Doctors Without Borders Benefit Tomorrow

Greetings to all my fine feathered friends, and Happy New Year! I hope you’re staying warm and cozy this season. I made it back from retreat last week and I’ll just share one of the big lessons I learned: Meditation doesn’t have to be physically uncomfortable! For years I forced myself to sit cross legged on the floor and just deal with the pain. My teacher, who was sitting in a chair, saw me and said, “You look uncomfortable.” I was like, “Yeah, I know…” and soon after changed to sitting in a chair (with cushions!) and it led to great results.

In this newsletter:

  • Upcoming Gigs
  • Banjo Dojo
  • Lessons Availability
  • Ragtime Banjo Revival
  • New Video
  • Dos Señoritas
  • Book Report

Upcoming Gigs

Tomorrow! I’m playing a short set with Lindsay McCaw at 3pm for Mick Gavin’s annual Doctors Without Borders Benefit.

This Tuesday, 1/30 – Ragtime Banjo Revival Trio at Alpino Restaurant with Abby Alwin, cello, and Alex Belhaj, guitar — 5pm doors, 6:30-7:30pm show, $10 Tickets (This place has been recognized as one of the best new American restaurants by the James Beard Foundation!!)

2/14 – Each month Emily Rose does a show called Ghost Night at the Ghost Light. It’s a set of songs by a dead artist, followed by a set of originals, with a rotating cast of players each time. This month it’s the Carter Family and I’m joining in on fiddle and banjo. Doors are at 7, music at 8.

5/2 – Cleveland, OH – The Treelawn

5/4 – Columbus, OH – Central Ohio Folk Festival

and that’s about it for now. Kind of shifting away from lots of traveling this year and investing more of my energy into local events, such as


This doesn’t necessarily directly concern people who aren’t in or near Detroit but I’m excited to share this regardless. We’ve had two sessions so far and they’ve both gone really well. I look forward to seeing how this series will grow and where it will lead.

If you are interested in finding out more about this series, the model I’m using and the thinking behind it just click on the link above or feel free to email me directly.

If you know anyone who may benefit from this information please feel free to share it with them. The substack link is above, and here’s a link to the google calendar where the sessions are listed.

Lessons Availability

I have some availability for lessons, both online and in person in the coming months. Contact me directly for more info. Since the BANJO DOJO sessions are free and I’m not touring as much these days I am counting on private lessons (and donations) to make a living.

And by the way, if you haven’t yet joined my Patreon, now is a great time to do so! For less than the price of a cup of coffee you can be a part of the small but special club of supporters who help me pay my bills each month. Membership starts at $3/month, my heating bill starts at $200/month, and the feeling you get knowing that you’re enabling me to keep offering free classes and sharing rare music and cultural knowledge with the world is PRICELESS.

Ragtime Banjo Revival

Not too much news to report here, but I’ve been making inquiries about residencies where I can do more lectures, master classes, and concerts with students — Email me if there’s a music program you know of that would be a good match.

And the search for donors continues — I have had some success this month so I am heartened and encouraged to KEEP GOING. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

New Video

Here’s a little taste of what you’ll hear Tuesday night if you can make it out to Alpino — Alex was just over last night to rehearse with me and we talked about how strong we feel with this trio. The textures we’re making are so intricate and lush, yet so easy to enjoy, and it’s all nice and midrange with our instrumentation. I only play the fiddle occasionally to get that high end covered but for the most part it’s just relaxing and pleasant to take in.

Dos Señoritas

I still have about 60 copies of this fantastic sounding limited edition 10” vinyl of the only album ever made to exclusively feature classic banjo duets — Get yours before they’re all gone and I will personally ship it to you. CDs and digital downloads are also available.

Book Report

Before leaving for retreat I finished reading “Looking Backward, 2000 to 1887,” by Edward Bellamy. Reading this book I was frankly shocked that in 1888 a popular author was describing the same problematic conditions we are facing today. It’s almost as if despite all our progress the fundamental issues remain. Where do these problems come from? Can they ever be resolved? Are we powerless as individuals?

OK, I won’t try to answer these here, I’ll just say that I found this book fascinating although the language it’s written in is of course a bit old-fashioned. I would recommend this especially to anyone who enjoys thinking about society, economy, environment, progress, humanity, what the heck are we doing here anyway, and all that kind of thing.


This has been a fairly quick one, not too jam packed, I just want you to know that I’m thinking about you and I’m here. I’m not out here doing this for fame or riches, I really just want to be able to contribute in a meaningful way towards a greater sense of connection with ourselves, our shared cultural history, and each other.

Until next time my babes,