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Blog Archive: August 2011

A Fringe Society Rebuttal
When Steve and I first arrived in Edinburgh we BAULKED at an article in threeweeks by a member of the Fringe Society which basically said that anyone just doing the Fringe for FUN was a LOONIE, and then went on to advise people to do everything that I think is WRONG with the fringe and, INDEED, Professional Corporate Theatre and Comedy in GENERAL.

On Steve's suggestion I emailed threeweeks and offered to write a REBUTTAL. They said "yes", but never got around to publishing it - I can only assume it was TOO MUCH for them, it is the ONLY reason, surely, why they wouldn't? If The Man thinks he can keep such THORTS down that easily he is WRONG, and so here IS that very article:

If This Is Sanity I'd Rather Be Nuts

Leafing through the first ThreeWeeks weekly edition I was shocked to read an advice piece by Alister O’Loughlin, a trustee of The Fringe Society, stating that the Fringe should be seen primarily as a three week long industry conference for maximising networks, seeing shows similar to your own in order to assess the competition, and using every opportunity to hustle for work. "No sane person", he said, "would pay out the money and put in the effort it takes to perform at the Fringe for a month purely for their own enjoyment."

Goodness me, if that's sanity I'd rather be nuts. The article reminded me of the advice "experts" always give to young bands – stop larking about and knuckle down to your instrument. Concentrate on being competent and developing your haircut and maybe, just maybe, one day we’ll let you play Guilfest. "I didn't get where I am today by having fun", they say, "and I don’t like the idea of anyone else getting away with it.”

All right, there are some people who do want to do this as a career and there’s plenty of opportunities for advancement, but surely the Fringe was originally set up to be an upstart alternative to all that, challenging the mainstream festival with a bunch idealists and eccentrics, innovators and anarchists coming together to bring fresh new alternatives and, where possible, get drunk together?

So let’s look beyond the management company comedians and embrace the loonies, the teenage theatre troupes, the international students, the mid-life crises and the Actual Scottish People who've finally cracked and decided to have a go themselves. I came here to be amused and confused, to have extended lie-ins, beer for breakfast, wander down the Royal Mile accumulating flyers, and thoroughly enjoy myself. Are these the ravings of a madman?

Or is the real crackpot the person whose sole aim is to find fame and fortune at the Fringe? There are over 20,000 performers here this year, and there's just not that many CBeebies shows that need presenting. The odds are massively, massively against the fame-hunters, but those of us who came to eat, drink, and be merry are pretty much guaranteed to succeed.

So my advice, from someone with several decades experience of having a good time not making any money, is to grasp the true, original, spirit of The Fringe and enjoy yourself. Do a show for your heart, not your wallet, see other people doing the same and we'll all have a festival that's as exciting, unexpected, and fun as it was always meant to be.

And if you've got time to come and see my show, please do - I might even give you my business card.

(SIDEBAR: i do have business cards. Nobody's ever asked for one!)

posted 31/8/2011 by MJ Hibbett
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Moon Horse, The Final Night
And so it came to pass that Mr S Hewitt and myself met one last time in Camden for the final night of our... er... two night run at The Camden Fringe. I knew it was going to be a good one pretty much from the start, as PEOPLE started to appear. People I knew! And everything!

By the time we'd got everyone upstairs we were verging on a full house, which was LOVELY. Last year we had an ACTUAL full house one night but a nearly empty on the other, whereas this time we've overall been MUCH fuller, which is the kind of thing one WANTS, when one is doing this sort of thing. It was also an audience ready to CHUCKLE and GIGGLE and LARF right from the off, which made this FINAL show (for a while anyway) one of the most fun to do, although alarmingly the "AGENDA" gag didn't get a laugh, even when I pointed out that it had just happened!

That's been one of the big THINKING POINTS for this show: there's LOTS of points where people can LARF, but audiences seem to choose at least one GAG each night that's usually a BANKER where they decide not even to titter. It's most odd, but also quite exciting, especially when something that's never been funny before suddenly IS. This evening the appearance of SATAN got more laughs than it ever has before, largely because of the replacement "costume" that Steve had bought him. It was ACE!

The whole show ran pretty darn smoothly, even when one of the lights decided to EXPLODE/COLLAPSE, giving us a 30 second a break and forcing yet ANOTHER rewind in the timeline to add to all the others that happen.

We VIDEOED it this time too, so i FINALLY got to see what Steve's getting up to while I'm trying to sing Only A Robot. Stop messing about Eddie! I'm trying to do a song for the nice ladies and gentlemen!

It was a LOVELY night - many thanks to everyone who came along, and INDEED everyone who's been to see it elsewhere. We've had a HUGE amount of fun doing this show, and have learnt a LOT. In fact, we don't really want to STOP doing it just yet, so if anyone would like to BOOK us somewhere, do please get in touch. We've got a few irons in the first for touring, but are very VERY open to any other ideas!

posted 30/8/2011 by MJ Hibbett
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Moon Horse in London: Opening Night
I met Mr S Hewitt at the Euston Tap last night, after what seemed like MONTHS apart, ready for the Opening Night of Moon Horse at The Camden Fringe. We were back in the swing of things as soon as we set off for the venue, when I found myself stomping along behind Steve through rain drenched streets. It was like we'd never left Edinburgh!

All was going well until it came time to set up our gear... and we discovered a vital proper was missing. The SATAN "costume" had gone missing - I set off to find a replacement, confident that somewhere as PACKED with TAT as Camden High Road would SURELY be able to supply such a thing, only to be disappointed. Most places with CLOSED, and the ones that were open only had things with Union Jacks on them. On the advice of a GRUMPY trader pulling down his shutters I even went to a SEX SHOP round the corner, which turned out to be EXACTLY how I'd imagined such a place might be - depressing, packed with RUDE TAT, and staffed by... well, a gentleman who looked like he was actually a cast member from an extremely cliched TV show set in a sex shop. "We don't have that kind of novelty", he said.

On the way back I popped into a newsagents to be disappointed once again then suddenly had a BRANE WAVE - i could get something LIKE devils horns!

So it was then, fifteen minutes later, we took to the stage for about 20 delightful people and I was able to temporarily COOL my FEVERED HEAD (those hats have not got any less sweaty since last week!) with two STRAWBERRY CORNETTOS! AHA! They worked EXCELLENTLY tho were only a very very temporary solution, as they were EATEN by audience members soon after.

The show went really well - we had FUN and there seemed to be LARFS from the audience, who all looked PLEASED as they received their badges. It did feel a bit WEIRD tho - I'd got so used to doing it at BUFFS that it was STRANGE to NOT see myself reflected in a group photograph at the back of the room during the "Last of a mysterious race of creatures" bit, or to NOT hide behind the PA stack when Tiddy goes off to make hot chocolate, or for THE SECRET VILLAIN to NOT fall into the Fire Exit. I guess doing it in the same place 15 times leaves an IMPRESSION.

Afterwards we bumped into Ms A Nunn and Mr K Top Of The Pops, and the latter very kindly gave me a copy of his album, which is BLOODY GRATE. Then we popped down the road for a PINT (and to hear the extraordinary prospects for the IndieTANKS - or even IndieCHOCKS - festival!) before I headed home, our London run succesfully begun.

And tonight it's the FINAL night of the run - do pop along if you can, it seems to be going quite well!

posted 27/8/2011 by MJ Hibbett
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Moon Horse On Tour
I've just sent out a batch of emails to Delightful People Various to start the Moon Horse TOUR rolling. Doing nearly all of our previews in South London means that this time around we can take the FINISHED VERSION off around the country to show off to people - we're hoping to do this in OCTOBER so that it's still fresh in our BRANES, and also before the ginormous JUGGERNAUT that is the Dinosaur Planet ALBUM crushes everything in its path.

Before that though we have the traditional Triumphant London ENCORE of our Fringe run, which is happening TONIGHT (Friday) and TOMORROW NIGHT (Saturday) at The Camden Head. We're on 8pm-9pm (ROCK TYPES: that means we'll be starting bang on 8pm and be all finished by 9pm, so don't come down late or you'll miss it!) and I reckon it'll be a LARF RIOT. I'm FAIRLY sure that i can remember pretty much how it goes, and it was going pretty darn good by the end of the Edinburgh run, so if you're around come along! It'll be LOVELY!

posted 26/8/2011 by MJ Hibbett
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Peterborough Beer Festival
We hopped on the WAGN train last night (i know it's not called the WAGN anymore, but it's such a nice name for it I refuse to start sating First Capital Connect Ne Num Ne Num Ne Nar Nar BORING TRAIN) to head for Peterborough, and my annual pilgrimage to The Peterborough Beer Festival.

I say "we" because, for the first time, The Beer In My Barrel came along with me. Yes, after ten years together it seemed right to REWARD her with BEER FESTIVAL. Who knows? After twenty years perhaps I shall take her to see POSH!

We met my parents, had some TEA, and then strolled over to the embankment where The Members In My Society and i flashed our CAMRA cards and regrouped on the other side for a FINE evening of BEER, also of NONSENSE. We met Mr & Mrs Mileage and spent the rest of the night LARFING at REMARKS and tasting each other's drinks, it was BLOODY LOVELY. I usually go on a Friday, so was delighted to find the tent markedly less RAMMED, helped by the fact that, for once, it wasn't actually raining - though I think my Mum would have preferred it a bit more full, as for the first time ever she DIDN'T bump into someone she used to work with. The organisers had KEPT the rubbish layout of the tents (blocking off one end so you couldn't do the traditional "Find People I Went To School With" circumnavigation) but apart from that everything was ACE. I even managed to be ALL SOPHISTICATED by NOT having one last final beer and thus NOT getting absolutely plastered. CLASSY.

I did still manage to get HORRIBLY LOST in my Mum's spare room though. It's VERY DARK in the countryside, all right? I woke up at 4am and PANICKED, as usual, when I couldn't find my way out. Wonderfull, this time, there was The Bulb In My Light Socket on hand to say "You're not at home! That's the wardrobe!" and all was well. PHEW! A good - and SAFE - time happily had by one and all!

posted 25/8/2011 by MJ Hibbett
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Finding Indie
I've just posted what'll probably be my final blog for the What's On Stage Edinburgh Fringe website. This one's all about mine EYES being OPENED to the fact that there actually ARE loads of Indie Comedians, something which I've doubted for the past four years. Here's what it says:

When I first dipped my toe into the world of comedy four years ago I was horrified by what I saw. Everything seemed so corporate, run by a small group of agents and management companies, with everyone involved interested only in making money and getting on the telly. "Where are the indie comedians?" I cried.

There are, of course, some comedians who at least "feel" indie, as there are certain bands who sound like indie bands even though they have large followings and/or record companies. The wonderful Josie Long, for instance, is very much the comedy equivalent of Art Brut (this year's show reminded me of Eddie Argos telling other people to "form a band"), Daniel Kitson is Half Man Half Biscuit (lauded by fans and other bands but determined to do things his own way) and Stewart Lee is, of course, The Fall. But where were the comedians who operated outside the mainstream? Not to put too fine a point on it, where were the comedian equivalents of people like me?

But like an NME Editor writing the annual "Why Are There No Political Bands?" editorial, the fault was all my own. Of course there are indie comedians, I just hadn't been to see them! This year I left behind the Pleasance Courtyard and the front page of Chortle and went out into the wilds of the Free Fringe, where I discovered loads and loads of amazing shows. It was a whole world of comedians doing exactly what they wanted to do without caring if it got them a job presenting CBeebies or not. Here were ridiculous shows full of joy and excitement, presenting new ways of doing things that were sometimes amazing, sometimes confusing, but always fun.

It was inspiring - everyone was enthusiastic, and everyone was pitching in together to not only write and perform, but also to organise themselves, do their own promotion and run their own venues. It felt like I'd come home!

And now that I actually am home, back in London after our show finished on Saturday, I'm looking back and realising that this was definitely my best Fringe yet, in large part due to seeing so many free shows. If you're up there for the last week I'd recommend doing the same – go on! It'll cost you nothing, and might just change your life!

This really was a genuine revelation to me - I've been complaining about comedy being like a world where Battle Of The Bands Competitions MATTER for years, so to discover a whole other world of people LIKE ME was utterly fantastic. It was also fun to have to sit down and try and express this without CAPS LOCK - the whole experience of doing these blogs has, in fact, been GRATE!

I've just put all off these articles up on the main website for POSTERITY, including a couple which I think may have got lost somewhere in the uploading. If you've been wondering what I was up to between sporadic blog updates for the last fortnight, this is your chance to find out!

posted 24/8/2011 by MJ Hibbett
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What I Did On My Holidays
I thought it might be good FOR THE RECORD to do a big old list of what I SAW when I was up in Edinburgh, and even do some recommendations. So here we go!
Please Hold, You're Being Transferred to A UK Based Asian Representative - Finnegan's Wake
Disobedience: Chris T-T Sings The Songs Of AA Milne - Ryan's Cellar Bar
How Steeple Sinderby Wanderers Won the FA Cup - Teviot
Four Sad Faces - Canon's Gait
Herring podcast - The Stand
Quotidian revue - Bongo Club
Otway on Otway - Voodoo Rooms
The 90s In Half An Hour - Three Sisters
Super Crazy Fun - Three Sisters
Festival of the Spoken Nerd - Sin Club
Josie Long - Pleasance Dome
John Robins - Just The Tonic At The Caves
Spaghetti Lolognaise - The White Horse
Mark Thomas - Bongo Club
Matt Tiller - Just The Tonic At The Caves
Helen Keen - Canon's Gait
Boyd & Metcalfe - Royal Mile Tavern
The Songs I'll Never Sing - Beehive
Richard Herring - Udderbelly's Pasture
Robin Ince 2 - Buffs Club
Storytellers - Pleasance Courtyard
Tom Lenk - Pleasance Courtyard
The Social Anxiety Network - Espionage
GI Joe Jared - The Beehive
The Cheshire Liberation Front Political Indoctrination Rally - Buffs Club (RAOB)
Found Objects Present... - The Newsroom

That was a LOT of shows! Some of the GRATE ones (like GI Joe Jared) aren't on any more and some of them are BIG ONES that don't need me to tell you about them, but if you're UP there in the last week I'd HIGHLY recommend seeing Four Sad Faces, Boyd & Metcalfe, Chris T-T, The Cheshire Liberation Front Political Indoctrination Rally and Found Objects, all of which are FREE! FREE i tell you!

I saw LOTS of Free Shows this time - I'm going to do a big BLOG about it later, as it rather turned around my VIEWS on COMEDY, they were some of the BEST stuff and I'd heartily recommend going to see some. If you MUST pay then Josie Long, John Robins and Mark Thomas were GRATE... well, actually MOST shows I saw were pretty good and NOTHING was rubbish. This, I think, is a RESULT!

posted 22/8/2011 by MJ Hibbett
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Our Edinburgh is finished, and I'm back at WORK. It feels WEIRD to somewhere where the working day begins so EARLY, and where extremely cheap BEER is not constantly available - and the lack of pan-pipes on my way in this morning felt EERIE.

Since last I blogged we had all SORTS of Adventures, not least on Wednesday when we spent over SEVEN HOURS at Buffs - doing our show, staying on for a MIGHTY Totally Acoustic (podcast hopefully up tomorrow!) then lurking around for several hours before doing a spot at Robin Ince's show... and then drinking some more. One of my favourite parts of the entire fortnight happened that day, after Totally Acoustic when me, Steve, Chris T-T and The Morricone Brothers sat around CHATTING. At one point the HEIRLOOM ANECDOTES came out for the telling, it was BEAUTIFUL.

The last few shows were really good - almost as if we knew what we were DOING! - and we saw some brilliant shows. After one of them we had a moment of PURE KARMA, which I detailed on my Whats On Stage BLOG. I'm going to stick all those blogs on this website soon, I managed to do a good few of them!

The last show came at HIGH SPEED and there was a little EMOTION as we left, especialy saying goodbye to the amazing FRANK (who'd also done a song at Robin Ince's show, performing "My Way"). We had some beer, some curry, and then next morning packed up and came home. While we were there it felt like we'd been there FOREVER, yet it also FLEW BY at incredible speed.

It was definitely the best one yet, no question about it - the show was REALLY enjoyable (the lack of the LONGEURS that Dinosaur Planet had meant i was ALWAYS surprised to discover we were getting near the end of the hour), the flat was LOVELY, we had a Wonderful Window Of Wives, we met loads of old pals and met new ones, and generally had FUN. Best of all though was the venue - Buffs was just MAGICAL, it felt like we'd been welcomed in to a new home, like discovering we'd been regulars all along, and if/when we go back to do another show i'll be PLEADING to do it at Buffs.

If you came to see us, thanks very VERY much indeed - and if you haven't seen it yet we're hoping to do a couple more gigs, starting off in Camden this weekend. It should be pretty good - we've practiced it a LOT!

posted 22/8/2011 by MJ Hibbett
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As Seen On Radio One
I expect there's going to be millions of The Young People popping by the site today, for LO! Yesterday we got featured on Radio One!

It was all very very exciting - Scott Mills of The Scott Mills is broadcasting from the Fringe this week, and on Monday h gave his pal Tom Deacon a list of shows to choose from, that he'd then review the next day. Brilliantly he chose Moon Horse - the first we knew of it was a flurry of TWITS recieved when we switched our phones on after the show, followed by the lovely Dec (who does the next show) coming upstairs and saying "Hey! That was Tom Deacon, you're going to be on Radio One!"

I was excited... but also a bit nervous. I had some experience of Groovy Young Person's Radio a few years ago when 6Music had their dodgy period of trying to make their breakfast show "Crazy" and wondered if it might be an opportunity for them just to use us as a Tool Of Mockery. I needn't have worried tho - there was a BIT of that, with Mr Mills and the other co-presenter going "This sounds rubbish!" occasionally, but BRILLIANTLY Mr Deacon was SO ENTHUSIASTIC about the show that he steam-rollered over THE LOT! It was GRATE! "Amazing", he called us, "Brilliant", "Incredible" and - BEST OF ALL THING EVER - said it was "like two drunken dads picking up a guitar at a party".

JOB DONE! That is pretty much EXACTLY what we were going for - we actually LITERLLY said "Two drunken uncles at a barbecue" which, goodness me is close enough!

So thank you very much INDEED Mr Tom Deacon, and also to the member of the production team who picked us out in the first place. We're not going to let it change us TOO much (tho Steve has spent the past hour putting styling mousse in his hair, and I've invested in some posh pants so i can lower my jeans round my knees) but we ARE very much looking forward to seeing THE KIDS at the show.

I'm sure they'll LOVE it - it's "Drunk Dads" (Radio One), who WOULDN'T?

posted 17/8/2011 by MJ Hibbett
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Two Thirds Through
Greetings from Edinburgh, where you find us two thirds through our run of "Moon Horse". Sorry for the chronic lack of updates here - I've been too busy dashing around DOING things to actually write about them!

The shows themselves have been going JOLLY well - Mr S Hewitt and I are still DEVELOPING our ROLES and thoroughly enjoying doing it still. Audience have been GRATE - only dipping below double figures ONCE (and those nine people more than made up for numbers with LARFS) and only getting a few Tough Customers in. It's GRATE fun learning how to DO this even more and the show really does FLY by. I'm especially looking forward to coming down for our mini-run at The Camden Fringe and showing off with how much it has GROWN!

We've done a couple of extra bits and bobs too - we did a short spot in a compilation show, then the other night I appeared in a CRAMMED Robin Ince show, where I was AMAZED by how BRILLIANT Grace Petrie was - we played with her YEARS ago in Leicester when she must have been about FIVE, and in the interim has become FANTASTIC.

There's been loads and LOADS of shows, of varying levels of ACENESS. Best one recently was, I think, "How Steeple Sinderby Won The FA Cup" but there's been ALL SORTS. I have taken NOTES so may do a proper review when it's all over.

Also present has been BONUS ACTIVITIES - we've hobnobbed, bumped into PALS, tried exciting new WHISKIES and even eaten some NON-CURRY. Then YESTERDAY we heard that we might be getting reviewed on The Scott Mills Show on Radio One today!! If anyone knows of somewhere in Edinburgh I could LURK arond 4pm to hear it, do let me know - I'm hoping they liked it, but am a little AFEARED.

And then there's the article I've written for a forthccming edition of ThreeWeeks, the ongoing WhatsOnStage blogs and... well, you get the idea. LOTS has occurred so far and who knows WHAT will occur in the final third of our stay? I'll try and let you know before the end of the week, but if you don't hear from me for a while, don't worry - I will just be out DOING stuff!

posted 16/8/2011 by MJ Hibbett
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So Far So Good!
Greetings from Edinburgh, where it is TIPPING it down. We have been watching the news thinking "If only this bibllical flood of water could fall on the rest of the country it would help EVERYONE."

Sorry for the lack of updates - we have been busy and, to be honest, for the past couple of days Levity and Jollity has seemed a little inappropriate, especially when we saw fires so close to the love people at The Green Dragon in Croydon. On the other hand, a bit of fun might come in handy, and we've had quite a bit of that up here.

There's been some brilliant shows - Chris T-T's "Disobedience: The Song Of AA Milne" and John Robin's stand-up being my highlights so faw - and Moon Horse has been going rather excellently. Double figures for every day so far and me and Steve are THOROUGHLY enjoying finding new LARFS every time. We also had a FULL HOUSE for Totally Acoustic last night, with the podcast probably coming when I get home again.

There's been some WORK too - being Venue Captain has kept me busy - but a lot of it has meant spending time in our venue which is LOVELY. The Buffs is basically a Working Men's Club, with all the cheap beer that that entails, but with REALLY friendly locals and brilliant bar staff, who've made us all feel like New Members. There ALWAYS appears to be someone from one of the other shows hanging around, just because it's NICE, and we have spent many an Hour Too Long sat around chatting, it's GRATE!

I would go so far as to say Best Fringe EVER, on current evidence, but if you want to watch as we progress I'm TWITTING a bit more regularly, and also doing smaller blogs for What's On Stage every couple of days.

For now tho, must get on - it's nearly NOON, time for breakfast!

posted 11/8/2011 by MJ Hibbett
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Fringe 2011, Ready to GO!
Greetings from Edinburgh, where the sun is shining and we are ready to get it ON!

We arrived on Thursday to find that our flat is lovely, the pub at the end of the road is ACE, and there are many many curry options. We've been to two brilliant shows - Storytellers on Thursday and Richard Herring yesterday - bumped into various pals, and are generally getting very much into the swing of things.

Yesterday was Rigging Day, which I wrote about in my Whats On Stage Blog, THUSLY:

Yesterday was Rigging Day on the PBH Free Fringe, the day when all the performers get together to set their venue up. I thought this was going to be a knackering day of lugging heavy equipment and faffing around, but it was a whole lot more besides.

The first slice of additional magic was our venue, The Buffs Club, which is a proper old fashioned Working Man's Club. The regulars were extremely friendly and chatty (getting more so as the afternoon progressed, breaking into song around 5pm) and the manager was a lovely bloke, clearly used to being calm whatever goes on.

All the acts turned up on time too and as we headed off to fetch our PA I caught a glimpse of the real genius of the Free Fringe - we were getting to know each other through working together, becoming friends rather than suspicious rivals for audiences. This carried on when we got to PBH HQ at Canons Gait and spent a merry couple of hours helping to assemble equipment - major corporations should investigate sending executives to the Fringe, this was the best Team Bonding Exercise I'd ever been part of!

It was back at our venue, however, when the full beauty of the arrangement became clear. Putting out chairs, blacking out windows and arranging the lighting we realised that this venue was ours, not just some room we'd hired or a slot in a management company's crammed bill. We'd made this ourselves, together, and could do what we liked with it - something to be proud of now and, hopefully, for the next three weeks.

All right, we may have sampled a bit of the very reasonably priced club beer, and perhaps the singing of the locals had got to us, but it all felt a bit wonderful. Let's hope it stays that way when we actually start doing our shows!

I missed out quite a lot of the hanging around (which consisted of a LOT of Watching The Van for the PA chap) but it really was all rather lovely, bringing home to me the FACT that the PBH Free Fringe really IS true to what the spirit of the festival should be. It almost feels like a shame to risk spoiling it by doing a show now, but I guess we ought to give it a go. We're on at 5pm - I shall report back and tell you how it goes!

posted 6/8/2011 by MJ Hibbett
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Packing Day
Tomorrow is the day me and Steve FINALLY head North to Edinburgh. LOADS of shows are starting tomorrow, twitter tells us that most comedians are already there, people are getting in touch to say when they're thinking of coming and... and it all seems WEIRD and UNREAL.

Can it really be nearly time to GO? I'm sat at home today, on Wonderful Wednesday, looking at the word "PACK!" on my List Of Things To Do, thinking "Really? Now?" We've been planning this year's trip pretty much since we left LAST year, writing it, working out venues, doing previews and getting organised, and it's been in THE FUTURE for so long it's as if I never realised it would ever be in THE PRESENT.

For instance, I am Venue Captain for Buffs, our venue (as discussed over on my WhatsOnStage blog today) and have been having Actual Fun over the past week making arrangements for us all to meet the venue and get our PA set up. It's lovely - my DECADES of ROCK EXPERIENCE come in very very handy at times like these - but over the past couple of days I've been saying things like "See you on Friday!" not NEXT Friday, or a DATE, but actually the Friday that's coming along the day after tomorrow! It's like in a DREAM when something ASTONISHING happens and you find yourself a) accepting it but b) AWARE of the weirdness, so your entire mind screams THIS IS HAPPENING!

So, tomorrow I'm on the train, on Friday (SEE ABOVE) we're setting up the venue, and on SATURDAY we begin! BLIMEY. If you happen to be IN Edinburgh, do pop along to see us won't you? We're on at the Buffs Club (RAOB) on West Register Street (near the Voodoo Rooms) at 5pm-6pm EVERY day until the 20th and it's FREE. Here's the trailer one more time:

Now, where's my suitcase?

posted 3/8/2011 by MJ Hibbett
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It was off to Leicester, into The Tigermobile, and then HO! for Derbyshire on Sunday, for LO! We were off to Indietracks!

Tom had been up the day before, but had had to park his car at the Butterley end of the train line. It had been suggested that, if he said he was in a band, then the staff would let him park up near the main gates. I had terrible visions of me leaning out of the car saying "Don't You Know Who I Am?!?" then turning round to see a crowd of disappointed faces glaring back at me.

This did not happen - instead I got VERY EXCITED INDEED as we whooshed past the Golden Valley Campsite and along the familiar road to the festival. When we got to the gates I overheard a security guard explaining what was happening to a family who'd come for the Railway Museum. "It's like Rock Music, but softer", he said. "Not too much swearing either. It's great - a thoroughly good day for all the family!" I couldn't agree more!

When we'd been wristbanded I was alarmed to find that everyone seemed to be in a REALLY BAD MOOD. But this was indietracks, what on earth was going on? It slowly dawned on me that, whereas I'd rolled up fresh and ready to rock, everyone else was on their SECOND MASSIVE HANGOVER of the weekend and were not yet ready to be talked to. An hour or so later, though, after that vital first hair of the dog, and all was DELIGHT as usual, and there was a LOT of hugging!

I spent most of my GIG TIME in the Church this year, first of all watching Anguish Sandwich featuring Mr Chris East aka Winston Echo. They were ACE - especially once the bass player noticed he'd been turning the volume up on the wrong amp, turned the RIGHT one up, and it all got ROCKING. Chris is also an EXCELLENT front man, getting the day of to a GRATE start.

I emerged to discover The Pattisons in full effect - the BIG excitement for me about the day was that it would see the first proper Validators Reunion in well over a year. It took AGES to actually happen though, as we all kept wandering off to SEE stuff. We did at least manage to be in the same BUILDING for half an hour though, as we trooped in to watch our very own Francis Albert Machine and BAND play in the church. It was FANTASTIC! It was nearly all new stuff - tho "Black Eyes", one of my FAVOURITES, got a playing - and sounded AMAZING. I loved one called "Cheap Shots At The Bless", which I'd not heard before, and the HUGE GRIN on Frankie's face when the whole church went KRAZY at the end of "How Grate Thou Art" was one of the highlights of the festival. Also DELIGHTFUL was watching Evan Machine playing with The Pattison Girls. Aaah!

Not long after the gig we FINALLY managed to all get together for a bit, before more WANDERING occurred. There was curry from Gopal's (FESTIVAL TRADITION), beer, waving at people, HUGGING people, and general Not Managing To See Bands. The BEST thing about Indietracks, I always think, is that it's a huge meeting point for all the Indie Clans from around the country and indeed THE WORLD. I ended up chatting to people from Spain, Greece and France at various points during the day, in glorious sunshine and a happy happy atmosphere. Ooh, it was good!

On Saturday night I'd had a TEXT from Paul ScaredToDance, asking if I'd be up for a SPOT in The Merchandise Tent, and I said "YES PLEASE". I popped back to Tom's car for my bag then came down to the tent, to find it RAMMED. "Very busy!" I said out. "Yes," said a young man next to me. "It's rammed because MJ Hibbett's going to play." GOLLY!

Frankie lent me his guitar which, we later discovered, was still in drop-D tuning, so sounded a bit ODD, but didn't really matter as I stood in the corner and bellowed THIS:

  • The Peterborough All-Saints Wide Game Team (group B)
  • The Lesson Of The Smiths
  • Boom Shake The Room
  • Easily Impressed

  • A SUPER COMPRESSED set, as I had a definite deadline: when the next band started on the main stage i'd have to stop because I couldn't compete with VOLUME! It was all a bit back to front as I wanted to make sure I did "Boom Shake The Room", but also wanted to wait for Markie Velodrome (who was watching The Sweet Nothings) to get there before doing Easily Impressed. It all seemed to work out in the end, I was IMMENSELY CHUFFED to get such a good turn out, and I went back to the TigerMobile for a WET WIPE WASH very happy indeed.

    More lurking, more chatting, more beer and before long we were gathering again outside the church for A Little Orchestra. There was a big queue to get in and it was HOT, so we waited outside the side door, listening for our turn to stride in. Me and Emma were singing It Only Works Because You're Here, and I suddenly felt NERVOUS as we stumbled in, trying not to stand on any instruments. I'd been looking forward to this for ages, and it ZOOMED by in four minutes of utter JOY - the orchestra sounded GORGEOUS, and it was a dream come true to actually be singing like this. It felt odd to be using a microphone again, funnily enough, but me and Emma THOROUGHLY enjoyed ourselves - OH! the glancing! the acting! the emoting! It was FAB - and you don't need to take my word for it, here's a RECORDING!

    A Little Orchestra - Indietracks 310711 by Kylenene

    With that done we began our departures, with Family Featuring Validators leaving first and then Team Tigermobile not long after (following some traditional extended Bumping Into and Hugging on the way back from the bar in the train shed), back to Leicester for WHISKY. As anyone who's ever (EVER) been to Indietracks will tell you, it really is a bit bloody MAGICAL, and this year was no different. I had a completely lovely time - well done, Indietracks, see you next year!

    posted 1/8/2011 by MJ Hibbett
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