A-Writing We Will Go!

Work is going well on the new book. I finished another chapter yesterday!

For reasons my neutologist is trying to sort out, I am having difficulty typing. Rather than give up, I am writing this new book entirely by hand.

I write on Amazonbasics legal pads in pencil. I start out with a large quantity of sharpened pencils point-up in mugs and jars. As they go dull I drop them point-down in an empty container.

I use a shitajiki writing board under the page as I write to keep the pencil point from making an impression on the pages below it.

MUJI erasers work really well for someone who writes with a heavy hand like I do.

The Blackwing sharpener actually makes a difference. It is not fast, but the slow pace adds to my Steinbeckian morning ritual of sharpening enough pencils to get through the day.

Field Notes and Write notepads help me keep my thoughts in order when I have to step away from my desk.


When I finish a chapter I pass it over to Dear Old Dad. He gives it a quick edit and passed it back to me for scanning.

I scan the chapter to post for our Patreon sponsors. They get the raw unprocessed data that will eventually be organized into a complete work.

After I post the chapter I give the pages to Dear Old Dad for transcribing to Word, editing and recording for the audiobook edition.

Dear Old Dad's work station

Pooka has the hard job of keeping me company while I write.


Pooka: “I don’t know what USB is, but I’m going to kill it anyway!”

My infamous Dobro 33H guitar is always close at hand while I am writing. This instrument played such a huge role in my life that it is practically a character in the book!

If this book is ever made into a movie they will probably get whatever is left of Johnny Depp to portray my Dobro 33H guitar.

Dobro 33H

It’s not all pencils, all the time. When I am writing someone directly I like to use my Montblanc pen. The pen was a gift from a friend, and it writes like a dream. I use pen

I have been fighting my computer for a while now, and it had gotten deeply frustrating. Working by hand this way has been liberating. To make things even sweeter, I get to do this with my dad!

The chapters we are posting for our sponsors is a window to the work as we create it. We are inviting you to experience the creating of this work as it happens. We are not hiding Dear Old Dad’s edits or sending out Instagram samples of calligraphy. This is a book in the raw.

If you would like to get involved in this project signing up for Patreon, you could always send us some supplies instead.


  • AmazonBasics Legal Pads I was pleasantly surprised by the paper quality of these pads. I write on them all day and they are just perfect for the way I work.
  • I burn through note pads and notebooks. Field Notes and Write make nice things . Amazonbasics makes a nice Moleskine knockoff for under ten bucks.


Other Stuff

  • AA batteries (for our Zoom H1)
  • Micro SD cards (for out Zoom H1)
  • Seltzer water
  • instant coffee
  • Catnip for Pooka
  • pencil erasers
  • Red pens
  • Post-it Notes
  • Stuff from Archie McPhee

It doesn’t have to be something on this list. Use your imagination. Sent it to the address on our contact page.

Whatever you send, be sure to include your email address so that I can keep you up to date with chapters we have shared.

When the book is finished our sponsors will receive the completed eBook as well as the audiobook, We have to wait until the book is finished before we make definitive printing and publishing plans.

I wish this neurological mess was not happening. I had to stop and come back three times to put this post together, The computer keyboard has gotten so frustrating.

In spite of that I have people helping me work with my father to create a different kind of music book. Even though we encounter new obstacles along the way, we are still on the adventure that began when I accidentally wrote The How and the Tao of Old Time Banjo back in 2003!

Thank you so much for your support and encouragement.

God bless,

Be Your Local Banjo Hero

Fred writes:

Hey Patrick,

I truly hope this E-mail finds you well. You and your Dad are always encouraging people to get out and play for and with others. I found that we are always welcome at assisted living facilities and nursing homes. Recently our local library asked my wife and I to play for the summer children’s program, talk about our instruments and just engage with the kids and their parents. In short a very gratifying experience the kids, parents and my wife and I just loved it. Not judgemental just fun and encouraging. None of the kids had ever been that close to a stringed instrument. Keep encouraging people to get out in the community.

Best wishes,



Came home from a walk to discover Dear Old Dad in the middle of a banjo lesson.

Dad’s chair ate a bracket wrench, Precious the Chihuahua piddled every time our guest petted her, I tried to help and we all wound up laughing and learning and sharing. This is what folk music is all about.

Hard day tomorrow. another MRI.

I started to worry about the test and the results and realized that none of it matters. You can’t relax and enjoy the jam session if you are fretting over the amount of time you have. Just enjoy the moment so fully that it seems to go on forever.

My insurance put the kybosh on the second MRI, so I will be safe at home writing instead of being stuffed into the Magnetic Cannoli of Doom.

Frailing Banjo Week 16

James Laurie is getting better week by week and sharing his progress with all of us.

You are doing great, James. Don’t be afraid to toss in another tune at this point. Look for Lynchburg Town, Roving Gambler, Gypsy Girl or even The White House Blues.

You can find tab for all of those songs in my free library – or you can use YouTube to learn them by playing along. There is no right or wrong way.

If you do use tab my father and I have stumbled across something that may be useful. When we were learning we both wrote out tab for the songs we were learning by hand in a little staff notebook. We both think that writing everything out by hand helped us both understand and retain the material better than just picking up a sheet of tab.

I am proud of you. Keep going!

God bless,

Chapter Three!

Chapter three of my book in progress is ready to download for our Patreon sponsors!


Keep in mind that I am writing this book entirely by hand. To be specific I am writing in pencil on legal pads because a neurological problem has made it difficult for me to type. This download is a first draft with a rough edit. Dear Old Dad will edit it two more times before transcribing it all into Word.

We are numbering the chapters as they are written. They will probably appear in a different order in the finished book.
Once the book is finished we will make the ebook edition available to all of our Patreon sponsors.

In chapter three I write about my introduction to boogie bass and the music of Elmore James. Every word of it is true.

The Down Neck Gazette On Patreon!

Back in the early 2000’s Dear Old Dad and I drove around in hot-rods (a 66 Plymouth and a 68 Dodge) and interviewed folk musicians.

Back then everybody was using a dial-up connection and home-burning DVD’s was the stuff of science fiction. So we sent out six hours of interviews every quarter to our subscribers on a single CD ROM. Everybody said it was impossible so we did it, and had a good time doing it.

Now we are posting selected interviews from our archives for the enjoyment of our Patreon sponsors! Full interviews with Peggy Seeger, Wayne Henderson and many more will be uploaded over the coming weeks and months for the enjoyment of our Patreon sponsors.

Sign up today! https://www.patreon.com/Dobro33H

New Book News!

Patrick just handed me the next chapter of his new book. This one is a doozy. I will have the first edit back to him tomorrow to scan and upload in longhand for our Patreon subscribers. Then back to me for transcribing and more editing. I am having a ball working with him on this project. As God is my witness it is all true and no names have been changed to protect the guilty.

To watch this book come to life go here

Two tests at our local hospital last week with one more (MRI) next week. Them back to the neurologist. Prayers welcome.

Peace to all,
Pat Costello (Dear Old Dad)

Bug Stuff

Yesterday I started weeding my garden and spotted a spider so big that I thought it was a mouse until it moved and I saw those eight black legs in motion.

It looked like a very large wolf spider. Completely harmless, but I’m going to let my flowers and vegetables fight with the grass for space anyway. I don’t want to harm the spider – and I don’t want it to harm me.

This morning we had to run to the hospital so they could wire me up to the 24 hr. heart monitor. I got home feeling miserable.

I spotted a dragonfly trapped on our screen porch. I tried just leaving the door open, but the dragonfly couldn’t find its way out. Finally I caught it in my hand as fast and as gently as I could. When I stepped outside and watched it fly unharmed from my big clumsy fist I shouted for joy.