Between the Strings

At first all I wanted was music
and that seemed simple enough
put your fingers here to make a chord
your fingers there to make it ring
just try to keep your fingers between the strings.

It was all left hand right hand
with broken heart between
coordination between two dancing hands
with a teenage brain in between
and no way to keep anything from slipping between the strings .

Years went by and songs came and went
all I wanted was to sing the blues
(but really to be with my dad)
we had some wild old times
with nothing between us but the strings.

I teach music for a living now
trust me, show business is no place for any living thing
I suppose I’ll be forgotten someday – and that is as it should be
just a bit of Sagan’s Star Stuff between these strings.

What will remain, all that remains, is the love.
People may not remember our work or our names
but they will remember bad jokes told to keep spirits up
stories told to descendants as they fight the eternal fight
of keeping fingers between the strings.

Patrick Costello

Where the wild things are

On Easter Sunday, being in great pain to and from the ER, Amy stopped by a place where there was a path to the river and the Virginia Buebells.

I limped out on the path, leaning heavily on the staff Doc sent me a while back, then saw the river and suddenly took a giant leap on my aching feet;

I ran happily through the rock and mud down to the river and continued to run until it was time to go.

Once I was back on pavement the pain came back in a wave.

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Authors’ note: I tried to get this post up yesterday, but fell asleep while I was typing!

I tried to go off of my pain medication for a few days. I wanted to break out of the fog and feel. for a change. It was hard, but it was wonderful. The taste of good port. Sunshine on my face. The feel of Amy touching my hand.

Alas, all good things come at a price. I woke up screaming in pain on Easter Sunday.
We ran to the hospital at O dark thirty, got shot up with enough pain dilaudid to almost work and we were sent on our way.

The sun was coming up as we were heading home and Amy stopped by a creek where the Virginia Bluebells were blooming.

I do not own a good camera at the moment. As I predicted, he image sensor got trashed at Holi DC – but my first camera was still lying around – a Canon Powershot A580. As is custom for me, I made the most of what I the good Lord gave me.

I dove headlong into the sea of green and blue . Happy as an old hound dog.

Then we went to mass at the chapel at the Benedictine Sisters of Virginia. The good sisters were very kind. Making every every effort to make sure we were comfortable and able to take part in communion. The chapel is a small wonder of Arts & Crafts architecture.  Amy loves the garden, but I would love to to a workshop. I hate making phone calls for that kind of thing,so it you wan it it happen I will leave it up to you.

For Easter supper I made jumbo bacon cheeseburgers (Just a burger for me, I can’t do dairy anymore) with portobello mushrooms. 

Then we curled up on the couch with Qiona and Invicuts and watched some of Ben Hur and I took the pain meds the hospital prescribed for me. The fog settled in and I thought about the pain of the last few days and realized to feel the kiss of my Amy’s lips, to feel the Virginia bluebells along the creek – and that creeks cold water . . . I would do it again in a second.

Christ is risen.
Life is beautiful.

Since I don’t have a camera, and I can’t really play much banjo until my shoulder is stronger (especially with the new katana) I will be focusing on a little project with the working title of Crisfield Guitar. I have new tools to help me interface my BAHA implant with the mixing board, but it still not quite as objective as natural hearing. I need help.

Since my car is still stuck in Crisfield, I also will need a ride. I will play harmonica, jaw harp, ukulele and tell stories all the way.

Volunteers to help with sound engineering would be greatly appreciated. We will be using a Zoom R16 and a pair of MXL 900 mics. Volunteers will be fed with home cooking by Patrick and Miss Trudy.

Another project already in the works is a rather, um, unusual songbook. More on that later.

At  some point over the weekend Any kissed me and said, “Welcome back.”

Happy Easter, everybody!


Matthew 28
King James Version (KJV)
Audio version

28 In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.

2 And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.

3 His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow:

4 And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.

5 And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.

6 He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.

7 And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.

8 And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word.

9 And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him.

10 Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me.

11 Now when they were going, behold, some of the watch came into the city, and shewed unto the chief priests all the things that were done.

12 And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers,

13 Saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept.

14 And if this come to the governor’s ears, we will persuade him, and secure you.

15 So they took the money, and did as they were taught: and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day.

16 Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them.

17 And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted.

18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.

19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Okay. I don’t often talk about religion, but Easter isn’t about chocolate eggs or magic rabbits.

The Easter story, for me, is about victory. Imagine, as the song goes, if God was one of us and made the choice to suffer and die just like us.

It is a concept that inspires faith. comfort, controversy, dialog, mockery and rage.

Me? I stopped taking my pain mediation days ago. Coming out of the fog and into the light – no, the life – has been horrifically painful and worth every second. Just feeling – really feeling Amy’s arm against mine tonight made me realize that I would suffer anything to truly experience my life.

After everything Christ suffered he walked out of the tomb, and knowing how wonderful this world is, left it to watch over us. Out of everything in the Easter story, that is the part that breaks my heart, We fail to realize what a blessing it is to be on God’s good earth.

Pay Day for Monkeys!

A bit of news from Harp & A Monkey’s Facebook Page:

Here’s a thing, we received and email today stating that we are finalists for the Isambard Folk Awards in Bristol. Don’t know who submitted us in to that, but there you go!

Anyway, seen as how we are finalists, you could so if desired, follow the below link and show your appreciation by clicking on Harp & a Monkey.

And here’s a video of Amy’s favorite tune from the band’s new album!

I wish you well, guys. I met Ewan MacColl when I was a kid. It was a crazy night because Peggy Seeger and Elizabeth Cotten were giving me my first banjo lesson, but I will never forget the way Ewan sang. He sang about things that were culturally alien to me, but still spoke to me enough that my young street fighting self sat and wept for the miners strike and the puffins on the Isle of May. As a group, you guys have that. Hold together. Stay true.
-Patrick Costello

A Demo CD in the Mail . . .

on April 7th I got this note:

hi patrick,

i hope you are doing much better now after your

my bandmate and i recorded material at a real
studio on saturday. we put down 15 songs, all live with
no overdub’s or fill in trac’s. there are some mistake’s
but it is our first and came out pretty well. i wanted to
ask you if i could send you a copy? we feature clawhammer
banjo on better than 1/2 the songs. i even play something i
learned from you on youtube….. cumberland mtn deer chase! the
copy i can send you is not a mastered copy, but a rough edit. so you
can hear things that will be cut out of the final master. the big
thing is cutting out my heavy breathing on cumberland mtn. it sounds
like somebody’s sleeping, but it is me with my head too close to the mic. please
excuse the goof’s. and thank you again for teaching me how
to play!
can you give me a mailing address to send you a copy?

best regards,



I am sending Danny this note and making it public because I want folks to know this album is in the works.

I don’t do record reviews, so just on a personal opinion basis on a late Thursday night I honest and truly loved this project.
It is simply and beautifully timeless. Folks and gospel played with a carefree joy that makes you feel like you are listening to a musical letter from old friends. There are mistakes here and there, but the same stuff happens in any porch picking session. I just wish I was playing along with these guys. It must have been a hoot!

Danny, thank you for letting me take a small part in your journey. I am oh so very so proud of you.