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Flying and Picking #12

Friday, May 21, 2010



Red Henry

Red Henry

Folks, I made a cross-country flight this morning, just to keep in practice. It wasn’t a really long trip, but I flew solo from here (Winchester, VA) to Bedford, PA, then to Cumberland, MD, and then back home: 3 flights and 8 good landings (I used the opportunity to practice those, too). 

And what does this have to do with playing music? Well, Chris, Jenny, and I are performing at the Daily Grind here in Winchester (the Jubal Early Drive location) starting at 7:00 this evening. And the flying seems as if it’s gotten me in the mood to play.

This happened a lot during my first flying career, in the Air Force from 1972-75. Flying and picking just seemed to go together, one after the other. Have any of you gotten that feeling from these two activities? If so, I’d like to know about it.

Happy picking, and flying too, if that’s what you do!


PS– Local folks, if you can’t make it to the Daily Grind this evening, we’re also performing at Borders Books here in Winchester, starting time 7:00 this coming Sunday, the 23rd.


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Playing Since: 1969
[Teaching] [Jamming] [Socializing] [Helping]

Occupation: Musician

My Instruments:
Past banjos:
S.S. Stewart Thoroughbred open-back, 1969-1973;
Epiphone Alhambra with Mike Johnson neck, 1970-1981;
Gibson ball-bearing Granada with Mike Johnson neck, 1973-75;
Fender Concertone, 1973-76; (Yes, I wish I had them all back);
Present banjos:
1937 TB-11 which I converted in 1978 with a Ryan ring and my first H&F 5-string neck (my daughter Casey has this one now, and she put
a Huber ring in it);
H&F Mastertone copy I made in 1984;
H&F Mastertone copy I put together in 2005

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Created 11/14/2007
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I started playing mandolin in 1967 and banjo in 1969. Spent 4+ years 1970-75 in the Air Force, flying C-141's.

Much of my career since then was with our Red and Murphy bluegrass band, led by myself and my wife, the talented picker, teacher, and writer Murphy Henry. From 1975 to 1986 we performed music full time, touring extensively in the United States and in Canada. Murphy and I have produced seven LPs and four CDs. These include my first mandolin CD, "Bluegrass Mandolin and Other Trouble", a father-and-son CD with my son Christopher, entitled "Red and Chris", and a new mandolin CD, "Helton Creek." All three CDs received excellent reviews in the bluegrass trade publications, and "Helton Creek" made the 'Best of 2007' list in "Bluegrass Now" magazine, as well as receiving excellent reviews in "Bluegrass Unlimited," "Bluegrass Breakdown," and "Vintage Guitar."

During our full-time Bluegrass years we appeared at bluegrass festivals from Florida to Winfield, Kansas, to Nova Scotia, on many TV shows including TNN’s "Fire on the Mountain", NBC’s "Today Show", and the PBS "Natural Bluegrass Jam", and also on numerous radio shows including "The Liberty Flyer".

I also built 10 banjos, 1978-85, all Mastertone-style with Steve Ryan or Bill Sullivan tone rings, and all on Bill Sullivan rims except for three conversions (a TB-11, a TB-2, and a TB-3). In 2007 Murphy brought the last one I made home again when she contacted the owner, bought the banjo back, and gave it to me for Father's Day (walnut neck with H&F inlay, Bill Sullivan rim and tone ring, chrome-plated hardware with Presto tailpiece) .

In the last five years I've been making one-piece maple mandolin bridges (see the bridge page at and am marketing them on line. I'm experimenting with banjo bridges as well, but have not produced a marketable model because all banjos seem to like a slightly different bridge for their very best sound.

Since 1987, Murphy and I have concentrated on running our family business, the Murphy Method, offering by-ear bluegrass instruction. We started out in 1982 with tapes for banjo, but have since expanded to cover all the bluegrass instruments. Check our site at .

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