“SONG FOR EWE” is the feature where artists & music people beloved by VELVET SHEEP choose an obscure song they’ve been listening to that day. Today’s guest is a special one to Velvet Sheep when we were a club night for a while a few years back, and not only that he’s the 200th (yes really!) musician to choose a “song for ewe”. I first heard of him through my mate John Esplen at Overground Records and Wipe Out Music Publishing, through his band M J Hibbett and The Validators who had a minor hit and in fact an early viral one at that with the video for “Hey, Hey 16K” and was mates with the excellent and vastly underrated Prolapse. I invited him to play at only the second ever Velvet Sheep live event at the Whitechapel Gallery where he played a killer solo acoustic set in support of electro duo Squidvicar – the band of music video & film director Garth Jennings (of “Son of Rambow” and recently “Sing” fame). He totally beguiled the audience with his clever indie (like a C86 Richard Stilgoe) with whip smart lyrics like the rollicking “The Lesson of The Smiths” and a surprising cover of DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince “Boom! Shake The Room”.

So much so that I invited him back for a second VS gig (and the last one for a while) as part of Oxjam in the Blackheath Oxfam in support of Medway delta legends The Singing Loins. He’s also sung a brilliant bespoke song for my wife’s birthday for which I’ll be eternally grateful. He has recently delved into some uber creative concept album-meets rock opera territory with the alien meets jurassic opus “Dinosaur Planet” plus the 2 man comedy stand up meets musical version of “Hey, Hey 16K”, his  song “My Boss Was In An Indie Band” made it into the Dandelion Radio Festive 50 (keeping it Peel!) and he once wrote and performed an Edinburgh fringe show called “Moon Horse Vs The Mars Men of Jupiter”. I am delighted to welcome back to a spiritual home at Velvet Sheep, one of the most creative musicians I know – M J Hibbett!

Above, Mark in action at the Oxjam gig amongst some tasty button ups.

Below, the flyer for that gig designed by Paul Dunkley.

Here’s a recent-ish “Subterranean Homesick Blues” take on the bucket list by the full band – M J Hibbett & The Validators…

And without further ado, here is the much heralded 200th! “song for ewe” by hey hey M J! …

“I do like an Alternate Universe story – whether it’s Nazi’s winning the war, the Space Race carrying on to Mars,or Buddy Holly not dying, its all good – and seeing Ivor Game play live makes me feel like I’m in one.

I put on a monthly night called ‘Totally Acoustic’, where acts play, well, Totally Acoustically, with no amps or microphones. Occasionally people I don’t know get in touch to ask if they can play, and usually they’re bloody awful (i.e. folk music) but sometimes I get an email from someone who sounds really good, and one of those was Ivor.

I booked him and, come the evening of the gig, he rolled up looking like he’d just come from work (which he had), sat quietly while other acts were on, then stepped up and, in a very humble, quiet way, blew my tiny mind.

He wasn’t aggressive, or loud, or avant garde, he was just beautiful. He played a string of small, delicate songs that sounded like, in a kinder, better, universe, they were much loved hits that we’d all grown up singing. It felt like it might if you shifted a few dimensions to the left and fell into an Earth where Paul McCartney had had a cold on the day of the Woolton Village Fete back in 1957 and was now in a pub decades later just strumming some of the tunes he’d written since he’d retired from teaching.

This one was recorded last month at Totally Acoustic, having been written a couple of weeks beforehand. Ivor emailed it to me yesterday as he’d just put it up on Soundcloud. “Sometimes it’s good for the only version of a song to exist to be the live one,” he said. “Nina Simone has one or two of these. That’s where the similarity ends of course…”

I wouldn’t know about that, but I think it’s lovely – I particularly like the way that the car alarm outside seems to fall into time with the tune during the first verse!

Ivor’s very much available online and on Youtube, but I’d recommend seeing if you can find him playing live somewhere – it’ll be like travelling to another universe”