SubscribeStar Saturday: Yulestravaganza 2022 Review

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It’s Christmas Eve, the most mystical and magical night of the year.  Last Saturday was the annual Yulestravaganza, the most bonkers night of the year.

The Yulestravaganza, for those wondering, is not a consonant-ridden Welsh holiday.  It’s the little Christmas show my buddies John and Steve O and I put on each December.

Well, not quite each December.  During the long years of The Age of The Virus, the Yulestravaganza was a no-go, and we have been unable to get it together in other years due to scheduling conflicts.

But we managed to slap it together this year—very nearly at the last minute—and had a grand old time.

The Yulestravaganza is a “songwriter-in-the-round” format.  Each of us plays a solo selection (usually with one or both of the others hopping in here and there for harmonies or additional accompaniment), then we play a group selection.  Rinse and repeat until the gig is done.

It’s a very fun, very loose way of putting together a show.  We don’t have a set list, just a mental or jotted list of songs we’d like to get in before the evening ends.

So, how did the Yulestravaganza 2022 go?

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SubscribeStar Saturday: Spooktacular 2022 Preview

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The Spooktacular—my annual Halloween concert—returns in one week, on Saturday, 15 October 2022.  Since 2020—during the height of The Age of The Virus—I’ve hosted this annual celebration of musical spookiness (and spooky musicality) from my front porch.  It’s worked pretty well, and even spawned a published piece in Self-Reliance, so why mess with success?  We’re back on the front porch again.

I am adding one innovation, though, one that worked quite well with the TJC Spring Jam earlier this year:  like the Spring Jam, I’m turning the Spooktacular into a recital.  My buddy John and I will still play some tunes, and we’ll invite the kids up to play with us on “Monster Mash” and KISS’s “I Was Made for Lovin’ You,” but the opening segment of the Spooktacular will feature my private music students.  Indeed, it’s an open invitation to anyone who wants to play a tune—come on out!

Of course, I’ll be working hard this weekend to get the house prepared for the Spooktacular—and to remind folks about it!  There are many little tasks to complete and items, large and small, to prepare, both to give everyone a fun time, and to squeeze some buckaroos out of the event.

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Phone it in Friday XXII: Malmsteenian Excess

This morning I’m recovering from a late night of rockin’ out to the neoclassical metal strains of Yngwie Malmsteen.  At least, I’m assuming I’m recovering—I’m filing this post a day before the concert.

As such, a complete review of the post will be coming next week at some point.  I can only assume the concert was incredible, and that Yngwie showed up on stage, on time.  It’s not the 1980s anymore, so I doubt he pulled any Guns N’ Roses antics and showed up on stage two hours late, but who knows?  If so, you’ll know more next week!

Yngwie Malmsteen championed neoclassical metal back in the 1980s with his band Rising Force.  He revived Baroque and classical works and played them on electric guitar, which is pretty awesome if you just think about it for a second.

Naturally, his sheer technical brilliance gave him a huge head, and that ego was only slightly deflated when he suffered injuries in a car accident that made it difficult for him to play.  To his immense credit—and to our musical delight—he relearned to play, building back the strength and dexterity necessary to ascend to the level of guitar god.

So, since I’m writing this before the concert, I thought I’d share some clips of Malmsteen rockin’ out in his distinctively technical way.

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Gig Day VI: TJC Spring Jam II

It’s time for another front porch concert!  This event—the TJC Spring Jam and Recital—will be the fourth Front Porch concert I’ve hosted (I think), and I’ve learned quite a bit from the others, especially the last Spooktacular.

This year, instead of inviting another band to open the concert, I decided to make the first portion into a recital for my private music students.  I’ve been teaching private lessons for years, but have never done a recital, so it was high-time to give my students and opportunity to share their considerable talents.

The recital element also brings with it a built-in audience:  the students naturally come with their parents—and, potentially, grandparents, siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, family friends, etc.  More people means more merch sales, and possibly more tips and donations.

For this one, though, I’m not playing up the moneymaking aspect too heavily.  Yes, I hope to recoup some of my expenses for food and such, but the point is more to celebrate the hard work and talents of my private students.  If I sell some t-shirts and paintings, well, all the better.

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Lazy Sunday CLX: Fine Arts Festival

It’s been a lazy weekend here at Portly Manor, as I’ve been recovering from a very long week of Fine Arts Festival-related activities.  It’s been pretty glorious being in bed by 9:30 PM and sleeping in until approximately whenever Murphy barks me awake to the use the bathroom, which is roughly around 6:30 AM.  I still need to file my taxes, so I’ll be working on that annual ritual of tedium later today.

For this week’s Lazy Sunday, however, it made sense to look back at this past week’s Fine Arts Festival, and to celebrate the achievements of the students involved.  I’ve also worked in a post about Son of Sonnet’s new Locals page:

Now to break the fast with my chubby dog, drink some coffee, and lazily get ready for church… and taxes.

Happy Sunday!


Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

Concert Time!

Tonight my students have their big Spring Concert.  It’s one of the two busiest days of my year (the other being the Christmas Concert), as there is much to be done to prepare.

The students are well-rehearsed and ready to play.  Today will be spend putting instruments on stage, and making sure everything is mic’d up properly.  That’s not difficult to do, per se, but it is quite time-consuming.

There are also a million little details to get sorted:  making sure extra copies of music are run off; ensuring that cables are taped down or covered to prevent tripping; checking the sound levels; making sure students know how to get on and off the stage efficiently; etc.  It’s a lot to do, but the payoff is worth it.

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SubscribeStar Saturday: Spooktacular 2021 Review

Today’s post is a SubscribeStar Saturday exclusive.  To read the full post, subscribe to my SubscribeStar page for $1 a month or more.  For a full rundown of everything your subscription gets, click here.

Last Saturday was my annual Halloween Spooktacular, marking the third Spooktacular and the second hosted from my front porch.  I hit upon the idea of doing a front porch concert around Halloween last year, when most venues were still closed to live music, or only very slowly bringing it back.  I’d heard of other musicians doing outdoor gigs, and though, “Hey, why not turn my front porch into a stage?”

That first at-home Spooktacular was wildly successful—far more so than I thought—and I followed it up with my Spring Jam in May 2021.  That event was also successful, though the turnout was slightly lower than the Spooktacular.

This year, I suspected that the success of the first two front porch concerts might be diminished somewhat, especially as the concert was on the Saturday before a Sunday Halloween, which meant most people were trick-or-treating and throwing parties that night instead of on Halloween proper.  Several of my biggest patrons, who usually drop some serious coin at these events, were unable to attend due to other plans.

Still, I was excited for the evening, and while my concerns about lower attendance were confirmed—and the event resulted in a substantial but not debilitating loss, at least in the short-run—it was a fun night, one that also carried with it some important lessons.

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Halloween and Spooktacular Preparations

It’s Halloween Week!  Besides Christmas (and probably Spring Break), it’s quite possibly my favorite week of the year.

It’s also the week of my third annual (and second on the front porch) Spooktacular!  As such, I spent a good portion of the weekend making the preliminary preparations for having lots of people sitting on my front lawn for a couple of hours or so.

Among the myriad tasks I completed (such as some long overdue weed eating, and applying more ant bait to the lawn), I engaged in my favorite Halloween season ritual:  carving a Jack O’Lantern!  I picked up a couple of massive pumpkins from Sam’s Club for $7 each, and this one made for particularly attractive gourd.  Just look at its perfectly jaunty, stout stem!

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SubscribeStar Saturday Post “The TJC Spring Jam” is Posted!

Dear Readers,

I have been writing like the wind today.  I have finally caught up on all SubscribeStar content from the past couple of weekends.

You can now read “The TJC Spring Jam” if you’re a $1 a month or higher subscriber.

It’s a detailed rundown of the concert, including the major tunes played, the in-depth financials, and the organization of the concert.  Learn from my mistakes and successes!

Also, Sunday Doodles LXXXII is up, too!

Thanks again to subscribers and regular readers for your patience.  It’s been a wonderfully quiet day at home—literally, I’ve only gone outside to check the mail and to cut some oregano from my garden—so I’ve gotten a ton of writing done today.

It’s good to restore order to the blog!

Happy Reading!