At last. The Velvet Hearts debut album, Into the World, has just been released. It’s currently available exclusively from CDBaby. It is the best of times, and the worst of times, to be trying to build a career as a musician. The online revolution is both generous in its audience and stingy in its fiscal reward; so getting to the point of releasing an album is no small feat. They’re regularly gigging, and their live shows are very good, so if you can catch them, do so. Continue reading
When, by chance, we saw The Velvet Hearts at The Edge a couple of months ago, we were left with the overriding impression that this was a band who had taken a step beyond the norm and were producing something really rather special. We saw them a second time at the sunny Portsmouth Bandstand, and were again impressed, not just by how well the sound translated from the tiny Edge venue, but also by the way the band handled (and revelled in) a stage invasion by a dozen primary school kids, without missing a beat â€“ in terms of stage rapport, think of Barenaked ladies and youâ€™re getting the picture, they enjoy what they do, and itâ€™s infectious. Continue reading
In Britain, the process of finishing a PhD involves the submission of a written thesis, followed by an oral examination called a viva voce (the literal Latin translation is “live voice”). The “viva”, as it’s commonly known, is an in-depth discussion into all aspects of the thesis which typically lasts between 90 and 180 minutes. It is conducted by a specially convened examination board, with both internal and external examiners, who typically have have four weeks to digest the thesis beforehand. In the viva, the PhD candidate must defend their thesis: if the defence is successful, the candidate is awarded the degree Continue reading
We recently spent a couple of nights in Dublin without hearing the beat of a single BodhrÃ¡n or even a hint of live music coming from any bar. So last Friday night we were spoiled, with no fewer than two concurrent BodhrÃ¡ns (and a guest washboard player), mandolin, guitar, accordion and bass thrown into the bargain, and we only had to walk for ten minutes to hear it. Continue reading
When making a pot of tea, I tend to add teabags and sugar at the same time; once the tea has brewed, I give it a stir, remove the teabags, add milk, and then with the aid of a knitted tea-cosy I get several hot mugs of tea in succession and can keep working without the need to return to the kitchen.
However, when I do return to the kitchen a recurring question bounces around my head: how much sugar is absorbed by the teabag before it is removed from the pot? i.e. exactly how much is the taste affected and how much energy is lost? Continue reading
Picture this: it’s a sunny day at the seaside and you’re enjoying an icecream. The human predilection to follow scripted conversation formats is such that you cannot fail to overhear somebody appreciatively inhale before joyously proclaiming “mmmmm, smell that sea air!”, to which a companion will invariably offer a helpfully informative “ah yes, that’s ozone“. Continue reading