my beautifully flawed design work…

Spent a bit of time this morning updating and redesigning pillowmountainrecords.co.uk – it looks lovely, until you change the font size in your browser away from the default. Then it goes all weird. Must find out how to do scaleable boxes in CSS… the Lovely Rev. G gave me some tips, so will check them out.

Anyway, I like the look of the site, and it’s up to date. Will finish it at some point, I’m sure. :o)

Had a rather nice lunch today with BJ Cole, catching up on news, planning for the gig on Thursday at the Half Moon, and then finally letting him hear his own fine work on ‘Scott Peck’ from the new album. What a lovely way to spend the afternoon.

Sales update – the new CD is selling really well, thanks so much to all those of you who’ve already ordered it. The sooner you do, the greater my peace of mind over the cost of releasing it in the first place! :o) I hope y’all are enjoying ‘Lessons Learned From The Fairly Aged Felines’ (if you’ve had any trouble with the download process, let me know and we’ll sort something out…)

Another preview for all Last.fm users…

I’ve just uploaded Lessons Learned From The Fairly Aged Felines to Last.fm, so you’re a subscriber, you can head over and listen to three full tracks, and 30 seconds of all the others, just to get a flavour of what marvellousness is available if you order to new album ahead of time. :o)

If you’re not up to speed with last.fm if an online streaming radio site that’s free to sign up to and use. The way it works is you download a plug in for your media player of choice (iTunes, winamp, WMP or whatever) and it then keeps a log of all the music you listen to, and generates custom radio stations based on the taste of other people who listen to the same stuff as you! It’s fantastic, and the stats are kinda interesting too. Well worth joining and geeking out on.

So, if you’re already there have a listen, and if you’re not sign up THEN have a listen. :o)

and after that, you can hope over to my online shop, order ‘Behind Every Word’, and download the whole of ‘Lessons Learned From The Fairly Aged Felines’ straight away. And get MP3s of two tracks from Behind Every Word to preview before the album gets sent to you at the end of June. How exciting!

New Album – order today! :o)

FINALLY, as my earlier message said, I’ve upgraded my server (email me if you’re looking for webspace, it’s the best deal I’ve come across, and the tech support is fantastic) so have now got my new album, ‘Behind Every Word’ available for advance ordering! YAY! How exciting!

To order it click here – the click on the album cover, register, and then use paypal to pay, with either a paypal account, or just a credit or debit card (you don’t need to register with them to do that).

AND, if you do order it before the release date of June 20th, you’ll get ‘Lessons Learned From The Fairly Aged Felines (Lessons Learned Pt III)’ absolute free as a download album. That’s another hour of great music for free. Every time I record an album, I record way more than will fit on one album. So I choose the ones that fit together as whole, and then release a second CD, often with a different overall feel, as a bonus disc with the album. Lessons Learned Pts I and II are both fab (I get quite a few emails from people saying that LL Pt II is their favourite of my albums), so this isn’t just outtakes and nonsense.

AND, the zip file that the album comes in also includes MP3s of two tracks from ‘Behind Every Word’ so you can listen to them straight away.

So get to it – go buy it, it’s great!

cats and websites

Sorry for big absence from blog-world – two big things have been going on. Firstly, and most tragically, the ginger fairly aged feline has been very unwell. You know about the cancer, which at the moment isn’t showing up the way it was, but he’s now got very serious kidney failure, (creatin level of over 800, which is off the chart), and there’s pretty much nothing they can do. We’ve been trying to get his blood levels settled, but he’s not enjoying the renal food and isn’t really improving anyway, so we’re now pretty much resigned to giving him whatever he wants to eat so he can enjoy his last week or two on earth. It’s a horrible horrible moment to reach – it feels like condemning someone to death, even though there’s no way he’s going to suddenly get better. The will is there to keep fighting for him, but he’s got nothing left to fight with. It’s a dark time in Stevie-Towers.

The second hugely time consuming thing of late is moving my website over to a new server. Copying the stuff over was no problem at all – the Captain took care of that in his usual uber-geek cleverness way – but once there, it became clear that OSCommerce wasn’t going to run on a server running the latest versions of PHP and MySQL (like I know what I’m talking about). So, ’twas time to find a new shopping cart – this time I’ve gone with Zen Cart – it looks quite similar to OSC, but I’m assured by geeks who know that it’s more secure, and much tidier code-wise. I’m almost there, almost completely up to date with the shop – it’ll hopefully go live over the weekend, with advanced order on ‘Behind Every Word’ available, which will include the free download album ‘Lessons Learned From The Fairly Aged Felines (Lessons Learned Pt III)’ – I just need to finish mixing that, zip it up into a zip file with some artwork, and maybe a couple of tracks from ‘Behind Every Word’, and it’ll all be on sale then. I’ll then over the next week or so get Lessons Learned Pt I, Conversations, Open Spaces and It’s Not Gonna Happen up for sale, and hopefully replenish the Street Team Stash with all manner of goodies. Busy time for a bassist cum web designer. :o)

Also, just in, I’ve been booked for an open-air gig in Portsmouth (at least, I’m assuming it’s open air, as it’s for a boat race of some kind, and they generally don’t happen in doors) – I’ll posted the deets as soon as I can.

2005 – a year in review

Good year? Bad year? not sure…

Musically, not a bad year – didn’t release any albums, but I guess that means that the last one is still doing OK, so didn’t feel any major pressure to get something new happening. Now I’m glad I waited due to all the new musical ideas offered up by the Looperlative.

Some great gigs – bassday, bassfest thing in Italy in July, Edinburgh festival (where staying with Jane and Gareth was also a year highlight – much fun). Gig with Ned Evett in Petersfield was much fun, as was recording with Ned. Finished an albums worth of material with Calamateur, AKA Andrew Howie, and there’s a lot of great stuff on there – I’m excited about what we might be able to do with that. Recycle Collective started – was v. small, but musically one of the best gigs I’ve been involved with.

Teaching’s been great – lots of very fine students, lots of beginners making progress, and meeting lots of lovely new people. also started a new column for Bass Guitar Magazine – good to be back writing again (which reminds me, I’ve got one to finish ASAP!)

Personally, it’s been a fairly good year – one big scare with the ginger fairly aged feline, who was given roughly two weeks to live, but with chemo got rid of a satsuma sized tumor IN A WEEK!!!! – we’re still amazed by that, and he’s going great. Life with both the fairly aged felines has been lots of fun (I really feel sorry for all those of you with cat allergies who have to lavish your attention on human offspring as a replacement…) seeing them both take over the house and garden and settle in.

another year of doing no work on the house… hmmm, maybe I should start by just TIDYING MY OFFICE!!! lazy bastard…

World events – both the best and worst things that happened this year were the same – the Make Poverty History campaign was such a monumental success at getting poverty reduction and the plight of people living in extreme poverty in Africa, Asia and Latin America into the minds of every day people, it felt like there were really a chance to make a proper change. millions of people signing petitions, emailing MPs and congressmen, documentaries being made, and of course Live8 and the march in Edinburgh.

And then the worst thing – the gargantuan fuck-up that the G8 leaders made of the opportunity to do something for the world’s poor. Never before in the history of the world had there been such a wellspring of popular support for governments making decisions in favour of the poor, diverting cash and resources to help those in need, changing trade laws to balance things out. Millions upon millions of people around the world were calling for it, huge numbers of politicians were calling for it. Even mad right wing american jihadists like Pat Robertson were on-side (!!), but still those sad twisted old men of the G8 sat round the table in Gleneagles, in their opulence and grandeur and bollocksed the whole thing up. Their pledges fell woefully short, and then they even undid a lot of that. It was disgusting, sickening and saddening that such an opportunity had been wasted. Bono and Bob Geldof had done an amazing job of getting the campaign off the ground, from their involvement in the commission for Africa, and DATA, through to organising Live8, but they bottled it when the announcement was made, took the encouraging words one step too far and declared the Gleneagles bullshit to be a triumph. I’m guessing they aren’t too happy with where it’s gone. The follow up at the World Trade Talks in November was equally shit. A tragedy on a scale that all the terrorists in the world couldn’t hope to achieve.

The week of Live8 and the G8 was a busy one, given that it was also the week of two other disasters – firstly London getting the Olympics (another monumental waste of money which will leave the PPP funding bodies rubbing their grubby hands in glee), and then the London bombing. The bombing had begun to feel like an inevitability for a while – there was no way that the huge disquiet amongst the world’s muslim population about the Iraqi occupation and the continued support for Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land was going to go unmarked in the UK. And finally it did, four huge bombs, three on the underground, one on a bus, quite a few people dead (though not as many as lost their lives in Iraq that weekend… that didn’t make the world news). A tragedy, but one that the government still refuse to admit was linked to the situation in the middle east. Stupid stupid fools.

But at the end of the year, some great news, perhaps the first great news in british life for a long time – registered civil partnerships for Gay couples. Finally gay people can get married (no, I really don’t care if you don’t want to call it a marriage or a wedding – it is, and that’s great.)

And the media spectacle of the year was certainly George Galloway in front of the US senate committee, absolutely ripping them apart. The most damning indictment of the Bush administrations lies and coverup in Iraq, and right there in the heart of the beast. Genius! Galloway can be a bit of a bellend, and his campaign in the General Election (ah yes, we had one of those – what a non-event that was) was horrible and divisive, but on that one day in the Senate, he ruled the world.

oh, media event of the year joint first was Harold Pinter’s nobel prize acceptance speech – another damning destruction of the history of US foreign military intervention.

What else? A few noteable partings – we lost the great Ronnie Barker, one of the finest comic actors and writers Britain has ever produced; Mo Mowlam, one of the few politicians of conviction we still had; Rosa Parks, the unwitting god-mother of the civil rights movement in the US; Andrea Dworkin feminist writer and thinker.

And on a personal level, the death of Eric Roche was a terribly sad loss – a huge talent and dear friend who has featured in this blog more than almost anyone else. Playing at the tribute gig to him on what would have been his birthday was a huge honour.

Blogwise, it’s been my most bloggingest year ever – over 510 posts this year, over 450 visitors a day (??? I’m sure there’s a mistake there somewhere…) and the demise of being able to tell people what I’ve been up to – ‘so, steve, what have you been up to?’ ‘well, I had a gig th….’ ‘yeah I read about that’ ‘oh, well I went out to see a…’ ‘ah yes, that film, read your review of that’ ‘THEN WHY DID YOU ASK???’

Thanks for reading, for emailing for commenting on the blog, and particularly thanks if you’ve been buying CDs and t-shirts, coming to gigs, spreading the word, and generally helping me pay the bills this year. Love you lots! x

Soundtrack – The The, ’45 RPM – the singles’.

not the best start to my birthday…

a little over five hours after I posted the last blog, I was hunched over the loo puking my guts up. TSP was ill at the beginning of last week, and we’re wondering if it might be the same thing. One of the fairly aged felines was also puking this morning, possibly just out of solidarity.

Damn, I’d forgotten how painful the acid burns in your throat can be! That really really hurt. TSP was fabulous, getting me drinks, holding my hair back etc. My very own Florence Nightingale.

Was sick about three times in quick succession, but no more spewing as yet… just feeling achy and fragile.

And the fact that it’s my birthday isn’t really of any consequence – what’s more important is that I need to get on with sorting out my tax this afternoon, and am feeling like crap.

Still TSP did buy me a couple of fabulous DVDs so I can convalesce with those – Team America and Jump London! Yay for the perfect small person!

Happy Christmas!

It’s Christmas Eve, the christmas shopping is done, lots of videos rented to watch over the next couple of days, a Looperlative to play with – we’re all set.

All that’s left is to wish all you lovely bloglings an exceedingly happy christmas. It’s a bit late to say it now, but I really hope you haven’t overspent on pressies and trimmings – as I say every year, the best present you can give your family is a debt-free new year (even if they tell you it’s an X-Box).

Take it easy, enjoy it, enjoy the time you have off from work, think through all the things you have to be grateful for, and chill.

We’re doing absolutely nothing – just me, TSP and the Fairly Aged Felines, relaxin’ eating some cool veggie food (well, me and TSP – I don’t think the cats are going to be wanting sprouts and sweet potato!), watching some festive TV, and enjoying some time off, before getting stuck into last year’s tax accounts early next week…

Tonight we’ll go to midnight mass, and tomorrow we’ll probably go to church in the morning, but other than that it’s lots of slobbing out in front of the TV and a bit of bass playing in between.

And if you’re celebrating something other than Christmas, enjoy it, and please sign into the forum and tell us all about it – I’m not that up on the specifics of most of the other celebrations that take place around this time that the Americans group together as just ‘holidays’.

cheers!

Health update…

I feeling much better now, thanks for asking. TSP is still in a bad way – had two days of work, not feeling well at all, back today but still not right… poor thing. And one of the fairly aged felines was being sick today too! Not a good house for such things.

I was almost sick today, when some crazed bint rant into the back of my car! Fortunately it didn’t do any damage (I got her phone number and licence plate number just in case something shows itself later), but it was pain in the arse.

Ah well, it’s christmas. or something.

another important anniversary

yesterday was one year to the day since we got the Fairly Aged Felines. One very fine year of them bringing much joy into the house, and us building up their trust, them learning how to get us to feed them when they want, dealing with a couple of health scares, and feeling grateful every day for their presence in the house.

Happy Anniversary, boys!

More reasons to adopt elderly cats…

Despite being a huge cat-fan, I’ve long been concerned about the numbers of birds and tiny mammals killed by domestic cats in the UK. So this article in the guardian, forwarded to me by BDB, was scary in that it puts a figure on it – up to 300 MILLION birds killed a year by domestic cats! That’s a terrifying number, especially when some of our song birds are endangered.

So what to do? Well, there’s some obvious advice in the article about not feeding birds in places where the cats are going to jump on them. It also talks about belling them, but there are counter arguments that it’s pretty distressing for the cat to have a bell tinkling away round its neck all the time (as it would be for us, I’m sure).

The best alternative for cat lovers is to a) get all their cats neutered – there are too many cats around anyway, way more than there are responsible owners – and next time you get a new cat, instead of getting kittens, adopt an older cat, preferably a ‘house cat’ – one that for whatever reason needs to stay in-doors, or is a proper aged feline and thus can’t catch anything anyway. They are harder for the rescue centres to home, but make MUCH better pets than kittens do – more mellow, friendly, cuddly, less skittish, less likely to destroy curtains etc.

While the Fairly Aged Felines do go out, they don’t go out much and certainly don’t go far, and in the year we’ve had them have so far brought in one bird between them, which was most likely dead before they found it. In the winter, when birds are most likely to be feeding in our garden on the bird feeders, the boys stay inside anyway.

So, there you go – aged felines are not only the cat-friendly choice, they’re the bird-friendly choice too…

SoundtrackMark Lockheart, ‘Moving Air’.