Tag Archives: red and murphy and company

Murphy Henry

Murphy Henry

A Few Short Notes by Murphy Henry.

More extensive liner notes will follow, as I have time to write them, but right now...

The Constant Players and Band Members are:

Red Henry: mandolin, fiddle, lead and rhythm guitar

Murphy Hicks Henry: banjo, rhythm guitar

Argen Hicks: bass fiddle [on first three LPs]

Nancy Hicks Pate : rhythm guitar [all LPs except the first]

Laurie Hicks Tanner: bass fiddle [AR-50]

Tuck Tucker: Dobro [last three LPs]
Our first five albums were recorded at the Warehouse Recording Studio in Jacksonville, Florida, with Tom Markham and then Skip Osmundsen engineering. The last two were recorded in our own home studio in Hawthorne, Florida.

Riding Around on Saturday NightRed and Murphy: Riding Around On Saturday Night (1976)
(Arrandem Records, AR 10

Red and Murphy's first LP! Recorded in Jacksonville, Florida, and released on our own Arrandem label. (That's pronounced "R and M" for--guess what?--Red and Murphy!) Our band was a trio at the time, Red, Murphy, and Argen. Features four originals by Murphy and one by Red. The cover photo, taken in front of a Dairy Queen in Gainesville, Florida, is a nod to Murphy's title song. (Wish you could see our red shirts!) Numbers that have held up especially well include Daybreak in Dixie; Shine, Hallelujah, Shine; Flint Hill Special; and California Cottonfields. We could play really fast back then! Bonus cut: This CD includes a 1982 re-recording of Joshua with Mindy Johnson on bass, Tuck Tucker on Dobro, and Nancy Hicks (Pate) singing tenor.


Fast Picks And Hot LicksRed and Murphy & Co: Fast Picks And Hot Licks (1978)
(Arrandem Records, AR 20)

Our band name has expanded to Red and Murphy & Co., and our band has grown to include Nancy Hicks (Pate), who would blossom into an amazing songwriter and singer. We continued to feature our original material with five by Murphy (including the title), an instrumental by Red, one by Nancy, and a gospel co-write by Red and Murphy. We also recorded Hold Back The Waters, written by the legendary Florida folksinger Will McLean. I still love that song! Songs that hold up well: Foggy Mountain Special, Mountain Laurel Man, He Will Set Your Fields On Fire. Grits In The White House, with some pretty clever lyrics, now seems a bit dated, since it refers to President Jimmy Carter!



Pall Mall RedsRed and Murphy & Co: Pall Mall Reds (1979)
(Arrandem Records, AR 30)

We are still the same foursome--Red, Murphy, Argen, Nancy--but we have imported Mike Johnson, Argen's future husband, to add his rock-solid rhythm guitar to the instrumentals. Nine of the thirteen songs are originals. (We were big on originals, figuring they helped set us apart from other regional bands.) The title song, Pall Mall Reds, and the accompanying cover art, reflect a time when smoking, while starting to be seriously frowned on, was not considered heinous. Songs that still amaze me: Hundred And Six Star Rag (how the heck did I play so fast?), Two Of A Kind, The Darling Daughter. Bonus Cut: This CD includes a 1981 re-recording of Pall Mall Reds with Mindy Johnson on bass, Tuck Tucker on Dobro, and Nancy Hicks Pate singing tenor.



My Everyday Silver Is PlasticRed and Murphy & Co: My Everyday Silver Is Plastic (1980)
(Arrandem Records, AR 40)

Our fourth album in five years! Wow! We were between bass players when it was time to record but luckily Murray Ross, who had been playing electric bass with the Front Porch String Band, was between bands! Murray played on eight numbers and he rocked. And he made us rock! This was our best album yet. Most of these songs stayed in our stage repertoire forever. Nine of the eleven songs are original. IMHO, all these songs hold up well, even Lester's Song, which was my  tribute to the late, great Lester Flatt, written the day after he died. C.P. Heaton wrote the excellent liner notes (which we may add later).




I Ain't Domesticated YetRed and Murphy & Co: I Ain't Domesticated Yet (1982)
(Arrandem Records, AR 50)

We now have two new band members, Tuck Tucker on Dobro and youngest sister Laurie Hicks on bass. This is our first album of all-original music, twelve numbers, half of which are instrumentals. Once again, we called on Mike Johnson to play rhythm guitar in the studio and we also used acoustic bass player Neal Thompson on seven cuts. Our band sound is maturing, especially since Red and Nancy and I had been singing together in this band for five years. Our song writing, too, is developing, and I consider these originals some of my best. Red's tune Red Zeppelin (two versions, AM and FM) is also one of his best ever, and the version with just him on mandolin and Neal on bass is stunning.



Just Remember Where You Could BeRed and Murphy & Co: Just Remember Where You Could Be (1983)
(Arrandem Records, AR 60)

Our core band members now consisted of Red, Murphy, Nancy, and Tuck, with various bass players, including Mindy Johnson recording with us, and Mike Johnson again working his magic on rhythm guitar. Laurie had departed for medical school, resulting in the title tune, which Murphy wrote to mark (and mourn) her departure. We feature nine originals along with Bill Monroe's mandolin showpiece, Rawhide and Chubby Anthony's Foothills Of Home. This was the first album we recorded in our own home studio in Hawthorne, Florida.




Real Time ReelRed and Murphy & Co: Real Time Reel (1985)
(Arrandem Records, AR 70)

This was the last vinyl LP Red and Murphy & Co would record. Red, Nancy, Tuck, and I were still the heart of the group, but our old friend Bob "Hig" Higginbotham had joined us on rhythm guitar. The times were a-changin'. After this recording, Nancy would move to Atlanta, and in 1986 Red and I and kids Casey and Chris would move to Winchester, Virginia. Having two kids, Casey and Chris, made it harder to write! Perhaps that's why we have only five originals on this  album. But we continued to pull from the Monroe, Flatt and Scruggs, Stanley, Chubby Anthony catalog. We loved doing our originals songs, but we felt compelled to demonstrate that we had done our homework, had studied those original recordings in depth, and really knew how to pick this music! Red and I might have been college educated and raised "white collar," but we sure felt like we had "redneck in our souls," to borrow one of my own lines!

Here are some clips from YouTube that you may not have seen. (Or you may have if you're an inveterate haunter of YouTube.) This first one comes from The Music Box Project, an oral history project compiling stories of women who play traditional music. Murphy and Red play Murphy's original song "When My Mama Sang To Me" in their studio in Winchester, VA.

This second clip is from the Spirit of the Suwanee festival in 1989. Red and Murphy sing "East Virginia Blues" with Karen Spence on tenor and playing bass, George Custer on fiddle, and Tuck Tucker on dobro.

This third clip is from the same festival. It's Murphy's song "How They Loved to Sing"

RedToday I have a musical memory to share, from one day in 1981 when we played for a REALLY BIG crowd. Our band (Red and Murphy & Co.) performed on a warm spring day in Florida Field (the old University of Florida football stadium) for a crowd of over 22,000 people!

Well, they weren't actually all there just to see us. The event was the annual spring "Orange and Blue" game between the UF football squads, and the Athletics Department decided they'd like some bluegrass music before and after the game and at halftime. Well, this was a new challenge for us. How could we sound good-- with a sound that didn't echo and blur too much-- in that huge stadium, which seated up to 60,000 fans for regular football games? I'd never tried it before, but we just went over there that morning and went to work. We drove our band van out on the field to reach the middle of the "visiting" side of the stadium, where we were going to play, and unloaded the sound equipment. Obviously our own sound system couldn't fill the stadium with music, or even make much difference, so I provided a line feed to the stadium's amplifiers and then set all our own equipment up right in front of us-- facing directly toward the band! That way, even if the sound in the stadium got muddy and echoey, we could hear ourselves no matter what. Then we started playing, and it sounded fine!

Red Henry, Laurie Hicks, Murphy Henry, Nancy Hicks Pate

In this cool photo taken by Jinx McCall, you can see us all facing the crowd. (Murphy sometimes says this is from our better side.) Left to right: Tuck Tucker on dobro, me on mandolin, Laurie Hicks on bass, Murphy on banjo, and Nancy Pate on guitar. We played several numbers before the game started, and sounded good. At halftime we did some more tunes, stopping only when we realized that the teams had run back on the field and started the second half regardless of the fact that we were still playing! Then, after the game, we did a few more numbers and packed it all up. It had been the first (and only) time we played for anything like 22,000 people! Thanks to the UF Athletic Department for a cool gig, and to Jinx for a good picture. And I've forgotten whether the Orange or the Blue side won... but we had a good time.