Tag Archives: ibma

How time does fly! The three months since our last post here have been filled with camps, swimming, a new mandolin DVD release, the IBMA convention, and one huge award for Murphy. The IBMA honored her with a Distinguished Achievement Award recognizing her groundbreaking work writing the history of women playing bluegrass: Pretty Good For A Girl: Women in Bluegrass.  They give out five each year and her co-recipients this year were Pete "Brother Oswald" Kirby, Alison Brown, Steve Martin, and the International Bluegrass Music Museum.

Murphy and Missy

Murphy Henry hugging Missy Raines as she goes to accept her Distinguished Achievement Award. Photo by Ted Lehman.

Missy Raines made the award presentation with a fabulous speech. I knew she would do an amazing job, but I was still blown away by how over-the-top amazing it was.

After the ceremony Murphy got introduced to Steve Martin by Alison Brown (who sits on the board for his Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo) and they got a picture of all three with their awards.

Murphy, Steve, Alison

Murphy Henry, Steve Martin, and Alison Brown with their Distinguished Achievement Awards plaques.

...and their shoes

...and their shoes!

Here is the entire presentation by Missy and Murphy's acceptance speech following. It is a great overview of Murphy's life and career. Her acceptance starts around the 9:00 mark. Thanks to Kathy Holiday for the video work!

Murphy Henry

Murphy Henry

Yee haw! I will be presenting two awards at the IBMA Awards Show this Thursday, October 2. My good friend (really!) Bill Evans will be my co-presenter and we will be handing out the awards for Female Vocalist of the Year and Guitar Player of the Year. Thanks to my other good friend Chris Stuart, one of the show's producers, for asking me to take part in this year's show. (Note: Both Chris and Bill, along with Janet Beazley, are the teachers on our Harmony Singing DVD!)

The Awards Show will be broadcast live on Sirius XM Satellite Radio (Bluegrass Junction) and streamed live at ibma.org. The show starts at 7:30 but that may just be when they want us in our seats! Not sure what time the broadcast itself starts. The online bluegrass magazine Bluegrass Today is a good place to find out more about what's happening, along with the IBMA website.  ...continue reading

Murphy Henry

Murphy Henry

Another interesting Wednesday night jam. Again, we had only three students, Bob Mc, Kathy Hanson, and Bobby, who answered "Yes, dear" to my frantic, last minute call asking him to come to the jam. But small jams are nice because, for one thing, the music has more room to breathe, allowing the jammers to do more than vamp during the vocals.

It only took one vocal number last night for me to realize that the music was empty and flat, devoid of color or nuance. Bobby was singing Little Cabin Home On The Hill and Bob and Kathy were vamping quietly and I was chopping mandolin. There was absolutely nothing else going on while Bobby was singing. And since there were so few of us, the silence was deafening.

So, after the song was over I asked, "Did the music seem empty to you?" Small discussion about what I meant. "Well, it seemed empty to me. Let's do this same song again, but this time I want the banjos to do some backup while Bobby is singing. And since you don't know any real backup [read: fancy Scruggs backup] I want you to quietly play your break while Bobby is singing. You two will have to work out between yourselves who is going to be playing, and who is going to be vamping. You'll have to trade off. And remember: never, ever do this kind of backup in a large jam session. This only works when there are four or five people."

I continued on. "There are a couple of ways you could work this out. One of you could back up the verse and chorus and then trade off or you could trade off  after the verse and let the other one back up the chorus. It's your choice. And also remember, don't play any backup while the other instruments are taking their break. You should be vamping then."

Off we went again, with Bob backing up the vocals first. He chose to back up the verse and chorus. Since the whole concept was so new, I think it was too hard to think of switching off after he'd just gotten started. Then he traded off so Kathy could back up the next verse and chorus. It went very well and I even had to ask them to play louder, a novel concept for banjos!

Naturally, there was a small glitch. Me: "Was someone playing backup while I was taking my mandolin break? Bob: "Guilty! It was me." (I think Bob was having such a good time backing up the vocals that he forgot to move to vamping. Nothing more.)

However, we then had a short discussion about the different ways for a banjo to back up a mandolin in a small group. The way I prefer is to have the banjo vamp. But the more modern way--which comes from the Jimmy Martin school of bluegrass--is to have the banjo continue to roll in first position while the mandolin is taking its break. IMHO, this competes with what the mandolin is doing. (And can drown the mandolin out.) However, if you are in a band and this is the sound you prefer, then go for it. But in a jam, it's best to err on the side of caution and vamp. NOTE TO WOMEN BANJO PICKERS: If you are in a jam and the male banjo players are rolling through the mandolin break, then you should do likewise, even if it seems "wrong" and intrusive. It's a case of when in Rome. To continue to vamp will be seen as a sign of weakness and not knowing how to back up a mandolin.

Now for an abrupt shift in topic....

Later in the jam, Kathy made her debut on the bass. She had recently bought a bass [shout out to Fretwell Bass in southern Virginia] and had been working with our Beginning Bass DVD. Since she plays guitar and banjo and hears her chord changes, bass is coming pretty easy to her. And she has an excellent sense of timing, putting the bass notes--the beat--right in the "pocket" as we call it.

Aside: Someone once explained the concept of "pocket" to me this way. (I think it was Murray Ross, electric bass player with the Front Porch String Band. He played bass on our Everyday Silver album.) He said, "Think of the beat as the letter V. The 'pocket' is the very bottom of that V, right there in the middle. That's where you should put the beat." Of course, there is the whole concept of playing slightly in front of the beat or even slightly behind the beat but that's an extremely advanced concept. I'm not quite sure I understand it myself.

And I wish I had time to tell you all about the IBMA World of Bluegrass in Raleigh. I had a wonderful week with Tip Jar Jammers Kathy Holiday, Kathy Hanson, and Kristina. Right now I just want to close out with a shout out to IBMA Banjo Player of the Year, Mike Munford, from Baltimore.

Here is my favorite Mike Munford story: It was Sunday, the last day at the Maryland Banjo Academy, which was put on by Banjo Newsletter in Buckeystown, Md. All the instructors were gathered in a big room to do some picking together for the students. Present were: Eddie Adcock, Martha Adcock (the only other woman, on rhythm guitar), Bill Emerson, Mike Munford, me, and several other local banjo players. I didn't know Mike very well, but playing in the company of Eddie Adcock and Bill Emerson was pretty intimidating for me. I was afraid they would choose something difficult to play and, God knows, they could have. But, bless their hearts, they stuck to three-chord banjo tunes like Lonesome Road Blues. I loved them for that. But here you have this line of banjo players, all taking lead breaks, one at a time. Most of us vamped quietly in the background when it wasn't our turn to play lead. But Mike Munford stopped playing entirely and listened to what the other players were doing. I have never forgotten that. He is a Prince of a Fellow (as Big Dalton would say) and I am so glad he was named IBMA Banjo Player of the Year. Congratulations, Mike!

Red Henry

Again this year, for I-don't-know-how-many-years-in-a-row, we set up a booth for the IBMA Fan Fair. The Nashville Convention Center was a busy place, with plenty of bands, dealers, instrument makers, and fans on hand for the weekend. After Lynn Morris won an IBMA Distinguished Achievement Award (see Casey's post just below) and her husband Marshall Wilburn was voted Bass Player of the Year, we were especially proud to be offering Lynn's clawhammer-instruction DVDs and Marshall's bass-teaching DVDs as well.

Red Henry at the Murphy Method IBMA booth.

Red Henry at the Murphy Method IBMA booth.

Casey and I and our friend, festival promoter Patty Pullen, were our on-site staff for the weekend. Folks were picking up Murphy Method DVDs all across the board-- banjo, guitar, mandolin, fiddle, bass, and Dobro too. It was a good weekend for us, and it was great to see so many of our DVDs going home with our Murphy Method students, many of whom we met this weekend for the first time.

A special highlight of the trip for me was watching Casey playing banjo for the Dixie Bee-Liners in their showcase set on Friday. The room was full, the band was "on," and the music was Mighty Fine. (They'd played some showcases after midnight earlier in the week, but I didn't manage to stay up that late!)

I ought to send some special thanks to Bob Fehr and the Martin Guitar folks for setting out so many nice new guitars for people to play-- there was a particularly-amazing "sunburst" D-28 that showed how Martin is making them as well as ever-- and also to Stan Werbin of Elderly Instruments, who invited me to play the A-5 mandolin. (More on that later.)

If you've never been to IBMA, you might like to be there sometime. Think about it.


Casey Henry

Last week at the International Bluegrass Music Association conference our favorite clawhammer banjo instructor Lynn Morris received a Distinguished Achievement Award from the organization in recognition for her illustrious career in the bluegrass music business. From her early days in the City Limits Bluegrass Band through Whetstone Run and her own Lynn Morris Band, Lynn has always striven for perfection. That dedication paid off when she was the first woman to win the National Banjo Championship at Winfield, Kansas, and again a few years later when she was the first person ever to take the title twice. She was named IBMA Female Vocalist of the Year three times and her band put out five superlative albums. She was at the height of her career when she suffered a stroke, which robbed her of her ability to speak and play. Since then she has worked tirelessly, with tremendous strength and determination, to recover what she lost. She has regained so much ground; we are so proud of her. Currently Lynn works as the sound engineer on the road with Bill Emerson and Sweet Dixie.

This video is of most of her acceptance speech at the Special Awards Ceremony at IBMA on September 30, 2010. I missed the first bit. (Sorry!)

Casey Henry

Today kicks off the week-long International Bluegrass Music Association Trade Show and Fan Fest in Nashville, Tenn. In conjunction with this WAMU's Bluegrass Country is broadcasting live from Nashville. The Dixie Bee-Liners (with Casey Henry on banjo) will be playing some tunes from 5:00-5:30 Eastern Time this afternoon. You can listen online at bluegrasscountry.org.

If you're going to be in town for the convention, the band is also playing some late-night showcases during the week. They schedule can be found here.

Casey Henry

Last year
, Murphy listed the women who made it onto the second IBMA awards ballot in the instrumental performers category. There were eighteen, in contrast to a decade ago, when there were only five. Since I just filled out this year's ballot (and since she's busy working on her book and probably hasn't even looked at her ballot yet), let's take a look at who made the cut this year.

For Banjo Player of the Year

Kristin Scott Benson
Alison Brown
Cia Cherryholmes

For Bass Player of the Year

Missy Raines
Christy Reid

For Fiddle Player of the Year

Becky Buller
Molly Cherryholmes
Shelby Gold
Alison Krauss

(Same four people as last year, interestingly enough)

For Mandolin Player of the Year

Brooke Aldridge
Analise Gold
Sierra Hull

Twelve people, which pretty much splits the difference between last year and a decade ago. You'll notice that no guitar players or dobro players made it at all. New entries this year are Brooke Aldridge, who plays with her husband Darin, and Christy Reid, who plays with her husband Lou in his band, Lou Reid and Carolina. Congratulation to these gals, who are getting out, playing in front of people, and really making an impression.

And since we're talking about instrumental performers, here are the bands that include women who made it into the Instrumental Group of the Year category: Darin and Brooke Aldridge, Cherryholmes, the Grascals, Lorraine Johnson and Carolina Road, the Claire Lynch Band, and Rhonda Vincent and the Rage. Not a bad turn out!

The group I play with, The Dixie Bee-Liners, actually made it onto the ballot in a couple of categories: Vocal Group of the Year, and Emerging Artist of the Year. Go us!

Red Henry

Red Henry

Folks, Murphy and I have arrived safely back in Winchester after an excellent International Bluegrass convention. A highlight for us was to see Casey's set with The Dixie Bee-Liners on Saturday, along, of course, with seeing many old friends, some of whom we only run into each year at IBMA.

Since I'm a mandolin player, I'm glad to report that the mandolin-making world is alive and well. There were LOTS of excellent mandolins for sale at the convention booths, a suitable testimony that this really is the golden age of mandolin building.

Not all of the mandolins for sale were new ones. One booth with quite a few older mandolins was Elderly Instruments. Stan and his crew had brought (along with lots of new instruments) several old Gibsons, including an F-2, an F-4, and two F-5s. One of the F-5s was from 1927, and the other one was signed and dated on the label: July 9th, 1923.

In case that date doesn't ring a bell, it's the same day that Bill Monroe's famous old F-5 was signed and dated. However, this instrument of Elderly's looked about the opposite of Bill Monroe's. Bill's mandolin is so beat up that one instrument expert said it looked like it had been "dragged along behind the car on a doggie leash." This F-5 at Elderly, on the other hand, was really pristine---played very little, and preserved in extremely nice condition for 86 years. (Sounded mighty fine, too.)

I spent a little while visiting with Bob Fehr at the Martin Guitars booth. He had a great many innovative new models on display along with Martin's traditional line, and I wasn't disappointed by a single one. The Martin company is doing a fine job these days.

There were also a whole lot of really fine banjos for sale, by a lot of companies. I could spend a while just naming them. There was the First Quality company with their excellent Sullivan banjos. There was Steve Huber with his genuinely prewar-sounding tone rings and banjos. There were Nechville banjos and Recording King banjos and Gold Tone banjos and a great many more. If you ever would like to find yourself a banjo, you might come to the IBMA convention, and just go around and play every banjo there! It won't take but a day or two to find the one you like best!

The same thing goes for anyone who needs a string bass. There was one company there with thirteen (yes, THIRTEEN) basses on display, and I expect that every one of them was for sale.

I’d brought a couple of mandolins with me (to play, not to sell!) but since I had to watch our own Murphy Method booth a good part of the time, I didn't do a great deal of picking. But what I did was fun. Thanks to those who participated. We'll look forward to more next year.

Casey Henry

Casey Henry

Being, as I am, now deep in the middle of the International Bluegrass Music Association convention here in Nashville, means I'm too tired to write anything coherent. So, in lieu of words, a picture of The Dixie Bee-Liners playing Monday (28 Sept) live on WAMU's Bluegrass Country.

Casey Henry, Buddy Woodward, Jeremy Darrow, Brandi Hart, Rachel Johnson and Robin Davis in WAMU's remote studio in the Renaissiance Hotel in Nashville, TN.

Casey Henry, Buddy Woodward, Jeremy Darrow, Brandi Hart, Rachel Johnson and Robin Davis in WAMU's remote studio in the Renaissiance Hotel in Nashville, TN.

I'm also covering the convention for the Bluegrass Blog. So far I've written about the Grascals new sponsor, and about Monday's late-night showcases. Please check them out, if you feel so inclined!