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Streaking, Part 2: Re-establishing a Daily Musical Habit

Yesterday marked 20 days of consecutive playing for me on both banjo and fiddle. That's about how long since I've been back from vacation.

That first week was rough in terms of remembering the tunes I know. Little by little, playing has become easier as I've returned each day to try again.

Before my monthlong hiatus, I had embarked on a daily streak that lasted almost three months. Now I'm wondering if I can do it again. Some researchers say it takes 21 days (that's today!) to form a new habit, while others argue it takes more like 66 days (that's not today at all).

Of course, nothing I've read says anything about getting back into a habit.

Regardless of how long it might take, having a lofty benchmark has provided some strong motivation as I seek to re-establish my daily habit. I have my sights set on 90 days and beyond.

I'm also trying to catch up to my hourly goal for fiddle playing time this year. As you might expect, taking most of August off has pu…
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Open (Again) for Business: The Return of County Sales

Earlier this month, an old friend re-emerged from the ashes of oblivion. County Sales was once the foremost vendor of old-time and bluegrass music. The Floyd, Virginia-based store was where I purchased most of my CDs when I first latched onto this music.

My copies of the Clawhammer Banjo Vols. 1-3, the Killer Grits' Midnight on the Run, Christian Wig's Gate to Go Through and pretty much the rest of my Mark Olitsky album collection were all ordered through the County Sales website.

Unfortunately, longtime owner David Freeman closed the store in January this year upon his retirement. Freeman started the business in New York City in 1965 and then moved it to Floyd in 1974. He also launched two record labels to provide musicians a broader avenue for releasing their music. His son Mark Freeman now runs County Records (old-time) and Rebel Records (bluegrass) from Charlottesville, Virginia.

For nine, sad, long months, old-time and bluegrass fans has to scrounge the depths of the inte…

Shaking Off the Rust: Returning to Playing After a Long Break

Look who's back! It is I, your glory-beaming blogger, returned from my travels abroad. I hope you enjoyed the posts that I scheduled for you during my absence. After almost a full month of vacationing in Rhodes, Greece, it's time to get back to business — and music!

As I mentioned last month, I had to leave my fiddle and banjo at home while I was traveling. The closest I got to an instrument was listening to a traditional Greek dance band at a festival in the village of Psinthos, where I ate delicious chickpea and goat stew. The band was comprised of a lyra, bouzouki, guitar and what looked like a cajon that the vocalist played. It was a great time.

I had hoped to find a record store so I could provide you with a Greek-flavored "Vinyl Hunter" post, but I struck out. The only time I saw any LPs was at a shop in Old Town that had huge selection of Greek music for sale on CD. Above the floor-to-ceiling shelves, I spied old album covers. But when I asked if they were for…

Summer Blockbusters: Top 10 Banjo Movies

We’re nearing the end of the summer movie season, which this year has included blockbusters like Avengers: Infinity War, Solo: A Star Wars Story, Incredibles 2 and other movies, including some that weren’t produced by Disney. However, none of these films showcases a banjo in any way.

It's not like the banjo hasn't been featured on the silver screen throughout film history. The five-string has starred in numerous movies, sometimes in its proper context as a musical instrument and other times as a comedic prop. Whether making a cameo or starring in the hands of the main character, it's well past time to present my Top 10 Banjo Blockbusters:

O Brother Where Art Thou? (2000)
Written and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen, this movie sucked me into the realm of old-time, bluegrass and country music in general. The banjo is featured in a number of songs on the soundtrack and shows up on screen a few times throughout the movie.
Top Banjo Moment: Delmar picks the banjo before meeting…

Old-Time Herald Preview: Paul Brown in the Tiki Parlour

The next issue of The Old-Time Herald will be on its way soon. As you may recall, I recently started writing reviews for the magazine. My latest effort features the Paul Brown CD/DVD set released by The Old-Time Tiki Parlour earlier this year.

The set features Brown on banjo and fiddle, presenting 16 songs and tunes that were culled from a wide variety of sources and influences.

Brown learned at the foot of the most revered masters of old-time music and has become a master in his own right. This set is similar to the Dan Gellert set I wrote about a few years ago. The DVD provides video of the tunes that appear on the CD, allowing you to see how Brown is getting the notes. The booklet provides source and tuning information.

To get my full opinion on this set, make sure you subscribe to The Old-Time Herald. You can also get updates from the magazine on Twitter by following @OldTimeHerald.

Meanwhile, The Old-Time Tiki Parlour has released another album that features Brown with  Tennessee…

Doubled Up Festivals: Raccoons and Rivers

We're lucky in Northeast Ohio to have a handful of local festivals that feature plenty of old-time performances and open sessions. However, we're unlucky to have these events stacked on top of each other.

I've written in the past about how the Raccoon County Music Festival in Burton, Ohio, is my favorite of the local events. Another well-regarded festival is Music Along the River (MATR) in Harpersfield, Ohio.

Usually, these two events are a week apart, but this year they occur on the same weekend — i.e., this weekend. Raccoon County is Saturday, Aug. 18, while MATR runs Friday-Sunday, Aug. 17-19.

Luckily, circumstances allow for someone to attend both events, if they were so inclined. However, there will no doubt be some people will only have time for one. It's a shame that two great events will likely experience reduced attendance because of this scheduling conflict, as these festivals attract the same crowd.

To make matters worse, another strong festival is scheduled…

Leaving on a Jet Plane: Gone But Not Forgotten

While you read this post, I'll be somewhere else in the world on a much-needed vacation. However, dear readers, I have not left you in the lurch.

Although I am not on my usual continent nor will I have access to my computer for the time being, you will still receive a weekly dispatch from The Glory-Beaming Banjo.

Upcoming is a preview of some local festivals, a plug for my recent freelance writing and a look at the essential films for banjo nuts like all of you. I'll also be sure to have some posts on the GBB Facebook page to keep you entertained in my absence.

You see? I'm gone, but you're not forgotten. Consider this a reward for your loyal readership. I truly do appreciate it.

It'll be a rough few weeks without being able to play banjo or fiddle. I was on a great roll the past few months, with a playing streak that exceeded 85 days on both instruments and starting to lock in "Forked Deer" for my latest Ward Jarvis tune.

Despite the disappointment of le…