The year the music died?

Image credit: christhebarker

2016 will probably go down as one of those years where sad news overshadowed the good – certainly that was true for me both in personal terms, which I won’t cover here, but also the seemingly relentless march of famous icons being taken by the grim reaper.  Just as we were coming to terms with Lemmy passing away at the end of 2015, in 2016 we’d be constantly reminded by social media of a glittering parade of cultural icons shuffling from this mortal coil.

David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Glenn Frey, Jimmy Bain, Terry Wogan, Harper Lee, Frank Kelly, George Martin, Keith Emerson, Frank Sinatra Jr, Paul Daniels, Ronnie Corbett, David Gest, Victoria Wood, Lonnie Mack, Prince, John Berry, Nick Menza, Muhammad Ali, Henry McCullough, Anton Yelchin, Caroline Aherne, Kenny Baker, Dalian Atkinson, Gene Wilder, Pete Burns, Leonard Cohen, Andrew Sachs, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Rick Parfitt, George Michael, Liz Smith, Richard Adams, Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds.

That’s not an exhaustive list, I’m sure, but that’s not really what I wanted this blog post to be about – but you can’t really do a review of the year without mentioning the elephant in the room.  As with seemingly most things these days it caused ruckuses on Facebook with folk taking to social media to express their sadness whilst others get irked at seeming over-emotionalness.  Certainly there’s a lot in that list who whilst I’ve never met have had huge influences over my life, and I felt genuine sadness at them moving on – some seemingly far too early, others having reached a ripe of age.


Freeborn Al / 30th December 2016 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Lee Bonsall, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

Bonus last gig of the year..

I’ve already gotten half-way through a review of 2016, but managed to sneak a cheeky bonus gig in last night.  Having met up with some former workmates for an epic burger at Annie’s Burger Shack I found myself in Nottingham either at a loose end or ready to head home.  Luckily for me I knew Sam Jones and Spud were appearing at a Roots Acoustic night at The Pit & Pendulum – since it was just around the corner it seemed rude not to pop along for a bit.

As I was driving and have work in the morning it wasn’t ever going to be a long night – but certainly a worthwhile diversion!  I got to the venue just to see what I presume was the first act finishing up, so apologies about that (I can’t find who it was either, d’oh!), but he was an acoustic cover of a Radiohead song and sounded great.  Meanwhile I’d found Sam, Spud and Chris propping up the bar.  I’ve used the Pit a few times as a pre-gig venue, I’d never really thought of it as a music venue itself.

It works pretty well though – the Pelham Street side made up the music venue, with folk in the Victoria Street side having a few beers.  It’s a shame more folk didn’t venture to the music half, but I suppose between Christmas and New Year isn’t the best time to expect big crowds.  There were a few folk wandering in and around though to appreciate what was on offer.  No matter how many people are in it always seems to take me ages to get served in there, I wasn’t even wearing any camo!


Freeborn Al / 30th December 2016 / Gigs, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

It’s a two Dogfest kinda year..

With Dogfest having had a break in 2015, we got to have the bonus of a double-Dogfest year in 2016 – the fifth one (or certainly the fifth one I’ve been to) – it’s amazing to see how much it’s grown from!  In the past it’s always been a race to get to Warsop for the start – no such problem here, I poked my head out of a cosy sleeping bag to face the winter temperatures in my van. Brr! At least I’d remembered to sleep the other way around from normal owing to the slope I’d parked on!

First things first was a trip down to the Co-op to buy some supplies to donate to Framework later in the day.  Once bag there were more stirrings in the urban campsite, a chance to chat with Darren for a bit before Wez and I headed out for a very hearty breakfast at The Tea Cosy on the High Street – recommended, a big ol’ breakfast with plenty of tea was just the fuel needed for a day as relentless as what was to follow.  By the time we headed back the doors were open and wristband acquired courtesy of Rich.

On the main stage the show was opened by Jimmy Carroll, I’ve only found a personal page on Facebook rather than a page so far – so I won’t link to that, but an ideal act to open the day – two chaps, acoustic guitars, relaxed vibe.  As is oft the problem for early acts they fall foul of the ooh! people are arriving! curse that means they get a little relegated to background music – it sounded like great background music to me though.  Just before setting up on stage Sam was excited to see his new band on the t-shirts!


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

T’was Dogfest eve, babe..

Thanks John 🙂

With reports of the awful incident that caused the M1 to be closed on Friday (obviously thoughts and best wishes to everyone affected by that) I set off early to make it up to the Black Market Venue in time for us to get set up and soundchecked as we were up first for pre-Dogfest Stars Bothering on Friday.  I picked up magician Tom en route – more on his awesome skills later – and mercifully was able to get to Warsop in time and get the van parked up in the car park.

We got ourselves all set up as The Star Copiers – during the soundcheck the cajón was sounding huge – I think it could’ve done with turning up a bit during the set.  Alas I didn’t realise ’til it was too late, never mind!  As for our set, we left feeling a bit disappointed – we dropped a sound to make sure we could fit in Merry Christmas Everyone at the end and well, we all felt like we’d made a few too many mistakes.  Whilst we don’t take ourselves remotely seriously we do want to be as good as we can be!

That said, the first thing that happened when I got off the stage was to be faced by Rob who said “Al, I’m really disappointed” – I was about to concede we were a bit too, only for him to follow up with “I was expecting it to be all tuneless and rubbish!” – maybe it’s true you’re your own worst critics!  Either way, we had some fun and we started distributing the CDs we’ve had made to raise money for Framework.  The raffle on the night was also supporting them, not to mention the collection of food and toiletries occuring the next day too.


Freeborn Al / 18th December 2016 / Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

Gaz clearly doesn’t know his place..

I’ve been impatiently waiting for Gaz Brookfield‘s new album to drop only to realise at the eleventh hour I’d not updated my address from the order, so I didn’t get the sneaky day or two bonus time before release to get my teeth into it.  But thankfully the Bandcamp download became active before I had a chance to visit my folks to pick up the CD, giving me the chance to spend the last few days getting acquainted with I Know My Place whilst commuting to and from work.  And quite a bit in between!

From following this album’s progress on Facebook and having a natter with Mr Goodman in Banbury shortly after he’d had a sneak preview it was clear that Gaz had big plans for this production – rather than stick to the mantra of his previous releases and setting off as a solo acoustic guy (maybe with some fiddle from Ben Wain) he enlisted the help of a veritable who’s who of musician friends to add some depth and layers – and packaged it all together in a lovely digipak complete with an awesome piece of cover art by The Famous Artist Birdy Rose.

It’s no secret on these pages the esteem I hold Gaz in as a songwriter and performer (he’s quite a nice chap, too) – so I must admit it was a mixture of excitement and nervousness when I finally got my download onto something I could blast through my loudest speakers.  Would the Gazness of this album be diluted by the influence of all these other talented folk or would it be enhanced with their input?  Mr Goodman was absolutely raving superlatives about it, but well, you can’t always trust a cockney geezer, can you?  But in this case, you most certainly can.


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


A malfunction with letting him know my new address means I won’t get my hands on Gaz Brookfield’s new album ’til the weekend. However, a similarly exciting delivery did arrive on my newish doormat this week. A new album by Nick Burbridge is always pretty damn exciting for me – coupled with it being another collaboration with Tim Cotterell and well, excited doesn’t really cover it!

My first impression of this upon opening the jiffy bag on my doormat was that the cover of Resolved is a bit more friendly than its predecessor Gathered was. It seems like ages ago I had the latter in my hand for the first time (I suppose it was – 2012!). I loved it so much I felt compelled to write about it despite not having yet developed writing about music as a hobby. Sixteen tracks promises to be a bumper, although noticing six titled tanka with numbers prompted a quick Google.

A tanka is a short poetic structure from Japan consisting of five lines and 31 syllables. Five in the first and third lines, seven in the remainder, sort of like a haiku plus I suppose. Intriguing! Nick is, after all, a well-regarded poet (and playwright) as well as songwriter. All but the second track are prefixed Song of – a hint of some kind of narrative or journey perchance.


Freeborn Al / 8th December 2016 / Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

Doozering Derbyshire..

img_0676I won’t deny that the last gig at Rock City meant I was eyeing people heading to Brixton to the next leg of the Levellers tour with envious eyes, however, that’s not to say I wasn’t really chuffed to be able to take in a much closer to home leg of Doozer McDooze’s ‘Flick the V sign and do it anyway’ tour.  Whilst it was only a few miles up the road for me I decided to take Ludo and take advantage of the hospitality of the pub and sleep over in the car park so I could have a few drinks.

To that end I was in the pub car park mid-afternoon, once I’d got the bed set up I decamped to Dave and Caroline’s van where Murph was kind enough to share his sleeping space for me for a couple of cheeky drinks, Rob joined us shortly after and before long with John, Angela, Russ and Michelle arriving (with the awesome Merlin) we headed into the pub where there was a bit more room (and warmth!).  The Yew Tree Inn is a lovely building, I’m really sad that the brewery is moving Chris on as he’s created such a lovely atmosphere in the place.

img_0647A few folk ordered some pizzas, whilst most of us decided to hold out for the curry and chilli on offer upstairs.  I’d never been in the function room upstairs – what a cracking space, a bar, loos and a nice big room set up for the gig.  Doozer was on hand to personally hand stamp people by drawing a picture of himself on your hand (or you might’ve got something worse if Birdy had the marker!), we had plenty of time to find a spot to sit and get comfortable.


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