Ralph Shaw Portrait

A Singer and a Song

My father in law, Bob, passed away last week at the age of ninety-six. It’s a ripe old age and you might say he had a good innings. Nevertheless I find it almost impossible to get used to living in a world in which Bob no longer exists. His long life has somehow made...

read more

Capo Feedback

The subject of Capos had many of you clamping down on your keyboards to tell me what you think of them. Most feedback was in support of the lowly capo but several of you dislike them. I think all the reasons are valid ones depending on the circumstance. Here is your...

read more

Handy Capo or Handicap?

My dictionary defines capo (typically pronounced Kay-po in USA and Kah-poh or Kap-oh in UK and Europe) as A device for a guitar, lute, banjo, etc., that when clamped or screwed down across the strings at a given fret will raise each string a corresponding number of...

read more

Anger Management for Performers

We practice to be the best we can be, and, although performance perfection is something we strive for, deep down we don't really expect to pull it off. Most of us know that by the end of the show we'll be able to look back with self-critical eyes and point to various...

read more

Play With Feeling

There is a way of giving someone positive feedback that can be both beautiful and devastating. I remember clearly one such moment on Montreal's Saint Hubert Street. I was twenty-one years old and had been playing the five-string banjo for a year and a half. I thought...

read more

The Artist IS the Medium

As someone who writes books as well as entertains with music I am fascinated by how artists choose the medium in which they work. Why does one artist decide to communicate their experience in the world by carving a fifteen foot block of marble whereas another artist...

read more