Ragtime Banjo Revival at New England Conservatory 11/21

I’m feeling calm, grateful and happy to be in Ada, Ohio, preparing for my first orchestral concert and engaging with students and faculty promoting awareness and appreciation for the music and history of the banjo. Any time I leave Detroit I become hyperaware of my privilege. In the face of great suffering and injustice in the world I can only do my best with what’s in front of me and be present in each moment. (I am also contacting elected officials and posting memes and links on my IG if you want to follow me there.)

In this newsletter:

Tomorrow’s Concert at ONU

I don’t have too much more to say other than it’s been an absolute thrill working with Dr. Sarah Waters, Music Director at ONU, and Dr. Rebecca Casey, Professor of Music who is accompanying me on piano for A Ragtime Episode, and all of the students. Everyone here has such great attitudes, I really appreciate their curiosity and dedication. We had our second rehearsal last night and earlier in the day I gave a lecture on the history of the banjo. Big thanks to Dave Kosmyna without whom none of this would have been possible. The weather also happens to be gorgeous, so thanks for that, too, Dave! Here is the link for the free live stream, going live at 7:30pm eastern tomorrow, Saturday, Oct 28.

Ragtime Banjo & Pipe Organ Fundraising Concert at Detroit’s Masonic Temple 11/12

This concert represents a dream coming true that I never even dared to have. The Masonic is an iconic venue and it’s an absolute honor to play there, and I’m so excited to play with Stephen, Alex, and Abby again. This fundraising concert is being hosted by the Detroit Masonic Temple Organ Restoration Committee, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charity.

This will be our very first concert since the beginning of an extensive and costly restoration on Skinner Organ Company Opus 529, located in the Detroit Masonic Temple’s Cathedral Theatre. All proceeds from this event will go directly toward the ongoing restoration of this rare and historic instrument, which hasn’t been heard by the public in 98 years, by the way! Tickets are still available for only $35 and I don’t know yet if there will be a live stream. Click here for tickets.

Detroit Cantastoria Festival

I’ve taken part in this wonderful festival since its inception as house band/music director and I think this will be the year that I do my own cranky show… We’ll see! Either way, you won’t want to miss these raucous and thought-provoking homemade theatrical performances Nov 17-18 at St. Peter’s Church in Corktown, Detroit. Find out more here.

Lorin’s Classic Banjo Recital at the Polka Dot in Hamtramck 11/19

My student Lorin is giving her first classic banjo recital and I will be accompanying many of her pieces on second banjo. There will also be some additional featured guests, including Ian Blunden and Anna George. The program will feature selections by Joe Morley, Cammeyer, Tilley, and more, plus a gorgeous original arrangement Lorin for two banjos of John Denver’s Aspenglow. Doors at 6, Concert begins at 7:30, FREE!

Free Concert at New England Conservatory 11/21

I’ve just been asked to perform my original ragtime banjo arrangements with woodwind ensemble (and more) in a free concert at NEC and the timing works out this time, whew! I fly to Boston to rehearse the day after Lorin’s first banjo recital. I’m not sure which is the greater honor, I am so proud of her enthusiasm and progress with classic banjo, and as I am writing this she is at the American Banjo Fraternity Fall Rally.

The concert will take place Tuesday, Nov 21 at NEC’s Jordan Hall. Admission is free and you can reserve tickets here.

“Dance With Me Stanley” Radio Show

I had a great time doing this radio show with my pals Yvonne and Joe. They are so silly and fun and creative and goofy and just make me smile. Have a listen and smile!

Corn Potato Tour Highlights

I’m trying to get this out fast but briefly here are a few highlights:

  • Riding the funicular in Dubuque and later doing a headstand at a sold out barn concert in rural Wisconsin on my birthday
  • Fiddling and calling a square dance with Ben for a bunch of people squishing sand and clay and water together with their bare feet to make cob for an earthship in Toledo
  • Organizing and fiddling for a grand costumed queer square dance in Detroit
  • Sharing music and stories with Mrs. Blair’s music class in Ft. Wayne, IN
  • Seeing lots of great pals and playing some of my favorite venues in the world and getting to play music and spend lots of time with two of my favorite musicians and friends, Lindsay and Ben. I didn’t think we could get much better but we really have gotten better, not just at playing but also at being together. We started ten years ago and we’re still doing it! It’s bittersweet that we don’t get to do it as often anymore but I treasure the opportunity to be together and hope we’ll get to continue.

Dos Señoritas Progress Report

Thanks to Ben and Lindsay I sold 15 vinyl copies while we were on tour. Add to that the 9 copies people have bought on bandcamp and the three I’ve sold on my own in person and we’ve sold 27 copies so far. Only need to sell 73 more to break even! #goals

Order your copy today! Comes with digital download and makes a great gift!

Book Report

Right before tour started I finished reading Conflict Is Not Abuse, by Sarah Schulman, and I immediately started rereading it. I recommend this book as highly as I can recommend anything. This book is for anyone who cares about their relationships with other people and how they show up in the world. I learned so much from this book and I’m still processing.

During the tour I read Buddha In Redface, by Eduardo Duran, Ph.D. I really enjoyed this book as it reinforced many valuable lessons I’ve been learning from my studies and experiences in Buddhist and Native American teachings. It’s written in a straightforward style that is easy to read, and addresses the limitations of a Western materialist-naturalist approach when dealing with healing soul wounds. I found it both comforting and fascinating, would recommend to anyone with an interest in science, spiritual practice, Buddhism, or indigenous ways. (If you liked Sand Talk or Braiding Sweetgrass or Mutant Message Down Under then you’ll probably like this, too.)

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I plan to have a big announcement in the next newsletter regarding a new educational offering I’m making available, so stay tuned for that! Til then, stay safe, stay warm, and keep looking out for each other.