I am currently working on two books at the moment. The first is White Belt, a book about the learning process. The second is the long-awaited second edition of The How and The Tao of Old-Time Banjo.
If you don’t know the story, The How and the Tao of Old-Time Banjo was dashed out over a long weekend in the winter of 2003. The book started as a free handout for an after-school banjo club. The books conversational tone and use of storytelling is just how I write. I never intended for the handout to be widely read. When published, it set off a crazy domino effect that lead to the book winding up on computers around the world.
The title, by the way, was another accident. Since it was never supposed to be a book, I came up with the title as an offhand joke.
Never underestimate the power of the Taoist happy accident.
People have been asking for an updated second edition for a long time. Getting me to work for financial gain is nearly impossible. For a seconded edition to happen I needed a damn good reason.
Well, that reason presented itself, and I have started working in earnest.
For me, the most interesting things about revisiting my first book is how much I have changed. I was 33 when I dashed out that free handout. Now that I am 50, my skills as a musician have grown and I have a deeper understanding of the craft.
While The How and the Tao of Old -Time Banjo had its share of critics and copycats, releasing the book freely under a Creative Commons license turned a simple project for some kids into a revolution. As soon as the book was free to download I started getting calls from friends and strangers with wild takes of seeing scores of people at festivals with a brand-new banjo under one arm and a battered printout of the book under the other. I have had people walk up to me in restaurants, airports, bus stations and farmers markets wanting to shake my hand and tell me what the book meant to them.
For an introvert who was forced to educate himself at the library, this is heavy stuff. The kind of thing that could be mistaken for a Horatio Alger story, only this all happened. Heck, it is still happening.
The second edition will not be the same book with a new cover. With the first book freely available everywhere, that would not make much sense. This will be a new book that takes some things out, rewrites some sections and occasionally draws from my other works that are now out of print. I am not sure how it will be released just yet. Traditional ink and paper printing is a much more complicated endeavor in 2020, but I will not take that out of the list of possibilities just yet.
The other book in progress, White Belt, draws on my experience ion various disciplines to explore the learning process. While I am viewing this as a standalone work at the moment, it could very well wind up being folded into the second edition of The How and the Tao of Old-Time Banjo.
Sometime in August or September I will be making chapters of both books available to my Patreon sponsors. Meanwhile, here are the ten books to my credit along with some old essays to keep you busy:
- The How and the Tao of Old Time Banjo
- A Book of Five Strings
- The How and the Tao of Folk Guitar
- The Outlaws and Scalawags Songbook
- Songs For Sunday
- This Is Not A Banjo
- Four Seasons On Brick Kiln Road
- The Mechanics of Frailing Banjo
- The Crisfield Folk Musicians Retreat Songbook
- Just This Banjo
- Frailing Banjo Backup Patterns and Licks
- One Finger Guitar
- Country, Folk, Bluegrass and Old-Time Rhythm Guitar Basics
- Calloused Ears: Tips on how to play the banjo “by ear”
- Basic Frailing
If you have input on the original work, or there is something you would like to see in the second edition, drop me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org or text (do not call) (410) 713-4044. You can also use the same number to reach me through the Telegram app.
Dear Old Dad and I will still be available for lessons and The Wednesday Night Banjo and Donut Society. This is a HUGE undertaking, so your support and well-wishes are a huge help.