Saturday, November 22, 2014

Free Software on the Web to Promote Your Show Biz Career

 
Putting together a set of software tools to advance your career needn’t cost an arm and a leg. If you are PC based, here is a list of essential software that you can download and use for FREE.
 
First things first. Secure your system with a good anti-virus software. There are a number of good, Freeware programs out there  (including AVG) but you can’t go wrong protecting yourself with:
 
Avast Anti Virus Home Edition – Simply the best Anti-Virus & Anti-Spyware program that money can’t buy. Period. (or upgrade to PRO for even more protection).
http://www.avast.com/index
 
Of all the programs you’ll need, a good Calendar / Contact Manager / ToDo List may be the most important! Organize yourself by keeping the three things you need most, Contacting, Scheduling & Prioritizing on one single screen.
 
If you are willing to pay approx. $50 USD, Time & Chaos ( http://www.chaossoftware.com/ ) is about as good as it gets. If you’d like something with a similar functionality for free, consider using Essential PIM.
 
Essential PIM 6.02 – is a professional Personal Information Manager  (PIM) that you can use to store and manage all your important data, including notes, contacts and schedules.
 
The intuitive program is configurable enough to allow you to display only the modules you use. http://www.essentialpim.com/
 
For “on the flypost-it style notes on your desktop, there are a number of freeware options. I’ve tried several but always come back to Stickies.
 
Stickies 8.0b – Virtual “Post It” notes for your desk top with alarms. Couldn’t live without them. http://www.zhornsoftware.co.uk/stickies/
 
As you promote yourself via posters, websites and mailings, you’ll want the ability to work with graphics and photos. There are great professional packages out there if you’ve got the money such as Paintshop Pro and PhotoShop - if you are on a more meager budget (or just don't need all those bells & whistles), consider using Phoxo.
 
PhoXo 8.3 - is a free and powerful image editing software. It's tiny, fast, easy to use, can be treated as a “mini PhotoShop”. Its features include layers, undo, over 50 special effects, batch processing, and a wide variety of useful and powerful tools for selecting, crop, painting, retouching, measuring and navigation. You can easily add text effects to image, such as shadow text, ripple text, gradient color text etc. http://www.phoxo.com/en/
.
A good Office Suite (Word Processor, Spreadsheet, PowerPoint) is an absolute necessity. There are a number of good ones (even free) such as Open Office, personally I like...
 
WPS Office Free 2014 - is a versatile, light weight, free office suite, which includes a word processor, spreadsheet program and presentation maker. These three programs help you deal with office tasks with ease:
 
Support for most common file formats and it also has Office to PDF converter, automatic spell checking and word count features.
http://www.kingsoftstore.com/kingsoft-office-freeware.html
 
Other Software you’ll find useful....
 
Freemake Video Converter 4.1. - is a video conversion and editing software to convert between popular video formats, create image slideshows, music visualizations, and more.
 
In addition to straightforward format conversion, the program also includes additional features that let you trim, join and rotate video content, extract audio tracks without quality loss and rip or burn DVD or Blu-ray discs.
 
The supported output formats include AVI, WMV, MP4, 3GP, SWF, MKV, MPEG MP3 and DVD, with a variety of ready-to-use profiles for iPods, iPad, PSP, XBox and other devices. Freemake Video Converter can also convert and upload your content directly to your YouTube or Facebook account. http://www.freemake.com/free_video_converter/
 
PicPick - is a screen capture application that includes a capture editor and several on-screen measurement tools, including color picker, color palette, pixel ruler, protractor, cross hair and more. It allows you to capture the entire desktop, active windows, selected areas or window controls with the click of a button or via keyboard shortcut. http://www.picpick.org/en/
 
Skype – is a user friendly video and text messaging software, that allows you to make free Internet phone and HD video calls to any Skype user, anywhere in the world.
 
The sound quality is as good or even better than regular phones, and requires no additional equipment, besides a normal PC microphone or headset. http://www.skype.com/en/
 

If you find that you need something else not listed, the two best resources for free software on the web are: http://www.snapfiles.com & http://www.freewarefiles.com where there are literally thousands of programs to chose from!
 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Using The Internet to Promote Your Show Biz Career

 
Making a go of it in Show Business has never been easy. Talent alone is never enough. It also takes planning, persistence, organization... and luck! Today, we are fortunate to have the technology tools at our fingertips

 30 years ago, things were different.

If you wanted to promote yourself to Agents, you had to scour the Yellow Pages for Agents then you got 500 copies made of your 8x10 from a Repro Service, the you made Audio Cassettes & labels and used a Typewriter to make a Cover Letter & Resume which you took to a copy shop to Xerox and then you stuffed Manila envelopes and marched them down to the post Office where they weighed each piece and attached the postage.

 Then you waited a minimum a month before either hearing back from someone (or not) or discovering that over half of of your mailings were “returned to sender” due to old or incomplete addresses!

 That’s how we did it “in the old days”.

When I began, I found the addresses to all of the Cruise Lines listed in the Travel Section of the Sunday Paper, put together the mailers and addressed them attention to the Entertainment Director. It was hard work, but it worked!

 
Early in my career, I was given a piece of sage advice from a fellow performer. He said “keep a record of everyone you meet in the industry” get their business card, contact details etc. This is an industry of networking and you never know when that tiny piece of information might prove useful.

Back then, it literally was a hand written “little black book". Today of course it’s contained on my phone & computer.

Things are easier (and cheaper) these days.

 Whether you are just starting out or looking to take your career to the next level, there are many great FREE tools available to you via the Internet. Some we just take for granted (but shouldn’t) and others are great little “finds” that make getting somewhere in this Business of Show, a little easier.

In Part One, I’ll discuss the FREE SERVICES on the Internet that you should be using.to advance your career.

 Email: Seems like a “no-brainer”. Everyone uses email, right? Yes, but many do not use it well. I see email addresses more suited for 14 year old kids than Entertainment Professionals in my inbox every day. If your address is sex_freak_420@xxxx.com you might want to reconsider the message it conveys to an agent. 

Put together a few template emails (introduction, promotion etc.) and save them as drafts so you can fill in the blanks and reuse them. It beats re-writing the same emails over & over again.


Most email services allow you to save contacts lists in “groups”. Use this feature to clump together similar contacts ie: Agents, Fan Base, Performance Venues etc. This makes mass mailing a targeted email much easier.

Many Email Accounts (Yahoo, Google etc.) allow you to publicly display your online Calendar via a link to let fans & potential clients know your availability or where you are performing.

Make use of the “automated reply message” if you are going to be away from your email for any length of time (such as working on a cruise). It lets the sender knowimmediately that their email was received and that you will personally respond as so as possible.

Blogs: Can’t afford a dedicated website or don’t know how to design a Webpage? A blogging site may be just the answer you are looking for.

Sites such as Tumblr.com and Blogspot.com offer free web space. If you can use a word processor, you can set up a blog quite easily. Blog sites are easily updated and can lend themselves to a more conversational approach to promotion.

Some blogs will allow you to redirect from a purchased domain name as well (ie: www.jimcoston.com).

For an example, checkout my site at http://banjojimcoston.blogspot.com

Facebook: If you are reading this blog, you probably linked to it from Twitter or Facebook. Again, like email, many people have Facebook but don’t utilize it well. If you are a professional entertainer and plan on using Facebook as a promotional tool, consider having a separate page for “work” and another one for friends & family.

If your Facebook timeline is full of pictures of you, drunk on your knees or is littered with off colored jokes or photos of Kim Kardasian’s posterior, that might not be the image you want you convey to potential clients.
 

Google: You use it everyday, now start tapping the resources it provides to aid your career.

Back in the 1980’s , I was touring across the country and in every city, my roommate would go down to the hotel lobby and tear out of one of the pay phone’s Yellow Pages, the listings for Booking Agents, Night Clubs etc.

That was the 1980's equivilent to Google

Today if you want the address, phone number, email & contact person at almost any Agency, Theater, Casino or Cruise Line in the world, you can Google it in seconds! Start building lists of potential agents, venues, clients etc and keep them in your “virtual black book”.

When searching, if you are getting too many listings or wrong listings (ie: I want “banjo” NOT “banjo kazooie”, you can use advanced search to limit results to region or to exclude certain terms.

Google also allows you to save news searches and have them emailed to you, a great way to track an individual news story ( such as reviews of your shows).

Youtube: It’s not just for watching videos of cats playing piano.Set up your own channel, and once again, use the channel specifically for promoting your shows. Don’t include videos from the family vacation or your bachelor party. As an example, check out my youtube channel at http://youtube.com/user/jcoston 

Once you have videos in place, you can easily direct potential clients and agents to view them online. The immediate access and the fact you aren’t paying to mail copies of your DVD around the world is a great benefit.

It goes without saying, to always upload the best quality videos you can and to keep them short (under 10 minutes). If the client wants to view your whole show, either send them a DVD or direct them to another link.


As you set up these different accounts, try to have as much continuity in name & design as possible between each platform - it helps build brand identity.There are other tools out there (Twitter, Google+,etc.) that may be well worth your time but if you concentrate on setting up these properly first, you’ll have a great start.

 And just be thankful it isn’t 1984 anymore!

NEXT: Part 2: Freeware on the Web to Promote Your Career

Monday, November 17, 2014

Lessons from a Cruise Cabaret Act




The Cruise Industry continues to grow with an estimated 21.7 million passengers sailing on the 63 member Cruise Lines of CLIA (Cruise Lines International Association) in 2014. Demand continues to grow and as a result, 24 new ships will be introduced over the next two years.

This sustained Industry expansion, even in tenuous economic times makes working on board a cruise ship more and more desirable, especially for entertainers.

I have been fortunate to have spent the past 30+ years as a Headline Cabaret Act on Cruise Ships having appeared on well over 80 different cruise ships during that time.

I've learned a few lessons along the way...

A few caveats, I am an Instrumental Cabaret Act. While some of the details I will outline will be useful to all performers who work on ship, it is specifically written for aspiring Musical Cabaret Acts.

1.) Have an Act! If you are a singer or instrumentalist, you need to have a show (preferably two shows of 45 minutes) with professionally written (clean) charts for at least 7 instruments (Piano, Bass , Drums, Guitar, Trumpet, Trombone, Clar/Sax). Make sure your charts can “fold down” to a smaller configuration (ie: Rhythm section) and still still work without too many "holes to fill".

Also, if you charts need a dedicated “Conductor”, consider re-writing them!

Some acts use backing tracks but, unless they are extremely good, you are better off with a live band. Just the dynamics of having a band to interact with as opposed to working alone on an empty stage brings far more energy to your performance.

And, anyone who has used tracks can tell you, the smallest technical or human glitch can tear a show to shreds seconds!

Being a good instrumentalist or being a great singer isn't enough. You need to have a show with a strong Beginning, Middle and (even stronger) End. It's not just about the music, it's about being entertaining as well.

Don't be a “one trick pony”. Present a variety of styles of music. Nobody wants to hear you do a show just of ballads, or bluegrass or [fill in the blank]. Personally, I prefer to keep most of my songs (unless they are medleys) to under three minutes. That way, if they aren't especially enamored with what you are doing at the moment, you will have moved on to something hopefully more to their liking, fairly quickly!

Avoid doing “original material”. People come on ships to be entertained, not educated. They want to hear the melody and recognize it. Face it, if your original songs were “that good”, you probably wouldn't be working on a cruise ship in the first place!

Someone once told me that “likeability” on stage is the most important quality you can have. If the audience “likes” you they will be forgiving of any minor flaw in your show. If the don't like you, it doesn't matter how good you are – you've lost them before you even start.

2.) Know your demographics! Over 50% of all cruise passengers are from the United States and the average age of cruise passengers are over 50 years of age. That's the average but it can vary from Cruise Line to Cruise Line, from Itinerary to Itinerary, with length of cruise and even from the time of the year.

A cruise ship on a seven day cruise in the Caribbean will have a different passenger makeup than that same ship doing an around the 106 day World Cruise.

Christmas, Spring Break and Summer School holidays bring out the younger cruisers including families with children. Anything less than seven days cruise will generally skew to a younger, party crowd as well.

A show that may work well in the Caribbean may not work as well in Europe, Asia or Alaska and vice versa. Personally, my show skews to an older audience and therefore I am reluctant to take any cruise in the Caribbean of of less than ten days!

I make a point of checking the Cruise Manifest before putting together my Show List. The Manifest will tell you the age group and Nationality of the guests on board. On a recent cruise, I discovered that 88% of the Guests were from Australia. Immediately I pulled “Stars & Stripes Forever” and inserted “Waltzing Matilda” and George Formby's “The Window Cleaner” - and it worked!

Understand that some nights, you "take one for the team”.

Everybody wants to perform on a Sea Night without the clocks going forward or an early morning port arrival the next day! Of course that's not possible. There will be times when you will be faced with a small audience in a cavernous Theater, totally exhausted from a day long tour to Cairo! It happens and it's no fun – but it goes with the territory. Above all, don't take it out on the audience who did bother to show up! Give them the show they deserve – no matter how hard it is (after all, you ARE a professional).

3.) Follow directions well. Once you are on board ship, make a point of doing what is expected of you. Show up (on time) for rehearsals, be backstage early for show times, dress appropriately in public areas, remember that even if you have passenger status – customers come first!, be respectful to Officers & Staff, fill out immigration & customs forms correctly and return them on time, show up for any required safety drills, inspections etc.,

A very important point - do the requested amount of time for your show. You are just a small part the ship's events scheduled by the Cruise Director. By doing more or less time than asked, you can throw off the timing for other activities (thus making the Cruise Director unhappy).

If your show extends past the Dinner Bell, trust me, they will get up and leave!

A lot of Entertainers join ships expecting it to be a 24 hour party. It isn't, and those insist on making it so, don't last long. More than one Entertainer has found his or her contract abruptly terminated due to public drunkeness or inappropriate behavior with staff, passengers or crew!

Be pleasant, fit in and avoid being “high maintenance” by pestering the Cruise Director, Purser's Staff or Shore Excursion's Manager over petty things. They have a LOT more to worry about than just you!

4.) Engage with the passengers. Your continued employment will be based on a Performance Report usually written by the Cruise Director and by Passenger Comment Cards.

At the end of the Cruise, guests will fill out a form rating all of the services on board. On some ships, Entertainment is a single category, while on others, each act is named and rated individually.

No matter how hard you try, you won't please everybody. Some people just don't like Magicians or Jugglers or Banjo Players or Ventriloquists to begin with. Guests also can write in comments about what they liked or didn't like.

Acknowledge Guests in the hallways, open ship's doors for them, speak to them in the elevators, sit and have a cup of coffee on deck with them, in general, be engaging.

Even if your show “didn't go so well”, you can repair some of the damage by spending time with the guests and letting them get to know you! Not only will your time on ship go faster, but you might just learn something!

Remember, you never know who may be in the audience. More than one Entertainer on ship (myself included), has had a simple conversation on deck with a guest turn into a contact for a job referral down the line!

5.) Take Care of you Room Stewards (& Waiters)! Your Room Steward cleans your room, makes sure it's in good repair, brings you ice & fruit, takes your laundry down and tries not to disturb you during your down time!

Tip him/her as you would want to be tipped for doing the same work (that goes for your Dining Room Waiter as well). There are Guidelines for Passenger Gratuities, if you are on ship and are given Passenger Status (most often you are), them tip accordingly!

Also, please if you are leaving at the end of your contract, vacate your cabin early so the Steward can ready it for the oncoming Entertainer who most likely just flew 20 hours to get there! After all, if you just flew 20 hours, you wouldn't want to sit in the Lobby waiting for your Cabin to be ready, would you?

It's all about getting along. Good luck and Happy Sailing!




Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Stayin' Alive!



If you ever wondered whether a famous person is still alive or not, check out the website:


http://www.deadoraliveinfo.com/


And yes, Abe Vigoda is STILL ALIVE


Here is a fascinating list of famous people who are over the age of 90 and are thankfully still with us!


 
Irwin Corey                  99    07/29/1914    Entertainment
Herman Wouk              99    05/27/1915    Literature
David Rockefeller        99    06/12/1915    Business
Norman Lloyd              98    11/08/1914    Entertainment
Olivia de Havilland      98    07/01/1916    Entertainment
Kirk Douglas                97    12/09/1916    Entertainment
Zsa Zsa Gabor              97    02/06/1917    Entertainment
Vera Lynn                    97    03/20/1917    Music
June Foray                    97    09/18/1917    Entertainment
Joan Fontaine               97    10/22/1917    Entertainment
Marjorie Lord               96    07/26/1918    Entertainment
Louis Jourdan               95    06/19/1919    Entertainment
Al Molinaro                  95    06/24/1919    Entertainment
Billy Graham                94    11/07/1918    Religion
Joseph Wapner             94    11/15/1919    Ent,Law
Alan Young                  94    11/19/1919    Entertainment
Maureen O'Hara            94    08/17/1920    Entertainment
Jayne Meadows             94    09/27/1920    Entertainment
Nanette Fabray              94    10/27/1920    Entertainment
G.D. Spradlin                93    08/31/1920    Entertainment
Ann Rutherford             93    11/02/1920    Entertainment
Noel Neill                      93    11/25/1920    Entertainment
Little Jimmy Dickens    93    12/19/1920    Music
Carol Channing             93    01/31/1921    Entertainment
Hugh Downs                 93    02/14/1921    Journalism
Abe Vigoda                   93    02/24/1921    Entertainment
Barbara Hale                 93    04/18/1921    Entertainment
Jake LaMotta                93    07/10/1921    Sports
John Glenn                    93    07/18/1921    Space,Politics
Monty Hall                    93    08/25/1921    Entertainment
Ernest Hollings              92    01/01/1922    Politics
Patrick Macnee              92    02/06/1922    Entertainment
Steven Hill                    92    02/24/1922    Entertainment
James Noble                  92    03/05/1922    Entertainment
Carl Reiner                    92    03/20/1922    Entertainment
Marty Allen                   92    03/23/1922    Entertainment
Bill Macy                       92    05/18/1922    Entertainment
Christopher Lee             92    05/27/1922    Entertainment
William Schallert           92    07/06/1922    Entertainment
Kay Starr                        92    07/21/1922    Music
Janis Paige                     92    09/16/1922    Entertainment
Fyvush Finkel                92    10/09/1922    Entertainment
Doris Day                       91    04/03/1922    Entertainment
Norman Lear                  91    07/27/1922    Entertainment
Stan Lee                         91    12/28/1922    Cartooning
Red Schoendienst          91    02/02/1923     Sports
Liz Smith                       91    02/02/1923     Entertainment
Franco Zeffirelli            91    02/12/1923     Entertainment
Chuck Yeager                91    02/13/1923    Military
Ara Parseghian              91    05/21/1923    Sports
Henry Kissinger            91    05/27/1923    Politics
Jack Carter                    91    06/24/1923    Entertainment
Earl Hamner, Jr.            91    07/10/1923    Entertainment
Bob Dole                       91    07/22/1923    Politics
Rhonda Fleming            91    08/10/1923    Entertainment
Rose Marie                    91    08/15/1923    Entertainment
Glynis Johns                  91    10/05/1923    Entertainment
Larry Storch                  90    01/08/1923    Entertainment
Mort Walker                  90    09/03/1923    Cartooning
Bob Barker                    90    12/12/1923    Entertainment
Gloria Vanderbilt          90    02/20/1924    Fashion
Stanley Donen              90    04/13/1924    Entertainment
Theodore Bikel             90    05/02/1924    Entertainment
Charles Aznavour         90    05/22/1924    Entertainment
George Bush                 90    06/12/1924    Politics
Eva Marie Saint            90    07/04/1924    Entertainment
Bess Myerson               90    07/16/1924    Entertainment
Arlene Dahl                  90    08/11/1924    Entertainment
Phyllis Schlafly            90    08/15/1924    Social Activism
Jimmy Carter                90    10/01/1924    Politics
Roger Williams            90    10/01/1924    Music
Bill Dana                      90    10/05/1924    Entertainment
Lee Iacocca                  90    10/15/1924    Business



To A Long Life!





Dispelling the "Cruise Ship Act" Myth



"I'll be joining the cruise ship Diamond Princess in a few days sailing Bangkok to Darwin, Australia."

Quite often when I say something like that to a "land based" entertainer, I get a  look from them that seems to say "Sorry your career is not going well.."

I guess it's understandable to feel that way if you've never been on a ship before.

On popular TV Reality shows like The X Factor or American Idol, some of the Judges make disparaging remarks about someone being a "Cruise Ship Act".

And 40 years ago, there was some truth to that....but not in today's cruising world.

Many of the acts you see today on ship routinely perform in Las Vegas, Atlantic City, New York, London, Branson etc.

On ships, not only are the Show Rooms world class and the audiences appreciative, but as a performer it makes monetary sense.

About 20 years ago, I was offered a job at a well known Theater in Branson MO. The offer broke down to a total of approximately $1200 a week for six days / eight shows. Additional money could possibly be earned by selling albums (cassettes were big back then) after the show.

This did not include housing, meals or transportation to/from Branson.

At the same time (20 years ago), I was making about $1500 a week on ship. I was working a maximum of two nights a week (4 shows) and all of my meals, my transportation to/from ship and my accommodation (private passenger cabin) were provided by the Cruise Line.

Needless to say, I did the math and didn't take the Branson gig!

Since then, the money and the onboard conditions have continued to improve. On many ships, I don't just get a Passenger Cabin, I get a Mini Suite with balcony!

I also get to travel the world (well over 80 countries now).

I've seen a lot of great Entertainers on ships (and, to be honest, a few less than great..) but that holds true in Las Vegas, Branson etc.

For many Performers, Cruise Ships are a great venue to work.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Buy A Banjo ... See The World!



It's not often in life that a $35 dollar decision can change a life but it happened to me....


I was one of the first Advanced Cardiac Life Support Paramedics in the United States back in the early 1970's.  I loved my work and I was good at it.


Unfortunately, at the time, there was very low pay and extremely long hours for those of us willing to do the job. I felt that, in my 20's I could work those grueling 24 hour shifts, but in my 30's......


I wanted to find "something" that I had a passion for and could pay a decent salary.


I had always loved the music that was NOT of my generation. I enjoyed the Big Band Swing and Dixieland Jazz my parents listened to. These were the tunes that constantly ran through my head.


One day, while walking down King Street in Charleston SC I happened to pass a Pawn Shop that had a banjo in the window. I went in and, on impulse, I paid $35 for it!


Now understand, at this point I didn't know a Tenor from a Plectrum from a 5-String. All I knew was it was $35 dollars and I had that!

Once I got it home, I soon discovered there were no 4 string banjo teachers in Charleston and I was pretty much "on my own". There were no Youtube videos to learn from back then, only dry instruction books.


I did have as inspiration a copy of Eddie Peabody's "Man With A Banjo" album which I would play it and attempt to copy.


Little did I know at the time, Eddie played a Plectrum Tuning and I was trying to duplicate it on a Tenor Banjo!


Most Tenor Banjo players would either chunk chords or play single string melody. I learned to play Chord Melody style on a Tenor Banjo because I didn't now any  better!


It was a long, hard learning curve until one day my friend Randy Morris found me an out of print copy of Harry Reser's "Let's Play The Tenor Banjo" published in the late 1920's.


Reser, who was widely known for his single string dexterity was also an excellent chord melody player.


Suddenly a light went on! So that's how you are supposed to do this!


Combined with Pat Terry's Cassette Banjo Tapes (Terry Tapes), I finally had the tools to learn and explore.


It took months years to play well enough to work professionally, but in time, I did it!


That $35 dollar investment literally has taken me around the world dozens of times as the two maps below will show. If it's in blue, I've been there, thanks to playing the Tenor Banjo!

1982 to Present. States visited while playing the banjo!



1982 to Present. Countries visited while playing the banjo!















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.