Phone it in Friday XVI: Week in Review (5-8 October 2020)

I’m out of town for a few days, so I’m resorting to something I rarely do:  a week in review post.  Some bloggers feature these weekly, such as my blogger buddy Mogadishu Matt.  I sort of did one back with “Lazy Sunday LVIII: Spring Break Short Story Recommendations Recap,” but that was more a review of a week-long series of posts, not a review, per se, of the week itself.

Ah, well.  That’s just nit-picking.  Here’s what I wrote about this past week:

That’s it for this edition of Phone it in Friday.  Here’s hoping I wrote some material good enough that you don’t mind reading it (and reading about it) again.

Happy Friday!

—TPP

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Rock in Peace, Eddie Van Halen

It is with a heavy heart that we bid a fond farewell to the Mozart of our time, Eddie Van Halen.  Van Halen passed away after a lengthy struggle with lung cancer.  He is survived by his brother, drummer Alex Van Halen, and his son, Wolfgang Van Halen, who joined the band as its bassist in 2006.

Van Halen was truly one of the guitar greats of the twentieth century, the second half of which witnessed the rise of many guitar heroes to the pinnacles of superstardom, particularly in the 1970s and 1980s.

But Van Halen’s licks didn’t stop with memorable riffs.  He could play neoclassical passages with ease, weaving them into songs about partying and and lusting after one’s teacher.  Learning his signature solo, “Eruption,” became a rite of passage for budding guitarists in the 1980s and beyond.  Van Halen also dominated on the keyboards—much to the chagrin of perennial showman David Lee Roth—as is clear from the entire album 1984, one of the best albums of all time.  Who can resist jumping when hearing the opening strains of “Jump“?

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SubscribeStar Saturday: Making Music, Part II

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.

This school year I began transitioning from teaching a blend of history and music classes towards focusing almost entirely on music.  While I still teach a couple of sections of American History, my teaching duties these days consist primarily music classes.

One of the real joys of teaching music—besides the fact that it’s just plain fun—is to see students inspired to create their own music.  I have been blessed over the years to witness the musical development of many students, and to hear some of their creations.

During our remote learning rehearsal day earlier this week, I pulled out some old concert footage to show my HS Music Ensemble class, a course that is entirely performance based.  That class does not port well to a fully online format, especially to a livestreamed one, as latency is so intense that it makes ensemble performance impossible.  Indeed, if that class goes to a fully online format, we’ll have to focus more on solo work and and music theory, which is what we did during distance learning earlier in the spring.

In watching that old concert footage, I was reminded of some wonderful moments in my school’s unorthodox music program’s history.  It also reminded me of the power of teaching music to inspire the creation of new works.

To hear my own musical works, visit https://tjcookmusic.bandcamp.com/ or www.tjcookmusic.com.

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

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Thanks for Supporting Indie Musicians

Back on 1 May 2020, Bandcamp waived its commission on musicians’ sales for the day.  A number of you dug deep and picked up my discography, which was a big help at a time when musicians are running low on funds.

Bandcamp repeated that commission-free day in June, and is doing so again today, Friday, 3 July 2020.  It’s a great time to pick up my discography.  If you’ve already done so, and enjoyed my music, consider forwarding this post to friends and family that might enjoy my work.

If you didn’t enjoy my music, well, that’s fine, too—go ahead and forward this post anyway!

Regular readers will recognize most of the information below from that 1 May 2020 post.  My apologies for another extended solicitation, but I do appreciate your support (and your patience with reading lengthy ad copy).

One other note:  next week marks #MAGAWeek2020, in which I will post daily about an American (or concept) who has, in his or her own way, made America great.  But those posts are SubscribeStar exclusives for $1 or higher subs.

Thanks again for all of your support!

—TPP

The TL;DR takeaway of today’s post:  times are tough for musicians, and you can help.  You can purchase my music on Bandcamp today (Friday, 3 July 2020) without Bandcamp taking their 15% commission.  You can also tip me directly via PayPal.  Finally, you can always support the blog—and enjoy exclusive weekly content—by subscribing to my SubscribeStar Page.

Bandcamp is waiving the commission it takes on sales of musicians’ work TODAY, Friday, 3 July 2020.  You can pick up my entire discography for $15.75 (or more, if you feel so inclined).  To purchase the full discographyseven releases in total—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).

You can also send a digital tip to me directly, if you’re so inclined, via PayPal.

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My Musical Philosophy in Song: “Delilah”

On Sunday (my first day back playing piano in church!—everyone else was in their cars listening over a short-range broadcast)—I posted a video to my Facebook artist page of Iron Maiden vocalist Bruce Dickinson singing Tom Jones’s 1968 classic “Delilah”:

I’ve received a handful queries about my statement that “this video sums up my entire musical philosophy.”  Naturally, there’s a bit of cheek in that statement.  My short answer is similar to the jazz musician’s (Louis Armstrong? Dizzy Gillespie?) when a lady asked him how to swing:  “if you have to ask, you’ll never know.”  The video should speak for itself:

But I began digging into this video a bit more.  What is this bizarre game show?  When was it aired?  How did Bruce Dickinson end up singing “Delilah”?  It reminds me another video that “sums up my entire musical philosophy”—Jack Black’s appearance on American Idol singing Seal’s “Kiss from a Rose”:

Fortunately, there are some scant details out there.  The show was Last Chance Lotter with Patrick Kielty, an Irish game show that ran for ten episodes in 1997.  The gimmick was that the show took losers from other game shows, gave them a lottery ticket, and anyone who had a ticket worth ten pounds or more could compete in the main game.  Some of the money won would go into a pot for one random audience member to win.

I haven’t quite worked out how the musical numbers figured in, but the musical guest would essentially sing a song to add even more cash to the pot by spinning a wheel (that was transparently rigged—the audience knew the wheel was controlled, from what I can gather).  That’s why Bruce Dickinson was on the show, and his performance of “Delilah” is one of the most spectacular musical renditions I’ve ever heard:  mariachi horns, bouncing bassists, leopard-print suits, and Dickinson’s soaring vocals.

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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:

SubscribeStar Saturday: Making Music

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.  NEW TIER: $3 a month gets one edition of Sunday Doodles every month!

The past few days I’ve really been pushing my music (see here and here), mainly because Bandcamp waived the commission it takes on sales of musicians’ work yesterday (1 May 2020).  They’re foregoing their cut again the first Friday of June 2020, so I’ll likely be pimping out my electronic ditties again in a month (although, of course, feel free to pick up tunes any time).

I’ve maintained that Bandcamp site the better part of a decade, and until this week, I hadn’t made a single sale.  Perhaps the poor-mouthing about the impact of The Virus on musicians opened hearts and wallets.  To those of you that did purchase my work—I sold seven copies of my full discography (seven releases available now for $15.75), with many buyers paying more than the minimum—I offer a big and hearty THANK YOU.  Seriously, you have no idea what a morale boost it is to have your support.

As for the poor-mouthing, one of the lessons I’ve learned about music is that fans aren’t buying the music, per se, although that does have to be good; rather, they’re buying you and your story.  It’s a frustration for many artistic types that they labor over their art, putting all of their heart, soul, sweat, and blood into it, only to see people more interested in their personal lives than their music.

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

Support Indie Musicians

The TL;DR takeaway of today’s post:  times are tough for musicians, and you can help.  You can purchase my music on Bandcamp today (Friday, 1 May 2020) without Bandcamp taking their 15% commission.  You can also tip me directly via PayPal.  Finally, you can always support the blog—and enjoy exclusive weekly content—by subscribing to my SubscribeStar Page.

Bandcamp is waiving the commission it takes on sales of musicians’ work TODAY, Friday, 1 May 2020You can pick up my entire discography for $15.75 (or more, if you feel so inclined).  To purchase the full discographyseven releases in total—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).

You can also send a digital tip to me directly, if you’re so inclined, via PayPal.

You can also purchase albums individually, either at their listed price or higher.  Here are my seven releases, in chronological order:

So, again, today 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 TODAY 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.  And as I wrote yesterday, we can’t really gig anymore, at least not in the traditional sense, due to shutdowns.

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.

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 The Lo-Fi Hymanl) 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!).

To recap, here is my full discography, which is only $15.75 if you buy it together:

And, remember, you can always tip me directly, or via my SubscribeStar page.

Thank you for your support!

—TPP

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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