Poster art for the new documentary Commit to the Song: The Joe Thomas Jr. Guitar Pull.
In August 2016, I began work on a documentary film project, and I am happy to announce its completion!
There is a monthly music event here in Montgomery that I have regularly posted about and photographed for quite a while now – the Guitar Pull at the Cloverdale Playhouse. The more I was around, the more I would hear stories about how it all began, and I thought it was an interesting story to tell, which led to my new feature film Commit to the Song: The Joe Thomas Jr. Guitar Pull and the following tagline:
“A true story of music, inspiration, death, amputation, and legacy.”
Many thanks to the film’s stars – Robert “Bubba” Hall, Jonathan Tew, Gini Thomas, Greg Thornton, Michael Thornton, Sarah Thornton, and Mike Winkelman – for their time and support, and thanks also to all the musicians who allowed me to document their performances and everyone who contributed info, photos, encouragement, etc.
I’ll be releasing more information in the coming weeks. Follow this blog via email for updates, and connect with me and Terrible Master Films on social media.
Thanks for reading!
I recently took a trip down to Atmore, AL to shoot some footage for Big Escambia Spirits in anticipation for the launch of their newest product – Dettling Bourbon. They handle every part of the process – from getting their corn locally in Escambia County to each stage through bottling.
I directed this spot (produced by Terrible Master Films) which they posted publicly today:
Got corn in my shoes and pants today. Check out the new @big_escambia_spirits product "Dettling Bourbon," which will be hitting shelves soon! It is the first bourbon 100% made in Alabama. #bourbon #whiskey #bigescambiaspirits #dettlingbourbon #spirits #craftbourbon #madeinalabama #alabama #atmore #escambia #escambiacounty #goodstuff #fieldtobottle
Sometimes, there are so many things I want to say, but I question whether it’s my voice that needs to be heard. I question whether I have anything to contribute that has not already been said, probably much more eloquently or with more depth.
I try to listen more than I speak. I also try to communicate clearly and authentically. I try to write and speak from reasoned logic and kindness instead of anger.
But I’m angry. There are things in this world that I don’t understand, and quite frankly, I don’t want to understand.
It’s fucking 2017 and there are nazi pieces of shit walking in the streets with goddamn tiki torches. What. The. Fuck?! Don’t like my language? Too bad. There is a place for righteous anger and cursing for emphasis, and if stupid fucking nazis and related white supremacist assholes causing riots and using vehicles as weapons in American streets in 2017 isn’t it, then I don’t know what the fuck it might be.
I feel anger. I feel sorrow. I feel helpless.
I teared up watching the Vice News episode on this horror. (And damn, it’s hard to imagine the Vice crew having to hang out and be face-to-face with those nazi shit stains for this story…) Watch it. Look at these hateful fucks. Use it as a teaching tool to make sure the next generation doesn’t end up lost in more hateful ignorance.
I generally try to understand motives. But I don’t understand this kind of hatred, and quite honestly, I’m glad I don’t understand it. I really don’t want to understand it. I don’t want to understand that level of ignorance. I don’t want to understand that level of hatred. I don’t want to understand why someone would embrace those ideals.
I love the fact that I have friends from different races and cultures and beliefs and backgrounds. I’m happy to see love and acceptance from good people who know and embrace ideals of empathy, understanding, equality, and diversity. I want to be around good, genuine, accepting, loving people. And I want to be those things myself.
I want to see and support the agents of positive change. I want to lend my voice, as little as it might be in the grand scheme of things, to positive change, to progress, to empathy, to encouragement, to better days.
So let me be perfectly crystal clear: if you are a white supremacist of any shape or form and you happen to follow me on social media or have sneaked your way onto my “friends” list – delete me. Seriously. I don’t want that kind of bullshit in my life.
Per some perusing of social media lately, the new website and app Sarahah seems to be somewhat polarizing – some people are liking it, while some people are slamming it as cowardly, urging people to say things directly to other people, instead of anonymously.
(I say “somewhat polarizing” because some of the comments under these posts are more in the “What the hell is it?” category. If you’re wondering, the word “sarahah” is Arabic, apparently, synonymous with candor, openness, frankness, honesty.)
Either way, I signed up recently, fully expecting jokes and a decent amount of hate mail. So I admit that I was surprised to get some very nice, encouraging, and heart-felt messages from people. Who are these people? Well, since the site allows anonymous messages, I have no idea.
One of the more funny/lighthearted ones:
“I’d toast your almonds you sweet cream muffin!”
And then there’s this one:
“I think you’re too good for this desperate please show me attention app…”
And there are others that are lengthier and heart-felt (and thank you to those who have posted those. I do appreciate your messages and encouragement very much.) I’m not going to post them all here or anything, and again, I have no idea who is behind these messages, but I received one I’d like to address:
“I’m in awe of your creative drive. Makes me wish I hadn’t given up.”
If the person that left this is reading this blog post, I want to say two things:
First, thank you. Second, it’s not too late to start back.
I don’t know what creative outlet you gave up on, whether music, film, painting, writing, or something else. But you can start up again. Write. Record. Play. Direct. Film. Edit. Produce. Practice. Act. Whatever it is, and whatever quantity you can give time for it – 5, 10, 30 minutes, an hour – do it.
The world can always use more art. Let that creativity start up again. Feed it. Nurture it. Grow it. And share it with us. Be encouraged.
For anyone else, if you want to tell me something anonymously, feel free: joshcarples.sarahah.com. Or if you prefer to tell me things directly, use the “Contact” page on this website, or hit me up on my social media accounts. Either way, thanks for reading. Much love.
Reminder: Two shows going on tonight, Thursday, Aug. 3, 2017:
- I’m playing with Pensacola’s own Hello Crescendo at Against the Grain. Details here.
- Witchchord and Pleasant Valley are playing at the Sanctuary. Details here.
Pick a show and go. Of course, I’d love for you to pick my show, but I’m friends with the folks playing the other show, so pick one and go. Just don’t stay home tonight.
As I said in my last post, one of the guys in Witchchord happens to be Mr. Shane Gillis of Foolish Henry Films. (Full disclosure: I am FHF’s PR Director.)
Shane also directed the recent short film Bad Deal that’s currently in post-production. Director of Photography – the man, the myth, the legend himself – Mr. Joe Walker sent a still image from the film featuring the character of “Jody” played by Mike Cunliffe. It’s already looking awesome.
This Thursday, I’m performing at Against the Grain with Hello Crescendo, a band from Pensacola who is described as “progressive, psychedelic, indie rock.” 8:30 pm. $5.
Also this Thursday, Witchchord is playing with Pleasant Valley at the Sanctuary. 9 pm. $5. One of the Witchchord members is Shane Gillis, director of Bad Deal, a short film that went into production this past weekend.
Bad Deal is the new Foolish Henry Films production (the folks that brought you Death to the World, City Federal, and joined together with Buck’s Row to produce Spiritus.) In Bad Deal, along with being a producer, I played a character named “Rodney” and helped with still photography. (Search the hashtags #baddealfilm and #baddealshortfilm on social media for behind-the-scenes photos.)
Follow this blog via email for updates, and be sure to connect with me on social media. Thanks for reading. Much love.
I’m not here to claim I was a Linkin Park fan. I wasn’t. But the death of Chester Bennington has again brought suicide and mental health to the forefront of discussions. Just like Chris Cornell before him. And Robin Williams. And Tony Scott. And a host of others.
And with these celebrity deaths come the discussions and the social media posts that range from empathetic to infuriatingly ignorant to just plain spiteful.
One comment I saw yesterday – “Selfish act.”
After Cornell’s death, I saw (paraphrasing) – “I don’t feel sorry for him; I feel sorry for his family.”
Comments I’ve seen in the past have thrown around the word “cowardly” or variations of “the coward’s way out.”
While it’s not necessarily my normal approach, it is somewhat refreshing to see replies to such statements with “fuck off” from people who are empathetic or sympathetic to the internal struggles of others. It’s a passionate response. It’s an emotional response. Crude? Maybe. But it’s real.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, “Approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. experiences mental illness in a given year.” That’s about 20 percent, so think of it this way: if you have 100 Facebook friends, about 20 of them have experienced mental illness. Some of them may have thought about or even attempted suicide. Those are your friends and family, and you just called them selfish or a coward. You just told them that if they were to follow through with it, you wouldn’t feel sorry for them – just their family.
Chances are, they didn’t respond to your comments on this issue. Chances are, you don’t even know they are struggling with something. Mental illnesses such as depression can be very isolating. It’s generally not something people are very open with. In fact, do some research on the term “concealed depression.” Here’s an article to start with: “15 habits of people with concealed depression.”
If you have not experienced mental health issues, that’s awesome. I’m not being sarcastic; I am genuinely happy for you. I remember very specifically telling someone that I was glad they didn’t understand what it felt like.
But if you don’t understand what it feels like, at least do your friends and family – the 20 percent, the ones who may conceal it – a favor by taking a moment to think before you speak. If you can’t empathize, try some sympathy. Try to understand as best you can. Try to react in kindness. Try to be helpful, and the first way to do that is by not calling your friends and family selfish cowards unworthy of your sympathy.