New LSB Video Is a Work of ART + Gigs & More Videos + Book Report

We have entered warm/hot season! Time to prepare the ice hankies and strategically plan to open windows and operate box fans when the temperature is low and the air pollution meter reads low as well. On the plus side, warming up to practice banjo is much quicker than in the winter.


Big Video Times!
In this email my primary goal is to get you to click on this link and watch the Bluegrass Situation premier of the new music video for our original ragtime piece, Rivka Road Rag, by my band, Lovestruck Balladeers. It’s such a beautiful piece of cinema, created by Horatio Baltz, who also made our other music videos. So, that’s the main thing. And if the Bluegrass Situation link doesn’t work for some reason here is the Vimeo link.


More Videos
Other than that, I have some other fun videos to share from my Tunes from the Bag series I’ve been posting to all the social media platforms that I use (YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok).


I currently have 46 Patreon subscribers and when I reach 50 we unlock a bonus level of engagement — Some of you may be able to guess what it is — Basically it will be an extra challenge for me and extra fun for everyone. You can join for as little as $3/month, and the rewards are GREAT. Please join!


What I’ve Been Working On
Quick update on my current musical work — I’ve been working on ragtime and classic banjo material with Cameron Celestia for over a year and a half now, and we thought we’d like to record some of these amazing pieces. But where to record? Turns out Cami has access to a wonderful studio and we can start recording as early as this fall.


Now, I wanted to do something a little more creative than banjo + piano like last time, so I chose some pieces to create arrangements for string quartet and ten-piece brass band as well as small ragtime band (banjo, piano, guitar, uke, cello, possibly bass and possibly auxiliary percussion.) I’m still working on creating more arrangements but I’ve already written a bunch.


But who will step up to learn these parts and record with us? As soon as I asked that question I got all the musicians I could ever need saying they’d be glad to do it! So now I’m realizing that this project is more ambitious than anything I’ve ever taken on, and I will have to do some fundraising to be able to pay these musicians, not to mention engineers, artwork + layout, manufacturing, photo + video, publicity, marketing, etc. etc.


SO this isn’t a promise but don’t be surprised if some time this summer I launch a crowdfunding effort. I would hope to raise half the funds I need through crowdfunding and the rest through grant writing and/or private donor/s. I’ve never attempted anything like this before but I’m convinced it’s worth it and the world needs ragtime banjo!


No need to take any action right now but please be prepared to help me share this effort, promote the campaign and make classic banjo as big a deal as it ought to be. Who’s with me? I really need you all, my dear friends, fans, and family, as you are my inner circle and many of you have known me since before I even started playing this style of banjo. Let’s do it!


Upcoming Gigs
Unlike many other areas of the economy, live music really isn’t ‘coming back’ as soon as many of us would like. When people say “It’s nice things are opening up, you must be getting more work these days,” I can only respond with, “Hmm, we’ll see!”


That said, I do have a few gigs to mention that are coming up this summer:


Thursday, July 1 I am playing a classic banjo + piano outdoor concert at the town gazebo in Manchester, MI with Cameron Celestia, showtime TBA.


July 2-5 I am teaching a banjo workshop (BANJOPALOOZA) and performing a concert at the Festival of American Fiddle Tunes. I am in awe of the other teachers and performers. Check it out and consider signing up. I hope to see you there.


Sunday, July 18 I reunite with my beloved Detroit Square Dance Society Band for an outdoor concert/free-for-all at Clark Park, 5-7pm, FREE.


And yeah, that’s about it so far! You may recall in the past I would usually play 100-150 public shows a year, plus some private gigs here and there. I’m currently at about 5% of my usual workload, so yeah, please join my Patreon!


Book Report
I read a collection of short stories by E. M. Forster (including “The Machine Stops”) that completely rocked my world. These stories were written over a hundred years ago and it’s shocking how accurately he predicted the world we live in today. Many of the stories deal with culture clash issues and especially how miserable it is to be English, i.e., how separated from oneself and each other one has to be in order to function properly in society.


In “The Machine Stops” Forster describes a world where humans live in small rooms, physically isolated from one another but connected through a massive machine that provides them with all their survival and entertainment needs. Many of these stories took my breath away. The writing is beautiful and the ideas expressed are powerful and relevant.


I also read Mutual Aid: Building Solidarity During This Crisis, by Dean Spade, which was very practical, easy to read and understand, almost like a workbook with checklists and frequently asked questions. I found out a few months ago that what I’ve been doing in the community during the pandemic (e.g. delivering groceries for seniors, volunteering at a mobile food pantry) has a name (mutual aid), and it’s been empowering to find ways to directly help people in the ways they need help the most.


Disregarding any political motivation, I highly recommend seeking out your local mutual aid group/s and getting involved as it’s the best antidote for the loneliness and alienation so many of us have been feeling. For me it was a drag to find out all the touring I’d been planning for over a year would be cancelled (or, “postponed”), but helping other people has been the best way for me to stay sane and contribute in a meaningful way.


Until Next Time
Stay Cool Yall!