I Was on American Idol

or America’s Got Talent, whatever. And I wasn’t actually on the show but I did audition. Scroll all the way to the bottom for that story. It’s 100 percent true.


Now, I’ve got quite a newsletter for you this time. Lots of fun links to look at, including audio, new videos, and news articles. Re-statement of tour dates. Book report. Update on the dental work… I’ll start with that, because I know you’re just dying to hear about it.


I’m not really going to go into specifics on this but I got the rest of my dental work done a couple weeks ago and it’s left me with a lingering sensitivity in part of my mouth. Every time I feel that sensitivity I take it as a reminder to be kind to everyone you meet, since you never know what inner struggles other people are dealing with.


Saving the videos and other links for last, here are the




2/14 – Saratoga Springs, NY – Caffe Lena
2/15-16 – Saratoga Springs, NY – Flurry Festival
2/18 – Cambridge, MA – Lizard Lounge
2/19 – Woods Hole, MA – House Concert – contact me if you want to make a reservation!
2/20 – Sheffield, MA – Dewey Hall
2/22 – New York, NY – Rockwood Music Hall Stage 3 – BIG RELEASE CONCERTS – TWO SHOWS


2/23 – Suffern, NY – Solo House Concert – Email Susan at [email protected] to RSVP and get directions
2/24-27 Got any ideas for me in the northeast, anybody? Performing, teaching, manual labor?
2/28 – Framingham, MA – Solo Concert at Amazing Things Art Center


And that’s all I have for now until April which will see me back east again with Lovestruck Balladeers at the Brooklyn Folk Festival. At the end of April I’m heading to the UK for a Big Solo Tour. Looks like I will spend a week of May in Berlin as well. Some of those dates are up on my website now and there are more being added every day. Highlights include Crossover Music FestivalBluegrass Omagh 2020Fire In The Mountain Festival, and teaching classic banjo at BMG Summer School at Halsway Manor

And now, here are all the fun goodies! Please enjoy responsibly:MOZART OF THE BANJO ON SPOTIFY
For reasons I can’t really explain, Spotify and Apple Music are only streaming half the album. I think it has to do with the Daily Exercise tracks being under a minute. So, please, stream to your heart’s content. Alas, the only way to hear the entire album (and enjoy the expansive liner notes) remains to order a physical CD from Old Time Tiki Parlour using this link. If for some reason you really want a download please contact David at the Old Time Tiki Parlour directly.NEW VIDEOS
This Old Time Tiki Parlour article includes TWO new videos!! Individually they are The Smiler, A Banjo Frolic, and I’ll also include at no extra charge this bonus video of Daily Exercise No. 11, from Joe Morley’s Banjo Tutor.MORE AUDIO
I’m so lucky to be able to share this interview I did with WDET (Detroit public radio), including pieces recorded in-studio with Kevin Celestia special for this interview. You won’t hear it anywhere else! At least, not yet. Check it out!

In case you like reading, too, here’s an article about me in the Ann Arbor Current by Jeff Milo and here’s another article by Suzanne Chessler, from the Detroit Jewish News.

So, that’s about it. No, wait! I knew I was forgetting something —

I read Nuns’ Blood, by Anthony Ambrogio, a while ago but I was too busy to write about it til now. I have to say it’s a highly enjoyable and racy camp-horror-mystery-thriller as clearly written by a serious film buff. I laughed out loud more than a few times while reading this. I do feel like I should say an “R” rating would be a bit misleading. This little novel is pretty explicit. So much fun to read.


All right now, that’s enough for this newsletter. I hope to see you again soon. Until then, be good.


Yours Truly,





Today I broke character and went and auditioned for America’s Got Talent. So unexpected, right? (It was my mom’s idea.) I’m glad nobody asked me on camera “What’s your dream?” I would’ve had to say “My dream is to live in a world where people don’t watch so much TV and spend more time making music and food and dancing together.”

I played “The Banshee,” by Emile Grimshaw, a classic banjo piece from around 100 years ago. At least I played the first 90 seconds of it. That’s all the time you’re allowed for the audition. Six hours of waiting for your number to be called and then 90 seconds of audition and that’s it. There are no judges there to give you feedback, just a couple of production assistants to administer the event and get it on tape. If I make the next round (which I hope I don’t!) they’ll contact me next month.

I’m 99.9% sure that what I have to offer is not what they’re looking for but I suppose there’s a small chance they’ll want to get me on their show for the freak factor — Weird looking guy with beard playing weird old banjo music. If by some strange turn of events I do end up on the show at least I’d get this old classic banjo music in front of a wider audience.

Some of the things I saw in the holding room: LOTS of singers, mostly singers, I’d guess I saw 85-90% singers. I saw a guy with a silver mask who sang the Star-Spangled Banner with a lot of passion (he said it was his seventh time auditioning for AGT). I saw a troupe of very young girls with rainbow-colored hair doing a dance routine, as well as other troupes of young people in other matching outfits. I saw a very talented trio of violin, bass, and cymbalom playing their own take on the famous Brahms Hungarian Dance. I saw a guy dressed as Santa Claus. There were so many kids there to sing.

I had to wonder if my parents would have taken a day off of work and let me skip a day of school to take me to one of these auditions. Everyone was in good spirits, and the families were all so supportive. Seeing the families like that may have been my favorite part of the day. Everyone was super friendly and outgoing and encouraging to each other, which was sweet, in that I-know-I’ll-never-see-you-again kind of way.

Some people came from far away. I met a couple who came from Niagara Falls, Ontario, to do 90 seconds of standup comedy each. I saw a comedian who came from Nebraska. I also met some people who drove three or more hours from other parts of Michigan. Anyone I met who said they lived in the Detroit area got a square dance flyer from me.

My takeaway from the whole thing was mixed. I felt good for pushing myself to do something different. And it was somewhat entertaining, albeit in a sort of desperate, sad, kind of way, to see everyone nervously pacing and running their bits in the holding room. And I felt like a Grinch for thinking we may be better off without these programs, if only we could actually connect with the people in our own cities and towns, get off the couch and make some friends. On the other hand, the happiness people brought to the experience was undeniable. I mainly went just to be able to say that I’d done it, and to see what it would be like, and now I get to tell you that I’ve done it and I saw what I saw.

And in case you don’t believe me, here’s a video from the “Holding Pen” before I went in for my audition.