You couldn’t organise a…

IMG_3534… piss up in a brewery!  Well, it turns out that’s exactly what The Leylines can do for their ‘northern’ album launch party in Burton on Trent.  The Tower Brewery is a superb setting for a gathering like this – walking there having taken in a little of the ambitious pub crawl undertaken by the more hardy drinkers felt like the set to a football hooligan film, stark, industrial, not particularly safe feeling – then you’re let in to a veritable grotto.

The stage is right by the door, there’s a balcony, an intriguing spiral staircase – and perhaps best of all a bar at the back selling lovely ales for just £2.50 a pint.  On the to work on side the sound was a bit of a challenge certainly initially – whether it really improved or the beer kicked in, who knows?  And there were plenty of familiar folk already there and yet to arrive too – one of my favourite new venues in a while for its charm and originality.  An actual piss up in a brewery, with some music too!

Some technical problems has delayed the actual album being available as planned – but as a special bonus Brian Stone had his EP ready to go – I’ve already had a sneak peak of it, and it’s a lovely collection of songs – I’ll write more about it at a later date when I’ve gotten to know them better.  More pressingly (huh, pressingly, press CDs, EPs, Albums, geddit?).. the aforementioned Mr Stone was the first act up on stage for the evening.

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Freeborn Al / 25th April 2016 / Gigs, Music, Other Bands, Photos

Derby heralds.. a NEW SETLIST!

IMG_3527Unusual gig in Derby tonight, as I popped to see a friend embarking on a leaving do before heading on to the gig and feeling a bit lazy and sore of back I made a conscious decision to spend the gig out of the mosh pit.  And whilst of course the lure is always there, I’m glad I did – it’s literally been years since I stood back and just watched the performance – it was a rewarding experience!

Parked up near The Venue, it wasn’t long before folk started landing – we wandered to The Flowerpot for a quick drink, with Ella and Simon arriving at the car park not long after it was a short wander back, just in time for the doors opening.  The Venue is a nice place, you enter into the bar area, up a couple of steps into an expansive flat performance area with a relatively small stage. The only quibble are the pillars which normally I wouldn’t notice but for my withdrawn position for a change.

IMG_3487The support act, Seas of Mirth, entered the stage – all nine of them (it took a while for me to confirm this, and confusingly their Twitter bio reckons there’s eight of ’em!) – coming on with Belinda Carlisle’s Heaven is a Place on Earth playing – with ‘place on Earth’ replaced with ‘Seas of Mirth’ – an interesting start!  I know that Seas of Mirth played at Deerstock last year, whilst we were either tucking into – or sleeping off – a massive roast dinner from Nana’s Kitchen, but folk were raving about them so it was exciting to get the chance to see them for the first time.

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Freeborn Al / 23rd April 2016 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Lee Bonsall, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

Pinch me..

13000365_10153909996611348_7342322413667198927_nEdit: I’d meant to hit go on this on Friday morning to coincide with the ticket sales going live.  Oops! Better late than never!

If you’re a Facebook user you might just have noticed a small announcement earlier in the week.  Ferocious Dog are only going on an autumn/winter tour with The Levellers.  The. Bloody. Levellers. This is a full circle moment for me – I only found the band thanks to my love of The Levellers, and the thought of seeing them touring together has long felt like a pipe dream – now it’s reality.  You can buy tickets for it right here.

Thinking back to that first time I saw Ferocious Dog around five years ago – supporting Mark Chadwick – their set was cracking, it had me hooked, it was about 50% Levellers songs.  That journey to transitioning from being a half-cover-band to one solidly founded on their own material has been an absolute privilege to witness.  Of course there have been other landmark events from other notable bands – an aftershow slot for New Model Army, a support slot for the Wonder Stuff – both at Rock City, but a whole tour? It’s the stuff of dreams.

13043712_10154007271501427_451968298216971043_nOn a personal note that is – my first musical love, and you supposedly never lose your first love, coupled with the band I’ve come to follow mercilessly around the place.  It’s just not to be missed really, is it? Whilst going from selling out Rock City to playing second fiddle (huh, see what I did there?) to a bigger band might seem in some ways a step backward, it’s an amazing opportunity to get in front of a highly compatible audience that might not have kept abreast of how the band have developed.

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Freeborn Al / 23rd April 2016 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

Dreams can come true..

I’ll have more to say ahead of closer matters of Ferocious Dog’s gig in Derby at the weekend, but for now – how excited is everyone in the FD world?

Freeborn Al / 20th April 2016 / Band, Hell Hounds, Music, Videos / 0 Comments

The end of an era..

IMG_3459Sam Jones has been running his acoustic evenings at The Brown Cow in Mansfield getting on for two  years now.  I’ve had some great nights there – I forget even what lured me to them in the first place, I suspect it was to see Paige Seabridge, but it gave me a chance to get to know Sam’s music, and countless other artists in that time as well as see more familiar faces playing.  It even gave me my first opportunity to surf to Freeborn John when Ken and Dan appeared there a little over a year ago.

In more recent months I’ve been a lapsed worshipper at the church of the Brown Cow, happily for me my weekends have become centred around spending time with Ella and Sunday afternoon is return-to-Stevenage time – but as I’m currently driving around in a capped mileage courtesy car we’ve reverted to trains to and from of a weekend, so my car accident whilst being crap has been great timing on that front, as I’d have really hated to not be able to make Sam’s last evening.

So it was I headed on up to Mansfield – the car park in the pub already full but a parking space found around the corner easily enough!  Outside was time for a quick catch up with Chris of Roots Acoustic fame, as one era ends another begins – he’ll be taking on Sam’s night as one of his own which will be great!  Getting in the pub the background music was courtesy of Roots Radio – inside it was great to be immediately greeted by Andrew, Brian, Paige, Suzy, Rob and Sam – with Martin, John, Angela, Joel, Brad and Kila arriving shortly after.

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Freeborn Al / 18th April 2016 / Gigs, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

Newbury revisited..

Aye aye, Capt'n Burns!

Aye aye, Capt’n Burns!

Whilst obviously disappointed at missing out on what sounded like an amazing night at Exeter (actually we only partially missed out, Laura was thoughtful enough to video call Ella during the gig so whilst the audio stream was pretty bad we had fun watching the moshpit and the band for three or four songs, including getting the chance to wave to Ken, John and Ellis and watch Dean surfing!), there was a high degree of consolation in making a return visit down to the Arlington Arts Centre just outside Newbury.

On Friday night, clearly sympathetic to my dilemma, Addie had invited Ella and I to go with him, Jane and Tommy to West Midlands Safari Park on Saturday too.  Sod it, we thought – it’s practically on the way to Newbury from here so why not make a full day of it – we also considered the logistics in heading into Newbury itself after the gig to catch the end of Gaz Brookfield‘s set in The Monument.  That would prove a step too far in a very long day, so sorry Gaz, the minds were willing but our bodies weren’t!

IMG_3381So a fun day was spent of accidental crocodiles, sea lion shows, feeding lorikeets and goats and other general animal fun – followed by the M42-in-rush-hour simulator that is the drive through safari experience.  With the added danger of the fuel light coming on part way round, we were genuinely worried we might have to survive for days on a sachet of mayonnaise and some deer food the traffic was so bad – that said, we did see some wild dogs, lions, cheetahs, rhinos and assorted deer-like things before we took advantage of a shortcut to escape.

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Freeborn Al / 10th April 2016 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Lee Bonsall, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 2 Comments

Happy birthday.. Woop and He-lennnn…

IMG_3364

… alright, in my head the headline went with Levellers song Happy Birthday Revolution – but that might be a bit of a stretch (I think it’s a Rev Hammer song originally anyway!).  Come to think of it, it fits the first line of Ruby Bridges too!

As usual I digress from the start.  I love nights like tonight!  A bit of a no-brainer thing to say really, I’ve been in a pub watching Gaz Brookfield – but when festival and gig friends have parties it’s ace, because you get to be part of the melting pot of all the different strands of their lives coming together.  So it was that Jamie and Helen celebrated their respective birthdays – crossing the streams of family, friends from other areas of their lives and festival weirdos like me in the White Hart in Ashby-de-la-Zouch.

Being a work day – and being near enough directly on my way home from work – I drove up straight from the West Midlands with the thought of grabbing a bite to eat in the pub.  The birthday duo were already present, ‘supervising’ Jon setting up the sound.  Time for a natter: Helen works for a competitor of my work – but we didn’t bother talking shop, that’s not what nights like this are for!  Soon enough Gaz arrived, followed shortly after by Teresa, Simon, Dave, Caroline, John, Angela and Joel – so loads of familiar faces along with the other lovely people heading into the pub.

IMG_3358It’s worth mentioning the pub – a surprisingly roomy heavily beamed drinking den with a stuffed bear in the cellar you could look at through glass.  That’s right.  A stuffed bear.  There’s a picture over there if you don’t believe me.  Apparently history would have it the landlord of the pub in days of yore once kept a live bear in his cellar, which come kicking out time he’d set upon reluctant drunks who wouldn’t vacate the premises!

And here’s me getting a bit uppity when you get a surly bouncer asking you to leave a gig venue because they are keen to open a crappy club night!

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Freeborn Al / 8th April 2016 / Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

Finally..

a0694865893_16.. the title of the album by Paddy Stratton and Friends, and an apt one for this blog piece too.  I’ve been sat on the CD for a good few weeks now and finally had a chance to have a good listen.  When Simon sent the CD through his name rang a bell, but it wasn’t until reading through the accompanying press release that I realised I’d probably spotted his name in writing credits on Levellers CDs down the years – he co-wrote Believers and contributed All Your Dreams, Sea of Pain and American Airdo to their musical canon.

Getting CDs to listen to and write about still spins me out a bit – I love music, but I’m not musical in any way – but I guess that’s true of a reasonable number if not most music fans out there.  I got the disc just before jetting off on holiday and had a cursory listen and worried it would be one of those occasions that I get something that I don’t get on with, but mentally filed to have a proper go when I got back.  Of course once I was back I’d forgotten until I got a gentle reminder (thanks Simon!) so in between a resurgently busy time of gigging and festivals I’ve now had a chance to get to know it.

My first impressions (pre-holiday) were that whilst I could appreciate the craft of songwriting and quality of the production it was a bit too far down the country and western spectrum for me – however on reappraising I was a bit hasty.  No, very hasty indeed.  It was released back in November 2015 and Paul Fitzgerald shares the writing credit with Paddy – despite enjoying the songs he wrote for the Levellers for many years, he’s never made it onto my radar until now, more’s the pity.

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Freeborn Al / 4th April 2016 / Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

Re-living Rock City..

IMG_3347I’m probably late to the party for anyone who reads this blog – but whilst Rockstock and Rolling out the Festival Barrel was a perfectly justifiable excuse for missing trips to Buckley and Burnley at the weekend with Ferocious Dog, waiting for me when I got home was what might prove to be my salvation when financial and logistics make a trip to Exeter and Newbury highly unlikely next weekend.  Yes, the hotly anticipated live CD and DVD from November’s sell out gig at Rock City in Nottingham!

Having got back from Willington Ella and I spent a chilled afternoon airing the tent in the garden listening to the CD – the sound quality is great!  Remembering poor croaky Ken just a week before the gig in the rehearsal studio, it’s pretty amazing really.  After that the doctor ordered him to cancel the gigs in Stroud and Cardiff right before Rock City – the transformation that rest and recuperation yielded is incredible.  Not so much as a lyrical slip either!

If you’re a ‘full contact’ Ferocious Dog spectator frankly quite often nuances either visual or aural can easily be missed in the blur – and on Rock City day, okay – the Hell Hound AGM – it had been a long day!  Coupled with a raft of awesome music before the main event, plenty of drink and food (and Ella and I were both feeling ill) – my memories of the night itself are a bit blurry, the amazing atmosphere, getting my surfboard nicked (ha!), being pinballed round the moshpit – but above everything else an amazing homecoming and moment of history, watching them take to that famous stage and frankly own it for an hour and a half.

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Freeborn Al / 4th April 2016 / Band, Hell Hounds, Lee Bonsall, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

Rolling out the festival barrel in style.. (part two)..

aIMG_3284A combination of factors had made for a bad night’s sleep – a small degree of being drunk (not too much though), an airbed that deflated itself at an alarming rate, persistent rain and the presumably associated crackling and buzzing from the overhead powerlines.  Eventually I deigned to emerge from the tent to find the guy rope from the front had been ripped away from the tent – I’d assumed by a passing early hours reveller in the dark, it’s happened before (and I’ve got the kit to fix it, so no big deal).

First call was one of nature so wandered toward the building – in time to find Steve, Matt and Dave packing up their gear.  Then some less good news, it turned out there’d been some opportunist thefts in the night – a couple of vans had had cash and phones taken – whilst folk were asleep in them.  This is distressing and unfortunately not unheard of in festivals.  I believe that it wasn’t anybody on the site already, but we’ll probably never know.  It made me wonder about our torn guy rope and the tent being partially unzipped, but who knows.

IMG_3243It’s a learning for future events – to double-check the security of access to the site from outside, and perhaps have a couple of security guys patrolling in the evening and early hours.  And of course, a reminder to all of us to be vigilant with valuables – keep them on your person or locked away in vans (or cars if you’re tenting it), and be a bit paranoid even once you’re in and asleep.  I pondered not mentioning this at all, but it’s something to be aware of – but absolutely shouldn’t put people off attending events, poor Debs and Phil were understandably distraught as were all the festival team (not least the folks who’d had things taken too).

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Freeborn Al / 4th April 2016 / Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos