A few years back, Greenville’s Ash Foster-Lee was making home recordings of electronic music in his living room. It took him a while to work up the courage to take what he was doing public, but he eventually formed a project called The Parlor Pinks with singer, producer, and visual artist Rachel Clark. The average Parlor Pinks song sounds like it’s echoing down from a mountaintop, raining electronically treated vocals, icy waves of synths, and thunderous, complex beats.
It’s compelling music, but as a relative novice to the Upstate scene, Foster-Lee initially had trouble getting attention from concert bookers. He slowly built up a network of friends, getting the occasional show booked, but eventually he and Clark decided to do it themselves.
Clark and Foster-Lee formed their own event-booking agency, TPP Events. The initial plan was simply to find places for Parlor Pinks’ shows, but it quickly expanded into something more.
“We were trying to produce shows on the fly, and we decided to create our own lane,” Foster-Lee says. “We figured since we were going to have to do all the work anyway, we should bring some more people in.”
Foster-Lee is underselling this a bit. He and Clark have created an ambitious series of genre-blending shows at throughout the Upstate, but most notably at The Eighth State Brewing Co. on Augusta Street in Greenville. Over the next few months, TPP’s weekly Friday- and Saturday-night concert series will feature a healthy mix of heavy guitar-rock bands, acoustic folk, Latin pop, electronic pop, and more, and all of the shows are free.
The partnership with Eighth State began after The Parlor Pinks played a Halloween show at the brewery.
“I saw where they were coming from and that they had a general vision,” Foster-Lee says. “They understand that it’s a business, but they genuinely care about the community and about putting music and art out there.”
Putting on concerts at a brewery was a challenge at first, but Foster-Lee says TPP Events has managed to hone its craft since the series began late last year.
“They gave me a budget to work with, and the more we build business and bring more people in, the more we can provide the brewery with the business it needs to pay out so I can go out and promise artists what they need to survive and create a fun, inclusive, safe environment,” Foster-Lee says.
As for how TPP Events picks the bands, Foster-Lee again sells himself a bit short. At first, he says he creates the schedule simply by researching and contacting bands that he likes, but there’s more to it than that.
“We can approach this with a format that takes advantage of the fact that people mill in and out,” he says. “You can catch 20 minutes of a band you weren’t expecting, then you see who you actually came to see. I want to get people from the brewery scene to open up to more genres of music, and I want people to see the free-show model as a viable model.”
But because Foster-Lee also wants to help the entire Upstate music scene grow, he keeps an eye on what other venues are doing so his shows don’t conflict with theirs.
“If the Radio Room’s got something folky going on, I might do something more electronic,” he says. “We’re trying to direct traffic until the scene grows, and not step on each other’s toes. It should be about getting as many people as possible to see live music.”