The Wheels on the Bus

I was taking a Trailways bus back home after a weeklong workshop in Florida when I came down with food poisoning.

Traveling by bus seems like a cheesy but harmless way to travel in movies. The reality of it was hard to handle even before I got sick. Great decaying bus terminals. The crumbling of America’s infrastructure making the worn bus rock and jitter as you feel every bump and the endless string of potholes through the thin padding of the seats. Massive empty factories and communities laying empty and abandoned like tombstones on the graves of what had once been the American dream. Foul-smelling buses with faulty air-conditioning and almost no fresh air.

Then I got sick and it became downright unpleasant.

I spent what seemed like an endless length of time throwing up and throwing down in the tiny bathroom stall of our bus — a feat complicated by terrible roads meeting the obviously malfunctioning shock absorbers of the vehicle.

I always try to find the good in a situation, but your first time being thrown weightlessly into the air in the middle of violent nausea can put a pretty dark spin on things. By the tenth such incident, you start to wonder if there is any good left in the universe — that perhaps I died in Florida and Hell was a case of the shits on a Trailways bus going down a road where every pothole represents some time I pissed off the Almighty.

We made a stop to get lunch. I was too sick to eat. I cleaned up in the restroom best I could and climbed back on the bus.

I was shivering half-unconscious and soaked with sweat in my seat when a large hand rested gently on my shoulder. A man who through my semiconscious eyes looked frighteningly like Ving Rhames was looking at me with great concern.

He handed me a can of Sprite. “Man, you are not cut out to travel like this. You get home and you stay home. Understand?”

I nodded wordlessly and gulped down the Sprite.

The trip went on. People stopped trying to use the bathroom stall after a woman stormed out and screamed at me, “What the HELL is wrong with you?”

We made another stop in North Carolina to change buses. I had an hour to kill, so I dragged myself, my instruments and my bag into the terminal’s men’s room to try and get myself together. I stopped along the way to throw up into a trash can and just about collapsed.

As I leaned over the trash heaving and shuddering, and a soft hand came to rest on my brow. I looked up at a tall woman with a strikingly pretty face gently wiped my face with a napkin. “Oh sweetie, you are in bad shape.”

I gargled something meant to both thank her and reassure her before rushing to the bathroom.

An hour or so later, it was time to get on the next bus. I get there, and it’s like a mob scene. People are being herded onto the bus like cattle — way too many to fit on the bus and I was next to last in line.

I bitterly muttered to myself, “Ving Rhames was right. When I get home, I’m staying home.”

I heard somebody laugh behind me. It was that nice lady who wiped my face earlier. “You know Ving Rhames?”

“It might have been him, or it could have been Jesus. I don’t know anymore. Whoever it was, he bought me a Sprite. It was like Ben Hur.”

She was still laughing when it came time for us to get on the bus. We were the last two people in line.

“One seat left!”

I looked at the woman, and she looked at me. Both of us confused and alarmed.

The bus driver shouted again. “I got one seat left! Who’s getting on?”

I looked at the woman doing my best not to look frazzled or disappointed and motioned for her to board. “You go,” I said.

She started to protest, reminding me that I was too sick to be doing to the noble thing.

I shook my head. “I’ll be fine. I couldn’t face my father knowing that I left a lady in the lurch. Go on home.”

She touched my arm.

I smiled. “Go on now.”

As she got on the bus, I noticed that nearly everybody already onboard was plastered to the windows watching the two of us. The bus driver came out and looked at me.

“Why did you let somebody else go?”

“My father taught me to always do the right thing, no matter the cost.”

He looked at me the way an entomologist might study a new and weird insect. He looked around the station to make sure nobody was watching and threw my belongings into one of the storage compartments.

“What are you doing?”
he looked agitated. “Get on the bus. Sit in the stairway until a seat opens — and don’t you fucking argue because I could lose my job doing this.”

I did not argue. I climbed on board and sat down in the stairwell.

I glanced around the bus. The lady waved at me. I waved back.

People on the bus laughed. I did not understand what was funny. Maybe I looked completely ridiculous in that stairwell.

As the bus rolled back onto the highway, I immediately understood the reasons for that yellow tape on the floor of the bus to mark dangerous areas. Every bump in the road sent me airborne.

I’m not talking just a little bounce. I mean being thrown so violently into the air that it left me helpless. I did somersaults. I rolled down the stairs more than once, landing so hard against the doors that they almost came open. My head smacked against a handrail hard enough for me to grey out for a moment as my ears rang with a high-pitched whine.

Through all of this, the rest of the people on the bus were laughing. I assumed they thought my predicament was funny.

The lady and I exchanged glances. That is when I noticed her Adam’s apple.

I regret to admit that, for just a second, I got angry. It felt like I had been had. I was a fool.

I looked at her again. She waved awkwardly and mouthed the words, “Thank you.”

Then it hit me. He loneliness. Her isolation. Her kindness and genuine concern when she came across me barfing into a garbage bin.

My anger redirected itself to the passengers who were laughing at us.

Twice the woman got up, came to the steps and offered to swap places with me. “Honey, you are so sick. I can ride here for a bit.”

Both times I refused. “I’m okay. You get back to your seat.”

After what seemed an eternity, we came to her stop. I staggered off the bus so that she could disembark.

She took my hand and looked into my eyes. “Thank you.”

I did my best to give a courtly bow. “It was an honor.”

Her eyes flashed a look of suspicion for a moment, but she realized I was being honest with her.

She turned to the crowd pressed against the bus window. She threw her hair back, squared her shoulders and walked away like a lady. Proud, fierce and beautiful.

I got back on the bus. Everybody was staring at me.

“Take the seat.” The bus driver was looking at me with an uncomfortable expression plastered on his face.

I looked around the bus again. “I’ll sit on the stairs, thank you. I don’t like the company.”

Nobody said a word.

The bus rolled back on the road. I bounced around on the stairs until the bus cleared out enough where I wouldn’t have to sit next to anybody.

Nobody was laughing anymore. In fact, the bus stayed dead silent all the way to my stop in Pocomoke City, Maryland.

As I got off, I thanked the driver for letting me ride. He did not have to do that, and I did appreciate that, despite his insulting laughter earlier.

“Why did you do it?”

I looked at him.

He asked his question again. “Why let him ahead of you? Why did you give up the seat?”

I sighed. “I would have given my seat up for anybody. It was the right thing to do. She deserves to be treated with respect just like anybody else,” I gave a dramatic pause, “even you.”

He quietly helped me retrieve my instruments from the storage compartment. I offered to shake his hand. He accepted and as we exchanged that simple parting his face flashed a moment of understanding.

Maybe there was hope for him yet.

The bus drove off. I sat on my guitar case by the side of the road and waited for my dad to pick me up. I thought about the lady on the bus. I tried to imagine the challenges she faced every day, and it felt like I was drowning. The fact that she had shown such concern for me at the bus station blew my mind. To be laughed at and still maintain her dignity took amazing strength.

As dad pulled up, I whispered a little prayer for that kind strong lady before jumping in the car to home, a hot shower and at least a week’s sleep.

Scrooge & Marley

Al Groff, my mom, myself and Rose Marie Russo - Halloween 1982.
Al Groff, my mom, myself and Rose Marie Russo – Halloween 1982.

In 1982 we left rural Chester County for the suburbs of Philadelphia.

It was not exactly a great time for my family. We had been living in the little town of Marshallton. We were fleeing the violence of small-town life for the comparative safety of the big city.

I know what you are thinking. Safe of the big city? Is that a joke?

Unfortunately, no. Our time in Chester County was like siege warfare. The town was overridden with violent crime. Our little general store employed two brothers who lived down the street. One day they went home and, with help from their mother, beat their father to death with a barbell in cold blood. Have you ever seen the movie At Close Range? Bruce Johnston and his gang used to shop at our place all the time. A guy once wandered into our shop, bummed a pack of cigarettes and then blew his brains out in my treehouse. I could go on like this for pages and pages, but you get the idea: small towns can hide big evil.

After everything we had experienced, my mom and dad were thrilled to be in Philadelphia. The hard part was my grandparents.

My grandfather was so tough that it is hard to reconcile his behavior today. His idea of a fun party trick was to take a table lamp, unscrew the bulb, stick his finger in the socket, turn on the switch and then poke any poor sap too dumb not to run out of the room. When my cousin called to tell the old man that he had a new great-granddaughter, he gave a derisive snort. “I knew you didn’t have it in you to make a boy!”

My cousin was an asshole, but damn. . .

Almost everybody in my mother’s family lived in abject terror of my grandfather. His big tough sons could be transformed into quivering masses of tear-soaked gelatin with just a few sharp words from the old man. This made most holidays into a weird sort of nightmare landscape where people showed up long enough to drop off a gift before running away. The real cowards sent expensive gift baskets that my grandparents never bothered with, so I would raid them like a little pirate. Some years my room would be littered with Swiss Colony boxes of obligatory soulless holiday cheer. I once took a giant torte to school just to throw at somebody (It was totally worth it!).

When visitors came, smiles never reached the eyes. They would say nice things, but there was a coldness. A resentment that left a film on everything after they were gone.

My grandmother was not well when we came to Philadelphia. This was heartbreaking because I remembered her when she could be as tough as my grandfather. My mother sassed her once and the old lady picked up a raw egg and chucked it right into my mother’s mouth. She once had a love for puns, wordplay, and thimbles. When we came to Philadelphia, she cried a lot, refused to eat and spent a lot of time on the couch clutching her rosary looking as though she was waiting to die.

Some of my relatives blamed my grandmother’s state on grandpop. This was bullshit. As hard as the old man was on everybody else, he treated his bride with love and patience, unlike anything I have seen before or since. After they had both passed, I found a love letter he had written her when they were courting.

That love letter is epic. My grandfather spun a fairy tale with words written in a hand so flowing that I am convinced one of his sisters was responsible for the penmanship. My grandmother worked as a maid in a Philadelphia mansion, and the love letter describes the dishes and cutlery in her charge getting up in the magical moonlight to finish her work so that she would have more time to spend kissing him.

Such tenderness from a man I once saw punch the monsignor of our parish square on the nose. He loved her madly.

My father and my grandfather had a sort of unspoken truce. The two men loved my mom, and they both loved me. For the two of us, the men kept things peaceful.

When October rolled around that year, I realized that this would be my last time trick-or-treating. That was an emotional thing for me because Halloween was the one time of the year where I felt normal and none of my asshole relatives would show up.

I wanted my last Halloween to be special. I racked my brain for days trying to dream up a costume.

Then I heard my mother call her father Scrooge, and it hit me like a ton of bricks.

Up in the attic, there was a pair of vintage top hats. I pinned some lace to a dress shirt for a ruffle and I almost had what I needed. There was one thing missing: Grandpop.

I mustered up the courage to tell the old man my plans while we were on a job.

Grandpop was coming up on his eighty-second birthday, but he refused to retire. He had Social Security in a tizzy for ages because he kept sending the checks back muttering, “That’s for old people!”

He worked as an electrician, and he was terrible at it. More than once I saw him leave a perfectly good breaker box in flames. Sometimes we would run wires in old houses by busting out huge chunks of plaster and lathe. On good days he would have me at least try to repair the damage by smearing plaster over the holes with my fingers. On bad days we just left houses in complete disrepair.

The day I asked him about Halloween. We were working at Doctor Rothman’s place. The doctor had his home, office, and housing for medical students in this massive stone mansion. We were always getting called in for simple jobs that the old man would botch and I would end up having to deal with the temperamental old bastard.

My mother and I were the only people who could handle my grandfather because we would yell right back at him. If he cursed me, I would curse right back at him. If he threw something at me, I would throw it back at him.

At Doctor Rothman’s place, the med students — in lab coats — would start taking notes every time I got into a shouting match with my grandfather. He would be chasing me around the kitchen with a pair of pliers, and I would see these geeks whispering and taking notes like we were rats in a maze.

The day I pitched my Halloween plans was one of the few times the med students got involved. Grandpop was wiring a new ballast into an old fluorescent light fixture. These things were big black rectangles of metal that weighed a couple of pounds. Well, I was holding the ladder and the old man dropped the ballast on my head. I went out like a light and woke up with my head on the lap of a lovely young student.

“Sir, we should get him to a hospital.”

Grandpop waved that away. “Aw, he’s fine. If he was hurt, he would have shit himself! You didn’t shit yourself, did you? He’s just trying to get you to kiss him!”

She looked down at me. I batted my eyes and tried my best to look alluring. She let my head drop back to the floor with a thud.

Grandpop shook his head. “If that was me, I would get a kiss!”

“At least I didn’t shit myself.”

“This time.”

We both started laughing. The med students looked perplexed.

“I’m going trick or treating for the last time this year. I’m going as Marley’s Ghost. I want you to be Scrooge.”

“You want me to go trick or treats? I’m too old.”

“We’ll just tell everybody that you are a kid with a well-made costume.”

He smiled. Then his smile broke out into a toothy grin. “I’d make a good Scrooge.”

“You are Scrooge. Where do you think I got the idea?”

“I’m going to wallop you again!”

“Again? I thought that was an accident, you bastard!”

We laughed and went back to dangerously wring that fluorescent fixture as the med students took notes.

As Halloween approached the old man started worrying about Marley’s chain. Being an electrician, he had lengths of the lightweight chain used to hang chandeliers. We fashioned a sort of wrap that would cross my chest and then added a long trail behind me. To finish the effect, we attached an old metal toolbox containing a handful of pennies to the chain so that it would drag behind me creating a spooky clattering sound.

On Halloween night, we strung orange lights in the dogwood tree in our front yard. My mom and Rose Marie Russo from next door put out a big spread for the trick or treaters.

Scrooge and Marley hit the street. I topped off my costume with some glow in the dark makeup. Looking at the picture today, even though the misty lens of nostalgia, we looked amazing.

My grandfather yelled, “Humbug!” at people we passed. I gave out ghostly groans shouting, “It is a ponderous chain!”

Every door we knocked on opened to a welcoming home filled with people who went bonkers over our costume. My grandfather had as much fun (probably more) as I did. We laughed the entire time.

Sacred Heart Church stood at the end of our street. I went to school there, and grandpop decided that we should stop and wish the nuns a happy Halloween.

My initial reaction was to say, “No fucking way!”

The old man gave me a hard kick in the ass.

I suggested that we go visit some nuns.

I have had some bad times with nuns. I seem to make them violent for some reason. 1982 was a little different because of Sister Mary Pachis.

In school, my teachers seemed to hate me on sight. The day I met Sister Mary Pachis she just chuckled, dragged me around by my tie and said, “I am on to you. You are a good boy; you don’t fool me.”

Sister Mary Pachis was a large woman. She was way past retirement age, but she loved teaching. In twelve years of school, she was one of only two teachers that ever treated me decently. She still kicked my ass when I screwed up — it was a Catholic school, after all — but she was also kind.

I was not sure what to expect when Scrooge and Marley knocked on the door of the convent. I was still bitching about not wanting to visit the penguin factory, so grandpop gave me another kick in the ass just as I was saying, “Trick or treat.” I staggered forward into the arms of a nun with a crash of chains. From inside I heard Sister Mary Pachis say, “Patrick’s here!”

Sister Mary Pachis was sitting in the living room with the other nuns. My fight or flight response kicked in, but before I could bolt out the door grandpop grabbed me and sat me down on the couch.

The visit was not what I expected. The good sisters were thrilled that a student was there for a visit, and they knew without explanation that we were Scrooge and Marley.

We talked for a bit. Sister Mary Pachis told my grandfather that I was doing well in school. That was kind of cool.

My grandfather and I shared our Halloween candy with the nuns. My first instinct was to leave them my least favorite bits, but then I just held the bag open and let them pick and choose what they wanted. My grandfather did the same.

Before we left, the old man knocked my top hat off. As I bent over to pick it up, he kicked me in the ass again. I staggered, the chain wrapped around my legs and I fell face down on the carpet.

Sister Mary Pachis said I was even clumsier with math. The old man and the nuns laughed and laughed as I tried to untangle myself — and I was laughing right along with them.

As I walked home through the cold October night with grandpop. I thanked him for sharing this night with me.

“I don’t know why you wanted me to tag along,” the old man growled. “Were you afraid of the dark?”

I ignored his ball-busting. He had been trying to scare me every Halloween for as long as I could remember, but the only things I am afraid of are nuns, math and bees.

“I asked you to come with me because I love Halloween. This is my last trick or treats. I wanted to go with somebody I care about, but dad had to work — and the Scrooge costume looks good on you.”

He cracked up. “You go to hell.”

He was standing beside me under the glow of the streetlights. “Happy Halloween, Patrick.” Then he swung his leg in a crazy sort of way and kicked me in the ass again. “C’mon! Race you home!”

We started running. My dragging chain rattled behind me until the toolbox got caught on a piece of sidewalk lifted by tree roots. My feet flew out from under me and I fell on my back like a sack of laundry. I rolled around trying to catch my breath while the old man roared with laughter.

Still laughing, he helped me up. We dragged each other home laughing and singing.

We got back to our house. Mom and Rose Marie were still handing out candy

Scrooge and Marley went inside. The old man started a fire in the fireplace, and the two of us shared our Halloween candy with my grandmother.

I watched the fire. I listened to my grandfather tell my grandmother about the evening’s adventures. Outside my mother and Rose Marie were laughing and singing. I popped a piece of dark chocolate into my mouth and savored the bittersweet taste rich on my tongue.

I looked over to grandpop. “For my last Halloween, this was a good one.”

The old man smiled. “I made a pretty good Scrooge.”

I got up to go to bed. I tipped my top hat to the old man, bowed deeply and said, “Happy Halloween, Mister Scrooge.”

“Go yank y’er chain.”

I went to my room and got out of my costume. I went out to help mom put everything away.

Next year I would transition from getting candy on Halloween to giving out candy. That was okay. Everything changes. I was just happy to share this special night with my grandfather — and I was overjoyed that he had a good time.

Happy Halloween, Mister Ebenezer Scrooge. I love you, PopPop.

How I lost Over 100 lbs.

Since posting then and now photos of my weight loss I have been getting notes from people who are at different points in their own battles with weight loss.

I am just a musician. I do not claim to be an expert on anything outside of my craft. I am not qualified to give dieting advice, but I can follow the example of Marcus Aurelius and write down a few thoughts directed only at myself. Feel free to use or discard any or all the ideas below.

Take A Walk.

Don’t think of it as exercise or try to accomplish anything. Just take a nice walk around your neighborhood. Stop and chat with neighbors and maybe start collecting photographs of things that catch your eye. You will get some blood pumping, burn a few calories and best of all, getting to know your corner of the world a little better will help with the frustrations of weight loss.

Dance.

I will be the first to admit that I am a terrible dancer. That doesn’t stop me from dancing. I spent the first forty years of my life wishing I could hear well enough to dance. After getting bone-anchored hearing aids in 2009, I have been shaking my booty to just about every song I have run across.

When I met Amy, I finally had a dance partner. If the mood struck us and there was no music playing, I would throw my head back, sing out loud, hold her close and let our bodies move to the rhythm. At first, she was mortified when I did this in public, but she understood what I had been telling her all along: anybody laughing at us was just jealous.

Tend To Your Nest.

When you start working to lose weight, it is not going to be fun. You will be hungry, cranky and probably a little sore from getting your body to move. It can be tempting to just let your home get messy while you veg out on the couch.

Get up off the couch. Get moving and tidy the place up. Clear away clutter and make presentable so that you can have friends over. You can’t win this fight alone, so make your home a place where your friends are happy to spend a lazy evening.

Alter Your Perspective.

For me, the most difficult part of losing weight was changing my perspective. How I view my body, how I look at food and how I view progress.

You Are Already Beautiful!

You are beautiful. You have a mind, a heart and a spirit that is unique in all the universe. Everything about you is unique. Embrace that truth. Instead of trying to lose weight to look better, lose weight to be healthy. Love your body as it is, and kick people or things that make you feel ugly to the curb.

You Are Somebody’s Hero.

You may think you are alone in this battle, but that is never true. No matter how alone you may feel, somebody is watching and wishing they had even half an ounce of your courage.

You may never meet this person, but that is not important. Be aware that if you give up, you will be sending that negative message out in the universe. You must be strong even when it feels hopeless. You must be brave despite your fears and move forward no matter how hopeless things may seem. Do not bottle up your emotions because that will poison you. If you need to cry, then go right ahead and get that out of your system. Just be sure to get back into the fight before your tears are dry.

Change Your Relationship With Food.

Food is fuel. It is easy to forget that. We get lost in the sensual pleasures of eating. We allow mass media to mess with our relationship with both food and our own bodies.

When I was a child, my mother cooked amazing Pennsylvania Dutch recipes. My father owned a hoagie shop and every visit to my wonderful Aunt Mannie centered around her perfect grilled cheese sandwiches. Preparing and sharing meals is a huge part of my life.

My relationship with food was not a problem while I was active. When I turned forty, I had a run of surgeries that left me in a lot of pain for several years. I tried to stick to my active menu instead of changing how I ate to fit my new situation. I bloated up like a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloon.

At first, I thought that dieting would mean giving up the things that I love. That was disastrous because I always cheated. Two steps forward and ten steps back. Then I realized I could still cook for the people I love and still eat in moderation. To top it off, there is something good and right and decent in cooking for other people. It can be an expression of love.

Forget About Time.

We make a big deal about goals in these modern times, but those goals just stress us out. We reach for the impossible and punish ourselves mercilessly when we inevitably fail.

Losing weight is not something you do and then quit. This is a lifestyle change, and as such, it is not a journey with a set beginning, middle or end. Our new diet is a process that will change us and shape us over time in ways we are unable to expect. There is no end. There is no failure so long as we are strong enough to try again.

Treat this new relationship between you, food and your body as a new thing every morning. Take note of difficulties or missteps during the day. Forgive yourself before you go to bed. Start over the next morning.

When you get sad or scared or grouchy or angry, stop and savor this endless moment. Even a bad day can be both a gift and a teacher.

Learn Something New.

Through my health struggles, I have kept setting new challenges for myself.

I taught myself photography.

I taught myself to play the violin.

I worked on writing better and completed a book.

Right now I am, still trying to juggle. I am terrible, but I will get better with time.

Find something to focus on other than your weight and health. It will ease some of the difficult times. It doesn’t have to be a big deal. Pick yourself up and go after that thing you talked yourself out of in the past. I don’t care if it’s quilting, painting, karate, juggling, forest bathing or whatever. What other people think is not important. Be your own freaky self.

If you are fighting with your weight or some other issue and want to learn the banjo, guitar or harmonica, drop me a note. I would be happy to help you learn the basics!

Break a leg!
-Patrick

Just This Banjo: Updated List

Coming Soon:

An audiobook edition of Just This Banjo is in the works! Keep an eye on frailingbanjo.com for updates.

Signed copies:

We have had quite a few requests for signed copies of Just This Banjo. The best way to get a signed book is ton order a copy from one of the retailers listed below, and then send the book with correct return postage to us. Dear Old Dad and I will sign your book and get it back to you. Books sent to us without return postage will not be returned.

In Print:

Just This Banjo is now available in print around the world! Order through Amazon, Books-A-Million and Barnes & Noble. You can also ask for the book at your local library or independent bookstore.

Product Details:

  • Paperback: 223 pages
  • Publisher: Pik-Ware Publishing (October 8, 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0974419079
  • ISBN-13: 978-0974419077
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.6 x 8 inches

Ebooks:

If eBooks are more your thing, we have plenty of options! Just This Banjo is available for purchase or as a free download at these locations:

If you do download a free copy and enjoy the book, think about paying us $6.95 for the PDF. It will help with my next book: I loved the book! Here’s $6.95!

If money is tight, please share this book with a friend, write a review somewhere, sponsor us on Patreon, or anything else you can think of to spread the word.

About Just This Banjo:

Desperate for a way to communicate after losing his hearing, young Patrick Costello set his heart on becoming a musician. Ignoring the odds, empowered by his family and a karate grandmaster, Patrick won a banjo in a bet, salvaged a guitar from the trash and wandered into the city of brotherly love looking for a teacher. What happened next is an unbelievable true story of chasing improbable dreams, the kindness of strangers, the IRA, the Philadelphia Mummers, and unconditional love. Just This Banjo will make you laugh, cry and maybe inspire you to pick up an instrument yourself.

Just This Banjo cover by Carlos Vazquez

Just This Banjo Now on Google Play and Google Books!

Just This Banjo is now available on Google Play in the following regions: AR, AS, AT, AU, BE, BG, BO, BR, BY, CA, CH, CL, CO, CR, CZ, DE, DK, DO, EC, EE, ES, FI, FR, GB, GR, GT, GU, HK, HN, HR, HU, ID, IE, IL, IN, IS, IT, JP, KG, KR, KZ, LT, LU, LV, MH, MP, MX, MY, NI, NL, NO, NZ, PA, PE, PH, PL, PR, PT, PW, PY, RO, RU, SE, SG, SI, SK, SV, TH, TR, TT, TW, UA, US, UY, UZ, VE, VI, VN, ZA

The book is also available on Google Books.

Print Copies:

  • Paperback: 223 pages
  • Publisher: Pik-Ware Publishing (October 8, 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0974419079
  • ISBN-13: 978-0974419077
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.6 x 8 inches

Ebooks:

If eBooks are more your thing, we have plenty of options! Just This Banjo is available for purchase or as a free download at these locations:

If you do download a free copy and enjoy the book, think about paying us $6.95 for the PDF. It will help with my next book: I loved the book! Here’s $6.95!

If money is tight, please share this book with a friend, write a review somewhere, sponsor us on Patreon, or anything else you can think of to spread the word.

About Just This Banjo:

Desperate for a way to communicate after losing his hearing, young Patrick Costello set his heart on becoming a musician. Ignoring the odds, empowered by his family and a karate grandmaster, Patrick won a banjo in a bet, salvaged a guitar from the trash and wandered into the city of brotherly love looking for a teacher. What happened next is an unbelievable true story of chasing improbable dreams, the kindness of strangers, the IRA, the Philadelphia Mummers, and unconditional love. Just This Banjo will make you laugh, cry and maybe inspire you to pick up an instrument yourself.

Just This Banjo cover by Carlos Vazquez

Ink and Paper

Yesterday I got to hold a printed copy of Just This Banjo in my hands for the first time.

When I was a young boy wandering through the Chester County Library,  I can remember looking at all of the books and daydreaming that I would someday add my name to the list of authors in the card catalog.

The Internet is awesome in that you can electronically access virtually every book ever written, but for the tenth time in my life, I can’t help but marvel at the difference between seeing your words on a screen compared to holding a bound volume of pages printed with ink.  No matter how far we advance, there is still something powerful in the pages of a book.

Print copies of Just This Banjo are available through Amazon around the world. We are also in distribution, so you can ask for the book at your favorite bookstore or public library.

Product Details:

  • Paperback: 223 pages
  • Publisher: Pik-Ware Publishing (October 8, 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0974419079
  • ISBN-13: 978-0974419077
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.6 x 8 inches

Ebooks:

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About Just This Banjo:

Desperate for a way to communicate after losing his hearing, young Patrick Costello set his heart on becoming a musician. Ignoring the odds, empowered by his family and a karate grandmaster, Patrick won a banjo in a bet, salvaged a guitar from the trash and wandered into the city of brotherly love looking for a teacher. What happened next is an unbelievable true story of chasing improbable dreams, the kindness of strangers, the IRA, the Philadelphia Mummers, and unconditional love. Just This Banjo will make you laugh, cry and maybe inspire you to pick up an instrument yourself.