Steve’s Sunday Summary

So, we’ve come to the end of my first full week back blogging every day. I’m not sure how long I’ll be able to keep this up, but it’s been an enjoyable week of writing.

Here’s a quick summary in case you’re just browsing at the weekend: 

I wrote two things about effects pedals, with some tips on how I use them:

I also wrote a two-part look at how I use Bandcamp, and why I love it so much as both a music fan/forager, and as an artist:

And I wrote two posts about other aspects of making music:

One of my favourite things about writing here regularly again is the comment threads that are growing – please do feel free to add your voice to the discussions. The way that social media conversations get lost so quickly has always saddened me, whereas blog comments have a much longer life and remain attached to the article as a collaborative writing effort. I’m grateful to everyone who adds thoughts and asks questions here, so feel free to join in!

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It’s also been a week in while I’ve had quite a few new Bandcamp subscribers, no doubt wanting to explore the four new solo albums (I added a new track to the unfolding album Stepping Stones this week) and the upcoming LEYlines releases.

Besides all that, I got to meet up with the great bassist and journalist Ed Friedland yesterday – he was in town to play with The Mavericks, and sadly I missed the show due to illness, but we had an amazing day hanging out and catching up on news.

And then today, still recovering from a cold, which is now overlapping with hayfever, we took a leisurely family stroll through Birmingham, including a trip to the rooftop gardens at the Library Of Birmingham. I love living in this city 🙂

Blogging As An Act Of Defiance In An Age Of Social Media Manipulation

So this website finally had an 11 year overdue overhaul. Total redesign and optimisation. If you need yours sorting out, talk to Thatch, who did this one – he did such a great job. Have a rummage around to behold the goodness and read all of the words.

There’s a bit of me that feels like announcing a website overhaul in 2019 is like shouting ‘hey, check out my MySpace page!’ or putting my ICQ number in my Twitter bio, but we desperately need some push-back against the kind of bullshit that goes on social media, and by that, I don’t just mean ‘there are Nazis on Twitter and Fake News pages on Facebook’, I mean ‘social media algorithms reward us with attention for being blunt, sensationalist, aggressive, shouty and sloganeering‘. So worse than just nazis being there is that it’s built to push us all towards confrontation, to react not reflect, to argue not discuss, to punch each other with nonsense opinions instead of collaboratively researching stuff. All the shit that leads us to Trump and Brexit

So yes, of course Twitter/FB should ban the fash, but if the entire model is set up to gift attention to people with shouty opinions and misleading headlines, we’re all the worse for having to engage with it. At which point, having your own website is an act of defiance. Writing long-form without the dopamine hit of immediate likes and shares and comments, having a comment section that doesn’t reward those commenting with that same load of bullshit, it’s just a space to expand on ideas.

So, yeah, go overhaul your neglected website/blog – we’re all here slaving away in the Zuckerberg Saltmines, churning out ‘content‘ that gets ‘monetised‘. And we think we’re smart if we have a strategy to monetise it, even if that strategy involves capitulating to the horrible terms of engagement that are promoted (man, the tragic irony of this starting out as me waffling on like this on Facebook when I could have been writing it here as a blog post on a site I own… FML)

…anyway, we need spaces to be ourselves, to be quiet, thoughtful, nuanced, unsure, to tell stories & not be baited into shouting at terrible politicians as though they’ll change their minds due to informed snark.

So, if you’re blogging on a regular or semi-regular basis, post a link in the comments here. I’m going to give Feedly another try and see if curating a diverse bunch of daily reads by thoughtful people is even possible. And if you’re a blog reader, grab the feed for this blog from https://feeds.feedburner.com/SteveLawson

BTW, there’s a lot of this theme that gets explored in the new MusicTechFest podcast that came out today, an interview with me that could be subtitled Small Is Beautiful. musictechfest.net/podcast035/  give it a listen 🙂

Rock And Roll Is Dead Gets A Proper Release!

So, only about three years late, I’ve finally put my novel, Rock And Roll Is Dead, up for proper download. You can get it by clicking here:

Previously it was a free PDF and an ePub version that a friend put together for me. Now, via Leanpub, I’ve done it properly, and you can get it in PDF/EPUB/MOBI versions, for Kindle, iBooks and everything else.

So what’s the story? It’s about a band, playing pub gigs, who decide to get out of the rut they’re in. And it’s quite a journey.

It ends up being a bit of a fictional music manifesto. Like condensing all the New Music Strategies blog stuff here into a book and adding loads of swearing (they get quite angry at various times through the book…)

Here’s a lil’ promo video about the book:

“Ask Me Anything” – Interview idea, Inspired by Steve Albini

Recently, Steve Albini posted an ‘AMA’ on Reddit. I’ve never spent any time on Reddit, but a few people sent me the link to it, and I read it. The basic idea is that someone notable says ‘hey I’m here, ask me anything’. And what you get at the end is part hagiographic fan-boy nonsense and part really cool interview with questions that magazine and radio people would quite possibly never think to ask. In Steve’s case, it’s lots more of the latter. Here it is, if you want to read it. Continue reading ““Ask Me Anything” – Interview idea, Inspired by Steve Albini”

“Slow Food” With Trip Wamsley AKA Making Music With Awesome Musicians.

Here it is!

If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll be all-too-familiar with ‘it’ – the first of two duo albums with Trip Wamsley. I blogged about them here, and at the time thought they’d both be EPs. Well, I’m not sure about Trip’s release, but this one has grown into a full album – all 42 glorious minutes of it. Continue reading ““Slow Food” With Trip Wamsley AKA Making Music With Awesome Musicians.”

New Live Solo Tunes!

Recorded at Friday night’s gig at the Islwyn Guitar Club in Crosskeys, Gwent, South Wales, here are two new tunes that ’emerged’ – they’re both improvs, but I like ’em, so will probably have a bash at something like them for the new album…

The recordings are remarkably good considering they’re just on a little Tascam digital recorder thingie (recorded by Andrew Buckton – fab singer/songwriter who came with me, and sang beautifully on the gig too).

here they are – enjoy!

New Tunes from Islwyn Guitar Club by solobasssteve

SoloBassSteve.com = Forum 2.0

For quite a few years before all this social media stuff got properly conversational, this site was the home of a burgeoning forum. It was created in PHPBB and was home to many a wonderful discussion about all kinds of things, some of them directly related to what I was up to as a musician, but many of them just driven by the supremely fascinating people who would hang out there.

As web-based conversations moved around, Twitter became a really great place for the kind of link-sharing and funny comment stuff that was often the forum’s stock and trade, and many of the forum regulars moved over. It’s been great, and chatting to those people on a weekly-sometimes-daily basis on twitter is a wonderful thing.

But some things were also lost when the forum traffic slowed right down, namely the essays that some of the contributors would sometimes write, and the threaded conversations that would often happen as a result of a link to a news story or link to a youtube video. Continue reading “SoloBassSteve.com = Forum 2.0”

New Adventures In Mobile (CSS)

Screen grab of the opera mobile demo from opera.comSo, for the last couple of days I’ve been working on a mobile version of this site. It’s the same site, same pages, just the design is tweaked to make it look better on a mobile handset. It’s easy enough to do, using CSS. CSS stands for ‘Cascading Style Sheets’, and is a way of labeling elements on a web page, and then controlling the way that everything that has that label is formatted. But because the machine you look at a web page on can be identified as a computer or as a mobile, you can have a different stylesheet for each type.
Continue reading “New Adventures In Mobile (CSS)”