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Blog Archive: July 2012

Olympic THORTS so far
Up to my knees in OLYMPICS, here's some OPINIONS I have formulated. GET READY!

ITEM! Isn't it lovely to hear ACCENTS on the telly? I've been listening to Mr Kristian Thomas on telly thinking HOW BRILLIANT it is to hear a PROPER BRUMMIE on Breakfast Telly, and there have been HEAPS of different voices from all around the land. My favourite, apart from Mr Thomas, was that girl from LEEDS in the Synchronised Diving the other day. HECKERS! WHAT an accent, it was GRATE!

ITEM! And when they talk it is FAIRLY CLEAR that they have had Media Training, not least because EVERYONE remembers to say "Thanks to everyone who has supported us, thanks to the crowd." It does stick out a little bit, but they DO seem to mean it and it IS very nice. I hope that The Premiership SACK their current advisors and get THIS lot in instead for next season - imagine! We might start to actually LIKE footballers again!

ITEM! SO MANY STORIES! It's like Big Brother (EARLY YEARS), X-Factor, Strictly, DIY SOS and PANORAMA all rolled into one sometimes... and then they go and THROW THEMSELVES AROUND for our pleasure!

ITEM! But THEN the commentators come on. The normal, professional, ones say the usual "Oh never mind, well done, they tried etc etc" but then the ACTUAL SPORTSMEN go "THEY HAVE FAILED. He/She will be disappointed with that AND RIGHTLY SO. They have MESSED IT UP." It's rather INVIGORATING - time and again the TV people try to introduce levity, only to be cut down by people who have DONE this stuff and no how it goes. BEST was the other day when the presenter said something like "And to think, she only took up swimming four years ago!" and the Former Swimmer went "NO. I rather THINK she had been swimming before that AND was a professional ATHLETE so it's NOT THAT IMPRESSIVE." Eeek!

ITEM! How come nobody has DIED?!? The DIVING is BLOODY TERRIFYING - watching it the other day i couldn't help but YELP in FEAR every time they SLAPPED into the water at 40mph. BE CAREFUL!

ITEM! And how on earth do they COPE with the pressure? It's like they have one chance, every four years, to do their ONE BIG GIG and ANY MISTAKE will completely screw it up FOREVER. I think I would be sitting in a corner CRYING.

And THAT is my analysis of the Olympics so far. Oh, apart to say: it's weird when they say "It's raining in Stratford" and it ISN'T in Leytonstone. It's only down the road.

MORE INSIGHTS SOON!

posted 31/7/2012 by MJ Hibbett
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Opening Ceremony
Friday night found myself, The Winners On My Podium, and The Landlady meeting up in OLYMPIC LONDON to have some tea before going to watch the Opening Ceremony in the pub. We went to a restaurant we have often times been to of a Friday night, and where normally you end up going wherever a space is available, this time it was nearly DESERTED. Much of central OLYMPIC LONDON was like this on Friday, like everyone had thought "Town is going to be PACKED, I'm off home to watch it on telly!"

Fully fed we popped round the corner on the way, pausing briefly to watch the RED ARROWS go overhead. Now, we live in OLYMPIC LEYTONSTONE, right under the flight path for ALL Big Event Fly Pasts, so tend to see these guys a LOT - they probably get excited when one of them spots US - but it was still fun to see if in town. Having waved we arrived at the Queen's Head in Piccadilly to find Mrs M Hewitt and many GUESTS merrily awaiting the start of events on the BIG SCREEN. We all got VERY excited, also a bit NERVOUS - I think we all felt more INVESTED in it than we might otherwise by the fact that Mr S Hewitt was going to be IN it. By now we all knew pretty much when/where he'd be, so we were WILLING it to be quite good.

We didn't really need to have worried did we? Like I guess pretty much everyone else who watched it we were AGOG by how ACE it all was - in the morning I'd seen one of the organisers saying "There's funny bits" and thought "OH NO, that sounds DREADFUL" but GOOD GOLLY there actually WERE! I don't think I've ever laughed at Mr Bean before, and obviously The Bit With The Actual Queen in was AMAZING.

The only minor disappointment was that there wasn't a long lingering shot of the WINDRUSH, which was being carried by Steve and a bunch of STEVEDORES. We saw it when it arrived in the arena, and caught glimpses of it later on, but with all the PANDEMONIUM we were left wanting MORE.

And we GOT it at about half past ten when the HERO OF THE HOUR, Steve himself, rolled up in the PUB, looking KNACKERED, almost as if he'd spent the past three months training up for an OLYMPIC EVENT! There was cheering, there was applause, there was HUGS and many congratulations. We all felt proud to have been NEAR such and incredible show of PROPER BRITISHNESS, he had been IN it!

Next day we watched huge chunks of it again, amazed at how PROPER it had all been - I think we'd expected something a bit All Right But Naff, like the Jubilee stuff, but here had been rousing celebrations of the NHS, Women's Suffrage, Pop Music, Children's Literacy, SIR TIM BERNERS LEE and - OH YES - the whole business of Multi-Cultural GOOD TIMES. I kept thinking of bits of it all day on Saturday, finally thinking that probably "Bonkers" by Mr D Rascal summed the whole thing up unexpectedly and perfectly: "Some people think I'm bonkers / But I just think I'm free"

Yes I know that sounds a bit daft but it struck me as TRUE also.

And now here we are a couple of days later and it's ACTUALLY HAPPENING - Stratford (Stratford!!) is at the centre of the planet, there's incredibly moving stories of people's DREAMS dashed and/or fulfilled on telly all day long and - perhaps most incredible of all - all the tube line's are running on a Sunday! INCREDIBLE!

It does feel LOCAL too - we got home on Friday night just in time for the very end of the ceremony, and when the fireworks went off it sounded like a kerfuffle outside. We realised it was the SAME fireworks that we could actually HEAR, so I dashed out the front to see if I could see them. I couldn't, but I did see half of my neighbours ALSO out on the street doing exactly the same thing. It was VERY exciting!

posted 30/7/2012 by MJ Hibbett
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An Inadvertent Wonderful Parade
Last night The Flames In My Fire and I met up 'neath The Gigantic Freddie Of Tottenham Court Road after work and headed off to see if we could see the Olympic Torch Parade on its final stages through old London town. It's been NEAR our house several times (and will be VERY NEAR INDEED for the next fortnight) but we'd not got round to having a look, and as it was going to be so near to our works it seemed rude not to.

The Torch Parade has been one of my absolute FAVOURITE aspects of the whole Olympics Business - living in East London over the past 7 years we've seen a LOT of changes, and also WORKING in Central London has meant I've been getting VERY excited about it all of late, what with all the Olympic STUFF going up and SIGNS and LANYARDS. Added to this is the small fact that my colleague Mr Steven Hewitt is going to be IN THE OPENING CEREMONY this evening and... well, let's just say I am more of the "OOH! OLYMPICS!" camp than the "Let's moan about it FOREVER" lot.

So I've LOVED the fact that the Torch Parade has been such an unexpected DELIGHT. There's something marvellously Properly British about the odd mixture of Sporting Greats, Local Heroes and Occasional Celebrities involved that I find rather lovely, and I've been moved MANY times when hearing some of the stories of people carrying it. I've heard from several people who saw it before me who spoke of a SUDDEN EXCITEMENT about the Olympics when they've seen it go past, finding themselves unexpectedly MOVED by it all. I was ALREADY excited, but was looking forward to it anyway!

We arrived on Charring Cross Road to find crowds ALL down the road, and ended up shuffling along with a bunch of other people as a side-road was closed off and extra standing room came available. We were stood with people of all shapes, sizes and varieties enjoying the occasional REMARKS that were made, standing on tip toes for signs of the procession. I'd read about the Coca Cola bus so when it came i was ready to be ANGERED by THE COMMERCIALISM, but actually it was just a bit daft. It was crammed with people GYRATING going "Yeah! Come on... er... [*checks signage*] Charring Cross Road! Give it up!" and so forth, and the crowd mostly looked BEMUSED. Similarly the SAMSUNG bus, which had an inaudible film of David Beckham on the side and CHEERLEADERS on top. It was such a nice day and everyone was in such a good mood that these passed by with everyone sort of waving politely, and when the much more modest Lloyds TSB came along we smiled benignly at it, as it was basically just an old VAN with some people inside, none of whom were dancing.

Then there was a small wait, occasionally filled with police (who we waved at) or a busload of previous relayers (who we waved at) or the occasional grey glad Olympic Bouncer (who we waved at), then all of a sudden there was a ripple of arms reaching for the sky, and everyone got their phones ready to take a picture. THE TORCH WAS COMING!

A middle-aged man with a HUGE GRIN all over his face jogged past, holding a torch. A couple of people were around him, but that was about it.

After all the hoo-hah and NONSENSE it could have felt anti-climactic, but instead it was sort of NICE. Like the Olympics itself, it had been dressed up with corporate money and razzmatazz, but at the very centre of it all was just one person having the time of his life jogging along the road.

I was just about to REMARK upon this when something rather WONDERFUL happened. Another Olympics bus came by, followed by about a HUNDRED CYCLISTS. I guess they had all been told they had to wait until the procession had gone by, became grouped up waiting, and then formed an inadvertent GRAND FINALE to the whole affair! It was beautiful - THEY were all grinning, slightly sheepishly, realising what was happening, unable to get out of it, but actually starting to rather enjoy it. We cheered and waved at them, they waved back, and it was finally over, with everyone going home for tea.

And if THAT isn't the perfect metaphor for the perfect Olympics, then my dears I don't know what is!

posted 27/7/2012 by MJ Hibbett
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Tramlines
After the ROCK AND ROLL of Saturday I could have done with a lie-in on Sunday, but sadly for me (but GOODLY for ROCK) I was up and off to the train station to head to Sheffield, where we were due to play TRAMLINES.

Once I'd arrived and got booked into the Ibis (USUAL ROOM) I headed back into town to meet Mr F A Machine off the train. On Saturday I'd met him at the station and we'd gone to the Euston Tap, today I met him at the station and we went to the Sheffield Tap. ON TOUR CRAZINESS!

We had a couple of DELICIOUS pints of Wild Swan then wandered across town to the Hop, where we met The Tiger. As we strolled through town i was amazed by how many people were out and about - I thought Tramlines was just a small do with a couple of venues, but it is RIDICULOUSLY IMMENSE! Everywhere you looked were hordes of people wandering off to see gigs and music rang from every window, it really was rather amazing!

I was booked to play on the Busker's Bus, so we found the bus stop and waited for it to come round again for my SLOT, which went a little something like this:
  • Summer Holiday
  • Glory Days
  • Back For Good
  • Can't Take My Eyes Off You
  • The Wheels On The Bus
  • Boom Shake The Room
  • Mull Of Kintyre
  • The Lesson Of The Smiths
  • Starting with "Summer Holiday" was a REALLY good idea... though people seemed surprised to find that I was going to sing the WHOLE THING! The organisers had advised performers to do cover versions as much as possible, so I learned up a couple of new ones and went through my whole repertoire - it was odd trying to work out a set as I wasn't sure how long the journey would take, which is why i RAN OUT of covers at the end and had to do one of my own songs to finish, and even then had to skip the third verse as we'd arrived at the bus stop.

    It was a STRANGE experience all round - I was sat at the front on the top deck, perched on the BAR at the front window, and had a HECK of a time trying to remain upright. When it got to the "dance in the aisles" bit of "Boom Shake The Room" I thought I would do just THAT, and ended up wobbling about all over the place and falling over onto the front seat! ALSO it seemed that every time I looked out of the window we were EITHER passing a patch of desolate wasteland OR a fantastic pub. Surely there is more to Sheffield than just those two things?

    It was tremendously enjoyable, and also SWEATY. It was a gorgeous sunny day (HEY! Of course it was - it always IS when I play Public Transport Themed Festivals!) so the bus was warm anyway, but GOSH it doesn't half get you worked up when you're trying to sing AND not fall over!

    That job done we ambled over to The Red House, where we were playing that evening, and were soon joined by Tim and Emma and a gentle stream of old pals, some of whom I'd not seen for AGES. We thoroughly enjoyed August Actually, also some LARKS and CHATTING, before it was time for us to get onstage and do THIS:
  • My Boss Was In An Indie Band Once
  • Theme From Dinosaur Planet
  • Don't, Darren, Don't
  • Quality Of Life Enhancement Device
  • Please Don't Eat Us
  • Being Happy Doesn't Make You Stupid
  • Hey Hey 16K
  • Do The Indie Kid
  • The Lesson Of The Smiths
  • Easily Impressed

  • Why yes, yes it is almost the same as yesterday's set - it is a TOUR SETLIST! This one was FULL of ACTION and EVENTS. My favourite bit was just after THE TIGER'S ROAR (complete with DRUM ROLL this time), when I claimed it had been so sexy it had turned me Gay. "Me too!" called out a lady in the audience, to MUCH HILARITY. There was also quite a lot of DERBY RACISM as certain members of the band (hem hem) discussed how POSH people are in Derby and did a FRIGHTENINGLY REALISTIC accent. "That's how we all talk", said Frankie, PROVING MY POINT.

    It was a bloody magic gig, and was followed by beer, pals, and general goodtimes. It was also followed by a CRACKING gig by The Sweet Nothings - I've not seen them for AGES and NEVER with Vinnie on Keyboards, and they were a REVELATION of ROCKING TUNES. Maybe it's because I've grown use to the Wistful Sounds of The Pete Green Solo Experience, but I wasn't expecting them to ROCK so very HARD - they were GRATE!

    Knackered by now and FILLED with JOY I said more goodbyes and headed off into the night, drawing a marvellous, tho EXHAUSTING, weekend to a close. Best tour EVER!

    posted 24/7/2012 by MJ Hibbett
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    End Of An Earache
    This weekend just gone was a BIG OLD WEEKEND, and it began by taking Mr F A Machine to The Euston Tap for some Unusual Beer. That was the idea - we ended having some Nice Lager, by accident, but it set the tone for the rest of the day when we would drink THE LAGER. Somehow this became "sensible".

    We were due to play at The Bloomsbury Bowling Lanes for the LAST EVER PopArt London show, and it was here that we met Mr Tom "The Tiger" McClure, dropped off our gear, and headed for the PUB... only to bump into The Pattisons, who had some GEAR that needed unloading. They're bought The Girls with them, and had invited many PALS and FAMILY MEMBERS who also had children, which was all very lovely ... until we discovered that children weren't allowed in the venue after 6pm. We were on at 7pm.

    Oh! The hassle! The to-ing and fro-ing! The ALARM and UPSET! EVENTUALLY the owner was persuaded to let them stay, as long as they sat to the SIDE, or something, and all was well, but GOODNESS ME for an hour or so there was StRESS!

    I was able to MANFULLY COPE with all this by taking part in the (last ever) REES REVIEW, where Mr Dave Rees, compere, gathered a group of us on stage to sit on stools and discuss The Issues Of The Day. This was really good fun and something which I think should be ENCOURAGED at gigs generally, as we dealt with ISSUES including The Olympics, B Springstee, Charity Work and The Twitter. It's basically my ideal gig - me, SAYING THINGS, without needing to worry about remembering the words to songs!

    This was only reinforced during our GIG ACTUAL when I DID forget a few of the words - though I'm sure nobody noticed, not really. Here's what we did:
  • My Boss Was In An Indie Band Once
  • Theme From Dinosaur Planet
  • Don't, Darren, Don't
  • Quality Of Life Enhancement Device
  • Please Don't Eat Us
  • Being Happy Doesn't Make You Stupid
  • Do The Indie Kid
  • The Lesson Of The Smiths
  • Easily Impressed

  • You may noticed a song RECLAIMED from THE VAULTS in there - we're trying to have a policy of adding a "new" (i.e. OLD) song to the set a gigs these days, although Quality Of Life Enhancement Device was so much fun to play we might be keeping it in more regularly now. The whole gig was fun I must say, though the best bit was one of the aforementioned Small Children SCREAMING during The Music Of The Future.

    I was less impressed five minutes later to see ALL the children, who we had FOUGHT FOR to get in, playing TABLE FOOTBALL during the grand finale of our set! KIDS TODAY!

    Gig done we went off for GRUB - The Pattisons and the teeming mass of relatives went off to basically PACK OUT a Chinese Restaurant, whilst Frankie, The Tiger and I ended up having a CURRY. We must be out of practice at this gigging lark - we were looking for a pub that served food, the idea of a curry took us entirely by surprise! WHAT HAVE WE BECOME?!?!

    After tea Frankie set off home whilst The Tiger and I went back to the Bowling Lanes to enjoy the end of The New Royal Family (reformed for approx. the fourth time) and then do the Indie Bingo. This is ANOTHER one of PopArt's GRATE ideas that SOMEONE should copy, and there was HUGE excitement when it came to the prizes. We got a Beach Boys compilation!

    I was the last Validator standing when it was time for the PopArt AllStars to go out with a MAGNIFICENT gig, featuring a particularly EXCELLENT version of "Star Man" and me doing the Anglicised version of "Glory Days", which SEGUED into a final performance of "Brimfull Of Asha" by Mr Rees. It was a DELIGHT to sing with them one more time... though my delight was slightly diminished when the soundman said to me afterwards "Have you heard of a band called Art Brut?" I confirmed that I had indeed, and was about to LAUD them when he said "Were they an inspiration for you?" THE RUDDY CHEEK!!

    There was a DISCOTHEQUE to follow, but I needed to get home, as we were off to Sheffield next morning. I said many farewells to a bunch of BRILLIANT people who have done a fabulous thing over the years. It's sad that they're packing it in, but I guess if you have to stop it's best to do it with a GRATE day like this one was. Well done, Team PopArt, well done!

    posted 23/7/2012 by MJ Hibbett
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    Dolly and Jaz and Cliff
    Every now and again I get an email from John The Publisher asking for songs - it's almost always an ADMAN saying "Have you got something like Badly Drawn Boy but cheaper?" or a request for a "quirky" song which, inevitably, will lead to them using a Soppy Slowed Down Cover Version Of A Popular Hit.

    Yesterday, however, he passed on a request from an American TV Company asking for cover versions of songs recorded between 1977 and 1984ish. This one I could totally DO, as I've recently been gathering together our many and various cover versions ready for a proposed ALBUM of same next year sometime. A quick glance at Wikipedia for DATES and I was soon sending him versions of "House Of Fun", "Glory Days", "Sweet Child Of Mine" and "Vicar In A Tutu". SORTED!

    However, I found myself at home later in the day with some free time and so decided to record a couple more. I CYNICALLY looked up a list of US Number Ones from 1981 and, after a failed attempt to get anywhere at all with "For Your Eyes Only" feat. Sheena Easton, I realised that "Nine To Five" by Dolly Parton would fit the bill NICELY. I also NOTED that the original email had a list of suggestions, including The Clash, Buzzcocks and Ministry, so I worked out that KILLING JOKE was probably a NEXUS of these suggestions, and that "Eighties" by the above would a) be easy to do b) have possible ADDED potential for a show which, as far as I could gather, would FEATURE the word "eighties" quite a lot.

    CUNNING!

    On the way home "Sing" by The Carpenters had come up on my MyPod Shuffle, so i RESOLVED to have a go at doing "Eighties" in a similar style, and guess what? It SORT OF WORKED! I had to jiggle the RIFF about a bit and get rid of the Bit That Isn't The Riff, but it all sounded pretty jolly by the time I'd done, and I was then able to RACE through "Nine To Five" in a FIT of ENJOYMENT as it is SO BLOODY GRATE. All in all it took about four hours to record and mix THE LOT. A very pleasant evening's work!

    Those are all on the way to whoever requested them (the only time i know exactly WHO these requested songs go to is when they send a video of the ADVERT) and, as ever, I am entirely confident that we'll get absolutely nowhere with it - they always ask for "quirky" versions of songs, but mine are always a bit TOO quirky it seems! I don't really mind though, it's always a good excuse for a few hours' worth of FOUR TRACK FUN, and it increases the GIRTH of the Covers Album, now standing at 24 tracks!!

    There'll be MORE covers this weekend too - as well as The Validators' gig at Bloomsbury Bowling Lanes tomorrow (we're on about 7pm), I'll also be doing "Glory Days" with The PopArt Allstars, then on SUNDAY, as well as The Vlads at The Red House at 8pm, I'm doing a set on the Buskers Bus at 5.15pm, when I'll hopefully have a few MORE covers. I've been learning up "Summer Holiday" ESPECIALLY for it, it seemed fitting!

    posted 20/7/2012 by MJ Hibbett
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    T-Shirt Panic
    Among the MANY excellent aspects of ordering our t-shirts through ShirtySomething is that they use Interlink Express for their deliveries, who tell you TO THE HOUR when they'll deliver your package. Not "Sometime between 7am and 9pm unless we're busy in which goodness knows" but, in yesterday's case "Between 13:37 and 14:37". I don't know why they pick such odd times to have it between, but they always seem to, and i LIKE it.

    Thus I was able to conduct my usual Working From Home Business yesterday without the constant PANIC that if I go upstairs, or listen to a record, or - HEAVEN FORFEND - pop to the paper shop I would miss the delivery. The parcel came at just after 2pm and I SCURRIED to the kitchen to look upon my GOODS.

    The order was for the kids' size t-shirts that I was on about a few weeks ago, and when I opened the packet I was happy to find the extra-small sizes I'd asked for. Leafing through,however, PANIC set in. The next batch seemed to be Normal Small sized... and here was some medium, and some large and... OH MY LORD! ADULT SIZES!!

    I looked more and yes, they did look EXACTLY the same as all the others I'd had. DISASTER! DOOM! My first thought was "OH GOD now I've got even MORE unsold adult sized t-shirts to store!" closely followed by "I'll have to reschedule another delivery for NEXT week! ARGH!!"

    In my PANIC I rang Rog at Shirtysomething DIRECT, who calmly took me through it. "The first label says 'XS Youth'" I said. "That sounds right," he replied. "Yes, but the others say Medium Youth..." "Yes, that's right too, how odd." Had they sent wrongly LABELLED t-shirts then? What was going on?!?

    It was at this point that I UNFOLDED the t-shirts and found that... um... they WERE kid-sized after all. They had just LOOKED like adult sizes because THE LOGO IS THE SAME SIZE!

    Yes. The logo is the same size on kids' t-shirts, and THAT was what I was looking at so... er... I offered a CRAVEN APOLOGY to Rog, who was very nice about it. IN MY DEFENCE we had had SO MANY problems with Dinosaur Planet related items in the past (who can forget the HELLISH NIGHTMARE of trying to get the albums pressed correctly?) that I am pretty much PROGRAMMED to expect DISASTER, but still, I did feel like A Bit Of A Wally.

    I had to have a SIT DOWN to calm down from THE FEAR of it all, then spent a merry hour packing up all the orders, occasionally pausing to think "But these tiny t-shirts, they are so ADORABLE!"

    They all went in the post this morning, where I was once again UTTERLY DELIGHTED by the Post Office's idiotic rules about postage, where FOLDING an item slightly differently in the envelope can DOUBLE the price of postage. Aaah, Post Office! Still, they're all on the way now, and hopefully they will cause JOY wherever they go.

    Still, I don't think I'll be threatening the business of MOTHERCARE any time soon. Children's clothing is too stressful!

    posted 19/7/2012 by MJ Hibbett
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    Totally Acoustic End Of Season Finale
    Yesterday I upload the first part of the Totally Acoustic Season Finale. It features all the acts from last year's Summer Special (almost EXACTLY a year ago, crikey!) and the first half of the series just finished, so that means you've got A Fine Day For Sailing, David Barnett, John Otway, Model Village, Elizabeth Morris, Jim'll's Brain, Jimmy McGee and A Little Orchestra, all in the space of half an hour!

    Listening back to it I thought a variety of things, mostly "COR! What a GRATE thing this was!" but I was also AMUSED to find that the SEGUES were a lot harder to do. When I do a normal podcast i DELIGHT in editing the recordings using APPLAUSE - for some reason you can usually cross-fade applause without anyone being able to hear the join, thereby easily cutting down a half hour set into about ten minutes - but this time it was pretty much IMPOSSIBLE, due to the variation in audience size from one show to the next. Some nights were PACKED, others... much less so.

    And THAT, i think, is the BEST thing about doing a podcast. Even if only NINE people turn up one night, the RECORDING is there for HUNDREDS more people to listen to. Of course, the podcast doesn't feature the BEER and the CHAT and the general LARKS that attend the live performances, but then they don't feature the HANGOVERS that traditionally come afterwards either.

    And best of all, these FINALES (there's another one coming next month featuring the second half of the series) will hopefully give some of these acts a wider audience, if FANS of one band come by to listen to people they've already heard of, and find new ones they haven't. There's some MARVELLOUS material on there, and more to come next time - hope you enjoy it!

    posted 18/7/2012 by MJ Hibbett
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    Glory Days
    Competent Professional Musician that I am (hem hem) I have been indulging in some PRACTICING over the past week.

    First priority has been trying to remember how to play an OLD SONG that we're going to be playing at our Validators gigs this weekend. I haven't played it for YEARS so was relieved to find out that it's a) quite easy b) rather good FUN. It's nice when one of my own songs drifts far enough away from my BRANE to be a surprise when it comes back, but not SO far away that the words are impossible to relearn!

    I've also been having a go at some COVER VERSIONS. I'm singing Glory Days with The PopArt AllStars on Saturday (in the English Translastion, obviously) so I've been BELLOWING that out, as well as a couple of Bus-Appropriate tunes for Sunday. I'm doing a set on the Buskers' Bus at about 5pm at Tramlines - hey! it's traditional for me to play a public transport themed festival at this time of year, and I always like to do a MOBILE GIG as part of it - and they said COVERS would be good, so I'm having a go at "Summer Holiday" and "The Wheels On The Bus". Hopefully "Glory Days" will be in there too.

    And as if to CELEBRATE this, Mr J Jervis has made the Validators' version of the song, which we recorded for the Play Some Pool, Skip Some School, Act Real Cool compilation a couple of years ago, a FREE DOWNLOAD!

    All right, I SUPPOSE it's more likely that it's to mark Mr B Springsteen's trip to our SHORES this week, rather than ME playing it, but still - if you'd like to NAB this (ARGUABLY SUPERIOR) version of the song, go to http://wiaiwya.bandcamp.com/track/glory-days sort of now-ish and you can get yourself a copy. You'll find that OUR version doesn't go on HALF as long as his - that's why WE never get DONE by the council for going over our time slot at all-dayers!

    posted 17/7/2012 by MJ Hibbett
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    Video Release Day
    At last it can be OFFICIALLY UNLEASHED: for LO! you can now see the video and download a FREE MP3 of Don't Darren Don't by EITHER going to www.dinosaurplanet.co.uk/darren or, indeed, by looking BELOW:




    (download single from soundcloud above, or right click here to download direct)


    I am EXTRAORDINARILY PROUD of this video - a huge amount of effort went into it from all corners and the result, I think, is RATHER GORGEOUS!

    It's also a bit of a MILESTONE as it marks the final phase of the whole Dinosaur Planet PROJECT. This is the last of the series of videos that we've made for the album, which in itself feels like quite a big deal, as I've spent a LOT of the past year putting them together, with the help of all SORTS of lovely people.

    We've still got the "launch gigs" (hem hem) of course - me and The Validators are playing at Bloomsbury Bowling Lanes in London on Saturday, and at The Red House as part of Tramlines in Sheffield on Sunday - but then all that's left to do is for me and Steve to re-learn the original STAGE SHOW ready for The Green Man Festival in August.

    And once THAT'S done... well, I'm sure there'll be more Dinosaur Planet ACTION coming (hopefully some school plays!) but that'll be the end of the BIG PUSH we've been on since the album was released. SO, with that in mind, any help anyone can give us getting this video OUT to other people would be MOST appreciated - like tha album itself, I think the video is ACE, and I'd quite like people to SEE it!

    posted 16/7/2012 by MJ Hibbett
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    Video Leakage
    Last week I was very soberly talking about how the video for Don't, Darren, Don't would be UNLEASHED at the end of the month. Even then I doubted my RESOLVE - it's SUCH an ACE video that holding on to it AT ALL has been difficult, and added to that things are SO QUIET at the moment that a natural-born ATTENTION SEEKER like me is chomping at the bit for something to show-off about.

    So, yesterday, I decided to reschedule for next Monday and sent a PRESS RELEASE to that effect. You can read it on the press releases page right NOW if you so wish - the basic THRUST is we've done a video! UNFORTUNATELY this did mean that i needed to make the video PUBLIC so that any visiting JOURNALISTS could look at it, which meant that... well, it meant that people could FIND it and LOOK at it.

    I was worried about this, of course,but consoled myself with the thought that, here in the modern world, RELEASE DATES are a thing of the past. OFFICIALLY we're still releasing the download single on MONDAY, so although I've already set up the webpage with the video and download on it I'm not going to OFFICIALLY link to it until Monday. But hey! if someone were to FIND it and LOOK at it and maybe even spread it around the interweb a bit, then that is something I would just have to take on board, living in the modern age as we do.

    If you do SOMEHOW manage to track it down, I hope you enjoy it - but otherwise it'll be here for you on Monday!

    posted 11/7/2012 by MJ Hibbett
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    Marvellous Things
    Not one but TWO similar (also, DELIGHTFUL) emails awaited me when I logged in today, BOTH from people sporting Dinosaur Planet T-Shirts. It was a bit of a surprise - I hadn't ASKED for any pictures, and I haven't HAD any for MONTHS, so to get two on the same day was a) ODD b) utterly lovely.

    You can see Mr Matt Breach and Mr Marcel Plaum in all their finery over on the Dinosaur Planet website where - hey hey! - you can also BUY one of these items for yourself, should you so wish.

    And then after I'd seen THEM i also saw this list of The Top Ten Albums Of 2012 (so far) from Keep Pop Loud. Goodness me! LOOK what is at number one!

    I don't know WHY all these marvellous things should appear this morning, but i'm very glad they did - thanks everyone!

    posted 9/7/2012 by MJ Hibbett
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    2000AD (Nan) Online
    I was very pleased this morning to see that the Keep Pop Loud! compilation that came out last year is now available to STREAM online. It's got lots of good stuff and GOOD PEOPLE involved, and it always felt like a bit of a shame that you could only get it on a very limited edition CD, which sold out yonks ago.

    Now that it's online it ALSO means that you can hear my song 2000AD Nan, which I recorded specially for this album. I co-wrote it with Mr F A Machine and it's one of my FAVOURITES of mine from recent time, largely because the subject matter always gets me a bit EMOTIONAL. It's a subject I was thinking about for YEARS before finally getting it into a song, and it manages to get in how I feel about a) NANS b) 2000AD, two subjects very close to my heart!

    Also, it has a SUPER wibbly wobbly bass line, what's not to like?

    posted 5/7/2012 by MJ Hibbett
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    Grappling With The Drama
    Over the past few days that FACT that we're not going to Edinburgh for the Fringe this year has slowly started to properly dawn on me. On Sunday myself and The Tourists On My Royal Mile shared a bottle of St Mungo's beer by the West Brewery, which set off VERY happy memories of drinking it in The Guildford Arms, the pub beneath our venue last year. I realised that I wouldn't BE there this yet, nor would I be having chips and cheese for lunch, or curry for tea every day, or pounding up countless steps, or indeed DOING a show. It felt bit sad!

    I am CONSOLING myself, however, with the knowledge that NEXT year's show is coming on apace. It is now pretty definitely probably going to be called "Total Hero Team" and I've ALMOST completed the first draft. Last week I had a MILESTONE when I finally managed to connect the START to the END, via a MIDDLE section... or so I thought. For LO! On Sunday I realised that the ending i DID have rather contradicted what the entire rest of the show was ABOUT.

    OOPS. I GRAPPLED with this internally, also EXTERNALLY with the aforesaid Characters In My Drama over the aforesaid BEER, and eventually realised that - AHA! - this was PART of the story and, in fact, made sense of the whole thing, brought back a character from earlier on who had been a LOOSE STRAND and gave me the PROPER BIG FINISH that I had so lacked. HOORAH! I bloody love it when things like this happen - it's as if the whole story has ALWAYS been there waiting for me, I just needed to look properly to uncover it all.

    Having said that, only about HALF of the songs are even started yet - this time around it seems that I'm writing most of it as DIALOGUE and then going back and thinking "There needs to be a song here - why don't i CUT those words entirely and do some singing instead?" It SEEMS to be working, but as ever I have no way of knowing until I can try it out on people.

    I'm hoping to get the first version finished this month, so that me and Steve can spend August CONCENTRATING on the Dinosaur Planet REVIVAL for Green Man and Camden. It also gives me a nice GAP to lay the script down and come back to it AFRESH in September, ready for revisions and - GOLLY - rehearsals, then starting the whole SHEBANG up again in the new year, doing previews and so forth all the way up to NEXT Edinburgh.

    I'm sure it'll FLY by, although right now I have an URGE for Chips, a pint of Deuchars, and some student SKETCHES!

    posted 3/7/2012 by MJ Hibbett
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    Last Call For Kids T-Shirts
    I've just sent out a batch of semi-automated emails (I generate them OLD SKOOL using MailMerge in Word then copy and paste them into individual emails myself - THIS is how i ROLL!) to people who've ordered Dinosaur Planet t-shirts in kids' sizes. I'm INTENSELY NERVOUS about the whole enterprise, as I've accepted CA$H from people before I have an actually item to give them, so am PANICKING about getting the WRONG thing and/or sending it to the wrong place, HENCE checks to make sure i have both of the above CORRECT.

    The TERRIFYING experience reminds me, once again, why I don't think I'll ever do a Kickstarter Thing - imagine getting a load of money in for something you haven't even DONE! I'm amazed anybody can DELIVER these things without collapsing into a nervous WRECK! At least this way round I know what the t-shirts LOOK like. I'm sat wearing one today, in fact, so that if i have DOUBTS I can look down and think "No, they DO look nice, it's going to be FINE."

    I'm going to send off the order first thing tomorrow morning and so will be REMOVING the order from the webpages last thing tonight. THUS, if you would like to order t-shirts for any children of your acquaintance, do please GET IN QUICK!

    posted 2/7/2012 by MJ Hibbett
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