25-Jan-2015 A Different Course

Posted January 25th, 2015 by jivauk and filed in jiva

No, no… we’ve not decided to desert the gentle blend of acoustic instruments and vocal harmony that is quintessentially jiva… we’re not moving to being a classic covers band… we’re not about to switch from Taylor guitars, Kala ukuleles, Bose and AER sound systems, Elixir strings, the colour purple… no, not a bit of it.

directionHaving duly completed our songwriting course at Newcastle College and submitted our respective separate portfolios (yes, we both write separately and together) we’ve now embarked on a different course – Singing and Vocal Coaching. Again it’s a Tuesday evening class, so apologies to any Tuesday folk clubs/venues that might have liked us to play… maybe the second half of the year or, who knows, we might even enrol for something else.

There’s always something new to learn, and those who say they know it all and have nothing else to learn are only fooling themselves.

Jimmy is currently learning (and RE-learning) the frustration of a computer that just won’t play according to the rules… everything seems as it should be, all the bits are connected correctly, hardware and software all checked out, settings checked and double-checked, system updates all in order, anti-virus and malware scans report nothing to worry about. And yet, the danged thing still insists on freezing every now and then… unfortunately, more now than then!

But, we do like new Gear – so Watch this space!

Life is good, and always different.

Jimmy & Val (jiva)

18-Jan-2015 Pay It Forward

Posted January 18th, 2015 by jivauk and filed in jiva

Sometimes something seems to say something so sweet, and surprisingly, swiftly and spontaneously we responded sincerely – so special thanks to JoAnne Connolly for sowing the seed on our Facebook stream.


We don’t do the “share this if you love your children” or “share this if you want good fortune” or “don’t break the chain – if you don’t share this you will have bad luck” rubbish that seems all pervasive on social media… no, no, no.

But a Facebook post from JoAnne set us off investigating Pay It Forward and we liked what we found… naïve? Maybe… but the sentiment seems right, so we’re giving it a shot.

Here’s what we said on our Facebook:


No, this is not one of those “You must share this or bad luck will befall you” chain thingies. This is a genuine effort to make a personal contribution to making things a little bit better and happier. 

After all the recent terrible tragedies that have happened and are still happening, this world needs as much kindness as it can get. We’re participating in the ‘Pay it Forward’ initiative:

The first five people who comment on this status with “I’m in” will receive a surprise from us at some point during calendar year 2015 – anything from a book, a ticket, something homemade, a postcard, absolutely any surprise! There will be no warning and it will happen when the mood comes over us and we find something that we believe would suit you and make you happy.

These five people must be willing to make the same offer on their Facebook status. Once the first five have commented “I’m in” we will forward this message to you privately, so that you can copy and paste it, and put it on your status, (don’t share it) so that we can form a chain of kindness.

Let’s do more nice and loving things in 2015, without any reason other than to make each other smile and show that we think of each other.

Here’s to a more enjoyable, friendly and love filled year!

If anyone would like to join us in this simple act, please do… click the pic above, or this Facebook link:

Or, if you don’t have Facebook you can leave your “I’m in” comment/reply on this blog.

We do have some takers already (they don’t show up on our post, but on a shared one!) – so get in soon!

Life is good, so let’s make it happier for others too!

Jimmy & Val (jiva)

11-Jan-2015 Cobblers

Posted January 11th, 2015 by jivauk and filed in jiva

Where did that saying originate? Y’know, the one that goes something like

“The cobbler’s children have no shoes”

It’s a way of showing how some people give so much time and energy to doing things for others (whether it be professionally or as friends) that they never seem to have time to devote to benefitting themselves from their own skills and interests. We see it in many walks of life – the painter and decorator whose hallway could do with a lick of paint, the builder whose garage extension never seems to get finished, the dressmaker who has nothing to wear for a social engagement, the accountant whose tax returns are late… the list goes on and on. And to a great extent we’re guilty of this too:

  • When was the last time we put in some serious and consistent time in recording for our next album? Hmmm…
  • When was the last time we took a long hard look at our use of technology, and gave serious thought to planning a long term strategy? Hmmm…
  • When was the last time we refreshed our websites? Any of them? Funny you should ask, because that’s what we’ve just done – at least with one of them.

monitor-jdlogoOur jiva design website hasn’t really had a refresh since 2011 – it had become unwieldy and complex with too many options for navigating around, and it wasn’t exactly intuitive. We felt that it lacked the simplicity of a streamlined design, and it needed to be less blingy and more focused on the content rather than the pzazz of presentation.

We’ve been thinking about re-designing the site for at least two years, probably three, but somehow never found the time to devote to it. It wasn’t so much a New Year’s Resolution – it was more of a Just Do It… make a start, take the first step to at least commit to doing more than gazing wistfully at the screen, list the things that are pleasing about the current site and (more importantly) the things that aren’t, fire up the graphics software, do a mock-up, get down to coding a single page, try it on various browsers, look at it on mobile phones and tablets, and – if it works – find time to do the rest of it. Oh yes, and definitely do not fall foul of the “I’ve got a colour printer” syndrome.

What is “I’ve got a colour printer” syndrome? That’s for another blog, another time…

monitor-jdhomeSo we started on a minimalist home page with only a couple of graphics to break up the text and simple navigation choices – Home, Portfolio and Clients.

Next came the decision on what should be in the portfolio, and how to display it.

Then a simple clientele list.

And at this point we realised why the cobbler’s children have no shoes – life is good, very very good, and we are very very fortunate indeed.

One shoe done, but shoes come in pairs – so next will be the jiva media site for audio and video projects, media conversion and restoration etc… and we’ll follow the same ideas for jiva design, consistency across both sites is a must.

Jimmy & Val (jiva)

04-Jan-2015 Out With The Old

Posted January 4th, 2015 by jivauk and filed in jiva

Out with the old, In with the new

Isn’t that what they say? (And who is “they” anyway?)…

It’s a difficult one, and a pleasurable difficult one at that.

As new songs are written, and developed, and rehearsed, and arranged, and rehearsed, and further developed, and rehearsed, and rehearsed some more they finally get to the stage where they are ready to be unleashed in our live performances – not until we can do them confidently, and without crib sheets, do they ever make it into the live set… and then there’s the introductions that need to be built in to maintain the momentum of a live show, and the question of where best to put them in the running order to minimise disruption through too much instrument changing, or (the reverse) finding a place where a change might be beneficial in breaking up the 45-minute or hour long slot.

But, and there’s always a but… what to remove from a live set that is working so well? It’s a fine line between keeping in favourites that people like best, and letting go some to make way for new ones that might equally become favourites. And what if they are all favourites? After all, it would be silly, not to mention insulting to listeners/audience/fans, to have songs in the set that are less than the best we can do… there is no room for songs that are fillers – if a song doesn’t cut it, then it doesn’t belong in the set.

Some songs improve with age and seem to regenerate themselves, some songs seem to have a definite (but undefined) shelf-life, and one usually knows when a song is starting to wane – that’s the time to retire it, either temporarily or permanently.

What a conundrum – we definitely want “In with the new” as we have some songs that are bubbling up towards the stage where they are ready to perform in public… but the “Out with the old” is proving more difficult – what the H do we take out?

Answers on a postcard please… or you could always leave a comment/reply to this blog.

Jimmy & Val (jiva)