Tag Archives: david mclaughlin

Casey HenryLast weekend we filmed the majority of the new Slow Jam DVD (to be titled Picking Up The Pace: More Slow Jamming with Murphy and Casey) in Winchester. Over the course of two days we recorded eighteen or so songs at tempos ranging from slowish to mediumish (those are the technical terms...). We always mean to prepare more in advance, but the night before found Murphy finalizing the song list, and the morning of the taping found us donning different outfits to see which ones looked best in front of the camera.

David McLaughlin joined us for the first day of taping. The first song always goes the slowest as we try to work out lights, sound, and camera shots. We were rolling along, knocking out song after song in G. When we decided to move to A we ran into a host of equipment problems, which I'm sure Murphy will tell you about tomorrow.

David, Murphy, and Casey

David McLaughlin, Murphy Henry, and Casey Henry on the first day of filming. Photo by Red Henry.

As we worked out each song, the process went something like this: First we'd play the song through a couple of times to make sure we were all on the same page. Then we'd do the arrangement, which was usually banjo kick, verse/chorus, mandolin, verse/chorus, hole for the student to play their break in, verse/chorus, another hole, chorus and out. Or if there were enough verses we'd have two banjo and mandolin breaks as well. We played the arrangement correctly on all but one song, and I'll let you try and figure out which one that is!

On the second day of taping we were joined by Malia Furtado on fiddle, who also played on our first Slow Jam DVD. She was fresh from winning third place in the fiddle contest at the Galax Fiddler's Convention. With Malia we did mostly instrumentals: "Liberty," "Soldier's Joy," "Amazing Grace," "Arkansas Traveler." She has amazing tone and played wonderful simple arrangements of the tunes that will be easy to pick-up even if you haven't learned the songs off of our fiddle videos.

The first song of the day, true to form, was the hardest to get. When we were in the middle of the first take I realized that I had propped my feet on a higher rung of my stool than the day before and that you could now see my bare feet on camera. Murphy thought it was okay, but Red ardently disagreed, so we re-shot the song, with mes pieds again out of the frame.

There are still some things left to shoot, like the introduction for the beginning of the DVD and the guitar left hand, which Murphy will do, for the picture-in-picture, but we got the majority of it done. Red will edit and assemble the footage and we will have them available in time for Christmas!

Murphy HenryTwas the night before the slow jam shoot and all through the house....No, I’m not even going to attempt to finish that parody! Suffice it to say that we start shooting our new slow jam DVD tomorrow! Casey and her banjo have arrived safely in Winchester from Nashville, traveling the highway home in her Ford Ranger with the license plate that says “OJNAB” and bumper stickers that read “Real Women Drive Trucks,” “Women in Bluegrass,” and “Hot Yoga.” We just finished looking over the clothes she brought with her, trying to decide what might look best on screen and what might blend in with the limited selection of choices in my own closet! And like Miggie and Polly and Janis Lewis, we both want to wear something we haven’t worn on screen before. (The Lewis Family sisters keep a record of which dresses they wear at every festival and show they play so they never repeat an outfit. That’s only one of the reasons I admire those women so much!)

As you may or may not know, we’ve always used our own Arrandem Studio to record our Murphy Method projects, including our cassettes and our videos. (Anybody still got any of our cassettes? There was some really good stuff there that hasn’t yet made it to DVD. Like Earl’s second and third breaks to “Earl’s Breakdown.”) Having our own studio makes it extremely convenient to record. We can set our own schedule, work at our own pace, and take as much time as we need. Of course, once we get the camera rolling (after working out all the initial bugs about sound and microphone placement and lightening and does my hair look funny), I like to keep shooting because I think I do better when I get up a full head of steam. So we usually do all the recording in one or two days. Then Red takes a few more days to do all the editing. (He’s also the person behind the camera, the one who says, “Do it over.” And “I think you left out a note.” And “Just start playing.” And “I can cut to a shot of your hands.” And “What you said was ‘The second phrase starts with a slide on the fourth string.’” He’s a very helpful husband to have around!)

So, in short, if all goes as expected, we should have our new DVD “Picking Up the Pace: More Slow Jamming with Murphy and Casey” in not too long a time. We’ll keep you posted!

Murphy HenryGonna be short and sweet this time, folks. Just in from playing banjo on a gig with Red (mando) and David McLaughlin (guitar). We played sitting down (!), without a PA, on the patio of a bed and breakfast that David is now running, the Nancy Shepherd House Inn, in Winchester. Since we were mostly doing it for fun there was no admission price. We were just playing for tips.

One of the fun ways we tried to increase our monetary intake was to have people pay for song requests. (Especially songs we didn’t particularly want to play!) For instance, our friend Wes, who arrived late, asked for "Lonesome Road Blues". Since we’d started the show with it, and as a general rule hate to repeat numbers, we said we’d do it again for ten bucks. As soon as the money hit the bottom of the basket, we were off! (We did try to sing some different verses, just to keep it interesting!)

And then my friend Robyn asked for "Blackberry Blossom" which she knows I hate! Why do I hate it? Let me count the ways....I mostly hate it because I can’t play it very well! That doggone melodic style has always been difficult for me. But for twenty bucks, shoot, I gave it a shot.

Robyn’s son Logan, 15, one of my long-time banjo students, asked for "Salty Dog", a tune I once spent hours learning from a slowed-down album. I love Earl’s break so I was glad to play it. However, when I announced the tune, I told the audience that Logan thought he was getting it for free, but I would find a way to make him pay for it! Like Robert Heinlein, the great sci-fi writer, I believe in the philosophy of TANSTAAFL: There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch!

Of course I couldn’t ask people to pay when they asked for my original numbers like "Fried Chicken", "M and M Blues", and "All of Us Used to Be Skinny". And there were plenty of songs we did just because we liked them. David even took the mandolin for one of his original tunes, "The Skeleton Dance".

All in all, a good time was had. Even the mosquitoes enjoyed it! We are thinking about making this a semi-regular affair, so we’ll try to keep those of you in the Winchester area posted. In the mean time, “Keep on the sunny side, always on the sunny side, keep on the sunny side of life....”