Playing Catch-up: TPP Update

Apologies to my regular readers for the very delayed post today.  Now that I have a large contingent of British readers, I really like to hit the 6:30 AM EST posting time, which I imagine is around lunchtime for them, so they have something to read over their tea and crumpets while my American readers have something to read over their grits and coffee.

As I’ve alluded to in other posts, the past two weeks or so have been absolutely insane for yours portly.  As my school’s music teacher, I’m also the audio-visual wizard on campus.  With Homecoming Week last week, it was my responsibility to make sure the sound system at the football field was working properly, and to assist with setup for some of the Homecoming games.  I also set up another ad hoc sound system for my High School Music Ensemble to play a couple of songs at a pep rally Friday morning.  When most of your musicians play guitar and piano, the logistics of plugging everything in become more daunting when taken outdoors.

Needless to say, all of my planning time was consumed with these activities, and I spent most of my Music classes using student labor to move equipment to and from the football field.  That meant more time in the evenings and early mornings working on school-related stuff, and less time to focus on the blog.

In the midst of all of the Homecoming Week wackiness, I’m also running for reelection to Lamar Town Council and practicing and preparing for the 2021 Spooktacular.  Tonight I have a candidates forum for the former, and last night my buddy John and I practiced for the latter.

Add to all of that a whopping dollop of after-school music lessons, and you can tell I’ve had precious little time for much else.  I had a fun-filled day with my girlfriend on Saturday, then turned around Sunday and immediately set to work finalizing first quarter report card grades.

I’m not complaining—I like being busy—but I hope readers will extend some graciousness and excuse some occasionally late posts.  My poor dog has been getting the short end of the bully stick, too, though we both collapsed into a snoring heap on the couch last night after John departed.

Such are the rhythms of life.  Here’s hoping things return to a more stately tempo after the frenetic rhythm of the last few weeks.  Again, I don’t want to be bored, but having a little more time to focus on writing would be great.

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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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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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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!

—TPP

SubscribeStar Saturday: Small-Scale Entrepreneurism

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 night was my first ever Spring Jam, and my second ever front porch concert.  The first such concert, my Halloween Spooktacular, was far more successful than I imagined.  At the time of this writing—which is actually before the concert (gasp!)—I don’t know how well the Spring Jam will go financially, but I’ll have detailed numbers, as well as an overall review of the event, next Saturday.

That said, in putting together this second front porch concert, I’ve run into a few more hiccups than last time.  Most of these have been relatively minor—and one of them quite major—but they’ve taught me some lessons for next time.

Most importantly, they’ve driven home the risks and opportunities inherent in putting on any endeavor.  Impresarios past and present know well the risks of producing any kind of stage or musical production.  Even at the very small scale at which I am working, some risks are present.

To that end, allow me to share with you some of the learning opportunities putting together this Spring Jam has afforded me, and how these lessons can be applied to future entrepreneurial ventures of any kind.

This post will be finished later; I was slammed with the Spring Jam and wasn’t able to finish the subscriber essay.  I’ll let y’all know when I have it done.  Apologies!  —TPP

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

Monday Morning Update, and Happy Belated Mother’s Day!

Happy Belated Mother’s Day, Mom, and to all the other mothers out there.  I didn’t serve my mom breakfast in bed, but I’d like to think my presence was enough to brighten her day.  She did go to the trouble of making a delicious banana pudding, proving once again that moms are great—at least my mom, anyway.

Given that we all enjoyed a fun, busy Sunday, I’m a bit behind on the blog, and plan on returning with more substantive posts tomorrow.  I’ll likely pick up with a belated Monday Morning Movie Review, but on Tuesday.

Maybe if I follow that logic to its natural conclusion, I’ll end up doing Lazy Sunday on Monday, and SubscribeStar Saturday on Sunday.  TBT will be on Friday.  Not since the French went to their absurd ten-day-a-week calendar has such belabored calendrical tomfoolery been afoot!

In all seriousness, the blog has been doing pretty, with fairly consistent daily pageviews and a small uptick in readers leaving comments.  Work and my illness late in April have eaten up some of the time I can dedicate to writing, but summer break is fast approaching, and I’m hoping to resume work on my next book, a collection of the first fifty editions of Sunday Doodles, and begin working on a planned collection of new, original short stories.

I’ve also finally hit ten subscribers to my SubscribeStar Page!  That’s an exciting milestone.  If you’ve been thinking about subscribing but haven’t done so, take a few minutes and do so now.  The $1 a month subscription comes out $12 a year—the cost a single three-topping Stuffed Crust pizza from Pizza Hut.  I’m not saying my writing is as good as a Stuffed Crust pizza, but seeing as there are nearly 200 posts on my SubscribeStar page already, it’s plenty of brain food to chew.  And think of the calories you’ll save giving up one pizza!

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TBT: Gig Day III: Spooktacular

Tonight is the Spring Concert at my little private school, an event that The Virus denied us in 2020, and which my illness earlier this week seemed to threaten.  Indeed, it’s the first true concert the students have given since the ignominious Christmas Concert 2019, which veterans of my class have dubbed “Corporate Christmas” for reasons I cannot elaborate upon here.

In the spirit of live music, I thought I’d look back this week at a post about the first Spooktacular, before the epic front porch Spooktacular II.  This inaugural Spooktacular was back during The Before Times, in The Long, Long Ago, when coffee shops still would let me gyrate behind a keyboard for tips on Halloween.

The show ended up being a huge success, and inspired the at-home, front-porch sequel in October 2020.  I’m currently planning a springtime front porch concert for Friday, 28 May 2021, but I’ve gotsta get through tonight first.

With that, here is 2019’s “Gig Day III: Spooktacular“:

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SubscribeStar Saturday: The Art of Concert Programming

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.

Subscriberslast week’s SSS about Myrtle Beach is up, as is last week’s edition of Sunday Doodles.  My apologies for the delay.  —TPP

Every spring my school sponsors a big fine arts festival, a weekend dedicated to celebrating and showcasing our talented students.  The weekend includes two nights of our drama students performing whatever play or musical they’re presenting that season, as well as an exhibit of student artwork.

The first night, however, is the big Spring Concert.  After the dance students share some pieces, my student-musicians take the stage for their one big night of the semester.

The Spring Concert is like the Super Bowl for these kids:  it’s the biggest stage most of them will take during the academic year (though several of my students gig with bands and ensembles outside of school), and the one time they really get to soak up the spotlight.  The goal of my music classes is to put on good performances, not to seek fame, but the kids deserve some accolades and kudos.  Besides, a big part of music is being able to share it with other people.

With the Spring Concert about six weeks away, my students and I sat down this week to begin programming the concert.  Programming a concert is part science, but also an art; it requires a certain “feel” for the pieces, and how those disparate pieces link together to create a cohesive, exciting whole.

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

Hustlin’ Towards Financial Independence

It’s another Bandcamp Friday, which means if you buy my music today, Bandcamp doesn’t take their cut; ergo, yours portly pockets a few more dimes.

Those dimes add up. Regular readers know that I’m a major advocate of sensible financial planning and reducing unnecessary spending (at one point, I would have been an “extreme budgeter,” but now some hedonic adaptation has kicked in and I’m enjoying the fruits of my labor a bit more).  I also promote hustlingworking hard and spinning different side gigs—to generate extra income.

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