Besta Venya..

It’s always such an honour when an artist lets me have a sneak preview of a forthcoming release – I’ve been listening to Nick Parker‘s album-in-waiting, Besta Venya, for the last few weeks now.  Nick was a new discovery for me last year but he’s catapulted himself firmly as one of my very favourite songwriters and performers – be it in solo acoustic mode or with his band, The False Alarms.  If you don’t want too much by the way of spoilers before listening yourself, don’t read on!

I was reading an article the other day that explained that depending on whether you major on left brain (logical) thinking or right brain (creative) thinking helps to dictate whether your appreciation of music centres on the lyrics (left brain) or the melody (right brain).  Whenever I do tests to try to pigeon-hole my brain I generally come out balanced between left and right – so perhaps it’s not surprising that I find both pretty important in my very favourite music – I bring that up because Nick excels at both, he’s a clever lyricist and puts them to lovely tunes too.

There’s a thoughtful mixture of full band big sounding tracks, delicate acoustic ditties – there’s poignancy and humour throughout.  Nick manages to create music that perfectly balances on the tightrope of being charming without being twee, and his songs are frequently drenched liberally with the kind of self-effacing modesty that – if you’ve ever had the opportunity to speak to him (and you should definitely do that) – wouldn’t be in the least bit surprising to you.  Some of the songs are very familiar from recent gigs, others are new discoveries – but it’s genuinely a wonderful collection of music.

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Freeborn Al / 27th February 2017 / Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

Glastonburied..

We had a bit of an inpromptu decision to head down to the wonderful Bocabar in Glastonbury last night to see Nick Parker and the False Alarms and The Leylines.  I’d not planned on being in the West Midlands for work earlier in the week, but as I was it seemed logical that I was already thirty odd miles along in the right direction, so why not carry on? Plus Ella could get the train across to Solihull easily enough and meet me at my office, so that’s what we did – final meeting finished up, laptop shut down and off we went!

Now it’s worth taking some time to comment on the venue – reclaimed from an old industrial building, it has a wonderful creative and community-led vibe to it, nestled near a Premier Inn on the outskirts of Glastonbury itself, although still get lovely views of the town and the tor on the way in to get parked up.  Inside you’ll find an eatery, bar, awesome and reasonably priced artwork adorning the walls, and a low-ceilinged large event venue that holds around 300 people.  A really lovely space, nestled in an area that has clearly suffered a bit of depravation in recent years.

We descended late afternoon and settled with coffee and soft drinks, outside a murmuration of starlings was threatening to form as they prepared to roost as dusk set in.  Alas despite my best efforts I never did get to see whether or not they eventually succumbed to that peculiar and mesmerising urge they have to perform complex acrobatics together.  Inside we sat merrily watching soundchecks as the assorted musicians arrived – if you ever see a gig you fancy at The Bocabar then I’d thoroughly recommend a visit!

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Freeborn Al / 25th February 2017 / Gigs, Music, Other Bands, Photos, Videos / 0 Comments

A-Maze-ing – part three!

It’s no secret (nor, I imagine, a surprise) that if work holiday and funds were no object then I’d have spent the last few days gallivanting around the Netherlands to check out the new Ferocious Dog line-up, but when Gaz Brookfield announced his Nottingham date it made for a very welcome consolation activity to be undertaking.  In the meantime Lee and Jayne had pulled out all the stops to make it a full half-day of fantastic music at The Maze.

European-trekking decision was further vindicated by an unexpectedly high car maintenance bill – so I opted to drive for this one and stick to a few soft drinks.  We hit town in time for the doors to open and for a free parking space within a short stagger of the venue, and being one of the first fifty people through the door were handed a raffle ticket for a prize draw later (I never did find out what it was for, although I do know I didn’t win, ha!).

I do like The Maze as a venue.  Nestled behind the Forest Tavern on Mansfield Road it’s compact-but-big-enough, the lack of lighting in the rearmost loos did present a certain challenge but added a veneer of adventure to an otherwise mundane activity, the sound was superb and well, it was full of lots and lots of my favourite people to spend time with. I’d have gladly paid the ticket price just to see Gaz, to have six high quality support acts on the bill made it ludicrously good value!

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Freeborn Al / 19th February 2017 / Gigs, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

Brad Dear has a new EP coming out!

I was having a ponder about when I first heard about Brad Dear – and realised with some alarm that it was five years ago!  The local radio station on the way in to work was featuring a young musician from Southwell who was on the verge of releasing a single on iTunes the proceeds from which would support the charity Help for Heroes.  I downloaded it and liked it very much, and it might well have been that that was where my journey with Brad ended – but for the fact that he was somewhat taken under the Ferocious Dog wing – so he’s been a regular feature of my gig repertoire ever since.

Most of those gigs have been as a solo performer – and I’ve also had the pleasure of seeing his various stages of forming bands – he’s probably had more line-up changes than Ferocious Dog, haha!   It’s been a genuine privilege to have been able to watch Brad develop as a performer and see some of his songs evolve into the accomplished anthems they’ve become.  So I was really excited when he asked me if I’d be happy to get hold of his forthcoming EP a little early to be able to write a review, which is what you’re reading now!

For those of you who’ve seen Brad perform either alone or with band you’ll have heard these songs before – indeed, a couple have appeared on previous recorded releases but here with the additional input of Chris on percussion, Andy on bass and in particular Lizzie on fiddle they now feel like they’ve evolved fully.  From reading his interview with Ella on her Snotography page it’s a conscious choice to have included songs that he’s been kicking around live for a while – with new songs promised for an album to follow (exciting!).

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Freeborn Al / 16th February 2017 / Gigs, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 1 Comment

The Leylines tour is underway!

I’m a bit late with this update – apologies, but last weekend a rather splendid event took place at The Black Market Venue in Sunny Warsop.  Well, threatening-to-be-snowy Warsop I suppose!  I hotfooted it up there early, because it would let me get a good spot to park the van which would be our bed for the night, but also because Becky and Pete were bringing Buster down for a bit of socialising practice. The band were in place soundchecking, I passed a lovely few hours nattering with folk and supping a pint of Illicit or four!

This was the opening night for The Leylines tour – and Andrea had pulled out all the stops as promoter (is anyone really surprised at that? Ha!) and snagged not one, not two, not three, but four support acts so the night got underway pretty early – utilising the main stage which is sporting a new sound system for the assembled crowd.  It was particularly exciting to see Dirty Davey get his first announced outing for a while (although I did make a sneaky trip to see him at an open mic night last week!).

The last time I saw Dirty Davey performing at an announced event it was his first time being microphoned up and it’s fair to say the experience was overwhelming – but this time the practice has clearly paid off, a very confident performance – showcasing two of his own compositions as well as a couple of well-chosen cover versions.  It was a short set as he’s been struggling with illness, but it left not just me bursting with pride watching him do his thing on the big stage.

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Freeborn Al / 14th February 2017 / Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

The happy bus pulls into Nottingham..

Mad Dog Mcrea are right up there in the increasingly populous pantheon of bands I absolutely adore to see live.  So it was a bit surprising that I hadn’t registered they were playing up the road until earlier this week when Dan posted about it on Facebook!  Luckily with no other plans I obtained myself a ticket for The Rescue Rooms, which made up for Ella going to see them in Cambridge last night which I couldn’t really justify on a work night!

There was of course the extra bonus of support from not just The Outlines, but a bonus addition of The Star Botherers too.  With a relatively early curfew it was an early start, so I got myself to venue in good time to find Adam, Hollie and Mark in the bar.  I really like going to The Rescue Rooms, it was a trip there to see Mark Chadwick years ago that first put me on to Ferocious Dog, and that in turn has led me to countless other awesome musical diversions – not least all of this evening’s entertainment!

Lots of other friendly faces in attendance too – although not as many as I’d have thought, even given it was a weeknight.  The Star Botherers got us underway to a room still filling with folks, kicking off with Just Around The Corner and then into Ringing in Sick, Bart joking that his songs were all about his disdain for work – dedicating the latter for folks who had work in the morning (cheers, Bart!), then gleefully pointing out he didn’t (bastard!).

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Freeborn Al / 10th February 2017 / Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos, Videos / 0 Comments

It’s a new Ferocious Dog CD kinda day!

It feels like it’s been ages since I’ve had a post to write about my principal subject matter!

There’s still something irrevocably exciting about getting a Ferocious Dog CD through the post – and it’s fair to say this latest 3 piece live acoustic album is a little later than initially planned, so a combination of anticipation and half-forgetting it is on its way heightens this.  (The Leylines acoustic EP is due to land soon too, there must be something about getting acoustic recordings out on the expected timescale – I’m excited about that too!).

When From Without launched whilst it was excited, because I’d been lucky enough to hear the progression of rough-cuts, pre-masters and mastered tracks it meant the undeniable excitement of having the physical CD was diminished a bit since I’d been listening to it for weeks.  Not the case here, so I had the full jealous of folk who’d been in to receive their delivery whilst I was at work, waiting all day before getting hold of it in the evening to listen to on the way to band practice last night.

Delicious frustration – but worth it!  I won’t go track by track but pull out a few thoughts about some of them – so if you’re waiting to listen and don’t want any spoilers then stop reading!  The CD kicks in with the intro track familiar to anyone who’s seen the band live in the last couple of years – I’m sad enough to have badgered Waggy for the track and added it to my From Without album on my phone, but now it’s there for everyone to set the scene!

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Freeborn Al / 9th February 2017 / Band, Music, Photos / 0 Comments

Devine contribution..

A rare trip into Nottingham with Nick and Ella was on offer this week to see Kevin Devine and the Goddamn Band at Bodega.  When we were plotting the trip I had grand ideas about going to do cheesy tourist things, maybe grab a burger at Annie’s before heading to the gig.  Luckily they were loosely made plans, by the time we’d wiled away a pleasant day talking nonsense and eating the breakfast/brunch Ella had made there wasn’t really time for much beyond a cheeky coffee and cake and a drink before the doors opened.

I feel a little bit like I might’ve sold my home town a bit short, really – but there’s always the next time!

With an early curfew and four acts to get on the music was due to start before seven.  I do like Bodega as a venue, although did fall foul of the finding the place where I’m in everyone’s way.  As all the acts were new to me I wanted to observe from afar, and I’m always conscious of how my height can restrict people’s views – but we found a cunning zone triangulated by the bar, the merch desk and the door which seemed to mostly work – although why so many people go to busy gig venues with rucksacks strapped to their backs will always evade me.

Avoiding turtle-like folk aside it was a pleasant crowd, I was finding it odd to be at a gig where I literally knew two people in the room.  Although we did meet Tom (the second act of the night) through Nick and he was a magnanimously friendly chap covering the merch.  But more on him later.  There was a bit of a beer scandal too – Monday night in the Bodega downstairs is happy hour, their house lager is £2 – unless you go upstairs then it’s £3.40.  Scandalous!  It’s easy enough to nip downstairs for one though.  I think lime and soda was cheap at both bars, since I was playing designated driver!

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Freeborn Al / 1st February 2017 / Gigs, Music, Other Bands / 0 Comments