The theory of Beard-ativity…

IMG_3875Well how do you go about trying to summarise four days at Bearded Theory? My normal modus operandi of slavishly noting set lists would probably lead to a novel that I don’t want to write and you certainly don’t want to read – so I’m going to force myself to be a bit less unimaginative and try to summarise what was a bloody fantastic time – a great setting, wonderful weather, amazingly well organised, great acts and a frankly marvellous collection of people to party with.

It all started for us on Thursday afternoon, we arranged to meet Addie, Jane, Dave and Nadine in a layby near the site to secure a camping spot together.  Getting back onto a busy A38 was entertaining for the two caravanners in our convoy, but soon enough we’d found ourselves queuing to get on site – a few very familiar vehicles already snaking their way around to the entrance to the camping field.  This was Ella and I’s first trip to a festival in our new van – Ludo – so it was pretty exciting!

IMG_3879Eventually in and sited, everyone set about getting things set up – for us it was pretty simple, extract things from the storage under the back seats, spinning the front bench seat around, putting the silver screens up in the window – and cracking open a can of cider!  The only fly in our oinment was a dead leisure battery – despite having been on charge for a couple of days – but well, even the lack of promised power a van would provide still proved infinitely better than the faff of tenting!


Freeborn Al / 30th May 2016 / Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments


IMG_3824For Nearstock we had the sublime good fortune to have the opportunity to crash with Paul and Sarah who live in the village it was hosted.  We got there early and were treated to barbecued burgers and chips sat by a fire pit Paul had been itching to set fire to ever since we arrived.  With Andy arriving shortly after it was a fun afternoon of food and beers before wandering to the pub.

The beer garden of The Royal Oak played host to the taster of what is to come at Deerstock in a couple of months, the party was already in swing when we arrived – Nirvana played from the sound system, upon gaining entry and getting wristbanded up by Pat we were accosted by Joe with the charity bucket, along with a warning that he’d be haranguing us all day and all night.

He wasn’t wrong!

IMG_3800First act up was Jake Smallbones – a solo acoustic guitar performer, he’d got the tough slot of ‘people arriving or working their way around the crowd’ – that said, he was an engaging and tuneful performer.  At a glance he looked a bit like Nick Parker – Ella thought a cross between him and Gaz Brookfield, but I couldn’t see that!  He started up with On The Road and then Falling for Another.


Freeborn Al / 16th May 2016 / Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

Along the Old Straight Track..

13139052_1049283961774622_1064068471929423814_nThe journey Along The Old Straight Track (see what I did there?) had a rocky final straight for The Leylines – a slick crowd-funding campaign and dual launch party had the fly in the ointment of technical problems leading to a delay for the physical release.  Hey, these things most definitely happen – it makes the waiting all the sweeter.  Technically I’m still waiting – someone (Pete!) had the temerity to go on holiday before getting a chance to add his moniker to the signed album that I’d backed in the campaign.

However, I was lucky enough to get my mits on a friend’s copy for a long awaited listen (thanks Andy!) – Ella and I sat and hammered it a few times on the drive back from Ey Up Mi Duck, and I’ve been getting to know it a fair bit in subsequent days.  Songs that are immediately familiar from an increasing number of live performances I’ve seen from the band burst forth even more polished and shiny thanks to the tender production of Sean Lakeman and mastering from Al Scott.

I’m a big fan of the imagery and packaging, a woodland scene overlaid with the band logo and the album title – a reference to Alfred Watkins’ 1925 book The Old Straight Track – which presented the theory of, well, ley lines!  Without blowing my own trumpet I might just have led them down this particular line (or track) of thinking, suggesting the book title to Steve on Facebook when he was inviting folks suggestions for the name of the album.  Inside you’ll find the band looking moody (aside from Pete) and a lyric/credits booklet.


Freeborn Al / 12th May 2016 / Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

The dawning of the age of the Star Copiers..

IMG_3787The first order of business after slowly boiling alive in the tent as the sun came up was getting out and assessing damage to glasses – pretty much beyond repair, although John kindly at least got them to a state where I could drive safely.  I nipped Lisa home to pick up her van, then got back in time to get some Nana’s Kitchen breakfast (amazing home made sausages) to try to stave off the hangover a bit.

Then t’was over to the Acoustic Tent to join the burgeoning crowd eager to witness the debut of The Star Copiers.  Mark and Kev have oft been spied with guitars around campfires and had become a bit of a self-created parody, until Suzy laid down the gauntlet for them to appear at her festival.  They’ve been operating very mysteriously, recruiting Kieron as front man, and preparing a set list and building hype on social media.

Mark had prepared an intro recording comprising – Captain Sensible’s Happy Talk blasted out followed by sirens and a countdown as the band stood looking a bit awkwardly at each other stood on the stage, bedecked with photos of Bart and Dave from The Star Botherers, their spiritual mentors.   This was the first time they’d performed to a sizeable crowd after a short rehearsal out in the wild in Warsop the week before.

The plan was I think for folk to expect something terrible, and deliver something competent – I’d say they went a bit beyond that, and delivered a genuinely cracking set.


Freeborn Al / 10th May 2016 / Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

Ey Up Mi Ducks! The friday file..

IMG_3675Uncharacteristic bad planning from me made me think that Ey Up Mi Duck started on Friday evening – and as such I hadn’t arranged the time off work to get there until early evening.  We did, however, think forward enough to get down to Amber Valley Rugby Club on Thursday evening to get the tent set up to save us a job once the festival was underway, so after finishing up with work with excitement we headed to the site.

A lovely setting – a raised Rugby field for camping, stalls and the acoustic stage with a dip down to the clubhouse and the main stage – and the Meadevil Bar – and already a festival well underway, with plenty of folk to mingle with whilst clutching the first of too many ciders purloined from Pete (and a pink mead – which was amazing).  After a good while we realised we’d not eaten, so made a beeline for Nana’s Kitchen for plateful of steak and ale pie, mash and peas.  Awesome food.

IMG_3668We’d settled with Dave, Caroline and Murph – which was fortuitously next to the Cheezy Vinyl Bar – I couldn’t resist a cheese platter despite not exactly being starving, Phil and Debbo served up a monumental (not emmental – ha!) portion which I battled my way through with relish, washed down with a lovely slug of port.  Happily the Cheezy Vinyl Bar will be making appearances at plenty of other festivals on our roster this year!

It’s not easy being cheesy.  But I’m happy to keep giving it a good go.


Freeborn Al / 9th May 2016 / Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos

In-Spire-d in Chesterfield..

IMG_3611I’ve been feeling a bit ropey all week – by the time I’d got in from work I regretfully couldn’t drag my arse out on Friday night for a The Leylines and Under A Banner which was a pisser.  Yesterday was touch and go whether I opted to head up to Real Time Live to see Ferocious Dog and The Outlines, but having rested up in the day the relatively short drive up the M1 didn’t seem too daunting so I jumped in the car to hook up with some of the early revellers in the Barley Mow pub.

First order of business was food, we left Kieron and Helen in the pub cheering on Norwich in their bid to beat Arsenal (which didn’t go too well, bad luck Kieron!) and eventually ended up in Einstein’s, a German themed bar / eaterie – the food there took a while to arrive, but bloody hell it was nice!  I ordered a schweinshaxe (pork knuckle) – it was a thing of meaty beauty.  The food Mick, Michael, Becky, Mark and Amanda had was similarly impressive.  Next time I’m in Chesterfield I’ll be sure to eat there!

IMG_3613Back to the pub it was, later than planned as the food took a while so it was a short stay before wandering over to the venue.  Real Time Live is a cracking venue sat above a music shop on a very domestic looking street – apparently it used to be a Conservative Club so it’s nice that such vestibules of corrupt ideology are being reappropriated for better purposes.  A big Ferocious Dog sold out poster adorned the wall along with other adverts for mostly cover bands.


Freeborn Al / 1st May 2016 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Lee Bonsall, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments