‘…their virtues make them vulnerable…’

My buddy Zach posted the following quote on Facebook this morning, and I’ve been thinking about it ever since:

“The best people possess a feeling for beauty, the courage to take risks, the discipline to tell the truth, the capacity for sacrifice. Ironically, their virtues make them vulnerable; they are often wounded, sometimes destroyed.” — Ernest Hemingway

There are pieces of it that remind me of the ‘tortured artist’ theme, and that made me think of something my buddy Shane said a few years ago:

“Creative people beat themselves up a lot… we are sick individuals. Nothing is ever good enough. There’s never enough time… We’re super sensitive because we have to absorb the world’s pain in order to make something we think is beautiful.”

When reading the Hemingway quote, I searched for it to see what came up, and I found a blog post that talks about it. It’s my first time coming across that blog, but there were a couple of things said in there that stood out:

“Because even when the best people are wounded or destroyed, the story doesn’t end there. Their sensitivity, courage, diligence and sacrifice live on, a legacy to all who were blessed to know them.”

and…

“We can make time to appreciate something beautiful each day. We can reach out to others even knowing they may reject us. We can be honest even when it’s difficult, and we can, at least some of the time, put someone else’s needs before our own…”

For me, I think all of this goes toward something I’ve posted a lot about on here over the past few years: authenticity.

Authenticity can be difficult because it is vulnerable, and that’s not always accepted by people. And I’ve said this before – I’m lucky that I have people in my life that accept me for me, not for some made-up version of who they think I am or have the capacity to be.

This tortured artist cried in front of two close friends recently. My song lyrics are deeply personal. I put my whole self into my artistic endeavors. It is vulnerable. It can be painful. And I’m on a journey learning new things and focusing on some recent experiences that words fail to explain. And the people in my life have shown up without judgement and made me feel loved and seen. And I can’t thank them enough for that.

I hope to be one of the “best people” that Hemingway talked about. That’s the goal, anyway.

#findthebeautyintheworld

Thanks for reading. Much love.

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‘What would life be without art?’

Behind-the-scenes shot of our interview setup, featuring my shooter, C. DeWayne Cunningham of Carolyn Jean’s Son Visions.

“What would life be without art?” That question begins the short documentary Art & Second Chances that talks about three organizations – the Alabama Arts Alliance, Leadership Montgomery, and Renascence Inc. – coming together for a good cause.

I directed the short, produced by Terrible Master Films in association with Carolyn Jean’s Son Visions and Early Riser Films.

This short is part of a larger, ongoing project that is still in production, but I wanted to share this short in the meantime because the 2022 Alabama Arts Summit started today in Birmingham, AL.

I hope you enjoy it. Thanks for watching, reading, listening, supporting. Much love.

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‘Carry the Wounds’…iversary?, videos, updates, stuff, things…

It’s been two whole years (like official years, not pandemic years where we can’t tell one from another anymore) since Carry the Wounds was released. Some friends and I worked on a music video for the song “Liquid Heart,” the release show was a lot of fun, and then Covid shut everything down a week or so later.

Then, with everything shut down, I decided to try to make another video by myself for the title track because, hey, why not, right? I put “quarantine” in the description since, like many others at the time, I was a little behind on the whole haircut thing.

And then my band, Towering Above, started work on an acoustic EP since we couldn’t get up to practice and playing shows was out of the question for a good while. (Wait… there are no drums on it, and I’m just the drummer… hey!)

Speaking of Towering Above, our new album is in the mixing stages. Shhhhh…. that’s a secret, k? And we’re currently working on some music videos for it… and they get kinda weird, so I’ll talk more about that as things progress.

OK, so what else…? Oh! My friend Megan T. Kuehner put out a new EP a couple of days ago called The Truth. It’s really good; give it a listen. A couple of months ago, I directed a couple of live videos in advance of the EP release. We filmed these at the Cloverdale Playhouse in Montgomery, AL. (Many thanks to the Playhouse staff!)

Ooh, also released this past Friday was the new Spirit Guardian album titled Seasick. Spirit Guardian is a project by Jeremy Aitken, a good friend of mine and former bandmate from years ago (we were in a band called Easy Kiddo.) If that name sounds more recently familiar, it’s probably because we collaborated on a song called “Promises” that I blogged about last month. Anyway, give Seasick a listen. It’s really good! (And if you’re wondering who did the awesome album cover, that would be his super talented wife, Gloria. Check out her art here.)

And, since we’re talking about music and videos, and since those are types of art, it makes sense to talk about the month of March being Arts Education Month. Last month, the Alabama Arts Alliance tapped Terrible Master Films to put together a video for the occasion. I directed the video with help from my shooter, C. DeWayne Cunningham of Carolyn Jean’s Son Visions, and my friend Jeff McKinney of Early Riser Films. Special thanks to the educators and students from Booker T. Washington Magnet High School and Alabama State University for being part of it!

I think that’s all for now. Thanks for reading, listening, supporting, not punching me in the face, etc. Much love! Oh, and like, subscribe, follow… you know… all the things you do on social media. Thanks!

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‘Promises’ song collaboration

My friend and former bandmate Jeremy Aitken has a new song out called ‘Promises‘, and I was honored to contribute lyrics and vocals to it. And the artwork was created by his wife, the talented Gloria Aitken.

Years ago, Jeremy and I were in a band together called Easy Kiddo. Unfortunately, we never had proper studio recordings of that stuff, just demos and some live videos (if you want to see some of those, they are on YouTube.)

Anyway, be sure to check out his solo stuff on Bandcamp along with his Spirit Guardian project. He’s got some great stuff made especially for your ears. Yes, your ears!

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Columbia Research discusses ‘Remembering Anarcha’

Columbia Research, part of Columbia University in New York, held a discussion of Remembering Anarcha today via Zoom. The discussion included Michelle Browder and J.C. Hallman, who appear in the film, as well as Harriet Washington, author of the book Medical Apartheid.

I was able to tune in and listen to the topics being discussed, which included subjects like informed consent, judging history by modern morality, the power of art, and more. It was a great and informative discussion, and I appreciate Columbia Research for holding this event.

In the art section Michelle talked about her monument to the “Mothers of Gynecology” – Anarcha, Lucy, and Betsey – which stands at her More Up Campus in Montgomery, AL. The pictures of the monument are great, but I highly encourage you to see them in person. It’s a powerful monument, and she did a wonderful job on both the art and raising awareness about this part of history. (She’s the one who brought this subject to my attention, which made me want to pursue the film.) Check out AnarchaLucyBetsey.org for more information on the monument and the upcoming Day of Reckoning conference.

If you haven’t yet seen the film, it’s on VOD almost everywhere. There are links on the Terrible Master Films website. There are some free (with ads) options available, but renting or purchasing helps us out more. Either way – free or paid – we hope you’ll check out the film and leave a review (Rotten Tomatoes, IMDb, Amazon, etc.)

Thanks for reading, watching, and supporting. More stuff coming soon!

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So… what’s next?

Recently a friend asked me something that I had already been thinking a lot about. It was two questions, actually:

  1. What have you been working on?
  2. What’s next?
Photo by Jill Friedman.

The first question is pretty easy. I, as a solo artist, and Towering Above finally had a first public performance since everything shut down early last year. I’ve been promoting the release of Remembering Anarcha (see it on VOD, review at Rotten Tomatoes), I’m near the final edit for a music video for Electric Blue Yonder’s upcoming album, I’ve edited and done some poster art for a new short documentary (from Terrible Master Films, Carolyn Jean’s Son Visions, 803 Films and Early Riser Films), and I’ve been helping edit a new project from Foolish Henry Films.

Then the hard question… what’s next?

That’s always the hard one. I think most artists feel an almost constant need to create, so when you’re between projects, it’s easy to feel kind of lost.

Somewhat related, there’s also the “post-show blues” that happens at the end of a project. I know that hit me earlier this year after the close of Sweat. When you spend almost every day for over two months becoming a character, there’s a bit of grief when the play closes. Or at the end of a film project. People become like family in a short amount of time, and then everyone is off to something else.

Towering Above is about to return to Headless Dinosaur Recording to begin work on a new album, so that’s something to look forward to as a “next,” but I want to do more acting, make more movies and music videos, write more songs, write more screenplays… and I don’t know exactly where to begin on any of it at the moment.

Sometimes the initial idea is the hard part for me. Hopefully something will spark soon.

If you’re wondering about a point I’m getting to here… um… I don’t really have one. This has been on my mind recently, and I haven’t blogged in close to a month, so it was time to express my thoughts. Hopefully it was an enjoyable read anyway.

Thanks for reading, and for your support and encouragement. Hope to see you at a show soon. Much love.

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New merch! (And yes, self-promotion is still weird)

Last February, I wrote a post talking about my feelings on self-promotion, and… well… I just read over it again and still feel exactly the same way as I did then.

But I also just put a new design up in the store, so if you feel so inclined, here’s the link.

Others are available as well, so if your sentiment is more along the lines of “I hate Josh Carples, but his music is tolerable,” or “Whomst the f**k is Josh Carples,” then there’s a shirt for you too.

Also, there are some shirts available for my band Towering Above as well. Click here.

Uhhh… while I’m on this whole merch/promotion thing, I also have some prints available of some of my photography if you’re looking for some new art to hang on the wall. Those are handled through Society6 here.

This could totally be on your wall.

OK, with that out of the way, there are a couple of upcoming shows I’m involved with. I mentioned them in a post earlier this month, but here’s your reminder:

Friday, July 9 I’ll be performing at Alabama Shakespeare Festival as part of their Garden Glow music series (with Megan McMillan and Neal Lucas.) I was told the last performance in this series sold out, so if you’re planning to come, get your tickets ASAP.

Saturday, July 17 at the Sanctuary: Towering Above, One Like Son, Lonleysev. Details here.

Oh, one more thing: Remembering Anarcha recently got added to the Rotten Tomatoes website, so if you’ve seen the film, please leave a review and/or rating there. My producers and I would love to read your thoughts. We’ve had some kind words said on the DVD on Amazon and on YouTube Movies. And if you haven’t seen it, here are some links on where you can find it.

OK, that’s all for now. Thanks for reading. I hope to see you at one of those upcoming shows. Much love.

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Hey, remember when we had events and stuff?

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Photo by Thomas Tingle, taken March 6 at Goat Haus Biergarten during my Carry the Wounds album release show. 

I joined my first band when I was 15. I loved it then, and I still do. The music, the crowds, the energy, the rush that comes with performing live.

I enjoy going to concerts with friends, and going to see friends perform, and being in a place with people and music and drinks.

All that to say: shit is weird right now.

This COVID-19 situation is rough on everything – families, communities, hospitals, businesses, arts, etc. Everything is canceled.

I do want to give a shout-out to all the artists out there doing live streams and promoting their fellow artists and just keeping things going as best they can. As artists, we have this burning desire to create, and we try to figure out ways to continue no matter what.

The thing is, live streams aren’t the same. They’re not a substitute for the actual live experience. We know this. They’re a stop-gap during this pandemic, but it’s impossible to have the energy that comes with being with our fellow art lovers in one place for one reason.

And I hope that when things get back to normal, or we as a society have something of a new normal, that we can develop a deeper embrace and appreciation for the arts and community, and remember that it was artists we turned to during this pandemic – whether watching those live streamed musical performances, listening to our favorite albums, or binging Netflix; the arts got us through.

I hope we don’t take for granted the live concert experience. I hope we make it a point to go see a play, catch a movie on the big screen, and catch that art show.

And in the meantime, if you’re able to, watch some of those music live streams and tip the artists (many are using Venmo, Cash App, and PayPal.) Buy their albums. Pick up a gift certificate or season pass from your local indie theater or community theater. Get some takeout or delivery from your favorite local restaurant.

Support the arts. Shop local. And be sure to thank those who work in the healthcare industry.

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Que sera, Sarahah

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.