Tag Archives: gigs

RedToday I have a musical memory to share, from one day in 1981 when we played for a REALLY BIG crowd. Our band (Red and Murphy & Co.) performed on a warm spring day in Florida Field (the old University of Florida football stadium) for a crowd of over 22,000 people!

Well, they weren't actually all there just to see us. The event was the annual spring "Orange and Blue" game between the UF football squads, and the Athletics Department decided they'd like some bluegrass music before and after the game and at halftime. Well, this was a new challenge for us. How could we sound good-- with a sound that didn't echo and blur too much-- in that huge stadium, which seated up to 60,000 fans for regular football games? I'd never tried it before, but we just went over there that morning and went to work. We drove our band van out on the field to reach the middle of the "visiting" side of the stadium, where we were going to play, and unloaded the sound equipment. Obviously our own sound system couldn't fill the stadium with music, or even make much difference, so I provided a line feed to the stadium's amplifiers and then set all our own equipment up right in front of us-- facing directly toward the band! That way, even if the sound in the stadium got muddy and echoey, we could hear ourselves no matter what. Then we started playing, and it sounded fine!

Red Henry, Laurie Hicks, Murphy Henry, Nancy Hicks Pate

In this cool photo taken by Jinx McCall, you can see us all facing the crowd. (Murphy sometimes says this is from our better side.) Left to right: Tuck Tucker on dobro, me on mandolin, Laurie Hicks on bass, Murphy on banjo, and Nancy Pate on guitar. We played several numbers before the game started, and sounded good. At halftime we did some more tunes, stopping only when we realized that the teams had run back on the field and started the second half regardless of the fact that we were still playing! Then, after the game, we did a few more numbers and packed it all up. It had been the first (and only) time we played for anything like 22,000 people! Thanks to the UF Athletic Department for a cool gig, and to Jinx for a good picture. And I've forgotten whether the Orange or the Blue side won... but we had a good time.

If you've been reading this blog for the last couple of days, you'll be aware that I spent last weekend playing with the Dixie Bin-Liners, I mean Bee-Liners. I returned home today and, upon reflecting on the trip as a whole I believe it is one of the best road trips I've ever been on. The Bee-Liners are all funny, intelligent people, and they were a hoot to travel with. The six of us piled into their Chevy van, burning up the road between Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. Being the guest banjo player, I didn't have to drive (an unusual occurrence, to be sure), so I got a lot of Jane Eyre read.

Our first gig, in Kent, Ohio, was opening for Blue Highway. The way it worked out, we didn't get a chance to practice much of their material. We did run over three or four songs about ten minutes before the show started, but that was it as far as rehearsal for the whole weekend. I was glad that I'd done my homework and felt (almost) comfortable walking on stage with little group rehearsal.

We all got too-little sleep that night, arising at 5 am to drive to Carlisle, PA, to make a 1:00 pm set. We shared the bill at the Bluegrass on the Grass festival with some of my favorite people: the Steep Canyon Rangers, and the Dismembered Tennesseans, among others. The weather was perfect---warm and sunny---and we had some great Pad Thai for lunch. You can't ask for better than that.

The Dixie-Bee Liners

Casey Henry, Buddy Woodward, Rachel Johnson, Brandi Hart, Jonathan Manness, Jeremy Darrow.

The following two days found us in Winchester, VA (I believe Murphy filled you in on that gig) and Maumee, Ohio, for the Glass City Opry.

Dixie Bee-Liners

In Maumee the promoter housed the band in a Holiday Inn that was attached to a small water park with huge tubular water slides. I was bummed that I had to leave to drive home and didn't get to partake of the aquatic amusements. Their regular banjo picker, Sam Morrow, met us in Maumee to play the next day with them in Chicago. I took his car and headed south. The only bad thing about filling in for Sam is that I didn't get to hear Sam play, because I do love his Stanley-style pickin'. But I know I'll get to hear a lot more from them in the future. And Sam, don't even worry about those dents in your car...they're so small you won't even notice!

This post comes from Red Henry, who played at WillFest in Florida on April 4th, 5th, and 6th.

Had a great time at WillFest this weekend. The show has been held for many years now in honor of legendary Florida singer-songwriter Will McLean. Starting this year, the show has moved to the Withlacoochee Bluegrass festival park, and now everyone has plenty of room for camping and parking. Attendance seemed up, in spite of the change of location-- we had excellent crowds for every show.

Picked for several hours on Friday with a few friends, and got warmed up for the weekend's performances. Played my first set on Saturday to a full tent at the Cypress Stage, and all had a good time. My mandolin workshop that afternoon drew a lot of folks with excellent questions. There were folks with mandolin-experience levels from beginners on up, and I was flattered that a couple of the festival's performers showed up.

The rains came through that night, but on Sunday I hit the ground running with a morning set on the Main Stage. There was already a good crowd, and they warmed up as the set went along. I tried out a variety of songs and stories, numbers from Dale Crider, Gamble Rogers, Chubby Anthony, and Will McLean himself. The crowd got into it, and many sang along on "When the Roll is Called Up Yonder". (Well, it was Sunday.) One of the best folk sets I've ever played.

I also had the enjoyable honor of playing fiddle and mandolin on two sets with Florida folksinger Dale Crider, a man with more creativity and talent than I can describe.

The monsoon came back Sunday afternoon, but that didn't keep us from having a good time. Thanks to Margaret Longhill and her heroic crew of organizers and volunteers who produce this festival! Good job.

Well, welcome to the Murphy Method Blog! Since you’re obviously here, you probably know more about blogging than I do! I’m sure I’ll figure it out as I go along, but in the meantime, daughter Casey tells me I’d better get something up here, like, Right Now! What must I write about, I ask. Write about anything, she says. It would help if it had something to do with music to start with. Then later you can go off on your tangents about stove cleaning before picking parties or how I was raised down in Georgia or any number of feminist rants.

Okee-dokey, I say. I’ll tell ‘em about our recent gig at the Assisted Living facility. Not the whole thing, she says. Keep it short. Oh, I say.

So, there we are in the dining hall playing for a room full of staff and elderly residents. We are a four-piece band today, Red (husband, on mandolin), David Mc (friend, on guitar), me (Ms. Method, on fiddle), Dalton (friend, on banjo). We start the show with a couple of familiar songs and immediately have enthusiastic audience participation from one resident, a man sitting right in front of the band, a mere arm’s length away. As soon as he can figure out what the song is (he’s somewhat hard of hearing), he’s right in there with us. His voice is strong and surprisingly good. I wonder if he ever sang professionally.

The show rolls along fine until I hear him say eagerly, “Do you know ‘Home on the Range?’” We don’t have it worked up, I mention apologetically, trying to shrug him off. I can sing it, he says. I know the words. Just give me a D. I ignore him and consult with the band on what to do next. Then I hear it. A loud voice singing “Oh give me a home where the buffalo roam...” I groan inwardly. However, the show must not be train-wrecked, even at an Assisted Living Facility, so there’s only one thing to do. I jump in with “Where the deer and the antelope play...” Red and David thrash around on their instruments trying to find the key he’s singing in, and, lo and behold, it is D. We do our best to accompany him but he short-changes those long notes at the end of the lines. Red and David, however, are primo musicians and they catch up and cover up well. There is large applause at the finish.

But that is not all, no, that is not all. Next we launch into the instrumental, “Won’t You Come Home Bill Bailey.” I announce the tune in a Very Loud Voice, for our auditorily-challenged new friend. Since this is an old popular tune, I figure he might know the words and want to sing along. However, as soon as we start playing I hear the now-familiar voice saying, “Is that ‘Jimmy Crack Corn?’” No, no, no! my mind shouts while my face keeps smiling. But alas! Soon I hear the conflicting chorus of “Jimmy crack corn and I don’t care” coming robustly from the front row. I struggle to keep my song in my head while he’s singing his. Of course, it all turns out fine and he enjoyed himself immensely and so did everybody else. We found out later that he was a 1948 graduate of West Point. And thus we add one more story to our fascinating collection of Tales From Playing Music in the Shenandoah Valley. As Virginia Woolf wrote, “Nothing has really happened unless it has been recorded.” Or as a friend said, “The gig isn’t really over until it’s been talked about.” So, now it’s happened and the gig is over. C U next time. (Is this too long, Casey????)