19-Oct-2014 Man Flu

Posted October 19th, 2014 by jivauk and filed in jiva

What a super week we’ve had – 5 care home performances, one offering an immediate re-booking for December, and a few days away performing in the North West (it’s becoming like a second home for us).

We also managed to fit in a visit to Gregson Lane Folk Club to see Anthony John Clarke (he was superb) and a visit to Ireleth Temperance Hall to see Brian Willoughby and Cathryn Craig (they were superb).

manflu1Unfortunately by Sunday morning Jimmy had come down with an absolute stinker of a cold (Man Flu ?), so we had to postpone our intended care home performance for that day (we hate letting people down, and postponing is not something we do lightly, but we don’t want to pass on any of his germs) and now we’re safely back home. Hopefully he’ll be better soon as we have more performances scheduled for next week, a college evening class, more work to be done changing over his computer, websites to design, video and audio mixes to complete, and all the usual stuff that makes up the life of jiva.

Life is good, but a bit snotty at the moment.

Jimmy & Val (jiva)

12-Oct-2014 For Those Who Do

Posted October 12th, 2014 by jivauk and filed in jiva

lenovoThat’s what it says on the box


And so, with much ado and unplugging all manner of leads from the current Dell Vostro before re-plugging some of the said cables into the lenovo K450 Desktop, the new PC bursts into life with just a little bit of coaxing using one monitor rather than our accustomed two. There was an almost imperceptible whispering whirr as the opening screen announced that it was preparing to run for the first time… and so, fist in the air “Yes! It works! It’s alive! It’s alive!” (not quite Frankensteinian, but close), followed by slumped shoulders “Windows 8.1 is a pain – please, don’t automatically do stuff for me… I know what I’m doing… let me have access to the settings I need without losing what’s left of my hair!”

Excitement over, we unplugged it and set it aside for a time when we could begin the long haul of installing the various bits of software that will be needed to turn it into the audio and video editing/mixing/mastering powerhouse that was previously the domain of the Dell. It now sits under the spare desk purring occasionally like a contented cat as we install updates; add a second hard drive (Western Digital Black 3TB for the tech-minded among you); install Speccy, Office 365, GoldWave, CD Wave, Magix Samplitude Producer 11.5 just for starters with the heavyweight software to be added when we have enough time to allow migration of data from Dell to Lenovo… the problem is, when are we going to find three days to dedicate to nothing else? Probably not this year according to our diary.

20041021128_lg1Things on the music front are keeping us very busy with gigs coming in left, right and centre (it’s lovely to answer the phone to hear something like “Hello… is that jiva?… We’d like to book you to come and play… What’s your availability for the rest of the year?… Or 2015 if that would be better…”).

We’ve just changed the strings on Jackson, Jimmy’s beautiful Taylor 954CE-L7 Limited Edition 12-string. We’ve had the guitar in our possession for 13 months now, and we’re ashamed to say that we’ve not changed the strings in all that time! Seriously folks, it’s true – Jackson has been sounding as great as on the day we first tinkled and strummed way back when, and we were wary of changing anything, anything at all… but there comes a time…

Which brings us to more musical good news, drum roll please:

A new jiva song

Provisionally entitled Another Time, this is a blue waltz-time song which cries out for (and gets) harmonies, harmonies and more harmonies. We’ll be getting down an initial recording soon, and we’re going to experiment with using a drum track as a guide – no, not a plink-plonk-plonk click but ‘proper’ sampled drum sounds courtesy of our Alesis SR-16 drum machine. When we lay down the guitar(s), bass, (possibly piano too?), we’ll take a look at replacing the drum guide with Jimmy doing his thing behind the full kit. Who knows where this might lead.

Busy, busy, busy and fun, fun, fun

Life is good – especially, to quote Lenovo, “For Those Who Do“… and we certainly do.

Jimmy & Val (jiva)

05-Oct-2014 Thought For The Day

Posted October 5th, 2014 by jivauk and filed in jiva

keep-calm-and-say-the-serenity-prayerAttributed to Reinhold Niebuhr, the best-known form of the Serenity Prayer is:

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The Courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.

The words have been adopted by many addiction and rehabilitation groups (Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, etc).


Another variant is:

God give me grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
And the wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.

A similar philosophy can be found in a Mother Goose rhyme:

For every ailment under the sun
There is a remedy, or there is none;
If there be one, try to find it;
If there be none, never mind it.

All through the ages, similar sentiment has been expressed by scholars, philosophers, teachers, writers, et al (thank you, Wikipedia). So there may just be something in it…

Let’s all give it a try.

Jimmy & Val (jiva)

28-Sep-2014 Keeping The Devil At Bay

Posted September 28th, 2014 by jivauk and filed in jiva

You’d think that five days in a row without a scheduled gig would see us revelling in the ‘spare’ time that we’d been given. Hah! Not a chance… let’s see…

Sunday: a SWAP-NE rehearsal session in the early evening. Having already sent out an mp3 of the latest group play of the Could’ve Would’ve Should’ve song and a PDF of the lyrics we spent time on Sunday printing off copies of the lyrics for all rehearsal attendees and yet again playing through our own parts in the arrangement as it then stood. Then, of course, there was the rehearsal where an arrangement was eventually generated and rehearsed. Following the rehearsal we worked on producing an mp3 of the best run-through from the rehearsal and re-doing the lyric sheet with who does what and when hints, and then we emailed it out to all group members.

Monday: in similar vein to the SWAP-NE collaboration we were acting as information hub and communicators for our Songwriting class at Newcastle College. We produced an mp3 of the best run-through from the rehearsal along with a full set of lyrics which we had revised to fit the agreed groove and chord structure. We then worked on a bridge section to diversify it a bit. Then we recorded what we’d done and emailed that to the group too.

Tuesday: we made sure we had rehearsed our parts for the Songwriting class song (working title “No More No More”) before heading off to class. Then there was the actual class, lyric presentations, discussions, agreements (not exactly unanimous), more rehearsal, arrangement worked out, and then off home for a bite to eat before driving to Tesco to do the shopping, and home by just gone midnight.

Wednesday: We produced an mp3 of the best run-through from the Songwriting class rehearsal along with full lyrics for the song the group are working on, and also (as requested by the lead singer) we made our own recording of Jimmy’s rhythm guitar and Val’s U-Bass atop a drum track. And then we emailed all that to the group… do you see a pattern emerging here?

Thursday: we had the pleasure of the company of Anthony John Clarke, and we had a super time putting the world to rights and recording some backing tracks and checking progress and plans for his DVD project.

Friday: after bidding adieu to Anthony John we embarked on a 3-gig day (morning in South Shields, afternoon in Ryton and evening in Hexham).

witham-acoustic-cafeSaturday: a trek down the A1 to perform a 60-minute show at the Witham Centre Open Day in Bishop Auckland. This was an interesting set up – the Dispensary Cafe has the kitchen, counter, and tables on the ground floor and we were performing from the gallery on the first floor, a walkway looking down over the ground floor… and this meant people having to lean back to look upwards to the minstrels in the gallery.

Of course, throughout the week, in addition to the above, Val was doing her usual sterling work organising jiva’s future performance schedule into next year (five new gigs added this week – more on the way). Add to that tons of emails to wade through on subjects ranging from Allan Taylor’s birthday celebration at the Troubador to organising the next SWAP-NE meeting, discussions on strings, software, computer hardware, app updates¬†and everything else in between. Oh, and not forgetting the ever-present jiva computer helpline sorting out modems, routers, security certificates and a few web projects crying out for responses from clients.

Sunday: and so, here we are today, writing the blog and catching up on filing and editing and all manner of things that we somehow never found time for through the week. So much for five days without a show being a rest… but, you know, we wouldn’t have it any other way. What is it my Gran used to say?

“The devil finds work for idle hands”

We’re certainly keeping the devil at bay.


Jimmy & Val (jiva)