No Hiding Place

Murphy Henry

Murphy Henry

Greetings from Florida! Our whole family is down here celebrating Red’s mom’s 85th birthday. Last night Casey cooked the most stupendous birthday supper for us, complete with an Italian Cream birthday cake. This morning she made poppy seed muffins. I could make this whole blog about the food that Casey has cooked, but instead will now turn my attention to telling you about the second jam with my newest group of Misfits.

You may recall that last time we had four students present: Zach, Judy, Randy, and Matt. This time Matt was sick (dare I say he was sick of learning “Boil Them Cabbage Down”?) but the others were present along with Kim and Bill on bass. Along with an audience of Zach’s parents, his aunt, and his little cousin.

Zach had had his lesson the hour before the jam and I took my requisite Nature break before we got started. This time when I returned to the room, the students were at least talking to each other. Or maybe it was just Kim, breaking the ice.

My goal at this jam was to get us through Foggy Mountain Breakdown. By now, everyone had learned it even though I’d just showed most of them the vamp chords a few days earlier. (I will have to say that my new idea to have the students actually memorize the vamp chords to these first songs is really working well. Wish I’d thought of that years ago.)

We started out with that tired and true favorite Banjo in the Hollow. (NOTE: did I just type “tired and true”?? Yes, I did! Hmmm, I guess, as my brother-in-law says, “Freud lives!” I meant, of course, tried and true!) Again, I had Zach kick off all the songs—rather than letting everyone have a turn--because, again, it adds some structure and consistency to the format. And he does such a good job. We followed that with Cripple Creek and Boil Them Cabbage. I wish I could report some fireworks or major meltdowns (just for the drama) but, from my point of view, everyone played very well. (I’m sure all of them would tell a different story!) No, they didn’t play perfectly, and yes, everyone missed a few vamp chords, and Randy did have to adjust the timing on his entrance to Cripple Creek (reverting back to his original version rather than the Earl Way he was trying to work in), but all in all everyone seemed to understand the gist of the songs and recover from their mistakes which is all I am ever looking for in a Misfit jam.

We skipped Cumberland Gap (which seems to always get short shrift) in order to get to Foggy Mountain Breakdown. After we played it slow, I turned Zach loose for a Very Fast Version which he managed to hold together until his third break when he rushed through that open fourth string note at the beginning of the D lick and ended up finishing before I did. I told him there was no prize for getting there first and he just grinned. He was playing his new Gold Star banjo and his playing has really taken a jump since he moved up from his starter instrument.

We had just enough time left to slide in I Saw The Light, which we did as an instrumental. So all in all, we got through five songs. And a great big Thank You to Bill, whose bass playing was a welcome addition.

I am so proud of all these students not only for the hard work they do on their own time, but for their willingness come to out and lay it all on the line (as the Kendalls sang in “The Pittsburgh Stealers”) in front of the other students. As the old gospel song says, “There’s no hiding place down here!”

And now it’s time for Casey and me (not I!) to take a beach walk. Wish you were here!

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