Saturday, 28 March 2009

Facebook comments

It's recently become possible to add Facebook comments boxes onto external websites using Facebook Connect. I've yet to decide whether I think this is a good thing - on the plus side it means that (in theory) any comments are fed back into the Facebook system raising awareness of the page, site, comments etc. On the, er... minus side? Maybe I should have used positive and negative! (Yes I know I could have easily gone back and edited that bit, but I'm going for 'as live' blogging tonight!) Anyway, on the bad side (that'll do!) it means Facebook is sneaking itself into other websites which is possibly not a good thing.

The point of this waffle is that, in the name of research, I've decided to give it a little trial on the website by putting a Facebook comments box onto the Download of the Week page at It might stay, it might not. It might work, or maybe not! I believe you don't need to be a Facebook user to leave comments and hopefully it has security in place (I suspect with the use of a Captcha) to avoid the numerous spammy porn comments which the message boards ended up full of a while back.

Like I say, we'll see. But in the meantime, if you fancy leaving a comment, ideally about the various songs of the week, then please do :-)

Earth Hour

It's just after 9pm on Saturday night, 28 March, which means it's Earth Hour! For a change I'm at home on a Saturday evening but it doesn't appear that it's making too much difference to the part of Crewe that I can see. At the front of the house, it seems to be more brightly lit than usual as my neighbours' houses are now occupied again and they have both indoor lights shining out and outdoor lighting permanently on. I overlook a park at the back, though the surrounding streetlights are still lit. I can't see into town, and don't have a very good view of the large BT office and telephone exchange building which is easily visible in daylight. I'd like to think this is because the lights are out, although I'll have to remember to check another time to see whether that is normal. While it would be nice to think they've turned off for Earth Hour, overall I think it's much better if they are off anyway!

The only other sign I've seen of Earth Hour near home is a poster in the local McDonald's saying they'll be turning the lights off on the Arches. It will be interesting to see whether Earth Hour made much difference to Crewe as a whole, and to see how it's affected other places around the world.

Find out more at,


Thursday, 26 March 2009

Is Anybody Out There?

This week's free song podcast, available at, is Is Anybody Out There?

Is Anybody Out There? was written around 2007 and was one of the songs which missed out on the Octagon recording sessions. Previously only recorded in very basic demo form, just guitar and vocals in one take, I've revisited it and recorded a fuller demo featuring sampled drum tracks, guitar, bass, voice, violin, glockenspiel and numerous effects courtesy of GarageBand.

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Song of the week: I'll Never Stop

It's been a busy couple of weeks which has meant I've fallen slightly behind on the free song podcast. Here is one for this week, and I'll see what I can do about catching up with the missing song! Check it out at

I'll Never Stop is a song from a fair few years ago which I've never really done much with.

I've revisited it for the free podcast series and have changed the key (my voice is higher now than it used to be so have moved from an Am, F and G chord pattern on the chorus into Em, C and D). While I used to sing it with a strummed guitar, for this version I've gone for a picked guitar with just a bit of additional thumb strumming on the build towards the end.

I've also tried out a few instruments which I've not recorded before. I was bought a glockenspiel recently and although it's already received some live use, I have been itching to use it on a recording. I also learnt to play the violin last week in aid of Comic Relief (thinking it would be a very comical instrument to busk with after only minimal training!) but found it easier than I expected to get a sound out - so with the help of the auto tuning and a few effects, it has found its way onto this recording too!

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Do Something Funny For Money!

Dan and I decided to get into the spirit of Comic Relief by learning the violin in just one lesson and then going out busking outside the Oxfam shop in Sandbach.

Hopefully the clown/panto costumes managed to detract from the awful noises emitting from our violins, despite our excellent (yet very brief) training from Fluff.

You can hear how we got on by tuning in the The Dan Logan Show on Focal Radio, Mondays 6pm-10pm. This feature is currently scheduled to air on 16 March. Tune into Focal Radio on DAB in Staffordshire and Cheshire, or throughout the world on the internet at

Friday, 13 March 2009

Happy Red Nose Day! Plus, gig in Crewe today.

Have a great Red Nose Day! It's a great excuse to have fun while raising money for a good cause so let's hope there's lots of crazy stuff going to be happening!

I thought I'd better get a red nose on to get in the spirit of it. Get yourself one too at

On a (slightly!) more serious note, I'm going to be doing a solo gig today at the Friday Busk at Square One, Mill Street, Crewe, around 5pm. If you're in the area, come along, have a listen and throw some money in the busket!

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Song of the week: Foreign Ground (demo)

This week's free download, available from or iTunes is a demo of an old but as yet unrecorded song of mine, Foreign Ground.

I wrote Foreign Ground in the early nineties and performed it live quite a bit around that time. It's a song that I've played occasionally through the years although it has never been properly recorded.

This version is a demo from 2007, recorded in one take straight into the MacBook. It is purely voice and guitar, pretty much as I would have performed it years ago

James and the Giant live at The Box, Crewe, 28 February 2009

We played our first full gig with the new band name, James and the Giant, last week at The Box in Crewe.

Sophie Mazingarbe took some photos for us on the night which you can see on Flickr at or using the widget below:

Simon J Newbury also took some photos and video. Check out the videos at or on the embedded player below:

The set list for the night was:

Starting Line
Lizard Skin
Just Let Go
Like Jimmy Did
I Don't Want To Be That Man Anymore

Following on from this show, I'll be doing a solo performance at Square One, Mill Street, Crewe, this coming Friday, 13th March. It's quite an early one - I'll be starting around 5pm and playing until around 7pm. Entry is free, although feel free to throw a few coins in the ol' guitar case, or buy a copy of the album!

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Sunday, 1 March 2009

Ordinary live at The Box

This week's free download podcast episode was recorded at the James and the Giant gig at The Box in Crewe last night! (28 February 2009). It's the song Ordinary which is taken from my Octagon album.

We had a great time at The Box last night so thanks to everyone who came along to support us.

I've uploaded videos from the show onto YouTube. The playlist is available at, or link in through I'll be adding the videos to both and once I've figured out the fancy new embedding features I've discovered on YouTube. As time allows (and believe me, uploading videos takes HOURS!) I'll also be uploading them to the video podcast, MySpace, Facebook, et al.

We've got some pretty exciting gigs lined up over the next few months including:

16 April - headlining at deBees Music Bar in Winsford
16 May - City Voices Festival in Stoke on Trent
13 June - LLAMA - Lynton and Lynmouth Music Festival in Devon, where Badly Drawn Boy will be headlining
4 July - Concerts In The Park '09, Baggeridge Country Park, Dudley, along with Matt Tyler

If you haven't already, join the mailing list at to be kept up to date with the latest news. It would be great if you could spread the word by asking others to join the list too!