Prior Updates
December 2009

My a-while-in-the-making Irish music trio Lark in the Evening is doing its
first show on January 2nd (a house concert in my hometown). Details on
the Schedule page.

And another first this month: I've gotten with the program (Skype) and am
now offering private guitar, mandolin and banjo lessons online.
Read all about it on our
Online Lessons page.

Three mandolins need new homes; cf our Instruments for Sale page.

November 2009

New YouTube clip: A set of Irish reels from my duo at a Maryland house
concert in September.

My dance band The Love Mongrels—'Contra with Cojones'—has
a new Facebook Page.

February 2009

Have decided that Texas is the O Star State—had a great tour there and
plan to try and make it an annual excursion. Getting ready to head south
again for my big winter southeast tour, to South Carolina, Georgia & Florida.

Line of the month—from a Feb 12th Washington Post piece on the growth
of challenges to unemployment benefits for terminated workers by their

A Verizon technician was charged with, in company terms, "detour and frolic."

January 2009
The Recession
There is hardly a better way to spend time during an "economic downturn"
than banging on a guitar, and it has worked for folks for centuries. The
purpose of TV is to sell products, and the purpose of a guitar is to make you
happy and take your mind off whatever is bothering you - like the products
you can't afford.  Music has always flourished in hard times, and either playing
it or listening to it can be therapeutic.
—musician Harvey Reid

Tis' true.

The Healthy Addiction
Speaking of 'taking your mind off whatever is bothering you', I rediscovered
table tennis (aka ping-pong) this past summer. Turns out the DC-area is a pong
mecca; you can find a serious game every day of the week somewhere.

I've started taking lessons with a coach. It's been stimulating to be on the other
end of the student/teacher equation. Learning the game is surprisingly similar
to learning a musical instrument: they both involve mastering precise and subtle
physical movements via practice as well as absorbing a body of information on
how it all fits together.

Back in the 40's and 50's the US was pong power, and the epicenter of the scene
was a club in NYC called Lawrence's Broadway Courts. From a Murray Kempton
piece on that heyday in Esquire:

The reality is that pong-pong players are the ultimate amateurs of American
sport: their only secure cash comes from taking bets against each other.... Life
is no longer work as ordinary people know it: one's work is the casting of spells,
the making of demon music, one's travels vagrant, one's living the product of
cunning: in short, one has become a gypsy.

the mandola marching band
I have found YouTube to be a remarkable resource; it's usually my first stop when
I want to learn a new tune.
This past year I've gotten more into Irish music than ever before. My other big
musical quest (also via YouTube) was learning Sousa's signature march Stars &
Stripes Forever—on the mandola. Not sure if the Guinesses' people know how
to reach me. But my effort to bring the mandola into the nineteenth century can no longer
languish in the shadows: here it is on YouTube.

free guitar lessons
The good folks at Flatpicking Guitar have posted excerpts from both of my
instructional DVDs on YouTube. Here's the lesson from the Flatpicking Primer
on Whiskey Before Breakfast . (This one's been up for a while and has garnered
over 100,000 views.) More recently there's New River Train from the Bluegrass
Rhythm Guitar Workshop.


The Love Mongrels, Glen Echo,MD, January 2009

My few-times-a-year contradance band. It's fun being in a group
with some of the best pickers in the DC-area (Alexander Mitchell,
Ralph Gordon & Danny Knicely).

Consumer Tip
Keep a blow drier near your bed and give the bedding a good blast before you
crawl in at night (or even mid-crawl). Life is good.
(Recycled from a couple years ago. But it works so well it warranted an encore.)

more prior updates