A Smile and a Wink, Namaste…

billy in Liberty, march 21, 2020…

Greetings from Liberty. I hope this post finds everyone in good health and doing your part to help yourself and your community get through this pandemic interval. I say interval because one definition says, a definite length of time marked off by two instants. That means a beginning and an end to me. Let’s hope that the ending arrives sooner than immediately. How does that sound?

The Mid-Atlantic winter tour for 2020 was a success, though there were four cancellations at the end, due to the social distancing implementation. Two were presented to me, and two were my decision. It wasn’t an easy one, but I felt it was the right thing to do. Thank you to all of the fans, presenters and hosts. I am grateful.

The tour was to finish on Saturday, March 21, the first day of Spring in North East, Maryland, but instead I arrived home Tuesday evening, St. Patrick’s Day. I was grateful to be home considering the interval. It felt a bit weird staying with the many hosts who decided it was okay to have a guest, though social distancing was starting to happen. 

During the drive home, I was glued to the radio and various news reports. I made two stops in Virginia, at a Dunkin Donuts and a Burger King. At the Dunkin, I got out of my car, walked to the door only to find that they were in a drive-through only mode. I ordered my vanilla chai tea with almond milk and was on my way. I thanked the service person for making my tea and showing up for work. They smiled and said, “Have a nice day.” Then, four hours later when I stopped at BK, I knew to go to the drive-through. That service person also had a smile to extend, and I extended one back.

Sue and I watched Contagion last night and learned from Lawrence Fishburne’s character that, the human hand shake began as a way of letting the receiving person know that you didn’t have a weapon, in other words, you come in peace. That seems plausible. 

Perhaps the smile will become the new norm for greeting. Accompanied with eye contact, the smile is a kind and friendly way to say hello to someone, without extending a handshake. After learning the history of the handshake, I’m wondering if it is something that would be beneficial to let go of? A smile and friendly eye contact seem more in line with pacifism to me. What will the new norm be? I hope not the elbow or the Vulcan salute. My vote is friendly eye contact, a smile and namaste. No more crushing or limp handshakes. What do you think? Sue is hoping for the Vulcan salute.

All of my April shows have been postponed which would suggest the opposite of the smile, the frown. At first, it was disappointing, but now I can see it as an opportunity. I will be putting together an online only release, collection of recordings I did, some with Sue on banjo and vocals, back in the fall 2019. We did a tour of the west last October and November, and many of our California shows were performed with fiddler, Craig Eastman. We did some recordings for Craig, so he could hear the current arrangements of the songs. When we got to California and did the rehearsals with Craig, he noted he really liked the demo recordings and thought that we should release them. It hadn’t crossed my mind, but I filed Craig’s suggestion. 

I’ll be sure to let you know when the collection is available. It will feature ten songs and will sell for ten dollars. If you’re in a position to let go of a ten dollar bill in April, and would like to have your very own copy, I would be grateful. It would bring a smile to both of us. Here is a sample audio file, an instrumental I wrote for Sue called “Woodland Street.”

In closing, I’d like to mention something about the interval. I have been wondering when I would hear the news about someone I know testing positive for the coronavirus. Perhaps you have too. This morning on Facebook, I learned that a friend from London had died from the coronavirus. She was a radio personality and a banjoist I met at The Orwell Bluegrass Festival many years ago. At that first meeting, we played some music together before we even spoke. Her music smiled. Then the following year, she invited me to be on her radio show, Sound Out on Resonance Radio. She invited me back three times. We had even talked about what we were going to do on the next visit. Here is a link to the last show I did with her in May, 2019. We will miss you, Carole, your friendly smile, your quirky banjo playing and your youthful energy and spirit. 

If you’re on the fence about the idea of social distancing, let me nudge you to consider implementing it. Do it for yourself and for everyone else. Happy Spring.

Till the next time…


carole, paul and billy october 2017 for Sound Out interview at Resonance Radio, London.
carol, paul and billy may 2019 for Sound Out interview at Resonance Radio, London.


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  1. Thanks for this post Billy. It seems that the ride home provided you with lots of thoughtful material for future music making. I’m looking forward to see what transpires. It was nice to see you in Charlie and Marilyn’s driveway last week, and it seemed awkward not to come over and give you a handshake or a hug, but our brief conversation and smile was satisfying. Perhaps the wink and a smile may be the way to go in the future, but I do think that we homo sapiens do yearn for the human touch. I guess time will tell. Until you’re this way again, be well and creative.
    Warmly, Ruth

    1. Dear Ruth, It was very odd that morning we saw each other. And I agree, the touch heals. My doctor friend, Alan Gaby, had a tee shirt when he was practicing that said, “Hugs Heal.” Thanks for your message and I wish you and yours good health and happiness…Billy

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