Picks

I broke my frailing nail to the quick packing up to go home after Monday Music Night.

Part of being an old-time banjo player is being neurotic about your frailing nail.

I do not use my fingernails like flatpicks. I actually strike close to the middle of my fingernail. Even painfully short nails can produce good tone with practice. Long nails just make things a tad easier.

I do not recommend salon nails. I tried it and it was more uncomfortable than watching Basic Instinct with my parents. The plastic is so thick that it kills the tone of the strike.

The best solution I have found is a custom sterling silver frailing thimble by Ellington Silver Picks. The pick was hand made to fit the measurements of my finger and engraved with my initials.

The pick features a wide striking area with a downward curve to avoid getting snagged on the banjo strings. The interior of the band has a sandpaper texture to help keep the pick in place.

How does it sound? It’s not the same tone that I get with my unadorned fingernail. There is more volume and that seems to draw out the strong points of my banjo. It sure feels nice when the pick strikes the string.

The only downside to plying with a pick is that there is a chance you can catch the pick on the strings and send it flying through the air. It doesn’t happen often, but when it dies everybody knows it!

Do the picks need to be silver? Yes. I think they do. The picks have a lovely tone on steel string s without a lot of scratching, The material also forces me to be aware of where my picks are, so I am less likely to loose them or loan them out.

After using the pick yesterday to record The Daily Frail for my Patreon sponsors I was struck again by how good the frailing pick sounds. I think I will keep my nails short and my silver picks handy.

Ellington picks are no longer available, but I am sure there is a craftsman out there willing to make his or her own version of this amazing tool.

In addition to the frailing pick I was also given a silver fingerpick and bladeless thumb pick. The are awesome on my Dobro resophonic guitars!

Doc Moonshine Interviews Patrick Costello

Doc Moonshine writes:
This is an interview I recorded, during the station that I broadcast with’s previous incarnation. during this conversation, Patrick and I discuss what lead us to music, Patrick’s philosophy on banjo playing and on making music in general, and what sets his teaching apart. like any good friends, there are methods Patrick and I agree on and methods we don’t. but that doesn’t stop us having a good laugh and hopefully teaching you a thing or too.

Music Mondays!

Music Mondays in Marion, Maryland will resume January 7 at Christ Fellowship Bible Church.

I am really excited about this informal gathering. While Dear Old Dad and I are part of this shindig, other experienced musicians are also involved. That’s not all! Music students are sharing what they know. I love seeing kids helping each other discover the joy of music!

The format is simple. We split up into groups for teaching and sharing. Then we all come together to jam.

Music Monday features informal lessons in banjo, guitar, harmonica, ukulele, bass and more. Come on out to learn, teach, share and jam.

Great fun and fellowship! Call 410-968-3873 for details.

Semi-Social Media

Last year neurological issues made it difficult for me to type.

I handled the situation the way I usually do; I adapted. I dropped off social media and turned my attention to writing. The keyboard was out so I started writing my next book longhand, with paper and pencils.

Now it is 2019. My book is coming close to completion and I have made a little bit of progress with the neurological issues. I think it is safe to dip my toe into the murky water of social media.I Have set up new Facebook and Twitter accounts today. As things progress I will be posting more information on the upcoming book and other cool folk music projects we have in the works.

I am proud of the progress my mom is making with her web site. Be sure to visit misstrudy.com for recipes, craft projects, poetry and her insights into early childhood development.

We have a ton of exciting music and mayhem in the works for the year ahead. I can’t wait to get started!

God bless,
-Patrick

Healing

my grandfather's desk

I am finishing up the fourteenth chapter of my book in process.

When Amy died in September I found myself at a loss for words. It wasn’t writers block, it just hurt to remember. When I married Amy I made her my true north. I thought all of the adventures were just steps that led me into her arms. Without her I questioned everything. Lost with a broken compass. 

On Monday night I worked with adults getting started on the guitar, while all around me kids were teaching each other ukulele and a young boy learned the basic frailing strum faster than anybody we have ever encountered.

The young banjo student doesn’t have a banjo. His dad is serving in the Navy right now. On the ride home my father and I talked about helping the young man get a banjo of his own. We laughed over some of the trouble I got into when I was the same age, and for the first time in a while the memories did not hurt quite as bad.

I am never going to get over Amy. The good and the bad, the bitter and the sweet, are carved in me all the way down to the bone. I will, however, find a way to keep working. To use the good and the hurt and transform it into words and music as I have always done.

I will have Chapter Fourteen up for our Patreon sponsors soon. Thank you all for your patience.

God bless,
-Patrick

5,000,000 And Counting

Last night we reached another milestone when we passed five million views on YouTube.

Five million plays on YouTube. The number boggles the mind.

Our top ten most popular videos:

Some of our shared experiences on YouTube have been life-altering.

Other YouTube moments were . . . welll . . .

Through it all we have been sharing a message of love, joy, simplicity and creativity. 

Here’s to the next five million views! And the millions after that!

God bless
-Patrick