My Favorite Magic Club I am an absolutely unabashed supporter of The Magic Circle of London. If you want to see how the new premises look, or you would just like to visit, click here for the Official Magic Circle Site.
One of the finest manufacturers of magic props anywhere is George Robinson. He is the proprietor of Viking Manufacturing in McAllen, Texas. He manufactures the Viking products, the Haenchen products and he also owns Collector's Workshop. His products are among the best. I have used several items of his in my shows at the Texas Renaissance Festival. To view his web site, click here.
Another of my favorite web sites is that of my friend, the German mentalist, Ted Lesley. Ted has some wonderful exclusive products. I translate many of his instruction sheets for him. His award-winning act has taken him all over the world. Ted has a forum called The Mind and Magic Forum. Many of the Big Names in magic hang out there.
I am now in the publishing business. I own a company that is currently publishing one of the most amazing books on thought transmission, The Cézanne Code, by Borodin and MarcoM's latest, Lord of Legerdemain, the first book about how to perform magic at renaissance festivals. The name of the company is Adesso Verlag. Our lastest book, Final Curtain, by Borodin, has been getting some wonderful reviews. It is the sequel to his Sheherazade, which is now out of print. Look for Final Curtain, at your favorite magic dealer.
You may have seen ads for Arjan's Show-Biz Centre in some of the major magic magazines. They have a really fine web site with all sorts of magic at great prices. They sell internationally, so even if you live in Bosnia, you can order from them. Check this site out.
For another magician who is as dedicated to eliminating television and internet exposure of magic, visit
Erick Olson. A click on his name will take you to his web page.
Vintage and Collectible Magic Dealers
Kenna Thompson is one of the best of the collectible magic dealers. I have had the great pleasure of being with him on one of his forays into the wilds of Cincinnatti, Ohio, as he sought the odd item that was lurking in the nooks and crannies of an old magic shop. He goes that extra mile for you. Give him a visit.
A perennial among the collectible magic dealers is
Lee Jacobs. Located near the center of the poster making universe, Lee has reissued some of the classics. He also has some wonderful books for sale. Alas, Lee has passed away; however, I understand that his wife is still running the business.
Web Sites for People Interested in Mysterious Places
Megalithic Mysteries: a photo-guide to stone circles and other prehistoric sites with high-quality images, including many aerial photographs.
Click here to visit the site of Andy Burnham. founder of the Stone Circle Web Ring.
Another web site with mysterious, artistic information is the web site of Nancy Baumgarten, MLA ASLA. Nancy is a landscape architect turned
calendar-maker who has created a celestial calendar that shows how
we all are interconnected to Universe through the reality of our yearly
cycles. This is a truly beautiful, interesting, spiritual work of art.
General Musical Instruments, Pro Audio, Lighting and Related Material
If you need pro audio equipment, lighting equipment or a musical instrument, and you want to deal with people who will steer you in the right direction, visit my friends at Evans Music City. Without them, we would never have been able to put in the public address equipment at the Texas Renaissance Festival. They have good equipment for sale, good prices and a knowledgeable staff that will work with you to help you get the most out of your equipment. I've known them for many, many years. If you live in the Houston, Texas area, you really owe it to yourself to visit them.
Here's an interesting site--digibid.com. Digibid.com-- A real-time interactive auction site specializing in the sale of pro-audio, pro-video equipment and musical instruments at auction prices.
Acoustical Instrument Information
If you play a fretted instrument of any kind, you must visit this site: FRETS.COM. This site is owned, operated, and maintained by Frank Ford, who has a wealth of information about instrument maintainence and repair, right on the internet, where you can easily access it. Frank is the warranty repair guy for Martin, so you know he is a knowledgeable fellow. Go there. You will be glad you did.
Here is a new acoustical instrument resource, the Folk of the Wood web site. It contains lessons and other information on acoustical instruments, plus information on purchases, etc. Check it out.
If you are a mandolin player, you must try a Weber mandolin. These are made by Sound to Earth. Sound to Earth is located in Belgrade, Montana. These are the same people who made the Flatiron mandolins before Gibson bought their company. For a while there, they were making the Gibson mandolins, too. Then, in a move that could be considered less than wise, Gibson moved the Flatiron plant to Nashville. They never considered that the people might not want to go, too. So now Gibson has the name, and Belgrade still has the people. The people make the mandolins--you figure it out! I have a Weber Sage 2 Octave Mandolin, which is one of the best instruments of that type that I have ever heard! They build great instruments!
Here is an addendum about the Weber mandolins. Their warranty service is excellent! I had a minor fret problem that I wanted to have them take care of. I FedExed the instrument to them, they did the work and had it back to me within two weeks! The work was not only done correctly, they added a couple of minor upgrades. What nice people to deal with!
Okay, I know, you can't afford a Weber. They are not cheap, by any means. And they are well worth the price. Well, I had the "hots" for a regular mandolin, because all I had to play other than the octave mando was a cheap Korean instrument that was made of plywood. I wanted something that sounded better, but was easily affordable. I found a really nice instrument made in Columbia, Missouri--at the Mid-Missouri Mandolin Company. Their motto is "No frills---no plywood." Their instruments are simple flat top mandolins. They look and sound good and are reasonably priced. I like mine! The owner, Michael Dulak is a nice fellow who is easy to deal with.
If you have a fretted instrument, no matter what it is you must have strings. One excellent source for strings is First Quality Musical Supplies. They have a huge selection of strings and great prices!
Another web site, devoted only to strings is Just Strings. Their name speaks for itself, but just in case you didn't catch on--that's what they have--just strings. They carry strings from 35 different manufacturers. If they don't have it, it's going to be awfully hard to find!
Another source of strings is Guitar Strings and Beyond http://www.stringsandbeyond.com They offer Elixir, D'Addario and Dean Markley guitar strings at low prices with fast and free shipping. They also carry a variety of guitar picks and accessories.
Be sure to check the links in the Banjo and Bluegrass information section, also. Many of the people listed there also make, sell or work on guitars, mandolins and other instruments, as well.
Here is a web site for connoisseurs of fine guitars. If you have ever seen a picture of Django Rinehardt playing a guitar, chances are it was one of those neat "D" hole Selmer instruments. Those are no longer made, but John LeVoi of John LeVoi Guitars makes guitars that are beautiful reissues of them.
If you like acoustical music, check out PeggyCarter.com. Peggy is an accomplished musician on several instruments, including hammer dulcimer. She is also deeply involved in the Houston Area Acoustic Music Society. Check out her web site.
Hammer dulcimer fans will find the site of Joshua Messick to be interesting. Joshua is one of Peggy Carter's students, and an award-winning musician.
If you are an acoustical musician, a folkie or a wanabee in any field related to that sort of thing, check out Richard Hefner's E-Z Folk Links Page. It has a comprehensive listing of this sort of thing. You will certainly find it useful.
Music Software Sites
This is for software that can be downloaded.
ChordWizard is a truly exciting new chord construction and teaching program for the PC that is quite reasonably priced. It takes up little room on the PC and teaches you the chord forms for just about any fretted instrument you can imagine. I really like it.
MusicEase is not as well-known among music publishing software packages as it should be. It produces excellent traditional notation, as well as great looking tablature. I prefer it to TABrite for writing tablature, because it allows me an immense amount of flexibility. It is also very easy to use. I use MusicEase for writing tablature. Its tablature writing method is far simpler than that of Finale or Encore, neither of which is really adequate for the purpose of writing tablature without going through the step of writing notation first. It also produces good looking music notation.
TABrite Home of a great PC-based tablature writing program. I recommend it for reading TABrite files, which are abundant on the Internet.
Banjo and Bluegrass Sites
If you are a bluegrass music fan, you should visit the following sites:
The king daddy of all the bluegrass music sites in the world is without a doubt, Blue Grass Roots. This site is in Estonia. You probably never thought of Estonia as the hotbed or Bluegrass activity that it actually is, but I can tell you that almost every site worth knowing about is located on their links list--including mine!
For more proof that bluegrass music is truly international, here is an interesting web site -- The São Paulo Bluegrass Music Association. If you know anything at all about Brazilian music, it is no wonder that Brazilians like bluegrass. It's not just sambas and bossa novas anymore, friends! Erio Meili sent me this link. When I was in college, I studied Portuguese, so I find this site very interesting; however, you don't need to know Portuguese to appreciate this site -- it's also in English.
One excellent source of banjo parts and information is First Quality Musical Supplies. Bill Sullivan is a real expert, and has given me lots of help. I had the pleasure of visiting his shop recently. Incredible! His new facility has much more space than his old shop, and he has a full time staff of experts to keep parts, supplies and instruments going out to all of us who build, repair and play the banjo and other bluegrass instruments. During my recent visit to Louisville, KY, I purchased the engraved, gold-plated parts that were necessary to make one of my banjos look like a Granada. I left a few parts with him to have them engraved and gold plated. They turned out beautifully!
Sometimes you need special inlays, purfling and other fancy stuff to build your own banjos or other musical instruments. Anita Marquetry, located in the UK, makes "bespoke" or custom inlays for all sorts of projects. Matt Sanders of Anita Marquetry is a banjo player, so he understands our unique needs. Check them out. You will be glad you did. There are other nifty things there, too.
If you want to visit a site that has lots of banjos -- probably more than anyone else, check out Turtle Hill Banjo Company. Dave Schenkman, the owner of Turtle Hill Banjo Company keeps well over 100 banjos, new and used, in stock at all times. He is a nice guy and knows a lot about banjos.
Lee Banjos are built by Chuck Lee. These are really nice banjos.
Crafters of Tennessee make some fine instruments -- banjos, guitars and reso-phonic instruments, too. They manufacture the Tennessee 20 tone ring, which is an excellent product,
LouZee Instrument Works, is the home of the LouZee banjo. These banjos will be making their debut at the IBMA convention in October of 2003. They were designed by Mike Longworth, Paul Hopkins and the LouZee development team.
Janet Davis Music Company. Janet is well known for her contributions to bluegrass music as a teacher, a writer and a columnist for Banjo Newsletter. She is also a highly reputable dealer in instruments and accessories.
Jack Hatfield is another well known teacher, writer and Banjo Newsletter columnist. He is also a highy reputable dealer in instruments and accessories. In addition to this, he conducts the banjo seminars at SPBGMA annually.
Wayne Erbsen is a well-known banjoist and singer who has published several instruction books on bluegrass and clawhammer banjo and also has several CD's, not only of instruction, but of Civil War and Western songs. Check him out.
Here's an interesting site -- Johnny Adams is a member of Moonlite Express, a Bluegrass band from Central Florida. His web site, called Bluegrass Music Club is located at http://banjopatents.com. It deserves a visit--a great site!
Mugwumps. Michael Holmes has put his incredible publication on the internet. Here you will find a remarkable collection of banjo information, including dates of issue of Vega banjos by serial number, pictures of esoteric banjo tailpieces, old banjo advertising and much, much more. There is also a wealth of information about other instruments, especially vintage items. It's a nice place to visit.
I don't have many links to sites that feature bluegrass artists; however, here is one that you will enjoy if you are a bluegrass fan. The Donna Hughes web site features excerpts from some of her songs. I particularly like it, because it does not start off with music playing in the background. You actually get to choose what you listen to. All of it is very good.
Vincent Mondello's 4 string banjo web pages are a tribute to those beautiful old banjos of days gone by, especially the Stromberg Marimbaphone instruments. His father and grandfather worked for Stromberg. Click here to visit this interesting web site.
Paul Hawthorne's Web Site is a great place to visit to learn about the banjo. Paul has his own theories about how banjo should be learned, which are based on much experience. He has written a book called "Gestalt Banjo Volume 1," which has been well received. Visit his pages. You will learn many things. I did.
Banjo-L. This is a comprehensive site with much good general information on the banjo. There is a listing of banjo players and teachers all over the country, plus many good files on tuning, etc. This is also the home of the Banjo-L listserver.
Banjer® Productions is the home page of a fellow Houstonian who has dedicated his life to teaching and playing the 5-string banjo--Anton Ullrich. Drop by his web site and learn about his alternative system of banjo, or should I say, banjer, notation.
The Banjo Loft is the source of those fantastic Vega reproduction necks and conversion necks made by Wyatt Fawley. I have two banjos with Fawley necks on them. One is an RB-5 repro that I have put on a 1925 ball bearing Mastertone rim with a First Quality conversion tone ring in it. The other is a Style M Vega conversion instrument. The work on both banjo necks is immaculate. The engraving on the Vega neck is particularly impressive. I recommend his work and expertise without reservation. He has given me many good tips on banjo setup. If Wyatt has a fault of any kind, it is that it has taken him too long to figure out how much his work is worth.
Gary Sosebee also makes some fine banjo bridges. To learn about his bridges, click here.
If you want to build your own banjo bridges, visit Richie Dotson's web site by clicking here. Richie also makes custom bridges. They are very good.
Kelly Emerson makes a bridge that can make a Gibson banjo sound much like a Stelling. To learn about the Emerson Power Bridge, click here.
Gary Price, Ph.D. is the manufacturer of the best banjo tailpieces I know of. He also makes excellent banjos, mandolins and mandolin tailpieces. He plays well, too. Give him a visit!
Nechville Musical Products is the home page of the famous Nechville Heli-mount™ Banjo, which Tom Nechville invented several years ago. These are very unusual banjos. They are well made and they sound good. Some rather well known players such as Alison Brown use them. Every one of them I have ever heard has had a strong, clear tone.
Houston Bluegrass has current information on what is happening in Houston. This includes listings of clubs, venues, organizations, vendors and service personnel. There are also several national links on their pages.
Curtis McPeake. Curtis is a very reputable vintage instrument dealer and a real expert on the banjo. I visited him during my recent trip to SPBGMA. If you are ever in the Nashville area, you should visit his place--and buy a banjo!
Gold Tone Banjos manufactures reasonably priced instruments. Click here to visit them.
If you like the banjo and are also interested in lots of other things that make you think, click here.
Once in a while a really worthwhile site for the confirmed 5-string banjo addict appears on the internet. This is not Banjos Anonymous--in fact, it isn't even a 12-step program. This is a site by an experienced banjo builder, Richie Dotson, who is sharing his knowledge with the rest of us. Richie has been a regular contributor to Banjo-L and AcuTab for a long time. He even shows you how to do inlay work and how to build banjo bridges. This will make you appreciate what you have, by virtue of the amount of work that actually goes into building a banjo--or even a bridge! Click here for this interesting and informative web site.
I get e-mail quite frequently from people who want to hire a hypnotist, but they live in an area widely separated from where I generally work. If you live in the UK, and you need a hypnotist, check out Ray Ronson.
One of my friends from the Texas Renaissance Festival, Alene Bock, now has her own web site. She plays the guitar and sings not only Renaissance music, but also folk, easy listening and just things that are good to listen to. Click on her name, and you will be at her web site in a flash!
For an excellent young actor, with whom I have worked at various levels for several years, it would be hard to beat Paul Joiner. He learned the part of Lucentio in less than two weeks, and brought off an excellent performance. He is also a very skilled web designer. Click here to visit his web site.
Unusual Links--Renaissance Crafts, etc.
You need swords? He's got swords. You need daggers? He's got daggers. Larry Smith of Brothersmith-Swords.com has all that and much, much more -- including many links to other Renaissance Festival people. Check it out. One other thing -- his prices are great!
For some wonderfully crafted gemstones and jewelry, as well as a wealth of links to people involved in Renaissance Festivals and the like, visit Crown Jewels. Prepare to stay a while--but remember to come back here when you are through!
Here's another web site with wonderful things to offer people who participate in Renaissance Festivals, either as actors or craftspeople or as patrons. They are Medieval Collectibles. They have other things besides medieval items.
For a detailed discussion of the basic myths of copyright, click here.
People who record their own playing and wish to sell their recordings, as well as music arrangers, generally look for tunes that are in the public domain--that is, those that have no valid copyright. Public domain material does not require the payment of royalties. This makes the legalities and expenses of recording such material far simpler than if you are recording things that are copyrighted.There is as much misinformation about what is or isn't in the public domain as there is about copyright, itself. For a really well-written, informative site about public domain and royalty free music click here.
For information on Cowboy Action Shooting®, a very exciting sport for the whole family, click here.
For the text of one of the most provocative speeches I have ever heard, Charlton Heston's speech to the Harvard Law School Forum, February 2, 1999, click here.