a little bit of "Roll on, Buddy" and again felt good that the set would go well.

I went down to the sanctuary a little early so I could set up my computer to video the show. We were hoping to get some good footage in case we could use it for future bookings. There was a modest crowd seated already with more folks filing in.

Kevin gave us a nice introduction and Shad started us off on the fiddle with Old Joe Clark. It's a great tune, everybody knows it, it's up-beat, and has easy access to three-part harmony. They loved it! We were off to a good start and rolled through the set doing mostly traditional material. I sang "Walkin' West to Memphis", and Mike Bub took a great break on the bass. Keith expertly rendered a great version of "Sledd Ride" and that got a rousing response. We brought it up and slowed it down three or four times trying to vary the material as much as we could but still sticking to a good quotient of hard-driving hardcore bluegrass. Other numbers included "Close By", "Roustabout", "Voice of My Saviour", "The Luckiest Man Twas Born", "Sally Goodin'", "Rank Stranger", and we ended the set with a gospel medley of "I Saw the Light", "Will the Circle Be Unbroken", and "I'll Fly Away". They gave us quite a nice bit of applause before we took a short break.

After stepping off stage, we all agreed we were happy and relieved that things had gone so well and had a glass of water after stepping outside into the courtyard for a few minutes. Kevin advised that we back away a little bit from the microphone because it was overdriving the system a little bit. That's a problem I have had for many years. Since I grew up playing and singing into a dynamic microphone, like an SM58, I never had to worry about overdriving the system and it was business as usual to be an inch or closer to the mic. With the larger diaphragm condensers, they are so sensitive that it's fine to stand a few inches or more away from them while singing and they'll pick up everything just fine.

We didn't plan out the whole next set because by that time were were confident we could pull it out of our back pockets. We played for another 30 minutes or so and ended up with a short version of "Orange Blossom Special" and invited the crowd to a reception with coffee and some snacks.

We were pleased to meet so many folks who hadn't seen much bluegrass and the responses were all very positive. I felt great that we had been able to pull it together and bring a good show to many folks who had never seen bluegrass live. When we had shook and howdied till all the folks left, we cut a trail back to the house, where I was happy to get back and relax.

The next day we went back to the church and met up with some of the folks in the choir who were having a picnic and we followed them out of town a little way to one of the congregation's lovely home and picked for about twenty minutes, had a good lunch, and sold about ten CDs. Since I do so much live streaming from my shows in Nashville I was happy to have a good number of 5X7 cards with all the contact information on them in case they want to tune in sometime to the show. We met a lot of nice folks and then cut out about an hour before we needed to be at the airport. We dropped Shad off at the Delta terminal and had good time visiting with Keith before catching our flight back to Tennessee.

So now, about 30,000 feet above probably somewhere like Kentucky or southern Pennsylvania, I'm writing this blog to share with you another adventure in the life of a bluegrass musician. We were able to rely on the core base of the music we all knew to put together a good show, pretty much on the fly, and spread the good gospel of bluegrass to Greenwich, Connecticut. I hope we can come back to pick again!

Murphy Henry

If you are a Murphy Method banjo student (especially a beginner), then you are already acquainted with the music of Doug Dillard. He wrote Banjo in the Hollow! You also probably know the Dillards (Doug, his brother Rodney on guitar, Dean Webb on mandolin, and Mitch Jayne on bass) from their appearances on the Andy Griffith show as the Darling Family. The Dillard biography, Everybody on the Truck, notes that while the boys were enthusiastic about landing a job on the show, they were “reluctant to appear on television as ignorant hillbillies.” Having grown up in the Ozark mountains in Missouri, Rodney, in particular, wanted to make sure that they “weren’t going to be making fun of the people they grew up with.” And in spite of the long-lasting appeal of their performances on the show, years later Rodney still had reservations about accepting the role. But there is no telling how many fans of the show were first introduced to bluegrass and banjo playing through the music of the Dillards.

I came into the music of the Dillards in a sideways fashion. I sorta married into it. Red and his banjo-playing uncle John Hedgecoth were big Dillards fans, since the Dillards' albums—Back Porch Bluegrass (Elektra, 1963) and Live, Almost (Elektra, 1964)—were some of the few bluegrass albums that were commercially available in Jacksonville, Florida, in the early sixties. And, of course, now that I want to write about those albums, I can’t find them anywhere! I guess I put them in a safe place. Or they are in a parallel universe. Nevertheless, thanks to Google, I can report some of the song titles. From Back Porch Bluegrass: Banjo in the Hollow, Doug’s Tune, Hickory Hollow (all written by Doug), Dueling Banjos (one of the pre-Deliverance arrangements), Old Home Place, and Dooley.

And from Live, Almost! (whose cover pictured Rodney Dillard lying “dead” in front of the other band members, Dean Webb, Mitch Jayne, and Doug): Old Blue, Walking Down the Line, I’ll Never See My Home Again, Dixie Breakdown, Pretty Polly, and Sinkin’ Creek (which I taught, while John played it, on our original Melodic cassette series!) This album also featured some of Mitch Jayne’s humorous stories, from which Red borrowed liberally before coming up with his own assortment. These include Mitch’s story about the song “Old Blue.” My favorite lines from that story (uttered often by Red when we used to sing “Old Blue”) was when Mitch was saying that the Dillards had a “lot different attitude about dogs than they do in Los Angeles...we don’t put rhinestone collars on them too much. If there was a rhinestone collar to spare around the house, it went on Mommy.”

The Dillards also recorded a third album for Elektra in 1965, Pickin’ and Fiddlin' with Byron Berline. I actually have that vinyl copy in hand. Since it didn’t have any singing on it, it was never one of my faves, although I think Red and John liked it a lot and learned a bunch of tunes off of it which they would trot out in the late hours of a picking party. Songs like Hamilton County, Fisher’s Hornpipe, Tom and Jerry, Cotton Patch Rag, Durang’s Hornpipe, Wagoner, Sally Johnson, Crazy Creek, and Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star (not the nursery rhyme!). Good songs, all, but I still can’t play a banjo or fiddle lead to any of them!

Doug eventually left the Dillards and teamed up with Gene Clark, playing more of a folk-rock-county music. From their album The Fantastic Expedition of Dillard & Clark I particularly liked Git It On Brother (a funky arrangement of Flatt and Scruggs' Get In Line, Brother) and She Darked the Sun. Other Dillard and Clark classics included Don’t Come Rollin’ and With Care From Someone.

I write about albums because I don’t have but one personal Doug Dillard story to tell. I met him at one of the early IBMA Trade Shows in Owensboro. We had just come out with our first video, Beginning Banjo Volume One, which kicked off with Banjo in the Hollow. I was all excited to tell Doug about using his tune and introduced myself to him and dragged him over to our booth to see a clip of it. He was real sweet about it and seemed interested, which I appreciated. As I remember it, we had been trying to get hold of his publisher so we could pay the royalties for using his song. After meeting Doug personally, I think his publisher called us!

I was fortunate to get to see the Dillards play several times. Once at IBMA, once at the Birchmere in Alexandria, Virginia, and once at the Hiawassee Fair in Hiawassee, Georgia. I also got to see Doug play with his own Doug Dillard Band, which featured Ginger Boatwright on guitar and lead vocals. I saw them play in Alaska and at the Tennessee Banjo Institute. And I saw the Dillards from afar, sitting in the audience in the Ryman Auditorium when they were inducted into the IBMA Hall of Honor in 2009. I’m not sure but I think Mitch Jayne said, when he stepped up to the mike to accept the award, “I thought we were going to have to die to get in here.” It was a near thing, for now both he and Doug are gone. I’m so glad they made it in. Casey had her picture taken with Doug at the pre-awards party. She keeps it up in her house now, in her office, right across from her Big Earl poster.

It’s sad to lose two such amazing banjo players in such a short period of time. But we still have their music. If you’ve not heard much of Doug’s playing, get on the internet and buy some of it! I think those first two albums are on CD now, and if not, vinyl copies are still out there. And I highly recommend the book Everybody on the Truck: The Story of the Dillards by Lee Grant with the Original Dillards. It’s short, easy to read, and packed with inside information. And pictures!

John Hartford was good friends with Doug and Rodney and they played together early on, pre-Dillards, in a band called the Dixie Ramblers. I can imagine John and Doug, on Heaven’s Bright Shore, uncasing the fiddle and the five and kicking back for a joyous musical reunion. I treasure the thought.

Chris Henry

We knew that if we were going to get a good seat for Earl's service at the Ryman Auditorium, getting there early was going to be a good idea. My girlfriend Sarah and I got there a little over an hour before 2pm, when it was scheduled to begin. I saw many bluegrass folks in a line for the friends and family entrance, and so we got in line behind our buddy David Grier and his father, Lamar, who was a banjo picker with Bill Monroe in the 60s. I had never met Lamar, but I have been hanging out a lot with David in the last year, picking and recording, so it was good to meet his dad.

About fifteen minutes later, the doors opened and we filed in and signed the guestbook. The floor was just starting to be filled with the people who were closer to Earl, and the balcony was open to the general public. After saying hello to Pete and Kitsy Kuykendall, and to Dan Hays, we got a seat right in front of the Griers. It was great because we had about an hour to wait, and between the Griers and Barbara Lamb (a great fiddler), there was enough levity to allow the time to pass quickly amongst the excellent people watching. The Griers were really funny to listen to. My favorite exchange was when banjo player Lamar kidded to his son David, "You're probably going to like this today, it'll be mostly banjo music." Guitar-player David fired back, "But when that G-Run comes in it's going to be like heaven!" On the pew next to the left, was Shawn Camp, and to the right on the next row was Alan O'Bryant and Sam Bush. It was good to see so many musicians there to honor the creator of the Big Twang. There were about ten very nice flower arrangements on the stage and Earl's banjo was standing up in the middle of the front of the stage while his closed casket was on the floor out front.

Eddie Stubbs was presiding and did a great job of setting the dignified tone of the event. He was playing the parts of MC, preacher, and reminiscer. Earl's regular preacher had not been able to attend because he was sick, so Eddie had the job of reading some Bible verses on comfort and talking about what a wonderful gift from God Earl was. Since so many of Earl's career highlights had come at the Ryman, the family thought it would be the perfect place to have his memorial, and they wanted it to be broadcast live on WSM 650, the radio station that had catapulted Earl into international stardom in the middle and late 40s.

Del McCoury and his band were the first folks to come out and sing. He was the first to talk about what an inspiration Earl was to him. They went into Take me in a Lifeboat, and you could really tell the were putting their whole hearts into the music. As Del's high tenor reverberated into the rafters of the Ryman, we were all beginning to realize the show was going to be special in that all the artists would be wanting to do their very best for Earl. All of the performances received standing ovations.

The next song was sung by Ricky Skaggs and the Whites. Ricky, who is so comfortable talking to an audience, told about when he was eight years old, and picking backstage at the Opry, how Earl had listened to him play and sing, and then invited his dad to bring him down to the television station for an audition to be on one of the Martha White Flatt and Scruggs shows. Ricky said "He didn't have to do that, but he did." One great example of a kind gesture that impacted country music in a large way with the beginning of Ricky's professional career. Ricky asked for a show of hands to see how many banjo pickers were in the audience. As so many hands went up he commented about how God had planted so many seeds with the gift of Earl's music. They sang Gone Home and I could definitely feel the spirit of the music all over when they sang the harmonies.

Bela Fleck came out after the Whites and did a solo banjo number. It was in a minor key and made use of the tuners in an interesting way. Afterwords, Bela read from his IPad some words he had written about Earl's influence on him. He talked about "hearing the truth" for the first time as a young kid in Queens. He told a couple of great stories. The first was about Earl driving at night through Atlanta back in the day that there were exactly 90 stoplights going through the city. The rest of the band was asleep when Earl started seeing sparks coming off of a dragging tailpipe. He pulled over and got a tow truck to come. After the tow truck driver asked Earl to get in and steer the car as it was towed backwards, the rest of the band started to wake up. Earl took the opportunity to pretend he was sleeping, and slumped over the wheel! The second was about himself speeding through Nashville one day and getting pulled over. The officer came up to the window and recognized Bela. After a brief exchange, the officer asked Bela who the greatest banjo player in the world was. He answered Earl Scruggs. The officer said, "That's right, now drive a little slower around here from now on." The audience roared with laughter.

There was some video played of the Foggy Mountain Boys, demonstrating Earl's unsurpassed creative and technical ability. It was good to see some clips of those old Martha White shows.

Charlie Daniels came out and spoke very nicely about getting his start in Nashville with the Earl Scruggs Revue. The reverence and respect with which he spoke was delivered with dignity and eloquence.

EmmyLou Harris sang a song and payed her respects.

John McEuen came out and spoke about his experiences with Earl. He said after he got the nerve to ask Earl to record on what would become the Circle album, he couldn't sleep the whole night because he was so excited. John played a clawhammer version of Soldiers Joy, and then Jim Mills and Mike Bub joined him on the instrumental Carolina Traveler.

Eddie Stubbs delivered a wonderful eulogy that included talking about his love of family; how he attended his son's baseball games; his religious commitment to Christianity; a wonderful personal memory of Earl telling Eddie he loved Lester; tidbits about Earl's love for food; and how many medical problems Earl had had, including two bad automobile accidents and a plane crash. Eddie said that one time Earl asked him if he had been playing his fiddle, and Eddie replied that he had not been and was so out of practice he would be embarrassed to play it in Earl's company. Earl replied "Well I'm the same way, why don't you come over and we'll practice!" Just another example of his humility and friendly good nature. After a quadruple bypass, Earl's diet needed to change, but one time at a party he found some good salty peanuts on the table and he told Eddie as he was in between Louise's line of sight to the table, "You stay right there, I don't want Louise to see!" Eddie also related another time at a party that Earl said to him "I better get a piece of that pie just in case someone might ask me my opinion about it."

Marty Stuart came out and played a little of You are my Flower on the guitar. For my money, there's no more beautiful piece of music in bluegrass than that tune. Marty talked with his usual good humor and candor about going to do a soundtrack for a movie with Johnny Cash. Johnny asked him who would be a good fit for the banjo, and Marty suggested Earl. The movie company was from out west and so there was some disparity between the two styles of production, in that the westerners weren't familiar with the Tennessee way and pace of doing things, and vice-versa. At one point while Earl was standing in front of a vending machine with a milk in one hand and a honey-bun in the other, the director flew out of the studio in an extremely agitated manner saying "The banjo player! The banjo player! We need the banjo player!" To which Earl calmly replied "If I see 'im, I'll tell 'im you're looking." Again the audience rolled with laughter.

Marty had a great trio singing with him, as well as Del McCoury adding some powerful G-runs on his rhythm guitar. Who Will Sing for Me was the number that Marty led using some classic vintage Lester Flatt style intonation in his voice. He was placing the notes slightly flat in a way that brings out a captivating and dynamic energy - a technique seldom heard in today's world of auto tune and American Idol. It was great.

The final song was introduced by Vince Gill. He was accompanied by Patty Loveless, Ricky Skaggs, and a piano player. In a very emotional way that brought tears welling up in his eyes, Vince spoke about how he had come to write the song and how the circumstances were similar in that his mom had to "lay down" a son as did the Scruggs family. He was able to pull through his emotions and sing very well.

At this point some closing words were spoken by Eddie, who did a wonderful job with the ceremony. On the ends of the middle pews was a banjo guard: Kristin Scott Benson, Bela, Trishka, O'Banyon, Sam Bush, Vince Gill, Noam Pikelny, Ned Lubereki, Dave Talbot, Charlie Cushman, Mike Bub, Tim O'Brien, and many others held their banjos in front of their faces like bluegrass marines as Earl's casket was moved outside. As the casket passed, the adjacent rows of guards crossed the necks of the their banjos. It was a beautiful and perfect way for Earl to make his farewell. His banjo was then carried out of the mother church - from the place where Earl had changed the world and brought the five string banjo with "lightning in a bottle" to millions of listeners. It was a true celebration and fitting memorial for a person who picked and sang with grace, brought joy to millions, lived with humility, and was well loved.