For years, I’ve been covering the career of Patrick Costello (previously) a deaf, copyfighting, open access banjo player and teacher who is responsible for a bounty of instructional books, videos, and meetups for would-be banjo players. Now, Patrick has finished a new book called Just This Banjo and made it open access, in the name of fighting the malaise and terror of our precarious moment. As Steve Martin has proved: you can’t be sad while playing the banjo.
As I was finishing up this book, the launching of impeachment hearings against President Trump was the breaking news headline. Every channel seemed to have angry people yelling at other angry people. Seeking a reprieve, I went online and found more of the same anger everywhere I looked. A directionless cloud of rage that was eerily reminiscent of the Day of the Dove episode of Star Trek.
My father and I always advise our students, “if you see a need, fill it.” So, in defiance of the negative emotions of the day, I am making Just This Banjo freely available online. Maybe, just maybe, the encouragement, support, and love I experienced will come through the pages and inspire even one person to stop being angry.
I was the least likely music student to ever fret a string. I was able to learn my craft because there were kind and decent people in the world – and that has not changed. Hopefully, my adventures will inspire you to, as Woody Guthrie put it, ‘vaccinate yourself right into the big streams and blood of the people.’ If you like the book, the eBook edition will be available for purchase. You may also consider sponsoring our work on Patreon. If for, some reason you can’t stand the book, donate to charity in the name of somebody you don’t like.
So this time it’s not so much a copyfighting thing. It’s more like, ‘Yes, things are upsetting in the world right now. Let’s go make music.’
Desperate for a way to communicate after losing his hearing, young Patrick Costello set his heart on becoming a musician. Ignoring the odds, empowered by his family and a karate grandmaster, Patrick won a banjo in a bet, salvaged a guitar from the trash and wandered into the city of brotherly love looking for a teacher. What happened next is an unbelievable true story of chasing improbable dreams, the kindness of strangers, the IRA, the Philadelphia Mummers, and unconditional love. Just This Banjo will make you laugh, cry and maybe inspire you to pick up an instrument yourself.
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