Approaching More Milestones

I have been riding out a monster headache since Wednesday. This one is so bad, even bad movies don’t help,

To take my mind off the pain I thought I would share some exciting news.

At this moment we have 199 sponsors on Patreon:

This sort of thing can quickly change one way or another, but right now it is kind of cool. It’s a good thing because we have a ton of material in the works exclusively for our Patreon friends.

In other news, The How and the Tao of Old Time Banjo has 98 reviews on Amazon. 85% of the reviews give it five stars. This amazes me because the book was never intended for a large audience. I wrote the book as a free handout for an after-school banjo club. When I made the book freely available people said that I was crazy, but we increased sales of the book and introduced a massive number of people to the joy of old-time banjo.

As a lot of you have noticed, I have included my mom on my YouTube channel. We discuss different topics, but the themes are usually the same. She taught me so much when I was growing up, and her teachings influence my work to this day. As Dear Old Dad says, “She is the best of us.

Right now we have 15,859 subscribers to our channel, with more clicking in every day. When we hit sixteen thousand we will have to do something special.

A new instructor will be stepping in front of the camera to whip music students back into shape. I don’t have a biography or any personal details to share with you. He is very mysterious. All I have is a name . . . Dobro Libre.

There are other things happening that I can’t talk about just yet. Keep an eye on Frailing Banjo, Patreon, YouTube and Dobro Libre for more announcements and surprises.

God bless,

James Gets It!

I love James Laurie’s blog. It’s a joy to watch his progress with the banjo and to read his poetry.

Recently James posted about they way a line from The How and the Tao of Old Time Banjo helped him change they way he was approaching learning how to draw. It’s worth a read no matter what you are trying to learn: Disposable Drawings.

Monday Night and Tuesday Morning

Pooka in my banjo gigbag

I am packing up my banjo for Monday Music Night at Christ Fellowship Bible Church. Pooka doesn’t want me to go without her!

We leave for Johns Hopkins tomorrow morning around 3:00 AM. I have not been there for a long time because every visit turns into an exercise in pain. In fact, I used to call Johns Hopkins The House Of Pain after the classic 1932 horror film Island of Lost Souls.

So after a three hour drive into the nightmare landscape of Baltimore I’ll have a doctor up to his elbows in my ears in the House Of Pain, and then a three hour drive back to Crisfield.

It’s gonna be a long day. At least Dear Old Dad is going with me

My Dream Banjo

I think every musician has an instrument in his or her imagination that they can’t get their hands on. It could be a pre-war Gibson banjo, a classic Martin dreadnought or some other rare fantastical combination of wood and wire.

At this moment, my daydream banjo does not exist anywhere but my imagination.

I would like to get my hands on a seven string banjo. Six melody strings like a guitar and the seventh similar to the fifth string of a banjo.

Why seven strings? Well, an instrument such as this would expand the range of sounds you could draw from the instrument. You would have the option between open tunings or tuning like a guitar.

It would be a heavy instrument. The pot would have to be larger and heavier to accommodate the wright of the neck. A 12″ block-laminate rim would probably do the trick. A flathead or tubaphone tone ring for projection. A tube and plate flange to attach a heavy resonator. The rim hardware should be top-tension to simplify maintenance and setup.

The seventh string should run the entire length of the neck with some sort of capo system to make it easy to adapt to any key. the tailpiece could be patterned after the no-knot. No inlays other than a Celtic knot at the fifth fret, side position markers and a Pennsylvania Dutch hex sign on the back of the resonator..

This idea is not entirely new. Banjos made during the classic banjo era sometimes had six or seven tuners on the headstock – but these extra tuners were rarely used.

I will probably never get my hands on this dream banjo, and that is okay. I already play an amazing banjo. My cup isn’t just running over, it’s practically a fountain! This imaginary banjo is just a thought experiment. Something to daydream about.