Supporting Friends Friday: The Music of Frederick Ingram

Last Friday’s very first Supporting Friends Friday, which featured the release of Jeremy Miles‘s (read his blog) latest book of poetryHindsight: Poetry in 2020, was quite fun, and at the very least brought delight to Jeremy, and at the most hopefully helped sell a couple of copies of his book.

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.

Read More »

Gig Day V: TJC Spring Jam

After seven long months, it’s time for another front porch concert!  Following the success of Spooktacular II, I decided I should try the format twice a year:  the classic Halloween event, and a springtime one.  Thus, the TJC Spring Jam is born!

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.

Read More »

It is Finished?

Christians know that Christ uttered the words “It is finished” before temporarily giving up the ghost on Good Friday.  The “It” to which He referred was His Own Sacrifice for our sins.  Of course, Christ wasn’t and isn’t finished—He arose three days later, and He has promised to return again.  He’d finished the key moment of offering His Blood as atonement for our sins, but that closed one chapter and began a second, better one.

The question of completion is always an interesting one, especially for artists of every stripe.  My real-life buddy and poet Jeremy Miles wrote a post yesterday entitled “When Can You Call a Piece Finished?”  It’s an interesting reflection on some of the major questions that plague artists, chiefly “is the piece done” and “who am I to be putting this stuff out there?”

Like Jeremy with poetry, I’ve recently published a collection of absurdist short stories, The One-Minute Mysteries of Inspector Gerard.  I’m fairly shameless about self-promotion—why be shy about asking for money?—but I still have moments where I think, “is it really right for me to put out a collection of ridiculous stories I wrote in high school and college”?

Ultimately, I take Jeremy’s advice here:  “stop.”  That’s the same advice I’d give to my students, too, and to artists in general:  stop doubting yourself, and just do it.  In the world of music, the cardinal sin I see musicians commit is not charging enough for their time and talents.  Apparently, jazz pianist Thelonious Monk missed out on a lot of gigs because he demanded a fairly high rate for his playing.  That may have limited his exposure somewhat, but he knew what he was worth.

Read More »

Sheet Music Burning

The latest target of the woke elites and their braying mobs is—that great symbol of imperialism and Western dominance—sheet music.

Apparently, some Oxford dons are considering removing sheet music and the ability to read traditional notation from its curriculum.  One quotation from The Telegraph article notes that “The Oxford academics went on to pronounce that teaching the piano or conducting orchestras could cause ‘students of colour great distress’ as the skills involved are closely tied to ‘white European music’.”

This latest crusade is the musical equivalent of the effort in English departments across the country to downplay the teaching of grammar.  Sure, one can make plenty of excellent music without knowing how to read notation, but why limit one’s self to tabs or lead sheets?  I can certainly communicate certain ideas without adverbs, adjectives, or even pesky commas, but doing so severely limits the range of expression.

Read More »

Here We Go Again: Yet Another Bandcamp Friday

Happy Good Friday, readers!  Not only is it the day Christ gave His Life for our sins, it’s also—say it with me now—yet another Bandcamp Friday.

I’m not going to belabor all the statistics about the hard times musicians have endured in The Age of The Virus; you can read all about that in last month’s Bandcamp Friday appeal.  Instead, I’ll cut to the chase and let you know all the great ways you can support the blog, my music, my book (now on Kindle), or even just me.

For one, I have some intriguing merch available.  I’m currently offering two completely original doodles, “Bird of Paradise” and “Bleeding Heart,” for just $10 each.  There are no other physical copies in existence, so you’d own these lovingly doodled marker pictures—and no one else.  They make great “bathroom art”—the kind of thing that would look good in a guest bathroom, or maybe a tacky beach house.

I’m also clearing out the last few remainingFlamin’t-shirts for $15 (plus $5 shipping).  These shirts are rare and I won’t be making any more of them.

Most obviously, because it’s Bandcamp Friday, Bandcamp is waiving the commission it takes on sales of musicians’ work TODAY, Friday, 2 April 2021.  You can pick up my entire discography for $19.98 (or more, if you feel so inclined), a full 35% off the price of buying each album individuallyTo 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 purchase albums individually, either at their listed price or higher.  Here are my seven releases, in chronological order:

An easy (and free) way to support me is to “follow” my Bandcamp page and my Amazon author page.  I post updates about new merchandise, new music, and other interesting offers about once a month to the Bandcamp page, and new books will pop up on my Amazon page as they’re published.  It’s a good way to keep up with the latest news on my musical adventures.

Another free way to support me is to turn off your ad-blocker.  The site delivers several thousand ad impressions monthly, but most of those are blocked, which means they don’t pay out.  You can usually find the ad-blocker as a little widget or icon in the upper-right-hand side of your browser; click on it and it will usually give you the option to “pause” or stop the blocker from running on this site.  I know ads are annoying, but seeing a few DuckDuckGo ads helps out in an incremental way.

Even if none of that entices you, no worries!  I’m just glad to have you here, reading my self-indulgent garbage and my lengthy advertisement posts.

Happy Friday!

—TPP

The Future of Bandcamp Fridays

[Note–after reviewing my accounting, I realized I double-counted some tip money as also a private lesson payment, so I’ve adjusted numbers down $50.  That caused some minor changes in my calculations.  Those should be updated and correct now.  —TPP, 18 December 2020]

Regular readers will know that since March 2020, Bandcamp has been waiving its commission on sales through its platform on the first Friday of each month.  The company even dedicated a webpage to answering the burning question “Is it Bandcamp Friday?

The promotion has been a real boon for musicians—myself included—who have seen a major reduction in revenue from gigs, lessons, merch sales, and other sources of income.  I just ran the numbers, and I grossed around $4976.18 this year from lessons, gigs (including a play I was in), merchandise sales, streaming payments (only $10.15—and it took five years to accumulate that much!), and Bandcamp sales (around $159.03 after payment processing fees and Bandcamp’s commission from purchases not made on Bandcamp Fridays).  That’s compared to roughly $9099 grossed last year from the same sources, so about 54.69% of the revenue in 2020 vs. 2019.  My lesson revenue fell to 45.34% of its value in 2019, from $7465 to $3385 (but I also only drove 1941 miles for lessons in 2020, versus just over 6000 miles for lessons in 2019).

Read More »

TBT: O Little Town of Bethlehem and the Pressures of Songwriting

Christmas is looming large—a mere eight days away—and I have been enjoying an unexpectedly quiet exam week.  After returning from Orlando Monday evening, I’ve enjoyed some sleepily productive time at home, writing Christmas postcards and letters, watching movies, and enjoying the warm glow of my Christmas tree.  I’ll be spending next week with family, and all the hustle and bustle of my niece and nephews, so this quiet time at home has been a welcome calm before the joyous storm.

Despite the lack of serious deadlines (other than waiting for final exams to roll in so I can grade them), I’ve managed to get quite a bit done, and I hope to get a bit ahead on the blog.  I enjoy writing daily posts, but it’s nice knowing I have a few posts squared away some days in advance, as it relieves some of the pressure to produce.  I’ll be doing more throwback posts and the like as Christmas approaches, as it’s the time of year when we’re all scaling back our efforts and taking a bit of a break.

That all goes to the point of this TBT post, “O Little Town of Bethlehem and the Pressures of Songwriting.”  The story behind the sweetly iconic carol is one of last-minute inspiration and hasty songwriting.  There is something about the intense pressure of a time-crunch that turns the coal of writer’s block into glistening diamonds.  Not every songwriter works this way, but I know for myself that a hard deadline does wonders for motivating this songwriter’s pen.

Indeed, during the height of distance learning in the spring, I fully anticipated I’d be churning out new hits, maybe even finalizing a long-delayed follow-up to my piano-and-vocals debut, Contest Winner – EP.  Instead, I squandered my newfound time (well, “squandered” is a strong word—I quite enjoyed taking that time to work on the blog, to travel, and to do the other things I’m usually unable to do).  Without a deadline pushing me to create, I didn’t get anything done!

Or maybe that’s just my excuse.  Regardless, I imagine it’s something many songwriters can relate to, and it’s certainly the story behind “O Little Town of Bethlehem.”

With that, here is December 2020’s “O Little Town of Bethlehem and the Pressures of Songwriting“:

Read More »

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!

Read More »

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.

Read More »