Bitten by the Year of the Dog

Chinese New Year has a long history of being a bad day for me.

Let’s just say that this year was no different.

As I repair some of our equipment and wait for Amazon to replace various hardware, the launch of The Daily Frail will be delayed..

I will post updates soon.

Noli nothis permittere te terere

The Daily Frail Returns!

On Monday, February 19th The Daily Frail will be returning in its original podcast format.

Dear Old Dad and I were pioneers in web audio. When we launched our first web project back in 1997 people told us it would be impossible to teach music on the web. Then we posted our first workshop with Dear Old Dad teaching Boil ’em Cabbage Down and people went from saying it was impossible to saying it was impractical.

Those early web workshops lead to the accidental writing of The How and the Tao of Old Time Banjo – and then things really got moving.

As web audio evolved we were able to do more and more. In 2004 we created Virtual Frailing Banjo, one of the first podcasts dedicated to teaching banjo. We intended to end the series after a few episodes, but people wanted more. I scaled things down and created a daily podcast. We didn’t know what to call it. As a joke I suggested calling the new series The Daily Frail and the name stuck.

Eventually YouTube came along. At first I wasn’t too interested with web video. We were using a dial-up connection and video was too hard to deal with. We moved up to DSL in ’06 and rode the streaming video wave ever since,

I still like web video. It’s easy to do (if you know your craft) and it is simple.

On Monday morning we will launch the first workshop of the new series. I am really looking forward to it.

Go practice your basics. I’ll see you on Monday!

Traveling Show

As a lot of you already know, I used to ditch school and walk comically long distances across suburban Philadelphia with a banjo or guitar (sometimes both) strapped across my back.

I was on one of these jaunts when I ran into one of my teachers from middle school. It turned out that we were both playing hooky, so we took a walk together and talked for a bit.

In that conversation he predicted that I would probably end up a writer or a performer. His advice was to go to Gibsonton and buy a stage trailer from retired carnies – or buy a bread truck and add a folding stage. However I set up my rig,he thought I should travel from place to place as my own traveling show.

I did not take his advice. I thought about it. I even went shopping for old panel trucks with Dear Old Dad, but in the end I decided that traveling was not my thing. Being on the road is brutal, and so expensive that you can never perform enough shows to make a living.

I thought of my old teacher this morning when I saw an advertisement for an old folding stage trailer from Gibsonton on

For sale ’94 southern body trailer mounted set and stage with living quarters $17,000

Only 2 hour set up time, with 2 people. No heavy lifting stage is lowered on an electric winch, marquee is raised on hydrolics. For sale $17,000 w/ ’07 Dodge 2500 to pull it $35,000. You can make it back in one season, we did in 2006.

Maybe one of you will take a rig like this on the highways of America sharing the joy of frailing banjo with people across this great nation.

The Family That Frails Together

A couple of people have commented on the way my father and I interact on-camera.

Well, this is the way my father and I are all the time.

When I was a kid, before I took up music, my father and I loved each other, but we did not always get along. I would get into so much trouble in and out of school and it created a lot of tension.

Everybody loves the story that I only took up frailing banjo to win a bet with Dear Old Dad. They never take in the scope of how frustrated we were with each other. I learned a musical instrument to piss the man off.

Once we were making music together our relationship changed. We got to know each other and somewhere along the way we became close friends

The way we interact on camera is the way we are all the time. It drives mom nuts, but she loves us both.

See for yourself. Watch us jam and banter in our first instructional video filmed about eighteen years ago and then watch yesterday’s video. This is not an act. This is us. This is the kind of friendship that is possible with love, understanding and the language of music.

Don’t just watch us on video! Join us at the Maryland Folk Musicians Retreat! June 1-3 in beautiful Centreville, MD! Bring your family and learn to make beautiful music together.