Tag Archives: By Red

Red Henry

Red Henry

Folks, Chris and I are just getting ready to head out in the morning for a big music weekend far south of here. On Saturday, we (Red & Chris Henry and Their All-Star Band) will play at the Great Hahira Pick-In, which is at Hahira, Georgia, and then on Sunday we play at Dale Crider’s Pithlachocco Music House at Windsor, Florida. Then we’ll spend Monday recording with Dale, and drive back on Tuesday. This isn’t as big a project as the tour Casey’s on, but it’s a pretty long trip! So what do we pack?

Murphy and I learned one thing about packing clothes long ago: When you’re going to play at a bluegrass festival, be ready for ANY weather, from floods, to 103 degree heat, to freezing snow. If you play festivals long enough you’ll run into all three! Any time of year! So I’ve packed day clothes. I’ve packed stage clothes. I’ve packed light clothes. I’ve packed heavy clothes. I’ve put in a raincoat or two. You can’t be too well-prepared for a festival! The clothes are IN THE VAN.

Now, let’s think about what we need in order to find the show and set up there. I’ve put in maps, directions, and a phone numbers for the festival. (Don’t rely on GPS or the Internet to find a place, when you might be in the hills and nothing works! And always have the promoter’s phone number close by!) And I’ve put in our CD table stuff, which includes Red Henry CDs, and Chris Henry CDs, and Murphy Method DVDs, and Sharpies for signing CDs, and some CD display racks and DVD display racks and a change pouch with some five-dollar bills, and band signs, and price signs, and Murphy Method signs, and also (still with me?) the folding table all that stuff goes on, along with a tablecloth. All that stuff is IN THE VAN.

Now, the instruments. Do we have everything? Chris’s girlfriend Jenny Leigh, a fine fiddler, is traveling and performing with us, so we need extra space for instruments. We’ll have our guitars, mandolins, fiddles, and maybe a mandola with us. And what if an instrument should break a string or even a tuner at the show, or need some light repairs or adjustments on the spot? (That happens, and if you’re a long way from home and something breaks, you may be out of luck!) Well, in case of that, I’ve put in my Goody Box. The Goody Box has extra guitar and mandolin strings, pliers (regular and long-nosed), wire cutters (for strings), extra tuners and tuner parts for mandolins, small flat and triangular files (for adjusting nut slots and bridge slots), small and tiny screwdrivers (regular and phillips-head) for changing out tuners and tailpieces, a little steel ruler and some sandpaper (for fitting and adjusting mandolin bridges), an complete extra mandolin tailpiece, and lots of other small stuff. The Goody Box has really come in handy before when an instrument needed help a long way from home, so I try not to go on road trips without it. It is IN THE VAN.

I’ve made sure my electronic tuner is in my mandolin case, along with a lead pencil (for lubricating nut slots) and plenty of strings. Now, finally, we come to what we’ll need once we’re on stage: SET LISTS. I’ve made up the set lists and printed them out in triplicate so I won’t lose them all, and tossed them into my guitar case. So is that everything we need? If it isn’t, we’ll have to do without! All I have to do in the morning is toss the instruments in the vehicle and get behind the wheel. We’ll be “flyin’ south to Dixie” by sunup. See you (excuse me, see Y’ALL) at Hahira!


Red HenryA thought occurred to me last Saturday, when we were picking at my birthday party in Nashville. All the folks in the jam could play quite well, and it was a big jam. There were 13 or 14 of us in the picking circle, including two or three banjos, two mandolins, half a dozen or so guitars, three or four fiddles, and a bass. Normally in a group that size, the mandolin players and lead guitar players can't be heard at all, even when they're playing a lead break. But you know what? In this jam, EVERYBODY could be heard. NOBODY got drowned out---not the mandolin players, not the lead guitar players, NOBODY.

This was because all the pickers in the jam were not only good PLAYERS, but good LISTENERS too. Everybody LISTENED to what was going on---to whoever was playing lead or singing at that moment---and made sure that the lead got heard. This meant, in several cases, that pickers would stop playing entirely during a quietly-sung verse or a softly-played lead break. But it sure was good for the music.

Remember that good musicianship includes not only PLAYING, but LISTENING too. One mark of a really good musician is that he or she is always trying to make the GROUP sound good. That's a goal everyone can aspire to. Next time you're in a jam, don't just PLAY. LISTEN.