The beat goes on

Things are continuing apace with BeatsBase – the online community for DJs and I hope we’ll soon be able to start opening some of the doors (and maybe a window or two) to the crowds waiting outside. But first I wanted to show off a few of the features I’ve been hard at work building.

The Hot ListFirstly is the Hot List, where people can see the tracks, playlists and mixes that have got a lot of positive votes. Let’s face it, I wouldn’t be writing a true Web 2.0 application without voting, would I?

The Hot List will also be RSS-enabled, allowing people to subscribe using an RSS feed reader so they can be notified of the movers and shakers on the site.

BeatsBase votingAnd speaking of voting, we’ve got a really neat and simple way for people to vote for items. Just click to say whether you love it, think it’s OK, or don’t find it so hot. You can also leave an optional comment with your vote, and you can see the difference your vote has made immediately with the Vote Bar (I’ve yet to come up with a snazzy name for these horizontal stacker bar charts).

BeatsBase mixes and playlistsSo you want to put a few tracks together into a playlist and share that with the world? No problem, just click, choose and build your playlist. And what if you’ve created a mix using some tracks in our database? No problem too, you just choose the tracks you’ve mixed and we do the rest.

So now we know what tracks are in what playlists and mixes, we can do some really fun stuff. Like tell you what are the most mixed tracks, the most popular tracks in playlists, and what two tracks nearly always go together. We can also tell you what playlists and mixes any particular track appears in when you view it’s details so you can discover other users that like the same music as you.

Remember, we’ve already got over 30,000 tracks in the database (yes! it’s true! I counted ’em!) in a wide variety of styles, so there’s bound to be a pile of stuff you’ll love. And with our lovely users adding new tracks (hopefully) every day, we’ll be The Place To Be when it comes to track data on the web. The beat is getting louder.

The last few weeks

The last few weeks have been, to say the least, hectic. As well as the new projects and job I’ve started we’ve had a couple of special events happening.

The marriage blessing cakeIt’s not often you get the opportunity to throw a really BIG party, and we didn’t waste our chance when our youngest chgild Reuben was baptised/christened (call it what you will) and our marriage blessed at our church a couple of weeks ago. It was, to say the least, a fantastic day. We had over 140 people at the church service, and about 60 came to a restaurant for a meal afterwards.

The christening cakeWe really tried to make it a special day, and many people have said to us since how much they enjoyed the church service. And, of course, the food went down well, too. Rather than plaster pictures of us here which would no doubt lead to cries of consternation, here are a couple of pictures of the cakes that people very kindly made for us.

Boo Hewerdine from behindThe other event we went to was a friends 40th birthday party. He’d booked one of his all-time songwriting heroes, Boo Hewerdine, and had got a band together. However a few days before the drummer broke her wrist, so he called me in as backup. It was a really enjoyable gig, and I highly recommend downloading the free MP3s from Boos site – and buying some of his CDs, too. Here’s a little picture of my view of Boo from behind the drums.

So after the excitement of Reubens first Christmas and all those parties, it’s nose to the grindstone to get projects finished in time for deadlines. Which means I shouldn’t sit here any longer writing this. Toodle-pip.

Iona live in Leeds…

Lat night I accompanied my good friend Dave to see the Celtic prog-rock band Iona live at St Georges Church in Leeds. The church turned out to be a large city-centre building with a warm atmosphere and extremely well-equipped interior. In fact I think it was one of the best modernisations of a traditional worship space I’ve ever seen.

Anyway, the gig. Wow. It’s been a long while since I last saw Iona in concert, but they’ve not lost any of their passion, skill or touch. At times rocking, at times deeply moving, this was an evening where a group of consummate professional musicians showed us what being a band was really all about. From the jigs and reels where they expertly mix traditional Celtic music with modern grooves, to ethereal soundscapes, to blisteringly fast virtuoso guitar solos, to haunting and compelling melodies, they are pretty darn fantastic. To be honest, words fail me; this is music that got into my soul a long time ago and will remain there for a long time to come.

I first got into Iona back in about 1992 or 1993, I remember having their Beyond These Shores album on continuous repeat in my Walkman until the tape snapped. In fact that was such a traumatic event for me I remember exactly where it happened, and that sad day comes to mind whenever I walk past that spot (by the allotments just off Willans Road). A couple of years later I saw them live at the Irish Centre in Leeds where they were recording their live album Heaven’s Bright Sun, and I remember standing right at the front of the crowd with my hands against the speakers, lost in rapture of this sound I was hearing.

In fact the recording of Inside My Heart from that album still brings me to tears every time I hear it. As I said to my wife earlier today, sometimes you experience something that, to you at least, is so close to perfection that it shows you a glimpse of a world which is to come. Something you can’t touch or fathom yet, but you know it will eventually be within reach. That’s what Iona’s music does for me.

Visit the site, listen to the samples. Then buy every album you can, because this is a band who (in my opinion) are one of the finest groups to ever come from these small islands. Heck, I think they are one of the greatest bands in the world.

So, thanks Dave, Troy, Joanne, Phil and Frank (and all the others who have played with them over the years). I owe to you no small part of my love for music, and, by extension, my love for life.

Back from the deep…

Well, I survived. And not only that but I had a good time. There was even chance for me to waffle a bit about my beliefs (obsession?) about the spiritual link between jazz and website design.

Anyway, I’m sure I’ll attend another Deep to Deep soon. Thanks for a good time, everyone.

Deep to deep…

In just a few hours I’ll be hosting a Deep to Deep event at my church, as organised here.

Now, meeting a group of strangers off the intercybernetweb is a bit of a wierd thing to do at the best of times. I know, I’ve done it a lot. When those people are geeks it’s even worse. When they’re music geeks – and *shudder* bass players, no less – the thought is daunting in the extreme.

So, I’ll let you know how it went when I get back. Or, *if* I get back ;0)