Banjo Lesson Podcast Coming Soon

There is much happening here in the office, even with delays due to my chronic pain.

First, my cover of No Expectations will be hitting streaming media services soon.

Be sure to subscribe to The Reverend Joseph Patrick Pillsbury Costello, III on YouTube, Spotify, Amazon Music, and everywhere else people of taste go to listen to music.

In other news, there are two sets of banjo instruction heading to the Internet soon.

Now, before we can even begin to discuss making music with the banjo, we need to take a realistic view of the medium.

Over the last forty years or so, the act of making music with the banjo morphed from something you just did into what I once described as an awful kind of rocket science.

The way I was taught, a jam session was largely improvisational. In almost every encounter with other musicians, we found ourselves forced to learn on the fly. One old picker might have thrown a Hank Williams tune at us, the next a rock ballad, the next something learned from a 78 RPM record, and so on.

At one point, it all seemed overwhelming. Tiny, my mentor, crossed his arms over the 1928 National guitar he purchased when it was new, lit a cheap cigar, and said, “It’s all music, kid.”

Snobs who couldn’t play their way out of a urine-soaked paper bag love to break music into genres. The real lulus even adhere to a dress code according to whatever scene they hope to attach themselves to.

In the narrow-vision cosplay version of music, the blues sounds different from Mozart, so they must be using different notes or some other mystical idiocy.

The truth is, there are only twelve notes. That’s it. Anarchy In The UK uses the same notes as Achy Breaky Heart, Y.M.C.A, Air on the G String, and every other bit of music you have ever heard.

The modern jam approach treats music as something memorized note-by-note. This stems largely from bluegrass becoming a scene based on replicating performances. The old-time scene did the same thing with groups imitating The New Lost City Ramblers.

I don’t know about you, but it seems dumb to dress up and play like another artist when I have the potential, even with my handicaps, to make music that expresses my feelings.

In this setting, everything is memorized. As a result, there is no flow. Everything sounds the same because the people holding the instruments have no perspective beyond memorizing and replicating something they do not understand.

In the upcoming workshop series, there will be no tab or notation provided because you can’t teach improvisation from a script.

What we will do is explore the craft with no preconceived boundaries. The banjo is just a kazoo with strings. You make the music.

To learn along with my Dear Old Dad and the Reverend Pillsbury, you will need the following things:

  • A five-string banjo
  • A chromatic tuner
  • Music staff paper, pencil, and eraser
  • Richter-tuned harmonicas in the keys of G and C with rack
  • A glass pill-bottle style slide
  • A couple of sets of extra strings

The workshops will be recorded as podcasts, with each episode available exclusively to patrons for two weeks before going public.

The video series will be done separately and differently. More details soon.