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Blog Archive: March 2011

We're Going To Edinburgh!
Yesterday was Deadline Day for BARGAIN registration for the Edinburgh Fringe i.e. the final FINAL deadline is in four weeks, but that costs about a hundred quid MORE than if you did it before 5pm yesterday, so, as usual, the interweb yesterday was FULL of comedians and the like trying to work out what their show was going to be CALLED.

This seems to be USUAL in the world of comedy - you think of a title on the LAST POSSIBLE DAY and then try and work out what the show's going to be on the train there. Coming from The World Of Rock, however, which ASTOUNDINGLY is Organised and Together in comparison, we not only have a TITLE for our show ("Moon Horse vs. The Mars Men Of Jupiter", as i have possibly mentioned) but also a FULL SCRIPT (now on its FIFTH draft and heading for its offical READTHROUGH at Chez Hewitt at the weekend).

And yet, despite this we were STILL dashing around trying to get ourselves sorted half an hour before the deadline! How could this BE? We had a PHOTO (the basic version of which you can see on the website) and a BLURB, what were we WAITING for?

Well, first of all we were waiting for CONFIRMATION of our venue - the place we'd originally been allocated by GURU and All-Round Good Guy Mr Peter Buckley-Hill decided a few weeks ago NOT to do the Free Fringe after all, so PBH had to go out and find somewhere ELSE for the HOST of acts who'd been booked into the THREE venues within the aforesaid place. WONDERFULLY he DID do so, but it didn't get into the Fringe system until Tuesday... and the the Fringe system decided NOT TO WORK FOR US.

NYARGH! Every time I tried to enter our details in it claimed "cannot have duration of 0" i.e. a show starting and ending at the same time. We DIDN'T, but every time i went to check it I got taken back to someone ELSE'S show details! YIKES!

Luckily the support people at the Fringe Office are GRATE - and indeed always have been, as we seem to have ISSUES nearly every year. They even rang me BACK to talk about it and said they'd let me know when it was sorted.

I was still a bit PANICKY about it so, at 4.30pm yesterday, had one last check... and found out it was all WORKING! HOOPLA! I RACED to get the registration fee paid and so, with TWENTY MINUTES to spare, we were IN! "Moon Horse vs. The Mars Men Of Jupiter" by MJ Hibbett and Steve (he gets full billing now he's qualified) is GO for the Edinburgh Fringe! PHEW!

Thus, if you're the sort of person who wishes to organise their social life 4-5 months in advance, and are going to be in Scotland later this year, you may wish to DIARISE the following: we're going to be playing at the Buff's Club (at the RAOB club on West Register Street) from 6-20 August at 5pm every day. HOORAH!

All we need to do now is sort the flyers out, book the train... oh yeah, and actually LEARN it. That'll be PEASY, won't it?

posted 31/3/2011 by MJ Hibbett
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A Moon Horse In Croydon
I met once more with Mr S Hewitt at London's Horriblest Mainline Station (London Bridge - oh it is HORRID) last night to head out for an EPOCHAL gig in Croydon. For LO! We were due to try out our ROCK SET!

The idea to DO this was formulated a couple of weeks ago after a comedy gig for which we were ILL PREPARED. We sat down and worked out an ACTUAL SET we could do for these sort of occasions which would maximise GOOD TIMES and minimise FAFFING ABOUT and spending AGES trying to explain complicated plot points of Dinosaur Planet and/or Moon Horse to people who really would have been quite happy not to know them. It was a GOOD IDEA, we thought, and had elected The Green Dragon as the place to see if we were RIGHT.

We arrived SUPER EARLY, ALARMING Mr T Eveleigh and Dr M Strange who were setting up. We asked for CURRY advice and Mark told us of a place just down the road which turned out to be VERY nice - The Spice Express it was called, and it was FAST, SPICEY and NOT TOO PRICEY.

Back at the venue we found Ms J Lockyer, on the 29th date of her 30 gig MARATHON to raise money for The Children's Trust - it is a GRATE cause and she has done a MIGHTY thing doing a whole MONTH of gigs (goodness knows i get knackered after a FORTNIGHT!), and I would commend it to anyone - go on, it's her birthday today, give her some CA$H!

Anyway, greetings were greeted, Steve and I had a MINI-PRACTICE (during which we DROPPED a song because... well, because I didn't know the words) and then did THIS:
  • Theme From Dinosaur Planet
  • The Battle Of Peterborough
  • Dinosaurs Talk Like Pirates
  • Privatising Everything
  • We're The Mars Men Of Jupiter
  • Boom Shake The Room
  • It all seemed to go PRETTY WELL. Some bits did better than others - i think we CRACKED it with Dinosaurs Talk Like Pirates and We're The Mars Men Of Jupiter gets better every time we do it. There was however CONTENTION, when The Battle Of Peterborough caused MUCH DEBATE about the value of my home city and Pub Looney 1 (Tim later told me we had been privileged to have BOTH Pub Looneys in, Pub Looney 2 had REMONSTRATED, through MUMBLING, with Pub Looney 1 about when he...) complained loudly and vigorously about the VIRTUES of THATCHER. I believe it is called ENGAGEMENT!

    Afterwards we THOROUGHLY enjoyed Jenny's set - she is ALWAYS excellent and even more so after this HIGH POWERED string of TRAINING, and even did a song "Knives And Things" which I've not heard before! ACE! We also enjoyed Mr J Ayres, who dueted delightful with Big Tim, and then had a bit of a chat to a couple who had a DOUBLE LINK to myself - one of them knew EDDY and co in Hull, the other came from PETERBOROUGH! The BEST bit of the ENTIRE EVENING, however, came towards the end when I said to the lady from Peterborough "Oh no, I wouldn't have been at school with [person mentioned] - I'm 41 this year!" and she looked ABSOLUTELY ASTONISHED! AHA!

    I'm taking this to mean she couldn't believe i was that OLD, and not the other way round - any COMMENTS saying the opposite will be RUTHLESSLY DELETED!

    So yes, a lovely night out all round really, and a good start to the ROCK SET!

    posted 30/3/2011 by MJ Hibbett
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    Back To The Gym
    You find me a little tired of mind and body this afternoon, as i have been EXTERTING myself in various directions, not least PHYSICALLY. For LO! After about 14 months of non-membership I have gone an re-joined THE GYM. I'm just getting to the point where it feels like I'm wearing an extra coating of HIBBETT and, as SPRING has very much sprung upon is, and as Touring Boris Bikes wasn't really as much fun as The Walking Circle, I thought I'd give the gym another go.

    It was WEIRD because it was EXACTLY how it used to be - right down to all the staff being Slightly Annoying in a Well-Meaning But Still Basically Trainee PE Teachers kind of way. It felt like going down a street you used to live on - normal, but simultaneously ODD. A couple of hours later I feel all EXERCISED and GOOD and hopefully THIS time I'll be able to avoid getting the skin infections i had last time around. If the TANNING works out then i should be OK - in which case, set your alarm clocks for the summer, when it will be TANNED ADONIS O'CLOCK!

    posted 29/3/2011 by MJ Hibbett
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    A Weekend With Sarandon
    I headed off on Saturday night for the BIG TREK across town to The Windmill in Brixton. The Windmill is a dead nice venue, but GOODNESS ME could they not move it a bit closer to Leytonstone? Really? Why do people not THINK about these kind of issues?

    Anyway, after about 90 minutes of TRAVEL I arrived at the lovely venue to find many DELIGHTFUL people inside it, not least of which was Mr Phil Wilson, there to play with his BAND. Also in attendance were the headline act, Sarandon. They were launching their new album with the assistance of BEER - something that MOST bands do, you might think, but in their case it was an ACTUAL BEER with THEIR NAME on it - Sarandon Age Of Reason IPA which was BLOODY DELICIOUS. Perhaps for this reason it ran out VERY QUICKLY, but there'd be more later on in the weekend.

    Before that it was GIG TIME, and what a GRATE gig it was - Mr Wilson was on TOP FORM, doing a ROCKING set which alternated between June Brides songs and tracks from his new album - the Junies stuff was GRATE, of course, but I even PREFERRED the new stuff. It's a bloody fantastic album, "God Bless Jim Kennedy", i would HEARTILY recommend it. I'd heartily recommend seeing them live too - the band ROCK. I couldn't help thinking that somewhere, in a slightly more JUST Universe than this one, Ultimate Hibbett is stood in a pub watching S. Morrissey and J. Marr grinning at a sweaty crowd with a large proportion of middle aged men in it, mourning their loss of quiffs but thrilled to see their favourite band back together after years of working in the Social Work.

    Being a more just universe, that gig'll be happening in LEYTONSTONE too.

    I should also mention the sound man, who was MOST impressive, strolling back and forth from his desk to the rear of the gig area ALL night for ALL the bands, checking that everything sounded good. It really really did!

    Afterwards I bumped into GREG - Greg who used to go to Prolapse gigs! It was amazing! - and then watched the first half of SARANDON. I had to leave early to get my last TUBE (did i mention how FAR AWAY the gig was?) but I wasn't too worried as I knew there would be another chance to see them, the very next day.

    For LO! Sunday afternoon found me DISEMBARKING at Leeds Station, ready for my gig that night with the aforesaid Sarandon. I was staying in THE HILTON which was DEAD nice - it cost about the same as Travelodge usually do, but was SO MUCH more pleasant, once again reinforcing my THEORY that Travelodge are A Bit Tatty And Nasty ON PURPOSE, to persaude people they're saving money. It was also DEAD close to the venue - it took just TWO MINUTES to wander round the corner to The Hop, an ACE Real Ale pub where the gig was due to happen.

    I must admit I did have some WORRIES about the gig, once I'd got there. The "stage" was actually a BALCONY in the upstairs bit of the pub, looking down to the downstairs area, and the whole thing was in railway arches. This, i thought, would be difficult - the sound would be BOOMY and LOST, with loads of NOISE coming from upstairs where people who couldn't SEE me would be talking extra loud to get over my racket. ALSO i was on first, so the only people there would surely be the downstairs drinkers and maybe friends of other bands. AND the pick-up on my guitar wasn't working properly, so surely this was going to be a FESTIVAl of FEEDBACK and BAD VIBES?

    I BRAVELY navigated through these feelings by drinking some BEER and having a chat to Oddbox Supremo Trev, who was there with his charges for the weekend. Duly refreshed (and having got some IDEAS off him for when Dinosaur Planet finally comes out) i GIRDED myself for the gig ahead. THIS is what I did:
  • The Peterborough All-Saints Wide Game Team (group B)
  • The Gay Train
  • I Did A Gig In New York
  • Being Happy Doesn't Make You Stupid
  • Billy Jones Is Dead
  • My Boss Was In An Indie Band Once
  • Fucking Hippy
  • The Lesson Of The Smiths

  • As you can probably guess, I'd decided to make it ALL LOUD and with MINIMAL joining in... and it was GRATE! I really REALLY enjoyed myself - these are all songs I feel pretty SAFE playing and which i can BELLOW out, so that's exactly what I did. The Sound Guy, for the second night in a row, was BRILLIANT and made everything work properly, and it turned out that PEOPLE had pretty much all come upstairs and were happy to LISTEN and WATCH me as I went about my bellowing. It was a really really thoroughly enjoyable GIG! HOOPLA!

    As indeed was the REST of the evening, especially the mighty SARANDON. Their new album is apparently moving in a PROG direction, which probably explains why their songs now BREACH the 3 minute mark. There's a lot of ANGULAR ACTION going on, lots of RHYTHM and EXCITEMENT but the thing that, for me, marks them out from the other bands who try to do That Sort Of Thing is that it's all full of TUNES. EVER song has a whole BUNCH of HOOKS in it that that ROLLICK through - it's all very taut and tight and TOGETHER but that's NOT the whole point of it (which is usually is with taut, tight, together bands) it's just how they are, and it's all used in the service of SONGS and TUNES and IDEAS and GOOD TIMES. They're one of those bands that make you GRIN, ESPECIALLY when they do a song about LOOKING FOR OWLS. I'm pretty sure that's what it was about anyway, i was a bit DAZED at that point having played SESSION TAMBOURINE for them. Having a former member of Big Flame shouting "PLAY FASTER!" at me is not something I ever expected to happen, but when he did I was powerless to argue. My arms STILL ache!

    So yes, a FAB night and indeed WEEKEND all round, powered by Sarandon in the form of ROCK and also BEER. Well done everybody, well done INDEED!

    posted 28/3/2011 by MJ Hibbett
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    The Road To Normal Island
    As I was typing the title for this blog I thought "Hang on, the ROAD to an Island? Wouldn't that be awfully DAMP"? but to HECK with it. If it's good enough for D.Lamour, B.Hope and B.Crosby (i just checked, Bali is DEFINITELY an island) then it is more than good enough for the likes of ME.

    Anyway, after mentioning this yesterday and doing some WORK on it last night ALSO I thought I might as well risk the JINX and go into it in a bit more depth. As discussed previously Mr J Kell and I have been working on a MOVIE SCRIPT for Dinosaur Planet, which we finished and sent off to a Production Company to see what they thought. They thought "No thanks" but were VERY nice about it, even ringing me up for a bit of a chat about it (SIDEBAR: if anybody ELSE reading this happens to be a Production Company and might be interested in a 60 minutes family animation with Dinosaurs and Songs in it, do let me know!) during which they said that they liked the whole MONSTERS angle but what they were REALLY looking for was a series, for KIDS.

    BOING! Almost immediately my BRANE went ZANG! and the idea for "Normal Island" started to form. Originally it was called "Monster Island", based on the song of the same name which I'd written for The Pop For Kids Project. I knew there were several OTHER instances of this name but didn't think it mattered, until Mr F.A.Machine pointed me towards an article about it being used heavily in a forthcoming GODZILLA revamp - later that week I also picked up the latest issue of Astonishing X-Men to find that THEY were off to the MARVEL version of the same island too! ZEITGEIST-ALICIOUS!

    I had a bit of an old think about it and realised that, actually, "Normal Island" would make a lot more sense. For LO! it is the story of the inhabitants of an island where nearly EVERYONE is a Monster, Dinosaur, Alien, Giant Robot etc etc and so this sort of thing is considered entirely NORMAL. INDEED they pride themselves on how dull and average they are, and so are thrown into PANIC and CONFUSION when the new MUSIC TEACHER turns about to be, TERRIFYINGLY, a human being.

    She turns up with a UKELELE, which is pretty much the centrepoint of the whole THING. Every episode's going to feature at least THREE songs, and ALL of them are going to be very very easily playable on the ukelele - the general idea is that EVERYBODY watching the show will be able to pick up a (very cheap, readily available) ukelele and PLAY ALONG with all the songs. I'm thinking RED BUTTON here for the CHORDS and tuners and instructions on a website. I know Zingzillas et al have done musical kids shows before, but none of them have actually taught kids to play an instrument as they've gone along, have they? I reckon this is a GRATE idea - it'll be EDUCATIONAL, for children AND for the parents!

    Thus ENTHUSED with my idea i sat down and wrote out a PILOT (which I'm just doing a bit of a tidy up redraft of) which features THREE songs - slightly rejigged versions of Just One Finger (which YES, CAN be played with just one finger - if i ever get to PITCH the show i plan to teach THE BIGWIGS to play ukelele using this song!), A Little Bit Excited and a re-titled Monster Island. I've spent the past few evenings doing the rerecordings of these, along with the TITLE JINGLE which has a tune - get ready to say "Oh, that's quite a good idea" - IDENTICAL to the open strings on a ukelele, so that when The Children Of The Future need to TUNE UP they can sing "Nor-mal Is-land" to remember how it goes. I KNOW! Also: EVERYBODY can INSTANTLY play at least one song from the show! KAPOW!

    So yes, that's THE GRATE IDEA! Again, if anyone happens to be a TV BIGWIG, or KNOWS some, and would be interested in having me SHOUTING EXCITEDLY about this AT them do let me know. I'm going to write the PITCH DOCUMENT this weekend (which will probably be, basically, THE ABOVE but with slightly calmer punctuation) and then we'll be ready to head off on the aforesaid road to Normal Island. It's a KRAZY PLAN, but it JUST might work!

    posted 25/3/2011 by MJ Hibbett
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    Podcasts and Other Actions
    I had a typically delightful Wonderful Wednesday yesterday, getting a TON of ROCK ACTIONS completed.

    First and foremost amongst these was the creatio of the latest Totally Acoustic podcast, with the latest edition ready to download now. This one was DEAD easy to do - everything sounded GRATE, a right lovely reminder of a brilliant evening, and the only real difficulty was choosing WHICH songs to leave out. I was quite disciplined about it this time, giving us a nice TAUT short show which i think works dead well. Have a listen, see what you reckon!

    With that done I turned ot a couple of other bits and bobs, first of all recording a few lines of a cover of a Nick Cave cover of a Bob Dylan for another band's PROJECT - I'd been putting it off for a couple of days due to WORRYING about doing it properly, but it all seemed to go OK. The song's "Death Is Not The End", which I'd not heard before. They're getting eight people to do bits of the vocals, apparently, I don't envy them editting it all together!

    And talking of EDITTING I also did a bit of that MYSELF, rejigging and in some cases RE-DOING a couple of recent songs for "Normal Island" a new THING I've been working on for a little while which I'm not sure I've mentioned here before... I'll not get into it too deeply YET, for fear of JINXING, but I had a LOVELY time recording/rejigging some of my MOST PERNICIOUSLY CATCHY songs. It was FUN... at the time, tho the next day i fear that they may NEVER leave my BRANE.

    I also got the last little batch of copies of Wonderful Wednesday packed up, these going mostly to Validators. Reports of these being RECIEVED and ENJOYED have been coming in all week, which has been MARVELLOUS. All correspondents so far seem to have enjoyed it, which is a relief, tho it has instigated a STRING of emails asking what day we'll be playing Indietracks this year, and on what stage? Just when I was getting over the disappointment, it comes jogging back!

    Apart from that minor bump - and to be honest, the fact that people keep asking about it is a source of PRIDE more than anything else, in a job well done - and with the additional FACT that it felt very MUCH like the first day of SPRING, this was a Wednesday that well earnt its title of "Wonderful"!

    posted 24/3/2011 by MJ Hibbett
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    Totally Acoustic
    I arrived at the Lamb last night to find it EERILY QUIET. It was weird - it's almost always RAMMED in there, but it felt like it was about three in the afternoon with only a few people lurking around. The SPOOKINESS continued when Adrian The Bar Manager took me upstairs to show me the MYSTERIOUS FORMATIONS which had appeared beneath the carpet. Just near the bar it smelt faintly of moist socks and you could feel LUMPS through the carpet. "It's pipes, I think" he said. "Or a TRAPDOOR!" I remarked. He looked AFEARED by this suggestion, and was even MORE alarmed when I pointed out what i thought MIGHT ACTUALLY BE a trapdoor back downstairs again. Luckily - SPOILERS - it didn't fall open over the course of the evening, and nobody fell a) through to the downstairs bar OR b) into a HELL DIMENSION. Which was nice.

    The acts, Mr B Parker aka Superman Revenge Squad and Mr Matt Tiller, soon rolled up as did a few people - it wasn't HUGELY packed but was pleasantly COMPANIONABLE and so I went on and did THIS:
  • Totally Acoustic
  • Only A Robot
  • I Did A Gig In New York
  • My Boss Was In An Indie Band Once
  • The Gay Train
  • Fucking Hippy

  • I don't know what's up with me at the moment as AGANE i was a bit nervous, but it all seemed to go all right. I was very happy to PREMIERE Only A Robot (although a little surprised to realise it really doesn't have ANY gags in it - Steve is going to have to do a LOT of messing around behind me!) and also CHUFFED to find I still remember the words to Fucking Hippy having not played it IN THE UNITED KINGDOM (hem hem) for several years - it was a REQUEST! I got a bit WAYLAID during I Did A Gig In New York when I PAUSED to tell everyone that, funnily enough, that very morning I had happened seen an actual Thanksgivings Day episode of 'Friends' on breakfast telly... and this led to other stoppages about the current status of The Fantastic Four (or "Future Foundation" at the moment) and exactly HOW you wave a vagina, but other than that we SOARED through fairly speedily with no major harm done.

    Next up it was Superman Revenge Squad, who came SANS CELLO this time. I LOVE his songs - the subject matter and the way he presents it seem so DOWNBEAT and sort of GLUM, but the way he carries it off makes it UPLIFTING and WITTY, so you find yourself GRINNING at his explanation of personal anxiety, especially when it is applied to comparisons with Rock Stars. I ESPECIALLY like the way he writes songs tho - as anyone who's seen him will know there's a LOT of words, SHOT out insistently at high speed, KIND OF like rapping, but also kind of like stand-up poetry, but ALSO kind of like folk music. It's hard to sum it up accurately, as there's NOBODY else doing anything like it, it's a truly unique and rather wonderfully style of song. He was GRATE!

    As indeed was Mr Matt Tiller - I'd only seen him once EVER, while we were in Edinburgh last year. We'd been to see Being 747 and were sitting in the beer garden next door, where there was a big stage and, for first and ONLY time of ALL my visits to beer gardens, the act on there was ACE. And LO! It was Mr Tiller, HOORAH! One of the MANY lovely things about doing Totally Acoustic is I get to DRAG people who I'd like to see to MY night so i can see them again, and that worked out pretty darn well this time. ANOTHER lovely thing is that we get to have QUITE DIFFERENT acts on, together - Matt and Ben are DISSIMILAR in many ways, but both made the room feel COSY and full of JOY. My favourite song was the one about his parents' hotel, which i distinctly remember from August, but my favourite bit of ALL of it was when he chose a volunteer from the audience to do a live translation of one of his songs. The person he chose was The Lyrics On My Songsheet and she was BLOODY BRILLIANT! HOORAH! I was PROUD!

    And then we fell to the usual Bit Of An Old Chat afterwards, the usual end to a BEAUTIFUL evening, this time with the added bonus of nobody plummeting through the floor of the pub. What more could you ask for eh?

    posted 23/3/2011 by MJ Hibbett
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    Brighton
    I skipped out of work slightly early yesterday to head for the SEASIDE! For LO! I was due to play in BRIGHTON!

    Upon arriving in that fair city by the sea i ROMPED down the main street towards The Travelodge, where i was already booked in. You know those adverts where they say "Rooms FROM 19" and you think "Oh yeah, i bet ONE person gets that rate and everybody else pays more"? Well yesterday that one person was ME! HOORAH! I was TERRIBLY excited by all this, and even more so when I discovered they had ROBOTS doing check-in. Not massively impressive robots... more like touch screen tellies really, but still, i got to my room without having to interact with any other humans. What a marvellous future this is!

    Unfortunately i DID have to do some interacting, as I soon found that my toilet (which came pre-smeared with HUMAN WASTE") was completely broken, and had to go downstairs to get my room changed. It wasn't very impressive - not least that I had go downstairs to do it, as there was NO TELEPHONE in the room. I know Travelodge is driving itself to be CHEAP, but do they really have to RUB IT IN like that? It's almost like they're becoming the RYANAIR of cheap hotels. All right, that IS a little harsh - they don't come round and kick you up the arse in the night or try and charge you for WATER - but they do seem to be making an EFFORT to make things a bit crappy. It's not like they're generally cheaper than IBIS, for example, and their hotels are MUCH nicer.

    Welcome to "Cheap Hotel Chain REVIEW"! So ANYWAY, i got all that sorted out and headed round to The Latest Music Bar where I was due to play at the final evening of The Ukelele Research and Development Society. As I walked along the seafront, swinging my guitar, I suddenly realised I had made a slight ERROR in my equipment i.e. i had brought my GUITAR, and NOT my ukelele. OOPS.

    Nobody seemed to mind when I arrived, and indeed everyone was ACE. It was another evening full of lovely people, mostly of the Bobby McGees PERSUASION (for LO! it is they what runs it) but also Phil PIO who, it later transpired, had actually been to school with my friend and colleague Dr Neil Brown. I told him that Neil had actually WRITTEN several songs he OWNED, and he was AGHAST - it was GRATE!

    The first half of the evening was Open Mic which, unlike so MUCH Open Mic, was BRILLIANT - over the time it's been running T.U.R.D.S. (yes) seems to have built up a CAST of performers who have LEARNED and GROWED together as songwriters and performers, so EVERYONE (yes! everyone!) was DEAD GOOD. They were all supportive of each other, but to be honest they didn't really NEED to be as everyone was GRATE. I have been to a LOT of Open Mic nights and that has not really happened before, i was MOST impressed with what the McGees had WROUGHT in this place - they also had a HINTS SHEET for everyone ("Don't sing in an American accent", that sort of thing) and TOOLS like Comments Books and SWEETS on the table to get people to NOT TALK during the acts. It was wonderful!

    I thus felt a bit guilty about idiotically NOT learning up a ukelele set, so when i did the following I did the first half on the GUITAR and switched over to Jimmy's uke for the second half, as follows:
  • The Peterborough All-Saints Wide Game Team (group B)
  • My Boss Was In An Indie Band Once
  • Hey Hey 16K
  • Theme From Dinosaur Planet
  • I Did A Gig In New York
  • The Lesson Of The Smiths
  • Easily Impressed
  • Boom Shake The Room
  • The Gay Train

  • It all seemed to go OK, although i DID manage to completely forget the chord sequence for the chorus of The Lesson Of The Smiths - i got a MENTAL BLOCK about how it worked on UKE - and did get slightly DISTRACTED by worrying about what I was going to do with the second half of the gig. LUCKILY, and rather brilliantly, someone in the audience new the WORDS and shouted them out at opportune moments. Thank you VERY MUCH INDEED, young sir, i don't know what I would have done without you!

    So yes, it all seemed to work out all right in the end, though I did feel a bit stupid and slightly guilty about not preparing correctly. Luckily there was a bit more from the regulars afterwards, especially Graham and Becca from the Bobby McGees doing a duet which CLEARLY meant a lot to them and this transferred over to us. It was rather beautiful!

    It was quite a special evening all round really, and I headed off into the Brighton night feeling slightly daft, but very grateful for being allowed to be part of it. Doing gigs, it's all rather good fun really!

    posted 22/3/2011 by MJ Hibbett
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    Action, Meetings and Posting
    I threw myself straight into the ROCK MELEE on Friday night by heading out to the SLIGHTLY WRONG pub, to meet Mr J Kell... or rather, to NOT meet him until about 20 minutes later when i went to the PROBABLY CORRECT pub, The Shakespeare's Head near Angel. OOH! It was a LOVELY pub - you remember how pubs USED to be, in the early 90's or so, before there were theme pubs and so ALL pubs were EITHER Townie Pubs or Old Men's Pubs? This was THE LATTER, with a wide mix of TYPES and AGES of people all having a lovely time together. I always used to love this kind of pub when I was a student and also in my lengthy Acting Like A Student days, but like them even BETTER now that I'm off an age to feel i fit PROPERLY into the Adult Clientele and can call people "mate" without looking stupid. It was ACE, i hope to RETURN.

    The MEETING was primarily to discuss the Moon Horse RADIO SHOW that we are working up a PITCH for, and many GRATE ideas were passed back and forth for the characters, pilot episode and later SERIES. I bloody LOVE doing this sort of thing again - writing scripts and so forth is something i was VERY keen on doing in my teens and very early twenties, and something I had a little bit of success at too, selling a couple of sketches to Radio 4 and getting an audition to write for Jonathan Ross (which, idiotically, I never got around to doing) but the LURE of ROCK and BEER and NOT QUITE TALKING TO GURLS meant I ended up wandering into the realms of BANDS instead. It feels GOOD to be back!

    I did, however, wander back into the realm of bands again that very night, as we nipped over to the Oddbox night at The Wilmington, which was a DELIGHT. There was a metric TONNE of ACE people there from The World Of The Indie which was BRILLIANT - it feels like AGES since I was last out at a big indiepop/anorak night like this, and it was fantastic to see everyone again!

    Next morning I had to fly into action for my own corner of the aforesaid, as it was UK POSTING DAY for Wonderful Wednesday. I'd already posted the ABROAD copies on Friday morning so all that was left was to pack, stamp, sticker, and POST the remainder, which is always IMMENSELY satisfying. As I walked home from newly BULGING post boxes (i always divvy up the envelopes into at LEAST two post boxes, you never know when a lorry's going to CRASH into one, right?) i realised that this was one of my FAVOURITE parts of the WHOLE Making An Album THING. Once they're all in the post then most of the hard work is DONE - you don't have to worry about finishing songs, recording them, mixing, getting the artwork right (and the whole RGB/CMYK NIGHTMARE), mastering, collection, barcodes etc etc. That's all DONE, and now you can just sit back and wait to see if people LIKE it. I always think of all those envelopes like FISH, set free into the waters of POST to swim to their different destinations to... er... spawn? Something like that anyway, and I always wish them "good luck" as they go into the post box. Quietly, usually, but I do always do it.

    And now I understand that some of the swimmers have already reached their destinations - i hope they are bringing as much JOY to the recipients as I had from making them, which was Actually Quite A Lot!

    posted 21/3/2011 by MJ Hibbett
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    Meanwhile In The CD Factory
    I recieved a FANTASTICALLY EXCITING email at work yesterday - "Box for you in reception". For LO! This simple message was the harbinger of GRATENESS - the Wonderful Wednesday CDs had arrived!

    I SKIPPED upstairs full of joy, bringing them back down to The Computer Dungeon full of HIGH EMOTION. Would they LOOK all right? Would they PLAY all right? I was pretty sure the answer would be 'YES' to both questions, as they'd been done by the marvellous people at Short Run who I get to do... well, all my short runs of CDs really. They're very helpful, super speedy and IMMENSE value for money, especially if, as I do, you opt for the Self Assembly Option.

    I gazed in order at the BEAUTY of the CDs (hem hem, the cover star especially) and tenderly placed the CD itself into the computer. This is always a NERVE WRACKING moment - will it actually WORK? - so you can imagine my RELIEF when it totally DID. You can also imagine my HORROR when I suddenly realised that i had done the track listing WRONG!

    NYARGH!

    I'd done the tracklisting in the same order as on the original FAWM site i.e. in the order each song had been written and recorded, but had decided to swap the first two around so that it started with the title track... but had FORGOTTEN to change this on the artwork. ARSES! Also, AAAAAARGH!! I was upset about this for HOURS, until the evening in fact when The Titles Of My Songs and The Landlady reassured me that it didn't REALLY matter, especially as I'd be able to email EVERYONE who'd bought a copy to let them know about it. Still, it was a bit ANNOYING.

    UNDETERRED, however, I set to the process of self-assembling, HAND NUMBERING each of the CDs as I went along. It was a bit of a long old job, but a) NOT as long as making All Around My House had been [NB it took DAYS] and b) passed by very pleasantly as I sat and listened to Radio 7. I'm reading a book about the history of "I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue" at the moment, so was DELIGHTED to be able to sit and listen live to "I'm Sorry I'll Read That Again", it was LOVELY.

    With that all done I packed up the first few ENVELOPES this morning, for those destined to go ABROAD, with CDs and BADGES and took them off to the post office on my way to work. The remainder will be going off tomorrow and then that'll be most of the process DONE. Everything should be on iTunes et al by the 4th of April (at which point I'm thinking of doing another SNAZZY website redesign) and then the whole thing will be FINISHED! I must say, apart from that little hiccup with the tracklisting, I've THOROUGHLY enjoyed EVERY aspect of making this album and am EXTREMELY grateful to everyone who took a leap in the dark to buy it. Hope you enjoy it, and sorry about the ERROR!

    posted 18/3/2011 by MJ Hibbett
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    Bon Jovi
    I've spent the past week or so delving into the works of BON JOVI. This isn't a sudden mid-life onset of A Heavy Metal Phase or anything (well, not yet anyway), it's because the lovely people at Fika Recordings have proposed a Bon Jovi Tribute Album and, as my initial choice of "Living On A Prayer" (which we do a MEAN version of at Hibbett singalongs) had been taken I needed to find something else to do.

    It was actually quite a Good Thing that that song had already been taken, as I couldn't help notice similarities between that and certain ROCK EPICS I have been performing in certain ROCK OPERAS for the past couple of years, especially the "WOAH-OH" bit. I thus hit THE YOUTUBE and found myself in a WORLD of eighties/nineties LIGHT METAL.

    The FIRST thing I noticed was that, GOODNESS ME, but eighties/nineties light metal videos take FOREVER to get going. Go and have a look yourself - BLIMEY! GET ON WITH THE SONG EVERYONE! Every single video has a LENGTHY and PONDEROUS introduction bit that had me GNASHING at the bit to get the actual music started. Were there just not enough videos for MTV to show, or something, so they had to pad it all out?

    The SECOND thing i notice was that, GOODNESS ME, Bon Jovi had some GRATE songs. I've always thought of them as a lightweight standard issue soft metal group, but once you listen past the haircuts and old-fashioned production there are pretty much all ACE. Also: DEAD EASY. I went round the TAB sites and found that every one of there songs that i liked was INCREDIBLY SIMPLE - most times when I'm looking at songs to cover I have to figure out ways to simplify them so I can PLAY them, but Bon Jovi appear to have done this already. Nice easy chords, straightforward arrangements, and structures that make SENSE. Well done, Team Jovi!

    The more I played the songs the more I realised that, beneath the hairspray they are basically BUDDY HOLLY songs, which rather explains them being GRATE. Big old tunes, singalong choruses, and a ton of HOOKS - HOORAH! Once THAT was in my head looking at the videos got even more weird - chaps! You're playing proper old fashioned 50's POP! Could you maybe STOP acting like you're in METALLICA or something? It was ODD - the more simple and JOYOUS the song, the more (in the early days at least) they seemed to want to be PORTENTIOUS and/or garbed in SPANDEX.

    So anyway, eventually I settled on "Keeping The Faith", which nobody else had taken, and spent a GLORIOUS couple of days and evenings recording it. I did it all at home and got the MUSIC done pretty quickly (tho with a LOT of THORT re: arrangements - like so many of yr GRATE POP SONGS, the chord progressions are peasy but what they DO with them goes through all sorts of shifts and turns) but the SINGING took ages. Obviously I am physically unable of singing it in a proper ROCK way so had to go through all sorts of attempts to find a way to sing it that a) i COULD b) sounded REASONABLE. The BIG problem was the bit where everyone goes "FAITH!" Crumbs! It took me a LOT of goes to get THAT sounding right!

    But in the end I think I did a pretty good job of it - I doubt it would please a ROCK MONSTER but it got ME jigging around the spare room to it, and even the HUGE GUITAR SOLO (oh yes! when I'm recording in MY house you can bet I'm going to put a guitar solo in there, also UKULELE) made me want to dance about. I sent it off to the Fika types who, much to my relief, seemed to quite like it, and now all I need to do is sit back and wait for everyone else to finish THEIR versions.

    I think I might listen to some Bon Jovi while I wait!

    posted 17/3/2011 by MJ Hibbett
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    Yes Again
    I headed off BACK to Bethnal Green yesterday afternoon to play at a mini-rally for the "Yes To AV" people. Originally I was just going to be ATTENDING a MAXI-rally where people of all parties were kicking off the main campaign... but there was TROUBLE with E Milliband refusing to share a platform with N Clegg, ending up with labour taking their speakers away to talk at their OWN event with their OWN speakers, so YAR BOO SUCKS to YOU. Gosh, I wonder why those Rainbow Coalition negotiations didn't last very long?

    ANYWAY, this left a hired VENUE going spare, so the "Yes To AV" bunch decided to do use it to do an EVENT called "Hipsters Say Yes", whereby people would go out into nearby Shorditch to put up posters, hand out leaflets and generally be ACTIVE. They asked me and a couple of other people if we fancied turning up afterwards to play a "thank you" GIG for the activists and I said "SURE THING!"

    I arrived to find the organisers looking a bit apologetic - apparently not as many people as they thought had turned up, and they'd emailed me and the other performer who'd agreed to coming, warning us of this and saying we therefore might not want to bother. It's funny how one person's idea of a crowd differs from... er... mine. Any number above ZERO counts for me, and it was SOMEWHAT more than that so I was very happy to stay (unlike the other chap, who decided not to - for shame!) and happily wandered off to the nice pub next door to get a lunchtime HALF while we waited for everyone to come back from ACTIVISM.

    I'd taken the afternoon off so was a bit DEMOB HAPPY and so EAGER for daytime drinking... so imagine my HORROR when I went next door to find it was CLOSED! The DOORS were open and there were people inside, but when I went in and STOOD NEAR THEM for a minute or so they eventually told me it was SHUT. One guy looked like he hadn't slept for a week, the other wore a beard and pleated skirt, and both looked at me with SCORN. SHOREDITCH.

    I therefore went BACK to the venue, had a cup of coffee, then upstairs again to find people gently filtering back. I sat down, apologised for the fact that their "thank you" was something many people have said "no thank you" to in the past, and did THIS:
  • I Did A Gig In New York
  • My Boss Was In An Indie Band Once
  • I'm Saying Yes

  • Before I started i felt a bit nervous, as we were after all in a conference room at three in the afternoon and people were LOOKING at me, but though I did perhaps GO ON A BIT trying to explain the songs (before starting I'd thought "Hmm, what songs do i have that could apply to a raggle taggle band of rebels, fighting adversity and winning out in the end? Oh yeah, NEARLY ALL OF THEM") once I got going I really rather enjoyed myself. I know it's just singing some songs but it felt GRATE to actually be INVOLVED in something... especially as i hadn't had to go outside and hand out any leaflets to BE involved. The people who HAD done the difficult bits seemed to quite like it too, and afterwards I got given a bottle of WINE to say thanks for coming. I like political gigs, they pay in BOOZE!

    posted 16/3/2011 by MJ Hibbett
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    A Sophisticated Weekend
    Goodness me but we had a weekend of SOPHISTICATION this weekend, and all of it in the old East End too!

    On Saturday afternoon we had a household OUTING with myself, The Athletes In My Olympics and The Landlady heading out to Pudding Mill Lane, to have a look at the Olympics site. We walked there from Stratford and it was WEIRD - you know when you go on holiday ABROAD, right? And you get the bus/taxi from the airport to the nearest town? It was like THAT BIT - a long multi-lane road with half built and half demolished buildings all the way along, with the occasional weird shop or derelict garage at street level. WEIRD.

    The site itself was WELL worth the strangeness tho - we went to The ViewTube where there was a Cafe made of Storage Containers (including viewing platform that we couldn't, but didn't really NEED to, get to), some DISPLAYS and a stunning VISTA of the Olympic Park as it comes together. It's all TERRIBLY exciting, and unbelievable that it's actually going to HAPPEN next year. On the way back, on the DLR, we said "they're going to need to have a bit of an old clean up around here before everybody comes" then I thought "Oh but that's AGES away... hang on, no it isn't!" My CUNNING SUGGESTION to S.Coe et al is to get THE QUEEN to visit on a fortnightly basis, that usually gets people tidying up.

    Then in the evening we went to our local COMMUNITY CENTRE for The News From Nowhere Club a BRILLIANT group who organise regular TALKS. We were there EN MASSE to see Michael Horovitz, the BEAT POET. It was all VERY INTERESTING - his style of "lecturing" seemed to mostly involve him saying whatever occurred to him as he went along... which, actually, reminded me of quite a lot of my old lecturers from Poly, but then he'd SPRING into life when he did poetry. Some of it was FASCINATING, the poems were BRILLIANT and it was EXCITING to see a Genuine Real-Life Legend in the actual flesh, performing some of the poems and SORT OF Music (the Anglo Saxophone was a thing to behold... tho not necessarily to listen to) that ACTUALLY changed the world. Some of the rest of it was a bit ANNOYING, in the way that Inherently Posh Old Intellectuals can be, SIGHING about Oh How Dreadful Everything Is, but really, as a veteran of BASICALLY EVERYTHING, he'd sort of won the right to be like that.

    And on Sunday I went to TESCO and did some ADMIN. Hey! If I was as sophisticated as that EVERY day I would HURT myself, all right?

    posted 14/3/2011 by MJ Hibbett
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    Geekpop is GO!
    I met with Mr S Hewitt for another EXCELLENT "Moon Horse" rehearsal last night, after which we went for our Traditional Post Practice Pint, during which we SCHEMED UP a new plan for doing GIGS. We worked out a PROPER SETLIST and EVERYTHING, also a MODUS OPERANDI to ensure that next time we do one together we will be ROCKING OUT to the MAX. It was a GOOD meeting.

    Then we went our seperate ways, with me heading off to Wilton's Music Hall for the launch of the geekpop festival. WOW! What an AMAZING place to have it - you walk down a little street, turn into a tiny alley and then through the door of a knackered old building and suddenly you're in an ACTUAL REAL LIVE MUSIC HALL, like off the telly! It's INCREDIBLE - I'd seen pictures but was still unprepared for how GORGEOUS the building was. The Acts On My Bill and The Landlady had been a couple of years ago and RAVED about it, and now i could see why - it was like a film set or something, just incredible!

    It turned out I'd MISSED most of the actual gig, as it had started RIGOROUSLY on time, but did get a chance to see Helen Arney doing a set in the interval, as well as seeing an impressive fusion of SOUND and FIRE during a demonstration, which was rather GRATE.

    The actual FESTIVAL meanwhile, is online NOW at www.geekpop.co.uk. It's a VIRTUAL festival, headlined by JEFFREY LEWIS, which i think everyone is a bit [rightfully] in AWE of, as well as people like Vom Vorton, the aforesaid Helen Arney, and ME! There's various STAGES (me, Helen and Tom are on the Comical Flask stage, where we've all got FREE TRACKS to download - mine are all NEW versions of some older song, although there's also a BRAND NEW TRACK, Brokeback Workbench to download as part of the Geek Like Me EP they've put out. There's ALSO an INTERVIEW with me and Mr Vorton which we ALSO did VIRTUALLY. It was quite a feat of engineering!

    It's all TERRIBLY exciting and there's LOADS of good stuff on there - do go and have a look if you get the chance, it's GRATE!

    posted 11/3/2011 by MJ Hibbett
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    Podcasts and Badges
    I spent a LARGE part of yesterday Listening Again to the previous evening's Totally Acoustic as i carefully crafted the first podcast of the new SEASON. And LO! IT IS DONE!

    And a whole HECKLOAD of fun it was to do I must say - there are many LARFS in this one, i think, as well as some rather SPIFFING performances from the Lockyer, Fox and Buckley-Hill types, and even a pretty decent going over of "Mars Men Of Jupiter". It was a LOVELY night, I'm already getting a bit excited about the next one!

    And talking of EXCITEMENT - I came in to work this morning to find that the Wonderful Wednesday BADGES have arrived! HOOPLA! As ever these were done at EXTREME SPEED and DELICIOUS PRICING by the wonderful people at Wee Badgers in Glasgow. Incredibly I ordered them on TUESDAY afternoon and they were here within less than 24 hours, looking LOVELY. It's so easy and cheap to DO badges this way, it seems churlish not to, ESPECIALLY when they're done by a LEGEND of INDIE i.e. Manda Rin from BIS.

    Yes! It's like having t-shirts manufactured by Morrissey or something! These will be going out to the CHARMING people who ordered the album last week - the actual CDs will take a little bit longer to get back, and are probably not made by Indie Legends, as far as i know, but will STILL be almost exactly as DELIGHTFUL! Then it will be a couple of days of LABEL STICKING for me - the GLAMOUR of ROCK, it never ends!

    posted 10/3/2011 by MJ Hibbett
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    Totally Acoustic
    I set off for the Lamb last night for the first Totally Acoustic of the year in a slightly TREPIDATIOUS mood. I didn't feel quite READY to start again, and wasn't sure that anyone would come. In short, i felt DOUBT!

    My worries began to be ALLAYED as soon as I arrived, as Leigh The Landlord said a) Hello b) The Booking Was FINE. Phew! There was also a whole BUNCH of people, including to my great surprise and delight Mr R Rackstraw and Mr T Chesser, who (apart from briefly bumping into Thom in Brixton a few years ago) i hadn't really seen since the early NINETIES in Leicester! Amazingly, everyone appeared to be THE SAME!

    We moved upstairs and got going pretty much on TIME, with me (and indeed Steve at relevant points) doing THIS:
  • Totally Acoustic
  • The Peterborough All-Saints Wide Game Team (group B)
  • Girlfriend Alarmed
  • We're The Mars Men Of Jupiter
  • We've Done Something Evil
  • I'm Saying Yes

  • It was THOROUGHLY good fun - I'd brought SONG SHEETS for the theme tune so we got off to a good start, and things rolled along very pleasantly from thereonin. I'd also been a bit nervous about doing SO MUCH that I didn't really know very well, but it all seemed to work out OK and me and Steve did the Moon Horse songs with some ELAN... also HUMOROUS HATS.

    We then moved STRAIGHT on to Jenny Lockyer, who was playing as part of her QUEST to do 30 Gigs In 30 Days. It's partly to celebrate her 30th birthday this month, and ALSO to raise money for The Children's Trust so is a GRATE, if KNACKERINg idea. The gig itself was GRATE, also RIFE with New Material, my favourite being "Albert The Dragon" which sounds like it may DEVELOP into something CONCEPTUAL. It was ACE!

    Then after the first break we had a bit of a change of pace with Simon Fox, who CLAIMED he was about to be depressing but, as with last time, was actually DELIGHTFUL - he reminded me quite a lot of Boo Hewerdine, as he had that same deceptive way of drawing you into the song with CHARISMA and CHARM, then keeping you there. I think my favourite bit was the singalong to "Jeane", which is DEFINITELY going in the podcast, even if it does feature A Slightly Tiddly Middle Aged Gentleman (hem hem) singing along a bit TOO much...

    And then we had Mr Peter Buckley-Hill. GOODNESS ME. I must admit I wasn't sure what to expect, really knowing him only as the man who runs the Free Fringe, so was totally UNPREPARED for what occurred next: about 45 minutes of LARFING. LARFING really A LOT! Man alive, I have done a lot of laughing at Totally Acoustic over the years but never THAT much, he was FANTASTIC! Wait until you hear it on the podcast, he was HILARIOUS, also LOVELY from start to finish. I already felt honoured to be part of his Free Fringe, now I am EXCITED to go and see him again as soon as possible.

    It was, in fact, a GRATE night all round, which we rounded off with a bit of an old chat and some more BEER. Totally Acoustic is BACK, and I'm very pleased about it!

    posted 9/3/2011 by MJ Hibbett
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    Glowing
    You find me this morning all AGLOW, for TWO reasons.

    Firstly, i have JUST THIS MINUTE ordered the CDs AND the BADGES for Wonderful Wednesday. It all seemed to go SURPRISINGLY SIMPLY... so i am now crouched in fear of an email from someone saying "No no, this needs to be CMYK in PDF2 format on a MAC written in LATIN" like usually happens. Hopefully it WON'T tho, which means tomorrow I can poster the ALBUM MASTER off to the manufacturers, then sit back and wait a week or so for the CDs themselves to arrive. In the meantime i am going to EXCITE myself with getting the envelope labels ready. YES! THRILLS!

    The second reason i am AGLOW is because yesterday i went and had a go in a TANNING BOOTH! ZANG!

    This was, of course, PURELY for health reasons - Steve's friend Pete recommended it to me when we did the Watford gig the other week as a possible method of combatting PSORIASIS, so I thought I'd give it a go. I've spent a couple of weeks building up to it, nervously LOOKING at various tanning shops, but yesterday I reached sufficient bravery to GO IN. It was AMAZING! You stand in this BOOTH thing, NAKED apart from some space age STICKY LABELS over your eyes, and everything glows BLUE. After a couple of seconds you start to feel like you're ON HOLIDAY - it's nice and warm, and you slowly feel your INNER CORE start to THAW OUT after BLOODY WINTER. Gorgeous!

    I was only in for five minutes, which was JUST long enough as today I still feel slightly warm but just on the VERGE of going crisp - like when you arrive on holiday just before the sun starts to go down. It was ACE, tho i worry now that I'm going to turn into DAVID DICKINSON as it was SO VERY NICE that I am going to find it hard to wait a WEEK until I can go again. If the next album is called "Cheap As Chips", please stage an INTERVENTION.

    So yes: GLOWING is GO - and all ready to start Totally Acoustic again TONITE! We're on at the Lamb, with Jenny Lockyer, Simon Fox and Peter Buckley-Hill, so if you're in That London, do pop along if you can. I'll show you my TAN!

    posted 8/3/2011 by MJ Hibbett
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    Football and The Comedy
    I had a weekend of MINOR HIGHS and MINOR LOWS with my colleague Mr S Hewitt this weekend just past, starting with a DELIGHTFUL day out in the city of my childhood, PETERBOROUGH. We were both there to visit The Capital City Of Football Entertainment, where the mighty Posh were taking on Lowly Exeter City (NB it is MY blog so i can say what i like!). I met Steve in a pub on Cathedral Square, which seems to have become DEAD NICE since i was last there. The HORRIBLE Post Office has been obliterated, leaving the church (there's a church in Cathedral Square in Peterborough - i guess for people who couldn't be bothered to walk the extra 100 yards to the Actual Cathedral) looking GLORIOUS. It really was very nice indeed!

    We toddled off for a mini-tour of pubs, meeting Mr P Myland in Charters, where Steve stayed behind with his fellow Exeter Exiles whilst me and Mileage waltzed off to meet the Posh lot in Ebeneezers. Mileage hasn't BEEN to many games this season, so it was like wondering around with a RETURNING HERO - everywhere we went faces LIT UP. "Mylo!" they said (for such is has name round those parts), as crowds dashed to touch the hem of his FLEECE.

    The actual GAME was ALL RIGHT - i feel i MAY have enjoyed it more than Steve, THREE GOALS more in fact - but it was funny how quickly The World Of Football FORGETS. "Fergy, Fergy, give us a wave!" we gaily sang to a man whose name, only a few weeks ago, had been MUD. Why, it's almost as if holding EXTREME OPINIONS and VOICING THEM LOUDLY without having to worry about the consequences is part of the FUN of it all!

    Next day we met once more, this time in LONDON TOWN, where we were playing at the Sunday Hullabaloo, an afternoon COMEDY gig at The Wilmington. We went on first and did THIS:
  • Theme From Dinosaur Planet
  • Please Don't Eat Us
  • We're The Mars Men Of Jupiter
  • We've Done Something Evil
  • Boom Shake The Room

  • I have to admit, about half way through I was once again reminded that we are NOT comedians. Everyone was very amenable in the audience, it all did OK, but I kept thinking "This ISN'T a comedy act". It's all meant to be done as a SHOW sort of thing, so the individual songs aren't DESIGNED to be done on their own, and tho I often do stuff like Theme From Dinosaur Planet in the ROCK gigs, there's not enough GAGS about them to carry it off in this sort of environment. We're The Mars Men Of Jupiter seemed to work best - possibly due to the HATS that we were wearing for the first time, or maybe because it has one of those jokes where you EXPECT a Rude Word to complete a rhyme, but DOESN'T, but even then I thought it could do with a better bit at the end.

    Thankfully Steve had the GRATE idea of doing Boom Shake The Room to finish with, which not only made everything FINE again but also allowed me to insert the previous days actions into the "And like [x] I'll be scoring" line, which pleased me IMMENSELY. Still, as we sat down for the rest of the show I couldn't help noticing the difference between us and the SLICK COMEDIANS who followed. I mean, i don't WANT to be a Slick Comedian, but still the whole experience DISCONCERTED me somewhat. Next time we do anything like this, we're going in ARMED with some GAGS!

    posted 7/3/2011 by MJ Hibbett
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    Moon Horse Begins
    After a much deserved REST of... oooh, just over a week, when we technically WEREN'T doing a show at ALL, i met with Mr S Hewitt last night to start the ball rolling on our NEXT show business extravaganza: MOON HORSE!

    For those who have been lucky enough NOT to have been cornered in a pub by me over the last few months, the general idea of MOON HORSE is pretty similar to the underlying THRUST of Dinosaur Planet in that it is a two-man science fiction ROCK OPERA featuring drama, thrills and SONGS. We DID think of doing a rather more SERIOUS tribute to Tebbs Lloyd-Johnson, but we were having so much fun with the SILLINESS (and just getting to be fairly PASSABLE at it too) that it seemed daft not to do a bit more.

    The SCRIPT for the new show was on it's fourth draft, but it's never actually been DONE before - not out loud, at any rate, and certainaly not by the two of us together, so I felt ever so slightly TREPIDATIOUS about it. Would it actually be FUNNY? Would it make SENSE? Would the songs be OK?

    Fifty minutes later, we had our answers: and they were all "YES! HOORAH!" for LO! it was actually pretty bloody good. The most WONDERFUL thing about it was how EASY it was to get into it - why, it's almost as if working together for the past year has made is somehow USED to it! It also probably helped that there's a core group of THE SAME JOKES, so we've had a bit of practice!

    The main thing that SPRANG OUT of it for me was how EXCITINGLY POLITICAL it is. No, really, it is! I'm not referring to the Actual Historical Figures who appear in it (although BY HECK there is a MEAN Harold Wilson impersonation in there!), but to the bit towards the end where we do A MASSIVE METAPHOR about the banking crisis. We were actively GIGGLING during it - if the entire capitalist system collapse in the autumn you will be able to trace it DIRECTLY to some BANKERS hearing what we have, metaphorically, got to say about them. HECK YES! The only way it could be made MORE SATIRICAL would be if we had a HUGE BANNER with the word "SATIRE" written on it unfurl at the back during the song "The Price Of Your Mistake".

    So yes, we thought it was quite good - there turn out to ALSO be opportunities for us both to do THE BIG ACTING (we are going for ALL the awards this time round) and there were even a couple of bits that were Quite Moving. Oh yes! Watch out BROADWAY, we are on the way!

    Before THAT though we've got a few Actual GIGS to do, not least a spot at the Sunday Hullabaloo at The Wilmington on Sunday, when we're going to be doing a 15 minute SPOT. Apparently it is FINE to do things that are a bit "rough and ready" (hem hem) so Steve and I'll be doing TWO and a BIT songs from the new show! YIPES! We thus had a bit of an EXTRA PRACTICE at them, which i THINK means it should be OK... although the DANCE STEPS (yes, the DANCE STEPS) may need a bit of work.

    Very very happy with a job well STARTED we retired to the pub for a celebratory pint. As you can probably tell, there was much excitement, also much RELIEF that it looks like it'll be OK. We've got ourselves a show!

    posted 4/3/2011 by MJ Hibbett
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    Indietracks
    I got an email from the organisers of my FAVOURITE Festival last night, which is of course Indietracks. As i MAY POSSIBLY have mentioned I am the only person to have played ALL festivals so far and i was EXTREMELY keen to carry this on - it's a LOVELY weekend full of GRATE people and, to be honest, i do rather enjoy swanning around saying "Yes, i AM the only person to have played every year, thank you for asking... or, indeed for looking like you might be ABOUT to ask."

    However, I'm sorry to say that is NO LONGER to be the case - the email said that they'd had SO MANY applications this year that they've decided to have NO bands from last year playing again, which alas includes me and The Validators. I told the Vlads and everyone was GLUM about it - i myself spent a good couple of hours moping round the house muttering "bollocks" to myself and feeling HARD DONE TO. It's obviously an entirely fair, JUST, and all round GOOD thing to do, increasing the amount of bands and people who get to play, and we DID have a very long run of gigs there. In fact, every objective and sensible part of me thinks "Yes, that is fair enough."

    The rest of me, however, is sitting in the corner SNIFFLING, occasionally emerging to eat BISCUITS and say "NOT FAIR. ME WANT PLAY FESTIVAL."

    Oh well, as I say it's all completely fair enough and, really, I'm grateful to have had the chance to play for as long as I did. And I AM going away for over a fortnight a few days later to do my NEXT favourite festival up in Edinburgh, so I should be getting my FIX for this year! Now, I must pop out and get some more hobnobs...

    posted 3/3/2011 by MJ Hibbett
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    Spreadsheet Time
    Thanks very much to everyone who's been throwing themselves bodily into the risky waters of ALBUM PRE-ORDERING this week - I'm VERY happy to say that we've already shifted more copies of Wonderful Wednesday than we did of All Around My House, which I believe is what The Business Community would call "Progress". If you've not flung yourself in yet you've still got a few days left to do so - GO ON, every time a new email comes in to say someone's bought it, it makes my little heart go BOING with joy!

    Also adding to the general feeling of wellbeing around these parts is the discover (after goodness knows HOW long) that PayPal is actually NOT BAD when it comes to reporting delivery addresses. For YEARS I've been logging all the sales addresses by HAND, which takes AGES and is FRAUGHT with pain, but this time around I thought I'd see if it might perhaps be easier to download a sales spreadsheet from Paypal itself and... oh... i see. That appears to save me DECADES of cut and pasting! HOOPLA!

    So yes, whereas Messrs Springsteen, Edge and From Razorlight might see the release of a new album as a time for talk show appearances, international tours and video filming, for me it is the dawn of a new age in EFFICIENT SPREADSHEET USE. In your face, Springsteen Edge and From Razorlight, this is MUCH more fun and also features Transferable Skills! I wouldn't have it any other way!

    posted 2/3/2011 by MJ Hibbett
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    Look Who's Saying Yes
    I met Mr S Hewitt for a cheeky pint of MILD (there is not other kind) last night before we made our way to the Bethnal Green Working Men's Club, where I was due to play at the "Look Who's Saying YES" night. I was VERY VERY VERY EXCITED INDEED about this - it was organised by the Yes To AV campaign, and as a former teenage member of the Electoral Reform Society and a LIFELONG ENTHUSIAST for Voting Reform In General (go on, ASK me about my proposals for a tricameral re-organisation of the UK political system! PLEASE!) this is something I can VERY MUCH get behind.

    The club is a PROPER Working Men's Club, which means it had wood panelling and PROPER Club Tables, and was full of The Young People. At one point I was talking to some of them and one said to another "That's because I'm so much older than you." He was TWENTY FIVE, and they all agreed this was OLD. My dears, I felt positively ANCIENT.

    It was bloody GRATE being there and seeing people Actually and Actively CARING about something... tho I did get the impression lots of them were trying to GEE themselves up to be properly excited about it, and that maybe not everyone is QUITE as excited as I am about the prospect of voting reform... but then, as stated, i am VERY excited about it, and did maybe perhaps GO ON about it a bit much when I did my set, which went something like this:
  • The Peterborough All-Saints Wide Game Team (group B)
  • The Gay Train
  • I'm Saying Yes
  • The Lesson Of The Smiths
  • Boom Shake The Room

  • Why yes, that IS a new song in the middle there - I'd been PANIC LEARNING it all day long and I think I pretty much got to the end in one piece. It was a nice gig, if slightly DISARMING in that I was on a stage looking into the lights and could VAGUELY see people sitting in rows, possibly looking SERIOUS. I wasn't sure how it was going - Terry Saunders had been GRATE just before me and I wasn't sure if i was meant to be being a) funny or b) STERN, nor was I sure which of the above was required. The other three of my first four songs were chosen because, i thought, they might be RELEVANT but when I got to the end I thought "To heck with it, EVERYONE liks Boom Shake The Room, right?"

    Everyone DOES like Boom Shake The Room, yes, and I got to play it to a whole room full of people who were suddenly confronted with the fact that they knew pretty much ALL the words. It was a MARVELLOUS thing to watch happen, as it always is!

    Afterwards there was an INTERVAL during which a DELEGATION came over and we had a talk about maybe using I'm Saying Yes in a video or something, which i am EXTREMELY keen on, and then in the second half we LARFED and nodded at All Round Hero Josie Long who is, basically, becoming The Comedy Billy Bragg. She was GRATE!

    And then we strode out into the night, with me feeling particularly full of RIGHTEOUSNESS - I've not really done many Campaigning Gigs, partly because the sort of things i feel PARTICULARLY strongly about don't tend to be the sort of things that get GIGS organised around them, so this felt BRILLIANT. It's one of the few gigs I've ever done that I think Teenage Me would have been pleased about (he usually thinks I'm just messing around when I should be writing plays and/or leading the SDP or something) so it was nice to have his approval for once - I hope I can continue to make him proud between now and May!

    posted 1/3/2011 by MJ Hibbett
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