Casey Henry

Last Thursday and Friday Red and Murphy and I gathered in Winchester, Va. (Well, I gathered. They were already there.) to film our new jamming DVD. (That possibly had something to do with the profound lack of blogs that got posted last week!) Since our two slow jam DVDs are so popular, we wanted to offer students even more opportunity to practice jamming, but we also wanted to challenge you a little. So this time we did a fast jam DVD. There will be twenty-one songs on it--mostly new ones, but we also repeated a few classics: Lonesome Road Blues, Cripple Creek, John Hardy, and Mama Don't Allow.

Steve Spence, Casey Henry, Malia Furtado

Steve Spence, Casey Henry, Malia Furtado -- capoing up to play "Whiskey Before Breakfast"

The filming went great, although it didn't exactly follow our original plan. We were going to spend Thursday and Friday taping, with Saturday as a spare day just in case we needed it. Well, we woke up Thursday morning and Red was sick---unable to run the camera. So we had to scratch Thursday. (It wasn't a total loss though since Murphy and I played a great game of Scrabble and I beat her! I don't think that's ever happened before.) Scratching Thursday meant that we didn't get to use David McLaughlin, who was going to join us on mandolin that day. He was busy both Friday and Saturday, so as a result, there's no mandolin on this release.

But, you'll be happy to know, there IS bass this time. Our long-time friend Steve Spence joined us playing bass, and we were grateful that his flexible schedule allowed him to come Saturday on such short notice. On fiddle you'll recognize Malia Furtado who played some great, bluegrassy breaks with little advance warning and NO practice!

Steve Spence, Malia Furtado, Murphy and Casey Henry

Steve Spence, Malia Furtado, Murphy and Casey Henry practicing for the next tune, which is clearly a singing song, though I don't remember which one.

We ask more of you, the student, on this fast jam disc. The tempos are close to what you'll find in a regular jam session. In the intros to the songs we give you a heads up as to what chords we'll be using in the song, but the guitar left hand will not be in a box on screen. To be sure you can see the guitar player's left hand on the screen the whole time (usually me, sometimes Murphy), but it's part of the wide shot. And we've included the Murphy Method theme song Hazel Creek, which is in the key of G minor, yes, that's right, minor. That will probably be a new vamp chord for just about everybody!

We will have the DVD out by the beginning of June for sure (in time for Kaufman Kamp!), but we're still trying to think of a title. Suggestions?

Red Henry

It looks as if this is a good week to talk about picking. That was a really good session Murphy had up in Martinsburg. And now I have a couple of old-time jams scheduled for the next two nights, both within 45 minutes of the house.

As Murphy has suggested over and over on our videos, one of the best things you can do, to help you learn to play, is to get out and play with other people. There is really nothing like it. Once you progress to the point where you can at least stand at the back of the group and play rhythm or vamp, you're in for a lot of great practice that's easy and fun. And it really doesn't matter what exact kind of music the session is playing. They may play bluegrass, or they may play older country music. They may play gospel music or folk music, or they may play music that's all over the place. Or, they may play traditional (old-time) music, like my two sessions this weekend. Whatever they're playing, it's still a great place to learn.

Now, I have heard it said that "There's bluegrass everywhere." Well, I admit that there is bluegrass in a lot of places, but it's definitely not everywhere. I once spent a year at an Air Force base near Del Rio, Texas, and that whole year I never found anybody to pick with within a three-hour drive. It took a lot of energy to practice that year. I REALLY wish something had been available then like our Slow Jam with Murphy and Casey or Picking Up the Pace DVDs. If you're in a situation like that (or even if you aren't), consider those slow-jam DVDs, because they're easy to pick with and you can use them anywhere.

I'm off to pick, and I hope you are too. Give my regards to Broadway!


Red Henry

Folks, we've had a terrific response to our first 6 DVDs offered as digital downloads (details here). We didn't know quite what to think of this new technology at first, but when we put these 6 up on line, the response from old and new students has been excellent. It appears that the downloads have a bright future for the Murphy Method. These are our titles available at present:

Beginning Banjo Volume 1
Beginning Banjo Volume 2
Slow Jam with Murphy and Casey
Picking Up the Pace: More Slow Jamming
Easy Songs for Banjo
Beyond Vamping: Fancy Banjo Backup

...so as you can see, it's a great bunch of titles. Now, we're working on 8 more DVDs, which will be available digitally in a few weeks:

Banjo for Misfits
Vamping: Beginning Banjo Backup
Improvising: The First Stage
Beginning Guitar
Beginning Mandolin
Beginning Bass
Beginning Fiddle
Beginning Dobro

These will occupy us for a while, as we take care of all the details about putting them on line. I'd estimate that it will take about 5 or 6 weeks to have them available. But from now on, we need to hear from you. Which of our DVDs would you most like to see available this way? We'll have about 25 more DVDs, and need to know which way to go. Please let us know, either through your comments on this post, or by way of the "Contact Us" button on the website. We can't promise that your favorite DVD will be on line soon, but your opinion is important!

Red Henry

Red Henry

Folks, Christmas is coming fast, and we know you want your DVDs! So today (Tuesday) and tomorrow (Wednesday), as a special gesture of thanks for your orders, we will ship ALL ORDERS by PRIORITY MAIL (2-3 day shipping) at no additional cost to you.

This will give your packages their best chance to arrive at your house by Christmas Eve. So place your orders either on line or on the phone (800-227-2357), and we'll send them out today and tomorrow by Priority Mail!

Today's news is that we've extended our sale through December 22nd! Call us at 800-227-2357 and you can buy any 4 Murphy Method DVDs at the sale price of just $75.00! (This includes Casey's Custom Christmas Collection for Banjo!)

TMM digital download catalog[Drumroll please....] We are happy to announce that starting immediately, our most popular and newest DVDs are available for purchase via DOWNLOAD!! Yay!!! [Picture Kermit flailing his arms here.]

It has been a long time coming, and is long overdue, but we are super excited to be able to offer downloads as an option. We've had many requests, especially from our overseas students, and we sincerely hope that this will make it easier for them to get our products. We've partnered with the innovative Leaping Brain company to use their MOD Machine software, which allows you to start watching the DVD even before the whole thing has downloaded.

Right now we have six titles available: Beginning Banjo Volumes 1 and 2, Slow Jam with Murphy and Casey, Picking up the Pace: More Slow Jamming with Murphy and Casey, Easy Songs for Banjo, and Beyond Vamping: Fancy Banjo Backup. As soon as we see how well these are selling we will add more titles. Just click here to go to our downloads catalog page and you can get started immediately!

Red Henry

Folks, I haven't blogged yet this week, and there's a good reason: You, our Murphy Method customers, have responded so well to our ongoing telephone sale that I haven't had time in the morning to even write a few paragraphs. If you are looking for a gift for your Murphy Method family member, remember our special price of 4 DVDs for just $75.00! Murphy Method DVDs are a great Christmas gift for yourself, too! Take a look on our site to see what you'd like to order, and call us toll-free at 800-227-2357. The sale runs for 8 more days, until Saturday, Dec. 13th!

Our band (Murphy, myself, Christopher, and Cousin David) is going out this afternoon to play the first of this year's Christmas parties. This is a large party held at a local church, and we're looking forward to playing music. A good time will be had by all!

Red Henry

Response to yesterday's Murphy Method e-mail Newsletter has been terrific. Lots of people have ordered Casey's custom DVD, "Christmas Tunes on the Banjo", which teaches many popular numbers. We've also had many orders for this month's half-price DVD, "Great Banjo Tunes". Thank you all!

We've also had a lot of interest in our very first Murphy Method Banjo Camp, scheduled for late March. We often get inquiries saying "Where can I attend a banjo camp?", and now Murphy and Casey, two of the best banjo teachers anywhere, will be giving a camp right here in Winchester, Va. There are still some student slots remaining, so if interested, take a look at the details here.
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On another subject entirely, last night I did an extensive interview with a researcher who may write a book about Randy Wood, the pioneer (and still currently-active) bluegrass instrument builder who began making superb mandolins, banjos, and guitars way back in the 1960s. Since I have Randy's very first mandolin as well as #3 (a Bill Monroe mandolin, which Murphy bought from Bill's estate sale in 2001 and gave me), I like Randy's instruments a lot and was able to share many stories from 35 and 40 years ago, about Randy's pioneer work in making great instruments for bluegrass pickers to play.

Everybody keep picking!

Red Henry

Folks, this time of year we take some deep breaths and start getting ready for the busy days of December. This is the time when I order duplication supplies and mailers and boxes for shipping, because it sure is easier to order them now (and get them fast) than it would be to wait another three or four weeks! I'm staying busy right now, stocking up on our DVDs in anticipation of our busy time coming up. Also, this is a good time for special projects such as our new Murphy Method page on Facebook, which we set up a few days ago.

We've had a few folks express concern that the Facebook page would distract us from this blog. Believe me, that won't happen. This blog is our primary way to communicate with all of you out there, and there's a lot more info about us and our DVDs on this website than Facebook would ever have room for! So if you aren't on Facebook, don't worry about missing out on anything. You can read all the Murphy Method news right here on the blog.

Speaking of getting ready for the Christmas season, we'll be running a sale for at least part of December (I'd tell you all about it now, but we haven't decided what kind of sale to run yet!) -- But don't worry, everyone who has ever contacted us or received a Murphy Method email newsletter will receive a notice about the sale right away. Never received a newsletter from us? Just drop us a line through our contact page, at:


-- and you'll be automatically added to the list and will receive our emails once or twice a month.

Now I have some DVDs to pack up and send out, so I'll sign off. See you again soon--


Red Henry

Again this year, for I-don't-know-how-many-years-in-a-row, we set up a booth for the IBMA Fan Fair. The Nashville Convention Center was a busy place, with plenty of bands, dealers, instrument makers, and fans on hand for the weekend. After Lynn Morris won an IBMA Distinguished Achievement Award (see Casey's post just below) and her husband Marshall Wilburn was voted Bass Player of the Year, we were especially proud to be offering Lynn's clawhammer-instruction DVDs and Marshall's bass-teaching DVDs as well.

Red Henry at the Murphy Method IBMA booth.

Red Henry at the Murphy Method IBMA booth.

Casey and I and our friend, festival promoter Patty Pullen, were our on-site staff for the weekend. Folks were picking up Murphy Method DVDs all across the board-- banjo, guitar, mandolin, fiddle, bass, and Dobro too. It was a good weekend for us, and it was great to see so many of our DVDs going home with our Murphy Method students, many of whom we met this weekend for the first time.

A special highlight of the trip for me was watching Casey playing banjo for the Dixie Bee-Liners in their showcase set on Friday. The room was full, the band was "on," and the music was Mighty Fine. (They'd played some showcases after midnight earlier in the week, but I didn't manage to stay up that late!)

I ought to send some special thanks to Bob Fehr and the Martin Guitar folks for setting out so many nice new guitars for people to play-- there was a particularly-amazing "sunburst" D-28 that showed how Martin is making them as well as ever-- and also to Stan Werbin of Elderly Instruments, who invited me to play the A-5 mandolin. (More on that later.)

If you've never been to IBMA, you might like to be there sometime. Think about it.