MJ Hibbett & The Validators


The Nightmare Before Christmas
"Huzzah!" say the little tykes and jolly Aunts and Uncles of Earth. "Tis nearly Christmas, which means a new song will be added to The Christmas Selection Box by MJ Hibbett & The Validators!"

I am happy to say that I hope to make the festive dreams of all those scamps and relations come TRUE again this year, even though the process of making it happen has been a RUDDY NIGHTMARE so far.

It didn't START like that, in fact the whole process got off to a thoroughly pleasant start way back in June, when The Validators played at Going Up The Country in Congelton. We discussed ideas for the Christmas song and Mr FA Machine told the story of Roy Wood sitting in The Blue Note in Derby having to put up with people saying "Roy! Do you wish it was Christmas?" This seemed like a FINE idea for a song and, within a week, I had written one.

Time marched on and soon it was November, so a couple of weekends ago I sat myself down and recorded my guitar and vocal parts, using a click track so that everyone else would be able to add their bits on top. I sent this to The Validators and the aforesaid Frankie suggested that I try singing it in a different key. As general MUSICAL DIRECTOR this is the sort of thing he is wont to say, and so I was powerless to disagree. "That'll be fine though," I thought. "In fact it might even be better!" for LO! Mr T Pattison was scheduled to do some DRUMS first, so if I then re-recorded MY bits to HIS drums rather than a click track it would all, if anything, be EVEN GROOVIER.

This is where the problems began. Somehow (possibly something to do with one of us recording at 48hz instead of 44, or vica versa, or not) the drum track Tim sent back was at an entirely different tempo. He'd recorded it along with the mp3 I'd sent him, but the SPEED was different. You can do all sorts of clever things these days to change the tempo or BEATMAP drums, but this was VERY DIFFICULT (or in my case IMPOSSIBLE) to do as the drums neither START nor END at the same time as anything else.

"Oh well," I thought, "It's just a bit quicker and I need to re-record my parts ANYWAY, why not just do it at that speed?"

I then spent an hour or so doing just that, only to find that the MIDDLE of the song had ISSUES, possibly due to either me, Tim, or BOTH of us getting a bit wonky in our playing which made it VERY difficult to play along to. "Oh well," I thought, "I'll just play it like this and sort it our later."

Unfortunately, when I tried to sort it out I discovered that I had made things WORSE by playing a THIRD kind of wonky over the original two, so now NOTHING matched anymore. "Oh well," I thought, "I'll just divide the drums up into smaller sections, turn THOSE into loops, recreate the entire track from scratch like that THEN re-record my parts."

DEFEATED I emailed Tim back and asked him to have another go, providing a new version of the ORIGINAL recording which I had double triple checked to make sure it was at the right speed. Hopefully THIS time around he and I can get ourselves together, then it's up to the REST of the band to find new and even more exciting ways to make it go AWRY!

What I'm basically saying is, if our Christmas single doesn't come out until FEBRUARY you will at least have been forewarned!

posted 24/11/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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It's Not A Competition, But...
Over the weekend I had some rather LOVELY news about a couple of my scripts. My big High Concept sci-fi blockbuster "Six Billion To One" (under its original name "Alpha Male") made it into the Top Ten of The Big Break Screenwriting Contest, while a script for a short film called "Intern-National Space Station" got into the Quarter Finals of the Marquee Lights screenwriting competition. Both scripts could progress further, to the Top 5 and semi-finals respectively, but if that's as far as they get I'll be MORE than happy, for LO! it's been a bit of a LEAN period for this sort of thing.

Last year I went to a talk by Screenwriting Coach Lee Jessop called "How To Make It In Hollywood Without Moving To Hollywood", a title which appealed a LOT. She said that to get someone to even read your script you need to get PEDIGREE, and one way to do that was to enter COMPETITIONS and get placed in them. I took this advice to heart and have since entered a TONNE of them, and, as you can see from my DELIGHTFUL and not at all SHOW-OFFY writing website markhibbett.com I've managed to do pretty well, getting placed in quite a few of them. What you can't see on that website, however, is the HUGE number of competitions where i got NOWHERE. That information is stored on a document which I keep to myself, logging which script I send to which contest, with notification dates so I can go back and check to see how I did. When results come in I use my Word For Windows SKILLZ to mark them as YELLOW if I get anywhere, GREY if I don't, and with an added SCORE THROUGH if I get nowhere but they send me an email to let me know.

For the past few months that document has been page after page of GREY. Huge long lists of scripts I sent out which either never got a response or, if they did, started with "We were amazed by the high quality of submissions overall but unfortunately ... " It's been a bit depressing to be totally honest, so getting a bit of SUCCESS cheered me right up!

The great IDEA of doing this sort of thing is that Hollywood Agents ring up and say "Hey buddy, I see you done real good in that there competition, so how'd you like a million bucks to write us a hit movie?" As you can see, REALISTIC DIALOGUE is one of my strong points but for some reason this has yet to happen in real life. I remain hopeful but while I wait for that to occur I'm thinking about adding a bit to the aforementioned writing site where you can view the first ten pages of my various scripts. Ideally this would lead to LA Producers to become TANTALISED and use their private jets to send me truckloads of CA$H but in the unlikely event of that NOT happening, it will at least give you, gentle reader, the chance to see what I've been banging on about. If/When I get it sorted out you will be the first to know!

posted 23/11/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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A Sketch Show
Since finishing the current series of The Dredge/Hibbett Conunundrum Mr J Dredge and I have been wondering what to DO with it. We'd very much like LOADS of people to see it because a) we like it and b) we spent AGES putting it all together, so have been discussing possible ways to make this happen. One idea we had was to select some of the best bits and stick them together in a SKETCH SHOW, like THIS:

As you can see, there's a couple of extra bits - the title sequence and the end credits - plus a few minor changes in the edits of the sketches, but it's basically about half the sketches all glued together. I must say, when it was all done, I was AMAZED at how much it WORKS, like some kind of proper sketch show or something. I was also surprised by quite how much music there is in it, almost like somebody had a TONNE of instrumental tunes that he wanted to shoehorn in...

Anyway, that's done so now we start the process of trying to INFLICT it on people, hence this further mentioning here. As ever, if you, dear reader, know any way of furthering this infliction on others we'd be very grateful if you could do so!

posted 19/11/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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In Praise Of A Dinosaur Planet
Now that I am properly COMMUTING to work I listen to my WalkPod a LOT, and as I came home last night it shuffled onto Literature Search, featuring Mr Chris T-T. I haven't listened to that song for AGES and I was surprised/delighted to discover a) how much I enjoyed it b) how NUTS it sounds.

This, added to Sunday's presentation of DRAWINGS of scenes from the story, made me decide to listen to Dinosaur Planet on the way to work this morning and, fittingly, I got all the way to Literature Search before reaching my stop. And do you know what? I thought it was GRATE - DANGEROUSLY so!

It's funny with Your Own Albums - when you're MAKING them you listen to them ALL the time and then when they're finished and released you do again for a while just because it's so EXCITING, but then that's pretty much it. I know some people say "Oh I cannot listen to my own records" (to which the sensible reply is "So why do you expect other people to then?") but I always find it's more a case that you've HEARD it so many times that you're not likely to feel the NEED to that often. Thus it is AGES since I've heard the whole album, meaning that today I came to it almost FRESH.

And I tell you what - it's quite a thing! Throughout the THREE FLIPPING YEARS it took to make it we kept saying "We've got to do this right and not cut corners, because we're not likely to ever do anything like this again" and when you listen to it I think you can TELL! There's SO MUCH going on ALL THE TIME - listening to the bit in the police station near the start I realised you could hear not just the dialogue and the background but things like CHAIRS scraping when people stand up, pages turning and phones being put back in their sockets. Later on there's a bit where you can HEAR the Corporal clicking his heels together and there's a section where Grandad walks down a corridor and puts the kettle on which took about an HOUR to get right! The dialogue was all done seperately (with different people recording their parts in Derby or London or at home) so EVERY sound effect was deliberate - looking back now I am AMAZED by how well it works!

Over and above the technical aspects though, the NICEST thing about listening back is hearing the voices of some of my FAVOURITE people in the whole wide world. It's funny - there's some sections which remind me of recording them (the Dinosaur Chorus in Dinosaurs Talk Like Pirates conjures up some VIVID mental pictures of CONFUSION) but mostly I picture the CHARACTERS. Thus I can clearly see PC Darren being ordered around by Sergeant Phil and WPC Jenny, even though those three people have never been in the same room together.

It's wonderful but, as stated above, also DANGEROUS. I'm now far enough away from it all to have mostly forgotten how DIFFICULT it was. Also, now that I've given nearly all the copies away I don't have a MOUNTAIN of unwanted CDs in my flat. These, added to those drawings on Sunday, are starting to make me think that maybe it WASN'T such a crazy idea after all. All right, not many people bought it and hardly anybody played it on the radio and it did take several years of being annoyed and yes, yes it WAS incredibly stressful when the packaging had to be sent back TWICE, but hey! look at it now! Look at the artwork! Listen to all those sound effects!

I mean, FEAR NOT everybody, we've got the new Validators' album to sort out next year not to mention Hey Hey 16K to finish off, but once all that's done... maybe it wouldn't be beyond the bounds of sanity to do something similar again?

Or maybe I should just go and re-read the blogs about what a PAIN it was recording it all?

posted 17/11/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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A Perfect Finish (for now)
On Saturday night Mr S Hewitt and I were heading off to Cambridge to complete the current run of Hey Hey 16K. We'll be back for some more shows in February, but this would be GRAND FINALE for all the shows of 2015.

We got off to a good start with a healthy PINT in The Parcel Yard before zooming off to Cambridge and clambering into a TAXI. We were playing at The Centre For Computing History and last time I'd been I'd walked from the station but a) it was MILES and b) this time it was CHUCKING it down, so transport seemed SENSIBLE.

We were doing the show as part of "A Retro Gaming Night For Alli", a charity event raising money for Weston Park Hospital in Sheffield. The main draw of the evening was a chance for people to have a go on all the many and varied MACHINES (most loaded up with GAMES) that they have in the museum and, once we'd dropped our gear off, Steve and I took FULL ADVANTAGE of this - Steve had a go at Jet Set Willy while I, to paraphrase the song, very nearly got through Jetpac. It was GRATE!

Best of all though was a GIFT I received from some proud parents who presented me with pictures that their children, Wiley and Charlotte, had drawn based on Dinosaur Planet. They were BRILLIANT - Charlotte had drawn the meeting between Captain Keith and Muriel, while Wiley had drawn The Battle Of Peterborough (with a LOT of blood) and The Giant Robots. "We listen to it in the car," I was told, which pleased me NO END as, of course, that is where it is MEANT to be heard. I'm always EXTREMELY happy to hear that Actual Kids are listening to the album ESPECIALLY when there are drawings (which I always keep - I should do a GALLERY really). The only downside is that it does always make me think "Hey! Maybe doing ANOTHER concept album wouldn't be such a terrible idea after all!"

Soon it was SHOWTIME and, as with the last time I did a gig there, i felt REALLY guilty when Aidy from The British IBM had to go round the building ROUNDING people up, DRAGGING them away from the computers that they were there to play on. I had wondered whether anyone would bother coming into the classroom we were doing the show in, but as it was most people DID and we had people crowding in at the back STANDING UP because we hadn't put enough chairs out!

Steve and I were also a bit trepidatious because we weren't sure how the show would go down with this audience. As I point out at the beginning, it really ISN'T about The Home Computing Boom Of The 1980s, and I'd feared that at that point everyone would say "Sod that then, that's what I came for" and leave, but happily they did NOT. In fact, as it turned out, the audience were BLOODY LOVELY and laughed at all SORTS of stuff, almost as if they were a group of people who were mostly EXACTLY the right age to get all the jokes and references!

It was DELIGHTFUL, especially during the A.D.A. Lovelace / Programming Is A Poetry For Our Time section. Usually this is as close as we get to a bit of a LULL in proceedings but this time people WHOOPED it up - there was even a GASP of recognition when Ada appeared! I also thoroughly enjoyed the ACTING i have been doing lately (i.e. reacting AFTER Steve says a line, rather than during, and waggling my eyebrows at opportune moments) and there was an INCREASED level of tomfoolery throughout.

We had a BRILLIANT time, basically, and were only sorry to have to dash off in a taxi to get the last sensible train home, upon which we toasted our success with well-earned Train Beers. It was a great way to finish off a great year of Hey Hey 16K shows, let's hope that last few next year carry on in the same way!

posted 16/11/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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Forging New Business Models
This week, for the first time in about TWO YEARS, someone very kindly bought a "Postman's Back Breaker Back Catalogue Gift Pack Attack" from the Special Offers part of our online shop. This was all very exciting, and caused me to go and have a rifle through my STOCK.

This is always a delight, but even more so these days as there is a lot LESS of it than there used to be. When i lived in Leytonstone the spare room was pretty much FULL of boxes and boxes of CDs but since then (thanks to a suggestion by The Stock In My Warehouse) i have been following a two pronged policy of stock reduction, firstly by giving away CDs to people who come and see our shows and secondly by not ordering MORE. This has worked extremely well - in fact it has worked almost TOO well, because I now find I have only ONE box of Forest Moon Of Enderby left and only about SIX copies of Dinosaur Planet!! These are the two CDs that I've generally given away over the past few years, I think I'm going to have to start giving away something else for the rest of the dates!

During this stock evaluation I discovered that I'm also out of the My Boss Was In An Indie Band and Better Things To Do singles, not because of any SALES RUSH but because as I've tended to chuck them as extras in when people order other stuff. I DO however now have a few more copies of Shed Anthems available, as another box was discovered in Tom's spare room a while ago - the shop has been updated accordingly!

While all this has been going on The Validators themselves have been back in action - not in the tawdry, run of the mill world of PERFORMANCE but in the THRILLING arena of Business Practice Methodology, as we've been developing new procedures for efficient collaborative album production. Oh yes - I am ready to deliver PAPERS at the Business Excellence Conference of your choosing!

As mentioned before, we're currently in the MIXING stages of our next album. Usually this would involve one or more of us spending several nights at Snug in Derby saying "Can you turn everyone else down?" before sending the results back to the rest of the band who would feedback by saying "Can you turn me up?" However, this time around I thought we could save ourselves the TRAVEL by asking Mr R Collins to just get on and do it himself - he's ENGINEERED all the sessions, know's what we're meant to sound like, and very definitely knows what he's doing, so it seemed like a sensible solution all round.

Now, however, we're onto the next bit which is us all listening to the tracks and giving thoughts on further TWEAKS. Early on we agreed that we'd discuss this amongst the band first and provide one unified list of changes, rather than BOMBARDING Rich with bits and bobs, and so we all agreed to listen and send back a) general impressions of the overall sound b) specific points for each song to ME by the end of last week, so I could compile them into one document.

The Validators are a well-oiled ADMIN MACHINE and so everyone duly complied, leaving me to create a surprisingly AGREEABLE list of comments. Much to my surprise we were in almost total CONCORD about what needs doing, with only one song causing any real dispute. We're currently in the process of discussing this document ready for fine tuning and sending back to Rich, after which we'll hopefully be almost ready for the next decision: the running order. We're probably going to be deciding that with a FITE!

And then, of course, we enter the wonderful realm of Actual Physical Copies. This time I'm going to try and NOT buy twice as many copies as I will ever sell - it'll mean less free copies to have to give away for the following five years, but it'll also mean I don't have to buy a new cupboard to keep them all in!

posted 13/11/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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War Horse
On Monday night The Members Of My Cast and I went to The THEATRE to see War Horse. Executive Summary: it was really good.

We went because the aforesaid Questions In My Quiz had entered a competition for tickets and WON! We did wonder whether we'd get palmed off with terrible seats but as it turned out we were RIGHT near the front, DEAD centre - pretty much the seats we would have picked if we could!

We got there a bit early so had time to appreciate The New London Theatre, which is very much like a NICE version of The Barbican or The South Bank i.e. that sort of 60s/70s concrete architecture but somehow FRIENDLY and welcoming. The Names On My Signs noticed that the two bars were called "The Wintergarden Bar" and "Middlesex Bar" and worked out that these were the names of the theatres that preceded it - she was RIGHT! Wot a BRANE!

The show itself was pretty amazing - it's about a horse that gets taken to the front during the First World War, basically, and The Big Gimmick of the production is that they have HUGE puppet versions of animals. They are INCREDIBLE - you don't FORGET that the main horse has three people working it at all times, but you see through them to an actual living animal, breathing and with its own personality. It's RATHER good!

The rest of the show was good too - it was staged very much in that Peter Brook/National Theatre way (i.e. that I only ever saw on Channel 4 documentaries and adolescent attempts to watch The South Bank Show) where it's a black backdrop, large ensemble cast playing different parts, and bits of PROPS and SCENERY that get re-used and moved around. It worked EXTREMELY well, SORT OF like a musical without songs... er... that DID have songs in it, but not a musical. If you see what I mean.

Anyway, it was dead good and at the end I had a SMALL CRY - HOORAH for Theatre!

posted 12/11/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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One For The Ages
On Sunday afternoon I headed into London Town to perform Hey Hey 16K at the Go Faster Stripe Festival. This was a MARVELLOUS all-weekend event where eight different shows were being filmed in front of an audience for release as a DVD. Mr S Hewitt and I were VERY excited and honoured to be part of it!

I'd spoken to the soundman a few weeks before - "I'm in a hospital!" I said to explain my poor phone reception. "Oh, I'm sorry." "No, I work here" - and he had a PLAN about how to record us. Steve and I have never used any amplification for this show and so they had to find a different way to record us. Stands and clip-on microphones were suggested but we had to gently decline them - using stands would throw us completely, as we're used to moving around on stage, and the hula hooping and cardigan changes would have made a RIGHT old racket with clip-ons. This meant they had to try out several different configurations of ambient microphones until they got it right, and even then there were FEARS that it might not be the best way of doing it. "Your voices might not sound very good", we were warned. "That'll be ACCURATE" we replied.

(I've since been told by Mr C Evans , the proprietor of Go Faster Stripe, that the footage "rocks". So that's all right then!)

I'd been a bit worried about how many people would come to see all the shows, especially ours, but Chris had cunningly got the room set out in CABARET style (i.e. with tables) so it looked pretty cosy and we had about 30 in for us, which is at the very TOP of our usual attendance level. It was a bit odd beforehand as there were people DOING things like lights and sound and cameras and Moving Furniture which is NOT what we are used to, and both of us were feeling a bit nervous. This performance would, after all, be RECORDED and would therefore probably end up being the DEFINITIVE version of the show for The Ages!

As it turned out it WAS pretty definitive in that we had fun, got some laughs, and cocked up several bits. My guitar went a bit out of tune halfway through which put me off, causing a TERRIBLE mistake where instead of giving Steve his PROP half-pint of Very Drinkable Beer I gave him MY almost finished pint of Somewhat Chewier Beer, meaning he couldn't show off his drinking skills OR enjoy it! The out of tuneness got worse as it went on so after a couple of songs Steve STOPPED me to sort it out, which was very wise. He then tried to go back a line so we could edit it back together, but then SOMEONE decided to mess around and make REMARKS so it'll probably have to stay in!

It was GRATE fun to do, and there was much relief when it was finished. Afterwards I spoke to the camera lady, who turned out to come from STAMFORD. "It's weird to hear someone say 'Stamford' out loud!" she said, which is what I always think when I hear it! We then regrouped in the dressing room (it had a DRESSING ROOM - though a different one from last time I was at The Bloomsbury, which I discovered was now an office by the simple method of going for a nosey around and bumping into the surprised man whose office it now is!) and had a Chris, who seemed pleased with how it had gone. We started to tell him a STORY and he WHIPPED out his phone to record it - DVD Extras!

That done we nipped over to The Euston Tap to meet Mrs M Hewitt for a quick pint which turned into two slower pints, so much so that we MISSED Bec Hill who was on next and only arrived back in time to see Mr G Osborn and Mr J Hare doing their soundcheck. I'd fully intended to stick around for the whole show but a) was knackered b) had had a LONG weekend and c) would be seeing The G-Dog in a few weeks for the next Totally Acoustic anyway, so decided that Going Home was the sensible option.

It turned out this was the CORRECT course of action, as 45 minutes later I was lying on my sofa at home fast asleep. SHOWBIZ!

posted 11/11/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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A History Of Docklands
We had a lovely time with PARENTS at the weekend - after their TRIUMPH at Totally Acoustic on Thursday night we spent the next day stomping around in the Olympic Village. This featured a trip up The Squiggle, a wander round the park, a trip to Crate Brewery (who was a bit Arsey to be honest - I think I'll have a go at Howling Hops instead next time), and a long awaited return to Tap East. It was GRATE!

Saturday was similarly delightful although it did feature a trip to The Most Depressing Museum In London i.e. The Museum Of London In Docklands. I thought there was going to be a load of stuff about THATCHER and the building of Canary Wharf etc which I expected to make me FURIOUS. By the end of our visit a bit of Thatcher would have felt like light relief!

We started off with a trip to the third floor. Well, we started off with a cup of tea, but for the purposes of this narrative we'll skip that bit and do as the pamphlet instructed and go to the top of the building, where there was an exhibition about SLAVERY. It was an a) excellent b) profoundly DEPRESSING exhibition, which went into how it all happened, what it was like, and the effects it has had since. It was AWFUL. I slumped round feeling terrible that humans could do such a thing, especially BRITISH humans who were the worst perpetrators of it. Towards the end I got ANGRY instead, thinking about the rich bastards who profited from slavery and were never punished in the slightest and, indeed, are the ancestors of the rich bastards who are still in control of the country today. The last exhibit on the floor was a huge portrait of the first Chairman of The West India Dock company. "Who's this posh shit?" I growled to myself, leaning in to see his name.

His name was George Hibbert.

Thoroughly depressed by all this we went down to the second floor, relieved that we'd surely now DONE all the upsetting stuff. Here we were told the history of the building of Docklands, which largely involved OBLITERATING an entire town of working class housing and digging a big hole to fill with water. The occupants of these houses received no compensation and were shipped off to live in the already overcrowded East End, turning THAT area into a slum and ending up with everyone getting cholera and dying.

Surely - SURELY - I thought, things cannot be any worse on the last floor? Surely when we walk down one more flight of stairs there will be tales of jolly stevedores or sixties antics with the dock workers like what Peter Kay was in that Danny Baker programe?

We walked down a floor. "THE BLITZ".

So after all THAT we went for a thoroughly deserved pint, and then a couple more, and some whisky, before parents went off to their hotel and we went home. It had been a DELIGHTFUL visit, certainly delightful enough to survive the GRUELLING history or Docklands, but I needed to get back and to my bed for LO! the next day we were recording THE SHOW!!

posted 10/11/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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A Busy Night
Last Thursday I rolled up to The King & Queen to find it RAMMED with people. When I'd popped in a few days earlier I'd been warned that this might be the case, but apparently it was even MORE packed than expected as an EXTRA leaving do had arrived, wearing fezzes. The bar staff were BUSY, but being the bar staff of The King & Queen they handled it ADMIRABLY.

All of the acts arrived in very good time - Ay Carmela, Ivor Game, and NJ Hibbett (and Lin) i.e. some PARENTS! Dad and Lin were over for the weekend and had been collected by The Branches In My Tree and brought over for the occasion. They play in FOLK bands, so we thought it might be fun to have them come and play at Totally Acoustic some time. SPOILERS: it was!

We retreated from the THRONG, got set up upstairs, and welcomed a small but DELIGHTFUL group of people to the show. I'd spent a lot of my commuting time over the past couple of days listening to mixes of the new Validators' album (more on which later in the week) so thought I'd kick off with a couple of songs from that. As it happened the two songs I chose - We Did It Anyway and 20 Things To Do Before You're 30 also appear in Hey Hey 16K so it was a bit odd doing them SOLO, especially with Mr S Hewitt sat in his usual front row seat!

After that Dad and Lin came and on did ANOTHER two songs from the show, I Come From The Fens and Hibbett's Golden Rules Of Beer! It just so happened that these are the two of my songs they do ANYWAY, but it was still a funny coincidence. This was their first proper gig as a DUO (they usually play in a BAND - ROCK parents!) and they did really well, finishing with a rousing singalong version of "Streets Of London" which was GRATE. I was very proud!

Next up was Ivor Game, who I'd never seen play before. He emailed a few months ago to ask about playing, with links to some of his songs. This does occasionally happen and often I think "OH NO" because it's almost always from people who've never been to Totally Acoustic and think it's a stern faced folk club where everybody sits in glum silence looking at finger picking, so send me lengthy songs lacking much in the way of humour or choruses. Imagine my DELIGHT then when Ivor's stuff turned out to be WONDERFUL - the songs stayed with me for DAYS after listening to them then, and they are still with me four days later NOW, for LO! Live he was a REVELATION. Hugely tuneful, beautifully performed - he was ACE!

As indeed were Ay Carmela, who came on last. As an aged VETERAN of The Indie it is always heartening for me to meet some of these Young People who are doing the bands of now and LIKE them, and as members of Ay Carmela are a) in pretty much ALL the current Indie bands and b) LOVELY, I was very heartened indeed. They even joined in with a game of What Kind Of Publican Would You Be? (where you stand behind a bar and everyone works out, well, what kind of publican you'd be) which, to me, marks them out as GOOD SORTS. The gig was FAB, although there was CONFUSION amongst the audience as to where on earth the TAMBOURINE was coming from. The drummer was sat on one of those drum box things, and it was only after several songs that we all worked out that he had the tambourine on his FOOT. The relief in the room to have this answered was PALPABLE.

In summary then it was a BRILLIANT evening, which concluded as ever with CHAT before we made our way downstairs to find a scene of MADNESS. The pub is often BUSY downstairs after a gig but this time it was CRAZY. DANCE MUSIC was playing loudly, drunken people were staggering around and there was ACTUAL DANCING! It was weird, but rather nice - back in the day, approx 1,000,000 years ago when I started going out, everyone young or old went to the same pubs and so sometimes it would happen that a BOOZER would turn into an impromptu disco. I've not seen it happen for AGES and, though I was happy to see it could still occur, I was glad to be going home!

posted 9/11/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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Always Finish On A Song
Slightly earlier than previously threatened, the VIDEO that I was on about the other day is now LIVE and on Youtube and Facebook and RIGHT HERE:

This is the last in the current series of videos - I think we might string some of them together into a ten minute "show" for foisting on PRODUCER type people in the hope of getting someone to actually PAY us to write something, but it's the last one we're planning to MAKE for a while. I must say I am VERY proud of Mr Dredge and I for actually managing to get a new video out every week for the past 10 weeks or so, and quite pleased with how it's all turned out, but it will be nice to give my eyes a rest from going BOGGLY EYED with the editing. Hopefully there'll be more but, as we come to an end for now, what better way to go out than with a SONG eh? Answer: NONE, there is NO better way!

posted 5/11/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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Adventures In Acting
Sunday started with some JOLLY good news for me - my script "Alpha Male" has got through to the semi-finals of The Big Break Screenwriting Contest in the Sci-Fi/Fantasy section! I was VERY pleased, but also surprised - this is the original version of the script which is now called "6 Billion To One" and has been re-written a LOT in the past few months, in answer to various CRITIQUES that said a) huge chunks didn't make sense and b) the ending's a bit boring, so for the original version do so well was, as I say, SURPRISING. Also: GRATE!

The rest of the day also involved FILM MAKING, as I was meeting Mr J Dredge to film the final video for this series of The Dredge/Hibbett Conunundrum. As this is the GRAND FINALE it seemed only logical to finish on a SONG, so that is what we did, and we had a VERY enjoyable time doing it. I was even able to use some of the ACTING skills i have developed in years of Fringe Performances e.g. when reacting to somebody else's line it is important to remember to react AFTER they have said it, not BEFORE. I know this is pretty HIGH LEVEL stuff what you would normally need an PhD in DRAMA to properly understand, but I offer it to you anyway.

It all seemed to go OK and when I got home it also LOOKED all right. Best of all though, it SOUNDS good - getting the sound right has been a RIGHT pain for all of our videos, but this one is almost entirely pre-recorded, so I don't have to worry about it so much. All I DO have to worry about is the epic psychadelic middle sequence i.e. what insurance should I take out for all the MINDS that we are bound to BLOW?

The desperate hope is that we'll have it done and out by Friday, but there's still quite a bit to do so it might end up being bumped until next week. You can, of course, be sure not to miss it by going and LIKING our facebook page. Go on, give us a LIKE! We LIKE the LIKING!

posted 3/11/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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An Intellectual Weekend
I had a right old weekend of BRANE FLEXING this weekend, full of culture and THORTS.

It began on Friday evening, when The Artefacts In My Exhibition and I went to see The Museum Is Where The People Are, an event run by UCL in The Olympic Park which was a) interacting with residents b) showing off some stuff they had in their collections and c) saying "Hey everyone! Did you know we have three museums open to the public? We totally do!"

It was rather good - we had a beer, heard a choir, looked at some things and The Words In My Conversation grabbed a passing Art Geek and got him to explain a PRINT to us, during which he told us about these three museums they have. It was a MOST pleasant, also ARTY, way to kick off a Friday evening which, for us, continued with TEA out and some beer. Hoorah!

The next day I was off to my old stomping/working ground of Birkbeck College, to attend Transitions 6, a one-day conference about COMICS. As mentioned previously, I'm due to start a PhD in COMICS this time next year, so Professor R Sabin, supervisor and all-round good guy, suggested i go to this. I must admit before I went I was thinking "I wish I could just stay home, I am ker-knackered" but actually it was GRATE. I've been to LOTS of conferences and they have usually been DREARY but this was really really interesting. The keynote was about British Girls' Comics and was BRILLIANT, then I saw a whole heap of DISCUSSIONS and THORTS, throughout which i found myself thinking "Hang on, I know what they're on about here AND I have opinions about it!"

In the middle of the conference I popped out for LUNCHEON with Mr J Dredge, where we discussed filming the FINAL video in this series of The Dredge/Hibbett Conunundrum (more news on that tomorrow!) and had some ideas about what to do NEXT. We then popped round for a quick look at The Cartoon Museum (because I'd not looked at ENOUGH comics that day) before I went off to fulfill an ERRAND.

For LO! It is Totally Acoustic on Thursday so I needed to nip to The King & Queen to drop off some posters. I bloody love that place - it's a PROPER PUB! I had a quick pint while I was there and marveled at the mix of people and the way everybody was happily co-existing in a unique, friendly environment - just like pubs SHOULD be. I wish I could go in there more often, it's lovely!

And then it was back for the second half of the conference. As I say, I'd started the day wishing I could have stayed at home but by the end I was SO glad I'd gone - it had reminded me that I AM going to be doing this crazy PhD thing and how much FUN it has the potential to be. On cold days when I'm having to get up early for WORK that's something to very much look forward to!

posted 2/11/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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New From Frankie Machine
Anyone who's been listening to the Totally Acoustic podcasts will be very familiar with the SOLO work of The Validators' own Mr FA Machine. Over the years he's come and played MANY times and been pretty much GRATE on every occasion. I've ESPECIALLY enjoyed the last few times because he's been playing some BRILLIANT new material - well, I say "new", in-depth research (looking on the webpage) shows that he first STARTED playing this new stuff almost five years ago, when the gigs were still happening at The Lamb!

My favourite of these songs is "How Great Thou Art", a song which I have PESTERED him to release for AGES and which i have even considered NICKING if he refused to do so. The problem appears to have been getting it all recorded, but I am DELIGHTED to say that, half a decade later, he has finally FINISHED and has a whole new album available, right HERE:

It's called "Frankie Machine Has Been Shipwrecked On A Desert Island" and I heartily recommend it to you because it is GRATE. I've been listening to it all week and various songs have been taking it in turns to get LODGED in my BRANE all day. I'm told there's going to be a VIDEO for "How Great Thou Art" at some point soon - I've seen parts of it and it is a) dead good b) RIGHT CLEVER!

So yes, please do have a listen and a purchase if you can - it was five years well spent!

posted 30/10/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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Seaside Special
Sunday night found me TERRIFIED, standing near the gates of the Thameslink platforms at St Pancras, thinking "Where's Steve?!?" We'd arranged to meet at 16:30 ready to head SOUTH for our gig in Brighton, but it was already 16:31 and he wasn't there! He's ALWAYS there before me, had he been RUN OVER or KIDNAPPED or... oh no, it's all right, here he is. PHEW!

We were booked that evening to perform Hey Hey 16K at The Caroline Of Brunswick in the aforesaid Brighton and Steve had worked out that it would be quicker for us to get the train from St Pancras rather than go all the way to Victoria like what we usually would. This turned out to be a good idea - the highlight of the journey was us pulling into Blackfriars Station to witness the sun setting over the London skyline, the lowlight was the fact that it took AGES, stopping EVERYWHERE!

We arrived in Brighton, stomped to the pub, got a pint, and I was JUST saying to Steve that I didn't have a phone number for Mr David Leach when LO! Mr David Leach strolled into the pub. David's on TOUR at the moment and was joining us as our SUPPORT for this particular evening, which would turn out to be DELIGHTFUL as he is excellent pub company and, OBVS, a WHIZZ with the ukelele.

Showtime approached and a MOST pleasant spread of people, including The T-Ts and various Lovely Brothers arrived. We guided them up into the top room of the pub which was really very nice indeed - the only complaint was that approx 3 times as many seats had been set out as we needed, but luckily there was a CURTAIN which could be used to discreetly conceal half of them! We also spent a very enjoyable ten minutes taking it in turns not to understand how the PA system worked - none of us were using it for the actual GIG, but we thought we might be able to play some Light Music through it for purposes of ATMOS.

We didn't manage to get it working but it didn't matter as everyone was chatting away. David took to the stage and, as usual, charmed the very SOCKS off of everyone and then, after a short break, Steve and I lumbered on and tried to do the same. It all seemed to go down all right - there was certainly a LOT of giggling, and not just from us! The only downside was that my singing was not at its ANGELIC BEST. Having spent two weeks working in hospital environments I now have the tradiitonal Just Started Working In A Hospital COLD, and my voice was RIGHT craggy.

It would have been nice to have been able to sit around and CHAT, but alas we only had time for a swift half before it was time to hug our goodbyes and STOMP uphill once more to the station. It felt MUCH further going UP than it had coming DOWN, but we made it in good time for The Last Sensible Train Back To London.

Next stop for the show is in a couple of weeks at the Go Faster Festival (tickets very much available), when we're going to RECORD it for possible RELEASE - let's hope my cold's better by then!

posted 26/10/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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More Conunundrum
Today Mr John Dredge and I release our latest 'Dredge/Hibbett Conunundrum' video, and it is HERE:

It's part 3 of our "The History of The World in 2,786,402 Items" series, this time looking at The Gas Fire (although not too closely, as you'll hear in the video). John and I spent AGES filming these videos - the reason this one is in three locations is mostly because we had to have at least three seperate goes to get it right! We struggled with microphones, lighting, locations and ALL sorts but I think, by the end, it looks all right.

I realise that I've not been banging on about these videos lately, which is a shame as a) they're Quite Good and b) I banged on more than enough about MAKING them, you'd think I might mentioned what they look like once they're DONE. For instance, I did a whole blog entry about filming "You Need Knees" but never actually mentioned that it's now online, HERE:

We've been putting brand new videos up every week for a couple of months now, so there is a TONNE of Dredge/Hibbett stuff you can enjoy (or not) over on our facebook page (LIKE us! Go on!) or our YouTube channel. I reckon they're pretty good - all right the sound quality is not AMAZING and perhaps LIGHTING might have been an idea, but HEY! that's not what we're trying to do here, we are after LARFS! I believe at least some CHUCKLES are provided anyway, so I'd really like to get these seen by a few more people - if anybody out there is a COMMISIONER for TELLY, do get in touch! Failing that I'm thinking of stringing them all together into one big video at the end of the series, like a TV SKETCH SHOW or something, and then watching it on MY telly!

We've still got a few more films to come before then though - next week it's the final (so far) part of The History of The World in 2,786,402 Items and then hopefully after that we'll have our THEME SONG to show/sing you... if we manage to get it filmed in time!

posted 23/10/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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What Is Indie Anyway?
Ever since the first cavemen put the first cheap knock-off catalogue guitars around their necks and said "Me am write song about cavewoman me like. Hope it make her notice me" there have been INDIE bands, and thus for almost exactly as long there has been the eternal question: "Yes, but What IS Indie Anyway?"

When I first got onto the Internet, approx 300,000,000 years ago in the 1990s, this question was asked a LOT. It may have just SEEMED like it was a Hot Topic because I'd joined MAILING LISTS like uk-indie where this was most of what anybody talked about, but it also came up a lot around them because Indie was becoming CONFUSED. Until about 1993 we all knew that indie was mostly jingly jangly guitars played by youths with big fringes who were TRYING to sound like a combination of soul music and PUNK but, by failing to do either properly, had created their own sound.

That is TOTALLY and DEFINITIVELY what it was, all right? It's my blog so LEAVE IT.

So yes, it was THAT, and nobody else outside our little groups knew about it because it was only played in pubs like The Princess Charlotte and released on records that you could only buy in Rock-A-Boom in Leicester. HOWEVER, around 1993 this began to change when bands that sounded like indie bands who had PRACTICED suddenly started to get on mainstream radio and telly and play in HUGE venues and LO! it was BRITPOP!

I know a lot of my chums then, and several of them now, had a huge problem with Britpop. "Ooh," they would say, "It's not indie is it?" and of course the answer to this is a) "not really" and b) "but who cares? Let's get drunk and jump around to Parklife!" For LO! the thing about Britpop was that it was a HECKLOAD of fun if you happened to be in your 20s, especially if you'd spent most of your Young Adulthood going to discos where they played ONLY GRUNGE. Christ! Nirvana were obviously really good and there were some decent songs I GUESS but Grunge was BLOODY AWFUL for going Disco Dancing too. When the highlight of the night is them STOPPING playing TAD (Tad! BLOODY TAD!) in order to play "Pretend That We're Dead" for the 100th time then you KNOW it is time for something a bit more FUN to come along.

THUS when I first saw Suede on telly i thought "HOORAH! More of this sort of thing please!" and REJOICED in stuff like "Common People" being played EVERYWHERE or bands that I could go and see doing GIGS then also being talked about on telly. It was ACE but it clearly WAS NOT Indie. Indie was music that was STILL being played in pubs like The Charlotte by the sort of bands that Mr T Pattison was supporting with Prolapse. It was bands like the wonderful Po! or Gorky's or the AMAZING Riot Grrl bands like Mambo Taxi or Voodoo Queens or Cornershop or indeed Huggy Bear, all of whom played in Leicester and were GRATE.

Britpop and Indie were two different things, very very occasionally crossing over with some similarities in sound but CLEARLY not the same. Which is why (he said finally getting to the point) it was a bit annoying to see them CONFLATED so wilfully in part 3 of the BBC's "The Story Of Indie" at the weekend. I'd enjoyed the first two episodes as they were about LOONIES and MAVERICKS creating their own bands and labels and distribution, whereas this one seemed to decide that in the 90s that all stopped and everything was handed over to the major labels. The bands featured were ALL the corporate big names of Britpop, with hardly anything mentioned about the massive boom in actual independent acts around the time who had discovered this thing called "the internet" as a way to reach new people.

Strangest of all was the fact that Stuart Murdoch From Belle & Sebastian had been a regular talking head on ALL of the episodes, but his band was not mentioned AT ALL! AT ALL! Belle & Sebastian were THE band of indie in the 90s, they were one of the first bands to have their fanbase create itself online, through fan pages and tape swapping on those email lists I mentioned at the start. They even managed to have a VOTE RIGGING "scandal" when their fans mass voted in the Brits to make them Best British Newcomer!

At the time this INFURIATED the traditional music press, as it had had nothing to do with them and wasn't even happening in LONDON. How dare THE KIDS (all right, The Young Adults) decide for THEMSELVES who they were going to like? And how dare this band NOT rush straight down to London to buy drinks for music journalists and BEG to have their photographs taken? Didn't they know that the journalists had already decided that ROMO was going to be the face of the future?

As you MAY be able to tell it was something that annoyed me at the time and is still fully fit to annoy me all over again now! Even stranger though is the fact that one of the main cheerleaders for Belle & Sebastian at the time, and the place where I first heard them, was the Mark Radcliffe Show featuring the same Mark Radcliffe who'd presented The Story Of Indie. MADNESS!

Of course, there was a much bigger problem with the programme that any of my twenty-years-on annoyance with the NME's refusal to cover gigs outside the M25: the fact that it almost totally ignored the involvement of WOMEN in indie at the time. This is all covered rather brilliantly in a blog by Emma Jackson (aka Emmy Kate From Kenickie) which is well worth a read and also a profound session of AGREEING WITH. Go and have a read of it!

Are you back? Good wasn't it? As ever, when I watch or read something about something I know a bit about and am INFURIATED by the inaccuracies, it does make me wonder how much OTHER history is half-baked mix of personal agendas and rubbish research. Could it be... ALL of it?

posted 22/10/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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We're Gonna Be Film Stars!
In a couple of weeks' time Steve and I are going to be performing Hey Hey 16K at the Go Faster Festival at the Bloomsbury Theatre in London's fashionable Bloomsbury area of London. I mentioned this in last month's newsletter but I don't think I've shown off about it AT ALL on the blog yet, so let's put that right shall we?

The Go Faster Festival is a FANTASTIC thing which I'm very very VERY excited to be a part of - two full days of SHOWS at The Bloomsbury (in their Studio room) which Mr C Evans of Go Faster Stripe is going to FILM for release as a series of DVDs and/or downloads! Yes, that's right, those of you who haven't been LUCKY enough to see Hey Hey 16K LIVE will now have the chance to see a Properly Filmed version on DVD! Or, to be honest, probably for us just a download, but still!

Quite apart from all the swanking about and saying "oh yes yes, our show is being filmed don't you know' that this affords me, I am MOST pleased about it because I flipping LOVE Hey Hey 16K. As I've said before it is by FAR the most FUN show to perform that we've done, and getting back into it again post-Edinburgh has reminded me how much I like it. It's got THINGS in it, like JOKES and also POINTS!

Tickets available for each of the two days of the festival, allowing you to see everything on that day - we're on on the SUNDAY along with Bec Hill, Simon Munnery, our old chum Gavin Osborn and one more MYSTERY GUEST. A ticket for each day will usually cost you thirty quid you can get a whole TENNER off if you a) book before this Monday and b) use the code NEWSLETTER. Bargain! Here's the link: http://www.thebloomsbury.com/event/run/15045

On top of all THAT fun, Chris tells me that he'll also be giving away a FREE DVD to everyone who watches all the shows each day. This is EXACTLY the sort of policy I can get behind! It's going to be a GRATE day, and I do hope some CHUMS manage to come along - it'll be nice to see some friendly faces!

posted 21/10/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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A Walk In The Park
Sunday found The Apartments In My Block and I out for a Guided Walking Tour. I'm not sure if I've mentioned - I don't like to go on about it - but I live in the Actual Olympic Village, and it seems that our landlords had organised a bunch of tours, led by Mr Nick Edwards, to give new residents a bit more information about where they were living. In our case it was more of an excuse for a NOSEY, which worked out VERY well indeed!

We kicked off withy a trip to the top of Vesta House, the big triangular building what was on Grand Designs a while ago, where there is a roof garden. We've been up there before but this time it was as part of an Officially Sanctioned Tour, not just sneaking in for a GAWP. You can see pretty much ALL of The London, it was ACE!

We then wandered around East Village discovering FACTS, round the Olympic Park, and eventually to The Arcelor-Mittal Orbit, or The Red Squiggle as it is known in all sensible households. We were filled with INFORMATION about the history of the area by this point, so it was quite nice just to go up to the top and have another good old GAWP as things like The Olympic Stadium and also all the MANY places where they're going to build more houses and stuff. It was all quite exciting really, certainly more exciting than the ABSEILING that was going on - we watched somebody go past our window, he looked TERRIFIED! Instead we chose to walk down around the outside of the Squiggle and it was FAB. Apparently next year they're going to put a SLIDE in so you can ZOOM down - I imagine this will be a lot more fun than abseiling!

posted 20/10/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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Back On The Road, Back In Northampton
Saturday afternoon found me meeting Mr S Hewitt in our usual pre-Euston=train meeting place, The Euston Tap. I discovered Steve sitting near a DRIP - no, not a particularly weedy hipster, but an ACTUAL drip, coming from the vicinity of the upstairs toilets! Luckily there was only time for me to have a half before we left, as I didn't want to be there if anything else came through the ceiling!

Instead we did LINEZ (i.e. the two of us mumbling our way through the show together at high speed to make sure we remembered it) on the train to Northampton, for LO! we off to that fine city to perform Hey Hey 16K at the NN Cafe, the first of our post-Fringe TOURING dates. In accordance with being back on the road again we had booked Our Usual Rooms at the Ibis, arriving there in time not only to see Pointless Celebrities but also to catch the start of STRICTLY. I realise this may go against my HARD ROCKING image but CRUMBS, I do love Strictly. It's like a warm wave of Everything's All Right on a Saturday night!

ANYWAY, we regrouped and headed to the cafe where we were greeted by Ms T Payne and Mr J Brown (PROPRIETORS) and met Mr C East aka Winston Echo who would be playing later in the evening, accompanied by Mr R Nesbitt on percussion. After saying helloes we went for some TEA, eschewing a Turkish Restaurant (looked a bit scary) and Pizza Express (full) to go to a tiny little Italian Place i know that we international rock and roll jetsetters like to frequent, it is called ASK. It was very nice!

We returned to the cafe where we met MORE pals and soon it was SHOWTIME. A couple of times when I've played the NN Cafe it's been with Robin Ince, and so when I was asked to introduce the evening The Spirit Of Ince was in me i.e. i waffled on about whatever was in my BRANE for five minutes before saying "But don't get me going about Strictly - here's Winston Echo!"

I haven't seen an Actual Winston Echo Gig for AGES, possibly because there hasn't BEEN one for ages, but I was reminded at once how GRATE he is. He started off with "Winchester Cathedral Choir" and I thought "But this is the BIG HIT, where can he go from here?!?" I need not have worried - it was 20 minutes of EXCELLENT, pithy, funny and all round BRILLIANT songs. It was a shame he had to finish so that we could get on really!

But, after a swift break, that is exactly what happened and, actually, it was FAB. The show fell back into place and I remembered how much FUN it is to perform. I've probably said this here before, but the DELIGHT of Hey Hey 16K is that it's so EASY to a) do b) follow, which means that there's breathing space for REMARKS and ENJOYING it, as opposed to previous shows where you had to keep going at full speed throughout in ordernto get all the PLOT in. We really enjoyed it, and it looked like the audience did too. PHEW!

Afterwards we had a beer and then headed over to Phipps Brewery with Mr M and Mrs S Tudno-Jones and it was GRATE! "This is a real old fashioned Midland Ale" said Mel to which I replied "GIMME". Ooh it was a lovely pint!

The evening closed with my traditional purchase of a Dirty Pizza, this time from a handily placed Pizza Shop over the road from our hotel. Thus te next day began with the traditional on-tour breakfast of The Remain Of Dirty Pizza which, as ever, tasted a) delicious b) GUILTY.

We had to get a Rail Replacement Bus back as far as Milton Keynes which featured the MOST Officious Prick EVER taking tickets. Usually when you get on one of these buses staff steer clear, presumably out of GUILT, but this guy was checking everybody's ticket as they got on, making it take FOREVER to get going. Not only that but he also checked PASSES and THEN insisted on being shown OTHER IDENTIFICATION if people had a slightly different haircut in the photograph!

Still, in a funny way this made it all feel MORE like we were Back On The Road, as I used to end up on rail replacement buses all the time in my HEYDAY of national travel, and it felt sort of NICE to be doing it again, especially as I know it's a week until the next time, which'll be in BRIGHTON at The Caroline Of Brunswick on Sunday (PLENTY of tickets remain!). Why not pop along if you're in the area? It'll be FUN!

posted 19/10/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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Falling In Love With A Hospital
As I near the end of my first week in a NEW JOB I find that it's all turning out surprisingly FINE. I'm gradually getting my Getting Up Time and Commute into some sort of manageable order, everybody seems very nice in the two (2) offices I'm based in, and though I'm still PANICKING every ten minutes that I'm going to turn a corner and discover a massive pile of STUFF that I don't understand at ALL I'm gnerally calming down and thinking that I might be able to DO this.

And alongside all of this something rather wonderful has also happened: I have fallen in love with a HOSPITAL.

For about half my time every week I'm going to be based at Charing Cross Hospital which, confusingly, isn't in Charing Cross (the other half of the time I'll be at Hammersmith Hospital, which isn't in Hammersmith, so maybe it's a thing) but in distant Barons Court. I went for a wander around the hospital on Thursday lunchtime and discovered that it is a thing of IMMENSE beauty - if it was any MORE 1970s then it would have to feature in a LADYBIRD BOOK about Modern Things. There are large comfortable seating areas, vaguely deco/modernist stair rails, MURALS everywhere, lettering that hasn't changed since the place was built, and an ACTUAL HENRY MOORE out the front! It's incredible!

Its's a long long time since I last worked in a hospital and so they have changed a bit, even in one so marvellously preserved as this one. It still SMELLS like a hospital and it's still impossible to find your way around, but it has got quite a bit more COMMERCIALISED i.e. there is more than one shop and, though I do love a good Friends' Shop (and this one has a PARTICULARLY fabulous example) it is nice to know there are OTHER shops selling things apart from boiled sweets and third-hand paperbacks. You can get coffee you can actually DRINK! Imagine!

Barons Court itself is also quite nice, and features a BRILLIANT cemetery which is the route that everybody uses to get there and back from the tube station. I did think it was a bit ODD when I first went that NOBODY seemed to be heading for the hospital, it turns out that the cemetery is more CROWDED than Père Lachaise on Jim Morrisson's birthday!

So yes, it is all rather lovely - the only shame, really, is that the other half the time I have to go to White City, which is quite a lot LESS lovely!

posted 15/10/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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Job 3
On Monday I found myself back in distant Hammersmith to start WORK at my new PROPER JOB. Happily for my predictive powers of songwriting it turned out to be ALL RIGHT.

I'd been right worried about it, wandering around the week beforehand in a FUNK, sad for the ending of the glorious year and a half OFF that I've just had and AFEARED of what was to come. I have only had TWO proper jobs before this one (over a decade each at Leicester University and Birkbeck College) and it is a HUGE expanse of time since I last had a First Day At Work, so my misgivings were perhaps understandable. However, it turns out that things have changed a bit since that distant day in the early part of the century when I rolled up at Bedford Square to begin work in That London. For one thing, I am Considerably Further On In My Career and so - it turns out - do actually know what I'm on about a bit more. For another, I appear to also have GROWN as a human being somewhat! I know! Imagine! Where once I would VISIBLY QUAIL at the idea of meeting new people I positively EMBRACE the idea, and where I used to find the first excuse to run away and HIDE on my own for as long as possible now it seems that I'm the sort of person who engages in chit chat and even goes off to LUNCHTIME TALKS. It's KRAZY!

There were MANY meetings and also the usual IT Business i.e. my PC hadn't arrived and, as an added bonus, someone had spelled my name wrong in my log-in, but again it turned out that I am no longer a TERRIFIED BABY about such things and instead just got ON with it. ENCROYABLE!

Best of all though, it turns out that you CAN get a seat on the Central Line first thing in the morning if you just wait a minute for the PACKED one to go buy, and thus I spent a DELIGHTFUL hour, there and back, READING. Reading! I haven't done THAT on a commute since i lived in Leytonstone, AND I listened to The Beatles all the way too!

I tell you what, if it wasn't for the fact I have to get up at A Quarter To Ridiculous I would demand that they pay me to ... what? They DO pay me? Sing HOORAH everybody, it IS all right when it's a proper job!

posted 13/10/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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An Actual Gig
On Saturday night I found myself doing something I hadn't since APRIL (not June as mentioned previously) - an actual real-live not anything else solo GIG!

It was occurring as part of the Damnably Ninth Birthday Party/International John Peel Day at The Brixton Windmill, a place I have played approx 1,000,000 times but not for AGES. It was an all-dayer and, as is traditional NAY LAW for all-dayers, when I arrived I found it was running nearly an hour late! This did mean I was there in time for Smallgang tho, who I hadn't seen in ... all right, let's just take it as read that I haven't done ANY of the things I did on Saturday for A Long Time, shall we? They were GRATE!

I wandered into The Acoustic Stage Area i.e. "The old shack" round the back that used to be for smokers but now appears not to be, where I met Ms E Callaghan, late of The Bobby McGees. I haven't seen her in - oh right, you get the idea - and it was lovely to do so as we watched Russell from The Wolf Choir perform a DELIGHTFUL version of "Rip It Up".

The idea of the day was a band would play on the main pub stage and then as soon as they'd finished the acoustic act would crank up in The Shack, but that fell apart a little as people tried to catch up with the timings - and, somehow, failed to do so! So it was that at approx 9:20pm I took to the "stage" and done THIS:
  • We Did It Anyway
  • That Guy
  • In The North Stand
  • 20 Things To Do Before You're 30
  • My Boss Was In An Indie Band Once
  • There were 7-8 people in the room with me, but it all seemed to pass off quite pleasantly. I'd thought "I'm going to do ALL new songs!" but then all the other acts said things like "We have to do a John Peel themed song and this is my choice" so I had to find a way to WRANGLE a song I already KNEW into the set as the John Peel one. Luckily we had watched "Music For Misfits: The Story Of Indie" the night before featuring Ms Amelia Fletcher, the QUINTESSENTIAL Boss Who Was In An Indie Band Once (or about ten times in her case, but you get the idea) so I think I got away with it!

    After that there was a BEER and I stayed in LE SHACK to watch Beattie aka Captain Lovelace, who was ACE. The highpoints were 1) her managing splendidly when the landlady of the pub entered through the fire door and had a chat with the whole audience and 2) a version of "Greetings To The New Brunette" unlike any other i.e. in a French accent but (like all others) with various middle-aged men singing unasked-for backing vocals.

    After all that it was time for me to wend my weary way home, an approx 80 minute TREK across That London. I'd had a lovely time, but it wasn't half nice to finally get home!

    posted 12/10/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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    The Golden Guys
    On Saturday I'm playing a GIG - not a Totally Acoustic, not a performance of Hey Hey 16K, not even a wedding but an actual GIG! It's the first I've done of this sort since JUNE, so I am a little nervous!

    The event itself is Damnably's 9th Birthday Party/John Peel Day at The Brixton Windmill with a TONNE of other acts including smallgang, echolocation, Former Utopia, More Bad Times and LOADS more - tickets available HERE: http://www.wegottickets.com/event/331757. I think I'm on at about 8:30pm.

    It's all in aid of Refugee Action and to raise FURTHER ca$h for them Mr George Gargan, Damnably IMPRESSARIO, has put together a compilation album featuring tracks from some of the ARTISTES performing. George asked me about it AGES ago but I'd completely forgotten what had happened, so imagine my DELIGHT when I realised that mine and Steve's version of "Thank You For Being A Friend" was on it, HERE:

    As with SO many of the cover versions I've recorded this was done because John The Publisher had passed on a BRIEF from some advertising company, saying they wanted a version for something or other. These briefs ALWAYS say they want something "quirky" or "lo-fi" which is VERY MUCH what I supply, only to find what they MEANT was "wimpy and sung by a child with a beard and/or wooly hat". Still, Steve and I had a MARVELLOUS afternoon recording it, as I think you can tell from the recording!

    I don't think I'll be doing that song on the day, but then I don't know WHAT songs I'll be doing on the day. Why not come along, and we'll find out together?

    posted 8/10/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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    A Poetry Party
    As I stepped out of Dalston Junction station yesterday and into Dalston Actual I found myself thinking "Surely ONE Camden is enough for any city?" For LO! Dalston is basically BLOODY CAMDEN but without quite so many tourists going "Ooh! Is that Graham Coxon?" I don't really like it.

    I was there to meet Mr S Hewitt for a THINGS, so stomped down the road to our meeting point, The Fox. As ever with pubs suggested by Steve it turned out to be realy ice - it's almost as if he has been in ALL the pubs and knows which ones are all right! We were meeting there to attend the Poetry Party at the nearby Proud Archivist, an event being run by Mr John Osborne and Ms Molly Naylor featuring Mr Gavin Osborn and Mr Rob Auton. I mean, with a line-up like that it would have been RUDE not to go, wouldn't it?

    Steve and I had a nice pint in the nice pub then wandered down the road and along a canal path to The Proud Archivist, which was an INHERENTLY HILARIOUS place. It felt like we'd wandered into a FILM being made in The Future, a period drama set in the year 2013. Everything looked as if someone had researched "hipsters" and tried to make it authentic, so there were cocktails, hernia-inducingly expensive burgers, craft beers, beards, a football table, ironic irony and, best of all, a unisex toilet. We wandered around GIGGLING at it all!

    After enjoying some of the above LARFS we wandered into a back room where we found the GIG happening, and OH MY what a gig it was! The first half was Messrs Osborne and Auton, the second half Molly and Gav and it was all GRATE. For some reason I have an idea that poetry and/or performance events might be a bit dull and worthy but all the ones I've been to have been ACE, and this was no exception. All the acts were unafraid to be funny or touching or thought provoking or all three at once, it was LOVELY. There was a time when I looked longingly at Proper Rock Bands and wanted to BE in that world, nowadays it's SPOKEN WORD that makes me think "I want a piece of THAT!"

    AND we could sit down AND there were iced party rings. I mean, COME ON, who wouldn't want to be part of that world?

    posted 7/10/2015 by MJ Hibbett
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