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.
Well, my two summer camps for the season are all wrapped up, so the rest of summer vacation is a combination of private music lessons, blogging, gardening, and loafing around the house. I’ll also get in some family time, and will help schlep my girlfriend’s stuff to Athens. I hope to get a little fiction writing done in there, too.
With my camps done for the summer, I thought I’d dedicate this Sunday to looking back at some posts about my various summertime endeavors:
It’s also just fun, much like the music of Robert Mason Sandifer, the young composer I’m highlighting today. Mason, as I call him, is a private student of mine, so this post is perhaps a tad self-serving, but even if he weren’t my student, I would adore his music.
This past week I hosted the first of two summer camps I’m putting on in June. Next week is the ubiquitous, ever-popular Minecraft Camp, but this week saw the first inaugural Rock ‘n’ Roll Camp at my little school.
I’m not sure why I didn’t conceive of this idea sooner. It’s not an original one, as rock ‘n’ roll fantasy camps have been around for awhile. I’m not Ted Nugent teaching middle-aged yuppies how to play “Stranglehold” in the woods, but porting that concept to rockin’ out with kids is not difficult to do.
But last summer my headmaster kept forwarding me e-mails from a local country club, which was itself hosting a summer rock camp. He did not include any commentary or suggestions along the lines of “you should do this camp,” but I got the message. So when it came time to put together our summer camp catalogue, I tossed Rock ‘n’ Roll Camp into the mix.
My headmaster’s implied suggestion was a good one: the camp was really wonderful. Indeed, it exceeded my expectations, in large part because of the small but talented group of campers who attended. We only had three kids sign up this year, but I’ve had semester-long ensemble classes with that few students, so I knew we could make some musical magic even with a small group. Indeed, we had the perfect number for a classic garage rock band: four (including myself).
Here’s some of the details about the camp—how long it lasted, a breakdown of our days, and the songs we played. Hopefully it will provide a useful blueprint for other music educators looking to host their own camps.
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.
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.
I’m back in Orlando, Florida, for another trip to Universal Studios. Tomorrow’s SubscribeStar Saturday will likely be late again, but Lazy Sunday should be good to go. I’ll post in a bit more detail about our adventures down here later on.
Next week I’ll be making up last week’s SubscribeStar Saturday and tomorrow’s in great detail. Apologies to subscribers for the delays. Even though it’s now summer vacation, those final teacher workdays were doozies, with a flurry of end-of-the-year items to complete, not least of all accurate report card grades and comments.
It looks like this summer’s run of History of Conservative Thought will be cancelled, unfortunately, due to low enrollment (one student signed up—d’oh!). It actually works out, though, as I’m hitting a whopping ten students for private music lessons over the summer. If everyone continues into the next academic year, I’ll have twelve students in total during the school year—the highest ever.
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
Halloween is easy, because it comes packaged with all sorts of fun activities: Halloween songs, costume contests, spooky décor, etc. A generic springtime theme is a bit more vague, and with it already feeling like summer here in South Carolina, the theme presented some initial problems.