Titled Just This Banjo, the book tells the true stories of the people and places I encountered as a teenager struggling to learn the banjo and guitar.
From the introduction:
I took my banjo and my crappy guitar out into the streets of Philadelphia. No idea of where to go, no money in my pockets and no goal in mind. Into the streets, out into the night and into the bloodstream of the city. Nothing between me and the world but my instruments.
I met saints and sinners. I made music with and for Mafiosos and the IRA. I have sung for and with the sick, lonely and crazy. I played for millionaires and jammed with a man so poor he did not own matching shoes.
I had no armor or protection. Just this banjo.
Writing, editing, formatting and publishing this work has been a monumental task, but I am proud of the end result. Some of the stories are outrageous, some are sad and others downright funny. All are true.
Just before the book is released we will be making the ebook version freely available to our Patreon sponsors. Everybody else will have the opportunity to purchase a copy in print, digital format or even as an audiobook. We also have a few surprises in the works.
There are some things in music that cannot be taught. I can teach you how to form chords. I can show you how chord progressions work. I can explain harmony. I can’t teach you how to intuitively feel chord changes.
I am not saying that feeling a chord change is magical, mystical or anything like that. It’s just a skill that only comes when you practice enough to be unconsciously intimate with the medium. Like a bird in the air or a fish in the sea.
Ryōkan Taigu addresses this phenomenon with a beautiful simplicity.
The flower invites the butterfly with no-mind; The butterfly visits the flower with no-mind. The flower opens, the butterfly comes; The butterfly comes, the flower opens. I don’t know others, Others don’t know me. By not-knowing we follow nature’s course.
If you understand real practice, then archery or other activities can be zen. If you don’t understand how to practice archery in its true sense, then even though you practice very hard, what you acquire is just technique. It won’t help you through and through. Perhaps you can hit the mark without trying, but without a bow and arrow you cannot do anything. If you understand the point of practice, then even without a bow and arrow the archery will help you. How you get that kind of power or ability is only through right practice.
The new book is nearly done. I have a few more pages to wrap up and then I hand everything over to Dear Old Dad for one last edit.
I am going to hold off on releasing the title of the book until work is complete.
Things have not gone as fast I hoped. The debilitating pain of peripheral neuropathy slowed me down a great deal. Thankfully I am well experienced in the art of working around obstacles. It has not been easy, but I have managed to keep working.
As soon as Dear Old Dad gives the final draft the thumbs up we will send the book out to our Patreon sponsors before making it available for purchase everywhere else.
In other news, The Daily Frail will be returning to YouTube. We will also be offering private instruction to Patreon sponsors. I will post more details soon.
To this day, when the going gets rough, my father and I often remind each other, “If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball!”
In the next few days I’ll re-watch Dodgeball, The Beastmaster and, God forgive me, Freddy Got Fingered.
NOTE: before anybody writes me an angry letter about Freddy Got Fingered, the film is supposed to be terrible. Bad. Not good. Unwatchable. Offensive. Sick. Twisted. Weird. Absurd. Does not work or play well with others. That is the point. The film’s humor stems from the fact that some studio handed Tom Green cash to literally throw away is the actual comedy. The film itself is the joke. The gross-out on-screen hijinx is only there to confound unwary viewers.