Susan’s Story: I Did It!

Murphy Henry

Murphy Henry

As some of you may know, our musician friends David and Linda Lay host a jam session every Thursday night at their Vegetable Stand on Route 522 North in Winchester. (Shout out: Organic fruits and veggies and grass feed beef! Check ‘em out!) Susan had gone once or twice last year and sent in a blog report. She was Very Brave to go (since she’d only been playing a little more than a year) and found the experience “challenging” to say the least. (There were also some good parts.)

The past few months she and I have been working hard on jamming protocol: how to look up after every chorus to see if you are going to get a break, what the heck IS the chorus and how do you distinguish it from the verse, how to be alert for the upcoming ending. She is making Great Strides and things are Coming Together.

So, last Thursday she went to the jam again. Her first words in an email (subject line: I Did It!) were: I suggested a tune ("I Saw the Light") at the Vegetable Stand Jam, kicked it off with a banjo break, then vamped to Linda Lay's singing of the tune!

She followed that energetic opening with:

I got there a little after 7 and left a little after 8, with my tune being the last one I played. I stood up and vamped and rolled chords to every tune that was played and knew most of them or had heard them at Nancy's jam.

When I asked for more info like what key did Linda sing in and the names of some of the tunes she replied:

Since we had just played a tune in A, I asked her if she wanted G or A; she said that she couldn't sing in either of those keys and laughed. But by that time, I had basically kicked it off in A, so in A she sang. What was so cool, is that up until that time the "audience" just sang along limply to the tunes  that they knew. When we started “I Saw The Light” the crowd really started to sing with energy and volume!

As to other keys, for the hour I stayed, the tunes were in G and A (capo second fret, of course). No C or D or E, however I did see something that I'd never seen before: a man playing guitar, capo 3, using the E-chord shape as G!

I knew it was going to be a good night when they kicked the jam off with "Fireball Mail," but I didn't take a break due to it being a hair too fast for me. Also, being the first song, I needed to settle in a little.

Names of Tunes ?!?!?!?! Was I supposed to remember names of tunes ?!?!?!?! I recognized them, that was about all—"I'll Fly Away" was one. These folks like to sing a lot of gospel stuff which is why I suggested “I Saw The Light.”

Anyway, you may call me Earl Scruggs! a.k.a. Susan 🙂

And there you have it! Susan, I am so proud of you and all the “grunt” work  you have put into learning to jam. Way to go! Other students: Go thou and do likewise! <G>

4 thoughts on “Susan’s Story: I Did It!

  1. Marty Bacon


    Way to go! This is the story I want to report someday. I played with Cheryl yesterday and she wanted to play in C. I can’t even rember the song but I capoed down 5 frets and played the song but there wasn’t much neck left. Keep up the good work. Hope to see you in June.

  2. Susan

    Thanks Murphy and Marty! I hope to see you both in June as well! I have lots of accumulated leave from work, but it is still dependent on the approval of my supervisor. I am doing everything on my end to clear the path for the approval, but…… We’ll see!!!

  3. martha carlton

    The problem I have at jams is coming back in to play the last rendition of a song after everyone else has had a chance to play. By the time it gets back to me, usually, the tune has sped up,or I miss the way to get back into the song. What I do is fake it, i.e. play the generic chords, but, I would still rather be able to come back in and play the song the right way to finish it off properly. Any suggestions?

  4. Susan

    Martha, my recommendation is to do lots a “grunt work” with Murphy! She’ll get you up to speed in no time and have you coming in on your breaks at just the right moment. Of course, it may mean having to come here for one (or two) of her marathon lessons, but well worth the time and money! That’s my 2 cents worth!

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