Gig Day IV: Spooktacular II

We’re a mere day away from Halloween.  All the build-up and fun are reaching their culmination.  Indeed, I’ll be playing a fortieth birthday party tomorrow—a last-minute booking that will make it a very lucrative Halloween for yours portly.

But tonight I’ll be hosting my second annual Halloween Spooktacular!  I staged my first Spooktacular last year, and it was so much fun, I decided I had to do it again.

Unfortunately, in The Age of The Virus many venues have stopped hosting live music.  For example, the coffee shop that hosted last year’s Spooktacular is doing take-out orders only.  That’s the case with a number of other coffee shops in my area, which has eliminated most live performances and open mic nights.

So I decided to stage the Spooktacular on my front porch!

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Lazy Sunday LX: Music, Part II – Gigging

The past week was largely dedicated to music, as Bandcamp waived the commission it takes on sales of musicians’ work on Friday, 1 May 2020.  All of those posts—which were essentially extended ad copy—may have helped remind folks to pick up my full discography (still just $15.75), so I appreciate your patience.

Even more than your patience, I appreciate your support.  As of this morning, ten of you—and I know every single one of you (thanks, family and friends)—purchased tunes, nine of those being the full discography.  At a time when the traditional avenues for musicians to earn money, like gigs and private lessons, have pretty much dried up, your support means a great deal.

Those ten sales are, I won’t hesitate to admit, the first I’ve made in a decade on Bandcamp.  Perhaps I could have twisted arms more tightly in the past, or my music is, ultimately, more forgettable (or, even worse, bad) than I care to admit.  But I’m listening to Electrock II: Space Rock again for the first time in a few years while writing this post, and it’s pretty dang good!

Regardless, given the momentum, I figured today I’d look back wistfully at past “Gig Days”:

  • Gig Day!” (and “TBT: Gig Day!“) – I wrote this post the day of a comeback gig at Crema Coffee Bar, a coffee shop in Hartsville, South Carolina in summer 2018.  I’d broken my wrist the prior Thanksgiving Week, and had largely let my music lapse, other than some occasional open mic appearances.  That summer, I arose like a phoenix, and began playing (and writing) again regularly for the first time in a loooong year.  This post covers my elaborate pre-show rituals in detail.
  • Gig Day II” (and “TBT: Gig Day II“) – This post was about my first big road gig since my broken wrist:  heading up to The Juggling Gypsy in Wilmington, North Carolina.  That gig came amid a great deal of chaos in my life, as my old apartment had flooded—again—and I was living (temporarily, thankfully) in a sleazy motel near I-95.  Talk about living the musicians’ life, eh?
  • Gig Day III” – I love Halloween.  October always seems to shoot by in a blur of busyness, so each October I try to slow down and appreciate the month (which, if we’re lucky, will occasionally feel autumnal).  To that end, I try to put on some kind of Halloween-themed show.  In 2019, that was my “Halloween Spooktacular” at The Purple Fish Coffee Company in Darlington, South Carolina.  It was (contrary to expectations) very well-attended, and my buddy John (twelve-string Takamine guitar) and my student Trystan (drums) sat in with me; it might for quite a show (including a lengthy cover of “Thriller” complete with jammy sax solo).

Well, hopefully live will return to normal-ish soon, and I can get back on the road.  I love playing gigs, from singing pop tunes in the background of an engagement party to standing on coffee tables singing “Delilah.”  Sometimes, I even get paid to do it!

Anyway, I’m off to play piano at church.  They’re broadcasting the service to people’s cars, so I will (apparently) be one of three people in the actual sanctuary, playing hymns from the digital keyboard as people pull up.  Sounds fun to me!

Happy Sunday!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

TBT: Gig Day II

Tomorrow—Friday, 1 May 2020—Bandcamp is waiving the commission it takes on sales of musicians’ work.  That means every purchase made on the site from midnight to midnight Pacific Standard Time tomorrow goes completely to the musicians (other than PayPal processing fees)—another 15% in our pockets.

The Age of the Virus has really taken its toll on musicians.  As I wrote last Thursday, a substantial portion of my income in 2019 came from music lessons and gigs—nearly 17% of my gross income for the year.

With The Virus holding full sway over us, shutting everything down, there are far fewer opportunities for musicians to earn a living—except by way of online album sales.

As such, Bandcamp sacrificing that 15% commission is a huge act of charity for its users.  It also means that it’s the best time to support musicians you lovelike me!

Bandcamp gives musicians the opportunity to sell their music in high-quality digital formats directly to fans.  One nifty feature is that artists can offer their entire discography in one go, often at a discount.

To that end, my discography—seven albums, EPs, and retrospectives, spanning fourteen years of artistic development—is on sale for $15.75.  All of it.  That includes my tour de forceContest Winner EP and its hit single, “Hipster Girl Next Door.”

Another fun feature is that Bandcamp allows fans to pay more if they so choose.  Indeed, when I announced on my Facebook artist page that the full discography was up for grabs, two fans paid $20 for it.  Some artists have reported fans paying as much as $100 for a single album.  I don’t expect that kind of generosity, but, hey—dig deep.

Regardless, there’s never been a better—or more necessary–time to support indie musicians.  We can’t play gigs.  We can barely teach lessons (some folks are doing so online, but it’s just not the same).

So, any support you can offer is always welcome.  To purchase the full discography, you can view any of my albums (like Electrock EP: The Four Unicorns of the Apocalypse) and find a button/link that reads “Buy Digital Discography” (unfortunately, there’s no way to supply that link directly).

Of course, you don’t have to buy all seven albums—it’s just a good deal.  You can also buy individual releases, like 2006’s Electrock Music (ludicrously cheap at $1 for twelve tracks!) or 2007’s Electrock II: Space Rock (just $5!).

But enough soliciting for now—there will be more of that tomorrow.  Let’s get to the ostensible purpose of today’s post—TBT.

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Gig Day III: Spooktacular

It’s been a pretty wild week; by “wild,” I mean that I’ve spent most of my time during the day working, only to stay up too late playing Heroes of Hammerwatch ($11.99 on Steam), a grinding rogue-like, with my brother and friends.  Talk about burning the candles at both ends.  I also just finished grading a massive stack of quizzes—just in time for a massive stack of tests to rise in their place.

Grading papers is a bit like the mythical hydra in that regard—lop off a few heads, and dozens take their places.  It is easily my least favorite part of the teaching profession.

Regardless, the wild week is going to end on a spooktacular note:  tonight I’m dusting off the keyboard and, for the first time in a few months, playing one of my legendary (and legendarily poorly-attended) coffee shop concerts.

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Lazy Sunday XXI: Travel

I don’t really like to travel, mainly because I prefer sitting on my own toilet and watching my own TV.  If you’ve seen one trendy downtown district, you’ve seen them all, and going to cool places overseas is expensive, time-consuming, disruptive, and dangerous.  Yes, I would liked to have visited London thirteen years ago (when my family took a ten-day trip all around Ireland), but now that it’s part of the Islamic caliphate, I’ll pass.  Same with Paris.  The United States is a big country, with plenty to see and do domestically.

That said, I keep the road hot, and enjoy the occasional excursion to points of interest near and far.  With my recent trip to Wilmington—and with summer rapidly drawing to a close—I thought I’d dedicate this belated Lazy Sunday to posts about travel.

  • Gig Day II” – This post is super short, but it briefly chronicles my trip to The Juggling Gypsy Cafe a year ago.  At that point, I was living in a hotel because my old apartment had flooded.  Because of the flooding, the power supply for my Casio keyboard was kaput (though it miraculously began working again a couple of weeks later), and I had to borrow an incredible Korg SV-1 from a pianist friend.  I’d spent the day laying sod at school, a grueling, physically-demanding job.  Conditions were far less than ideal for a late night gig in a distant city, but it went pretty well.
  • Put Your Money Where Your Poll Is” – This piece analyzes a 2018 Gallup poll, in which 16% of Americans said they wanted to leave the United States permanently.  The findings showed that young, Democratic-leaning women tended to be the least grateful to live in this great country, as Ilhan Omar and Squad have demonstrated.  I posed the question then:  “So, young radical feminists, why don’t you put your money where your poll is?  I’d wager less than 1% of those who indicated they want to leave will actually do so.”  If you don’t like it—by which I don’t mean, “If you love the country, but you want to fix some things,” but rather, “If you fundamentally hate what our country is and stands for”—then get the hell out.
  • Mid-Atlantic Musings” – This SubscribeStar-exclusive post details my trip to New Jersey, Coney Island, and the New York City Aquarium.  It also features hilarious of a video of an otter spinning head-over-tail in circles for minutes on end, one of Nature’s many bizarre pranks.  But you’ve gotsta be a subscriber—for just $1 a month or more!—to read it.
  • Wilmington Wanderings” – Another SubscribeStar-exclusive post, this one covers my trip two days ago to Wilmington for another gig at the Juggling Gypsy.  It’s a detailed account of my encounters with a friendly transgender bartender/photographer, as well as the seedy nightlife of aging hipsters.  It’s well worth a $1 subscription (heck, you can even cancel immediately after reading it!).

That’s it for this week.  Here’s to the last week of summer vacation!

–TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

SubscribeStar Saturday: Wilmington Wanderings

Today’s post is a SubscribeStar Saturday exclusive.  To read the full post, subscribe to my SubscribeStar page for $1 a month or more.

In yesterday’s post, I alluded to a gig in Wilmington, North Carolina, at the Juggling Gypsy Cafe.  It’s an artist-friendly venue that has the vibe of such places:  a shabby, dimly-lit interior, populated with colorful, post-ironic types (some young, some clinging to youth on the wrong side of 35), the walls plastered with flyers for obscure bands and pages from old comic books.  It’s the kind of place I used to play frequently in my twenties, when I still had the energy and drive to play for peanuts at 10:30 PM on a Wednesday night.

It was a fun trip there and back.  I met a transgender photographer working as a bartender.  I talked to a really passionate carpenter.  An old dude had personal conversations with me during my second set.  But if you want to hear the whole story, you’ve gotta subscribe to my SubscribeStar page for $1 a month or more!

Check out my music at www.tjcookmusic.com.

To read the rest of this post, subscribe to my SubscribeStar page for $1 a month or more.

Phone it in Friday III: Video Killed the Blogging Star

I’m heading up to Wilmington, North Carolina tonight to play a gigI played the same joint exactly a year ago, while I was living in a sleazy motel after my old place was flooded.  If you’re in the area, come on by, or check out my tour dates.

Regardless, your daily chum will continue in the vein of last Friday’s post, but with even less loving care.  In essence, I’m going to let you watch two talented individuals say important, insightful things.

It’s the blogging equivalent of pulling out that old media cart at school.  Everyone gets excited when the usual windbag kicks back and that tiny CRT television gets rolled out, its blue screen promising an hour of a grainy VHS tape.

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TBT: Gig Day!

Today kicks off my school’s big annual Fine Arts Festival.  It’s a weekend of students showcasing their talents in dance, music, drama, and the visual arts, and it’s always a fun (and hectic) time.  Tonight is our big Spring Concert, which is the biggest concert in our program.  Based on what we have programmed, it’s going to be bonkers—in the best possible way.  I love over-the-top, melodramatic rockin’, and this concert will be dripping with it.

In honor of that—and because I’m exceptionally busy—today’s #TBT features the first throwback to a post on the WordPress version of this blog.  That post is “Gig Day!

Gig Day!” details my elaborate pre-show rituals, which really aren’t all that elaborate or ritualistic.  I mainly practice at the last minute, take inventory of my gear, and shower.  But, hey, that’s what makes the world go round.

I’ve been gigging much more this year, as I’ve dubbed 2019 “The Year of the Panther.”  It’s been fun (and mildly lucrative).

If you’d like to hear more of my music, you can visit www.tjcookmusic.com, or check me out on Spotify.  I’m also on Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, CD Baby, Bandcamp, etc.

Rock on!

–TPP

Gig Day II

It’s been a crazy week in my personal world.  As such, the quality and length of my posts have been somewhat diminished.  Today will be no different.  The trenchant political and cultural commentary will recommence Monday.

Tonight, I’m playing a gig in Wilmington, North Carolina, my first true “road gig” as a solo musician.  Due to this past weekend’s flooding, the adapter for my straightforward keyboard, an easy-to-use Casio (I call her “Cassiopeia”) is no longer working.

Fortunately, a local musician friend of mine is a keyboard god, and hooked me up with his sweet Korg SV-1.  It’s a gorgeous instrument with a built in tube for truly retro-sounding tones.  I’ll likely set it on “Grand Piano” and just use the lamest presets available.

Regardless, because of my semi-homeless state, I haven’t been able to practice much, and the only playing I’ve done is a couple of open mics this week.  As such, it’s going to be a very fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants event, but it should be fun.

Enjoy your weekend, and if you’re in Wilmington, stop by the Juggling Gypsy around 9 or 9:30.

–TPP