November Bandcamp Friday

It’s the first Friday of November, which means it’s another Bandcamp Friday! That means it’s the best possible time to purchase my music.  Indeed, my entire discography (seven albums!) is just $19.98, a whopping 35% discount (just £14.64 as of 1 November 2021, according to Bing, for my British readers).  That’s $2.85 (£2.09) per release, the kind of deal you only get on cassette tapes at the gas station (or from yours portly!).

I’m also sitting on a lot of great, but unsold, Spooktacular merch, including my shocking original painting “The War on Halloween.”  If the price tag is too rich for your blood, contact me and we’ll work something out.

It’s also a great time to pick up my debut book, The One-Minute Mysteries of Inspector Gerard: The Ultimate Flatfoot.  It’s just $10 (and available in Britain, too).  Christmas is approaching, and it’s a great time to read absurdist, ludicrous detective stories by the fire (or to give as gifts—why not buy four or five copies to hand out as stocking stuffers to your friends?).

Bandcamp began doing Bandcamp Fridays during The Age of The Virus, when most musicians (myself included) witnessed a catastrophic drop in their revenue.  Venues closed or stopped live music; parents withdrew students from one-on-one lessons; and private parties were cancelled, meaning fewer of those lucrative gigs.  Also, fewer live performances meant fewer royalties for songwriters.  It’s only $10

Fortunately, that situation is improving, and people are eager to get out and hear live music again.  Still, pitching in a few bucks helps immensely—and you get some good music in the process, too!

So, on with the sales pitch!  Here are my seven releases, in chronological order:

  • Electrock Music (2006, $5) – Twelve tracks from my senior year of college, all instrumental MIDI tunes.  I gave physical copies to my Fiction Writing Workshop class; I wonder if they still have those little homemade copies.
  • Electrock II: Space Rock (2007, $7) – I’m obsessed with the idea of the sci-fi rock opera (I actually tried to write one for piano and vocals back in 2012-2013, but never finished it)—it’s the most decadent, self-indulgent form of musical expression.  That was the driving spirit behind this rockin’ collection of out-of-this-world jams.
  • Electrock EP: The Four Unicorns of the Apocalypse (2012, $4) – My younger brother introduced me to a song call “Biomachinery” by some melodic death metal band, and the rhythm of that word inspired the lead-off track of this four-song cycle, “Cyborg Unicorn.”  Of course, the instrumental chorus of that track is basically Joan Jett’s “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll,” so it’s true what they say:  composers swipe from each other all the time.
  • Electrock Retrospective, Volume I: Dance Party (2013, $3.60) – I had a number of tracks stored up for a never-completed Electrock III, so I thought I would begin dribbling them out as part of repackaged “retrospectives.”  This first one, Dance Party, features “Robobop,” which is also a perk for $5 subscribers to my SubscribeStar page.
  • Electrock Retrospective, Volume II: Technological Romance (2013, $2.14) – Technological Romance features “Pwrblld (Ballad II)“—with apologies to Chicago’s “You’re the Inspiration.”
  • Contest Winner EP (2015, $5) – This album is my tour de force.  I recorded it in a real-life studio, overdubbing my vocals with my piano part.  It was an amazing experience, and these tunes are staples of my live shows (especially fan favorites “Hipster Girl Next Door” and “Greek Fair“).
  • The Lo-Fi Hymnal (2020, $4) – I started playing piano at my little Free Will Baptist Church a couple of years ago, and I began taking little recordings of offertory, invitational, etc.  I compiled the four very lo-fi recordings into a short compilation.  I’m hoping to record a second volume at some point.

An easy (and free) way to support me is to “follow” my Bandcamp page and my Amazon author page.  I post updates about new merchandise, new music, and other interesting offers about once a month to the Bandcamp page, and new books will pop up on my Amazon page as they’re published.  It’s a good way to keep up with the latest news on my musical adventures.

Another free way to support me is to turn off your ad-blocker.  The site delivers several thousand ad impressions monthly, but most of those are blocked, which means they don’t pay out.  You can usually find the ad-blocker as a little widget or icon in the upper-right-hand side of your browser; click on it and it will usually give you the option to “pause” or stop the blocker from running on this site.  I know ads are annoying, but seeing a few DuckDuckGo ads helps out in an incremental way.

Even if none of that entices you, no worries!  I’m just glad to have you here, reading my self-indulgent garbage and my lengthy advertisement posts.

Happy Friday!

—TPP

Mahler’s Composing Shack

While teaching Pre-AP Music Appreciation last school year, I stumbled upon an excellent YouTube channel, Inside the Score, which features videos explaining and analyzing some of classical and Romantic music’s greatest works and composers.  It’s a wonderful resource for exploring famous works in greater depth, and has greatly enhanced my own appreciation for music.

At some point, I ended up on Inside the Score‘s mailing list, and I receive little e-mail newsletters from the site periodically.  These are like delicious, bite-sized treats compared to the longer videos (which themselves are by no means daunting, coming it at around twenty minutes a pop).

Recently, one of these morsels found its way into my inbox:  a look at Gustav Mahler‘s daily routine.  Mahler wrote incredibly long symphonies—to this day, the single longest piece of music I have ever sat and listened to live is Mahler’s Fifth Symphony, which clocks in at an impressive seventy-five minutes—and did so while touring the world as a conductor.  According to Inside the Score, Mahler had summers off to compose at a little shack on the Attersee in Austria, and stuck to a fairly consistent schedule.

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The Joy of Live Music

Along with our civil liberties, a casualty of The Age of The Virus has been live music.  I’ve written about the strains the lockdowns placed on musicians frequently (including my many Bandcamp Friday posts), and have even hosted two front porch concerts to get around venue closures (and, it seems, the increasing number of venues that simply haven’t restored live music to their operations).

Fortunately, South Carolina is a free State, and live music is making a real comeback.  Indeed, I had the opportunity to hear my buddy, poet Jeremy Miles, play a gig with his new band, Jeremy and the Blissters, at a hopping coffee shop Friday evening.

The experience was electric—and not just because of the piping hot sound system and stacks of amplifiers.  The band—which, in addition to Jeremy, consists of good friends from the local music scene, two of whom have opened my front porch concerts—was stunning and powerful, offering up an eclectic mix of New Wave, punk, pop, acid rock, and more.

Beyond their impressive musical prowess and sweeping repertoire, Jeremy’s group reminded me of how fun live music can be—and how desperately we need more of it to return.

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Major Loot

In 2014, Hobby Lobby purchased a tablet containing an excerpt from the Epic of Gilgamesh, perhaps the oldest epic work of literature in Western Civilization.  The tablet is 3500-years old, and Hobby Lobby won the tablet in a Christie’s auction, paying $1.6 million for it.  Hobby Lobby displayed the tablet in its Museum of the Bible, which houses a number of rare and ancient artifacts.

Now, Hobby Lobby has forfeited the tablet to the US Department of Justice due to it shady provenance.  It seems that the original seller falsified a letter of provenance to show that the tablet had entered the United States before laws against importing rare artifacts were enacted.

To make matters worse, Christie’s apparently knew that the letter was questionable, but withheld that information.

Unfortunately, that means Hobby Lobby took one on the chin financially.  I’m not sure what the fate of the original smuggler is, but I imagine he’s long gone and living the sweet life.

The bigger question, though, is what should be done with such artifacts?  Current US policy seems to be to return them to their country of origin.  While that might seem to the be simplest policy, is it really best for the preservation of the artifacts—and our cultural heritage?

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Supporting Friends Friday: The Music of John Pickett

The local music scene in the Pee Region of South Carolina is surprisingly robust, with some truly stellar musicians.  The creative heart of this scene rests in several open mic nights at local coffee shops.  Currently, the two big open mics to have resumed are at The Purple Fish Coffee Company in Darlington, South Carolina, and at Crema Coffee Bar in Hartsville, South Carolina.  The Fish hosts its open mic on Friday evenings, and Crema hosts its on Tuesday nights.

The other major open mic—probably the most enduring of the current Big Three—was at Lula’s Coffee Company in Florence, South Carolina.  Lula’s, however, has not resumed its legendary Thursday night open mic night—an open mic so artistically fervent, it inspired an entire book of poetry—much to the chagrin and bafflement of its most devoted performers, yours portly included.

But before there were any of these establishments, there was Bean Groovy, a now-defunct coffee shop that used to occupy a magical little bit of strip mall in Florence.  I know the former owner of Bean Groovy—himself a studio engineer in the distant past—and despite some attempts to reopen the establishment at other locations, it’s never made a return.

Nevertheless, Bean Groovy was where I got my start in local music in the Pee Dee, way back in the hazy, halcyon days of circa 2012-2013.  It, along with The Midnight Rooster in Hartsville (still in business, but it’s shifted from being a quirky coffee house into a frou-frou upscale dining establishment) were my old stomping grounds as I broke my way into the region’s open mic scene.

It was at Bean Groovy sometime in probably 2012 or 2013 that I met one of my best friends, John Pickett.  John is an excellent guitarist and singer, and he possesses one of the best ears for music I’ve ever encountered.

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Modern Art and Influence

Most readers of this blog will likely agree with the following sentiment:  “modern art is terrible.”  In my more intellectually generous moments, I’d add “most” as a qualifier to start that phrase, but with age comes orneriness, and orneriness does not lend itself to intellectual generosity.

Perhaps the best treatment of this sentiment in a scholarly—dare I say “intellectually generous”—way is Roger Kimball‘s The Rape of the Masters: How Political Correctness Sabotages Art.  The book is a quick read, but even in 200 pages, it’s depressing seeing the increasingly bizarre, flat-out wrong interpretations politically-motivated Leftists bring to classic works of art.  The unfortunate trend of comparing everything that ever happened to Harry Potter is no-doubt the watered-down, pop cultural version of this academic shoehorning of the ideology du jour into artistic interpretation.

Of course, there is a corollary to the maxim that “modern art is terrible.”  It’s that “modern art is only successful because wealthy dupes want to look cool.”  That’s a bit of a mouthful, we all know it’s true.

So it is that two close relatives to the current Pretender’s regime—scandal-ridden, sister-in-law-loving drug addict Hunter Biden, and not-pretty-enough-to-be-a-model model Ella Emhoff (Vice President Kamala Harris‘s stepdaughter) have made good money peddling “art.”

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Minecraft Camp 2021 Begins!

Yesterday marked the first day of my school’s annual Minecraft Camp, which I host every June.  Minecraft Camp is a great deal of fun, and it’s probably the single most lucrative event for yours portly all year.

Last year I was very sick, so I had to hand Minecraft off to another colleague.  I hated to miss it, not only because of the nice little paycheck it brings, but because it’s so fun seeing what the kids come up with in-game.  I’ve been working Minecraft Camp since 2014, and have been running it since probably 2017, and I’m always impressed (and amused) by what the kids come up with.

As such, I’m thrilled to be back.  As best as I can tell, this year’s camp is the biggest attendance in the history of camp, with the possible exception of the inaugural 2014 camp (based on a photograph from that camp, I count fifteen campers, but I know of at least one student not pictured—he’s working as a counselor with me this year!).  We have sixteen kids signed up, and I have three young men working as counselors with me, two of whom were in Minecraft Camp when they were younger.  With yours portly tossed into the mix, that twenty very old desktop PCs up and running in the lab.

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Dorfromantik

Now that I’m enjoying the unending freedom of summer vacation, I’ve finally taken some time to play video games.  I splurged a bit last week and picked up a casual little indie game called Dorfromantik, from the four-man German development team Toukana Interactive.  I caught the game on a 20% off sale, but full freight is $10, so it’s an easy lift.  The game is still in early access, meaning that it’s technically not finished, but from my time playing it, it seems very solid, stable, and complete.

It’s also incredibly fun.

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Supporting Friends Friday: Jeremy Miles’s New Book is Out Now

One of the joys of blogging and creating is the opportunity to support my buddies’ work.  I’ve been blessed to be associated with quite a few prolific and ingenious individuals, and while I have spent many a Bandcamp Friday hawking my digital wares, I’m excited to take this Friday to showcase a friend’s work.

My real-life buddy Jeremy Miles (who also maintains a blog) has released his latest book of poetryHindsight: Poetry in 2020.  It’s available in paperback, hardcover, and Kindle editions, at (as of 8 June 2021) $15, $25, and $2.99, respectively.  I’ve ordered the paperback version and eagerly await its arrival.

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