Momma Don't 'Low is a newsletter to support home-made and roots-based music in general, as well as the readers of CreekDontRise.com, SchoolOfTheRock.com, and ClassicTrainSongs.com.

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Momma Don't 'Low? is a newsletter to support acoustic and traditional music, as well as the folks who follow our music articles on various web pages, including Creek Don't Rise?, Classic Train Songs?. SchoolOfTheRock?, and PaulRaceMusic.com

  • If you did not get this Momma Don't 'Low? newsletter through your own e-mail, and you would like to get the newsletters in the future, please Click Here to sign up.

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Paul dressed old-timey for a historical recreation.  The banjo is a Goodtime Classic Special Backless.In this Issue - October, 2016

If this newsletter seems unfamiliar, it's either because:

  • You signed up for Paul Race's mailings within the last several months, or

  • You haven't gotten a Momma Don't 'Low newsletter since last November.

A lot of water has gone under the bridge since then. We have updated several music pages, added many articles, and heard from readers from the UK to NZ. We have added useful links and articles, and I've done concerts and clinics of various kinds.

So we could say we've been too busy to put out a newsletter. But the biggest obstacle to keeping up with this is that we have had to move our sites to different hosting servers, and every move caused a mess of problems that took a long time to sort out and fix.

Recently, we were encouraged to add SSL to our sites because of Google changing their search algorithm again (that's why the URL box at the top of your browser starts with "https" unstead of "http."). But that forced us to make other changes. It also meant that there was a two-week period in which clicking on most of our sites would just give you an error like "this site's SSL is so screwed up that clicking through to it will cause your dog to die and your children to turn into gremlins" or some such. It's better now, though. The messages simply threaten that your dog will throw up on the carpet and your children will vote Republican.

I don't usually get newsletters out every month, but I seldom go this long between them. So rather than trying to list everything that's happened in the past eleven months, we'll just hit the high points with this one.

Here's a change that's kind of broad: after spending years creating resources for and coaching other musicians, I've acquired a few folks who have been encouraging me in return. And one thing they have encouraged me to do was to update my online presence. Now, if you go down to the bottom of the page you'll see a long list of "social networking" and other icons after my name. Some of those links don't really have very much there, but it's a start.

My musician home page (http://paulracemusic.com) is the one that's the most "filled out," with quite a bit of blogs on various subjects, mostly related to music. As for the rest, now that I have my "ducks in a row," it's time to get more ducks or whatever the appropriate cliche is.

What if You Signed Up for "Paul Race's" Newsletter? - There is a "signup" button on my PaulRaceMusic pages now, and some people have signed up there, in the hopes that they'll be in line when I share my new music. I appreciate it, and I do have new music I am anxious to share. But if you've followed me at all, you know that I enjoy writing about music almost as much as I enjoy writing and playing music, and, at this moment, I have a lot more time for the former.

So as this newsletter continues, it will have stuff about me and my music, but it will likely continue to have more about acoustic and traditional music in general, as well as updates about vintage saxophones. We hope that is okay with you all, but if you don't like the balance and decide to unsubscribe, we won't take it personally.

Fun things I've done since the last newsletter include:

    Checking Out Hard-to-Find Banjos "Hard-to-find" doesn't mean that people with deep pockets can't find them on the Internet or in music stores in NYC, Nashville, or LA, only that none of the hundred or so music stores in a 70 mile radius of my house ever carry anything besides Chinese imports, and usually only the cheapest ones at that. There are hundreds of $3000-guitars I could check out any time in the same region, but no American-made banjos, no banjos that list for more than $1000, and almost no banjos that have been set up enough to be playable. There is no question of going in and putting any banjo worth owning long-term through its paces the way I easily could, say, a Gibson Dove or Martin D-28, or any other popular high-end guitar you can name.

    So I tend to keep a mental list of banjos I'd like to own or at least check out, and pounce when I see one come on the used or closeout market for a no-brainer price. If it turns out I can't use it after all, I review it and put it back on the market. I inevitably lose money, but I gain knowledge that I can share with my readers.

    Okay, this approach is probably nuts, but it's helped me make friends from all over the world and get a lot of thank-you notes from folks who also live in "banjo deserts."

    By the way, in my own songwriting and performing, I play guitar as much as I play banjo, and I also play piano. But I don't review and write about those instruments because there are very few true guitar and piano deserts in the areas where my readers live, while - as far as I can tell - banjo deserts cover MOST of North America, UK, NZ, Australia, and Canada.

    So my banjo testing since the last newsletter includes:

    Taking it to the Streets:

    Adding Resources for Indie and Traditional Musicians:

    Adding Banjo Lessons and Tabs:

    Helping Identify Vintage Instruments - A number of readers have asked me questions about vintage banjos and saxophones.

    • The son of one reader may have tracked down an early Conn New Wonder Soprano stencil. I'm still waiting on photos to be sure, but the year 1914 punched in under the thumb rest is significant, because that's the year the New Wonder came out and the years on early Low Pitch saxes often reflect the year they were engineered, not the year they were manufactured. I've helped several other readers identify pre-1931 Martin and Conn stencils based on key shape, etc.

    • I've helped several European readers learn more about their century-old 5-string banjos, mostly "zither banjos." In addition, a 91-year-old banjo picker in California sent me photos of his prewar custom-built 6-string banjo, more evidence that the instrument is far older and more established than its detractors assume. Another fellow sent me a photo of a pre-war Jazz band in Germany, with a 6-string banjo prominently featured.

    • I've even contributed to Deering's newsletter, allowing them to use an abbreviated version of my article Are Six-String Banjos For Real?. A blog I wrote about that experience is here:

      The article version that was published on Deering's web page is here:

    More Moving in the Works

    At this time, we are moving, not our web sites, but our physical home, to a place that will hopefully be lower maintenance as we get a little older. Though it will delay much music happening in the next several weeks, it should be good in the long run, since I should have room to set up my recording studio equipment more-or-less permanently in one bay of the garage. If nothing else, I'd like to post videos in support of my "Beginning Banjo Lesson" series of articles, and put several more videos demonstrating techniques or other principles I've written about online. Not to mention working on my own, personal, actual music.

    More Articles in the Works

    Several questions about home recording keep coming up on the forums I frequent. I used to be an expert of sorts, having owned a home studio, and taught about acoustics, recording, and even sequencing at the college level. So I can usually answer the questions. But they keep coming up, and I am looking into updating and publishing at least some of the materials I used to use when I was teaching this stuff. Turns out all of the graphics from my materials have been lost, but most of the text is still there, and a surprising amount is still valid.

    At the same time, in moving my home studio equipment, I came across boxes of tapes and notes from early multichannel recordings, some of which were made on very primitive equipment, even by home studio standards of the 1970s and 1980s. I have entertained the notion of writing a memoir of sorts, which might be helpful or encouraging to modern-day musicians, or at least, maybe, fun to read.

    In the meantime, I have recreated two of the graphics from my old class - charts that explain in some detail how records were made in the late 1960s and how CDs were made in the mid-1980s. I posted small versions of those on my Facebook Music page, with links to full-page PDFs, and got a lot of likes and downloads.

    Analog recording and lp manufacturing in the 1960s. Click to see the full-page pdf version of this graphic. Recording and CD manufacturing in the 1980s. Click to see the full-page pdf version of this graphic.

    If you want to visit my Facebook Music page, please click the following link:

    If you want to download the PDF poster of how vinyl lps were made in the late 1960s, click the following link:

    If you want to download the PDF poster of how CDs were made in the mid 1980s, click the following link:

    More to Come

    If you've spent any time on any of our music sites, you know that we have a lot of topics to share about.

    Again, if you did not get this Momma Don't 'Low? newsletter through your own e-mail, and you would like to get the newsletters in the future, please Click Here to sign up.

    To ask any question about the content on this site please use our Site Contact Page.

    To sign up for this discussion forum, please use our Forum Signup Page.

    In the meantime, if you want to see November, 2015's newsletter (the one before this), please click the following link:


    Paul Race playing a banjo. Click to go to Paul's music home page.Whatever else you get out of our pages, I hope you enjoy your music and figure out how to make enjoyable music for those around you as well.

    And please stay in touch!

    - Paul Click to see Paul's music home page Click to contact Paul through this page. Click to see Paul's music page on Facebook Click to see Paul's music blog page Click to hear Paul's music on SoundCloud. Click to sign up for this discussion forum. Click to learn about our Momma Don't Low Newsletter. Click to see Paul's YouTube Channel. Click to see Paul's Twitter Page

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Visit our other pages:
- Music -
Heartland-inspired music, history, and acoustic instrument tips.
Best-loved railroad songs and the stories behind them.
Visit musings about music on our sister site, School of the Rock With a few tools and an hour or two of work, you can make your guitar, banjo, or mandolin much more responsive.  Instruments with movable bridges can have better-than-new intonation as well. The Independent Christian Musician. Check out our article on finding good used guitars.
Carols of many countries, including music, lyrics, and the story behind the songs. X and Y-generation Christians take Contemporary Christian music, including worship, for granted, but the first generation of Contemporary Christian musicians faced strong, and often bitter resistance. Different kinds of music call for different kinds of banjos.  Just trying to steer you in the right direction. New, used, or vintage - tips for whatever your needs and preferences. Wax recordings from the early 1900s, mostly collected by George Nelson.  Download them all for a 'period' album. Explains the various kinds of acoustic guitar and what to look for in each.
Look to Riverboat Music buyers' guide for descriptions of musical instruments by people who play musical instruments. Learn 5-string banjo at your own speed, with many examples and user-friendly explanations. Explains the various kinds of banjos and what each is good for. Learn more about our newsletter for roots-based and acoustic music. Folks with Bb or Eb instruments can contribute to worship services, but the WAY they do depends on the way the worship leader approaches the music. A page devoted to some of Paul's own music endeavors.
- Trains and Hobbies -
Free building projects for your vintage railroad or Christmas village.
Visit Lionel Trains. Click to see Thomas Kinkaded-inspired Holiday Trains and Villages. Big Christmas Train Primer: Choosing and using model trains with holiday themes Building temporary and permanent railroads with big model trains Click to see HO scale trains with your favorite team's colors.
- Christmas Memories and Collectibles -
Visit the FamilyChristmasOnline site. Visit Howard Lamey's glitterhouse gallery, with free project plans, graphics, and instructions. Click to return to the Old Christmas Tree Lights Table of Contents Page Click to sign up for Maria Cudequest's craft and collectibles blog.
Click to visit Fred's Noel-Kat store.
Visit the largest and most complete cardboard Christmas 'Putz' house resource on the Internet.
- Family Activities and Crafts -
Click to see reviews of our favorite family-friendly Christmas movies. Free, Family-Friendly Christmas Stories Decorate your tree the old-fashioned way with these kid-friendly projects. Free plans and instructions for starting a hobby building vintage-style cardboard Christmas houses. Click to find free, family-friendly Christmas poems and - in some cases - their stories. Traditional Home-Made Ornaments