Tip Jar Jam #6: Students Stretch Their Wings

Murphy Henry

The first Tip Jar Jam of 2013 was another fun night of music for all who attended:


Bob V--guitar

Bob A--guitar








As you can see, we were strong in the guitar section with both Bobs and Janet being lead guitar players. Here are some of the songs they play lead on:


Long Journey Home

Will the Circle Be Unbroken

Old Joe Clark

Blue Ridge Cabin Home

When the Roll is Called Up Yonder

Boogie Woogie

You Are My Sunshine

Somebody Touched Me

I Saw the Light

Do Lord


I was especially proud of Bob A who stepped up to the plate to sing for the first time, giving us a Do Lord variant. He knows Carl Story’s version of the song which is called I’ve Got a Home in Beulah Land. Same exact melody and chords, different words. I’d never heard of this particular rendering of the song, so when Bob mentioned it in our lesson this week I asked him to sing a little bit of it. He did a really good job, so I asked him if he’d be comfortable singing it at the jam. Brave soul that he is, he said yes.


Now you have to understand a little about Bob’s background to realize what a big deal this was. (At least it was a big deal to me!) Bob is one of those people who has been told all his life that he couldn’t sing. He said this tidbit of information was imparted to him in grade school. I cannot begin to tell you how mad that makes me!!! Don’t get me started!!! I firmly believe that just about everybody can sing—if they can only find the right key for the songs. (And believe me, the songs in the hymn books are NOT pitched in keys for “regular” folks to sing in. So don’t think you can’t sing just because you can’t sing the church hymns!! Grrrrr.....!)


Anyhow, last year Bob and I worked hard on finding the “right” keys for him to sing various bluegrass songs. He already knows the words to lots and lots of songs. It wasn’t particularly easy because it was completely new to him, but he was very willing to work at it. When he started flatpicking, however, we sorta let the singing fall by the wayside, partly because the keys he sang in (often C and D) were not always the easy keys we were flatpicking in. (Usually G.) But, for some reason, Do Lord/Beulah Land worked well for his voice in the key of G. Voila! He did great in the jam! I imagine this will become a regular jam tune, since everyone just played the break to Do Lord!


Ben and his daughter Kasey were our only banjo players, so I kept the banjo out most of the time so we’d at least have as many banjos as guitars! We ran through all of Beginning Banjo Volume 1 and part of the Misfits plus Old Joe Clark and Roll in My Sweet Baby’s Arms. Kasey has gotten very good at kicking off the banjo tunes! I found out that she was  happy that we neglected to do Boil Them Cabbage Down, but I told her we’d hit it next time—especially since I know now that she doesn’t like it!


Barbara, on bass, had been working on a bass break to the Boogie Woogie, so toward the end of the jam we did that, which gave the guitar players one more opportunity to take a break. Barbara had learned the break from Marshall Wilborn who teaches our Bass DVDs. She did a great job and inspired Kenney who now wants to learn to play that break, too!


As you can see, each of our Tip Jar Jams is a little different, even though we usually play the same core group of songs. That way the students get to practice what they’ve been learning but they are also exposed to new material. Everyone that’s been coming to these jams is improving by leaps and bounds. Come join us if you get a chance. We’re jamming next Wednesday, January 9, 7-9 pm. Call before you come (800-227-2357), just to be sure!


And to all you folks in the Portland, Oregon, area: I’m looking forward to seeing you at our Murphy Method banjo workshop January 11-13. We’ve still got a few spots left, so call us if you’d like to be a part of what’s sure to be a really fun weekend! You will be picking a lot!



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