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!

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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.

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Freeborn Al / 18th December 2016 / Gigs, Hell Hounds, 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.

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

Dream gig?

slide1By a considerable margin I’ve not seen any live act as much as I’ve seen Levellers, Ferocious Dog and Gaz Brookfield – but I’ve never seen them all on the same bill, much less one after the other in the cozy confines of Rock City.  It’s doubly fitting as if it weren’t for my enduring love of the headliners, I wouldn’t have discovered the other two (well, maybe I would eventually) – so Sunday’s trip to Rock City felt like a poignant and fitting way to close a circle of sorts.

Being a geeky data mangler by profession I couldn’t resist a cheeky Venn Diagram!

img_0549Unfortunately a season of festivalling and gallivanting off around Europe meant I didn’t have holiday from work to spare for the day after – coupled with a bit of mosh pit flu starting to kick in, driving to and from the gig seemed the way forward for Ella and I.   That said, we were keen to get into Nottingham early enough to join the socialising in the Tap n’ Tumbler – immediately faced with Mark Chadwick surveying the swelling crowd of other familiar faces.  It’s funny, I still find it really difficult to go and chat with members of Levellers unlike the other two acts on the bill.  No reflection on them, just me being a starstruck wuss!

img_0551Elsewhere in the pub it became increasingly packed with countless gigging and festival friends – it was great to see Wez back amongst us in particular.  Being in non-drinking mode and mindful of an early start I’d planned on spending the gig further back and taking in the show – until Dean beckoned me over.  “I need a word with you, Al” he said, looking a bit stern – after last year’s Rock City mix up he was insistent I needed to surf on him for Freeborn John to make amends – not that it was necessary, it’s a signal honour though.  Looks like I’m in the mosh pit then!

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Freeborn Al / 29th November 2016 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

They did the mash.. it was the Münster mash!

img_0490We set off early for Münster, it was a pretty quiet bus all told, all the more reason to appreciate the Herculean efforts of Dean and Stu who got us from place to place whilst we either messed around or slept.  On arriving in town we spotted gig posters on the walls, and soon enough we were pulling into the car park of the hotel (hurrah!), which was right next to the venue – Jovel (double hurrah!).

They had a few rooms ready, so we were able to drop bags off and freshen up and await the rest whilst grabbing a quick drink from the hotel bar.  Once everyone was ready we decided to risk public transport again and grab the bus into the town, this went much more smoothly than the tram in Amsterdam, and was really reasonably priced too – we’d got ourselves to the centre in no time at all and off the bus.

img_0493Münster is a very scenic place – markets bedecked the streets and we had a nice wander around, having failed dismally in Duisburg to eat anything of note I was dead excited to get myself some currywurst, and very nice it was too before heading to a local pub to sink a few beers (and assorted local spirits).  We went back via the market again, Mick bought a soap which he thought was a lump of cheese (ha!), whilst Jacquie and I found some stagewear for The Star Copiers.

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Freeborn Al / 24th November 2016 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

Here I Am(sterdam!)..

img_0481The concensus on the bus was that we wanted to set off earlier than normal to allow for us to do a bit more sight-seeing in Amsterdam.  A sensible idea, one I still hold by, but by gosh the excesses of the night before made it a challenge!  I made it up for some breakfast, Mark wasn’t looking too clever, it was a quiet journey for most of us – much of it I spent asleep hunched in the corner of my back row seat!

By the time we arrived in The Netherlands the storm that had apparently been ravaging England days before was sweeping over the lowlands.  We headed into our destination watching leaves being blown in mini tornado patterns, mercifully the rain seemed to have subsided by the time we found our hotel – a short stagger from the venue, the iconic Melkweg, and right on the tram line to get into town.

We’d booked parking at the hotel, but alas the bus proved a bit too big so poor Stu and Mark had to do a few laps of the city – which upon walking around it was bloody bedlam – before eventually changing on one right outside the door (and an epic piece of reverse parking to get in it).  A bonus, as it meant we didn’t actually need to pay owt for parking in what is generally a pretty expensive place to leave a vehicle any length of time (unless it’s a bicycle or a moped which littered every pavement!).

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Freeborn Al / 24th November 2016 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Photos / 0 Comments

Ich bin ein Düisburger..

Dogging in Düisburg - sponsored by Killepitsch!

Dogging in Düisburg – sponsored by Killepitsch!

Breakfast in Kortrijk was a little disappointing, but welcome nonetheless – and sustenance was pretty important.  We didn’t have to leave too early so it was good to load up on caffeine and food before heading back onto the minibus for the next leg.  I think I pretty much slept the whole journey to Düisburg – a place I was only aware of because of League of Gentleman character Herr Lipp and semi-celebrity Nottingham Forest fan Ebby.  Upon arriving outside our hotel we nearly ran over Addie and Jane!

The hotel was bloody stunning, it was a shame we’d see so little of it really!  I shared a room with Deano for this one, we got ourselves showered and sorted and wandered out into a bloody lovely city.  We headed straight to the German market (or, more accurately, since we were in Germany, ‘the market’) which was full of lovely smelling and looking things – keen to locate the venue we carried on walking and settled in the bar next door to the venue.

Our British custom of standing at the bar doesn’t really work in Germany, there they conduct table service and mark your beer mat to keep track of your tab.  Eventually we found a table we could occupy for a while and sank a few beers, and, oh dear, a litre bottle of Killepitsch between us – in the same vein as Jagermeister but a different regional variety.  Plenty of familiar folk were descending on the place – not least Mark, Charlie and Mark from Levellers who were already propping the bar up when we walked in.

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Freeborn Al / 23rd November 2016 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

Groovers on manoeuvres.. part one.. Belgium!

An idiot abroad..

An idiot abroad..

I’ve been half dreading half looking forward to writing this, I’ve decided to split the four European dates into separate blog posts because I fear nobody would sit and read them all in one sitting!  Last night on getting home and basically crashing it was daunting, but now the laundry’s on, the dinner’s been eaten and I’m ready to begin.  I think.  Our adventure started on Thursday evening, after work I popped home to finish up chores before heading up to Mark and Amanda’s to pick them up.

From there we went to Kenny and Karen’s – ostensibly our plan was to get our heads down there for a bit before leaving at 3:30am to convene at Dean and Sarah’s to pick up the minibus.  Our merry band of fifteen people had all been merrily making life as easy as possible for each other with car and roof sharing, although the bulk of the credit goes to Sarah, Dean and Stu who booked and organised everything – and in the case of the latter two, did all of the driving too.

Of course, we never went to sleep – we wiled away the hours nattering, Mark and Kenny playing guitar, Kenny learning some last minute German phrases to say when he was on stage and watched daft videos.  Ken left with the dog bus at 1am, we just carried on, Amanda tried to get some sleep, Karen did – soon enough it was time for us to go – five of us piled into my car (Trudi had rejoined us at this point) to head over to our next rendezvous.  With the car parked up it wasn’t long before the minibus arrived courtesy of Stu and we piled on.

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Freeborn Al / 23rd November 2016 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

Star Copying on Sunday..

img_0343Another one of those strange blog posts featuring a set where I’m actually a performer rather than spectator, but there are three other acts to cover too – I’ll cross the potential for self-reviewing when I come to it!  Stars Bothering on Sunday is – as I’ve written before – an amazing way to round off a weekend.  An early start and early finish means you don’t need to be out late if you need to get to bed early for work in the morning, and has introduced me to loads of ace new bands.

Tonight was no exception – three familiar bands on offer, one of whom breaking in a new substitute fiddle player, one I’m part of, and of course the Star Botherers themselves.  The new band for me was Swifty’s New Front Teeth who are old friends of Mark’s.  Being in an unfamiliar setting they were a bit pensive before hitting the stage, so when it came to discussions around running orders they were keen to get on first, so set about sorting out the stage.

For just the three of ’em, electric guitar, bass and drums, they make a big noise – I cunningly clocked their set list before they started, although that’s bitten me in the arse now because I didn’t make any notes, and because of the ambitious idea of squeezing four bands into a little under three hours they had to drop a few from there.  D’oh!  Just Friends kicked things off in fine style, and those pre-show nerves seemed to evaporate in no time.

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Freeborn Al / 7th November 2016 / Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

Beware the Silk Leylines!

img_0335Nice little triple-header gigs like this are a real treat – particularly since fate conspired against me making it to the Hairy Dog (or rather, my energy levels did!) to see Ferocious Dog the night before as I’d originally planned.  A blast down the M42 and M40 takes you to Banbury from my house in a little over an hour, a small inconvenience stacked up against a free gig at The Wheatsheaf – a splendid traditional pub nestling in the town.

We arrived pretty early really, catching up with assorted folk in the venue rather than venturing forth to find what was probably a very drunken gathering of folk who’d been in Banbury since the night before.  A local character who introduced himself as ‘Hat Man’ was a particular highlight whilst nattering with Hannah and Dan outside.  In the venue we could hear strains of the first act soundchecking which boded very well for the gig – since we already knew the remaining two would be ace.

So Beware This Boy were up first – a traditional folk rock sound infused with fiddle to accompany the guitar, bass, drums and vocals also present.  Hailing from Oxford, I really enjoyed the set.  Singer Simon wasn’t big on telling us song names, although he did a few times (and I’ve derived a few more from the CD I bought from them after the set), the first song names were a mystery but Won’t Care came in at three.

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Freeborn Al / 6th November 2016 / Gigs, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments