"available in all good record stores!"

Well OK, available at Ray’s Jazz. So maybe not all good record stores, but certainly the best record shop in London!

I’ve mentioned Ray’s on this ‘ere blog before – apart from being a fantastic record shop, it’s also the loveliest indie coffee shop in central london, has FREE WIFI and is situated on the first floor of Foyles, the finest book shop in London.

So all in all, it’s a great place, and you can now buy ‘Behind Every Word’ from there. Or order it over the phone from them on 020 7440 3205 (or just order it from me on line by clicking here!)

Anyway, proper shops, that’s always nice.

Next weeks unmissable Recycle gig

We’re only one week away from the next Recycle Collective gig, and it’s going to be a blinder.

It’s a three part gig – part one is my album launch! Yes, I know that lots of you have already bought Behind Every Word (if you have please head over to the shop and post a review of it there, please!), but here’s your chance to hear lots of the tunes from the album live, and it’ll be a longer solo set than my usual 25 minute opening to the Recycle gigs.

then part two is Julie’s and my Edinburgh preview gig. Yup, it’s the only chance you’ll have to see the entire New Standard show from this years Edinburgh fringe, in London. We’ve been rehearsing lots, have come up with a pretty much perfect set list, and you need to come and see it! No really, it’s a must. Julie’s great, I’m not bad, and what’s more, there’s a part three to the gig, where Julie and I will be joined by Cleveland Watkiss, UK jazz legend, and one of the most amazing musicians ever to play at the Recycle Collective. He’s great.

So there you go, next Wednesday, at Darbucka, it’s only £7 to get in (£5 if you’re a student or an OAP or in the MU or whatever – bring proof, please) and the venue’s fab. bring friends, come early and eat, make a night of it.

Yay!

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.

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.

Paul Simon – Surprise

Just got this through today, and am on my second listen. Paul Simon is in that very tiny group of people who’ve never done a bad album (caveat, I’ve never heard ‘Capeman’, the soundtrack to his ill-fated musical) – most people of his era (Joni Mitchell, Jackson Brown, Neil Young etc.) mad some fairly duff albums in the 80s, but Paul, like Tom Waits and Bruce Cockburn, has remained pretty consistent all along. Which is why it always amazes me when this album is described as a return to form – his last album, ‘You’re The One’ is outstanding! It’s a really great record, with a couple of tracks that would be in my all time Paul Simon top 10, and not a duff track on it.

It was the same when James Taylor brought out ‘Hourglass’ – ‘return to form’ says the press. Huh? His previous two albums before that were ‘Live’ (possibly the greatest live album ever recorded) and ‘New Moon Shine’, a truly beautiful album.

The problem is that critics always want a hook to hang a story on. ‘It’s brilliant, like all his other albums’ isn’t as dramatic as stories about emerging from a creative wilderness or doing your best album for 15 years… maybe I should just pretend that everything else I’ve done has been completely eclipsed by my new album… :o) I mean, I do genuinely think it’s the best thing I’ve done (I wouldn’t release it if I didn’t…), but it doesn’t make Grace And Gratitude look like an amateurish work…

So, my review – the new Paul Simon album is magic. Full of great songs, great playing, and some fantastic sonic treatments from Brian Eno. For the bass geeks amongst you, Pino’s on it, Abe Laboriel Snr’s on it, Alex Al is on it and Leo Abrahams (from the RC gig before last) is on fretless bass on one tune! That’s the kind of calibre of player we get at the RC.

But every Paul Simon album is magic. You really ought to have the set. He’s got a way with phrasing a line that make it feel like a conversation. The melody never gets in the way of the words. Like Joni Mitchell and a handful of other singers, it’s as much story-telling as it is singing.

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.