Estival the best of all?

IMG_4362We always look forward to a trip to Thorne – it generally involves something awesome set up by Pete and Becky!  Estival is in a similar ilk to last year’s Midsummer’s Afternoon in the Park – a fundraiser for Firefly Cancer Support and community engagement project to get the local folk of Thorne exposure to the arts as well as the aim of giving the local food bank a boost.  We hotfooted it straight from Banbury, picking up some ice and water en route and dropping it off at the park to keep the wine and mead cool.

After the errand was run we popped the van round to where we were going to stay, and made our way back to the park armed with chairs, and having glanced at the weather prognosis a couple of umbrellas!  With the weather in mind the MeadEvil bar was set up in one of the marquees with another set up with seating to protect folk from the elements – and the first performer, Davey Wilson, was already underway on the bandstand.

He was perfect for the time of day, the sun was still shining just about – and he flooded the park with acoustic cover versions often in medley form.  Pete had said he hadn’t had time to tell him, a last minute substitute, that he doesn’t like his events to be full of cover versions (a pity, as Davey would’ve preferred playing his own stuff too!), however it worked really well for me – a myriad of songs like Valerie, Sweet Home Alabama, Let’s Get it On, Stuck in the Middle With You sounded nice to me!

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Freeborn Al / 27th June 2016 / Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 1 Comment

Along the old straight track.. to Banbury!

IMG_4335I didn’t really have any definitive plans for Friday – Ella made the suggestion of going to see The Leylines in Banbury, which is a pretty good idea – and an opportunity to try a spot of stealth camping proper!  Once work was finished I hit the road and arrived to find a handy parking spot, for the princely sum of 80p I was sorted until 7pm from which the parking was free until the next morning – all within a short stagger of the venue!

Once the bed was down in the back and sorted, I was able to catch up with Addie and Jane grabbing some food in the Wetherspoon’s round the corner (seeing most of the band getting settled in to The Swan on the way past) – by the time we’d finished in at the pub we went back round to the venue – Mark and Rob followed, then Maty and Pil and finally Simon and Ella.  There was a slight lack of t-shirt communication with Ella and I both wearing a Sweetchunks Bees t-shirt – I had to nip back to the van to change out of mine!

Soon enough the rest of the band arrived – some deft van reversing from Dave gave them the chance to get unloaded at set up.  The Swan is a nice little pub with a small area up front which disappears off in an L shape around the bar, with another room around the back.  We’d assumed they’d be playing in the back room – but no, they were setting up – all five of ’em – in the front area for what would prove to be a very intimate setting.  Suits me!  It definitely wasn’t me that set off the smoke alarm with an electronic cigarette.  I blame Mark!

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Freeborn Al / 26th June 2016 / Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

Let’s get Stoned!

You've Changed EPThis is another review that’s been waiting a bit too long, so apologies are due to Brian Stone!  Brian sent me a sneaky peek of his EP before it was released, and I was poised to write something but he warned me off, unsure how long he’d wait before releasing.  Then he released it pretty much straight after when we went to see The Leylines in Burton, and well, gigs and other things pushed it unforgiveably down my list of things-to-blog.  But I got there in the end!

My first inkling of Brian Stone the performer was after he and Karen kindly let me crash at theirs after Ferocious Dog played in Cambridge last year – on getting back in the evening he casually picked up his guitar and apologetically blasted his way through some Ferocious Dog, Levellers, Gaz Brookfield and Leatherat songs.  Self-depreciating all the way, he played down his own abilities with voice and guitar although clearly seeds were already growing in his mind!

Brian subsequently became a fixture at festival camp fires throughout the summer whilst writing songs and eventually graduating to stages – to which he’s ascended to like a duck takes to water, so an EP was an exciting prospect, a natural progression from the t-shirts (top tip: when in Tenerife, don’t wear a t-shirt that says ‘Brian Brian Brian, Let’s Get Stoned’ on it – you become an absolute magnet for ‘lucky lucky’ drug dealers!).  The artwork design is great, a pretty good representation of Brian as a landlocked musical pirate!

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Freeborn Al / 22nd June 2016 / Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands / 0 Comments

Made of Stone..

IMG_4278Normally I eschew stadium gigs.  Big crowds, far away bands, big prices.  But. The Stone Roses have always been a band I’ve loved since I was a young ‘un and I’d never seen perform.  You see people saying they were going on Facebook get roundly lambasted, they seem to have that reaction from people.  “Ian Brown can’t sing”, “It’s just a big pay day for them, it’ll be shit” – that kind of thing.

To be fair, that was my attitude – internally at least – when they announced their reunion tour in 2012 I shunned it, and was then really jealous when friends and family who went came back raving about it.  So this time around I decided to bite the bullet – sure, it’s expensive, it’s a big impersonal venue and it’s going to be a very big and mixed crowd, but I was confident it would be worth it!

Ella and I started the day at Sam and Matt’s, fuelled by tea and bacon we headed up to Manchester in Ludo, aiming to arrive early at the hotel we’d booked (before we had the van!) in the hope of an early check-in.  I’d hoped to hook up with Rich and Em once there but they’d already arrived and hotfooted it into town, whilst we were told that to check in early would cost a tenner, and there were no rooms anyway!

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Freeborn Al / 21st June 2016 / Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

Ten years of Doonimania!

Murphy!

Murphy!

Who would’ve thought a novelty band themed on reuniting the disparate offspring of Val Doonican would have the legs to last ten years?  Well that’s what they’ve done – buoyed by a huge attendance in the Woodland at Bearded Theory, and now a sell-out anniversary show on their home turf – perhaps it’s fair to say they’ve ascended from novelty support act to a destination band.  I think it definitely is.

We’d arranged to take Ludo to park at Sam and Matt’s – Ella got the train to be collected by Sam and once work was finished I drove up to meet them, arriving first thanks to some train delays.  Once the van was parked up I had a lovely cup of tea, being the rock and roll person I am – but soon enough once Ella, Sam, Dave, Caroline and Murphy had arrived the lure of cider was too much – then we drove in to Barnsley for the party!

IMG_4203Once the many many many greetings had taken place we headed in to the venue in time for Pocketful o’Nowt – I don’t even know how to begin doing them justice in words!  Mike, the frontman, greeted the audience flaunting his iPad, loaded up with a music app for him to accompany guitar, bass and drums – often whilst dangling from the light fittings, climbing over the barriers to join the crowd and generally cavorting.

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Freeborn Al / 21st June 2016 / Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Photos, Videos / 0 Comments

Way on down South with Sam Jones..

13267925_784096115059711_8153355590290363630_nI’m a bit overdue writing about Sam Jones‘ new EP – he put it out at the back end of May, I excitedly downloaded it, listened to it, loved it, then got distracted in a flurry of new music acquired after Bearded Theory and Something to Smile About – but I’ve re-found it and it’s been accompanying me to and from work for the last couple of days.  It’s a splendid collection of songs.

Sam is similar to Brad Dear in that he has a voice that doesn’t belong with someone so young – his range of gritty blues through to more melodic folksy stylings seem effortless live when you see him, and it’s true of the recorded tracks too.  Couple that with awesome guitar work – and layers of backing instrumentals and percussion laid down by his producer Jack during the studio time in London, and you have five special tracks.

It’s funny how the music industry works – you have the Ed Sheerans and Jake Buggs of this world who sky-rocket to stardom, I always wonder what that catalyst is – don’t get me wrong, I rather like Jake Bugg.  Ed Sheeran less so, but I do wonder what spark of luck thrusts their undeniable talent into such fierce limelight whilst someone like Sam and countless other performing artists I know are left – to coin a phrase from Gaz Brookfield – one step left of limelight.

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Freeborn Al / 14th June 2016 / Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

Brad-bothering on Sunday..

IMG_4165I’d deliberately planned a quiet weekend for the one just gone, and it was very welcome – a chance to relax, watch the England match with my Dad and generally not be dashing about all over the place was great.  But come Sunday with the working week looming I had a craving, and spotting Brad Dear was playing at the Workman’s in Warsop for Star Bothering on Sunday I fired off a WhatsApp message to Andy to see if he fancied a sedate road trip oop North.

He was!  So we were off – Brad was due to play as well as of course a bit of Star Botherers and a couple more acts… or so we thought.  A young lass due to play did arrive, but hadn’t realised the start time would be a bit later and had another open mic night to play, a pity – Bart too wasn’t around so no Star Botherers – and I’m not sure what happened to the third act – Warren Ireland – but well, it all worked out pretty well for us all told.

Brad arrived – and with a fairly small crowd of friends to watch we basically had a lovely ‘evening with Brad’ – he kicked off the evening, unusually opting to sit down with his guitar (I think he wanted the novelty of moving a mic-stand downward.  A quick initial set took in the likes of Far AwayFestival Bar Blues (see first video) and Maid of the River (unprompted – and my favourite Levellers song too!).  With just a few locals, Dave and myself and Andy initially it was a very up-close and personal session!

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Freeborn Al / 13th June 2016 / Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos, Videos / 0 Comments

Two birds with one stone..

20067f_038aaef7b23f4b57b76730111c05ab8dIt was a lovely surprise to get a Facebook message from Pete Jackson asking for my address to send an album to.  I’ve still not quite gotten used to that!  I first saw him perform at a Dogfest I think ages ago, the last time was at Bostin’ Days.  Mostly I’ve seen him with his acoustic guitar belting out Levellers songs – which I certainly have no objection to, but it’s exciting to get to hear someone’s own creations.

Upon picking up Two Birds I had a peruse of the track listing and credits – there’s a full band on here, Pete does the vocals, guitars and mandolin – but he’s backed up by Jamie Lynch on bass, Stuart Robson on drums, Lynn Holt on flute and whistle and James Bennett on keyboards.  The prospect of a full band sound is exciting – his collaboration with Lynn on the Bostin’ Days CD for The Road is one of the highlights on a universally strong collection of Levellers covers.

Distortion and a pitch-change kicks off Come What May – dispassionate lyrics over acoustic guitar talk of drudgery and impatience, before the chorus introduces energetic electric guitar riffs and empassioned vocals – and there’s a killer guitar solo thrown into the mix too.  Everywhere starts gently speaking of the horrors of what might be in store once the alarm clock rings, there’s clever pace changes as the full band kicks in – harmonised vocals, and anxiety-drenched lyrics.

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Freeborn Al / 11th June 2016 / Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

Disarm you with a smile..

IMG_4102Late on Saturday Ella and Morgan had sneakily secured themselves an open mic slot on the hidden stage.  As Sunday morning came I was up and ready way before the performer – luckily for me I scored some bacon and and egg from Herb to cook up for breakfast to stick on a sandwich, thanks Herb!  We alternated kettle boiling whilst the rest of the camp got themselves mustered.

I sneakily told as many people as I could about the imminent performance – given the relative earliness of the hour – Mick had come round to say goodbye, but was eager to stay to watch, and we managed to round up a few more folk to get a bit of a crowd ready to head on down to the hidden stage where last minute rehearsals / discussions were taking place, whilst the stage crew got everything plugged in and soundchecked.

Morgan – as noted yesterday – had been writing down guitar chords during The Leylines set, then wasted no time in teaching himself Run For Cover overnight, which was the song they opened up with.  As Ella spent time in the recording studio with The Leylines and did backing vocals for that particuar song – it was one she didn’t need any lyrical help with at all!  It sounded lovely, to my admittedly biased ears.

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Freeborn Al / 8th June 2016 / Gigs, Hell Hounds, Lee Bonsall, Music, Other Bands, Photos, Videos / 0 Comments

Smile like you mean it..

IMG_4027So, Saturday morning. Feeling pretty fresh, after charging up on tea and coffee by the vans we hotfooted it over to the hidden stage for Hector’s Pirates.  For folk more observant than me when it was announced, you’d have noted it was a clever anagram of The Star Copiers – it took somebody to tell me to suss that bit of intelligence out, it’s made other festivals over the summer all the more suspicious though.

As Paul said, I’m looking forward to Prosthetic Arse making an appearance!  Anyway, the boys had roped Ferocious Dog’s John in to joining them on bass, and most charming of all moments was Dan walking into the hidden stage area in the nick of time and politely asking if it was okay for him to play with them too.  Once everyone was set up it was time for the set to begin.

IMG_4032They kicked off with Another Man’s Cause and into Basket Case – Mark had pledged to wear whatever people threw on stage after pants-gate at Ey Up Mi Duck, so started in a pair of Jacquie’s shoes, these were quickly switched out for her crocs – and then added to with Morgan’s top hat.  Rocking in the Free World went pretty well considering the in-flight costume changes.

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Freeborn Al / 7th June 2016 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos