CDs are here! CDs are here!

Yay! Just as I was teaching this morning, a TNT delivery lorry pulls up outside and a man with a palette and a hand truck thing arrives at the door, bearing CDs by the shit-load. Loads of copies of ‘Behind Every Word’.

the first load of orders have been posted already (you’ll have received an email if yours has been sent – if it hasn’t it’ll go first thing tomorrow), and because the ‘release date’ is the 20th, it means that if you order the CD now, not only will it go out in the next day’s post, but you’ll still get the free download album. How great is that? Go on, you know you want to… :o)

It’s been a busy couple of days – I’ve been booked to play at Greenbelt at the end of August, and have a gig or two in Italy the second weekend in July. Now the CD’s here, I need to get sending that out to press peoples, along with the press release for the Edinburgh festival gigs… I’m going to be sick of jiffy bags before too long…

Anyway, off you go and order the new CD, fair blogling.

Last night's gig in St Ive's.

Another fun gig in St Ive’s, Cambridgeshire last night.

I was added to the bill pretty late – I was planning on going to the gig anyway, was invited to play and thought it’d be fun. And it was.

The main attraction was Tim Bowness and Peter Chilvers, who had Michael Bearpark guesting on guitar with them, and made a delicious noise. Pete is a fantastically delicate and skilled piano player, with the best piano sample sound I’ve ever heard, as well as some clever processing in Kontakt (I think that’s how its spelt) – a very clever bit of software that allows you to write ‘improvising’ algorithms.

My own set went well – Behind Every Word, Highway One, Scott Peck and Deeper Still (Highway One had been promised to Catherine StreetTeam for a long time, and I finally got round to playing it live again. Haven’t played it in ages, but played a fine version. Yay!

All in, a fine night out.

Gig preparations

Just been practicing for tonight’s gig supporting BJ Cole at the Half Moon – I’m still learning the songs from Behind Every Word, trying out some new arrangement things, working out how to make the tunes as good as they can be live.

Support gigs are always interesting because the audience have certain stylistic expectations based on the headline act. Fortunately, BJ’s music background is so varied that anyone going to see him is surely going to be expecting anything from solo steel guitar arrangements of Debussy tunes to full on clubby dance stuff. Hopefully my noises will meet with appreciative ears.

See you there.

Debut gig – much fun!

Julie and I got through our first gig together unscathed! What fun! The set list, as I said, was a mixture of jazz stuff such as ‘Like Someone In Love’ and ‘What A Wonderful World’ coupled with a load of less likely candidates from The Cure, Slipknot, Green Day, The Police etc.

There were a couple of expected loop gremlins (first gig going without a hitch? yeah, right.) but nothing that spoilt the gig, and the audience seemed to really enjoy it. A great first outing, methinks. (if you were there, feel free to post your thoughts in the comments section.)

And in other music news, Cd sales are going really well – thanks so much to all those of you who’ve already bought it. The feedback on ‘Lessons Learned Pt III’ is great too, which bodes well for the CD of ‘Behind Every Word’ arriving. (you can post reviews of LL Pt III in the new shop, if you want… or, for that matter, of any of the other CDs – I wasn’t able to copy the reviews over from the old shop database, sadly.

Anyway, keep telling your friends about the new stuff, point them to the MySpace page to hear some tracks from it, and then send them to the shop. :o)

SoundtrackJeff Taylor, ‘Demo 2005’; James Taylor and Joni Mitchell, ‘Live, 1971’.

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.

Good times, bad times..

My what a mixed up week!

Starting with the screwed up car – bad times.

Then Tuesday I had a rehearsal with Julie for our gig at the National Theatre on the 31st – got lots of songs done, including songs by Green Day and The Cure. It’s going to be a fab gig. – good times.

Wednesday was another great rehearsal, this time with Andrea Hazell – Andrea’s only improv experience before this was onstage at Greenbelt last year with me, so she came round for a run through before thursday’s RC gig. Working through various ideas we found that Dido’s Lament by Purcell worked beautifully when looped and layered over ambient mush! – good times.

Which leads us to Thursday and the RC gig. The day started with renting a car – Enterprise do a scheme where they pick you up for free as well, which was nice. I then set off to pick up Todd from Peckham. When, after an hour and a half I hadn’t reached the river, I had to admit defeat to the traffic and head back home, leaving Todd to get the bus to the gig! – bad times, but at least I got to have a listen to the whole of the new album on the in-car CD player and check out what it sounds like in another situation. it’s pretty damned fine sitting in traffic music!

Anyway, came home, loaded the rental car, with gear and TSP, and headed down to Darbucka. Got there nice ‘n’ early, got set up and sound-checked, and even the sound check was sounding lovely. It’s safe to say, that this Recycle gig was one of my all time favourite gigs. Y’all know by now the the RC is ALWAYS stunning, but this perhaps even eclipsed the others. I started solo, with a glitch-free version of ‘Behind Every Word’ (first time that my opening tune at the RC has gone off without a hitch)… However, the loop gremlins just hid until my second track – some weirdness going on in ‘FRHU’ but it was still fun. Followed that with ‘Grace And Gratitude’, then got Andrea up to join me. We did two long pieces – the first a wordless improv, and the second was the Purcell – the purity, clarity and power of Andrea’s voice makes for a completely unique duo experience. Like so many people, the harshness of bad opera has left a bad impression on me, but working with Andrea shows just how good operatic vocals can be when performed by a world class singer. A total joy.

After the break, Todd Reynolds was on. I already knew Todd was amazing, world-class. I wasn’t quite prepared for just how awe-inspiringly amazing he would be as a solo performer. This was, without a doubt, one of the greatest virtuoso performances I’ve ever seen – it’s hugely inspiring to watch someone play who has obviously dedicated such a super-human amount of time, energy and love to being right at the top of their game. I can count on one hand the performers I’ve ever seen of equivalent levels of skill and beauty in their playing – Gary Husband, Show Of Hands, Antonio Forcione, Michael Manring… it’s a tiny tiny select group that serve as a wake-up-call to the rest of us to up our game considerably. I don’t think I’ve ever heard violin played like that live, even on video. It was a fairly small crowd for the RC, but every single one of the people there got a major treat checking out Todd’s magic.

And then the improv bit at the end, the musical equivalent of a 70s wrestling ‘royal rumble’, only a bit more gentle and considered. For this, the three of us were joined half way through by Julie, and the transition from the layers and layers of Andreas’ huge expansive voice fading across to the intimate exquisite layers of humming from Julie was definitely one of my favourite improv moments ever.

How lucky am I? Definitely Good Times.

And then today. I took the rental car back, they found a stone-dent in the back door (was it there when I got it yesterday? I didn’t see it…) and charged me £75 for it, making a grand total of £105 for the day’s car rental. Bollocks. Bad times. Then, just as I arrive home, the garage calls and tells me my car’s ready – £666,69. I’m not sure if the number’s significant, but it’s certainly an evil amount of money. Still, they are a fantastic and trustworthy bunch of guys, and it was really nice to get back in our car. It’s the first time ever that the switch from rental car to own-car hasn’t been a disappointment. This is one lovely car, and even with the blown gasket, I’m still hugely grateful to the lovely G and J for selling it to us for a solo-bass-wages sized sum. So bad times on the cost, good times on getting it back.

Then I come home and finally start to tackle the monumental task of tidying my office. – scary times. The problem is, I’m halfway through and need to somehow make it so I can teach in it tomorrow! arrrrggghhh!

Good times, bad times, you know I had my share…

OK, The Recording Really Is Finished…

Yup, this time I’ve finished. Got a great version of the title track, Behind Every Word, that co-pilot Shark agrees is marvellous. So now I’m back to mixing. Have been mixing some of the tracks this evening, and they’re sounded great, in my humble opinion.

Currently listening to my tune ‘Scott Peck’, which features BJ Cole on pedal steel guitar. He sounds so great, it’s amazing. It’s tough to pick favourites on the album so far, but the two tracks with special guests – that one and ‘One Step’ with Julie McKee are both pretty special. Though so is the opening track, ‘Blue Planet’, which was the first thing I recorded for this album, and features a bass line loop played on my Rick Turner Renaissance fretless that sounds beautiful. Sod it, they’re all great. ;o)