No Failures. Only Lessons.

So, this home-brewed recording thing is a lot of fun in some ways. I am having a ball cutting loose a bit on the banjo. Then my hearing, or the lack of it, becomes an issue and I wind up like Wile E. Coyote with his latest Acme purchase.

Thing is, you can’t get down on yourself when the proverbial poo hits the fan. You just clean yourself up, buy a new fan and place it where it is less likely to fall prey to flying fecal matter.

Today I recorded two tracks that felt great going into the mic, but listening to them afterwards they just did not work the way we wanted them to.

Not a big deal. The great thing about a song is that you can just start singing all over again.

Can’t Be Satisfied
Risin’ Sun Blues

Tomorrow I will tackle these tracks again and a few more. The goal is to have this cobbled together for a rough release to our Patrons soon, and then a more polished release in the coming new year.

I am posting these abandoned tracks because I hear students tell me they are afraid to make mistakes. You can’t make art without falling on your face. The mistakes are the lessons. The flubs, fumbles, stains, scratches, thumps and pratfalls are where the good stuff happens in art.

There are no mistakes or failures. Only lessons.

So, next time you are afraid to try fearing making a mistake, just think of me with a banjo, a microphone singing my heart out deaf as a stump. Something goes wrong, I just learn from it and apply the lesson, however painful, to the next try. And the one after that.

Half…

More or less halfway through.

I will be honest and admit that it is absolutely buttocks clenching like sumo wrestlers pulling taffy terrifying to be home recording without my hearing aids. Once I start singing, I can’t hear my banjo.

I picked up the Zoom H4n Pro for a completely different project (more on that later). Once I got a sense of how good this gadget can pick up my banjo, it just made sense to start experimenting.

I won’t say this is the long-awaited blues project. That would be tempting, but to properly completely that I really need/want to get into a studio. This is something else – and don’t ask me what it is exactly because I don’t know. I just know that this is the most fun I have had with music since I was a kid playing hooky to busk on the streets of Philly.

The first six tracks are working their way onto the streaming music services. Not all are available yet, but they are in the pipeline.

The next six high-quality audio tracks will be posted for Patreon sponsors first, and then released as a complete package.

Also, I know the camera audio on the YouTube videos I made recording these tracks is not up to the standard of the Zoom. My hearing is so bad that I can’t edit the sound to swap the two. So, video for proof that it really is just one guy making the sounds of a small band with his banjo, and the audio files for the actual musical experience.

Please, share these links and even share the files. I am the worst self-promoter on the planet, so any help in getting the music to new ears would be a huge help.

I have the next six or so songs picked out, but I am open to suggestions, requests and dares.

Oh! Almost forgot. Tom Rush liked my cover of The Panama Limited :).

Hope

I wrote this back at the start of the first lockdown…

With so much pain and anger in the world right now, the paywall is back down. I can’t afford to do it (Patreon is most of my income, Amazon takes an insane 55% of my profits when I sell a book through their site – and we have to pay for shipping), but there are people right now losing everything. There are people in need.

Stay home. Stay safe. Be kind.

Stop wasting time. Stop following the shoe or following the gourd. Practice, get good and be ready – because when this is over the world is going to need banjo players. We may not have the sexiest of jobs in the music world, but we make mothers dance with their babies. We sing songs that draw deep emotions. We carry the traditions – the real traditions that use music , food, stories, fellowship, laughter to remind us that we are all one family.

If you can send a buck my way on Patreon, it would help. Also, if you are of a mind, spread the word about my music on Spotify and other platforms.

If you can’t help, I’ll teach you anyway. It may be impractical, but it is true to the man I am trying so hard to be.

Stay safe. I love you all.

Patrick Costello
Crisfileld, Maryland

PS:
We will be shutting down the Wednesday Night Banjo and Donut Marching Society over the holidays. Dear Old Dad and I will make a final decision about the ground in January.

https://www.youtube.com/dobro33h

Thoughts From Dear Old Dad

Gene

This morning a bad storm is rolling over Crisfield. This always makes my migraines, arthritis and neuropathy scream. I was randomly surfing the web to take my mind off the pain and I discovered some news from way back in April. Gene Shay, a Philadelphia DJ who hosted a folk music program on WHYY when I was a teenager, died of Covid-19.

For about five solid years I spent every Sunday night with my one semi-functional ear to a boombox speaker. The radio would be tuned to Gene’s show. I would have my finger on the record button, ready to spring into action the moment Gene played a good song

I can still remember the night I heard Mississippi John Hurt sing Coffee Blues on his show.

I drove Gene Shay Crazy. I would call his show complaining about the songs I did not care about and making requests for every song I had read about in music books. It got so bad that when I finally met Gene in person at a convention twenty years ago his face contorted into a knot, tightening into a moue of displeasure until he moaned, “Oh God! It’s YOU!” before running away.

Goodbye, Gene. Thanks for the music. You will be missed.

Spotted on Spotify!

In addition to Spotify, you can find me on iTunes, Amazon Music, Bandcamp and other services including YouTube Music and TikTok.

If you like these tracks, don’t be bashful. Spread the word. The country blues is not exactly mainstream. Factor in the banjo and the bottleneck and the result is the kind of thing that needs to be shared to be discovered. I could use your help in that department.

As winter rolls along and I get more comfortable with the mic, we will be going into some more complicated slide pieces. The more I use the bottleneck, the more intuitive it becomes. Almost like an extension of my voice. I am excited to see how far I can take the banjo and slide combination – both acoustic and electric.