A fish that’s learned to fly..

Sam Jones

Sam Jones

Nights like tonight are how a weekend constrained by work in the morning should be eased out of.  Of course, like many of us I was forlornly checking Facebook for scraps of how the boys might be going down at Glastonbury (and thanks to a kind chap called Colin uploading some videos, as well as a few pictures arriving, I saw much more than I thought I would – scan the FD Facebook Group to see).  It sounds like a rip-roaring success we were confident they’d achieve.

The third biggest crowd in Avalon over the weekend, and whilst perhaps not as lively as they’re accustomed to, a lively crowd nonetheless and an encore demanded and delivered – there’s a video of the crowds reaction as Ken was leaving the stage (with the obligatory picture from Waggy in the background) which suggests that there might have been a fair number of new Hell Hounds indoctrinated into he fold this afternoon.  I’m sure further video and photographic evidence will feature over the next week or so!

But for me today was leading up the M1 to Mansfield to the Brown Cow for one of Sam Jones’ acoustic evenings – a somewhat hidden gem of a fortnightly event that takes place showcasing both Sam himself as well as a fine array of other talented performers.  Tonight we had Sam, Paige and an unknown quantity for me called King of Rome – something I twigged as being a reference to the famous homing pigeon from Derby (don’t even ask how I knew that…)

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Freeborn Al / 28th June 2015 / Gigs, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

Not-being-at-Glastonbury distractions..

IMG_0406As the appointed hour of the appointed day comes for Ferocious Dog at Glastonbury since I’ve not been able to follow them to this particular landmark it’s been a week of finding alternative musical amusement for myself, and frankly it’s been rather an easy task.  I’ve heard reports that their smaller gig at the Bimble Inn went down very well indeed and now they’ll be psyching themselves up to take to the Avalon Stage at 2pm today.

Looking at the array of talent available in the Fields of Avalon I’d be spending a lot of time there – so hopefully plenty of similarly-minded folk are doing just that to get them in front of plenty of new appreciative faces.  Not least I hope the various folk I know who are there heed my advice and get themselves there – otherwise there’ll be trouble, and since the BBC cameras don’t reach as far as Avalon, we’re depending on Waggy et al to try to capture some of the event.

But for me I’ve been finding my fun elsewhere – whilst I can well imagine the experience of being at the festival is unforgettable – I’ve never really got much out of watching highlights on TV.  So last night I headed over to the lovely Colville Arms in Lullington where a small beer festival was underway with the promise of a couple of sets from Paige Seabridge to make up for the fact that I needed to drive there so couldn’t sample more than one of the beers on offer.

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Freeborn Al / 28th June 2015 / Band, Lee Bonsall, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

An a-Maze-ing night of music..

IMG_0377I was going to be sensible and get to sleep upon getting in from tonight’s shenanigans but I’m suitably energised to be a tad insomnia-bound for a while so I might as well empty my brain of over-stimulus.  I know this is a Ferocious Dog themed blog but well, I do occasionally make time for other music in my life and Gaz Brookfield is up there with my favourite performers – so you’ll have to indulge me.  Or close the browser of course!

It’s kinda ironic that it was in the last week or so Frank Turner put tickets on sale for his tour and Nottingham sold out so quickly he quickly arranged a second Rock City date to meet the demand.  I like Frank Turner a lot, and I’d wager anyone else who likes him would love Gaz Brookfield.  So whilst I truly relish the opportunity to see him perform in the intimate setting of The Maze to a healthy-if-not-sell-out crowd I can’t help but feel more and more that he deserves to be in front of a bigger audience.

But we’ll get to Gaz later.  For the princely sum of about six quid (I think, I bought the tickets months ago!) there were four acts on offer this evening.  Three of whom I know very well, and would’ve paid six quid to see any of individually, and one unknown element – Jake Martin – who I’d not yet encountered.  So yes, it’s a Tuesday night, and we’ve all got work in the morning, but we are really incredibly lucky to have such a great small music scene here in Nottingham – kudos to folk like Lee and Jayne who put on nights like tonight.

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Freeborn Al / 24th June 2015 / Gigs, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

Here comes the Willow man..

IMG_0361To be home in Leicestershire, showered and in bed with t’laptop before 11pm having spent a day basking in a fine array of talent at a festival in North Yorkshire is both a good thing and perhaps in another light testimony to a missed opportunity of spending more time at the Willowman Festival.  It was a cracking day and I’m reliably informed by friends who spent a long weekend there that today was certainly not an exception – definitely one I’ll be looking out for in the future.  I reckon Brian might well blog in more detail about the whole festival later.

Whilst of course I can offer no guarantees of my intentions and what I end up doing to watch Ferocious Dog, it had been my intention to ‘settle for Settle’ this weekend and skip Willowman, but with the twinned revelations that the former gig had been cancelled and that Ferocious Dog’s closing set was in fact finishing before 8pm it opened up the opportunity to travel up for the day and still get home at a reasonable time to get to bed at a reasonable hour in preparation to get up for work in the morning.

So come Sunday morning in the car I hopped and quick service station stop aside it was an event-free journey.  I elected to leave my car outside on the road rather than go into the car park simply to aid the quick escape, and it wasn’t far from there to the entrance to the festival.  E-ticket exchanged for an armband and at just gone noon I found myself walking into the field – almost immediately bumping into Mick, buying the most gigantic portion of nachos I’ve ever seen in my life!

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Freeborn Al / 22nd June 2015 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

Why Settle for less?

I’m sure that you’ll have heard by now that the Ferocious Dog gig in the Victoria Hall in Settle has been postponed due to issues outside the control of the band.  Disappointing, but in the face of such adversity of having the promise of a weekend gig it makes you have to work on alternative plans.  Hopefully once the gig is rearranged I’ll be able to make it as I was looking forward to the visit!

First up I’ve been playing with some of Waggy’s photos and was particularly pleased with this one of Ken taken at the Evesham gig made up entirely of the words ‘Red Ken’ – I’ll have to have a play with other images when I get the chance!

red_ken

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Freeborn Al / 18th June 2015 / Band, Music, Other Bands, Photos, Thoughts / 0 Comments

Whoa-oh.. the dogs of Brixton..

IMG_0310Gracetonbury in Brixton was going to be another of those pauses in my Ferocious Dog diary that turned out not to be a pause.  A sell-out event, I was lucky enough to spot some returns go on sale in a moment of weakness and snapped them up.  With Simon and Ella kind enough to offer me crash-space for the evening it made the decision all the more easy (not that I take much persuading, as you may have noticed!).

First order of business was to get myself down to their place, from where we picked up Ella from work.  Her boss was somewhat confused to see her literally pounce upon an unsuspecting customer wandering into the place (me), and soon enough we hit the road – the plan being to park the car up in a secure spot in Camden that Simon had access to, tube it down the Victoria line to Brixton and get a taxi back to Camden later.

After parking up and meeting a horse that was close to where we parked (no really!) it was a quick schlep to Kings Cross and off we went.  I had planned on playing my favourite tube game of looking at people and smiling – this backfired when a lovely friendly lady sat opposite me, but that was better if anything, friendly people on the tube!  Even better still, she asked if Simon was my dad – ha ha!  Sorry Simon.

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Freeborn Al / 14th June 2015 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

All about Evesham..

I'm not sure what Ken is chuckling at. Maybe Ellis had just snapped his string?

I’m not sure what Ken is chuckling at. Maybe Ellis had just snapped his string?

Evesham on a school night is actually a pretty convenient destination for me – much of my working life is spent in Solihull so upon clocking off for the day it was a relatively short trip into  Worcestershire.  Arriving at the venue rather early I was lucky enough that Dan was loitering outside gaining me access to their green room since the pub wasn’t open yet – so a chance to sit and have a natter rather than wandering off into the town.

As everyone started to arrive food was eaten, assorted things were signed including the paper that will eventually comprise the excellent lyric art prints that were revealed on Facebook this week, a few of ’em practiced Ruby Bridges, restored to the set list given it’s just been released as a single, Les restringed his guitar, Waggy revealed he used to have a parrot.  As opening time loomed non-band folk were politely dismissed as they did, well, whatever it is they do right before a gig!

Meanwhile the Iron Road had opened itself up – a rock pub that has risen from the ashes of the Railway Inn, what was probably a traditional near-the-train-station pub.  Now on the one side there’s a big screen and seating, on the other a fairly cramped (for a six piece at least) stage and small dance floor.  There were concerns on the size – and more than a few people had noted the fast-spinning ceiling fan above the mosh pit area.

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Freeborn Al / 12th June 2015 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

All smiles in Thorne and Warsop..

IMG_0110Well there was certainly plenty to smile about this weekend for the inaugural Something To Smile About festival up in Thorne near Doncaster.  Before we even contemplated that I picked up an exciting email from the BBC that they were going to play Ruby Bridges that evening too – which of course is to be released as a digital single on Monday 8th June, so get your download fingers ready from tomorrow, folks.

I’ve since managed to get the broadcast ripped courtesy of the listen again link, so hopefully the magical Soundcloud embedding wizard will have worked so that you can listen to it below if you didn’t manage to catch it live.  I’m sure you’ll agree, technical wibble aside where a BBC jingle interrupts the intro, it’s a going to go down a storm when it’s released tomorrow so make sure you get it downloaded and see if we can’t get it somewhere in a chart.

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/209246840″ params=”auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true” width=”100%” height=”450″ iframe=”true” /]

IMG_0112But anyway, Something To Smile About was set up by Becky and Pete to raise money for a number of excellent charities – with not only a fine array of talent to entertain the crowd we were also treated to a splendid selection of ales, ciders, meads and food – which I probably sampled a few too many of judging by the day long hangover I’ve been nursing since.  It was certainly worth it though, a cracking day and a huge success – already looking forward to next year!

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Freeborn Al / 7th June 2015 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 1 Comment

Gaz Brookfield – True and Fast album review..

I’d be amazed if anyone vaguely into Ferocious Dog hasn’t encountered Gaz Brookfield too – he’s been support a few times to the band as well as making starring appearances at the last couple of Dogfests.  I first saw Gaz as the early support act for the Levellers and immediately rushed off to buy an EP – that was obviously a striking occasion as it features in Land Pirate’s Life subsequently.

On that day as a competition prize I was due to collect some merchandise from the Levs backstage so even had the chance to meet him briefly behind the stage at Rock City and congratulate him on a cracking performance – not that I imagine that has stuck in the memory.  I hope not anyway, I was in the midst of a particularly ridiculous Movember effort at the time – but ever since then I’d decided to keep an eye out for him.

Lucky for me then that he subsequently seemed to forge a relationship with the other main band in my life – so as well as taking in as many of his own gigs as I’ve been able to I also benefit from his support slots with FD as well.  The autumn tour will be doubly a treat on this score since he features on the bill for the vast majority of these!  So anyway, background aside, Gaz’s new album True and Fast dropped in my mailbox yesterday much to my excitement.

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Freeborn Al / 6th June 2015 / Music, Other Bands / 0 Comments

All the world is waiting for you brave young girl..

As the clock ticks down to Something to Smile About on Saturday there’s also the excitement of Ferocious Dog releasing Ruby Bridges as a digital single on Monday too.  I talked about the song when previewing some of the rough cut tracks from the album a while ago, briefly summarising the subject and that the song was conceived in Dan’s mind when Ruby would’ve hit the news having just turned 60 last year in September.

Dan had earmarked the song as a potential idea for a co-written piece with Maelor Hughes, but subsequently liked what he’d started too much to not have it as a Ferocious Dog track that he finished off with Ken.

The story of Ruby Bridges is one of real inspiration though.  In 1960 a federal court order decreed that public schools in New Orleans, where the Bridges family lived, were forced to desegregate.  Put simply, white and black children were no longer to be educated separately.   Black children from kindergarten were tested to see who would be put forward to go to an integrated school – Ruby duly passed this test and the first challenge was to overcome divisions within the family.

Her father was understandably reticent – worried that the act of his daughter going to a mixed school was ‘just asking for trouble’ whilst her mother saw the opportunity Ruby could have for a better education and future prospects, and of course the bigger picture of taking a opportunity of a real tangible step forward toward racial equality.  Eventually after much debate within the family it was this view that won out, and it was decided that Ruby would indeed attend an integrated school in November 1960 – a date decided by a federal judge.

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Freeborn Al / 4th June 2015 / Band, Music, Thoughts / 0 Comments