Teaching at the Barber Shop Winding Down

Murphy HenrySort of a sad day here. Brill’s Barber Shop and Musician’s Shop where I have taught for the last 22 years is now empty. All the guitars that were hanging up—attached by metal shower curtain hooks and dangling from a long metal pipe attached to the wall---are gone. The shelves filled with CDs and cassettes are now empty. The pegboard that held strings, capos, kazoos, and a musical saw is now barren. All the banjos had made their departures earlier, purchased by lucky students who got some really good deals.

The talking moose, Buck, given to Dalton on his birthday by David McLaughlin and Marshall Wilborn, has found another home. (“What am I gonna do with that?” Dalton asked. “I’ll have to put it up somewhere.” He ended up having loads of fun with it, teasing the little kids who came in for hair cuts by going out in the hall and making Buck talk to them with the remote microphone.) The jackalope that Lynn Morris gave him has also been hauled away. Even the old-fashioned barber chairs are gone. My friend Patty Henry bought the ancient cash register. Dalton never rang up any sales on it, he just kept his money in there. The drawer opened when you pulled the handle. I’m glad it found a loving owner.

This was the first time I had seen the shop empty. The auctioneers loaded things up while we were out of town for Thanksgiving. I came in today to get a few of my things out and as I stared at the empty showcase and the walls devoid of pictures, I thought of a great song we used to sing at our regular Wednesday night concerts in the basement of the shop. It was called “There Was An Auction At The Homeplace” and it was written by Mike Henderson, of Shepardstown, West Virginia. One of the most poignant phrases to me has always been “the house’s heart was empty.” That’s the way the barber shop felt today. The auctioneers had come, they’d “put everything in boxes,” and they’d hauled a life away.

One of the few things remaining is my little table where I keep all my teaching stuff—Banjo Newsletters, picks, bracket wrenches, tiny screw drivers, wire cutters, cassette players, blank cassettes, Murphy Method DVDs, CDs to give away. It’s very crowded. I’ll be teaching in the empty shop though December while I look for a new location in which to ply my trade. I’ll have to dig up a couple of chairs, though. Those are gone, too. But maybe, just maybe, I’ll put up a Christmas tree.

One thought on “Teaching at the Barber Shop Winding Down

  1. TamZeb

    Hi Murphy..

    I have been following your writings on Dalton Brill’s Barber Shop and the end of an era working from the basement Musician’s Workshop. I guess many hundreds of your students have passed through the workshop on their way to stardom and share in your love and fond memories of the place and of Dalton. I am sure Dalton will appreciate the twinkling lights on your Christmas tree brightening up the celler but why not go the whole hog and have a Christmas Reunion in his memory. I guess time is short and you wont be able to round up all your students but if you recorded the event on video and posted it on YouTube many more of your students could share in the experience.

    From what I have read on this blog about Dalton’s character he certainly seemed like a man who enjoyed a good party.

    Merry Christmas to you and the family…

    Regards Tam

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