Tip Jar Jam #13: Suck It Up

Murphy Henry

Today’s blog title comes from the lips of Kasey, who uttered those words to her dad, Ben, when he was complaining (only mildly) about not wanting to play Roll in My Sweet Baby’s Arms. He doesn’t like the song because, as he admitted, he doesn’t play it well. Kasey, on the other hands, plays it great. In fact, she’s getting where she plays everything great! She even likes Boil Them Cabbage Down now! (And she had on another pair of awesome boots!)


We were eight strong last night for our lucky 13th Tip Jar Jam. And for the first time, we had gender parity: four women, four men. Five women, if you count me. Janet, Kathy, Kasey, and Barbara represented the estrogen side, while Bob Van., Ben, Bob Mc., and Kenney were holding up the testosterone end. Kathy was playing in her first jam ever and she certainly acquitted herself well, picking and vamping. And she said she loved it!


Bob Van started the session, singing Blue Ridge Cabin Home before I even got back in the room. (I was grabbing a quick supper of peanut butter crackers and Starbucks instant. And looking at a long-neck, open-back banjo that Ben had been given.) When I was back in charge, we cranked out Banjo in the Hollow. Then I thought we’d do a singing song, so I asked Bob Van to kick off I Saw the Light. He lit into it with what I recognized as a “turn-around.” (Basically the last line of the song instead of a full break.) “Stop! Stop!” I said. “What’s the matter?” he asked. “Do the full break, not just a turn-around,” I said. “Well, this is the way I kick it off,” he argued. “I don’t give a sh-t,” is what came flying out of my mouth, much to my chagrin. After the laughter died down I said, “That’s not the way we kick it off in here.” Grumping mightily, he started it over with a whole break. Unfortunately, he was just a-flying, so again I said, “Stop. Too fast. Do it slower.” Rolling his eyes, and saying, “Yes, dear,” he finally managed to get it going to suit me.


The jam rolled on through our standard repertoire which now includes Daybreak in Dixie, Somebody Touched Me, and When the Roll is Called Up Yonder. We also ventured into the key of C so Kenney and Janet and I could practice Mountain Dew (which we’ll be performing at our upcoming square dance convention) and so Barbara could sing Blue Ridge Cabin Home in a more women-friendly key. (G or A is simply too low for most women.)


We had an interesting occurrence during the playing of Mountain Dew. I kicked it off in open C, which means I was playing it in first position without a capo. Bob Van took the next break on guitar (capoed up 5) and then it was Ben’s turn. Well, while I was singing the chorus before Ben’s entry, I saw him turn to Kasey and say something. I caught his eye and laughed because, as I told him later, I thought he was asking Kasey to take his break. (They were both capoed up 5 so they could play in G position.) And, to tell the truth, when he did take the break, there was some scrambling of eggs, as he mentioned last week. So after the song was over, I asked him what was going on over there. He said that when he heard me kick the song off (in open C) it sounded so different from the break he was used to hearing that he wasn’t sure what he was supposed to play! So, he was asking Kasey. And it’s true, playing in open C creates a completely different sound from playing in G position. I should have warned them all about that.
Also, Kasey had an interesting question about the subject matter of Mountain Dew. “It’s about the soft drink, right?” Well, noooooooo.....It’s about white lightning.....corn likker....moonshine! Kenney was kind enough to offer an explanation about the term “mountain dew.” It had something to do with boilers, coils, and condensation but further explanation is beyond the scope of this blog! (Or this blogger!)


We closed out with Keeper of the Door, the Gillis Brothers’ song that we resurrected last week. Everyone really liked it, and at least three students went to the Internet later to see if they could find the words. Ben was so sweet when he was telling us all about his search. He said he had watched several versions of the song on U-Tube but, he said, “None of them could hold a candle to the way you sing it, Murphy.” I beamed. I simpered. I basked. I glowed. And then Bob Van ruined it by saying, “I wish I had my boots on. It’s getting deep in here.”


And just one more thing: Ben told us as he was leaving that his boss, Jim Green, who had come to one of our jams had gone on our Murphy Method website and had found my Square Dance Song. Ben said Jim just loved it and had copied down all the words. That, of course, made me feel great. I told Ben to tell Jim that if he came back to the jam, that Janet and Kenney and I would play the song for him—it’s a favorite among our square dance friends. It’s kind of a gospel square dance song that talks about being called to that big Square Dance In The Sky. It starts out,


When the time comes around

To Load the Old Boat for Glory

And the Caller is calling your name

I know here on earth

My square will be empty

Nothing ever will be quite the same....


You can listen to the whole song on our website. I think it’s at the bottom of the opening page. Enjoy! And, hey, if you’re in the area, come jam with us on Wednesday night!


Square Dancing Alert: Everyone Invited!


If you are in the local Winchester area, Shenandoah University is holding a Barn Dance this Friday, February 22, with a live old-time band (The Biscuit Eaters) and a caller (Bill Wellington). You don’t have to know how to square dance to come to this.  The caller will teach the moves right there on the floor. It’s so much fun and it’s great exercise. Casey and I will both be there. If you feel like shaking a leg (or shaking your bootie) or just watching, come join us. It starts at 8 pm at the Brandt Student Center on campus. For more info: http://www.su.edu/blog/therell-be-lots-of-dancing-and-maybe-a-few-goats/