No Wednesday Night Banjo and Donut Society Meeting This Week

Patrick has some pretty horrific dental work happening on Wednesday, so we are not having a meeting this week.

Feel free to get together on the society’s Facebook group and host your own shindig.

We will reconvene on August 19th, minus most of Patrick’s teeth.

In other news, there apparently is a Facebook group for folks who learned to play through our video workshops. I know nothing about it, but it might be a good place to meet up with fellow frailers: Tribute to P Costello Frailing.

Ode to a Theremin!

Banjo Jack in Catonsville, Maryland writes:

Hi, Patrick –    Your video on your new Theremin and approach to playing it inspired me to send you a silly poem I wrote a few years ago. My dad made one for me when I was a kid, but I never worked to master it. This is one of a number of silly poems I posted at http://forums.familyfriendpoems.com/djackmac.   I love your videos and approach to music – keep it up!

To my knowledge there has never been
A poem about the Theremin
The what? You rightfully ask
To explain it now becomes my task
Well, to be concise
It’s an electronic device
Full of capacitors and more
Resistors and diodes and an oscillator
Two antennae make it complete
One for each hand; isn’t that neat?
(If you prefer, you may use your feet)
One controls volume, the other the pitch
It produces a sound that is eerie and rich
(But some folks find it makes them twitch)
An instrument the player doesn’t touch
You’d expect it not to sound like much
No calloused fingers or embouchure dystonia
As is typical with instruments of symphonia
It makes music not to be found
Among orchestras of renown
Not likely to hear it in a church yard 
But in sci-fi movies and the avant-garde
It should be spelled with a capital ‘t’
Since it’s the name of a man, you see
Leon Theremin lived in the Soviet Union
And started an aural revolution
Now there’s a poem about the Theremin 
My task is done, so I’m turning in.

Next Meeting: August 5th!

The Wednesday Night Banjo and Donut Marching Society (you can learn a bit about the group’s origins in Just This Banjo) will be held on August 5th. We meet at 2:00 PM Eastern Time and again at 7:00 PM Eastern. Musicians of all levels, styles, instruments and genres are welcome. The meets are held in round-robin format, giving everyone the opportunity to share something or play a tune in a safe, low-pressure, noncommercial and noncompetitive space.

Don’t be bashful. You are as welcome as the flowers in May.

The Wednesday Night Banjo and Donut Marching Society

2:00 PM Eastern Time
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89826372585?pwd=cDcyUFJrTkRlVGVxbDRjMlowVktpZz09

Meeting ID: 898 2637 2585
Passcode: 751324
One tap mobile
+13017158592,,89826372585#,,,,,,0#,,751324# US (Germantown)
+19292056099,,89826372585#,,,,,,0#,,751324# US (New York)

Dial by your location
        +1 301 715 8592 US (Germantown)
        +1 929 205 6099 US (New York)
        +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)
        +1 253 215 8782 US (Tacoma)
        +1 346 248 7799 US (Houston)
        +1 669 900 6833 US (San Jose)
Meeting ID: 898 2637 2585
Passcode: 751324
Find your local number: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/kbsut99avC


The Wednesday Night Banjo and Donut Marching Society

7:00 PM Eastern
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84891182114?pwd=Sm1zNHV3dWkwaklxOURNcllYVEVWUT09

Meeting ID: 848 9118 2114
Passcode: 869014
One tap mobile
+13017158592,,84891182114#,,,,,,0#,,869014# US (Germantown)
+13126266799,,84891182114#,,,,,,0#,,869014# US (Chicago)

Dial by your location
        +1 301 715 8592 US (Germantown)
        +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)
        +1 929 205 6099 US (New York)
        +1 346 248 7799 US (Houston)
        +1 669 900 6833 US (San Jose)
        +1 253 215 8782 US (Tacoma)
Meeting ID: 848 9118 2114
Passcode: 869014
Find your local number: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/kdkHPPRF79


This week’s song isThe White House Blues. You can find chords, lyrics and even tab in The How and the Tao of Old-Time Banjo, The Outlaws and Scalawags Songbook, Mechanics of Frailing Banjo and The Crisfield Folk Musicians Retreat Songbook.

We have covered The White House Blues more than a few times in audio and video workshops over the years. You can find a list of them on the Wednesday Night Banjo and Donut Marching Society home page.

Fake Karate and Fake Banjo

Before you read this, watch the video.

I am serious. This won’t make much sense unless you watch the video.

Ready? Let’s boogie!

If there is anything I love as much as bad movies, it is watching fake martial artists getting smashed. It’s right up there with crunchy peanut butter in my book.

I was twelve years old when I started out in the martial arts. 1982 wound up being a brutal year. The first schools and dojos I attended were about as genuine as a rubber tomahawk.

The first place dad sent me was a kung fu academy where two senior students jumped me in the locker room.

Continue reading

The Wednesday Night Banjo and Donut Society meets at 7:00 PM Eastern TONIGHT

There is always risk of a scheduling mix up when the guy posting the information has dyscalculia.

Here is the login information for tonight’s meeting:

Patrick Costello is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: The Wednesday Night Banjo and Donut Marching Society
Time: Jul 29, 2020 07:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82817074875?pwd=MFp4R0IveGVGSFg4VHBXNkdYV3hlQT09

Meeting ID: 828 1707 4875
Passcode: 154955
One tap mobile
+13017158592,,82817074875#,,,,,,0#,,154955# US (Germantown)
+19292056099,,82817074875#,,,,,,0#,,154955# US (New York)

Dial by your location
+1 301 715 8592 US (Germantown)
+1 929 205 6099 US (New York)
+1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)
+1 253 215 8782 US (Tacoma)
+1 346 248 7799 US (Houston)
+1 669 900 6833 US (San Jose)
Meeting ID: 828 1707 4875
Passcode: 154955
Find your local number: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/kKurqBJgd

Me & My Theremin

People keep asking to hear my theremin. It sounds like the devil’s slide whistle right now, but give me time. Some of the photographs I mentioned in the video can be seen at this URL: https://www.frailingbanjo.com/2019/02/10/memories/

If you need to schedule a lesson or ask a music-related question, text (do not call) (410) 713-4044

The Most Insincere Form of Flattery

One of the realities of teaching, especially when you teach massive numbers of people, is that your creative ideas get reused by your students.

Lenny Ross, a burlesque song and dance man who once worked Atlantic City’s sleazier joints, once told me that jokes are contagious. They spread like germs in a nursery school. Once you tell a joke on stage, it’s over for you – but it keeps growing and changing as people in the audience go to work the next day and retell it around the water cooler. You either have to constantly be writing new material, or paying somebody to keep your magazine loaded.

When I see a student reworking – or even rehashing – my material, I see it as a good thing. My teaching style is a patchwork of my dad, Ed Parker, Peggy Seeger, Remy Presas, Elizabeth Cotten, Ted Vollrath, Lenny Ross, Tiny, Paul the Beatnik, and countless other men and women who took a moment to work with me. The resulting crazy quilt of influences that I wrap myself in proudly – but not too tightly. I am still my own person. I do not use a persona on stage or in a lesson. The Philadelphia Mummer in me knows when to brass it up a bit and my radio experiences help me use my voice to be understood clearly, but I never present myself as anyone but Joseph Patrick Costello III.

Today I stumbled across a heavily photoshopped and stylized Instagram image of an old lady with a caption taken right out of my workshop on The Smart Hand and the Dumb Hand. If it was just that I wouldn’t care, but she did it to sell her books and records.

This happens a lot. I don’t talk about it because the banjo Internet is completely and freakishly insane. I get death threats against myself and my family. When Amy died I got hate mail mocking my loss. I know that sounds terrible, but I have been dealing with this crap since 1997.

There are several monetized versions of The How and the Tao of Old-Time Banjo and my other books on the web. They took the book apart and posted it page by page with clickbait advertising all over it. Several prominent artists have blatantly copied my presentation style, plagiarized my tab files right down to the mistakes and all manner of silly childish nonsense.

There is a video on YouTube advertising a banjo company. The artist – a Grammy winner – copies my presentation so well that I started getting calls and emails within an hour of the clip going live. Then this person plays one of my arrangements almost note-for-note but badly.

I don’t mind them taking from me. As a teacher, I view myself as a resource. For every cretin there are countless others doing the right thing. What drives me nuts is that the takers never have the moxie to do much with their borrowed ideas, concepts, mannerisms, jokes, insights and all that jazz.

If you are going to take from me, at least take it somewhere. Either make good art or at least a good payday. Just flopping around going nowhere is just going to make me mad.

If you are that stuck, if you are that desperate, just contact me. Be nice and I will help you. The next person who plagiarizes me and goes nowhere is going to get slapped silly.