We received this picture from one of our students, Todd Chisum, who was just finishing up his deployment to eastern Afghanistan. We thought it was cool so we're sharing it with you. We have quite a few students in the military overseas. (I do Skype lessons with one of them! Eight a.m. here is three p.m. where he is.) If any of you who in the military want to send shots of you with your banjo (or guitar, or mandolin, or what have you) we'd be glad to share them so the Murphy Method community can see our students around the world!
I know that Red shared the big news yesterday, but today I have pictures! Dalton was born August 31st at 7:41 p.m. and weighed in at 9 lbs 7 oz, 22 inches long.
At one of my baby showers the party activity was onesie decorating. I was extremely impressed by everyone's artistic talent, which was much greater than my own! But a few weeks after the party I got a belated addition to this outstanding onesie collection from my friend and fellow banjo teacher Ned Luberecki. I had to declare it the most awesome onesie in the entire history of onesies. See the below and I think you'll agree:
In case you don't recognize what's in the middle of that Ghostbusters-like red circle (because I KNOW none of you have ever seen, much less USED it 🙂 ), it is tablature (forward rolls...).
There were tons of other cute ones, but I'll limit myself to posting the bluegrass-related ones. The runners-up in the awesome onesie contest were these:
I told Kelley (the gracious party hostess) that she could produce these and sell them to numerous bluegrass parents/grandparents!
Connie is the clawhammer player for our informal and sporadic jam group At Least We're Hot. I was super impressed that the baby actually looks like a baby and you can totally tell he's crawling on the banjo head!
Rebecca (flatpicker extraordinaire) was super helpful to me in assembling my baby registry list. (Note the "H" on the peghead.)
Missy is married to Sim Daley, who makes mandolins, and she also threw in a little shout-out to Megan Lynch, whose FiddleStar logo you see there. Megan couldn't make the shower because she was hosting a kids fiddle camp at her house.
I can pretty much guarantee that you'll see more pictures of these outfits, occupied by a bouncing baby boy, at some point in the not-too-distant future, so stay tuned!
Here are a couple things that didn't make it into my first post about Banjo Camp North. I can't believe I forgot to include this picture:
I also can't believe I forgot to write down this guy's name!! I chalk it up to it being Sunday and I'd just finished teaching my last class and my brain had turned off... If you read this (guy in the picture) please comment and tell me who you are!! I sent the picture to Murphy and she said when she started reading the shirt she thought it was going to say "The first thing you have to do is tune the banjo," which would also make a pretty good shirt. But she thought this quote was funnier!
Next, here's a clip of me at the staff concert on Saturday night at camp. Joining me are Phil Zimmerman (mando), Kelly Stockwell (bass), and April Hobart (guitar and tenor vocal).
Last Saturday some old-time pickers and I had a good old-time session playing at North River Mills, West Virginia for their annual town festival. And just where is North River Mills? Well, when you first drive there, it seems like a long way from anywhere, but it's only about 8 miles from Capon Bridge. (That's METROPOLITAN Capon Bridge, WV.)
The musicians numbered about 15 at various times during the day, playing an assortment of instruments which included fiddle, 5-string viola, banjos, mandolins, pennywhistle, guitars, bass, a harmonica, and an accordian. No kidding, the accordian player played very well and unobtrusively, so he was welcome. Here's a photo of this relaxed session:
And what did we play? We played tunes in the Key of D. We played Liberty, and Soldier's Joy, and Cowboy's Dream, and Yellow Rose of Texas, and Dubuque. We played several tunes I hadn't heard before but picked up (as everybody did) as we played them over and over-- that's what you do. Then we played lots more, including Forked Deer-- and here's a video of that tune, complete with the floor show, a gentleman who was quite a dancer:
(A note on old-time session etiquette: I started this tune, so I was the one who called "One more time!" near the end, so we'd all know when to quit.)
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...I expect that we'll play there again next year. So if you're ever in this part of the country and would like to visit a place where (as far as I can see) not much ever happens, and it's good that way, drive through North River Mills. But don't blink-- you'll miss it!
Come next year. Bring an instrument. You don't have to be an expert. If you don't know the tune, just play rhythm. You just have to like to play!
More posts about the camp are coming, but for now, here's the group shot. (You campers, I'll email you the high res version of the shot, as well as the individual shots in the next couple days.) (Click on picture for larger version.)
Devoted mandolin fans and pickers (such as myself) were treated to a rare spectacle last Saturday night at the Garret Park Town Hall in Maryland, where superlative picker-and-showman Frank Wakefield presented an outstanding show along with the Patuxent Partners. Chris and I drove over for the concert. Neither of us had seen Frank since he'd come by the house back when Casey was 9 and Chris was 6, so we had a good time talking, reminiscing, and picking with Frank before the show.
Now, you need to understand about Frank. He doesn't always talk straight. He "talks backwards." This means that he'll call himself "him" and he'll call people names he makes up (he called Casey "Liza," and Chris was "Leroy."). He'll say "That's BAD!" when he means, "That's GOOD!" -- and vice-versa. So you need to stay on your toes when talking (or listening) to him.
When it was time for his set, Frank sprang into action with the fiery chestnut 'Bluegrass Breakdown' and went on for an hour without a pause, incessantly picking amazingly, talking backwards, balking tackwards, and tacking balkwards for the entire evening in his inimitable style. There is no one who plays mandolin quite like Frank, and his originality and brilliance shone at every opportunity. Notable contributions came from his cast of extremely capable sideman, including Monroe-veteran Tom Ewing's vocals on "When the Golden Leaves Begin to Fall" and Jack Leiderman's high-speed fiddle break on 'Rawhide', which was note for note straight off Bill Monroe's classic 1951 recording, as far as my ears could hear.
The climax of the evening came as Frankfield hosted and bravely participated in, a five-piece mandolin ensemble. We played (all at the same time) Frank's well-known mandolin original 'New Camptown Races'. Mandopickers Frank, Tom, Todd, "Leroy," and "White" all acquitted themselves well, and a good time was had by all.
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Other news: Our bass-playing friend Marshall Wilburn spent this last week helping Frank record a new CD. Look for it on the Patuxent label. It's gonna be BAD!
I'm posting this picture because my mom asked me to, and I always do what my mother asks. (Okay, almost always, but I swear it's like 98% of the time!) I went to the IBMA Awards show this year with friends since no other family members were going. We went out for a stellar meal beforehand at the Nashville restaurant Flyte. Also in our group was Megan's mom Maria, who deserves credit for taking this picture:
Later on in the week, on Saturday of FanFest in fact, I ran into the awesome and talented Missy Raines in the hallway while I happened to be wearing her new t-shirt design.
Today while I was searching around YouTube I found that someone has posted a new video of the Dixie Bee-Liners from the show we played in Abingdon, Va., on September 11th. This is my tune "Leroy and Liza."
I also found three more videos of the band, to which I'll just post links, since they don't have ALL that much of me in them. The first two are from the showcase we played in the Acoustic Trail Listening Room at IBMA in the wee hours of Thursday morning.
This last one is from a fan at the Cropredy festival that we played in England in August. We're on stage and you can hear us very well, but what he actually shows is quite random and kinda silly. It contains snippets of quite a few of the songs from our set. Here's that link.
Here's a look at our band. We played bluegrass full-time for 11 years, mostly around the Southeast in Florida, Georgia, and Alabama, but also playing festivals up the Atlantic seaboard as far as Canada.
This photo of Murphy and myself with her singing-and-songwriting sister Nancy dates from 1979 (There's a lot of nostalgia here. Those were 'tight' times. By the end of the recession in 1981-2, most of these instruments were gone!):
-and this one is of our big six-piece band in 1985 (Tuck Tucker, Bill Baker, Bob Higginbotham, Nancy Pate, Murphy, and myself):
These are the seven LP albums we made in the olden days, and the year each one was released. (The albums all featured a lot of original material, and as you can tell from this list, most of them were named for one of Murphy's songs!):
"Riding Around on Saturday Night", 1977
"Fast Picks and Hot Licks", 1978
"Pall Mall Reds", 1979
"My Everyday Silver is Plastic", 1980
"I Ain't Domesticated Yet", 1981
"Just Remember Where You Could Be", 1983
"Real Time Reel", 1985
-and in addition, we produced two family band cassette tapes by Red and Murphy with their Excellent Children, Casey and Chris:
"Granny Don't Dance", about 1994
"My Dixie Home", about 1995.
As I mentioned, we'd like to post this music on our site so that it will be easily available. That's the plan, and we hope to be moving on it this year. So this is just a "heads-up" for all you Red and Murphy fans out there, that some Mighty Fine bluegrass music is going to be heard for the first time in a long while!
Folks, I just ran across a photo and wanted to share it with you. A few years ago, a member of the "Co-Mando" mandolin email list held a gathering at his house in Maryland, a couple of hours' drive from here. Our friend David McLaughlin rode over to the gathering with me, and we joined nine or ten other mandolin players for an afternoon of visiting and picking.
Seen here at the party are 11 mandolins, my mandola, and my home-made mandocello conversion. Among the mandolins are the two I brought (Randy Wood #1 and #3), as well as the one David brought (a 1923 F-5). Others seen in the photo include two Rigel mandolins, one late-1950s Gibson, and a few other makes. The other pickers were especially excited to have the chance to play that 1923 F-5, after David generously put it on the couch for "tasting." They were also amused to play Randy Wood #3, the one formerly owned by Bill Monroe, and get themselves a few molecules of Bill as they played. (My four instruments in the picture are distinguished by their light-colored maple bridges.) See if you can pick out David's Loar in the photo!
As you can guess, a good time was had by all. And we've got the pictures to prove it!