Murphy Henry

Murphy Henry

Back story: I told you in an earlier blog that at one of our jams Ben pulled a trick on me. He had taken a funny looking photo of me at our Intermediate Banjo Camp and had framed it and put it on the fireplace mantel in our jamming room where everybody could see it but me. Then he told me I had something wrong with my hair (really???) so I would have to turn around and look in the mirror over the fireplace. That's when I saw the picture. I've been waiting a long time to get back at Ben and he provided me with the perfect opportunity.


Ben takes banjo lessons from Casey and cuts her grass and therefore has opportunity to see her son Dalton, who is almost two now. Casey had been putting off getting Dalton his first haircut and Ben was kinda riding her about it. "When are you gonna get that boy a haircut?" So, when Casey recently took Dalton to our friend Sue to get his "ears lowered" she sent me a picture. Which I forwarded to Ben. It just so happened that in the picture Dalton had his pacifier in his mouth. (To soothe haircut trauma!)


Dalton with monkey

Now, Dalton's pacifier is a little different. I had seen it in a fancy baby store in Winchester before he was born, and, overcome by a spasm of Grandmotherly-ness, I had loosened the strings on my admittedly tight purse and had shelled out 10 or 12 bucks for a pacifier! (My own mother probably had a Heavenly heart attack!) But it was soooooo cute. It had a darling little stuffed monkey attached to the end of the pacifier.


As it turned out, Dalton loved the "monkey" pacifier from the get-go and has worn out several.


So, back to the picture I sent Ben: A freshly-shorn Dalton with the monkey pacifier.


Ben texts back: "Awesome. I want a Binky like that!"
I text: "I feel sure Casey can give you a used one!!!"


Ben replies: "Really!! Would you ask for me so I don't get embarrassed!!"


And an idea begins to form.....


I ask Casey if she has an old monkey pacifier that she can stand to give up. Yes, she does, but being well-used, the monkey no longer has the actual pacifier attached to it. Nevertheless, it will do. So I take the monkey and put it in a Walmart plastic bag. I bring it to the jam.


As it turned out, Ben was flying solo last night, without his adorable fashionista daughter, Kasey. (I so wanted her to be there.) Nevertheless, the joke must go on! So after we've picked a few numbers I announce, "I've got something to give to Ben."


As Ben told me later, he immediately got a bad feeling. His skin went all prickly, his face got red, and his stomach started churning. Your basic "fight or flight" response.


I told everyone the whole story of Dalton and his haircut and of sending Ben the photo. I finished up: "And Ben said, 'I want an Binky like that!'"


By that time, I'm pretty sure Ben knew what was coming. I handed him the bag, he opened it, and voila! Ben had his very own Binky--a used monkey without the actual Binky attached!
I said, "That will teach you to mess with me, Ben!"


And, Ben, good sport that he is, replied, "Yeah, you got me good!"



Ben with binky

Of course, having the monkey provided plenty of opportunity for further fun. Like when Ben messed up playing something and I commented on it. He grabbed the monkey, set it on his shoulder and said, "I couldn't help it. I had a monkey on my back!" And when Scott had some sort of misfire he looked at Ben and said, "I need the Binky!" Too much fun!


In between all the funning, everyone did some great playing. Kristina joined us on mandolin and wailed away on her newest songs Blue Ridge Cabin Home and John Hardy. She's also learning her three-finger "chop" chords and how to use them in the Key of A. Kathy is still singing strong on I'll Fly Away and Wagon Wheel. We are keeping Salt Creek in the mix and, again, Bobby played an excellent guitar break. As I told him, "It sounded like you actually knew what you were doing!" Bob Mc reminded me that I wouldn't let him learn Salt Creek. I told him to get Casey to teach it to him!


And I have to brag on Janet and her guitar playing. At her lesson, I pushed her a little and asked her to improvise a break--on the spot--to Mountain Dew and Lonesome Road Blues. I told her that the breaks didn't have to be "perfect"--there was no way that could happen--and when she made a mistake she had to keep going, no matter how bad it sounded. The goal was not to play "good" it was to play "something." I knew she could do it--and she did! You go, Janet!!! And while she didn't play these songs in the jam (this time!), maybe this gave her a little courage, because she played her other leads really well.


Scott was also playing exceptionally well--maybe having Zac there offered a bit of a challenge--and he kicked off Daybreak in Dixie pretty fast! After we finished playing it, I took time to teach the "stop" that the Stanley Brothers put into their original recording. It's too complicated to explain here (listen to their cut or to the cut Red and I recorded on the Riding Around album now on YouTube). The now-seasoned Tip Jar Jammers caught on quickly, so that stop will now become a part of our rendition. (I'll remind them about it the next dozen times till it sinks in.)
Kenney, as always, was solid on the bass and it was good to have him back after last week's absence. Yes, Kenney, I know Salt Creek was somewhat mystifying but it has a weird, complex chord pattern. You'll get it. Just remember: after you learn it in the key of G for this jam you'll go to another jam and a mandolin player will kick it off in the Key of A (where the Stanley Brothers recorded it) and you will be scr.....let me just say you'll be in trouble!. Aren't capoes wonderful?? Don't you wish you had one for the bass???


Things to remember:


My book signing Saturday June 8 at 3 pm at the Winchester Book Gallery on the Old Towne Mall in Winchester.
On Monday June 10, I will be doing a live, on-the-air interview with radio station WILL--AM--FM, the public radio station at the University of Illinois. They stream the show live so you can listen online at: http://will.illinois.edu/focus. The broadcast will be on CENTRAL TIME, so the interview will run from 10:00 to 11:00 Central. It's a call-in show for you folks in the Illinois listening area. I don't know if you can send in questions by email. Maybe! It will be my first radio interview about the book!


And don't forget The Longest Day Jam, Friday, June 21, in Winchester, 9 am-9 pm. More info in previous blogs. Gooseneck Rockers and Hicks Sisters performing!!!


And there you have it!

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Murphy's Birthday Sale!

All DVDs, downloads, custom lessons are 50% off!

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(Sale applies to custom lesson orders for songs that are already on the list. Orders for NEW songs are not on sale. Sale ends may 15th at midnight eastern time.)

P.S. - Murphy's birthday is actually on the 18th.

Red Henry

Folks, WATCH THIS SPACE. Within the next week we'll be running our annual 24-hour Murphy's Birthday sale, with ALL DVDs half-price (just $14.98!). We'll let you know as soon as it starts!

Red Henry

We have sad news about a musical friend to report today. Chuck Lamb, lifelong banjo-playing stalwart of the northeast Florida bluegrass and old-time music scene, died yesterday. I believe he was over 90 years old. Chuck was at many of the earliest picking parties I ever attended, and was always friendly and enthusiastic about playing music.

Chuck and his banjo-playing wife, Jeanie, came every year to the Gamble Rogers Music Festival in St. Augustine, and had a fine time listening to all the music. It was always great to see them.

Here's a photo taken at the very first picking party I ever attended, at Wyndell Merritt's house near Gainesville in December, 1967. Chuck's at the far left with his banjo. I remember that sometime during that weekend, he played and sang Boiling Cabbage: "Coon's got a big ol' bushy tail, the possum's tail is bare..."

Thanks for many years of good music and good friendship, Chuck. We'll miss you.

. . . . .

Here's a photo of the same friends at White Springs, a few months later (1968): Myself, John Hedgecoth, Wyndell Merritt, Chuck Lamb, and Mike Johnson. Thanks, Chuck, for lots of good times!

Folks, we have a sale coming up! That's right, our annual SUPERPACK SALE (any 5 DVDs for $89 plus shipplng) will start in just a few days! Make up your DVD list now!

Part Two of Chris's extensive documentary exploring creativity with a focus on flow and dreaming is now up. (If you missed it, part one is here.)

Or watch on YouTube.

The full cast of characters up to date now reads, in no particular order:

Alan O'Bryant, Sam Bush, Billy Contreras, Billy Smith, Ed Griffin, Michael Manning, David Grisman, Dale Crider, Billy Sandlin, Sam Grisman, Tuck Tucker, Julie Lee, Tim O'Brien, Dave Ferguson, Verlon Thompson, Chris Hill, Matt Combs, Rob Ickes, Larry Atamanuik, Angel Snow, Bela Fleck, Richard Brown, Matt Flinner, Rachel VanSlyke, Amanda Contreras, Benita Hill, Marty Raybon, Mike Compton, Adam Olmstead, Andy Hall, Shad Cobb, John Hedgecoth, Susie Coleman, Kirk Pickering, Rocky Alvey, Ashleigh Caudill, Milly Raccoon, Tim Roberts, Brittany Haas, Dominick Leslie, Phoebe Hunt, Tommy Oliverio, Jenna Hutton, Milly Raccoon, and Mike Bub.

This part explores goals of creativity, the healing aspect of music, creating in front of an audience, working from scratch, the significance of water as a creative symbol, and the connection between dreams and creativity.

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