Tag Archives: Ned Luberecki

Murphy Henry

So, my banjo student Mark comes in yesterday for his lesson with a story to tell. He says he was driving home from work, listening to my CD, M and M Blues, which I had given him on our shared birthday, May 18. It was not his first listen, of course, so it didn’t hurt my feelings when he said he’d gotten tired of listening to me and, wishing for a change, had turned the CD player off and turned his radio on. Much to his jaw-dropping surprise, there I was again, playing “John Hardy,” my name glowing cheerfully at him from the digital display. “Turn me off, will you?” I seemed to be chuckling. “I don’t think so!” Needless to say, Mark was a little freaked. Apparently the Universe was thinking, naw, you really haven’t heard enough of Murphy!

So many thanks to either Chris Jones or Ned Luberecki, two of the DJs on the Sirius XM show, “Bluegrass Junction,” for playing “John Hardy,” which is one of the cuts on the Stelling Anthology CD. Mark was also mightily impressed by the bass playing on that tune which was done by my fav-o-rite bass player of all time, Casey Henry! I might also mention that Ned has a couple of dynamite tunes on that same CD, with the extremely clever titles “Emergency Pulloff” and “Nedscape Navigator.”

I now return to my previous engagement, writing the General Store column for Bluegrass Unlimited. This short blog was brought to you by a cup of instant Starbucks! Buzz!

Casey Henry

Casey Henry

The day before we Dixie Bee-Liners left for our trip to Arkansas and Oklahoma last week, we paused in Nashville to visit with Ned Luberecki at the Sirius/XM studios. The studio is in the tower attached to the arena in downtown Nashville (which used to be the Gaylord Entertainment Center, and then the Sommet Center, and now is the Bridgestone Arena) and the windows look down over lower Broadway. You can see the Ryman and all the tourists visiting Tootsie's, Robert's Western Wear, and the Ernest Tubb Record Shop. It's pretty cool.

Rachel Johnson, Casey Henry, Ned Luberecki, Brandi Hart, Buddy Woodward, and Sav Sankaran at the Sirius/XM studio in Nashville.

Rachel Johnson, Casey Henry, Ned Luberecki, Brandi Hart, Buddy Woodward, and Sav Sankaran at the Sirius/XM studio in Nashville.

We taped Ned's "Derailed" show, which is the newgrass show that airs on Saturday nights. (...that was last Saturday, so don't be tuning in this weekend expecting to hear us. That ship has sailed...) We just talked on this visit, no playing, though Ned did play a bunch of tracks from the new "Susanville" CD.

There was much hilarity as we told the stories behind the songs on the album. Apparently the song "Trixie's Diesel Stop Cafe" was inspired by a truck stop in Madison, TN, which is where I live. I need to get them to tell me which one it is so I can point it out to people!

Radio these days is all done by computer. For Ned's show, and the rest of the shows on satellite radio, he just records the talking bits, which are then assembled in order between the songs before it goes out to listeners. So recording a show takes much less than real-time.

In our second radio experience of the weekend, which was on 105.1 The Wolf in Little Rock, AR, we played some tunes live in the studio. But they weren't quite broadcast live. We were actually recording the music, and it went out over the air a few minutes later. So we played the first song, which was "Down on the Crooked Road," and then switched instruments and were tuning up for the next number when we heard ourselves start playing "Crooked Road" on the monitor speakers, which was what the radio listeners were hearing at that moment. It was pretty neat, actually.

When we got done playing our three songs and had loaded up in the van to drive to the evening venue, we heard ourselves as we were driving out of the parking lot playing "Heavy" on the air. With the tape delay, the DJ could even edit the track before it was broadcast, so when he mispronounced one our our names, he just clipped it out and it sounded like he said it perfectly the first time. Amazing.

We expect to do more radio appearances in the coming months, like before our April 17th Knoxville gig, so I'll let you know when you can tune us in!

We just couldn't hold it in any longer. We had to let our true selves show!

We just couldn't hold it in any longer. We had to let our true selves show!

Casey Henry

Casey Henry

This week I’ve had the distinct pleasure of seeing two duo shows, both featuring the banjo. Sunday night the Fiddle and Pick in Pegram, Tenn, hosted Bill Evans and Megan Lynch, a.k.a. BEML. I’ve seen them do their duo thing on at least one previous occasion. It is great and hilarious. They always make a joke out of how many different banjos Bill feels the need to carry around the country with him. At this show three different banjos made an appearance: his Granada, a cello banjo, and an electric banjo that actually sounded really cool. I’m not generally a fan of electric banjos, but this one totally worked.

Megan Lynch, singing the awesome song about the boxer Sonny Liston, accompanied by Bill Evans on electric banjo. Yes -- electric banjo.

Megan Lynch, singing the awesome song about the boxer Sonny Liston, accompanied by Bill Evans on electric banjo. Yes -- electric banjo.

Megan does most of the singing and much of the pithy stage banter while Bill mostly tunes. JUST KIDDING! Bill has pithy stage banter, too. And sings. Actually, when there are only two people on stage, there is little space for tuning. You can’t just step back from the mic during a song to touch up a string that has slipped. You have to roll with it. For the sake of the show you have to pretend that absolutely nothing is wrong, even if one string is making you cringe. The audience mostly can’t tell the difference, and the people who CAN tell the difference understand exactly what it going on.

Megan Lynch and Bill Evans, with the cello banjo.

Megan Lynch and Bill Evans, with the cello banjo.

On the last song, Bill’s third string slipped and was noticeably flat. He didn’t even flinch a little bit. It was exactly how an out of tune instrument should be handled. I was watching and wondering, though, what he was going to do about the final note. They were in G, so that third string was going to be the last thing we heard. When he got there he did what I was hoping he’d do: played it on the fifth fret of the fourth instead of the open third. In tune!

BEML, or in this case, MLBE, which doesn't sound nearly as cool when you try to say it.

BEML, or in this case, MLBE, which doesn't sound nearly as cool when you try to say it.

BEML has been touring a lot lately, so if they’re near you, or a couple or four hours away, so see them! They often do some sort of workshop in conjunction with their show---education and entertainment in one package. Such a deal.

The second duo act was the relatively new pairing of Ned Luberecki and Stephen Mougin: Nedski and Mojo. They played the relatively new Wednesday night radio/live show at the Loveless Café called Music City Roots. It’s broadcast on WSM and has a format similar to the Grand Ole Opry. The two-hour show had five acts. Jim Lauderdale was the host, Eddie Stubbs was the radio announcer, and journalist Craig Havinghurst did short interview segments with the artists during the stage set-up time.

Stephen Mougin and Ned Luberecki

Stephen Mougin and Ned Luberecki

Nedski and Mojo’s segment was only three songs long, but they packed a lot of entertainment into a short time. Stephen is an amazing singer and guitar player, and Ned can do just about anything on the banjo, but what sets them apart is their sense of humor. They sang Ned’s original song, “Cabin of Death,” which, as he says, is the perfect bluegrass song since it features a cabin, family, a hill, and people dying. I’ve seen him sing it many times now, but this time it had an added bonus: the perfect banjo lick bit.

While Stephen keeps time on the guitar, Ned explains about the perfect banjo lick, which is the choke that starts out the high break of Foggy Mountain Breakdown---the one that is Ralph Stanley’s signature lick. It’s perfect because it will work over any chord, which Ned proceeded to demonstrate: G (yep), C (yep), D (yep). But those were easy. F (surprisingly, yep). Bb (mmmm, a stretch, but yep). B. B? (not so much). The almost perfect banjo lick!

Nedski and Mojo. Yes, they have fun on stage.

Nedski and Mojo. Yes, they have fun on stage.

It cracked me up. And Ned tied it in nicely on the big jam song at the end, which was really loud and raucous because everybody was on stage at once. I could hear Ned over on his end of the stage, wailing away on the perfect lick, and it worked in every chord.

Nedski and Mojo tour sporadically, since they have to fit dates in between Stephen’s regular gig playing with the Sam Bush band and Ned’s regular gig playing with Chris Jones and the Nightdrivers, but they are well worth keeping an eye out for!