Tag Archives: flint hill flash

Murphy Henry

Murphy Henry

The nice thing about working at home, as Casey has pointed out, is being able to work in your pajamas. So, here I sit at the computer, in my red pjs with my morning cuppa (tea), writing my blog before I’ve even had breakfast! My tummy protesteth!

This past weekend, as you know, we recorded a new banjo DVD, Beyond Vamping: Fancy Scruggs Backup. This was totally Casey’s idea and her concept of teaching a series of backup licks and then adding them to the same song so you get a whole song’s worth of backup is brilliant. You’re gonna love hearing Casey talk about the “short vamp diddley” and the “long vamp diddley” and what the Flint Hill Flash called the “Townhall Lick.”

My job throughout the shoot, in addition to playing guitar and singing and making sure Casey didn’t accidentally say anything wrong that she didn’t catch herself, was to keep an eye on Earl. Earl? Yes, Earl.

Casey has this wonderful gold necklace (which she wore on the Grand Ole Opry) from which hangs a tiny Earl Scruggs figure, possibly an inch high, with his banjo. What could be more appropriate for a Fancy Scruggs Backup DVD than to have a token of Earl actually in the room?

But a problem surfaced early on. Earl would occasionally be overcome with shyness and turn away from the camera. My job was to make sure Earl was always facing forward. This elicited comments from me such as “Earl’s getting a little sideways there” and “Earl’s a little crooked” and “I think Earl’s giving you a little kiss.” We had a lot of fun with Little Earl. (Which, by the way, is what Red and I named one of the chipmunks in our yard.)

Since my job didn’t require a whole lot of effort once Earl was in position, I took the liberty of writing down a few choice remarks that Casey addresses to the students. Which I will now share (if they pass Casey’s editorial powers!):

About the “long vamp diddley”: That’s a tricky little move. Get the timing in your fingers. I expect you to pause the video and go practice right now!

About the “Townhall Lick”: This lick takes an awful lot of left-hand dexterity.

About the “Cabin in Caroline Lick”: I’m about to sound like a broken record when I say, Get the notes down before you start to worry about the timing.

And my favorite (which she used several times): Take off your ring finger. Perhaps I’ve read the Lord of the Rings trilogy too many times, but each time she said this, I envisioned someone actually taking their ring finger off of their hand. With no help from Gollum!

Place your advance orders now. Operators are standing by. (One of them will be eating breakfast!)

RedFolks who are interested in southeastern folk music may remember Will McLean, the ethnic genius who preceded almost everyone else in the region as a singer-songwriter. I recently came across this photo from 1978, taken at Stephen Foster State Park, in Florida, during a special program for Will:

Will McLean Day

Everybody was having a good time, and there’s a lot of nostalgia in this picture. Many inspiring folk characters are shown, some of whom are now gone forever: our hero Gamble Rogers is standing near the left of the photo; Will McLean himself is near the center; toward the right, in an elaborate old-fashioned dress is "Cousin Thelma" Boltin, the organizer and driving force for many years behind the Florida Folk Festival; and next to her is Don Grooms, the well-known Gainesville-area performer. These folks are all missed.

But speaking of people who are still around, take a look at the right edge of the photo. You'll notice a young couple with their baby. Murphy is holding Casey, who was just 6 months old, and I'm holding my favorite drink, which was a big mason jar full of fresh iced tea. (As you can see from everyone's appearance, it was a warm day.)

Memories abound from this event. Earlier in the afternoon, Murphy and I had had the pleasure of playing a set of music with the great Chubby Anthony playing fiddle. That was certainly a time to remember! And a little later Jim Fee and Bill Pruitt arrived, and Chubby played a set with his own band. That was some powerful music!


(P.S. --- A special note to Banjo Newsletter and Banjo Hangout fans, some of whom have discussed a certain mystery for years: the Flint Hill Flash is in this picture. No, I'm not going to tell you which one he---or she---is!)