Thursday, 21 August 2014

Thursday Music special #1 - Prince Buster

One of my favourite artists is Prince Buster. If you are not familair with his works, you really should check him out. Perhaps his best known work is Wine or Grine, used a few years ago in a TV commercial. It is excellent music for balmy summer evenings. SKA music is, in my opinion, one of the very best forms of entertainment and Prince Buster is one of the finest exponents of the form. It is good time music and we are lucky at our studios to have Lee Thompson Ska Orchestra as regular customers, who are leading a Ska revival. When I first started blogging, I intended to blog about music. I have decided that going forward, Thursday will be Music Special day on the Barnet Eye blog. We'll feature a different artist, some local, some cult. All of whom are people you should have a listen to. I can think of no better place to start than Prince Buster.

Keep an Eye out for the Thursday Music Special, we'll also be listing forthcoming local gigs of note.



The Lyrics so you can sing along

Wether you whine or grine.
Wether you whine or grine.
She shake it up right on time.
She shake it up right on time.

Shake up long, shake up strong,
Stay on your feet and you can't go wrong.
Wether you whine or grine.

First thing she ax, if you 'ave your brush,
If you 'ave your brush, you can avoid the rush.
Wether you whine or grine.

Come a ruff, ruff grine.
Come a cool, cool whine.
Wether you whine or grine.

(..)

Wether you whine or grine.
Wether you whine or grine.
She like when you whine or grine.
She love when you whine and grine.

First thing she ax, if you 'ave your brush,
If you 'ave your brush, you can avoid the rush.
Mek it come whine or grine.

She want you to whine and grine.
She says take a skiddip all the time.
She love when you whine and grine.

First thing she ax, if you 'ave your brush,
If you 'ave your brush, you can avoid the rush.
Wether you whine or grine.

She'll love when you whine and grine.
Just take a skiddip all the time.
She want a ruff, ruff stroker.
She want a cool, cool stroker.
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Rog T has run Mill Hill Music Complex studios since 1979 and plays guitar in the False Dots. The studios see over 1,000 musicians a week pass through the doors and have over 2,000 musicians registered on their on line booking system. It is North West Londons leading Independent studios.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

The great myth of Boris

Do you believe in the tooth fairy? Do you believe in the Easter Bunny? Do you believe in Boris Johnson?  You may think his is a rather odd question but it seems to me that there are two Boris Johnsons. There is the one which exists in the minds of Tory activists and there is the real man. If you read some of the tweets coming out of camp Boris, you'd think that Boris is a mythical hero retrning from exile to reestablish the British Empire and lead us all to a wonderful fluffy future.

Here's a few examples from a member of team Boris who I had the misfortune to have a conversation with on Twitter


Boris is very good natured. Very very good quality. Have you ever heard him be nasty about anyone??

You R likely to have lefty friends tho. During Mayoral elections, lots of lefties voted Boris, he has cross party appeal.

Polling showed 60% of Labour voters thought he does a good job. Have a link!

I know because he wud destroy Labour if leader, they R really panicking. Boris Johnson

But is Boris really charming to all? Well last week we posted this blog which amongst other things showed clips of Boris discussing having someone duffed up and also telling someone to get stuffed. (click here for full details http://barneteye.blogspot.co.uk/2014/08/10-reasons-why-tories-should-think.html )

Are Labour "running scared"? Not being a member of the party, I don't know but I'd be surprised. I think Boris is someone who gets London, but what about the rest of the country? I am not so sure.  I suspect that up and down the country, the voters in the marginals willneed a little bit more convincing. Those of us in London forget that the rest of the country is a bit different. They don't take too much notice of London and are most certainly not likely to be too aware of any of Boris's perceived victories. Are Londoners that awre of the provinicial Mayor who got elected for dressing up as a Monkeys achievements? Nope. It is supreme arrogance to assume that the rest of the country have much more interest in Boris. Of course local Tory parties will have Boris fans, but the party is a tiny organisation nationally. One has to suspect that Boris would actually galvanise the core Labour vote in many marginals. It is a fact that Labour struggle far harder than the Tories to get their vote out, however Boris may just inspire people to turn up. Of course the Tories will point to the London Mayoral elections, but they won't have the mistakes of Ken Livingstone and the staunch suport of the Gilligan lead Evening Standard to help them.

I think his bumbling humour has a limited shelf life. As Mayor he can turn up, tell a joke, splash some cash and depart. As Leader he has to spend half his life upsetting people, many in his own party. It is a different gig. 

The claim that "lots of lefties" vote Boris is laughable. What is certainly true in London is that many of the local jewish community, who normally vote Labour, wouldn't touch Ken with a bargepole given his perceived antipathy for them. They voted Boris to see the back of Ken. Outside of London, I doubt that a single proper "Leftie" would touch Boris with a bargepole.

The concept that 60% of voters think Boris has done a good job is also a highly subjective claim. If you asked the average London Labour supporter if they thought Boris had done better than they expected, most would say yes. Many of us suspected that he'd screw up an be kicked out after the first Mayoral election. It was clear to me that Labour screwed up by selecting Ken again. Hi scampaign was lacklustre. It seems that Ken has a blind spot with Boris. He can't seem to understand why anyone would like him or vote for him, so concequently ran an extremely amatuer campaign.

In the event that Boris was leader of the Tories, he'd face a different prospect. He'd be exposed to weekly challenges such as those where he lost his temper with Dismore. He'd have all of those Tory MP's who feel betrayed when they don't get the plum jobs sniping. He'd not have the sweeping executive powers of Mayor. Whilst Boris gets away with all sorts as Mayor, as Leader of the Opposition or Prime Minister, every word is analysed to death by all manner of media.

It is vcry sweet that the likes of Angela, who seemingly does nothing except tweet 24 hours a day, are so enamoured with Boris. It is highly entertaining, but when you look more deeply at what such groupies have to say, it all falls down at the first hurdle when you dig a bit deeper. 

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Can your cat actually speak to you?

It's August, it's the silly season, so I thought I'd buck the trend and concentrate on the questions that really matter. Todays question? Can your cat talk to you? It is a question that has troubled me for nearly 20 years. Let me explain. Back in 1994 I was managing a moderately successful rock and roll band. National tours, TV and Radio appearances was order of the day for the boys. The band were two singles into a 3 single strategy to make their name, prior to the album release. All of the band had quit their jobs to concentrate on their musical careers and they'd had all manner of press coverage etc. They'd had everything apart from financial success. We all believed that was justa round the corner when the singer quit. This was a bolt from the blue for the rest of the band. They were in a state of shock. All of them were living at home apart from the guitarist, who was living in my spare room. He took the situation exceptionally badly. Of all the band, he'd been the most clean living and sensible, but lets say he had a little wobble at this time. He had a little spell where he experimented with a few things he really shouldn't have. He would disappear for days on end and come back and sleep for several days on end. In truth I was a bit worried, but he was an adult and I could understand why he was so upset. One day, I went to bed and he wasn't around. This wasn't unusual. I went up to my room and fell asleep around midnight. At around 5am in the morning I was awoken by my lodger. He'd come in the room and woken me up. He was, shall we say, in a rather confused state and said "There's something really important I have to tell you?" I said "Has someone died?". He replied "No, nothing like that". So I told him to f off and tell me in the morning.

When morning came, his bedroom door was shut. I completely forgot about it for a couple of weeks and he didn't broach the subject. I was at the pub with some of the band and they mentioned that he'd been in a bit of a "heightened state of awareness" and asked if he'd woken me up a couple of weeks before. I said "Oh yes, now I remember, he said there was something important he wanted to tell me".

At this he returned from the bar and I asked.  He got rather embarrassed and the rest of the band started teasing him. He clearly didn't want to tell me, but the rest of the band knew and realised that it was a good chance to embarrass him. I decided to join in and insisted he told me. Eventually the truth came out.

He confided that he'd taken a very strong, mind altering drug much favoured by bands in the 1960's out of curiosity. Upon returning to the house, he'd sat down to collect himself and get his thoughts together. At this, my cat, a short haired British Blue called Norman hopped on his knee. What happened next, may surprise you. Norman started chatting away in purrfect English (pardon the pun) and for about an hour, my guitarist lodger got the cats perspective on life. Apparently he thought I was a nice bloke but a slack cat owner. The other local moggies got better food and more treats.  He also got a full personality run down of all the local moggies and which ones were nice. It seems he really hated the ginger tom up the road, who he thought was a nasty piece of work (perhaps such racist traits are not solely human)They also had nice quiet houses, which cats like. Our place was a mad house. When asked why he didn't take off Norman replied that he was used to it. He also confided that all cats could talk perfect English if they wanted to but it would breach the cat convention if they did. He was only chatting because my housemate was stoned and no one would believe him.

My lodger was so excited to realise all this that he insisted that Norman have a chat with me and assurred him I could keep a secret. Norman warned my lodger  that I'd be cross. When I told him to F off, Norman said "Told you so". What disturbed my lodger most was he'd written it off as a dream until I confirmed he'd woken me up. That really disturbed him.

What was interesting was that when my lodger sobered up he was convinced that Norman could talk. He said it made him feel very uncomfortable. So can moggies talk. I've not really heard of anyone else having similar experiences. I've heard plenty of people claim there cat can talk to them, but not in English. I'd be intrigued to know if anyone else had ever had a similar experience.

So do I believe cats can talk? I've got to confess I'd have to see it and not be under the influence of anything stronger than a cup of tea at the time !

Monday, 18 August 2014

Barnet - The Borough where no one gives a Flying F***

Barnet Council has a petition website. This is where concerned residents can show how much they care about their community. I was rather shocked to see just how few people actually care

Most popular open petitions

We the undersigned petition Barnet Council to…
As a community, it seems we couldn't give a toss doesn't it

Sunday, 17 August 2014

The death of football

This weekend the football season kicked off. Are you excited? I should be, my team Manchester City are defending champions. Last weekend I went to the Charity Shield. As the new sason kicks off, I am underwhelmed. I am more excited about the start of my sons youth team season, which starts in September. The reason? I am sick to death of the corporatisation of football. It is all about cash, money and corporate deals. Players "retire" from international football. I'm 51 and I'd run through hot coals being attacked by ninja's for the chance to play for England at Wembley (not that they'd ever have picked me!). How can anyone who is not a completely heartless fool not want the chance to represent their country? By the times modern players are ready to "retire" from England, they are multi millionaires. It is said they want to eke out another couple of seasons for their club. In my opinion no player is truly great unless they've won the World Cup. That is why players like Geoff Hurst and Gordon Banks will always to me be the most special of the English players.

At my club I see the finest squad ever assembled in English football. I'll cheer them through thick and thin, yet in some ways I felt more passionate when Paul Dickov scored in the Div 1 playoff final against Gillingham, than I felt when they won the League last season (yup I confess the Aguerro moment at QPR was a different feeling). How could I become so jaded with the money so soon.

Football has lost its way and is losing its grassroots. I am an addict, so I'm lumbered. I will watch it come what may, but it pains and troubles me. There is a little bit of curmudgeon in me that would like to see all the cash go away and us be transported back to the 1960's when Town teams such as Burnley were contenders, because they had a well run club. The terraces were packed and it cost sweet FA to get in. Those days are gone forever. More is the pity.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

The Saturday List #65 - The Pope's top ten tips for happiness

In an interview published in part in the Argentine weekly "Viva" July 27, the pope listed his Top 10 tips for bringing greater joy to one's life:

1. "Live and let live." Everyone should be guided by this principle, he said, which has a similar expression in Rome with the saying, "Move forward and let others do the same."


Pope Francis greets the crowd as he arrives to lead a general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican last month. (CNS/Paul Haring)
2. "Be giving of yourself to others." People need to be open and generous toward others, he said, because "if you withdraw into yourself, you run the risk of becoming egocentric. And stagnant water becomes putrid."

3. "Proceed calmly" in life. The pope, who used to teach high school literature, used an image from an Argentine novel by Ricardo Guiraldes, in which the protagonist -- gaucho Don Segundo Sombra -- looks back on how he lived his life.

"He says that in his youth he was a stream full of rocks that he carried with him; as an adult, a rushing river; and in old age, he was still moving, but slowly, like a pool" of water, the pope said. He said he likes this latter image of a pool of water -- to have "the ability to move with kindness and humility, a calmness in life."

4. "A healthy sense of leisure." The pleasures of art, literature and playing together with children have been lost, he said.

"Consumerism has brought us anxiety" and stress, causing people to lose a "healthy culture of leisure." Their time is "swallowed up" so people can't share it with anyone.

Even though many parents work long hours, they must set aside time to play with their children; work schedules make it "complicated, but you must do it," he said.

Families must also turn off the TV when they sit down to eat because, even though television is useful for keeping up with the news, having it on during mealtime "doesn't let you communicate" with each other, the pope said.

5. Sundays should be holidays. Workers should have Sundays off because "Sunday is for family," he said.

6. Find innovative ways to create dignified jobs for young people. "We need to be creative with young people. If they have no opportunities they will get into drugs" and be more vulnerable to suicide, he said.

"It's not enough to give them food," he said. "Dignity is given to you when you can bring food home" from one's own labor.

7. Respect and take care of nature. Environmental degradation "is one of the biggest challenges we have," he said. "I think a question that we're not asking ourselves is: 'Isn't humanity committing suicide with this indiscriminate and tyrannical use of nature?'"

8. Stop being negative. "Needing to talk badly about others indicates low self-esteem. That means, 'I feel so low that instead of picking myself up I have to cut others down,'" the pope said. "Letting go of negative things quickly is healthy."

9. Don't proselytize; respect others' beliefs. "We can inspire others through witness so that one grows together in communicating. But the worst thing of all is religious proselytism, which paralyzes: 'I am talking with you in order to persuade you,' No. Each person dialogues, starting with his and her own identity. The church grows by attraction, not proselytizing," the pope said.

10. Work for peace. "We are living in a time of many wars," he said, and "the call for peace must be shouted. Peace sometimes gives the impression of being quiet, but it is never quiet, peace is always proactive" and dynamic.


I must saay ther eis not much on the Pope's list I disagree with


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The full details are available here  - http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/1403144.htm

Friday, 15 August 2014

The Friday Joke - 15/8/2014

Yesterday was the day when the A and AS level results were released. The local paper websites were crammed full of stories of the local geniuses who excelled.

http://www.times-series.co.uk/news/11408989.North_London_A_level_results___live/?ref=var_0

http://www.edgware-today.co.uk/news.cfm?id=27307&headline=A-level%20results%20day:%20Pass%20rates%20at%20Woodhouse%20College%20rise our educatio%20again

Now of course for those who did well, these stories are a good news story. My two daughters both received results yesteday and did extremely well. The sad truth is that the education system is not fit for purpose. It is all very well getting lots of a* etc and saying Barnet schools have done marvellously, but are we delivering a generation of young people who can do the jobs vital to support the economy? I run a business and we make a positive point of trying to employ young people. Over the years we've built up a great team. The interesting thing is that all of our best members of staff did badly in their exams. You may think that this is because a music studio is a specialist job, but it is the basics that so many of those we've employed have had issues with. Simple tasks like writing down purchases and turning off radiators in rooms at the end of sessions.

We've also seen the pressure that young people suffer and the stress caused when they don't get the required grades. It leads me to ask if judging people on their ability to do exams in a high stress environment is really a good way of judging those best suited to do the top jobs in the country. I actually think that it is probably the worst way.

I am also disturbed at how little emphasis there is on preparing the students who are non academic for the workplace. As far as I can see, Barnet schools do little in the way of preparation for those who will be going into a manual labour profession or vocational jobs. I think that the less acedemic should be able to start apprenticeships aged 14 and this should be viewed as positive career path rather than some sort of second class education. In Barnet there is an obsession with free schools and academies. We are obsessed with exam results and league tables, when we should be obsessed with the ensuring our young people are happy, well balanced and getting an education that prepares them for the rest of their life.

Over the course of this blog, we've told hundreds of Friday jokes. The biggest joke of all is the way we are all seduced into celebrating the success of a system that is totally unfit for purpose for the UK economy.




Thursday, 14 August 2014

Rog T's Cancer Blog - I'm ready for the final surprise

For those of you who are regular readers and have read the previous posts on Cancer, you can skip this first paragraph.This is the latest installment in my occasional series about how I'm adjusting to living with a big C in my life.  For those of you who aren't, here's a quick summary. I'm 51 years old and in October 2011 I  had a prostate biopsy following two "slightly high" PSA tests - 2.8 & 4.1. The biopsy took ten tissue samples and one of these showed a "low grade cancer" which gives me a 3+3 on the Gleason scale. I'm now on a program of active monitoring.  In early February, I got the results of the a PSA test - down to 3.5 and an MRI scan which found absolutely nothing, two more tests in 2012 were at 3.5 and 3.9, in 2013 my test was 4.0. My latest PSA test in January  was a slight improvement,  down to 3.8, in other words the downward trend has stopped. I've no symptoms and sadly for a few people, if I'm gonna die soon, it won't be from Prostate cancer. Got the picture?

Today is the big day! Today is the day when I have my latest PSA test. Woo Hoo. It is a day of all round fun in our house. I have a daughter getting A Level results, A daughter getting A/S level results and me going to find out if I'm going to be croaking imminently! Well actually, if you know anything about PSA tests, that really isn't a very likely option given the last PSA test and biopsy results. Nope, it has been stable since 2011. I am on a schedule of "active surveillance" where I just get regular PSA tests and biopsies to see how the cancer is behaving. 
 
Never the less I find it stressful and depressing time. Last night I had three beers and half a bottle of wine to take my mind off the whole bloody thing. The raised stress levels in the house don't help. I had  a fitful nights sleep and a particularly unpleasant nightmare. I dreamed that I was dying and that I'd released a blog containing all the allegations people had told me about all our local political characters, detailing the stories of spousal abuse, peadophilia, drug taking, criminal activities and other misdemeanours that various souls (some clearly simply malicious) have sent me over the years about the great and good in Barnet. There was a media storm in my front garden as I was about to pass away.   My logic in the dream had been that as I was about to die, there was no point them suing me. Given that one particularly nasty local politician has glorified in taking the piss out of my cancer, it has crossed my mind that in the event of his wish coming true, it would be quite ironic to remind him of the adage "careful what you wish for".  Now of course, apart from his well known criminal conviction for assaulting a woman, all of the nasty things people have told me about him are purely tittle tattle and I am sure that most, if not all of it, is made up. To be honest I couldn't care less what people do in their private lives. I don't want my blog to be remembered simply for being a source of nasty rumours in a bitchy parting shot at those I dislike, so I think on balance it is actually the last thing I'd do. 

I sort of feel that I should use my situation for positive reasons, persuading others to get checked and helping those in my situation to deal with it. I believe that our dreams are our psyche dealing with issues and showing us that what may seem like a good idea can be a very bad one. I woke up feeling rather bad with myself and was glad that it was a dream. It arms me to deal with the situation if and when it should arise. Often we simply ignore the messages that our dreams tell us, forgetting the lessons straight away. I believe that the human mind is far more powerful than we realise, but we spend most of our lives suppressing it.  So if you are going through a stressful time and you have a vivid nightmare as I did. Spend some time and analyse it. Think about your feelings and whether you actually felt better for the course of action you took in your dream scenario. See if there are any lessons to be drawn. Don't underestimate the power of your mind or the tools it gives you to deal with the problems in your life. 

I hope that by the end of the day my daughters have had positive results and in ten days or so I do as well. If we don't, I just hope that as a family we have the love and strength to cope with it.

Mill Hill News - Travellers take over St Josephs College fields - Updated

Breaking News - A large convoy of travellers has this morning moved onto the green belt grazing fields at St Josephs College, the former Roman Catholic missionary training college, currently being converted into luxury flats. The fields are currently rented by a local equestrian centre for grazing of horses. Local residents have contacted the Barnet Eye to enquire as to whether the local police, council and MP's will be taking action. We have contacted these bodies for a response and will update this blog later when the situation becomes clearer.

The London Borough of Barnet does not currently have a permanent traveller site. Over the past few years groups have moved into several sites around the borough, most recently Bunns Lane in Mill Hill. It is not clear whether it is the same group.
The travellers have now departed the site

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Musicians are getting a raw deal from ISP companies

Then…

Mill Hill Music Complex has been running for 35 years. In this time we’ve seen huge changes in the music industry. Consider some of the changes which have occurred in this time. When we opened our doors, there were four TV channels, with Top of the Pops and The Old Grey Whistle test being the only regular shows where you could actually see bands. The whole Punk/New Wave movement was built with airplay based more or less solely on the John Peel show on Radio 1 at 10pm. Record labels ruled the roost and if you wanted to listen to music, you had to buy 7 or 12 inch vinyl records. There were three major national weekly music papers. These were the NME, which was the mag for hipsters, Melody Maker, which was the mag for Muso’s and Sounds which was the mag for teenyboppers. A good review in NME could get your band a record deal. There was a thriving pub and club music scene. The concept of “pay to play” hadn’t been invented and promoters booked bands because they were good, not because they brought their mates.  If you were in a half decent band, you felt you had a chance of making a decent living as a musician. If you got a record deal, you’d expect the label to develop you and not drop you if your first single tanked.

Now…

Fast forward 35 years. No one in the UK has a clue how many TV channels there are, or even how many dedicated music channels there are.  The nearest thing to a National TV show that can break bands is Jools Holland. There are untold internet radio stations playing all manner of sub genre’s of music. Record labels are struggling to survive and most get by on royalties from back catalogs. Only the NME remains of the “music press” and that is a minority publication. Getting a review in NME is simply something to tweet or put on your facebook page. Music pubs which actually pay bands are few and far between and it seems no one goes to watch a band playing originals “on spec” anymore. Every musician I know, apart from those in established acts, is struggling to make ends meet. Which begs the question…

Is it possible to make money out of being involved in music these days?

I was pondering this question and it occurred to me that there us musicians are generating huge amounts of money. The trouble is that not a penny of it comes back to the us. Who makes the money? The internet ISP’s and other technology companies.  Back in 1989 a British Computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee, proposed a system of exchanging information using computer systems. It was originally designed for exchanging scientific papers, but it was soon realised that all manner of other things could be exchanged and shared. This was called the World Wide Web and within a short period, we all started using it.
life without internetToday life without the internet or web would seem unimaginable. We buy holidays online, have email accounts and watch all manner of TV shows, listen to radio shows etc on the web. But what made it into this integral part of life in 2014. The answer is that music drove this. Some of the earliest users of the web were sharing music on it. Sites such as Youtube have generated huge interest in the web and built up the skills of whole generations of users.
This has generated huge amounts of cash for the internet companies, but not a  penny comes back the way of musicians. We share clips and tracks all the time, with Youtube, Twitter and Facebook being the current flavour of the month. Whilst many musicians play along with this, hoping to get some exposure, the ISP’s are raking it in. Can you imagine if there was no music on the Web? I firmly believe that if this was the case, it would still primarily be used for exchanging scientific papers and articles.
In Germany, the issue of tape piracy was addressed by a “tape levy”. This money was fed back to musicians, with the money being distributed towards those at the bottom of the tree more than the top. The UK is second only to the USA in creative arts. The music industry has generated huge revenues for the UK taxman and yet nothing is ever done to support our community. From the marine offences act in the 1960′s when governments banned pirate stations and attempted to control what we listen to, to the present day,  popular music is viewed with disdain by the establishment.
The bottom line is that because musicians have no effective lobbying organisation and no-one to speak for the industry at the top table, the grassroots is being strangled. The biggest attack was inadvertent. It was the banning of smoking in pubs and clubs. Since this legislation, thousands of pubs and clubs, the lifeblood of the music community have disappeared. It is getting to the stage where there is virtually no where for bands to play.

So what can be done?

I believe that there should be a levy on ISP’s and anyone who makes money from internet content. This should be fed back into the wider music community and used to support venues and other organisations which give musicians a chance to ply their trade. Near Mill Hill we have the Arts Depot, a potentially world class venue, but this gives no support for up and coming local artists. It could be a seed bed for local musicians and bands, but is just not interested.
I would like to see grants for pubs and clubs to improve facilities for bands and subsidies for up and coming bands for gigging and recording. I would like to see this paid for by an ISP creativity tax. To put a band together is expensive. Rehearsals cost money, instruments cost money and doing gigs cost money. It will be suicidal for the UK economy if young musicians are priced out of the business. Ultimately the ISP’s would make even more money, if a new generation of creative people can be developed.
Mill Hill Music Complex are starting a campaign to get a fair deal for up and coming musicians and proper support for those of us who have put the UK at the forefront of the World music industry. We can’t do it alone, please support us.

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This blog was first featured on the Mill Hill Music Complex Studio blog
http://www.millhillmusiccomplex.co.uk/musicians-getting-raw-deal-isp-companies/