Skip to main content


February Update: A Full House, a Festival and Vinyl Hunter 17

Greetings, glorious readers! It's time for a quick update of my February five-string flings. Since my last update, I had two wonderful opportunities to play old-time music with friends.  First was a house jam to celebrate the birthday of Stephen Rapp , a regular player in Paul Kirk's Old-Time Tune of the Week videos. The festivities included a great gathering of Northeast Ohio musicians. I mostly played banjo. The group played a couple Ward Jarvis tunes for which I pulled out my fiddle, but I was too rusty to play along, so I went back the five-string.  Next was the 7th annual Lake Erie Folk Festival in Euclid, Ohio. I sat in on two organized community jams with an impromptu jam in the hallway in between the orchestra-sized sessions. I played banjo for the first couple hours and then switched to fiddle.  In addition, I finished work on "Hawks & Eagles" from Michael Ismerio's All-Access Online Fiddle Course and moved on to "Sally Ann." Because of s
Recent posts

Five-String Forecast: Making Plans for What May or May Not Happen

Planning for the future. It's an exercise many like undertake at the beginning newly minted years. Last year was a bit of a down year. My music playing didn't measure up to the plans I had made last January. This year is one I hope that ends with better results. So far I've managed to keep my daily playing streak alive. The problem is one I've had before. For the most part I'm only doing the bare minimum to mark off each day as one that I've played banjo and fiddle. Longer practice sessions have eluded me.  Despite the minimal playing, my logged time has still outpaced last year's results. So there is good with the bad. While I want to play more often this year than I did in 2022, what I really want to achieve is getting back into situations where I can play with others more often. Getting Back to Jams One way to play with others is to attend regular jam sessions. The ones I used to attend went away with COVID-19. There are two monthly jams I am aware of tha

Not Gonna Do It: 2023 Year in Review

Shall we just rip the Band-Aid off? I'm not going to make my overall playing time goal in 2022 . This has been an especially up-and-down year, as I've gone through equal measures of glut and famine when it comes to my musical endeavors.  My main goal this year was to get back into good practice habits. Unfortunately, I've struggled to find consistency.  I knew at the outset that aiming for a combined 250 hours of playing time on banjo and fiddle was a foolhardy mission. As of this writing, I'm three hours short of even reaching the halfway mark on my goal. With just two days remaining in 2022, it's pretty clear I won't even achieve half of my goal.  Despite my struggles this year, I'm not all doom and gloom about my playing. I've made some excellent progress with Michael Ismerio's All-Access Online Fiddle Course , learning 10 new tunes over the past 12 months.  On banjo, I have only learned four new tunes, but I've also tried to continue to get m

Always Be Restarting: Refreshing and Redoubling Musical Practice Habits

This has been a challenging year for my musical goals. While on the one hand I've learned several new tunes this year and was able to attend a couple festivals, but I've fallen well short of my playing time goals and have gone long stretches without playing any music at all. After a hiatus of almost six weeks between October and November, I've made the effort to recommit myself to banjo and fiddle.  Throughout my musical journey, I've had many instances where I felt like I was restarting. As we all know, unless you're a professional musician, life has a way of interrupting hobbies.  Like I mentioned in a previous post , I decided to train for a long-distance trail race at the end of July, something I hadn't done in over a decade. That took up a lot of my free time earlier in the year, and I've just had a hard time finding consistency in my practice time for banjo and fiddle.  In some ways, I feel a sense of guilt for not playing as much as I think I should.

Top 10 Best Banjo Books: Truth and Fiction of the Five-String

Before I fell in the love with the banjo, I was a book lover. I mean, I still am. But when I was in college, I took so many literature classes for fun that I amassed enough credits to earn a dual degree in English, along with my bachelor's in journalism.  I was raised in a house of reader parents. My mom is the kind of woman who checks out a stack of books at a time from the library. My dad also reads constantly, usually history or mystery, but at a much slower rate. My love of books developed slowly. My appetite for reading was sparked when I began collecting comic books in the early 1990s, then graduated to graphic novels, then my love for Star Wars led me to the Expanded Universe novels, and finally I began to read the almighty ...  LITERATURE!   From high school onward, I have never not been in the middle of some book. Naturally, when I became interested in the banjo, I not only began amassing a large collection of associated music, but I also started compiling a stack of books