Ploughing an unlonely furrow..

Speaking as a member of The Star Copiers we were dead excited to get the chance to play Brad Dear‘s open mic night in The Plough, Warsop again.  It’s a great chance for an on-stage warm-up ahead of Farmer Phil’s, and a chance for our ‘secret weapon’ to blow the cobwebs out of live performing.  With added excitement of course of getting to see Brad perform too, along with The Band With No Name and a quick set from Herb at the end too!

Brad Dear was up first – he opened with the yet to be titled New Song, then followed it up with old favourite Circles and Roundabouts.  Then it was time for New New Song – he’s been on a bit of a songwriting marathon lately apparently which bodes well!  The Only Road I Know was up next then he dipped into his arsenal of cover versions for Levellers track Together All The Way, he finished up with Special Brew with The Lindleys bullying everyone into a conga-line around the pub, ha!

The Band With No Name could do with a name really – with the very familiar Russ on vocals, two guitars and cajon made up the remainder – and they were really rather very good.  They kicked in with Land Pirate’s Life by Gaz Brookfield, and then into Whiskey In The Jar (I think by this point Mark was probably getting a bit pissed off by his band mates asking him why he couldn’t do that on guitar!).  Unconditional was up next – with Ken sitting in the front row Russ got over his nerves to deliver a cracking version.

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Freeborn Al / 5th August 2017 / Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos

Wistful festival goodness..

Whilst YNot Festival was busy providing both the question in its name, and the answer in its execution, just three miles over the hill Wistful Festival continued to incrementally grow and deal admirably with the occasionally inclement weather conditions high up in the Derbyshire Hills.  When I think back to the first nameless event Lisa organised, it’s pretty amazing to see how much it has grown into a fully fledged festival.

Arriving on site on Friday morning we were just in time to see Dirty Davey, increasingly confident on stage he rattled through a set including Shirt of Blue, the acapella Summer Fields and Riot ShieldsLand of Hope and GloryThe Old ManMarch On Have You Seen Them and finally I Hate You Mrs Thatcher.  Longest set I’ve seen from him, and no drafted-in accompaniments to boot!

A few sound issues troubled the set up of The Collective, but soon enough they were underway with a lively fusion of hip hop, rock and just generally bounciness – I couldn’t tell you many song names beyond Smoke My Troubles Away and a cover of Walking on the Moon – in the meantime we’d been checking out the set up of the arena, The Meadevil Bar debuting their new tent, the Cheezy Vinyl Bar next door – that was me pretty much sorted for the weekend!

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Freeborn Al / 5th August 2017 / Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos

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.

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Freeborn Al / 30th July 2017 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Lee Bonsall, Music, Other Bands, Photos

Rainstock!

Whichever malign entity invoked the heavens to open with a rain dance couldn’t dampen too many spirits in Nottinghamshire this weekend.

We arrived at the Deerstock site on Thursday evening, one of the perks of buying a live-in vehicle pass!  Having accidentally bought an extra ticket I donated it at the gate for a charitable contribution, then headed on in to the site – finding our camping spot for the weekend with Mark, Amanda, Paul, Nicki, Ian and Lynne (with more to join later!).  Unlike previous visits we’d settled up on the open flat space nearer the arena – with the weather forecast due it made sense not to venture too far down into the narrow wooded area in heavy vans.  Although Wez had made quite a home there with his recently acquired horse box!

Soon enough everyone was set up and sorted – we had a few cheeky drinks and wiled away the evening by the vans and in the Cheezy Vinyl Bar whilst the tireless folks making the festival happen beavered away on getting the site ready for Deerstock to happen when it started properly the following day.  I should admit from the off, we were slightly weather-wusses – Saturday in particular we rarely ventured far from the campsite – so there will be some hefty musical gaps in my musings.  I would apologise but well, it meant we stayed dry and we still had an absolute hoot – so I’m not going to!

Friday’s music started with catching the very end of Jake Martin‘s set (oops, sorry Jake!) having been fed by Paul and Nicki’s seemingly miraculous Cadac Chef – which has attachments for every conceivable way of cooking (it had cooked us pizzas the night before, now it was doing a fine job of breakfast too!).  Anyway.. Jake finished his set with I Don’t Wanna Be Your Heroes, I was just heading in to the Roy’s Place stage to see more and he thanked everyone and duly unplugged his guitar.  D’oh!

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Freeborn Al / 24th July 2017 / Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos

Tring Tring!

It’s almost like the sound of a doorbell isn’t it? Arf. Definitely an apt spot for Morganella to be making an appearance hot the heels of releasing pre-order details for their forthcoming EP.  The event at the excellent Anchor in Tring (which is in the wonderfully named Borough of Dacorum) was organised by Neil for young students he works with (of which Morgan is one) to showcase their talents, it’s great there’s folk like Neil inspiring folk to pick up instruments and perform, and helping them to get together to form bands!

With the venue being pretty small and unsurprisingly each of the performers bringing a number of family members with them to watch it wasn’t always easy to take in the vast array of acts on offer, but it was a fun afternoon spent mostly outside nattering with folk waiting for the Morganella spot at 4pmish.  Although Morgan did have two other sets to perform first – I caught some of his second, which was him in his rockier guise and it was pretty awesome.  I live-streamed a track via the Morganella Facebook page of them in action (Ella did the same for his first stand-in appearance in another band – talented bugger!).

Quite a gathering of folk had arrived by the time it was time for Morganella to hit the stage – a tribe of Ella’s family from Stevenage, Nick, Lucy and Evan from nearer by, myself obviously – as well as Brian and Karen, Paul and quite a few others – always great to see a decent crowd of folk, luckily for us a fair few folk had cleared out of the narrow bar area so we were able to find some decent spots to take in the set.  Only a short one too!

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Freeborn Al / 9th July 2017 / Gigs, Music, Other Bands, Photos, Videos

Keeping it Real (Time)..

When the tickets for this gig went on sale I was at Ey Up Mi Duck and had decided that, having secured tickets for the Rough Trade gig that I’d hang fire and give folk who had missed out a chance.  By mid-afternoon there were still a few left so sod it – folk had had a chance, I duly ordered!  I’m glad I did, I’m a big fan of Real Time Live as a venue – sat above a music shop in Chesterfield, it’s an absolute musical grotto!

Come the day we offered to pick up Geoff en route since he’s just a short diversion off the M1, and duly arrived in Chesterfield with a good amount of time to spare.  Once we’d got our bearings (which took a while longer than it should’ve done!) we headed to The Barley Mow, just around the corner from a venue – a nice pub, with plenty of friendly faces already there – and seats outside to enjoy the not-quite-as-warm-as-we’d-hoped weather.

After a good deal of catching up, random photos and a strange experiment involving leaning against a wall and picking up a stool we wandered over to the venue.  Over the course of the evening I was also informed that my good friend and fellow Ferocious Dog fan Andy Harrison has been honoured with an MBE in the Queen’s birthday honours list – over the course of the evening we weren’t allowed to mention it, but come midnight – well, I think everyone who knows him knows about it now!  It’s an amazing and well deserved acknowledgement of the commitment he’s shown to good causes.

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Freeborn Al / 17th June 2017 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Lee Bonsall, Music, Other Bands, Photos

Painting the town Red..

It’s maybe a bit painfully ironic on the day after Ferocious Dog‘s homeland was painted blue by the electorate that they took to Nottingham to unveil some of the songs which will feature on the forthcoming Red Album.  Or maybe not, the voyage south took them back into Labour territory for a first airing of these new tracks.  But anyway, whilst I might touch on it from time to time this is a blog for music not politics – so I shan’t dwell on that tempting though it might be!

We opted to drive in for the gig – I wanted to concentrate on the new material, plus we’re out and about tomorrow so sobriety made sense, so after finishing up with work for the day into the car we piled and headed to Broadmarsh to take advantage of cheap parking for the evening.  Upon reaching town we wandered past Annie’s Burger Shack knowing a fair few mates were eating there – indeed they were, al fresco so easy to find.

A quick trip to the Angel with Geoff found more friends inside, then it was on to Brewdog where everyone claimed their free pint of IPA in exchange for having a selfie at their polling station.  We found Sigrit to present her with her CD by The Star Copiers she won in Ella’s raffle (unlucky Sigrit!). As I wasn’t drinking and don’t really get on with Brewdog ales Ella and I popped over the road for an iced coffee and a pot of tea respectively – we really are very rock and roll, you know!  After a mooch around the Rough Trade store, the venue was soon open.

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Freeborn Al / 10th June 2017 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Lee Bonsall, Music, Other Bands, Photos

Saturday smiles..

On saturday we awoke to glorious sunshine – a welcome relief from the dampness of the night before!  I headed on down to Creative Intentions to get myself and Ella an awesome vegetarian breakfast, sold largely by the inclusion of halloumi in truth, but it was delicious – and that’s coming from normally a fairly committed meatosaurus!  We ate it listening to Steve Grozier opening up the main stage with some lovely chilled out acoustic music.

Once sorted we wandered to the Hidden Stage – I wanted to catch the open mic slots and we were playing shortly after that anyway, so went armed with the stuff I needed for stage too.  Pete Drake was up first, launching his EP and entertaining the crowd with catchy songs with clever lyrics – one about accidental discoveries particularly tickled my funny bone, I grabbed an EP off him which I’ve been really enjoying!

Dusty Herb was up next on the open mic – I’ve seen Herb perform plenty around campfires but never on a stage.  He got off to a banterous start which had the decent sized crowd chuckling before dedicating his first song to his wife Sue on the dawning of a landmark wedding anniversary.  Initially kicking into Please Release Me he quickly changed tack with a cover of Suzi Quattro’s If You Can’t Give Me Love – it worked really well.

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Freeborn Al / 9th June 2017 / Gigs, Music, Other Bands, Photos

Smiles defeat the rain..

Sometimes the best way to judge or consider the impact of anything is when you place it into adversity – and Something to Smile About had a few moments like that, from last minute snags with the camper van field, broken strimmers and mowers making the alternative somewhat overgrown, a near miss with a lorry deciding to nearly drive directly into the car park from the motorway to a biblical storm and stage malfunction on the Friday night – but organisers and volunteers alike rallied and sorted everything out – and more importantly the lovely festival goers kept their smiles intact.

We arrived the night before and found a handy spot backstage to set up camp for the weekend – in time to muck in with the stage set up whilst catching up with the other folk who’d got on site early.  Come Friday morning everything was looking good – there was a bit of rain forecast just after lunch, otherwise all looked good!  I put some bins out and tried to get a cider early only to be reminded the bar opened at noon by Zoe – so at noon I made sure I was first in the queue for a ginger cider – wow, what a revelation – it might be my new favourite festival tipple.

On the main stage Regime kicked things off – funky reggae dub with a healthy smattering of hip hop was a perfect way to gently introduce music to the arena.  In the meantime Becki had arrived along with Emma and Nick so I popped over to help lug stuff and attempt to help with putting their tents up, which wasn’t too traumatic an experience. It was heading to the car to pick up bags that I first caught sight of the jack-knifed lorry that had nearly ploughed into the car park / camper van overflow field – luckily the driver and presumably other drivers were unharmed in the incident – it was eventually craned away.

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Freeborn Al / 7th June 2017 / Gigs, Music, Other Bands, Photos

Kev-Fest?

I don’t think I’ve ever been to an album launch tour date that comprises a house party – but that was part of Nick Parker‘s plan in between more conventional dates.  Kev duly leapt on the opportunity to host one of these, and of course supply a support band in the form of The Star Copiers (and bonus ‘Dirty Torry’ – ie, Dirty Davey and Russ too!).  So we move right from what was a really up close at personal gig in Chetwynd Aston to a really really personal one at Kev and Julie’s house.

The original plan was to take Ludo up there and stay over, but with quite a bit of stuff to do over the weekend instead I just took the car up instead.  With illness ravaging half of our band we’d not had a rehearsal this week and decided to wing it in terms of a set list – on arriving the PA was already set up and people were starting to arrive.  Dave and Russ were also keen to do a set so once folk had arrived and a ridiculously huge amount of food and drink was laid out they got themselves sorted under orders from stage manager Josh.

Dirty Torry (ie. Dirty Davey and Russ) kicked off with Sell Out – Dave playing guitar and Russ providing vocals – they work well together as a team.  Criminal Justice was next (with an interesting lyric change of ‘Egyptian Whores’ instead of ‘Eviction Laws’ – there’s one for Ferocious Dog misheard lyrics!  Millionaires was up next and then into Riverflow.  Back on to Ferocious Dog and Unconditional got a welcome airing, then a brave and cracking version of Elation finishing up with Slow Motion Suicide.

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Freeborn Al / 6th May 2017 / Gigs, Music, Other Bands, Photos, Videos

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