Stormy Weather, Sunshine Inside

It is going to be a rainy weekend for the Maryland Folk Musicians Retreat. This is not necessarily a bad thing because almost all of our scheduled workshops are indoors. The only downside is that the pool won’t be opening on Saturday as we scheduled.

Another problem with rainy weather is that it tends to aggravate my arthritis and trigger migraine headaches, So if I look like my head hurts, don’t ask me if my head hurts.

On the bright side, I will be adding a couple more workshops to the schedule to keep myself occupied – and my mind off of my aching bones. I am planning to do a workshop on how to teach – with emphasis on talking to the camera. I think that will be a lot of fun – and I have some other cool ideas percolating.

We will be arriving at Camp Pecometh tomorrow. Being in a moving car can give me seizures, so we arrive extra early so I can recuperate and be at my best to start welcoming guests as they arrive for the Maryland Folk Musicians Retreat.

This is going to be a wonderful weekend of music and fellowship. We will all come together to celebrate the common language of music and work together so that all of us can express ideas and emotions through our instruments.

If I get a headache, that is okay. I am making music with my friends, at a shindig I organized with my best friend.

See you soon!

God bless,

2018 Maryland Folk Musicians Retreat Workshop Schedule!

Dear old Dad has put the finishing touched on the workshop schedule for the 2018 Maryland Folk Musicians Retreat!

2018 Maryland Folk Musicians Retreat Schedule PDF

We are excited to have so many musicians coming together to share, jam and celebrate this wonderful thing we call music.

There is still time to register for the 2018 retreat! We’ll squeeze you in! Call (410) 968-3873 and talk to Dear Old Dad.

If you do miss the Retreat this year you may have a second chance to make music with us. Keep an eye on our web pages and social media for an upcoming announcement about The Fall Banjo Brawl!


A while back a dear friend gave me an extraordinary fountain pen. I rediscovered it recently and have started using it.

I was diagnosed with epilepsy back in the 1980’s. Recently I have been experiencing issues in cars and when I am working on the computer. For some reasons I do not seem to have these problems writings things out by hand. It would appear that I have a better chance of getting things done if I start moving away from the computer, and start writing longhand.

Before anybody asks, The Daily Frail will remain a video workshop series.

It would not be the first time that the old-fashioned way fit me better than anything modern.

Right now the plan is to stock up on some decent journals and start writing. I would like to eventually get a smart journal. That would make it easier getting the written page into the computer. The trouble with smart journals right now is that they all seem to require an Apple or Android phone – something I can’t afford right now.

For the moment I will just start with ink and paper and see where that takes me. I am sure there are roadblocks I have not thought of yet, but a lot of my heroes wrote their best work scratching pens and pencils across paper.

I will keep you all posted on my results.

God bless,

Dragon Cabbage!

James Laurie has been posting weekly updates of his progress with the banjo.

This week James travels to the Llangollen Red Dragon Music Festival. It’s great that James is sharing this early banjo adventure with us – and I hope this inspires you to practice and also to keep some kind of journal of your own.

I still have the spiral-bound music notebook Dear Old Dad and I used ages ago when we were just starting out. Most of you know that I do not hang on to possessions, but I have kept this notebook for almost forty years.

James, you are doing great. I am proud of you!

God bless,


My little laptop is an inexpensive refurbished unit. The screen is entirely too small and the keyboard is cramped, but the damned thing works better than any computer I have had before it.

I don’t like Windows or Apple. I would rather use Linux on our office computers, but as much as I love open-source computing, I still need to use Microsoft Office and Adobe Creative Cloud.

Dear Old Dad flat-out refuses to go near a Linux computer the same way I won’t go near a wasp’s nest.

So I’m stuck with my little Windows laptop. It’s underpowered – but it’s what I have to work with. It has been running great, but I think it got turned off in the middle of an update because it started giving me trouble over a week ago. After trying everything reasonable to fix it I decided to just bomb the hard drive and reinstall everything fresh.

This must happen a lot because there is an option in the Windows 10 settings called, “A Fresh Start”.

I started getting Office downloaded and installed yesterday, and I just finished downloading the last bits of Adobe Creative Cloud and my other essential everyday programs.

My favorite program that I use every day?

Cold Turkey Writer Pro. It is worth every penny. A Godsend.

Hopefully I will be able to film, edit and upload a new episode of The Daily Frail tomorrow. I am still talking things kind of slow so that I am strong for the Maryland Folk Musicians Retreat, and I still have some medical tests coming up.

After the Retreat I am hoping to bring back Sing the Banjo and revive a couple more of our old projects.

Right now I am going to turn off my computer, go outside and check my garden. For the first time in ages I have planted vegetables and flowers in three garden spots around our yard. My pumpkin vines already have big leaves, and I have several Moon and Stars watermelon vines. Black Krim heirloom tomatoes are growing happily among herbs and flowers. catbird and toads are doing a bang-up job patrolling the rows for pests. The moss rose is covered with buds and new growth – which is amazing if you know the story behind this Victorian rose.

I’m going to go check on my watermelon and pumpkin vines. Maybe I’ll take my fiddle and play a song with the crickets.

Goodnight and God bless,

Frailing Banjo – Week 8

James Laurie is a student of frailing banjo and he has been posting videos of his progress.

Creating a document of your progress can have huge sentimental value years down the road. It can also serve as a teaching aid when you start helping your students through techniques and concepts that gave you a hard time when you were starting out.

I still have the spiral music notebook Dear Old Dad and I used to write out songs when we were starting out on the banjo.

James, you are doing great. Keep up the good work. I’m proud of you!

This Week

I am exhausted from yesterday and I have several medical tests this week, so The Daily Frail is on Hiatus this week.

I will be back next week, good Lord willing.

What I would like all of you to do this week is send two videos to

Beginning students, please send me a clip of yourself playing the basic frailing strum and another file of yourself playing Boil ’em Cabbage Down.

Intermediate to advanced students, please send me a clip of yourself playing Foggy Mountain Fakedown and another demonstrating how you use a bottleneck. Extra credit for any blues stuff and full chord hammers.

Don’t be bashful. Don’t hold off sending files because of mistakes – I WANT to see your mistakes to see what and how you are practicing!

It’s going to be a long week for me, so please send in those video clips!

See you next week!

God bless,