Celebrating a local hero..

I’m sneakily skipping a post because writing up the wonderful Wistful Festival is going to take a little bit of time, but the reason I spent the saturday of that sober and left when the final act finished to get home was because we’d organised a little shindig to celebrate the amazing achievement that a notable Hell Hound was celebrating.  Sergeant Andrew Harrison is now Sergeant Andrew Harrison MBE – gaining recognition from the highest place going for his unceasing efforts in volunteering and fundraising for charities as well of course as an ongoing distinguished miltary career.

Andy’s my mate and to say I’m incredibly proud of him (irregardless of any official honours, I might add) is an understatement.  Finding a spot of time when he was around the area and – more crucially – Ferocious Dog weren’t gigging all over the place was tricky, so whilst it wasn’t ideal to have to be a bit more thoughtful about the last day of a festival, it was worth it!  Andy was at Wistful too and went for the more hardcore approach of leaving this morning to head down to Nottingham for his party, and why not?

Tom from Saltbox Bar had been conspiring with Rich and Paul to throw something together to mark this landmark, my job on the organising committee was to see if we could get Ken to come and play (and Dan too, who sadly couldn’t make it in the end due to illness – get well soon, Dan!).  He immediately agreed when I asked him a while back, I know we all know Ken is a generous man but it’s still a big ask to get him to come and play a set in the middle of recording an album, gigging, tattooing and the other myriad of things he gets up to.

Meanwhile Tom had also drafted in The Joe Strange Band – stalwards of The Southbank bar in West Bridgford that Sgt. Harrison has been known to frequent from time to time.  People started to gather, Joe and the band struck up a varied set of covers – and the weather alternated between sun and rain.  It was great to see a mixture of Andy’s family, friends from football, music or life in general and his Search and Rescue colleagues all gathered together to celebrate together with Andy.

Gift of the day has to go to Wez who’d had a t-shirt printed with an MBE medal on the chest and a copy of Andy’s citation printed on the back.  Andy immediately changed out of his top to wear it proudly!

The first set of two they performed had about 12 songs in there – with particular gems for me being Ring of Fire, Save Tonight, Let’s Dance, I Will Survive and No Diggidy (told you it was varied!).  With just guitar, bass and drums – an array of pedals for both guitar and vocals gives the band a tremendous range of options in terms of stylings – they delivered a really accomplished set.  The first set was a bit of a challenge as people were arriving, meeting, catching up or buying drinks – although by the time they returned for the second set there was a more engaged crowd gathered!

Guess who neglected to take a picture of The Joe Strange Band and had to pinch one from Facebook? My bad!

With Mark and Jacquie we did prick our ears for I Think We’re Alone Now and Like a Prayer – we’re quite into the idea of a bit 80’s cheese and are quite keen to add some to our sets!  But then the likes of Mr Brightside, Summer of 69 and Teenage Kicks mixed up the eras and styles again – finishing up with Hey Ya, I’ve Had The Time of My Life and Sit Down – there were a few people bopping away.  The band had to pack down quickly and head on out in order to get out to their next gig – I think Andy might be a bit disappointed to have not had a chance to boogy to The Thong Song, but still!

Dan had called me to break the bad news about him not being able to make it, but thankfully Ken was on his way – and arrived shortly after, just in time for Andy to be foisted onto the stage unexpectedly (for him, at least) to accept a cake and make a quick speech which went down really well.  He managed to only swear once as well I think, which is pretty good going!  A round of hip hip hooraying followed then Russ was thankfully on hand to help Ken get set up on stage with his guitar to serende us with some Ferocious Dog songs.

Without a set list it was a bit of a request fest – although not starting with Gallows Justice would’ve been a crime – so that’s what he did, the slowed down acoustic version doesn’t quite pack the punch of the full band version but sounds great.  Ruby Bridges was next, then he wasn’t able to resist dipping into new song territory with Blackleg Miner.  At Dave’s request he played how much of A&B he could remember before dropping into Unconditional, dedicated to Andy specifically.

Quiet Paddy was followed by The Glass, with the room bellowing the words back at the stage – then Criminal Justice (started off as Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door as the chord patterns are quite similar!).  Back into new album territory was The Enemy Within.  For Freeborn John there probably weren’t quite enough of us to provide a stable enough surfboard set up for an increasingly inebriated Andy, so we resisted the urge.  It did feel a bit weird though!  Dylan shouted out for Crime and Punishment which was up next.

What I suspect was meant to be the last song (Ken has vocals to lay down for an album afterall, we can’t go killing his voice!) – Slow Motion Suicide – went down as well as it was always going to, an emotional song.  With loud shouts for an encore as he went to get packed up briefly Ken graciously accepted and played Marikana MassacreHell Hounds saw a bit of a mosh pit develop with Andy being pinballed around a the dancefloor (and onto the dancefloor a couple of times, haha!).

Poor Angry and Young turned into Four Angry Onions both off and on the stage, amusingly – then another dip into what is to come with Class War, my favourite so far of what I’ve heard from The Red Album(It works acoustically too without the imposing bass line).  He finished up with an unseasonable Fairytale of New York at the request of Rich.  Sam wasn’t very happy about this encroachment of Christmas upon summer, but it was a cracking singalong finish to a fun set.

Andy had a fantastic afternoon – and judging by his general demeanour had certainly had a few drinks bought for him over the course of it… as people had started to ebb away from the venue we gently persuaded him it was probably time for him to head home, I brought my car round to the venue, packed away his newly framed citation signed by her majesty and Prince Philip along with Joe’s set list and Ella and I packed him into the car and took him home for a well-earned snooze.

Huge congratulations to Andy for some well-deserved recognition for the sterling work he does both as a job and for the many charities he supports.  A heartwarming afternoon and well worth cutting back on revelries at Wistful so that I could drive back home on Saturday night to ensure I had a decent night’s kip.  Hopefully a good few quid has been raised for charity too with kind donations dropping into the assorted collection buckets around the venue.  All in all, a great way to round off a weekend!

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