Tuesday, October 21, 2014

My New Gold Tone Banjo

When I began playing Banjo, I could only afford a low end instrument. I learned to play on an old KAY Banjo I bought in a Pawn Shop for 35 dollars.

It, (and I) sounded awful.

That was 1978.

As a Professional Banjo Player I've been lucky to play very good instruments through the years.

The first really good Instrument I had was a B&D Senorita Tenor Banjo made by Gretsch.  A beautiful banjo with the distictive B&D "ring". Although it was a "well worn" instrument when I acquired it, I truly wish I still had it today...

Following that, I played a hand made instrument by WC Chester from California. The Chester Banjo was a sturdy, well crafted banjo with great tone.

The instrument previously belonged to my friend Randy Morris in Orlando, Fl and he gave me a wonderful deal on it when I wasn't able to afford much more (thanks again, Randy!)

In 1990, I met CC Richelieu at a FIGA (Fretted Instruments Guild of America) Banjo Players Convention and thanks to "Rich", I travelled the world playing his Golden Eagle Tenor Banjo for the next 24 years.

Of course, CC Richelieu has passed on and his workshop is closed, so when it came time to find a new Instrument, I turned to Wayne Rogers at Gold Tone Banjos.

I emailed Wayne in mid September and he responded immediately and was extremely helpful (as were everyone at Gold Tone I dealt with).

In less than 10 days, I had my new TS-250AT Tenor Banjo delivered to my door in Thailand.

Gold Tone TS-250AT Tenor Banjo

It's a beautiful, well made instrument that sounds great! Admittedly, it took a day or two to get used to the instrument (anytime you play one banjo for 24 years and suddenly switch... ) but now I love it!

Thanks Wayne for making it so easy to put one of your fine instruments into my hands! I'm looking forward to debuting it onstage on the Diamond Princess next week (Oct 31 - Nov 09).

If you are looking for a really good quality banjo, check out Gold Tone, you won't be dissapointed.

Follow Me Boys!

In this age of constant Internet connectivity, it's are to believe we survived reasonably we without it!
When I began working cruise ships in the early 1980's, there were no Televisions on board, no Internet service, no Cell Phones, No Satellite TV Channels... we were lucky to find a two week old copy of USA Today in port (for $5).
Every Port Day guarenteed that there would be lines of crew members and passengers waiting to you the bank of  Pay Phones in the Cruise Terminal.
Now, if ESPN flickers for two seconds, passengers are calling the Front Desk in a panic.
As a kid, before we had Gossip Websites like TMZ we had to make due with "Party Lines" (under 40?, ask your parents).
Of course all has changed now, we have Emails, Twitter accounts, Websites, Blogs, Facebook, Pinterest, LINE, WeChat, Google Plus, Hangouts, Skype, Yahoo Messenger, MSN, AIM, Smart Phones etc.
I recently heard that someone actually sent someone a hand written letter! Have to check Snopes.com on that one!
The point of all this is that we live in a different age now. EVERYBODY is interconnected now.
I'm no different.
Here are the easiest ways to connect to me:
Email:  jcoston@yahoo.com 
Twitter: @jcoston
Skype: jcoston54 (not always online)
There are others (snail mail etc.) but if you can't catch me here, it means I'm either dead or in jail!

Reviving The Blog (& Catching Up!!)

It HAS been awhile, hasn't it?

In a way, Blogging is like exercise. It's a discipline.  You can be going along fine every day and suddenly, you miss a day and the next thing you know .... IT'S FOUR YEARS LATER!!

OK, a LOT has happened over the past 4 years (I promise NOT to bore you). I turned 60, put on a few extra pounds....

You know, the same thing that happens to everyone.

I'm still (thankfully) working the cruise ships. Next week I'm on the Diamond Princess sailing from Bangkok to Darwin Australia (Oct 31 - Nov 09).

I'm Still in Thailand and love it more every day. Actually bought some property up country that will be my eventual retirement home burial plot!.

I have a new Banjo (more on that in a future blog) and my health continues to be good.

There you are. Caught up without having to read 4 years worth of  blogging!

I'll be back soon (promise!)


Thursday, September 9, 2010

Permission Granted!

September in Thailand is a very important time for me. It's the month I go to Immigration to renew my Non Immigrant-O (Retirement) Visa.

This Visa allows me to stay in in the Kingdom of Thailand year round without having to exit the country. The requirements for obtaining a Retirement Visa are pretty straight forward.

Today, I submited my paperwork and have been granted permission to reside in Thailand until Dec 2011.

I've been in Thailand since June 2006 and couldn't imagine living anywhere else.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A GREAT Time to Visit Thailand

Despite what you may have heard in the news, now is a great time to visit Thailand.

It is low season (May - Sep) and hotel rates are inexpensive. You can find great rooms for as low as 500 Baht a night ($16 USD)in resort areas such as Jomtien Beach & Pattaya.

Many airlines are offering lower fares to encourage the return of tourists.

Additionally, the Government has exempted all fees for Tourist Visas until March 31, 2011.

The eastern seaboard of Thailand was never affected by the political unrest that befell Bangkok.

So book a flight and enjoy amazing Thailand!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Dave Carroll is my Hero!

Having been a travelling musician for the better part of 30 years I've seen my fair share of abuse levied on my Banjo by uncaring airline employees.

I try to hand carry my Banjo whenever possible but that is sole at the whim of what ever airline employee is standing in front of me at the time. No rhyme or reason...

A couple years ago folk musician Dave Carroll had his guitar destroyed by United Airlines. After going through the standard claim procedures (and being denied) he decided to do what musicians do best...sing!

And sing he did. On Youtube. To over 8 MILLION HITS!!!

Dave YOU are my hero!!

Happy Birthday Vince Eager

June 4th will be my good friend Vince Eager's 70th birthday.

Vince was a pioneer of 50's Pop / Rock in the UK along with Billy Fury, Marty Wilde, Adam Faith etc.

I wrote an extensive blog about him in Feb 2009 here

Vince does a monthly radio show in England and tonight (June 3rd) he will be doing a very special show. Here's his note to me about it.

I've decided on a little self indulgence on my radio show this week which is on Thursday 3rd June. As it's my 70th birthday on Friday I'm gonna play the sound track to my life, well, the highlights! Hope you can join me at 9.00pm (UK time) on http://mixstream.net/stream/652/listen.ram.

I will be up at 3am Thailand time to catch it for sure. If you can't get it, here are a couple vintage Vince tracks from Youtube..

Wishing you a VERY Happy Birthday my friend!!