First Gig As A Grandma

Murphy Henry

As you have probably figured out from the lack of blogs coming from me, I am still in Nashville helping Casey take care of little Dalton. (Who is cute as a bug in a rug, of course!) But last night I ventured out of the house to play a gig with my son, Chris.

Chris had told me he was playing on Saturday night at The Five Spot so I had told him I’d love to come down and watch since the show started early (8 pm) and only lasted for an hour. (I had to get back to take the night shift of Dalton watching so Casey could sleep some.) Chris then asked if I’d like to bring my banjo and get up and play a number or two. Sure, I said, since the gig seemed informal and the band seemed to be a pickup band. Then, just as I had settled down for my afternoon nap Chris called again and said that there really wasn’t a banjo player available and did I want to play the whole hour. I asked two questions: Did he think I would fit in with the rest of the players? And would they be playing standards? He said yes to both so I said, Okay, I’ll do it.

Fortunately the Five Spot, a local, funky East Nashville bar, was not too far away and I had actually driven in that area earlier in the week as I made what seemed to have become a daily grocery run to some grocery store or other. (Shout out to the Turnip Truck which has a great selection of organic food. And one of the Turnip Truck stores is right across from the Station Inn!) I called Chris on my way over and told him to meet me outside the bar and escort me in. (And carry my banjo….er, Casey’s banjo which still has a tone ring and is heavy as all get out especially with that Calton case!) I figure now that I’m a grandma someone else can carry my banjo!

We arrived way earlier than anyone else which gave Chris time to eat a sandwich before we started. As the band he had assembled came meandering in one at a time I was introduced to all of them: Brad Folk, the guitar player and singer who used to play with the Colorado band Open Road and now plays with the Warrior River Boys; Adam Chassin, the bass player and singer; Matt Raum and Lauren Faks on fiddles. Brad was kind enough to say that he had seen my Murphy Method ads in Bluegrass Unlimited for years and was happy to finally meet me. There was absolutely nothing in his demeanor or speech that caused me to think this but whenever I am playing with people I don’t know (especially ones who know of the Murphy Method) I always feel like I am being graded or challenged or judged: Can she really play? (I’m sure some people would say that’s because I judge other players so what goes around comes around! All I can say is I’m working on being less judgmental!)

But truly the vibe was laid back and friendly and, as Chris would say, “all good” especially since there was no money involved and everyone was just doing this for the fun of playing. (And the band-discounted beer!) (Note: no beer for me! Driving and on baby watch!)

In true Nashville fashion, there was no rehearsal, no talking about the tunes we would play. We tuned up individually and stepped onto the stage. Chris leaned over to me and said, “Can you kick off 'Brand New Road Is What I’m Traveling On?'” (Which is a Reno tune that sounds like 'Lonesome Road Blues'.) “Do you want me to sing tenor?” I asked. He nodded. “Okay, what are the words?” He refreshed me on those and I stepped up to the mike and kicked it off. (Or maybe he kicked it off. I can’t quite remember!) It felt great to be playing again.

Murphy with Chris playing at the Five Spot

Murphy Henry, Chris Henry, Adam Chassin, Matt Raum, Brad Folk, and Lauren Faks at the Five Spot

We did an hour-long set, with each band member taking a turn calling the tune. I chose "East Virginia Blues" and when I stepped up to the mike to introduce it I said, “This is the first gig I’ve played as a grandma! My daughter Casey just had a baby!” The audience (about 30 people) applauded enthusiastically.

Other songs we did included:

Sitting On Top of the World (Brad)

Toy Heart (Brad)

Daybreak in Dixie (my suggestion)

Walking West to Memphis (Chris)

Old Joe Clark (Matt)

Cherokee Shuffle (Lauren)

Kentucky Waltz (Adam)

Meet Me Out On the Mountain (Chris)

A Webb Pierce number which I think was More and More (Brad)

Roll in my Sweet Baby’s Arms (by guest fiddler David)

Love’s Gonna Live Here Again (Brad)

We closed out with Rawhide which was fast as…..the dickens! And then Chris sped it up! And then he sped it up again. At which point I couldn’t even vamp so I just quit!

When we walked off the stage a guy came up and said he’d like to buy the band a round of beer. I would have loved to have taken him up on it, but as I noted before, I had “promises to keep and hours to go before I could sleep.”

When I got back to Casey’s house about 10 pm she was just putting Dalton down. I climbed in bed beside his crib and Casey went down the hall to sleep in my bed. He stayed asleep (with one short rocking interlude) till 2 am, when Casey came in to feed him. At which point I headed to my own well-earned rest! I awoke seven hours later to a brand new day to spend with my brand-new grandson. Life is good!

3 thoughts on “First Gig As A Grandma

  1. Kathy Meade

    so glad you are enjoying Dalton! I am sure he will grow into a fine young man 🙂 We are missing you here in Va but so glad you are in Nashville spending time with Casey and Dalton!!

  2. Martin Bacon

    Good story. I have been waiting for the next blog. You all looked great up on the stage. And it can be OK to be judgmental. How are you going to get better if you aren’t told some cold hard facts:)

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