Tag Archives: tip-jar jam

Murphy Henry

Murphy Henry

Gotta be a quickie this morning. I've gotta have what's called a "yag" done on my left eye. Short explanation: I had cataract surgery done a little over a year ago, and a membrane has grown back somewhere in there which makes it hard for me to drive at night. So, the doc is removing it with a laser. I had my right eye done last week, and it was a piece of cake, so hope this one will go well, also. I don't even need anyone to drive me home!

We had a whopping nine people at the jam last night! Six banjos--Doug, Ben (welcome back!), Scott, Batty Betty, Kathy G, Kasey (ditto!)--along with Bobby and Janet on guitars and Kenney on bass. Batty Betty acquired that nickname right now, since I object to Bobby's new nickname for her, which is Queenie. (As in Queen of sucking up to me!) Bobby was doing some of his own sucking up yesterday on the phone. The problem is, when people say all these nice things about me to me I don't hear it as sucking up, I just hear it as them stating the facts. (!!!) So, that's what I was hearing from Bobby--he was saying he thought I had mellowed some down through the years. He's the one who called it sucking up and said, "Don't tell Betty." I told him, truthfully, I never thought of that. But since he mentioned it, naturally, I'd have to tell the world! ...continue reading

Murphy Henry

Murphy Henry

Since the subject of this blog is family, I'll share this picture to start with. I took it to send to Ben who's been at the beach for the last week with all his kids and grandkids. He says he's been practicing banjo every day!

Kenney, Betty, Janet, Bobby

Kenney, Betty, Janet, Bobby

You know, the more we jam, the more we become like one, big happy family, complete with sniping. Before we even got started last night Bobby was ragging Betty about being a "suck up" for saying all those nice things about me in the blog. I told Bobby that somebody had to make up for all the grief he gives me and that I loved the comments. I said I couldn't get enough of them. So when Val posted a comment today about Kaufman Kamp saying, "What an honor to have your guidance. Thank you for another amazing week. You are an inspiration!" naturally I had to text that to Betty and Bobby! (Thanks, Val. Your singing was pretty amazing too!) Betty responded thusly: "Ha, ha. I hope he doesn't have that person's contact info." I haven't heard from Bobby yet, but I'll see him this afternoon for his lesson... ...continue reading

Murphy Henry

Murphy Henry

Bass players are the unsung heroes of jam sessions. (Couldn't find an gender-neutral word that worked there....) Tuesday night Kenney did an especially good job of "putting the bottom in the band," as we say. First of all, at his lesson right before the jam, he had played Amazing Grace and Farther Along almost flawlessly. Three-quarter (3/4) time--also called "waltz time" or "boom-chuck-chuck" time--can be tricky because it's so slow. On the bass the notes seem interminable, with large spaces in between. The count is "ONE, two, three; ONE, two, three..." and you play a note only on the "ONE" and there is silence on the "two, three." So, it's easy to lose track on the chord progression. But Kenney is a-gettin' 'er, as we say here.

But at the Tuesday night jam, for whatever reason, we didn't get to either of these songs. Still, Kenney outdid himself on the other songs, which is to say, he played so well we didn't even notice him--high praise for a bass player! (You can see why I was never satisfied being a bass player!) He didn't even bat an eye or make a peep when I chose to sing I Saw The Light in the key of A. (We normally do it in C or G.) When the song was over, I meant to compliment Kenney but I got distracted and forgot. ...continue reading

Murphy Henry

Murphy Henry

Is this a perfect title, or what? Of course, it will only have resonance or poignancy if you know the song. Irregardless (as we say here in the Valley when we can't decide between "irrespective" and "regardless"!), are these not the cutest little boys you have ever seen? (Of course, all little kids are adorable, I just happen to be partial to these because they are holding a fiddle and a banjo!)

Two Little Boys: Reece and Drew

Two Little Boys: Rhys and Drew

Brothers Drew and Rhys have been to the jam before, but not in a while and they have obviously been practicing! Drew takes from Casey and Rhys takes from David McLaughlin. I've asked David to show Rhys a lot of the tunes that we are playing in the jam, and David has obliged so Rhys now plays Banjo In The Hollow, Cripple Creek, Cumberland Gap, and Foggy Mountain Breakdown in addition to some of the singing songs. Drew can play all the tunes on Beginning Banjo Volume 1, all the Misfit tunes, and will start work on Old Joe Clark next. Both boys keep excellent time and can play their tunes both slow and fast. ...continue reading

Murphy Henry

Murphy Henry

Last night we welcomed Kristina and her mandolin back to the jam. It's been a while since we've had heard her steady chop which is always a nice addition to the rhythm section. Ben, on bass, supplied the downbeat, Kathy G, Dan, and Kasey (looking Pretty in Pink) tickled the fives, and Bob and Diane played lead guitars.

With this combination of players we were able to stretch out and play Soldier's Joy in D since Kasey and Dan play it on banjo, Kristina plays it on mandolin, and Bob plays it on guitar. To play Earl Scruggs' version of Soldier's Joy, which is what we teach, you have to tune the fourth string of the banjo down two frets AND capo all the strings up two frets, which of course causes major retuning problems. Therefore it's always a good idea to play other D tunes once you've gone to all that trouble! So Kasey and Dan also played Liberty. (Kasey can also play Arkansas Traveler, so better start working on that, Dan!) Then, in the interest of minimizing tuning problems we went to A, which meant we were still capoed two, but were now playing in G position. All the banjo players had to do was pull the fourth string up to the correct note which was E. I'm sure that is clear as mud! ...continue reading

Murphy Henry

Murphy Henry

Just when I was thinking that we'd have the same folks for the Tip Jar Jam that we had last Tuesday (Janet, Kenney, Doug, Betty) in walks Bob Mc. He was here for his last jam before he heads back to Florida. I was going to call him a "snowbird" but he actually lives down there full time now. He just came back for our Apple Blossom Festival. 

Betty, bless her heart, had a terrible case of laryngitis and literally could not talk. We used hand signals to decide which tunes she would play. At one point, I said, "Hold up one finger if you want to play Worried Gal and hold up two fingers if you want to play Two Dollar Bill." She held up one finger but it wasn't the finger I was expecting! She got the message across! She is eloquent even when she can't speak aloud.  ...continue reading

Murphy Henry

Murphy Henry

Sometimes smaller is better. Although "better" is not quite the right word. (I just used that to get your attention!) Perhaps it's more accurate to say sometimes smaller is a different kind of fun. (!!) Last night we had four folks at the Tip Jar Jam--Kenney, Janet, Betty, and Doug--and we made some excellent music.

I knew Betty and Doug (banjos) would both be at the jam so my plan (which I was formulating during Kenney's lesson, which made me forget the chord changes to Farther Along!) was this: Since Betty is an Advanced Beginner (not improvising yet) and Doug is just plain old Advanced I figured we'd alternate our banjo tunes, doing one slow for Betty and then another fast for Doug. I mentioned this at the beginning of the jam so everyone would know they would be getting their turn. ("Getting my turn" is very important to me--the oldest of five sisters!) So for our first song, I asked Betty to kick off Banjo In The Hollow. Which she did. And let me tell you, she put some fire into it! As Hank Snow said, we were moving on! Kenney and Janet and I were shelled shocked because we saw Betty when she first came to the jam, knees knocking and finger trembling. Hence Kenney's comment when we finished: "Betty's slow isn't slow anymore!"  ...continue reading

Murphy Henry

Murphy Henry

Tuesday's Tip Jar Jam was kinda light--Ben, Kasey, and Scott--so Ben picked up the bass and turned the jam into a two-hour long bass lesson for himself! Nice trick, Ben. I hope that counts against all the snow plowing you did for us this winter! And the grass mowing you did Monday! Seriously, I was glad to have Ben pounding out the "I, IV, V" and I made sure to give him a workout by singing plenty of songs in the keys of B and B-flat which have NO OPEN STRINGS on the bass. (They also happen to be great keys for me to sing in! So we even did Crying Holy Unto The Lord, so Scott could play his J.D. Crowe break!)

Things got even "funner" when Kasey played See Ya Tonight, a Scotty McCreery song she's been working on in A. I'd never heard the song, but with the small jam I thought we could give it a try. Plus that, I'd do anything for our Banjo Fashionista, who was decked out in a hot pink skirt, a big gold necklace, and WHITE CONVERSE ALL-STARS! ...continue reading

Murphy Henry

I wish I could tell you what Kathy G said as she left the Tip Jar Jam last night. But since this is a family-type blog (with the occasional cuss) I will paraphrase:

Hooray, hooray, the first of May
Outdoor pickin' starts today!

We had TEN people at the jam last night, including Drew (banjo) and Reece (fiddle) and their dad, Jason on guitar. Drew and Reece are probably about 10 or 11, maybe 12, and they are doing incredibly well on their instruments. (Yeah, I know, they are kids, what do you expect!) But what I like is that they fit into the jam well, and don't have to be pampered. If I ask them to play, they play and if they can't play, they sit quietly and Drew even vamps, mostly. (I've told you about them before, and even posted a picture of Drew, but it's been a while. Glad to have you boys back!) ...continue reading

Murphy Henry

Murphy Henry

Okay, I'm guessing not too many of you are familiar with the movie the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. Cute Chick Flick. Nevertheless, the young women in the movie--all dear friends--take turns wearing and then sharing this one pair of pants which seems to bring them luck. Don't worry, no pants were shared at the Tip Jar Jam!

It all started with Ben, of course. Last week, he was taking his lesson with Casey, playing Liberty and doing it just fine (according to him), when all of a sudden he notices Casey's red socks, with the green toes and heels, tapping away. For some reason this completely distracts him from his playing and Liberty comes to a grinding halt. Or as he put it, "Plain socks and tapping foot. No problem. Bright colorful socks and tapping foot. Too much. Screwed me up."

To which I replied, "Pitiful excuse Lamest excuse I ever heard."

And then I got an idea....  ...continue reading