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Blog Archive: February 2013

Chris T-T Lives!
My phone rang at work the other day - UNUSUALLY. I looked at the screen and it said "Chris T-T" so it was with GRATE DELIGHT that I picked up, to hear that marvellous fellow ask if it was OK to include some recordings from his 2010 Totally Acoustic gig on his new live album.

I was VERY HAPPY to say "Yes Please!" as it has been a long cherished DREAM of mine, ever since we started doing the podcasts, that ARTISTES would be able to use the recordings for their own stuff. I always record everyone's entire set and send them a copy, and as I only use a few songs for the podcast there's TONNES of ace stuff leftover.

Imagine my INCREASED DELIGHT then when I downloaded a copy of it this very morning to discover that it has A WHOLE LOT of recordings from that gig, including my somewhat emotional introduction! As I said at the time, it was a beautiful evening, one of the MOST fun Totally Acoustics in a parade of shows that were ALL fun!

I was then even MORE moved to read Chris's blog, where he speaks rather wonderfully about that gig and, indeed, GIGS in general. I must say I know exactly what he means, especially when he talks about losing the passion for solo gigs, but having memories of FANTASTIC evenings.

ANYWAY, I heartily recommend the album to you, it's called "Good Songs In Small Rooms" and you can get it RIGHT NOW from his bandcamp site. You won't regret it, it's ACE!

posted 28/2/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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All Benefit Albums Should Be Triple Albums
The PBH Free Fringe Benefit Album is NEARLY finished, and by golly it's a WHOPPER! I've got an extraordinary THIRTY SIX songs, coming in at just shy of two albums - it therefore stands proudly as a TRIPLE album!

It really is rather marvellous too, with TREATS like one of my favourite EVER songs (an extremely rare version of Mr John Otway's "Poetry & Jazz"), the first Lardpony recording for FIVE YEARS, an unreleased AA Milne song from Chris T-T, a Kirsty MacColl cover from Model Village, new recordings from Frankie Machine, The Bobby McGees, Helen Arney and ... well, I could go on, FOR NEARLY TWO HOURS, about all the incredible tracks on here, but instead let's just wait for FRIDAY, when it will be properly released for, as I may have mentioned, the MIND BLOWING low price of just a FIVER!

In the meantime though, here's a sneak preview of all the ACTS involved, in thrilling alphabetical order:
The 10p Mixes!
A Fine Day For Sailing!
August Actually!
Being 747!
The Bobby McGees!
Chris T-T!
CJ Wadsworth!
Daniel & Norbert Dentressangle!
Fakebit Polytechnic!
Frankie Machine!
Haiku Salut!
The Hector Collectors!
Helen Arney!
James Summerfield!
John Otway!
The Just Joans!
Keith Top Of The Pops!
Lazarus Clamp!
Matt Tiller!
The Mini Skips!
MJ Hibbett (and Steve)!
Model Village!
Paul Morricone!
Pete Weiss & The Rock Band!
Peter Buckley Hill!
The Plimptons!
Sool & Inverse Room!
The Spearmint Sea!
Standard Fare!
Sunny Intervals!
Tim Eveleigh!
The Understudies!
The Weisstronauts!
World Of Fox!

Pretty good, no? ROLL ON FRIDAY!

posted 25/2/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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Half Term Homework
It's "Reading Week" (AKA "Half Term") on my course this week, so being KING MISTER SUPER SWOT like what I am I thought I would Use The Time Well be getting ahead on some work that's coming later in the term.

I know. I have become everything I used to hate - i AM a Mature Student! HOWEVER, in my defence, a big chunk of this particular homework does involve WATCHING TELLY, for LO! we have to do a Research Project next term and I have chosen SITCOMS!

To be more specific I'm having a go at writing a 15 minute sitcom pilot that I can submit to the Sitcom Mission competition, using their own BOOK as guidance. The idea is that I CRITIQUE their method, do a bit of research into the HISTORY of sitcoms, and do the WRITING too. And, of course, at the end of it submit the sitcom and earn POUND$!

It's all jolly good fun so far - I bought the aforesaid book, Your Sitcom Mission... Should You Choose To Accept It for my kindle and I'm following it's 15 daily exercises that, in theory, will lead to a sitcom. I've so far done the first four days, which have been dead interesting. Lots of it is just FORCING you to write characters because, as it says, sitcoms are all about characters, rather than situations. It's got lots of NUGGETS like that, mostly dead good, though I did think it a bit ODD when it claimed that successful sitcoms feature YOUNG people, as a) they're sexy b) they WANT stuff, which old people don't. It suggested thinking of your favourite sitcoms for examples, which I did... Dad's Army, Father Ted and Frasier sprang immediately to mind, and there's also stuff like Only Fools And Horses, One Foot In The Grave, Mrs Brown's Boys etc etc. The only GOOD sitcoms I could think of WITH young sexy people were Friends and, arguably, Miranda. Or am I missing something?

Anyway, apart from that it's all very interesting, although it does seem at present to be leading me in the direction of a ROMANCE between The Angriest Florist In The World and The Most Over-Sensitive Funeral Director... EVER! Look out for it (DOUBTLESS) on Channel 4 next year!

posted 22/2/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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Ninety Minutes Of ACTION
We're getting very very close to COMPLETION on the PBH Free Fringe Benefit Album - I now have a COLOSSAL 32 tracks uploaded for it, with three more on the way and then just me and Steve's track to record at the weekend. We're doing a version of Do It Yourself from Total Hero Team, but instead of the "Here's what happened next" bit at the end we're going to do a CREDITS ROLL of all the people on the album. HENCE we can't really do it until all the tracks are in!

I'm currently going through working out the running order and checking the comparative VOLUME of tracks, after which it'll be Press Release Writing Time! The release date was originally pencilled in for March 4th, but I'm thinking of making it a couple of days later now, partly so that I can put it in the next newsletter, partly so that I can maybe do some FLYERS at Popfest, but MOSTLY because I'm dead excited about it. It's sounding MARVELLOUS!

It's also LENGTHY - we're now well past the ninety minutes' mark with more songs to come in, which will make it, I think, something of a BARGAIN. I do hope people BUY it, as it's such a good cause and such a good compilation!

posted 19/2/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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Device Detection
I spent a large CHUNK of this weekend writing a song about DEVICE DETECTION! This is the thing where a web server DETECTS what kind of DEVICE someone is using to interact with it, and then chucks back the CORRECT webpage design.

Before we go any further I should perhaps point out that someone ASKED me to do this, it's not something I had considered writing a song about before... and actually, that's one of the DELIGHTFUL aspects OF this sort of thing. I didn't really know what Device Detection WAS before this, and now i a) REALLY REALLY DO b) think it IS quite important. I mean, I come from a distant land (THE PAST) where one would look askance at such ideas. "You should design yr website properly," we might say, "so it doesn't matter WHICH of the two available main browsers your user is using!" Nowadays of course you can get the internet on laptops, tablets, televisions, telephones, your fridge, and probably soon CRISP PACKETS, all with different sizes, resolutions, shapes, control mechanisms and ALL sorts. This means that you DO need to have some idea of what the person is using, so that your website WORKS!

The song was requested to go with a KICKSTARTER campaign to raise money to make a cloud-based device detection thingy, launching in April I think. I WROTE it, EMAILED it to the chap concerned (and again, how amazing is it that you can write a song and then, TEN MINUTES LATER, have a version of it in the EARS of someone hundreds of miles away? THE FUTURE!) who came back with a couple of TWEAKS and that was it, DONE. I'm recording it on Wednesday and it's sorted!

I LOVE doing stuff like this - it's lovely having to FLEX yr BRANE to fit a BRIEF, and make it a Good Song at the same time. It's similar to the song I wrote the other week for A Brief History Of Time Travel, although RESEARCH for that one involved a lot more GAWPING out of windows IMAGINING things, and a lot less STRUGGLING through technical documents!

Talking of the A Brief History Of Time Travel theme tune news reaches me that we have FINALLY got a recording date booked in for it. The Vlads are REHEARSING later this week and then are BOOKED into Snug once more on the 11th to get the basic tracks done. They are such a bunch of International Jet Setters these days that it's taken us WEEKS to nail everyone down to a date, but a date we now HAVE, so they can get it started and then I can GILD their efforts with my Angelic Vocals at a later time. Hoorah!
posted 18/2/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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PBH Album Update
Here's a quick update on the PBH Free Fringe Benefit album that I was on about last week: it's going really well!

Here's a slightly longer update: it's going really REALLY well! I emailed nearly 50 people, from the worlds of ROCK and THE FRINGE, explaining what the compilation's about and asking them for a track. Well over half of them have got back to me since to say "Sure thing", which is utterly wonderful. With a few people doubling up and/or bringing other people aboard I now have TWENTY tracks submitted and at least another 12 promised. There's a good chance that some of those won't happen after all, but as we're already nearly at a DOUBLE ALBUM i think it's going to be pretty darn good value for a FIVER and with any luck we'll be able to raise a good bit of CA$H for the Free Fringe.

I don't want to reveal the full tracklisting just yet - not least because I don't know what it'll actually BE just yet - but suffice to say that neither INDIE TYPES nor fans of THE FRINGE will be disappointed with the line-up. It is DEAD GOOD! Instead, here is the current version of the COVER, what I did yesterday:

The legendary Mr Peter Buckley-Hill there, channeling ELVIS. One thing to NOTE is that a couple of people have said to me that they received an email and just assumed I was sending it out to everyone in the entire world OR that they'd got it by accident, so didn't think they were NEEDED. This is INCORRECT! I sent it to a SELECT GROUP (of nearly 50,but still) of people, ALL of whom I wanted to be on it. So, if you've had that email and have a track, GET GOING, I need it by Monday!

posted 13/2/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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Leicester Comedy Festival
Steve and I were in Leicester at the weekend for our FIFTH successive comedy festival, back once again at The Criterion. As usual we had a bunch of EXCELLENT students from DeMontfort University running the venue for us as part of their Arts Management degree, and we had a few RETURNEES this year, singing songs from previous shows. It was LOVELY!

We had about 30 people in on both nights, which was LOWER than normal, but MAY be because we were also starting an hour earlier than normal. Or it may just be that after five years people know what to expect, and know to AVOID! Also of course it WAS a "work in progress" version rather than one we'd been touring all year, so it might also be due to not having done Edinburgh beforehand this time. To be honest, it didn't really matter as we had MARVELLOUS audiences on both nights who LARFED and even, a little bit, sang along.

The first night got off to a bit of a ROPEY start, but after 10 minutes or so we'd calmed down sufficiently to do it justice, and the second night was much better throughout, with new BITS and LARKING ABOUT. It really helped to have had run through of LINES on the train on the way up - doing all the previews so far in London means we've been denied this ESSENTIAL bit of LEARNING this year, so it was nice to be back in the swing with it.

The odd thing I noticed both nights is that there's big chunks which can go by without LARFS, but that it doesn't really matter. In other shows it's been NOTICEABLE when we've hit GAG FREE sections, but this time, astonishingly, the actual STORY seems to carry it through. Who'd've thought?

There was plenty of fun aside from the show - starting early meant we had LOTS more time for lurking around BOOZING and CHATTING, which we did both nights with various CHUMS, and we also took the opportunity to see a certain FAMOUS CAR PARK. Readers from The Distant Future: last week it was revealed that Richard III had been buried underneath a car park in the city for several hundred years, so we went to LOOK and LO! you could see through the rails EXACTLY where trench had been, as they'd covered it over with fresh tarmac. That was a Polite Notice on the railings pointing out that there was no access, pointing people back over towards the Guild Hall where a new exhibition had JUST opened and had a MASSIVE queue outside. It was all JOLLY exciting.

I also went to the PICTURES i.e. doing some HOMEWORK. When I rolled up "Hitchcock" was just about to start, so I watched that. It was Really Quite Good: REVIEW ENDS.

And that was pretty much that - a rather nice weekend in my former home town which ended up with a VERY TIRED me (and Steve) staggering onto the Sunday morning train to London, where we bumped into TWO seperate people who'd been audience members AND saw a noted comedian. It was a suitably PAL-FULL end to a very CHUMMY weekend, where it felt like there was a real BUZZ around the town. I've noticed this the past few years - the Comedy Festival is becoming more and more of a PROPER BIG THING, probably partly down to the sponsorhip by Dave, but it also feels like the people of Leicester, never exactly QUICK to get onside with Going To See Things, are taking it to their collective BOSOM and seeing it as an opportunity for GOOD TIMES. Long may this continue!

posted 12/2/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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Now We (really) Are!
I'm very very pleased to announce that we're going to be appearing at the Now We Are Weekender in West Brom this May. I've been ITCHING to show off about it for weeks, but have had to wait until it was OFFICIAL in order to do so. Now it IS, so i can: ZANG!

I'm extra excited about it because I'd been talking to Emma from Funny Little Cat about it for YEARS, from way back when she was first talking about doing an "IndieTANKS" festival. At one point there was talk of bands playing underneath a LANCASTER BOMBER, which was all terribly exciting, so when she Changed THEME and BOOKED last year's first festival at The Public I was a) SUPER KEEN to play but then b) UPSET when the DATES meant we couldn't. And thus, as I say, I'm all CHUFFED that we actually CAN do it this year.

I see RAISED HANDS - is there a question? "But Mark", you may ask, all worried looking, "What do you mean by 'we'? Is this a Validators' gig? Or is it you and Steve doing a SHOW?" This is an EXCELLENT question, and happily the answer is BOTH. On the Saturday me and The Vlads will be ROCKING OUT BIG TIME, and then on the Sunday afternoon Steve and I will be performing Total Hero Team. It's going to be GRATE!

We were in the second batch of announcements, along with our pals August August Actually. The first batch was DEAD exciting, with Allo Darlin', Darren Hayman and Johnny Foreigner headlining - and there's a TONNE more to come. They've put early bid tickets on sale at the KRAZY price of 16.50 for BOTH days, which is ridiculously cheap! Do come along, I have a feeling it's going to be a METRIC HECKLOAD of FUN!

posted 11/2/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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On the way home from work on Tuesday I bumped into one of my neighbours, who said "There's a package for you at my house." I KNEW what it was, so HURRIED round to chez him and picked up a big box of... BADGES!


These are, as you may have noticed, Total Hero Team badges, and we'll be giving them out after all future shows, starting with Leicester tomorrow, so if you'd like one, do come along!

posted 7/2/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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The Plimptons Are Dead
One of my favourite bands are The Plimptons, not least because I have had SEVERAL exciting and delightful adventures with them - INDEED, these adventures have inspired at LEAST two songs (Let The Weird Band Win and Mental Judo) and the general GOOD TIMES i've had gigging with them have informed much of my later ROCK TOURING.

So it feels rather sad to acknowledge the fact that they're packing it in after 13 years even though, in a funny kind of Trying To Be Sensible way, I can see that STOPPING a band when YOU want to is generally a Good Thing. We did it with Voon and it was ACE, as we got to just ENJOY being in the band together without worrying how it'd all work out, as we knew EXACTLY when it was going to end. It's a GOOD way to be in a band, so I see the point but still, I'll miss them!

They're doing one last all day gig on March 30th in Glasgow which, ANNOYINGLY, I can't get to. They're also releasing a Farewell EP - The Plimptons Are Dead which I'm currently listening to and is EXCELLENT. I am also extremely PROUD to note that the final song on the EP is a cover version of We Did It Anyway by ME, from out of Moon Horse. It's pretty much my favourite song from that show, and thus I was DELIGHTED when then told me they wanted to cover it, and even MORE delighted by how ACE it is.

The whole EP is fantastic and I would eagerly IMPLORE you to go get it - go on, they're GRATE!

posted 6/2/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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This term on my MA course we're doing Screenwriting. In the first week we had to write an outline for a five minute short film adaptation of a short story - I chose "A Woman Without A Country", but after a bit of THINKING decided to write it about BIRDS - SPARROWS, to be exact.

This seemed JOLLY CLEVER at the time, but then it turned out that we'd be working on this idea for the next few weeks, using it for other tasks, to the extent that I found myself today having to write a PAGE LONG BIOGRAPHY about a SPARROW. This, to be honest, wasn't too difficult - I've been THINKING about the story for the past few weeks, so had some ideas as Simon (the sparrow) is the main speaking part. However, we had to write about TWO characters, so I'm currently having to come up with a whole background about a robin called Tex, who happens be a cowboy.

It's all part of the a) GRATE b) unexpected JOURNEY that this course has turned out to be. I can feel my BRANE throbbing with all sorts of new ideas and THORTS, none of which I ever expected to be dealing with. I don't know what i DID expect to be honest - maybe doing something similar to the shows we'd done? Certainly not in-depth character histories of garden birds, anyway.

I should have learnt my lesson last term really, when I wrote my first script about Wenlock and Mandeville and then had them popping up in other stuff for the next three months. Still, at least Simon and Tex aren't controlled by LOCOG!

posted 5/2/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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Arts and Crafts
I had a WELL SOPHISTICATED weekend this weekend just gone. Some might even label it "MEGA".

Thing got off to a GRATE start on Friday night with a PUB CRAWL with The Beer In My Pint Glass. Well, I say "Pub Crawl" - we went for something to eat (where we also had BEER) and then to Tap East for MORE Beer, then we WERE planning on popping into The Red Lion (our lovely local), but hey! It was gone nine o'clock by then, and it was Friday - it would be BUSY. COme on! Let's not go crazy, right?

And also we were going out AGANE on Saturday, to see a wide variety of delightful KOOBA RADIO-related chums, which was RATHER lovely. Two nights out in the same weekend! We are KRAZY!

Apart from that there was much ARTS activity. I watched TWO films - "Boyz N The Hood" (DEPRESSING) and "The Muppets" (pretty much the opposite) - and started reading a BOOK. I've been reading screenplays and books ABOUT screenplays since Christmas, so this was a SPECIAL TREAT!

I also did some WRITING of my own. I've been asked to do a song for a compilation about about FOOTBALL - it sounds like it's going to be something rather beautiful, as it'll be released as a STICKER ALBUM, with actual STICKERS! I decided pretty much straight away to write it about going to see Posh with my Grandad, so over the weekend sat myself down and WROTE it. I think it'll be mostly done on the UKE, as it sounds dead nice that way. I did get a bit MAUDLIN after tho!

And then Sunday we had another Total Hero Team rehearsal. I'd done another re-write earlier in the week, which we tried out and found that it not only loppped off 5 minutes of the running time but also made the END of the show MUCH better. Previously everything had kind of ground to a halt when we did A Little Bit Excited so i CUT it, swapped some sections around, and suddenly everything worked MUCH better. It also dragged in EXTRA EMOTION and STUFF, it was FAB! It's a bit of a shame to lose the song, as i DO rather like it, but it felt very much like we'd made the final changes that would make everything work properly.

It was all rather exciting - the run through went well (MISTAKES still, but nobody seems to really mind) and on the way out we realised that this was the FINAL PART of this particular PHASE i.e. of trying it out and changing things around. We're in Leicester at the weekend, and that'll be the start of several months of DOING the show, rather than tinkering with it, before we move on to the whole EDINBURGH slice of FUN TIMES. It felt GOOD - i think it's going to work!

posted 4/2/2013 by MJ Hibbett
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