Last Friday’s very first Supporting Friends Friday, which featured the release of Jeremy Miles‘s (read his blog) latest book of poetry, Hindsight: Poetry in 2020, was quite fun, and at the very least brought delight to Jeremy, and at the most hopefully helped sell a couple of copies of his book.
In that spirit, I wanted to dedicate this second installment to the music of my musician buddy Frederick Ingram. Frederick is a gifted and skilled guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter, and we have played together or on the same bill on a number of occasions. Frederick also recently made a surprise appearance to the inaugural TJC Spring Jam, and treated us to a three-song set.
Recently, Frederick released the “Funky Margarita Mix” of his ode to open mic nights, “Fish Bowl.” Frederik wrote “Fish Bowl” some years ago, inspired by a (I believe) now-defunct open mic night once hosted at a groovy little joint in Columbia, South Carolina. The story, as I recall, is that the venue’s stage had an aquarium as a backdrop, which surely made for any intriguing performance experience.
Thematically, the song explores the experience of playing an open mic night, the moment that the stage opens up (“it’s your oyster tonight”) to the eager, nervous performer. The performer is, metaphorically, just like the twisting, colorful fish in the aquarium—he is entering the titular “Fish Bowl” to be observed, admired (it is hoped), even gawked at in slack-jawed amazement (and, hopefully, not to be ignored).
Frederick’s “Funky Margarita Mix” moves beyond his signature Baroque-meets-New-Wave style of guitar playing and his impressive vocal range (stretching into the upper registers on the cusp of falsetto, at one point repeating “Fish Bowl” in soprano, alto, tenor, and bass parts, respectively, and quite humorously) to incorporate synths, wah-wah guitar lines, synth strings, and a groovy percussion track. It adds to the surreal, fish-out-of-water feel of the tune.
Quite cleverly, there are some percussive snaps near the beginning and at the end of the tune, mimicking the snaps of applause that would-be Beatniks employ in lieu of clapping at the various cafes and coffee shops that routinely host open mic nights.
But enough of my yammering; listen for yourself:
Frederick intends for the tune to be a bit of an antidote to all of the lockdowns and hiding indoors we’ve done the past few years—locked away in our own little fish bowls, separated physically but weirdly connected to the rest of the world via our glassy electronic lenses. Indeed, his Facebook posts about the tune have been flagged by the tech giant as spreading misinformation about The Vaccine—a laughable example of the limits of artificial intelligence, and perhaps a cold comfort that, despite Zuckerberg’s autistic indifference to privacy rights, the robot uprising is still probably a long ways off.
Besides his latest release, you can also hear Frederick’s 2013 EP Elements on Spotify. I vividly remember when Frederick released this EP: it was late in the year, near Christmastime, and we even played a few gigs together during the holiday season. I purchased a few copies of the CD, both for myself and to give to friends, and it remains one of my favorite pieces of original music from an indie musician.
The lead-off single “Carolina Sands” should be used in a State of South Carolina advertisement of some kind. It’s a gorgeous paean to the natural beauty of our great State.
Perhaps my favorite recording on EP, however, is “Ephemery,” which I seem to recall Frederick referring to as “yacht rock.” It definitely has the West Coast sound of that genre. I’ve always enjoyed its brooding, atmospheric groove.
You can listen to the four-track EP here:
I’m not sure if Frederick is still hawking physical copies of any of his work, but you can listen to more at his website.
Here’s hoping we’ll be hearing more from Frederick soon.