The Homestretch

Just This Banjo is days away from being finished. I have a few pages to finish before I hand over everything to Dear Old Dad for one last edit.

I have to admit that I am proud to see this project coming to a close. The past twelve months have been difficult. Revisiting my adventures growing up in Philadelphia has been a pleasant reminder that I can accomplish anything I set my mind on.

We will be making announcements on the distribution of the finished work soon.

Once I have a day or two to regroup, work will begin anew on The Daily Frail, The Banjo Dojo and other projects. We have some seriously cool stuff in the works.

Getting ready for our first performance. . .

JumboTron

I managed to pick up an absurdly powerful desktop computer for next to nothing. I dragged an old HDTV out of storage and set that up as my monitor. I’m loaded for bear.

my comically large desktop monitor

Work on the book is nearly complete. We will be making announcements soon.

Joy!

Last night I stumbled upon a show called Joe Pera Talks With You and became an instant fan. The show is a take on those awful and pretentious Postcards From Nebraska they used to do on CBS Sunday Morning – and maybe a touch of Garrison Keillor. . . or maybe this is what would have happened if Garrison Keillor had any talent.

I loved the entire first season (every episode is free to watch on Adult Swim) – but Episode 6: Joe Pera Reads You The Church Announcements is my favorite. I have lived much this episode:

  • Discovering a song on the radio.
  • Calling the station and begging to play the song again.
  • Bothering other stations trying to hear the song again.
  • Listening to the song over and over again.
  • Inviting the pizza guy in to listen to the song.
  • Leading the congregation in the song even if it isn’t appropriate.
  • And on and on and on and on. . .

Season two of Joe Pera Talks With You was announced yesterday. I can’t wait.

Progressively Progressing

I just left 95% of the edited final draft of Just This Banjo on Dear Old Dad’s desk this morning. I was up burning the midnight oil catching tiny typos that turn invisible the first dozen times we edited the pages.

There is still a small amount of work to be done, so naturally my computer died. A new desktop tower should be here tomorrow, and then I will be able to finish up the book.

My brother Carlos created the cover image. Ten years ago Carlos also created a linoleum block portrait of me playing my Dobro 33H. I have to admit that I take great pride in having a friend who knows me well enough to capture me with a few shapes.

cover art for Just This Banjo by Carlos Vazquez

Once the last pages are edited I will get to work formatting the ebook edition and getting copies out to our patrons before making the work available for sale.

Once Just This Banjo is released, we will begin work on the next projects. We have some cool stuff in the works – including a new direction for The Banjo Dojo! 

Ten Years Later

On August 25, 2009 I was able to truly hear my music for the first time.

It was a life-changing moment, and ten years later the changes are still happening.

I can’t wait to hear what happens next.

Just This Banjo

Patrick in high school with his Dobro banjo.
Patrick as a teenager – right around the time many events in Just This Banjo take place.

My upcoming book, Just This Banjo, is almost finished. There are still a million things to finish, but the book itself is just about written.

Work has been impeded a bit by my health. The pain of peripheral neuropathy can be so overwhelming that it can send a potentially productive day down a dead end street. On some days the pain is so bad I just can’t think.

In spite of bad pain days, we are pages away from the final draft. Once that is finished we have to format the work and get it ready for release.

As a treat, here are the first couple of pages of the latest draft: Sneak Peek: Just This Banjo.

Next week I have some long days of medical tests and appointments in preparation for surgery to install a neurostimulation device on my spine to help manage my neuropathy pain. For the rest of this week into next week I will be putting The Daily Frail on hold so that I can finish up the last bits of writing and complete Just This Banjo.

Private lessons will continue as scheduled

If you have any questions about Just This Banjo, The Daily Frail, private instruction or electric banjos, call (410) 968-3873.

Six Gun Memories

When I was around seven years old, my parents drove to Florida to visit an old friend who happened to be a Seminole County Deputy Sheriff.

I could go on for ages about the trip and Deputy Jack. It was like visiting Buford T. Justice at home.

Deputy Jack took us to some of the tourist attractions, but there was one location he really wanted us to see: Six Gun Territory.

If you don’t know, Six Gun Territory was an old west theme park. They had stunt performers doing shootouts and amusement rides. It was good clean violent historically inaccurate American fun that would be shut down in ten seconds today.

When we arrived at Six Gun Territory, the place was closed.This is where I learned an important lesson: in Florida, things don’t close for deputy sheriffs. A few words with a flash of the badge from our friend Jack and the park opened up just for us. The stuntmen did a private show for us with a bank robbery and shootout. Then we got to go on any ride we wanted for as long as we wanted.

Imagine being seven years old and being told you can go on any ride you want – for as long as you want – with no waiting in line. It was awesome. We felt like royalty.

In a lot of ways, it was better than Disney World.

Today the Orlando Sentinel ran a story on Six Gun Territory. It made me smile to remember the fake gunfight and the smell of the blanks going off. The way Jack hitched his belt before flashing his badge and the way we had the whole park to ourselves.

Whatever happened to the staged gunfights and carnage at Six Gun Territory?