After seven long months, it’s time for another front porch concert! Following the success of Spooktacular II, I decided I should try the format twice a year: the classic Halloween event, and a springtime one. Thus, the TJC Spring Jam is born!
Halloween is easy, because it comes packaged with all sorts of fun activities: Halloween songs, costume contests, spooky décor, etc. A generic springtime theme is a bit more vague, and with it already feeling like summer here in South Carolina, the theme presented some initial problems.
Fortunately, my girlfriend came up with a clever idea to replace the costume contest from the Spooktacular: painting birdhouses. She picked up ten birdhouses at Michael’s for around $0.86 a piece and got some paint, so we’ll have a birdhouse painting contest and let the audience pick the best. The kids (and adults) will also have a freshly-painted birdhouse to take home!
As for song selections, the more general theme allows some flexibility. We’ll work in the classic “Summer Breeze,” of course, on which I play saxophone on the opening riff. We’re also planning a three-song tribute to the late, great Jim Steinman, the weirdo that wrote most of Meat Loaf’s best material, as well as Bonnie Tyler jams like “Total Eclipse of the Heart.”
My girlfriend made the point that with it being Memorial Day Weekend, we could have worked in a more patriotic theme, or just made the theme “America.” That’s not a bad idea, and one I might explore more next year, but I want the evening to have more of a casual rock concert feel than a John Philip Sousa vibe.
We’re repeating the opening acts form last time: Stagehoax, a two-piece folk-band comprised of one of my graduation seniors and his friend; and my musician friends Wyatt and Sarah. Wyatt is a phenomenal guitarist and Sarah is a powerful singer with an Emmylou Harris sound. I fully expect them to upstage my two sets.
Then I’ll take the stage with my buddies John (guitar, mandolin, vocals), Steve O (ukulele, onstage awkwardness), and another graduating senior on drums. I might also have one of my rising juniors play guitar and sing on “Total Eclipse of the Heart” and Heart’s “Alone.”
Finally, we’ll have some t-shirts! There was a snag with the original company printing the tees, ooshirts.com. I used them in October 2020 for the Spooktacular without any issues—the shirts arrive over a week early—but this time they really dropped the ball. When the shirts didn’t arrive on Monday, 24 May 2021 as the company guaranteed, I attempted to reach out for some information. After attempting to get in touch via online chat, phone, e-mail, and even Facebook, I finally received an e-mail Tuesday morning informing me they could offer me a 25% coupon off of my next purchase and a “non-guaranteed” delivery date in June.
No way. I demanded a refund (achieved), and talked to a colleague who frequently buys t-shirts and jerseys for our school’s athletic teams. With some quick phone calls, I reached out to a local company, All Star Sports, and they agreed to do the shirts. After promising to have them done by Thursday, they e-mailed me Wednesday to let me know the shirts were ready. Incredible!
The lesson here: buy local; don’t trust your main merch moneymaker to an unreachable company multiple States away.
Here is the design:
And here is me wearing one of the shirts:
All in all, I’m anticipating a fun night. I was blown away by the attendance at the Spooktacular. With the hotter weather, the holiday weekend, and more entertainment options, I anticipate our attendance might be a bit lower, but I’m optimistic we’ll have a good turnout—and a good time.
Full report to come.