Tag Archives: chris henry

Chris Henry

Chris Henry

This video is the first single of the music from an upcoming album to be released before the end of the year.  Chris Lovelace and I have been making music quite a while in different genres.  We've been punk rockers, hip-hoppers, and now we're putting some of our favorite sounds together in what has been described by The Bluegrass Blog as "Alt-County".  I like that, not alt-country, but alt-county.  We're county fellers and though neither one of us grew up farming or hunting, we really do connect with the county vibe.  Chris has two daughters, Lilian and Evelyn, who are just starting kindergarten this year and you can see their initials on his shirt in some parts of the video.  I'm wearing a pin that my grandmother used to wear.

We were initially going to film the video in Luray Caverns. That was the location that the director who came down from New York, Liquid, had chosen. We got there and they said it was a no-go, so we started driving up and down some back roads until we saw a fellow out in a field with a metal detector.  He was looking for civil war stuff and we found out that he knew some bluegrass folks.  As I recall, I believe his wife had maybe sold a house to one of the Yates brothers and might have been related to Earl Taylor, so that was a good connection.  We asked him if he knew a good place to go and he said he had some land up the road.  I asked him if it was purty and he replied "Well, I think so."  And when we got there via a grass path off the main dirt road, it was pretty.  We shot the first part there and then cruised up the skyline drive and shot some footage looking out toward the Shenandoah Valley towards North Mountain, where Chris and I grew up. The last location, where the waterwall is, was in Sterling and I used to pass it going to work and always thought it would be a good scene for a music video.

Liquid rode the MegaBus down from up north and arrived at 5 in the morning in D.C.  I picked him up, late, at about 9 and we shot from about 12 to 8, having lunch in Luray.  We got back to the studio in Sterling and he finished editing about 4 in the morning and I took him back to D.C. and he caught about a 9AM bus back.  So it was a whirlwind 24 hours and Chris and I had a really good time making our first video.  Stay tuned for more Archetones music videos and an album to be release this fall!

Murphy Henry

Murphy Henry

Well, here I am, once again teaching banjo during Bluegrass Week at Augusta Heritage in Elkins, West Viriginia. As you know, Casey is also here and we are sharing a room in one of the college dorms. Here is a picture of my side of the room. Along with a picture of our food stash.

Murphy and Casey's room at Augusta

Murphy and Casey's room at Augusta

I have a wonderful intermediate banjo class of seven students, all adults. Six men, one woman. The first day we also had 17-year-old Jake in with us, but when we found out he had learned from tab (and could actually play!) we kicked him out! In truth, he was way too advanced for us so I sent him up to Tony Trischka’s class. (Along with a note that he was a tab reader!)

Slight digression: At the staff meeting Sunday night, the instructors were told that the college would Xerox a certain amount of tablature for the teachers, ten pages per student. Tony immediately asked if he could have my tab allowance! Naturally, I said yes, but I made him kiss my ring first!

On Monday night Tony did a History of the Banjo presentation, solo, at the Elkins Art Center where I was startled to see a lifesized poster of my son Chris playing his mandolin! It was positioned facing the

Murphy and Casey's food stash.

Murphy and Casey's food stash.

audience so while I was watching Tony, Chris was watching me! Slightly surreal! Tony was gracious enough to ask me what he should start his show with, so I suggested his original tune “New York Chimes” (a wordplay on New York Times) which I love. The whole show was wonderful, including Tony’s story about calling Pete Seeger on the phone to ask a question about how to play “Coal Creek March” and talking to Pete while he was in the bathtub! The mind boggles....

But you might be wanting to know what we are doing in class. Monday we began working on improvising! We started with “Blue Ridge Cabin Home” (of course), playing the entire tune with forward and backward rolls. This then became our “lousy level” (Casey’s term from John Hartford) to which we could then return when the other stuff we added (pulloff, slide, tag, etc) became too difficult. Or if we just forgot what we were doing! Tuesday we put on the capo at the second fret, to play in A, and did the same thing with “Bury Me Beneath The Willow,” adding a rather difficult C lick (the double square roll). Today it was back to BRCH, only this time we were doing it in the key of C—without a capo. When we finished with that, I sensed brain fatigue so we filled out the rest of the class time by picking. Each student suggested a song so we did:

Washed in the Blood
Little Maggie
I Saw the Light
Old Joe Clark
Lonesome Road Blues

There were a few trains wrecks along the way, but all in all I think we done good! Everyone in the class is very brave and jumps right in and does the best they can. And we are getting plenty of practice vamping!

After class every afternoon me and my fiddle (or, if you prefer, my fiddle and I) have been joining the throng of students on the giant wrap-around porch of Halliehurst Mansion for Casey’s Slow Jam. Casey came up with the brilliant idea of jamming each day in a specific key, so no time is lost fooling around with capos. Monday it was G, Tuesday it was A, and today, Wednesday, will be C. Which my class is now well-acquainted with (to use more bluegrass grammar!). Casey and I are both looking forward to the Key of C which is where we are more comfortable singing, G and A being too low. Although we were getting some nice duet harmony yesterday on “Amazing Grace” and “Mountain Dew.”

As I wind down this blog, it is pouring rain outside, so I am skipping the after lunch concert in favor of a small nap. I’m pretty sure I will drift off with the sounds of today’s lesson in my mind. “There’s a well-beaten path on that old mountain side....” In the Key of C, of course!

Casey Henry

Casey Henry

Here it is---day three of Bluegrass Week at Augusta. Murphy is here teaching the intermediate banjo class and I'm here as staff musician. So far I've sat in with Chris Stuart and Janet Beazley's vocal class to sing the third part in a trio, played rhythm guitar for Murphy's class, helped out with some beginning fiddle instruction, and lead two slow jams on the porch of Halliehurst Mansion, a beautiful old house that at the heart of campus. (Others might say that the Icehouse pub is the heart of campus. I suppose it depends on your point of view.) I also went to the Monday night contra dance:

Augusta's Dance Pavillion

Augusta's Dance Pavillion

Years ago at this camp I fell in love with clogging and contra dancing. Walking down to the pavilion last night I was filled with a particular sense of excitement that I hadn't experienced since last time I was here, walking down to the first dance of the week. (In the above photo you can see our intrepid vocal instructors Chris and Janet waltzing---they're the couple closest to the band.)

Monday night Murphy and I went to the Randolph County Community Arts Center to see Tony Trischka present a show/talk/demonstration on the history of the banjo. He was amazing, as he always is. He ended with a John Hartford tune called "Foggy Mountain Landscape," which he described as having a difficulty level of "10". Now, when Tony Trischka rates a song's difficulty level as "10" you know that it's serious business.

Tony Trischka at the Randolph County Center for the Arts

Tony Trischka at the Randolph County Community Arts Center

In this case the tune featured the use of the Keith tuner on the second string. He also de-tuned the first string FREEHAND! And not only did he tune it down and then back up, but he tuned it down to three different notes, and then back up, stopping at all the same notes on the way up!! We were all pretty well flabbergasted.

Also at the Arts Center is a traveling exhibit from the Smithsonian Institution called New Harmonies: Celebrating American Roots Music. Strangely, and completely coincidentally, this exhibit contains a larger-than-life cutout of my brother Chris Henry. So of course Murphy had to get her picture taken with it:

Murphy Henry posing with Chris Henry cutout.

Murphy Henry posing with Chris Henry cutout.

It is impossible to recount all the highlights here at Davis and Elkins College but I will add that today's afternoon concerts by Laurie Lewis and Tom Rozum, and by Janet Beazley and Chris Stuart were a pure pleasure to listen to. And as I write this I'm listening to a jam outside my building that includes Herschel Sizemore, the Gibson Brothers, and my former bandmate Tyler Grant, where they are playing "Rebecca," a popular tune written by Herschel himself. It doesn't get any better than this.

Casey HenryQuebe Sisters at the Station Inn(Note: apologies for the lack of pictures here...we're moving servers and are working out the kinks! Thanks for your patience!) A couple weeks back I went to the Station Inn to hear a group that I'd never heard before--the Quebe Sisters. They are a trio of sisters from Texas who play triple fiddles and sing in tight Andrews-Sisters-like harmony. They do western swing music and are stunningly good. Eddie Stubbs (WSM deejay, Opry announcer, former Johnson Mountain Boys fiddler) is crazy about them, and when Eddie goes gaga over a group, you know they are something special. I bought their newest CD, "Timeless," and found it to be just as good as their stage show. The band consists of three fiddles, a guitar, and a bass, and yet such sparse instrumentation sounds rich and full. You never miss any other instruments. Visit their website and check them out and if they ever play in your area, don't miss it!

Chris Henry at the Station InnLater that same week my brother Chris came to town and played at the Station Inn. It was really a Shawn Camp show, and it was great, though I thought they should have let Chris do more of his own songs. He sang one song in the first set--a newer composition called "She's Got My Number But She Don't Know How to Call" (or something along those lines). The audience always loves it when he sings and it adds some nice variety to the show. (In the photo, left to right: Aubrey Haynie, Charlie Cushman, Shawn Camp, Chris Henry, Mike Bub.)

On Sunday, January 25th, 2009, a concert was held in Dalton Brill's honor at the Virginia Brewing Company, in Winchester, VA. Chris Henry organized the show. The Winchester star did a nice story on the event.

One of Murphy's former students, Luke Johnson, is mentioned in the article. He posted the text of the song he wrote for Dalton on his MySpace page. But, luckily, he's also given us permission to post them here:

His Mark

He called me Luke the drifter
But he’s the one, keeps on driftin’ back to me
In my dreams, I see you there, Doin’ more than just cuttin’ hair
He’s tearin’ up an “Ol’ Joe Clark”, Dalton sure left his mark

CH:   Those Wensday night sessions Had my foot tappin’ so fast
I was sore in the morning, God I love that good old’ Bluegrass
You lift my spirit so high,
This music inside me ain’t never gonna die

With the rolling of his fingers, that snap filled the air
Smiles on everyone’s faces, so hard for them to stay in their chair
Inside our souls are hootin and hollerin, Dancing a jig here and there.

That Shenandoah sound won’t be the same
With those Apple Blossoms bloomin, I can hear that banjo roll and ring
Walking down the midway, Just shocks my brain

She used to pay you to pick, Because her fiddle squeaked so bad
That Orange Blossom Special was all that we had
Running cross the finish line, gallopin’ 4/4 time

Don’t pinch me I ain’t dreamin’, He’s alive with us today
Standing in a shadow grin’ in, While we pick and play
He told me to tell you, Let the grass grow high,

Better dry your eyes, and nothing ever dies anyway