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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Adventures in Dog Walking

Taking long, contemplative walks is one of life’s simple pleasures.  Doing so with a dog, I have discovered, is even more fun, even if it means carrying around a hot, steaming bag of poop part of the time.

For the past week, I’ve been dog sitting my girlfriend’s lovable German Shepherd, Lily.  Lily is nearly three-years old, and very well-trained (my girlfriend will tell you otherwise, but she did a good job with Lily).  For that reason, we have been walking a lot this past week.  Being somewhat inexperienced with dogs, anytime she starts nosing at the door and whimpering, we go for a walk, so we’re probably doing it way more than necessary.

Regardless, taking all these walks has afforded the pup and I several opportunities to see the town.  Walking a location, rather than zipping by in a car, gives the walker an intimate understanding of a place.  Lily has certainly left her mark—scatologically and otherwise—all over.

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MAGAWeek2021: The Battle of Sullivan’s Island

This week is MAGAWeek2021, my celebration of the men, women, and ideas that MADE AMERICA GREAT!  Starting today (Monday, 5 July 2021) and running through this Friday, 9 July 2021, this year’s MAGAWeek2021 posts will be SubscribeStar exclusives.  If you want to read the full posts, subscribe to my SubscribeStar page for as little as $1 a month.  You’ll also get access to exclusive content every Saturday.

For all the talk of the American Revolution’s origins in Massachusetts with Lexington and Concord in 1775, the war was largely won in the South.  Indeed, Cornwallis’s forces surrendered to Washington at Yorktown, Virginia, in 1781.  Washington was able to trap Cornwallis at Yorktown, however, due to earlier victories in South Carolina and North Carolina.

One of the earliest such victories was mere days before the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the Battle of Sullivan’s Island.  Fought on 28 June 1776, the battle is well-known to South Carolinians, as spongy palmetto logs were used to construct the fort.  British cannonballs harmlessly socked into the logs, and the treacherous sandbars forced some British ships aground.

This battle secured South Carolina against British invasion until 1780.  The victory routed the British naval assault, leading the British to move their fleet northward, to New York.

The battle also immortalized the palmetto tree as a symbol of South Carolina, which joined the liberty crescent on the Moultrie Flag.

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Summertime Schedule Begins

After a long school year and a whirlwind trip to Universal Studios, I am finally settling into my summertime schedule.  My History of Conservative Thought course did not “make” this summer, as I only had one student enroll (the course really needs a minimum of three students to work well), but my dance card is full enough with lessons and other obligations and engagements.

Next week I’ll be running my first ever “Rock and Roll Camp” at my little school.  It will essentially be a condensed version of the Music Ensemble class I run throughout the school year, squeezed into four three-hour days.  The plan is to end the final day with a short concert.  I’m waiting to hear back on who is enrolled and what kind of instrumentation we have, as that will determine the song selections, but I think it will should be a fun camp.

After that it’s the return of Minecraft Camp, a perennial favorite.  At last count I have either ten or eleven campers signed up for that camp, which is quite good.  Minecraft Camp is the most lucrative camp of the summer, and accounts for a good chunk of my supplemental income this time of year.  I missed out on it last year, as I was very sick, so here’s hoping I’m good to go this summer.

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Backroads Exploration: Una Adventure

As I recently detailed in the post “Routine Maintenance,” I managed to get my old 2006 Dodge Caravan running again thanks to an $80 battery.  I finally hooked up the battery maintainer, too, so hopefully the old girl won’t drain down due to neglect.

After installing that battery, it reminded me of how fun driving a busted up minivan can be.  Readers might scoff at that notion, but that van and I share an intimate connection (well, at least I do with it—it can’t really think about who is driving it).  After fifteen years, I’ve learned that machine inside and out.  Sure, after driving my tiny Nissan it takes some adjustment (I still reach for the gear shifter in the wrong place occasionally, and briefly forget where the lights are), but it’s surprisingly nimble.

Aside from the maintainer, I’ve been taking the van for weekly drives to keep the battery up.  My girlfriend and I took it to Lee State Park a few weekends ago, loading our small bit of supplies and her faithful German Shepherd into the cavernous interior.  Since then, I’ve only done a few small jaunts with it, with the exception of last Thursday night.

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SubscribeStar Saturday: Myrtle Beach

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This weekend I’m down in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, with my family.  With the exception of last year, we visit Myrtle Beach every March because it coincides with the Myrtle Beach Marathon, which my older brother flies down to run (after running the full marathon one year and starving while we waited for lunch at Sea Captain’s House, he has since decided that the half-marathon is a more reasonable distance).

Even before my brother’s career as an amateur long-distance masochist, we have been visiting Myrtle Beach as a family.  We used to come every summer for a big South Carolina Public Works convention, so Myrtle Beach’s tacky neon charm holds a certain nostalgia for me. These annual visits are not just a wonderful opportunity to spend time with family, but to relive the glow of childhood nostalgia.

The rest of this post may be delayed, as I am—as the preview noted—in Myrtle Beach with family.  Don’t worry, subscribers, I should have it finished soon.  —TPP

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Midweek SubscribeStar Exclusive: Sloshing through Lee State Park

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With the warm weather and sunshine this past weekend, my girlfriend and I decided to check out Lee State Park.  Lee State Park is just ten miles up the road from Lamar, and while I’ve driven on Lee State Park Road numerous times heading to the Interstate, I’d never visited the park.

Lee State Park was constructed in 1935 as a Civilian Conservation Corps project during the Great Depression.  It is bounded on the west by the Lynches River, and features a number of easy-to-moderate hiking trails, as well as several equestrian trails.  Most of the park’s 2839 acres is hardwood forest wetlands, and the park features four artesian wells that flow continually.

To get to the park, we loaded into my ancient, busted up 2006 Dodge Caravan—now with a fresh battery!—and buzzed up there with the windows down.  My girlfriend’s German shepherd seemed to enjoy the ride, and turned out to be a real trooper on what turned into an unexpectedly arduous adventure.

When we got to the park, we grabbed a trail map, and merrily headed into the forest, attempting to follow the white-labeled Floodplain Trail, a five-mile, moderate hike.  Unfortunately, the Floodplain Trail does not make a neat loop, and we headed towards the shorter end, which overlaps with the orange equestrian trail.

That decision would ultimately result in soggy, sloshing bit of amateur trailblazing through some of the muddiest terrain in Lee State Park.

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The Last Day of Freedom?

Here we are, 19 January 2021—the last day of basking in liberty before Biden the Usurper assumes the throne.  For all his personal foibles and occasional missed opportunities (while acknowledging, of course, his many achievements), President Trump at least fought to ensure that Americans could enjoy freedom and opportunity.  Under progressive rule, no such guarantees exist.

But rather than look about gloomily at what is to come, I’d like to offer some words of exhortation.  Times will not be easy for conservatives and Christians over the next four years, but I’m trying to embrace this new progressive era with some cautious, small-scale optimism.

For one, I think the whole sordid election fraud, as well as the bipartisan effort to impeach President Trump for—if we’re honest about it—discouraging violence and encouraging peaceful protest—has confirmed for many of us that the elites of both parties are against us.  As such, effecting change at the national level seems increasingly futile.

That might sound discouraging, but consider it from another angle:  if we can’t make much of a dent at the national level, then why waste the energy?  Instead, let’s focus our efforts locally.

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