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Newsletter: On Time!
In a marked change from my recent record, I'm happy to report that the latest edition of the newsletter has come out today, as it should, on the last working day of the month. PHEW!
That's not to say it's perfect, as I've just realised that I mention the new Hollow Smoke compilation a couple of times in the "Gigs" bit but not in the "Records" section. OOF! A foolish error which I shall have to rectify next time I guess. Still, the rest of it appears fairly factually accurate so far, TIME will tell if it remains so!
A Strange Day
It was a long, emotional day for me yesterday, as The Tune In My Song and I went back up to Peterborough for my Nan's funeral. She'd been poorly for quite a lot of this year and passed away just over three weeks ago.
At the time it happened most of my little bit of the family were on the way to Australia for my brother's wedding, so though we were all together we didn't spend a lot of time talking about it, as we were trying to focus on the happiness of the wedding, as that's VERY DEFINITELY what Nan wanted. Sometimes people say in this sort of situation "It's what they would have wanted" without being entirely sure, but GOODNESS KNOWS we knew her wishes in this instance because she made them very clear indeed - the last time I saw her her main worry was that her being poorly was going to spoil the wedding, so we not only had to reassure her about it, but also carry it through and have fun. This did, however, mean that we'd all had to deal with the grief seperately, and so it felt a little bit odd, after so much thinking about it in private, to all be coming together to acknowledge it at last in this way.
SO yes, I was geared up for some EMOTION, and that's what i got! We arrived in Peterborough a bit early, so had a look round Queensgate and then had a quick nosey over the wall into Nan's old house, which was opposite the undertaker's. My Grandad had worked there as a carpenter nearly all the time that I was growing up, so the area had a lot of memories. We walked down the driveway towards where his old workshop had been, and I found that it was not only all still there, but that they had all the old cutting, sawing and planing machines that he used to use there. As we arrived a Council van was there, taking away massive bags full of wood chippings, so everything smelt incredibly strongly of my Grandad, as that's how he always smells when I think of him. It was great to see it all still there and be reminded of a particularly lovely bit of my childhood.
Soon my parents arrived with the rest of the procession, so we went out again to get out lift, and had the very strange experience of walking past nearly all my cousins, aunts and uncles parked along Dogsthorpe Road! I'd last seen them all three years ago at my Nan's 90th birthday party, so was, as ever, amazed to be reminded that my cousins not only had kids, but they'd been GROWING.
Off we went to the crematorium, where the service was presided over by my Nan's old vicar, who'd come out of retirement for the occasion - he'd actually done the christening for my little brother Thomas, who delivered one of the tributes. Bless him, he did EXTREMELY WELL, and when, towards the end, he found it difficult to carry on i just wanted to RUSH THE STAGE and give him a big hug. I know he's a proper grown-up to me, but he always seems about six years old when i look at him - which is quite a feat of mental agility, as he's about a foot taller than i am.
Anyway, then it was off to the pub (which, for added oddness, turned out to be the one opposite my friend Robin's house where we go at Christmas and where the final verse of We Only Ever Meet In Church happened) where we wandered about a bit, talking to a few people and, personally, being a bit daunted by having so much FAMILY in one room. After a couple of hours a few of us went back to the parents' abode and then for the train home, where i got back utterly WORN OUT by all the emotion. There's been an awful lot of that over the past couple of years, good and bad, with my family - I'm hoping 2007 will be a year of REST!
Tales From The Conference League
While I'm busily putting new things online, over in the Tales From The Conference League archive I've out up the article that appeared in the October Issue of Sandman Magazine. This was actually the first one I'd seen in print, which was a bit odd as it had a rather unusual drawing of a Mr Happy trying to kill himself, which isn't perhaps QUITE what the article's about, but HEY HEY you can judge that for yourself!
I've stuck that one up because I've finally got round to sending off my article for the next issue, which hopefully will be accompanied by a photograph of my GURNING FACE, which was taken at The Fuzztival last month. Perhaps the suicidal Mr Man wasn't such an odd idea after all?
There's a NEW SONG over on the New Songs page, it's a rather smashing (i think) one called My Boss Was In An Indie Band Once based, as it says in the accompanying ANNOTATIONS on conversations I have had with a couple of PILLARS OF ROCK just lately. I really rather like it i must say, and am hopefully going to be recording a DEMO version on Thursday, along with a couple of other new ones, at the marvellous Studio Sonic, ready for a BUMPER CD of new material for those lucky lucky Validators.
I've also spent a healthy chunk of this weekend working on the multimedia for the next single, especially on the free LIVE ALBUM that's going to be coming with it. It's all looking good for a 2007 of ROCK!
Myself, The Head Of My Guiness, and a PAL went off to The Spitz last night, to see Boo Hewerdine. Me and herself have seen him MANY times and this is because he is DEAD GOOD, so were RATHER excited at the prospect of seeing him again, especially when we arrived to find he was going to be playing with a band. New thing!
When we got into the venue itself I was surprised to find the venue was set out like a JAZZ PLACE i.e. with loads of tables set up around the stage. I'm sure this is all well and good in theory and that promoters thing it is going to generate an BOHO ATMOS, but in actuality it's just A Bit Annoying, as the tables get snaffled up really early by wine guzzling chin nestling patiently nodding iron bladdered JAZZ GITS, leaving the vast majority of the audience to huddle together at the back of the room getting in each other's way when they want to go to the bar for GOOD HONEST NON-WINE-BASED DRINKS (Wine! drink it at HOME, not at a GIG!). I think it's a GOOD idea to have seats at a venue, but have them at the BACK so that people who are TIRED from standing at the front (AS NATURE INTENDED) can go and have a little rest.
Thus i was immediately put into a slight GRUMP, not helped by the first act on, who was playing some sort of Exotic Guitar. As ever on such occasions it was Quite Interesting for the first few minutes, as he was making some Strange Noises with it, helped by the fact it seemed to have tambourine bells all along the bottom which, as he danced around, sounded dead good. HOWEVER, it appears that JAZZ is the same where'ere you wander as it went on FAR TOO LONG without actually getting any more interesting/exciting/fun, so i was relieved to find we'd got there towards the end of the set. I know some people like that sort of thing, but personally i'm more interested in people UTILISING whatever TOOLS they choose to do something GOOD, rather than just attending an Instrument Demonstration Seminar.
GRUMP LEVELS: INCREASING! After that the second support was a very nice young GEL who appeared to have come hotfoot from pony club to entertain us. I am AWARE that i am slightly BIASED against POSH people (it is a deep pyschological problem which i am attempting to combat with forced immersion in SELFRIDGES) so thought to myself "Come on now Comrade Hibbett, give her a chance" and struggled to do so as she interspersed jolly what-ho chat with EXTREME COD-AMERICAN WARBLING, GRUNTING, BELLOWING and agonising lengths of GUTTURAL TRILLING. Yes, GUTTURAL TRILLING! It is hard to imagine i know, but that is what was happening.
As ever at these sort of things, people went WILD for it. "Beautiful!" shouted out a group at the back, who i CORRECTLY (i checked later) guessed would be harsh looking middle aged women, angrily applauding A Young Woman In Rock. During my early days in ROCK you would very OFTEN meet middle aged women, angrily applauding A Young Woman In Rock at gigs, but they seem to be a bit of a dying specied, so it was nice to see them again and note that they are still wearing great big hand woven jumpers and BIG SPECS. There was also a large smattering of WOBBLY JAZZ GUYS who seemed VERY eager indeed, but i guess that's just WOBBLY JAZZ GUYS for you.
Suffice to say, i didn't much like it and, in conference with the rest of my party, I found us to be a small but united fraternity within the audience in general. GRUMPINESS therefore was RAGING through my veins, so when Mr B Hoowerdine came on stage I was ready to HARRUMPH.
Imagine my RELIEF, then, when he went on to be UTTERLY GRATE for the next hour or so. As ever, it was a great big juicy SLAB of TUNE, honestly sung, that made me a) GRIN b) want to emulate and c) fight back more than one MANLY TEAR. There's a kind of songwriting (and it's obviously not the kind that I can do) that goes ABOVE words and literal meanings and GRABS you right in the heart, making you feel all emotional without really knowing why, and that's the sort of thing he does.
Most of the songs were familiar from the other times he'd seen him, and they sounded surprisingly the same even though AUGMENTED by a band, so I guess that means they were just dead good at playing them. The best bits were the drummers. Yes - DRUMMERS PLURAL! The pair of them sat on BOXES which they hit with sticks and beaters and brushes or SLAPPED in concert with each other - it sounds a bit daft but it was REALLY good, especially the way they seemed to be DANCING with each other when things got a bit HECTIC. It was ACE!
The other thing I really noticed this time is that Mr Hewerdine is NOT by any stretch of the imagination a "Great Singer". What I mean is, he doesn't seem to have a particularly big vocal range, the notes he sings don't go too far either way anyway, and he doesn't go in for any yelping or wobbling or extending words much beyond their alloted syllables, he just SINGS them, and does so in a lovely straightforward way that makes you feel that he really MEANS what he's singing, without ever getting over-earnest about it. To put it another way, it's REALLY REALLY GOOD.
THUS, by the end of the set all was JOY and HAPPINESS and the room buzzed with a feeling of GOODWILL to all men, also PEACE ON EARTH. GRUMPINESS was dissolved and it felt, actually, a bit CHRISTMASSY. Maybe that was just the Guiness, i don't know, but as we strode out into the cold night air i felt WARM within. Boo Hewerdine: he's dead good!
You find me today getting myself GEE-ED UP ready for Christmas, as I prepare myself for the FINAL ASSAULT on what's been a Year Of ROCK. I have done a LOT of gigs this year and I must confess i am a bit knackered by it all, so the plan for 2007 is to do LESS gigs. Hey, I'm not planning to go into HERMITAGE or anything, but i'm certainly not planning to do the FIFTY gigs I'll (if all goes to plan) have done this year. It's a LOT!
But before that can happen I've got the Christmas Gigs Season to enjoy, and MAN! but there is a lot of it. Last year when i circumnavigated the globe I missed out on this most JOYOUS season of live gig ACTION, so i am most chuffed to have such a wide selection of gigs to play this time, not least of which is going to be our OWN Validators' Christmas Party, back once again at Woodhouse Eaves Village Hall.
It's going to be taking place on Saturday December 9th, and it would be LOVELY it people could come. I've set up a Special Webpage which gives you details about how to get there on public transport and also, if you're feeling adventurous, places in the village to stay. It was a GRATE night when we did it two years ago (even though having to draw the raffle was a bit scary) and once again we'll be joined by the "legendary" Tube Bar DISCOTHEQUE. You can even bring along your own BOOZE, and this time around you can Buy tickets ONLINE, for MAXIMUM comfort and security.
It's going to be a whole HEAP of fun, hopefully see you there!
Action Packed Weekend Of Action
Phew! I had a busy old weekend this week. The Items On My List was away for most of it, so i decided to THROW myself into Administrative Duties in order to keep myself occupied, and also to start getting myself sorted out and back to normal again. The trip to Australia was SUCH a big deal that it rather pushed everything else to one side for quite a while, and then when I got back i was COMPLETELY KNACKERED, so I hadn't really got round to getting going again. Now, I felt, it was time to BEGIN.
THUS I had a frenzied fly into town for various purposes, not least to lay some groundwork for CHRISTMAS. When i got home I had a MASSIVE sort out of paperwork, Personal Filing, and ROCK stuff. I began my glittering career in academia as a secretary, many many years ago, and though I pride myself STILL on my audio-typing and Professional Telephone Manner I do have to admit that filing is NOT my strong point. INDEED i sometimes wonder whether my first boss was SO good about getting me to learn Databases and that BECAUSE he wanted to get somebody else to do the filing. Still, I got it done and felt GOOD to have sorted it out.
Next day I did the Tesco Shopping, and again it felt GOOD. Sometimes it's only when things HAVEN'T been normal for a while that you really appreciate how GRATE your own personal normal really can be, and i LOVE my normal life. Oh, the carefree joy of going OFF-LIST and getting a bit of posh bread for tea!
BUOYED UP by this I spent most of the rest of the day working on the Multimedia Aspect for the next single, which all worked out surprisingly easily. As well as all the usual lyrics and annotations it's also going to have the video for The Gay Train, a LIVE CONCERT, and - at last - the demo version of Hey Hey 64K, the sequel to Hey Hey 16K which I wrote earlier on in the year and then abandoned. I listened to it again last night, and was Fairly Chuffed with it.
So yeah, it was all PRETTY DARNED GOOD and I'm feeling pretty NIFTY - and tonight I'm off for a pint with a Legend Of Indie! It's GRATE to be back!
Sometimes i am shocked - SHOCKED - by the VENALITY of people. I had a mini-SURGE of visitors to the site this week, many of whom were asking various search engines to tell them the name of a Rock Group whose albums include Achtung Bono and This Leaden Pall. There were MANY versions of this request, which leads me to believe that someone somewhere is running a competition (I'm guessing it's a radio show, just because the way the phrasing of the question differs slightly suggests it was heard and then typed in, rather than cut and paste: ME AM SHERLOCK HOLMES) where that's the question.
NAUGHTY search engine users, using the interweb for personal gain! FOR SHAME! Still, it's nice to know that, at least on ask.com, THIS is the number one site for knowing which rock group have albums including Achtung Bono and This Lead Pall, so in the spirit of giving I will tell you the answer. It is, of course, HAYZEE FANTAYZEE.
OMG! And when i say OMG, i mean OMFG! For LO! i went to see Art Brut last night, and they were RIDICULOUSLY BRILLIANT!! Just AMAZINGLY GRATE! It was BRILL!
I went due to the good offices of Mr (Carsmile) S Hewitt, who had a spare ticket and kindly bestowed it on me. We met in the Actually All Right (though it looks really horrible from the outside) pub near the Astoria, and were briefly joined for cheery banter and LARKS by The Venue Of My Gig. Soon however it was time for ROCK, so she went home and the rest of us went next door. We saw a TINY bit of Untitled Music Project (NB the last minute) and then it was The Chalets, who were dead good - it felt a bit weird to see them on a proper big stage, being a Proper Band-Style Band, as it's not THAT long ago since i played with them in a (admittedly quite big) PUB in Cork.
I've not been in the LA2 (or the Town & Country Club, or The Mean Fiddler, or whatever it's called now) and felt a bit ODD about being in what APPEARED to be a normal venue that was, actually, DEEP UNDERGROUND. It was ODD. Anyway, soon it was time for ACTION and the Art Brut came on and, as i may have mentioned, were BRILLIANT. I'd not seen them before and was expected a sort of jolly indie ramshackle bit of fun, i WASN'T expecting them to be so MIGHTY and ROCK. They started off with "Formed A Band" and the whole place went MENTAL, and stayed that way for the next hour or so. There was shouting, there was a LOT of singing along, there was jumping up and down, and Mr E Argos was a FANTASTIC front man - again, I had expected ramshackleNESS, not SHOWMANSHIP and MAGNIFICENCE. I especially liked the Skipping With The Microphone Lead BIT, it was ACE.
The really good thing about them though is they're ROCK and LOUD and CATCHY but, unlike almost ALL OTHER BANDS like that, seem a) like proper nice people and b) have GRATE lyrics that are about GRATE things. Evidence of a) was especially clear in the way that the bass player spent the whole night GRINNING like mad and singing along with ALL the songs, despite not having a microphone. We saw b) in the way Mr Argos LECTURED the crowd about the fact they all COULD and SHOULD form their own bands, and it made you realise how POSITIVE, EXCITING, and GRATE all their words are.
I spent the whole time GRINNING like mad, and even the IMMENSELY ARSEY bouncers and APPALLINGLY badly organised Audience Exit Strategy of the venue (if there's ever a fire there EVERYONE will be DOOMED) couldn't dampen my GLEEFULNESS. It really was the BEST gig i have been to in AGES, and also one of the BEST! GIGS! EVER! - it was ESPECIALLY one of the best for one of those size of venues too, usually in places like that i feel uncomfortable, wedged in, and ALIENATED, but last night it felt like one big HAPPY CROWD. Did i mention how much i liked it?
I was also quite pleased with the fact that i was leaving for home at a reasonable hour, and also that i had managed to stay awake, as i was still feeling a bit done in from the old International Travel. This situation, however, was not to last - somewhere around Holborn i nodded off and was awoken some time later by a cheery Essex GEEZER saying "Oi Mate! Wake up, it's EPPING!"
Oh bloody heck. What a PILLOCK i felt, as I got out and very sheepishly went to ask the guy on the platform whether there might be another train going home the other way. I think i may not have been the FIRST person ever to do this, as he was very nice about the whole thing - according to the timetables on the walls i'd just MISSED the last one, but he very kindly told me there was a SECRET Last Train To Leytonstone in about half an hour, so i hung around feeling like a CHUMP and then gratefully boarded the Secret Train and was soon discovering that Epping is a REALLY LONG WAY AWAY. It took AGES to get home!
When i DID get home tho it was to find the aforementioned Songs On My Setlist still up and, soon, AMUSED by my idiocy, and thus it was with RELIEF and a heart full of ROCK JOY that i was able, at last, to retire. It had been an evening of GRATE! NESS!
Back To Business
Shortly after i BLOGGED yesterday The JetLag caught up with me and i had to go home and get into bed. I was KNACKERED. I seem to be feeling a bit better today, which is just as well as we are BACK TO BUSINESS, and the business is ROCK!
I've just confirmed a couple more GIGS, one in Leicester and yet another in CAMBRIDGE, this time with a few Validators added in. The Leicester one is another promotional evening for the new Sorted compilation, which is now being released on December 4th via Shellshock, and is called Hollow Smoke. It features 20 songs from various Sorted TYPES, with my song being The Story Of My Life. You should be able to get it from shops and Amazon then, and hopefully from the Sorted Records site too.
It's all go again - and tonight i am off to see some ROCK, in the shape of Art Brut. Full Report tomorrow!
Back In Blighty
Good morning, one and all! At long last I'm back home, and I must say it feels GOOD to be here. Sometimes it's only when you finally GET Back To Normal that you realise just how GRATE Normal really is!
After i last BLOGGED we headed off to KATOOMBA in The Blue Moutains for several days. I stayed HERE with my parents, and the picture of the living room is actually the one we stayed in, with that being my BEDROOM of an evening! It's an AMAZING place - there's another picture HERE which gives you some idea of how ON THE EDGE it all is. It was like The Grand Canyon, but with TREES!
I spent a nice day with my brother Thomas and his girlfriend wandering the rain forest, and then a pleasant evening eating CURRY with the bride and grooms families... although i did spend quite a bit of that time FREAKING OUT, as this meant that members of MY family who are usually very very seperate were suddenly sat chatting to each other!
The wedding itself was LOVELY - James and Suzie got married on a lookout with an INCREDIBLE view of the mountains behind them and i managed NOT to drop any rings into the canyon. The reception was ACE, the food was GRATE, and i did a LOT of mingling around. The speeches went well - i helped Jim with his a bit (note to anybody in attendance: that joke about Steve Irwin was NOT present when i last heard it!) and had spent a LOT of time working on mine, which seemed to all work out all right. The day later went on to the PUB where there was a LOT of booze drunk. When we finally got back to our CHALET I ended up STRIDING OUT to Echo Point saying "I'm going to look at THE UNIVERSE! It's a BEAUTIFUL UNIVERSE everybody!"
By the way, i should say - you know people in Australia go on about how they like beer to be cold? They are NOT making it up - CRIKEY! I have RARELY felt as English as I did whilst drinking Australian Beer, it is SO VERY COLD it ACTUALLY HURTS!! I was very pleasantly surprised to find there's actually LOTS of really nice beer over there, but HECKERS! It is FREEZING!
Anyway, next day we all went over to my brother's IN-LAWS' country PAD, which was lovely, even though i was suffering under a COLOSSAL hangover. There were loads of very emotional goodbyes and on the way home we saw a KANGAROO, which was very exciting! Next day there were more goodbyes and then it was time to get the train back to Sydney, another train to the airport (which doesn't look anything like it did on Lost!), where I had one last SCHOONER of AMBER ALE (lovely) before setting off home.
I tell you what, the next time i hear somebody say "It's a Small World" I shall have to CORRECT them, for it REALLY ISN'T! Blimey! It was a LONG old trip home, and i was EXTREMELY HAPPY to find myself pulling my faithful suitcase down Leytonestone High Road yesterday morning. I really liked Australia - it's a nice place full of LOVELY people - but goodness me, it's REALLY good to be home again!
Busy Down Under
Hello again from Sydney! It's been a busy few days over here on the other side of the planet. I've been into Sydney itself several times and seen quite a bit. We went on the Manly Ferry (GOOD), saw the Opera House (impressive from afar, then suddenly like a bit of The South Bank from nearby, then really impressive again when you get close to it) and the BRIDGE, had a go on the monorail (GRATE, but fairly pointless), seen the Australia Museum (eerily reminiscent of Leicester Museum!) and The Hyde Park Barracks Museum (GRATE!), visited several pubs, and seen SHARKS and STINGRAYS and SQUIDS and ALL SORTS in the Aquarium.
We also went out to The Sydney Basin where i got NIPPED by some crabs and then saw a whole load of WALLABIES. I've also seen tons of KOOKABURA too, they are BRILLIANT, also minah birds, cockatoos, and in town a WEIRD looking bird with a really long curvy beak. It's like being in another country or something!
After THAT we went over to Palm Beach (SUMMER BAY!) and saw them filming Home & Away... which looked sort of the same as the last time i watched it, about 15 years ago. Today we're heading off to KATOOMBA, where my brother is to be WED, so i've got a couple of days of SPEECH WRITING ahead of me! SLIGHTLY nervous about that, but the first draft is looking OK. I just need some more GAGS...
And that's the story so far - next update may well be back in Blighty, see you then!
Greetings from SYDNEY, where it is... er... sort of wet and cold really! Last night was my brother's stag do, which all went off rather well, and today we're off into Sydney itself for a look around and, hopefully, an Open Top Bus Tour. Then it's off into the MOUNTAINS mid-week for the wedding itself before i get back on the aeroplanes for the long trip back. It's all a bit exhausting really!
Leaving On A Jet Plane
Phew! You find me pretty much EXHAUSTED and DONE IN, yet SATISFIED, for LO! i have been dashing around like the Blue Arsed Fly these past few days, trying to sort out loads of stuff a) at HOME b) in ROCK c) at WORK, ready for me to fly off to THE OTHER SIDE OF THE PLANET tonight. I'm away in Australia for a week and a half for my brother's wedding, so have been quite harrassed anyway, without the extra work, streaming cold, and Family Stuff that's also come at me. In a KRAZY kind of way i am regarding the forthcoming 25 hours of travelling as an opportunity for a bit of a rest!
To my eternal shame this has also caused the second late shipping of The Newsletter in a ROW. Many apologies for this, but at least it's available now and i shall do my best to ensure it does not happen again... well, not for a while anyway.
I'll try and get online to let you know of my EXPLOITS next week, altho whatever time i can get on a keyboard probably OUGHT to be spent on SPEECH WRITING, for LO! i am the Best Man... and haven't got very far with it yet. Still, plenty of time ahead for all that - i'll let you know how I get on!
Ooh, and also - the shop will remain OPEN during my absence, and I'll try and get everything sent out as soon as i get back in a week and a bit.
Right then, that's the lot i think, I'm off to the SPRING TIME!