Friday, 28 February 2014

Into the sunset for 'The Weekender'!

You know when things seem to be going OK, but you have an underlying feeling that things aren't quite right? Well that's how I've felt with one of my shows of late. So after mulling it over for a while, I've decided to call it a day with 'The Weekender.' It feels like it's the right time to say goodbye, and by the time I do the last show, I'll have done 125 of them.

The show started out as 'Friday Night Out', a cheesy getting ready to go out show that was done specifically for Ace FM over in Spain, and was so well received that after the first month, they wanted more. However, you can't really play 'Friday Night Out' on a Saturday, so after the fifth week, we changed the name to 'The Weekender.'

Since then the show has gone to stations worldwide and to be honest, it's done very well. The premise of the show was that we were going to do a cheesy show that was just about having fun, and for a while that's what I did. Along the way the show started to evolve and the music changed adding the 90s to the 70s and 80s I'd originally started playing.

However, by the start of this year, it became apparent to me that it was feeling a bit stale. Listener's wouldn't have noticed, but I'm my own worst critic and I can tell when it doesn't feel right. And as the weeks have gone on, my feelings haven't really changed. After recording next week's show, I felt that I couldn't in all honesty keep putting a show out that I felt wasn't going to get any better. And so I made the decision to call it a day. I have one more show to record and I'll make it as good as I possibly can.

It's been a pleasure to do the show for the last few years and I think the time is right to let it finish on a high, while listeners are still enjoying it.

Will I be replacing the show with something else? Absolutely. I have an idea for a show that I'm quite excited about, that I'm going to have a play with and put it out on Rewind Central and Podcast to see if it sounds as good as I think it will, and if it's received well, I'll make it available to stations.

What's it going to be? I'll let you know in good time.

Until such time, don't forget to keep listening to the shows I already produce. Also, while I think about it, if you have any ideas for a show that I may want to do, let me know.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

What I'm Listening to: Jose Feliciano - Feliciano!

Listening to this album is like listening to an old friend. Guitar virtuoso Jose Feliciano is without doubt a legend of popular music having been around for 40 years or so.

It was his breakthrough album back in 1968 and comprises of a collection of covers that warms the soul. The single from the album was his version of The Door's 'Light My Fire' which had his version of the Mama's and The Papas 'California Dreamin'' on the flip side. However you shouldn't forget his versions of 'Don't Let The Sun Catch You Crying' and 'In My Life' which to be fair, he makes his own.

Jose's voice has a haunting quality about it that makes me just want to listen carefully and embrace it fully. This is an album that combines ballads, soul, Latin and Folk, and yet it's one that even if you've not heard it before will be familiar, probably because of the songs.

He shows his quality as a guitarist throughout the album, particularly on the instrumental tracks such as 'And I Love Her. Even though I can't speak Spanish, 'Nena Na Na' is enchanting,

A quick research enabled me to find out that this album won two Grammy's including 'Best New Artist'. In 1969, it was nominated for a grammy as 'Best Album Of The Year', and producer Rick Jerrard received a nomination as 'Best Producer Of The Year'.

Like I said this album is an old friend. I've not played it in ages, and hearing it again has been a joy. Oh yes, and in 1968, the other Grammy was for 'Best Male Pop Song of The Year' with 'Light My Fire'

A great album, well worth your time!

Track Listing:
  1. California Dreamin'
  2. Light My Fire
  3. Don't Let The Sun Catch You Crying 
  4. In My Life 
  5. And I Love Her
  6. Nena Na Na 
  7. (There's) Always Something There To Remind Me
  8. Just A Little Bit Of Rain 
  9. Sunny 
  10. Here, There And Everywhere 
  11. The Last Thing On My Mind 

The Burning House and what I'd take.

I bought a book the other day which has caused me to evaluate what’s important to me in my life. It’s called ‘The Burning House’ and the premise is that your house is burning. You have to get out fast. Suddenly you are forced to prioritize, editing down a lifetime of possessions to a mere handful. Now you must decide: Of all the things you own, what is most important to you?

So are the things that are important to your life practical, valuable or sentimental. This is what separates us as individuals and makes us the people we are.

At first, I started to think about what I’d hate to lose in my life. Well all my music for starters. I’ve been collecting for as long as I can remember. I’d be in a terrible mess if I still had all the vinyl I’d bought over the years. Luckily, back in 2002, I started to convert all my records and CDs into mp3 format.

I now have a all my music on hard drive, well on one hard drive and two back up hard drives. There is also my playout computer system that has 42,000 songs that I can choose from for my radio shows. These songs are backed up onto 274 mp3 CDs as back up. So basically, It’s all comfortably backed up and can all be accessed from one of 3 hard drives.

Photos play an important part of my life as I’m a nostalgic kind of guy. I have all my photos on CDs and hard drives. All my pre-digital photos have been scanned and they are also on hard drive. However, there is one area I still need to address. When my Mum and Dad died, I took possession of three suitcases full of their old photos. These photos have played such an important part of my life. When I used to visit my parents, we’d often get the photos out and my Mum would tell me about the people on the photos. They were a part of the history of my family, and their friends.

I’ve managed to scan one of the suitcases of photos and have them on my hard drive, so I’ve still got a lot to do. Then, I suppose it would be a good idea to keep a back up hard drive of all the photos.

Having done that, two hard drives would pretty much contain the things that I’d struggle to replace.

Books would be another area where I’d struggle. I’ve thought about that and at a push I could leave all of them, because the favourite books could all be bought again.

I’m not really someone who values possessions too much, I could pretty much sell 99% of the stuff I have and replace with new.

So it comes down to what is irreplaceable – priceless – the stuff that it would break my heart to lose. When it comes down to it, what would I want to make sure I got on my way out of the door?

Well, the most important things to me, are probably worth very little on the open market, but they probably say more about me than anything else I own.

The most important possessions I have are four reel to reel tapes that belonged to my Dad. On these tapes are basically the songs and tunes that made me the music lover that I became so early in my life and continue to be today.

So what’s on them? Well, my Godfather owned a record shop, and my Dad used to borrow all the chart hits of the time, take them home and record them (A& B sides). The music on these tapes comes from the chart period of 1958 to 1960. I’m sure he had more tapes, but over the years they disappeared (although I don’t remember there being any more).

Besides all the singles, there’s one tape that has a very early Bill Haley LP on one side, and a Gene Vincent LP on the other side. The Bill Haley LP has songs dating back to 1953 on it, the Gene Vincent LP is from 1957. I've pretty much spent most of my life collecting the songs on these tapes.

The tapes are all still playable, but the music has degraded over the 50+ years since Dad recorded them.

It’s funny, I’d never really thought about it before, but now it seems to me that 2 hard drives and four reel to reel tapes could contain the goods and chattels of my life that are important.

Before I go, I just want to say that I’m talking about the things of my life, not the people!

Monday, 24 February 2014

Ringtones, dieting, recycling vinyl and a tune for Spring!

Well after a horrible winter, we've recently had a nice few days and I have to say it really cheers you up. As George Formby used to say, "It's turned out nice again!"

As always, I'm busy with my radio shows. The four of them keep me out of mischief for the most part and I've recently had some ideas for a few more 'special' shows.

Do you remember when we had phones that used to make that ringing bell sound? Not any more. Walking through the street last week, I heard some people's phones going, and all had different music.

I'm no different. For the last few years, my mobile phone rings to the intro of Donell Jones' song 'U Know What's Up.' In fact, I've had it so long, that now whenever the song comes on, I look around for my phone!

Anyway, the other day, I was having a little muse on Facebook as you do about ring tones and started to ask people what their's was. There are some great responses with tunes on the phones. There seems to be plenty of soul, a fair few TV and film themes and some other odds and sods. If I get enough in, I thin k we could end up with a ringtones special show!

Last week, I decided it was time to shed the winter poundage. I don't know about you, but once November descends on us, I start to comfort eat - you know, stews, shepherd's pie, all that sort of thing. The trouble is it just piles the weight on. Particularly for me as I have a fairly sedentary life. Let's be fair, I spend most of my life sat at a desk, and the thought of jogging.... well it doesn't bear thinking about does it?

So anyway, I thought it was time to start my losing weight regime again. I'm a week into it, and I've lost 2lb 6oz - as you can tell, I still work out my weight in the old-fashioned way. For the life of me I don't understand kilogrammes.

I figure if I share my weight with people on a weekly basis, I might stick with it. It makes me accountable. At least I think so. If I tell you I'm going to lose 10lbs, which is what I said, I need to stick to it, and posting the photos of my weight will let you know I'm sticking with it.

Now some people think losing 2lb 6oz isn't to much, but I look at it this way. Carry a 2lb bag of sugar around with you for a day, and then tell me it's not a significant amount.

I'm aiming to lose a pound a week. I figure it's not too much to lose and also a small goal makes it achievable and will keep me motivated to carry on.

So what else have I been up to since we last spoke? Well, I've started a new mailing list to promote my radio stuff and Rewind Central. I know I bung loads on facebook, however, I'm not really good at promoting as I don't make the effort to get out there and hopefully, a newsletter every couple of weeks will help to remedy that. If you'd like to sign up to it, click here.

On top of that, in order to bring in a bit of extra income to help with the running of Rewind Central, myself and Debz have started a little online shop. As music plays so much a part of my life, and as we've got a nostagia love, we thought we'd try to combine the two and make and sell related goods. 

The first line we have is a series of upcyled record clocks. We're taking unloved records and revamping them to make them into cool gifts that are talking points. It basically saves taking them to the tip. I bought a job lot of albums that were basically going to be scrapped and have been revamping them, giving them new labels and adding clock movements to them. We can take specific orders for them, so anything within reason is possible.

We've opened a shop on Etsy where the full range is at the moment. Hopefully, we're going to be recycling records, cassettes and suchlike into things that can be used for a bit of fun. Also we'll try to find some genuine retro bits and bobs as well. It'll be the Rewind Central gift shop for want of a better guise. You can check out the shop here.

So we've become all art and crafty too! As you can tell, it's not been idle around here.

I'd like to leave you this time with a tune to celebrate the start the end of winter with a little ditty from Donna Summer. Till next time....