Going into 2020 I wanted to come up with a new skill to learn, so I decided to learn how to bake bread. From everything I had read, baking a loaf of homemade white bread sounded like a complex challenge.

I decided to give it a shot yesterday. I had a loaf rising and the kitchen put back to order in less than twenty minutes. Two hours later, I punched the dough down, got it into a loaf pan and left it to rise for another hour. Half an hour in the oven and my folks were eating hot buttered bread.

I joked that it was my first attempt and I wouldn’t get a Paul Hollywood handshake. Dear Old Dad, around a mouthful of warm buttered bread, sputtered, “To hell with that bastard,” and shook my hand. Mom said it was good, too – and she is a ninja when it comes to baking!

Homemade bread was not quite the challenge I was expecting – but that is kind of the trick. Nothing is ever as bad or as difficult as we imagine, so I just dive in and improvise.

I have another loaf of bread rising in the kitchen as I write this. I used a different recipe. I’m curious to see how it turns out and compare it to yesterday’s results. As winter rolls along I want to try different recipes and types of bread. I also want to master some Philadelphia staples like sticky buns and English tea biscuits. I eventually would like to be able to knock out a loaf of bread before breakfast for everybody’s breakfast, but for now, this is pretty sweet.

This Week

If anybody needs to schedule a January lesson – or even just a quick session to cover a question or check on progress – my schedule is wide open after Tuesday.

We can also start scheduling for February lessons now. Contact me with a preferred date and time.

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Amazon reviews for Just This Banjo!

***** Just read “Just this Banjo”
Very easy read, really enjoyed all of the different characters thought the book. Almost wish we could have gotten all the people in the book for one night of “pick’in”
Patrick is man the myth and legend when it comes to the banjo and making music and making you realize it’s not just music it’s life!!!

*****  Funny refreshingly different read
A funny and insightful look into a musicians life with a vein of eastern philosophy. I’d seen a utube video of the author playing and teaching banjo was miffed when all his content disappeared. Really pleased to see him back with a book and more utube videos that really do help me tame my banjo. Thanks pat

***** Read This
Patrick, your book is just bloody beautiful.

And often hilarious 🙂

***** raised on songs and stories
like Patrick, as a boy I was raised on songs and stories alike. so amongst all the many banjo books out there I was delighted to discover this book. it fairly grabs you by the arm and takes you on a journey through the tough streets of philli, to the dreams of a young boy just trying to fit in. with a querky and at times dark sense of humour this book will have you laughing and crying in chorus for hours. this book is far more than a banjo book. this is the story of a life. it is far from “just this banjo” it is ups downs heartake and happiness all in one volume. personally, I hope there is a sequel.

***** The Best Parts
About 10 years ago I decided that I was going to learn to play the guitar. I had always wanted to learn to play, but didn’t think I could. While searching around for learning materials, I happened upon this book on Amazon called, “The How and the Tao of Folk Guitar, Vol. 1: Getting Started.” I bought it and read it cover to cover several times on my journey to learn to play the guitar. The teaching method was simple and focused on singing and playing and just get going, don’t look back. A style of learning I could relate to. My favorite parts of this book were the little stories the author put in between the lessons. Some classic storytelling stuff, most of it seemed anecdotal, but pertaining to getting out there and applying what you had learned.

This new book is not an instructional book. It is not a song book. This is a book of those stories in between the lessons. Not the same old stories, but more stories about adventures and life lessons and hi jinx so numerous, it’s hard to believe that they all happened to one person. But I’ve met the author. I’ve met his parents. I’ve played music with him and heard his stories in person. I believe him. And I’m glad he’s still telling his stories.

**** I liked the narrative stories
I liked the stories about the people who werent Patrick’s friends initially but became his friends later in the story. I liked the stories about the grandparents. I was expecting a few songs to be put in the book in some sort of musical notation. Then I would have given it 5 stars. But a good read. Thanks Patrick.

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



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!

I Had A Real Good Mother And Father

I probably look pretty rough. I had an epileptic seizure a few hours before recording this.

The song comes from the legendary Washington Phillips. The chord progression in just G. C and D in 4/4 time. Play and sing along with me!

For more on this song, look for Kate Wolf’s amazing live recording. You can also find the song in my book Songs For Sunday – available as a free download for Patreon sponsors.

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