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Blog Archive: May 2020

Going Up To Eleven
Today sees the UNLEASHMENT of the Eleventh and (for now at least) LAST edition of the Totally Acoustic vodcast series, this time featuring Sunny Intervals and Out Of This City. It's a bloody lovely one to go out on, as you can see for yourself BELOW:

It's been a DELIGHTFUL thing to do, but it feels right to be ending it here for now. Doing ten shows might have been a rounder number, but as The Shows In My Series pointed out, this way we get to "go up to eleven"! As previously stated, the original intent was to do a couple of shows to make up for the fact that we'd had to cancel a couple of LIVE Totally Acoustics, but it was so much fun to put together that it got a bit out of control. I enjoyed having a reason to a) pester some of my favourite poeple in ROCK and also b) do a song of my own every week so much that I just kept doing it!

In theory we're now in the process of moving out of lockdown, but with the shower of utterly useless spivs currently running the country we may well end up back in it pretty soon, and either way it's unlikely that Actual Gigs will be coming back in the near future, so we might end up doing another series later in the year. For now, however, you can enjoy the whole run in a PLAYLIST what I have made, right here:

I highly recommend watching THE LOT - not just because it is An Historical Document Of Music In Lockdon (and also of my HAIR GROWTH), but also because there's some GRATE performances in there, and I LOVE the fact that it brings together an awful lot of acts that would not normally be on the same bill. It's been a fab thing to do all round really, so thanks very much for everyone who's taken part and ESPECIALLY to everyone who's been watching - lets hope we get to do it again in real life before too long!

posted 26/5/2020 by MJ Hibbett
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Museums Showoff
As discussed elsewhere, one of the odd things about Lockdown for me is that it's made me WEIRDLY freer to do GIGS than I have been in a long old while. Doing them online LIVE is pretty much impossible (as long as I want to remain in my thin-walled flat anyway!) but pre-recording stuff and sending it out into THE WORLD has suddenly become Quite The Thing.

For instance, on Tuesday night I was able to take part in Museums Showoff for the first time. Museums Showoff is (usually) a regular night where Museum and Museum-adjacent professionals talk about their work in a gig-like setting, sort of similar to all the Science Showoff gigs you get, but more, well, MUSEUM-y. For AGES I've been wanting to go along to one, and ALSO for AGES I have been wanting to write a song about Museums Of One Thing, as it is something that myself and The Artefacts In My Exhibit talk about whenever we go on holiday and LOOK for them. THUS when I saw that they were doing a VIRTUAL show I emailed the organisers and said I'd LOVE the chance to finally make BOTH of these things happen, and they said YES!

So it was that I wrote A Museum Of One Thing, learnt it up, and then recorded it chez moi a couple of weeks ago. I then sent it off to the show's organisers, who added it as the final item in the show you can see BELOW:

I did consider pretending that it was all done live, but you can see from my HAIR that things have moved on since then! It was a great show to be part of, and actually really nice to let Me Of A Few Weeks Ago do the gig, so that Me Of Right Now could watch and enjoy everybody else's (excellent) sets while sitting on twitter and talking to people about it - it was liking having/being my own Social Media Team - more of this sort of thing please!

posted 21/5/2020 by MJ Hibbett
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Playing To An Empty Room
Once a term (NB I work for an ART COLLEGE so that's how we think about these things) I usually do a series of training sessions, to show staff how to use the computer system that I run. It always feels to me like a TOUR but sadly THIS term it feels even MORE like a tour in that it looked like it would all have to be cancelled.

HOWEVER, and ALSO like other sorts of gigs, TECHNOLOGY has intervened so that I can now do the courses ONLINE instead, and so it was that on Monday afternoon I sat down before my laptop ready to give my first ever WEBINAR. To mark the occasion I even combed my hair and put a shirt on - it was the first time I have had to deal with BUTTONS for over two months, but I think I remembered how to do it.

It's so professional I think I'm going to use it as my new LinkedIn profile picture!

I did another one of these this afternoon, and both sessions felt a bit ODD. As you can probably imagine, I like to throw in some GAGS as I go along, but the fact that everyone was respecting Teams Meeting Etiquette meant that everybody else was muted, so I couldn't hear the GALES of LARFS like what I usually do hem hem. Also I had to go and keep checking the CHAT section to see if there were any questions, which got a bit distracting, although I DID remember the classic advice for Responding To Heckles i.e. you read out what people have heckled/asked in chat, which tells everybody else what you're on about AND gives you time to think of an answer.

These sessions usually last about 40 minutes, and I thought that these would be much shorter, as there's less chance for veering off topic or wandering around checking everybody's screens to see where they're up to, but they actually lasted LONGER. Perhaps people feel more able to ASK questions when they're not constantly drowned out by the aforesaid GALES of LARFS? Either way, it seemed to work - I quite fancy doing some more now!

posted 20/5/2020 by MJ Hibbett
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A Virtual Field Of Play
Today is the day we UNLEASH the PENULTIMATE episode of this series of the Totally Acoustic Vodcast series, featuring Motorcade One, Non Canon and Fightmilk. It's dead good, as you can see from yourself below:

This morning as I was preparing for the UNLEASHMENT of the above The Code In My URL pointed out that I'd had to cancel two live Totally Acoustic shows and, in order to make up for it, had ended up doing ELEVEN virtual ones. She makes a fair point! Weirdly, LOCKDOWN has made me busier in the world of ROCK than I have been for YEARS - I stopped doing LOADS of gigs because a) travelling around so much was becoming less fun and so b) I stopped asking for gigs and thus c) people stopped asking me to do them, but now the travelling around has been removed entirely I find I CAN put myself forward for stuff again, and as a result people have started asking ME to do stuff as well. I do remember for YEARS thinking "I must never stop asking for gigs, or people will stop inviting me to do them" and being surprised by how quickly I was proved correct, but the turnaround in the other direction has been even more sudden!

It's like the Playing Field Of ROCK has been evened up in some ways, so that, for instance, you now DON'T have to live in That London to do certain gigs. It's evened DOWN (if that's the right terminology - let's say that it is) in other ways though of course. People who aren't me have KIDS and RESPONSIBILITIES and JOB WORRIES, while people who ARE me are INSANELY JEALOUS of people they see online doing gigs in their spare rooms, or even late at night in their living room. I live in a small flat with THIN walls, surrounded by many neighbours who are (like most of us) in ALL the time now, so my ROCK schedule is very much dictated by those sort of considerations, so I've had to say "NO" to a lot of exciting sounding things because there's no way I can do live broadcasts without annoying loads of people. On the plus side, it does mean that the world has been spared my much mooted "Hibbett plays loads of covers, drunk, after watching three episodes of Blakes 7" set. I fear that idea is just too beautiful to live!

In the meantime though there's plenty to be getting on with, including a (pre-recorded) slot this very evening in the first ever Museums Showoff gig. I wrote a whole new song especially for it!

posted 19/5/2020 by MJ Hibbett
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More Experts On Telly Please
There has been a LOT of talk during The Current Situation about how Things won't go back to how they were before when it's finally all over. For my kind of work, for instance, I sincerely doubt whether I'll ever work a five day week in a big office ever again, as working from home has been so weirdly straightforward, and it's been brilliant not having to travel across London on a regular basis to attend meetings where SHALL WE SAY my contributions are not quite as important as one might think.

Another thing that I REALLY hope we stick with on the other side is the massive use of EXPERTS on the telly news. It used to be that the TV news shows would get in the same bloody columnists and commentators that they always used, a bunch of journalists who would basically make things up that sounded good and give half backed opinions on stuff they knew nothing about. NOW, however, when everybody is talking via ZOOM and so forth it seems they've realised that it's just as easy to get WORLD EXPERTS in to talk as it is to get The Usual Posh Twits. This means that our telly has been FULL of PROFESSORS just lately who, as anyone who mingles with this rare breed of academic will know, are often EXTREMELY good value for opinions and general entertainment. They are also VERY POLITE when people are COMPLETELY WRONG about things - for instance, we particularly enjoyed it on the Coronavirus Newscast thing when one of the journalists proudly showed off about a calculation he'd made that said it would take four years for 80% of the population to get the disease. A PROFESSOR then came on who was DOING RESEARCH about it and KNEW WHAT HE WAS ON ABOUT and without making a big deal about it completed refuted the whole idea very kindly, as if he was correcting an enthusiastic but inept undergraduate.

It's happening all over the place - instead of posh drips spouting rubbish, you get the SUPERLOONS of Academia, who have had decades of experience UNDERSTANDING HARD THINGS and also EXPLAINING them to people who don't necessarily want to know, appearing in various states of bookish disarray and giving GENUINE THORTS to slightly stunned interviewers. It's fab - I really really hope that we get MORE Professors on telly FOREVER.

If nothing else, it'll keep them busy and give them less time to ask me why their computer isn't working!

posted 15/5/2020 by MJ Hibbett
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We Were On Radio 4!
A few weeks ago I was doing my usual SELF-GOOGLING - for professional reasons, you understand, in preparation for the release of People Are All Right - when I was surprised to discover one of our very oldest songs was mentioned on the listings for a Radio 4 show.

I think that this might have come about because of somebody on the show searching through Music Libraries. Some years ago John The Publisher made me spend WEEKS entering data on all of our songs into the PPL website, which was a RUDDY PAIN IN THE WOTSITS because it was SUCH a bad site (it's a bit better now), so that he could in turn log them on the aforesaid Music Libraries. As I understand it these give radio, TV and film people an easily searchable list of songs that they know are properly registered with PPL and PRS and are pre-cleared to be USED in stuff. The radio show was called "The Pebble In Your Pocket" so a search for "Pebble" will have naturally turned up The Pebble And The Boulder.

The show itself was VERY Radio 4 i.e. it genuinely was all about Pebbles, with people talking about how much they like them, a bit of Barbara Hepworth, some poetry and also MUSIC, including a blast of us about 20 minutes in, with Mr Whitaker doing his VOCAL RANTING and then it coming back a few minutes later for a little bit of the end of the song. You can listen to it online yourself if you like, you may need to turn it up a bit for our bit! I don't suppose it'll be a big breakthrough into the Radio 4 audience, but I am fully ready to be wrong if they want us to appear in The Archers.

Even more excitingly, this is another BBC Network to tick off - we've done 1,2 and 6 on a number of occasions, we were on one of those odd "other kinds of music" shows on Radio 3 donkey's years ago, and I think we've been on 5 Live with something about one of the many versions of The Fair Play Trophy too. Actually, now I think about it, we've been on the World Service and I've had some sketches on 4Extra too, so that just leaves 1Extra and BBC Asian Network to go! CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!

posted 14/5/2020 by MJ Hibbett
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The Pre-Penultimate Totally Acoustic
Today sees the UNLEASHIFICATION of the NINTH (9th) edition of the Totally Acoustic Vodcast series, featuring Blyth Power, Adam from The Hector Collectors and Ankles McGhee. It's another of those shows which feature people who I don't think would ever be slung together in a live show normally, and as ever I think this is an EXCELLENT thing. You can see for yourself right here:

For my song this time I did It Only Works Because You're Here. Over the past couple of months of doing these shows I've tried to do some new songs and others that I don't necessarily play very often but, as I say in the vodcast, now we're getting towards the end of this run I thought I'd go easy on myself and do my FAVOURITE of my songs!

Actually, I'm not sure that I've said out loud that the series is coming to and end soon, so - the series is coming to an end soon! I've got two more episodes to do, which will be coming out next week and the week after, and then that'll be it, for now at least. I think eleven shows with over thirty acts in is pretty good going, and if the lack of Actual Gigs goes on for as long as it looks like it will then I might bring it back later in the year, but for now I'm quite looking forward to not panicking about what on earth I'm going to say each time, although I will miss having a weekly record of my GIGANTIC HAIR GROWTH!

posted 12/5/2020 by MJ Hibbett
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Campaign Report
It's now two weeks since we UNLEASHED our new single People Are All Right upon an unsuspecing world and, so far, I think it has been going down pretty well. We've had quite a few plays on various radio stations, I've been thoroughly enjoying looking at Spotify For Artists to check what cities people are listening to it in (Hello Malmo!), and a steady stream of DELIGHTFUL people have been buying the badges too. It's been lovely!

The only aspect of our TITANIC PROMOTIONAL CAMPAIGN that hasn't gone as well as I'd have liked is the VIDEO. The version of the video we put out right at the start was made up of bits of an old Jimmy Stewart film, which eerily fit the lyrics but, I am sad to say, did not exactly set the world on fire. THUS I sat down this weekend to do a NEW one, using the clips of us playing it live in isolation what we did for last week's Totally Acoustic, swapping the live audio for the studio recording, and then cutting it differently to cater for the parts where me and Emma veer off from the original vocals. Hey, we are basically AVANT GARDE JAZZ VOCALISTS after all, and cannot be expected to simply parrot the same things each time!

The final version, I reckon, looks pretty good. Have a see for yourself!

All Validators were between two and 145 miles apart at all times, and I can assure you we were ALERT too!

posted 11/5/2020 by MJ Hibbett
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Totally Acoustic The Eighth
Today sees the UNLEASHMENT of the EIGHTH edition of the Totally Acoustic Vodcast, which I must say is a Mighty Milestone I did not see coming. At the start I thought we might do three or four of them, at which point lockdown would be over and we'd all be back to gigs as normal!

This EIGHTH edition features not only Vom Vorton and Mikey Collins, but also a couple of acts slightly closer to home for me. The first is the Acoustic Club from Probus, where my Dad lives - he sent me a link of a video they'd all made together in the village and it was so lovely I thought I'd put it in the show, as you can see BELOW:

The other is of course The Actual Validators, in a video we have spent the past few weeks putting together. The original idea came from TIM, who suggested we do an Isolation Video for the new version of Mental Judo with us all playing live, and this developed to include a) Emma doing a new THIRD verse too and b) us also doing People Are All Right (if they are given half a chance). It took QUITE a lot of work to get it all together, not least syncing everybody's parts together (Tim played along to the recorded versions of both songs, and Mental Judo in particular was, to put it politely, somewhat ORGANICALLY TIMED), and I oscillated between thinking "This is amazing, we should do ALL songs like this" and "THIS IS A NIGHTMARE WHEN WILL IT END" whilst editing, but I think it worked out pretty nicely in the end!

posted 5/5/2020 by MJ Hibbett
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