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Immaculate Misconceptions

Immaculate Misconceptions (2006)

Immaculate Misconceptions, recorded in June 2006, is an all-acoustic album featuring music from and inspired by the play Immaculate Misconceptions by long-time collaborator Stephen Schrum. The play opened on June 16th and 17th, 2006 in Greensburg, PA. There was a reprise performance in Oct 2006. Fans can purchase the album of full-length songs and read about the making of the album below.

My first solo album in seven years (since Cadillacs & Tarantulas), Immaculate Misconceptions was primarily an acoustic offering. The music was first premiered in Stephen Schrum’s monologue “Immaculate Misconceptions” at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg. The play is a humorous, and sometimes serious tale about Catholic grade school and high school, finding the humorous and serious aspects of the positive (and negative) role models of Schrum’s youth. With references to secular events (such as the Kennedy Assassination and the NASA moon landing), as well as more religious happenings (the world’s oldest nun giving sex advice, another nun teaching Marriage Class and, of course, Vatican II and the Baltimore Catechism), Schrum seeks to discover how his Catholic school education shaped the college professor he is today. The play premiered in Greensburg, PA in June 2006,

Even though Steve only needed short snippets of music throughout the play, it was very hard to contain the creativity that resulted from our collaboration. The writing also took place during what is usually a productive period for me (Winter/Spring), and my location in a new studio facility only added to the inspiration and possibilities. So along with the smaller segments that he requested, I fleshed out an entire album’s worth of material. In retrospect, it may be some of my best work to date. The music on this album is primarily acoustic with light percussion (hand drums, brushes).

For years I’ve been consciously avoiding outright political or ‘activist’ music. My spiritual beliefs (heavily impacted by Buddhism and Sufi poetry) along with my rhetorical studies led me to believe that music was not necessarily the most effective medium for such expression. So instead I went inward, examining my life and values, and chose to either learn other people’s music or write about less controversial subjects. I felt that there was just so much more to figure out before affixing my thoughts to songs that would be part of my creative legacy. Then Steve came along with his play and, well, it was like a fountain opened. Many of the ideas that had been kicking around for so many years finally found a catalyst. A number of other factors conspired to lift my ban on topical songs. Everything from current world conflicts to my reading, to becoming a home owner. The result is a collection of rather raw and, at times, humorous songs. Steve’s experiences often triggered something similar in my own life, or related to something going on in the news. Probably the most difficult part was determining: Am I writing this for Steve… for myself… neither? I tried not to self-censor too much, and prefer to look at this project as a part of a larger journey.

Immaculate Misconceptions is the first project to come out of the new location of Mothership Studios in Bloomsburg. Mothership is a small project studio that has grown from an idea to a reality since my first recording, Mandala in 1999 when I was based in Harrisburg. Today, Mothership is an incubation tank for roots music and experimental projects, both solo and collaborative. Very early in my career I had an interest in sound recording, so I prefer to do all of my own production and engineering. That’s a double-edged sword because it is easy to get caught up in the technology. With this project, my recording philosophy was to capture the freshness of the songs without getting too worried about technical matters. So there are rough spots, for sure, but I think the energy, spontaneity and honesty shows through.

Music or Politics? Maybe the listener shouldn’t care what I, personally, think. But behind every artist (whether it is me or anyone else), there is likely a group that feels the same way. In many places, like the Middle East and throughout Africa, music is often the only thing people have to communicate their message. In some cases, artists and producers are even executed or banned from state-controlled media. So when those of us with the power (and it is Power) can reach out with our music, I just think we should. Out of politeness, politics and religion tend to be avoided in discussion. I’d like to see that change, but in a civil, non-violent way.

Infamous Quotes:

“Five years ago, I couldn’t have predicted the music that I’ve written here. So, five years from now, who knows!” – Jeremy

“Strive for perfection, achieve excellence!” – Steve

The music on this album is primarily acoustic with light percussion (hand drums, brushes).

1. Immaculate Misconceptions 1:51
2. Transition 0:45
3. Our Town 2:29
4. Hard Day Comin’ 3:16
5. Minor Organ 0:49
6. Usher Chant 2:14
7. Mother Taught Me 1:56
8. Tempest 6:13
9. Sister 2:46
10. Shadow Box 2:36
11. Chaos Factory 4:05
12. Incidental Madness 0:14
13. Chindra’s Lament 2:25
14. Questions That I Ask 3:12

(Available on streaming platforms – physical copies available to collectors by contacting me directly.)

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Immaculate Misconceptions – About the Songs

Image by Jeremy dePrisco

Immaculate Misconceptions consists of the following tracks:

1. Immaculate Misconceptions 1:51
2. Transition 0:45
3. Our Town 2:29
4. Hard Day Comin’ 3:16
5. Minor Organ 0:49
6. Usher Chant 2:14
7. Mother Taught Me 1:56
8. Tempest 6:13
9. Sister 2:46
10. Shadow Box 2:36
11. Chaos Factory 4:05
12. Incidental Madness 0:14
13. Chindra’s Lament 2:25
14. Questions That I Ask 3:12

During the writing process, I kept notes about how things were going. Here’s some highlights: 12/17/05 – I know what Steve is trying to say with this play, but I am forced to consider what I’ll be saying with the music for the play. Will it complement the play or stand on its own? 1/7/06 – My work has always addressed religious dogma in some way or another. However, I have questioned the clarity of this material from time to time. With this play, I was able to allow Steve’s play to speak for itself about the experiences and questionable occurrences of such an isolated religious education, while still adding some of my own observations.

3/4/06 – At some points the songs came to me like images – sometimes stills, at other times movies. 3/5/06 – Despite my initial interest in moving away from political-topical songs, I seemed to go headlong into such material. This was, thankfully, balanced by the amount of more ambiguous material inspired by my poetic interests (Sufi, Hafiz, Rumi, Yeats). Had my time been spent solely on political material, I think I would have grown discontent with this project…

I’m grateful to Steve for asking me to be involved in this project. I still consider my music to be only a small part of the overall play, and while I am pleased with how it turned out, the experience up to the play is what I will treasure the most. The general approach was one of throwing stuff at the wall to see if it would stick. In some cases it didn’t. But in many cases it did. I could see my topical writing informed by my rhetorical studies and much more grounded than it used to be. I could also see more room for literary references where perhaps in the past they would seem forced.

Immaculate Misconceptions – This was based on a piece of instrumental music. Born out of the desire to have something somewhat catchy as a title theme, I added some simple lyrics and Steve made some suggestions. We toyed with the idea of bringing the theme back during the play, but this turned out to be a piece that I played only for pre-show.

Transition – During the writing process for the play, I ended up with a ton of small transition pieces that were either composed on the guitar (such as this one) or on the computer using MIDI instruments or loops.

Our Town – Attention! This song is *not* about Bloomsburg! It is, however, about a mix of potential towns such as York (Steve’s home town) and my childhood home town of Hazleton. Steve’s play addresses the race riots in York, and I see the same type of potential in Hazleton these days with the mayor’s hard-nosed approach to the new face of the city.

Hard Day Comin’ – Steve wanted something like a Bob Dylan song here. My friends know that I really don’t have a lot of Bob Dylan in me, and I usually try to separate myself from that genre nowadays. But it wasn’t too hard to come up with something. I just tried to come up with lyrics that had the same type of sentiment, and at the same time reflected my own view of current events. I’ve purposely left the lyrics open to interpretation, and there are several ways this song can be taken, none of which is exactly “correct”.

Minor Organ – Another transition piece with pipe organ and darbuka (not a loop, but a real drum). This is where I saw the song collection going in a darker direction, so I wanted to set the tone for that.

Usher Chant – This song was derived directly from my first entrance in the play where Steve talks about the similarities between Catholic church services and theatre. The original draft of this song was a bit more laid back with some falsetto parts, but I decided to make this heavier. The short solo is a fretless bass.

Mother Taught Me – This piece was inspired by the play, but was not used in the production. Reading about Steve’s religious experiences made me think about my own. This is one idea that turned into almost a chant. One version of this piece turned out to be a round, but this version is just straight up. Though the words do not change, each time the lyrics are sung I think a slightly different meaning can be derived.

Tempest – This song came about in a strange way in late 2004 while I was actually trying to get away from topical songs. I suspect it is the product of being knee-deep in Sufi poetry for most of the year. The song also features some lyric fragments and inspiration from JoAnne Growney’s poem “View from the Moon” which was published several years ago in CARVER, a BU literary magazine that no longer exists. While JoAnne was still living in Bloomsburg, we had the opportunity to collaborate for the multi-disciplinary Compassion Moves project.

Since that time, we shared some pieces together and Tempest was a result. The song is purposely fragmentary and more an image painting than a true lyric. I thought parts of JoAnne’s poem, also somewhat fragmentary in nature, added to the sentiment that I was trying to express. But different people may come away with different meanings.

Our collaboration was sadly cut short when my schedule became very crazy and she moved to MD, but we still try to share things via the web. As Steve’s play has shown, the web can be a sufficient medium for collaboration, so it’s possible we’ll see more pieces like this. To learn more about JoAnne and her poetrymath and other hybrid ventures, visit http://joannegrowney.com.

Sister – Every once in a while my sense of humor takes a bizarre turn and I come up with something that makes people wonder. Here’s one such song. All I can say is that it is a story song that sort of relates to the play, though these characters don’t directly appear. After Tempest, I really wanted to get things out of the dark, so I think this works pretty well. For the play, I did this as a pre-show song. I had a lot of fun with the drum loops and live percussion.

Shadow Box – This piece resulted from images that Steve conjures up in the play, and my own experiences with a Catholic Priest. The Lord is looking for his shroud, crown and Holy Grail. What does that mean? I don’t know. I tried to incorporate some rather random images… the man behind the curtain is a rather obvious Wizard of Oz reference I guess. In a way I think this song might be making fun of songs like American Pie which have been analyzed to death (something that Steve highlights in his play.) So if listeners can figure this one out, let me know and I’ll post your thoughts here! Rhetorical analysis welcome.

Chaos Factory – I wrote most of the verses for this song shortly after seeing the animated movie Robots. Of course this has a slightly harder edge, but I wanted to keep some of the quirkiness by using non-traditional percussion. The song was separate from the play, but late in the production process Steve said he could use a few lines.

The original idea was to use harsh industrial loops, which I could easily make or purchase, but due to time constraints I opted for voice percussion. The intro is composed of birds from our back yard, my lawn mower and our dehumidifier recorded with a Minidisc recorder. The clanky percussion is the Wrench/Pipe Gamelan that I collected from Lowes and my toolbox. After hearing the first draft, Audra said it sounded too pretty. I agreed, so I played down that element in this mix.

This is probably my favorite piece in the collection. I envision a reprise of this song on an upcoming release where I will record it with a different set of instruments. The subject matter is a combination of current politics, my feelings on bureaucracy, my father’s experience in factories and general post-modern angst.

Incidental Madness – Another transition piece to get us ready for the last few songs.

Chindra’s Lament – Listeners may wonder why I included a song inspired by Buddhism in a collection of songs that were otherwise designed for a play commenting on Catholicism. The themes that Steve addressed in the play (dogma, misinformation, bureaucracy, control, freedom, education, intellectual development) go way beyond Catholicism, or Christianity for that matter. That was probably the most valuable insight that I gained from working on this project.

Chindra’s Lament is based directly on a section of the dhyana (meditation) lectures delivered by Grand Master Chih-i Of Tien-tai Mountain Monastery, called The Ten Heads. It can be found in a number of works and on the web. I first read it last year in the Buddhist Bible, a collection of writings that make up the closest thing to a bible that Buddhism actually has (there really is no such thing as a Buddhist bible in the same sense as other faiths).

Last year I was prompted to review the Awakening of Faith after starting a Shasta Abbey dharma tape series on the subject. The dharma tapes referred heavily to the Buddhist Bible, which I had kept around as a reference for years prior and decided to read as I was listening to the tapes. That’s how I came across The Ten Heads. The “second head” is: Censorship Over Desires Arising From The Senses:

The Senses Second is the censorship over the desires arising from the use of the ears, among which we mention, musical sounds from harp, twelve-string lute, and instruments using silk, bamboo, metal, stone, etc., and from the voices of dancing and singing girls, reciting, praising, etc. No sooner do we, disciples of Buddha, hear these sweet sounds than our hearts are stained and our minds entangled and we are led into evil acts. Such was the fact in the case of the five hundred disciples who lived in a monastery in the Himalayas when they heard the songs sung by a girl named Chindra. They lost their devotion to the practice of Dhyana and became delirious with exciting desires. By all such causes and conditions may we know that sounds are the source of wickedness and guilt!

I was intrigued by the message here, especially considering that I am a musician. I made a note to come back some time to write a song about this as a form of defiance I suppose. Besides, Chindra was crying to be heard.

The word Dhyana repeated at the middle and end of the song means meditation, and ironically sounds a lot like “Dianna” Steve’s wife’s name.

Questions That I Ask – This was written throughout the pre-production process and then finished on the spot during the recording process and almost didn’t end up on the CD. I’m not going to say too much about this one because I think the meaning fairly obvious, though some may be surprised at my approach. While working on this song on 2/4/06, at 8:26 pm there was a lightning strike near our house in which I could see the blue light in the studio, followed by a loud BOOM. The power stayed on, and no one was harmed.

Listeners will also find a special treat at the end of the disk… another Schrum/dePrisco collaboration that is best left as a surprise for those that purchase the disk.

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Immaculate Misconceptions Immaculate Misconceptions Project

Immaculate Misconceptions – Immaculate Thanks!

im_cakeThanks to Audra and Steve, and our friends and family, but especially our parents, and siblings.

All these folks played a part too: Tom Dennehy, Mike Maguire, Steve Schrum & Dianna Bourke, Mike Kattner, Bill King, Lt. James Reese, Jeff Sherman, The Remishes, Jason Palmer, Kristy Thompson, Amethyst, Katalin Tamás & Béla Marssó (The Bodó Band), Roger Schoch, The Isenbergs, John Hearity, Jim & Mary Rose Hearity, Pete Longo, Jason Ramsland, Thom Greco, The Rainbow’s End, Danny Demelfi, Matt Homiak, Jim Nowak, Joe Schrum, Ed Debes, George Graham & WVIA, Nancy Coughlin, Prabesh Poudyal, Dr. Kalyan Krishnan, Marlin Wagner, Jason Perez, Deborah Miller, Mike Naydock and Cellar Full of Noize, Ian Anderson & Jethro Tull, Joseph Campbell, Rumi, Hafez, Tom Waits, Jai Uttal, Zakir Hussain and Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens). Jeremy would also like to recognize his teachers: Rev. Patricia Dai-En Bennage, Gen Kelsang Norden, Anthony Stultz, Rev. Eko Little, and Buddha.

Bloomsburg University faculty: Prof. Jerry Wemple, and Drs. Mary Badami, Sandra Kehoe-Forutan, Madhav P. Sharma, Thomas Aleto, Oliver Larmi, Anne Wilson.

Companies & Organizations: Bengali Association of Bloomsburg, Susquehanna International Folk Dancers, Roland, Taylor, Fender, HG Thor Guitar Lab, Alesis, Microsoft, Avery, Cakewalk/Sonar, Folk Alliance, CAD, ART, Shure, Behringer, Wray’s, C&C Music, School House Music, K&S Music, Journal Newspapers Inc., Brews N Bytes, Sakuntala, Greenwood Friends School, and Sage Coffeehouse. Thanks to all the teachers, musical and otherwise, co-workers past and present, and everyone who has encouraged us over the years.

All tracks engineered and produced by Jeremy J. dePrisco

Recorded/mixed in Bloomsburg, PA at Mothership Studios

© and (p) 2006 Jeremy J. dePrisco

Blue Buddha Records

All Rights Reserved

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Immaculate Misconceptions – MUSOFYR Archives

Writer, Director and Actor Stephen Schrum

To learn more about Immaculate Misconceptions from the creator:

Steve’s page

Immaculate Media (commentary from audience members)

Photos from the DVD of the play

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Immaculate Misconceptions Fan Mail

This is an actual email (sender’s name removed) that we received in reference to the play Immaculate Misconceptions.

“Dear Mr. Schrum,

After reading the flyer for the production of your monologue, I pray that it does not profane the Virgin Mary. Yes, there are many funny incidences from yesteryear about which we can laugh, but the sisters who taught us were, for the most part, truly good, dedicated women, faithful to the teachings of the church. How I pray that this is all in fun and not meant to belittle these good people for your personal gain. The Baltimore Catechism was a marvelous book. I still remember “why did God make me?” “to know Him, to love Him, and to serve him in this world and be happy with Him in the next”. I hope that you took this to heart. God be with you.”

This is a perfect example of how people often jump to conclusions and simply won’t give things a chance – exactly to the point of the play and the reason we are doing this.

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Immaculate Misconceptions

Immaculate Misconceptions – Special Thanks to Audra

They (whoever “they” is) say that behind every great man is a great woman. Well, I don’t know if I’m great or not, but Audra is. So I’ve put this page up to honor her many contributions to this project (and others).

So many people contributed of course, and if you want to see their names, you can look here. But Audra played so many roles (enough to lose count) that I could not let her go unrecognized.

Audra’s many titles include:

CD Sales Attendant
Receptionist
Roadie
Catholic School Girl
Advertising/PR Rep.
Costume Assistant
Makeup Artist
Driver
Chef/Food Services
CD Manufacturing and Quality Assurance
Communications Officer
Groupie
Psychologist
Nurse
Data Entry Clerk
CD Baby Liaison
Courier
Travel Agent
Consultant on Matters Catholic

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Immaculate Misconceptions – Reflections on the Play

 

im_jdnun1Though I have had some involvement with theatre over the years, this was my first time on a theatrical stage since playing a flutist in Comedy of Errors in 1993. Writing for Steve is always a fun experience, and I am continually surprised at how well we work together.

This time was fun because I got to be on stage with him instead of out in the audience, and because most of the music for this production is completely new. In the past I’ve been the invisible collaborator, and we’ve often recycled music from my catalog.

While that can be interesting, there’s nothing like diving into a project with new expectations. In his monologue performance, Steve tells his stories of Catholic grade school and high school, finding the humorous and serious aspects of the positive (and negative) role models of his youth. With references to secular events (such as the Kennedy Assassination and the NASA moon landing), as well as more religious happenings (the world’s oldest nun giving sex advice, another nun teaching Marriage Class and, of course, Vatican II and the Baltimore Catechism), Schrum seeks to discover how his Catholic school education shaped the college professor he is today.

While not Catholic myself, I grew up in an area gripped hard by Catholic doctrine and dogma. I do not have first-person experience of the same things that Steve talks about in this play, but as an Italian American transplant to the Northeastern PA coal region who didn’t go to any church, I do have similar experiences, so I understood what Immaculate Misconceptions was getting at, and immediately wanted to be a part of it even before I read the script. What I did not know was that the material would speak to me so much that it would conjure images and ideas that would go beyond the scope of the play, and continue my interest in socio-political topics (something I had shrugged off from an artistic standpoint).

Steve is probably the first person I have worked with who has been just as self-critical about what he does on stage. And yet, there was so much flexibility in our collaboration that I did not feel I was being dictated to unjustly. In fact, I think Steve was harder on himself in some ways than he needed to be. The last-minute changes and interactions that came out of our rehearsals were proof positive that we could do this stuff more often.

We both seemed to focus well together, and our work ethic seemed to match well. Neither of us wanted to rehearse things to death, but there were key places where we clearly wanted to make sure we got things right. In the places where mistakes were made, or transitions didn’t come off as well as we’d hoped, we took it in stride. I’m looking forward to offering this show locally.

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Immaculate Misconceptions – Videos

Fourth Grade Singing

Sixth Grade Bestiality

Pagan Babies

Catholic Reproduction

6th Grade VIIth Commandment

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Immaculate Misconceptions Final Podcasts


Photo by Jeremy dePrisco

IMMACULATE MISCONCEPTIONS
podcasts are now available!

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Immaculate Misconceptions Lyrics

Usher Chant

Usher Chant (from the album and play Immaculate Misconceptions)

We usher people into rows of seats
We assault you with our words and deeds
On your buttocks and on your knees…

We usher you in rows and seats
We assault you with our words and deeds

We usher people… into rows of seats
We assault you… with our words and deeds
Ask you for your money… give us some please…

We usher people into rows of seats
We assault you with our words and deeds
Ask you for money on your hands and knees
Give us some please.

Lyrics, Music & Arrangement By:
© 2006 Jeremy J. dePrisco ASCAP