We shall overcome.. Bagthorpe edition.

weshallovercomeIf I had one regret at the awesome weekend we just spent at Rockstock and Barrel it would be that it clashed with We Shall Overcome – a nationwide campaign of awesomeness, essentially gathering together artistic performers to do their thing under a single banner in protest against the terrible levels of austerity being inflicted by the current government.  Performers, promoters, sound people all gave up their time at over 300 events this weekend for free in order to raise awareness and money to help those effected by homelessness or needing food banks etc.

However, I’m always happy to seek out opportunities to eke out the weekend a little more – and in between family visitations and the logistics in getting Snotty back down south I spotted an irresistible opportunity to head over to Dixies Arms in Bagthorpe where DH Lawrence and the Vaudeville Skiffle Show had organised an afternoon of performers.  Working out our timings, we could get there for a little before 5 and spare an hour – and providence was our friend as the performer in that time was none other than Mr Kenny Bonsall.

As well as Ken also on offer were performances from Paul Carbuncle, King of Rome, Quiet Loner and the hosts, DH Lawrence and the Vaudeville Skiffle Show – two of which I’ve seen and thoroughly enjoyed in the past, so I am a little sad that we couldn’t make the whole afternoon work – but well, if I had to pick one, let’s face it, it worked out pretty well for us!  Upon arriving we found a handy car-sized space next to the Ferocious Dog bus (Cerebus), a deft bit of reverse parking (if I do say so myself!) and we were on our way into the pub.

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Freeborn Al / 4th October 2015 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Lee Bonsall, Music, Photos / 0 Comments

Rockstock and barrel-of-laughs..

pylonSo we’ve just spent a splendid weekend at Rockstock & Barrel, nestled in the shadow of the cooling towers at Willington – just a short twenty minute drive up the road for me.  The atmosphere was literally electric with live power lines crackling overhead and people literally charged up with static electricity – but figuratively too with a fantastic and varied line-up of musicians and a ridiculous number of familiar faces in the crowd too.  Okay, so we weren’t brave enough to camp out in freezing October – which denied me the inevitable thick-head from the dangerous looking Scrumptiddly Cider Bar.

Paul took this awesome shot from under a pylon which you could drive under – as I discovered when moving a drunken Andy’s van from Campsite B to Campsite A as a space in the field became available thanks to the 3 Daft Monkeys electing not to stay over after their headline set.

IMG_1244Arrival time was planned after finishing up with work to take in the opening act, the very familiar Brad Dear who took to the outdoor-in-a-tent Electric Stage to kick off the festival with an acoustic set.  As noted from his support slot at The Beards the other week, Brad is a lad who is growing in confidence with his performances – he looks like he’s really enjoying performing and he’s on great form.  The news that studio time is likely to be imminent is great news for me too, looking forward to more tracks I can play on my travels – the newer songs he’s been adding to his sets recently sound great.

Then it gave us chance to catch up with the many many more hardy souls than us who had decided to brave camping – there was a campsite on ‘The Chimneys‘ site just behind the performance area but also another over t’road.  Already in position were countless familiar faces – Tim, bless him, had even provided some non-alcoholic shots so that the tee-totalers didn’t feel left out.  The sun was veritably beating down and I must confess that briefly I was a little bit sad I’d decided not to camp – that would change later when the sun went down and it was freezing!

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Freeborn Al / 4th October 2015 / Band, Gigs, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

Colour of Ugly Kid Beards…

IMG_1145In a slight diversion from my usual subject matter, it’s been a fun weekend of distractions which whilst not really related to Ferocious Dog – has certainly involved many of my Hell Hound brethren.  It started on Friday night with a blast from my youth with Ugly Kid Joe visiting the Rescue Rooms in Nottingham.  I used to love them in the early 90’s – before meandering off to the Levellers – my brother retained his love of metal though and accompanied me along with Snotty.

I must admit, my expectations were pretty low – having not really stayed abreast of Ugly Kid Joe developments I was imagining a desperate cash-grab from some washed up 90’s almost novelty-act that I’d never had the chance to see live ‘back in the day’ to a half-empty venue.  As an aside I do remember us listening to them live on the radio supporting Def Leppard at some point, cringing slightly at Whitfield Crane’s lewd references to the joys of blowjobs whilst I think my Mum was listening along with us.. anyway, I digress…

Whitfield Crane has grown up a bit – shorter hair, a suspicious whiff of Just for Men and I’d say a humble demeanour – he seemed genuinely grateful to what was a packed out, not half-empty, Rescue Rooms.  Launching into an intro then straight into Neighbor (the first CD single I ever bought!) it was a cracking performance from the band – with the guitarists throwing solos between one another, Cordell Crockett giving the funky underpinning with his bass and a drummer wearing nothing but pants – with the front man conducting the crowd.

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Freeborn Al / 21st September 2015 / Gigs, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

Monkeying around in Tarn..

Dollar is Clinically Insane

Dollar is Clinically Insane

Okay, so Ferocious Dog were playing in Fleetwood last night and I cheated on them in Barnsley to watch 3 Daft Monkeys – but t’was most definitely worth it.  It was off to the Polish Club in Tarn I went, a previous scene of Ferocious Dog goodness from earlier in the year, for a splendid evening of fun organised by the awesome Andrea who runs Let the Music Speak for Itself.  As I’ve discovered in the last year, promoting and organising gigs is hard work with little reward trying to lever people from their sofas – so I’m personally very thankful there are such passionate folk about to supplement my social life.

For Friday night in rush-hour the M1 was reasonably kind, we detoured via Thorne to pick up Becky and Pete and arrived pretty much bang on schedule at the venue.  There was time to have a natter with assorted folk like Darren, Collette, Rachel, Lisa, Janet and Dom (with an awesome Levellers shirt on) before getting hand-stamped up and heading into the venue proper ready for the show.  Which commenced with the slightly terrifying spectacle of Dollar is Clinically Insane strutting around the stage banging a gong.

He described his act as spoken word – it was a combination of stand-up and poetry despite his protestations to the contrary.  Self-depreciating and funny – probably funniest for us was watching 14 year old Dom, right at the front, listening to the – um – very adult themed pieces.  An inability to get laid, being stuck in a porn vortex, celebrity stalking and – my personal highlight – regret at not being ‘the shag-monster of Yorkshire.’  It was certainly something a bit different to my normal choice of entertainment – and gave us some laughs with a follow-up underpinning of seriousness.

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Freeborn Al / 5th September 2015 / Gigs, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

Geddon moi laaaaand…

IMG_0867Wow. Farmer Phil’s you were a bloody spectacularly good festival – I have no idea how many words, edits, or sittings this is going to take (edit – did it in one, sorry in advance for the typos), but felt the need to make a start on trying to document five days and nights of great fun, company, music and just general soul nourishment.  Dean has been telling me to go to Farmer Phil’s for about three years now, I’m glad I finally listened to him.  The festival proper starts on the Friday, but camping passes enable you to get on site from Monday, which many did – I opted to travel on Wednesday.

First order of business for me was to nip and pick up Tina before we headed over to Shropshire in the sunshine – I’ve subsequently found the setting to quell my sat nav’s desire to take me down the bloody M6 toll road at every opportunity it gets – but last week I was lucky that Tina knew the best way to go without having to pay to drive on a road.  Once on the site we drove into the ‘noisy’ field and found a suitable sized area next to Naomi, Joe and family and set about plotting tent and car positioning to try to save space for others arriving later.

It was pretty warm so by the time we’d put up mine and Snotty’s tent, one for Simon, and Tina and Tim’s teepee we’d tired ourselves out pretty well.  There was time to leisurely settle by the campfire to spend time with the Deerstock collective next door – one of the best things about the weekend was getting the chance to get to know Naomi and Joe’s awesome kids Jake, Kezzi and Rohan a bit better, whilst Ant provided a pretty non-ceasing stream of comedy as only he knows how as the ciders started flowing perhaps a little too freely.

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Freeborn Al / 18th August 2015 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos

A midsummer afternoon’s reality..

Fran Minney kicked off the day's music

Fran Minney kicked off the day’s music

Travelling up to Thorne near Doncaster for an event designed to engage the local folk with the arts might seem a strange thing to do, but as Pete and Becky (organisers of Something to Smile About and also responsible for the malign influence that is the MeadEvil Bar) had set it up and we had a free weekend it seemed like an excellent way to pass the time.  A Midsummer’s Music was a pay-what-you-think-it’s-worth gathering in Thorne Memorial Park which would help fund both the park itself and the community woods.

It would also help to treat the people of Thorne to some excellent musical entertainment.  And the people in our party of Hertfordshire, Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire – but still!  I drove up with Snotty, quickly spotting the MeadEvil marquee in the park as we drove past and to the carpark we thought was the one we were meant to be aiming for – more on that later – and wandered back to the park to find Tina, Rhii, Kev and Rachel already there.  Tim had called to say he could make it too with Lisa after getting out of work early.

The sun was shining, as I was driving back no mead for me – but the cafe on the park was there to provide soft drinks and food, as the finishing touches were being made to the sound system.  All in all, an idyllic setting for Thorne Charity Events to stage this mini-festival of entertainment.  Five musical acts were lined up for the band stand in all, with a healthy pause in between for plenty of chatting, laughing and general messing around (including repeatedly running off with Tim’s trainers).

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Freeborn Al / 11th August 2015 / Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

Last of the Summer Levellers..

IMG_0815The Levellers are my first musical love, and you supposedly never really get over first loves – so it’s odd I’d almost forgotten that I’d got a ticket for tonight’s gig in Holmfirth until Tim reminded me at Deerstock over the weekend. As such I’d managed to not book today off work, nor book anywhere to stay, or basically do anything sensible at all except wangle working in our Leeds office the day before for a shorter schlep down to the gig.  Since I’ve exponentially grown my gig-going the Levs don’t make up quite such a big proportion of my musical life these days.

However, t’was exciting nonetheless.  Driving through the stunning Yorkshire countryside down to Holmfirth – famous as the location for Last of the Summer Wine – was lovely in the sunshine, less so in the early hours on the way home with a 20mph-slower-than-the-speed-limit numpty in front of me and a full-beam-wanker behind me… but anyway, that’s a moan for another day!  Holmfirth is a lovely picturesque place, at the Picturedrome is a cracking venue comprising of a former cinema with the seats removed and a couple of balconies.

Outside at the nearby Old Bridge I found a partial mini Deerstock reunion in the form of Tim, Tina and Kev – alas no Simon or Snotty (who has elected rather than to summarise Deestock in detail on her blog start a campaign of making lots of people get dust in their eye.  In fact, on the subject of Snotty you should check out her photos from Deerstock too – in numerous and edited form).  But there were plenty of other familiar faces milling around.  Not least much of the band and Gaz Brookfield enjoying a few pre-gig drinks before heading off the soundcheck.

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Freeborn Al / 31st July 2015 / Gigs, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

Deer, stock and (mead) barrel..

IMG_0711Ah, so that was Deerstock.  Now I’m home, the tent is dried and back in the bag (subject to repairs later), I’m showered and the washing machine is on probably the most daunting task of the day is how on earth to go about summing up four days and nights of mayhem in a field in Newton?  Deerstock 2014 was definitely the highlight of my year last year, and this year might well have just gone and topped even that.  So I will apologise in advance for the wordiness, and for the inevitable blanks in my recall… this is going to be a loooooong post.

Off work on Thursday I was mooching around planning on arriving on the site around 4pm – upon messaging Tim around lunchtime he revealed that he and Tina had already set up camp – so rather than pace around the house I hopped straight in the car and made my way to Newton via the supermarket for last minute supplies.  Tina and Tim had done a great job in saving a chunk of space to keep us all together – and I was soon pitched and sorted in time to help Lisa and Pixie get their tent up.

Once cabin fever relieves you get that slight craziness and the concoctions came out perhaps a little earlier than planned.  As we got steadily more pickled by the fire we had the chance to marvel at how quickly Spike can put up his gigantic tent, and see our village slowly constructing itself around us.  A ramshackle and wonderful mixture of camper vans and tents nestled together containing many of my favourite people – sure, there wasn’t any music on, but that wasn’t really needed.

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Freeborn Al / 27th July 2015 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Lee Bonsall, Music, Other Bands, Photos, Videos

A triumphant homecoming..

unnamedI talked about my reservations over Splendour as an event before – a little too sterile, a bit too rule-bound, and it didn’t bode well when arriving at the site as it opened to see loads of people having assorted things confiscated.  In defence of the security guys, they were very courteous and I thought the organisers had done a decent job in communicating what would and wouldn’t be permitted on the site – but well, taking a lads water off him because he’d had a swig on the way to the park?  A bit much!

After the state I got in three years ago I didn’t attempt any smuggling of contraband this year – more’s the pity as I wasn’t so much as patted down on my way through the gate!  It’s probably a good thing though!  Early on to the site my first objective was something to eat, which was duly purloined from the bacon cob van – shortly after this I bumped into Ian and Lucy for a quick chat over our assorted food choices.  They’d hit the bar already, which was my next stop.

Ah, beer tokens.  I loathe them – but grudgingly bought some in order to get that all important first cider of the day.  You can see why they don’t want people bringing their own booze in when they’re charging £4 a pint for their own edited range of beverages.  That said, ales, lager, cider, jägerbombs and Pimm’s were all on offer in exchange for a magic token.  After picking up a drink I wandered down to the Confetti Stage where Georgie and her band were getting set up.

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Freeborn Al / 19th July 2015 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos

The Splendour of the weekend to come..

Splendour-2015_IndianaWhilst I’ve been still basking a bit in the warm fuzziness of last weekend at Wistful, it will be good to get a bit of full-on Ferocious Dog this weekend at Nottingham’s Splendour Festival.  I’m not generally a huge fan of Splendour, it’s pretty pricey (although I guess if you divide the ticket price by the number of acts you want to see it does work out good value this year).  FD played it last year but an early slot on a small stage so I didn’t indulge, although I did go to it when the Levellers played a couple of years back.

The list of terms and conditions are potentially entertaining too depending on how many Hell Hounds descend for the 5:15 showtime.  We shall see!  Definitely this year I won’t be attempting to smuggle in a litre and a half of rum (successfully) like I did on my previous visit… after consuming that I found myself practically asleep  against the crash barrier for much of the Levellers set.  Mercifully this rendered me unable to ‘appreciate’ the headline act of Dizzee Rascal too so perhaps it wasn’t such a bad plan!

This year though with Roots Manuva, The Specials and James on the bill too there’s more to look forward to than just Ferocious Dog which is always a bonus, and there’s sure to be new acts to discover.  The other drawback to Splendour is the lack of camping option – on account of the potentially vicious deer in the park – although whilst not my current home Nottingham is a place I can find places to stay pretty easily – and I’m sure there’ll be a few folk out and about to make it into a suitably fun party!

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Freeborn Al / 16th July 2015 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands / 0 Comments