Deer-stocking.. across the universe.. (part three)..

IMG_4857At some point over the course of Saturday Jamie the Pirate had arrived at Deerstock.  AKA ‘It was Jamie’s fault’.  Come Saturday morning, clutching his breakfast White Russian as we were sitting around whilst folk were munching breakfast (Ella and I were abstaining from breakfast for reasons that will become clear).  Jamie sauntered over with the dreaded morning tequila.  Luckily there were only a couple of shots each – although we did have lime and salt too!

We were up early as The Star Botherers were due on at 11:20 – during an ill-advised conversation the previous day concerning going to see them wearing what you sleep in – Ian foolishly revealed he slept eu naturelle.  A dare ensued thanks to Lee, charitable pledges were made that were at the £150 mark before a step was taken – Ian was duly tasked with walking up to the arena in his birthday suit.

Cleverly mindful of the ‘what you sleep in’ context he was able to grab a couple of pillows – emblazoned with images of Blackballed – to cover his modesty as he made the walk.  Being the kind person I am I live streamed it to Facebook, getting a worrying number of viewers.  By the time he’d finished and we’d pinched Craig’s bucket he’d collected well over £100 from the crowd too – all for Wish Upon A Star, a charity Lee supported recently.  His JustGiving page is over here if you fancy chucking a few quid in.

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Freeborn Al / 29th July 2016 / Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

Deer-stocking.. across the universe.. (part two)..

IMG_4816Feeling surprisingly fresh we emerged from the van into an already pretty warm day – greetings made, breakfast acquired (again, from Nana’s Kitchen), we had an early appointment up at the arena.

Saturday was Pixiestock day – so it started for us in the kids tent, where Tina was telling the assembled young ‘uns a story about why foxes and badgers live in holes.  Ella was up next, complete in tiger onesie, to read The Tiger That Came To Tea – with the temperature already soaring it was warm work!  Kezzi followed with a fairy story before the assembled children were led to the glade by the Pixie King.

IMG_4817Lucky escape for me, Naomi had been plotting for me to dress as the pied piper at one point for the purpose of leading the procession to the stage!  Once in the glade Spike read The Gruffalo complete with amusing accents – before we were treated to a frankly slightly sinister yet oddly compelling Mouse Circus puppet show.  One of the fantastic things about Deerstock is the amount of thought that goes into keeping the young folk entertained.

There was a vote whether the wooden deer mascot called ‘No Eye’ should be burned or saved – I’ve no idea what the outcome was.  I voted to burn him. Mwah ha ha!

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Freeborn Al / 29th July 2016 / Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos, Videos / 0 Comments

Deer-stocking.. across the universe.. (part one)..

IMG_4743We arrived on site at Deerstock on Thursday afternoon for some early revelry – once we’d set up and settled amongst the other festival pioneers it was really just a splendid afternoon and evening for nattering, eating and drinking.  The most exciting part of the day came though when Pete and Becky asked us to keep an eye on their lads for a while, they disappeared off to Nana’s Kitchen for dinner and came back engaged!

Pete had been plotting with Ella, and we’d agreed to watch the boys whilst he whisked the Evil Mead Lady off to a pre-planned steak dinner and proposed.  As they returned to the gathered folk we sat and stared for a while, before Becky announced it was okay to hug her now – awesome news!  They make such an ace couple.  The other thing of note was that upon visiting the on-site portaloos, the inclusion of some air-fresheners made them the most fragrant ever!

The festival proper of course started on Friday though – over a breakfast cider we were treated to a jam from The Star Copiers (well, most of them, Kieron was absent and there’s an extra one now) at the campsite, Paul and Sarah had brought vodka infused watermelon as has become a bit of a Deerstock tradition whilst breakfast was a delicious bacon sandwich courtesy of Nana’s Kitchen (and of course washed down with aforementioned breakfast cider).

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Freeborn Al / 27th July 2016 / Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos

Travelling along the ancient road with The Silk Road..

13532968_1136428143093816_260219737519044595_nThe Silk Road was an expansive trade route network enabling Chinese silk to be exported and sold all over the place from two hundred years either side of the birth of Christ.  Or it was also an expansive dark web black market trading platform famed for selling drugs or other illicit items between 2011 until it was shut down by the FBI in 2013.

I checked in with founding member Tich and it turns out both of these things inspired the band name – the three hares symbol linked to the ancient trade route, although nobody really knows the origins of the images – but for the band, it and the name symbolise the universal connections people and places all have with one another.

I first saw The Silk Road the band back at Something To Smile About in their acoustic guise – but I’ve known singer and guitarist Tich for over a year now, and we’ve often nattered at Ferocious Dog gigs about their output.  With extra performances at Estival and Wistful to take in, they’ve also been in the studio to produce a four track EP (well, really it’s five tracks), so it was great to finally get my hands on it courtesy of Tich at the weekend.

As I tend to do I’ve been hammering it on my drives to and from work this week – since I’ve clocked up over five hours of car time in the last two days (damn you, M42!) I feel like I’ve gotten to know this little collection very well indeed.  That said, I’ve certainly not tired of listening to it whilst idly cursing the strange and unexplained concentration of traffic as I trog to and from the West Midlands each day.

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Freeborn Al / 19th July 2016 / Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

Pissed fool at Wistful (part two)..

IMG_4653Saturday started with a slightly thick head, which was soon put to rights by a hearty breakfast from Moo n’ Brews (whose awesome home made burgers I neglected to mention in Friday’s update).  Coupled with a nice slug of breakfast mead from The MeadEvil bar and the world was looking a much better place, certainly was for Paige who appeared to have taken up residence at the bar for much of the day!

Meanwhile in the barn Ovacast got the day off to a very lively start – mainly blasting out very accomplished rock covers (clearly my note-taking wasn’t up to much, I only captured Wanted Dead or Alive – but it was very tight.  Lisa H was their main spokesperson over the weekend so I discovered they’d actually been performing together for years, they were excellent – I think the energy of their set would’ve benefited from being on a little later in the day but still most enjoyable!

IMG_4655To follow was the inimitable Brian Stone, it was pretty warm in the barn – and I don’t doubt he was up ’til the wee small hours around a campfire somewhere on the site.  It didn’t detract from the performance though – kicking off with Life Begins @ 50 and then into Barrow Downs.  His rendering of Ward The Pirate was delivered complete with ‘the dance moves’ from Karen and Ella initially, before spreading further into the crowd.

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Freeborn Al / 19th July 2016 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

A pissed fool at Wistful (part one)..

IMG_4568There’s no greater frustration than working the day you’re heading to a festival – coupled with that, I was waiting for a delivery so even when I’d worked my way through my to do list for the day I was still waiting to set off to Wistful Festival.  The Parcel Force man arrived, I hit the road and got to Hankin Farm by early evening on Thursday – the lovely folk that run the farm were on hand to arrange payment for the camping, and after a few attempts I found a good flattish bit of the field to get set up.

The van sorts itself out for the most part, I’d packed the teepee too for Becki and Emma who were arriving the next day and brought a gazebo as an experimental awning substitute.  Soon enough I had everything where I wanted it, greeted the neighbours (Mary, Rachel, Spike, Beth, Christina, Julie, Mark and The Seabridges amongst others!) and headed down to the arena where a film screening was happening courtesy of a projector and a white screen on the side of Paul and Lisa’s caravan.

A fun way to pass the evening – although the temperature dropped ludicrously after dark – still, cider and mead flowed nicely and Paige and I fought for the attentions of Alfie and Pebble the dachsunds (furry hot water bottles!) before starting to wander back up the hill.  A campfire drew me over where rum was flowing, and Brian and Jonny were entertaining us with guitars and songs – perfect wind down before the lure of bed finally took over.  The first time I’d slept in Ludo on my own, which was a bit weird!

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Freeborn Al / 17th July 2016 / Gigs, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 1 Comment

Bill Sykes had a wife..

The Norwood

The Norwood

I’m not sure if it’s just me that gets a bit intrigued by stories that inspire songs.  This one’s a bit convoluted, I was watching Sharpe on some random Freeview channel and rifleman Daniel Hagman was singing a traditional folk song about poachers in Rufford Park.  I googled it, I even messaged Ken about it as it brought Crime and Punishment to mind and well, one Google search leads to another and you end up with this!

Plus I’ve not written anything about Ferocious Dog, my principle subject matter, for quite a while, have I?  I touched on the back story of the song back when I first wrote about the album – the star of the song, Bill Sykes, actually being a relative of Ken’s – and probably would’ve faded into obscurity as a historical figure were it not for the discovery of letters his wife wrote to him after he’d been transported out to Australia.

You see – Bill Sykes did have a wife (children he had four, too!) – and well, it’s pretty safe to assume that he didn’t see them no more as well.  You can read Myra Sykes’ letters in full here thanks to Wikisource – initially sent to Portsmouth prison where he spent a couple of years before being transported aboard the Norwood (Barry, are you reading this? I’m sure we were discussing the name of the ship outside Newbury!).  You can even read Bill’s own diary of the voyage here, too.

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Freeborn Al / 11th July 2016 / Band, Music, Politics, Thoughts / 0 Comments

Not going back to that!

Screen Shot 2016-07-07 at 23.22.38Listeners to Doozer McDooze‘s new album Not Going Back To That who are unfamiliar with the Essex troubador could be forgiven for writing it off as naïve sentimentalism.  “Yeah, everyone might think about chucking it all in and living in a van”, you can imagine people thinking.  “… but life just isn’t like that.”   But of course, it is like that for Doozer and his partner-in-crime The Famous Artist Birdy Rose.

Faced with the option of scratching by on minimum wage opportunities probably with zero contracts or the harsh realities of the benefits system (which the Sun might have you believe is the life of Riley, I’m not sure reality reflects that – and I’d certainly not like to find out) – they bought a van on the back of some workshops they ran at a festival and chose to spread their creative joy to the masses instead.

A brave move – think about what the forebears of our current government did to people who chose an alternative lifestyle – at least a sidestep from ‘the system’ – it’s brave, on so many levels.  Braver than I’d be – I need the security blanket of a steady wage, a payroll department to deal with all that pesky tax stuff – of course, I don’t have any tangible artist talents I could get away with taking on the road either so it’s a bit of a moot point.

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Freeborn Al / 7th July 2016 / Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

Royston-buried! It was Jamie’s fault..

IMG_4488One of Ella’s many talents is an ability to sleep in once the sun’s up – be it in a sweltering tent or a less-so van.  Not so much me, I was awake, I made myself a tea and went for a wander – Jamie was up too, I made him a tea and eventually we all settled around Paul and Jayne’s van for a civilised sit down.  I’d grabbed a breakfast from Nana’s Kitchen, Paul and Jayne were cooking theirs, and that’s when it all started to go a bit wrong…

“Fancy a Bloody Mary, Alan?” asked Jamie, casually.  I was reluctant, but as I’d not indulged too much the night before there was no normal festival delicateness, I went for it.  And breakfast descended into a bit of a shot-fest – there was vanilla vodka, Disaronno, Honey Rum, Tequila (complete with lime/lemon and salt purloined from Nana’s), Triple-sec and – well – safe to say we were all pretty drunk well before lunch time when the music started.  Ah well!  We did have a bubble machine and some ace tunes to accompany our excesses!

IMG_4495Doozer McDooze was up first, having broken the main stage – which hadn’t been used yet! – he switched to the acoustic stage to open up the day of music.  He launched into Searching, a track on his new album (stay tuned for a review of that in due course) and into Dreams – given our alcoholic lubrication we were probably much more fun for an early performer than we normally are!

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Freeborn Al / 4th July 2016 / Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

Roystonbury part one..

IMG_4478It was back in March I got a Facebook message from Janice out of the blue asking if we wanted to come to Roystonbury, as tickets were getting scarce.  I must confess, I hadn’t heard of it prior to then, but after some not very hard convincing, a bargainous £20 ticket price including camping and a check on the calendar to see we hadn’t got anything else on it wasn’t a difficult decision to get the tickets bought!

The event started last year as a birthday party for Roy, which went so well it became a festival proper this year – raising money for Horatio’s Garden. They are an awesome charity who create and maintain fantastic outside spaces for NHS Spinal Injury centres – providing essential areas for folk who have months to spend in hospitals to spent time outdoors and closer to nature.  An idea created by Horatio Chapple, who was tragically killed before seeing it become reality.

So on Friday after finishing up at work I headed off in Ludo for the short drive to Burbage, Leicestershire via the station to pick up Ella.  A slight sat-nav mishap was corrected and we arrived on site to be parked up by Roy himself – an ace little site accessed through a farmyard, with a few chickens to dodge and other assorted livestock of a woolly variety.  The arena was right next door, and a few familiar faces were already present.  For us we just needed to break in the levelling blocks to get the van level then the bed set up.  I don’t miss tents!

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Freeborn Al / 3rd July 2016 / Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments