This was supposed to be easy!

Red HenryWe recently played a gig here in Winchester which will live in memory. A local organization called us to provide some bluegrass music for an hour during their annual picnic---obviously, a pleasant event. We'd need to set up our sound system, and their music budget was not up to our usual price, but what the heck. It was a picnic at the city park, and they only wanted an hour of music. So we took the job.

Since the budget was a bit low, our band consisted of only three people: Murphy, myself, and our Cousin David. We don't need any more people to sound good, so we were really looking forward to the gig. Then, on the morning of the job, it started to rain. Lightly. But wetly.

What fun is this? Fortunately, I'd loaded part of the sound system the day before, but now I loaded the rest into the van in the rain, along with our instruments. We drove over to the park in plenty of time, but then found that we couldn't park close to where we needed to play---we'd need to move the sound equipment about 100 feet from where we'd parked. And it was still drizzling. Fortunately, I'd brought along our hand-truck, so somewhat tediously (and damply), we got the sound system moved into place and set up, and got our instruments out and in tune.

Then the person who hired us made a special request: Could the people speaking at the event use our sound system? Well, sure. I rigged up a separate mike for them to use, and after an introduction, a Local Dignitary began to speak.

Cousin David wasn't there yet, having to deal that morning with something involving children and dentists. But he was on the way. (Cell phones can often reduce anxiety.) As our time to play approached, I enjoyed listening to the Local Dignitary speak at some length---the longer, the better! Finally, a few minutes before we needed to start, in came Cousin David. No problem. He was ready to play in a flash.

Our time came to start, and we kicked things off with "Lonesome Road Blues," singing three or four verses and getting warmed up. We wanted to play things that this non-bluegrass crowd might recognize, so we laid it on: Wreck of the Old 97... Mountain Dew... Salty Dog... Wabash Cannonball... Columbus Stockade Blues... one old favorite after another. The crowd applauded politely after each number, to the extent they could while eating their picnic lunch.

We finished up our hour of playing as Murphy sang "When the Roll is Called Up Yonder," and began taking our sound system down. But no---there were some door prizes to give out, so the organizers still needed the PA to be working. I disconnected what I could so that we could start loading. I took down the monitor speakers, the monitor amplifier, and all the microphones, cords, and stands except for the one mike in use, and we wheeled out the hand truck and loaded all those items into our vehicle. The rain was still falling. so the hand truck was a bit tricky to use, now that the ground was squishy. But I didn't drop any speakers. (Well, maybe once.) Finally, after another 30 minutes or so, the door prizes were all distributed and the final remarks had been made. We disconnected our big speakers, rolled up the cords, loaded the speakers and the big amplifier on the hand truck one piece at a time, and put that stuff in the van too. Wetly.

Back at the house, we got the equipment moved inside through the drizzle, and put it away. The job had been two or three times as much work as I'd bargained for. I was wiped out for the rest of the day. I hadn't anticipated the rain, and mostly because of it, the job was NOT as easy as I'd thought it would be. But we do this because it's fun!

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About Red Henry

Began playing mandolin, guitar, fiddle, and banjo in 1967-69. I married Murphy in 1974. We led the Red & Murphy bluegrass band, playing professionally, from 1975-87. Since then I've handled the technical side of Murphy Method cassette, videotape, and DVD production. When you call I usually answer the phone, and I'm normally the one who sends out the orders.