Doozer and Funke rock Derby!

Childishness

I’ve not been to The Hairy Dog in Derby for a year or so – so last night was a first chance to check out their new bigger room rather than the old upstairs venue which now houses a smaller venue and a tattoo studio.  The newer main room is a great space – around a 400 capacity, a bar with sound-desk, cloakroom and merch desk with a good sized raised stage.  It’s superb set up nestled behind the no-nonsense rock pub out front.  I whole heartedly approve.

With car woes continuing I decided not to risk it and took the van, parking up at nearby Abbey Street car park and then it was a short walk to the venue.  Outside we found the acts for the evening out front enjoying a drink along with The Famous Artist Birdy Rose too, so we settled down for a natter and a drink.  It was a little while before the doors to the back room were opened, so it was nice just to catch up.  Gradually other gig goers started to arrive – and soon enough we decamped into the main room, Ella doing a stint on the merch desk for the evening.

Funke was up on stage to introduce Doozer McDooze who opened up the live music – despite being a bit poorly (you could only really tell from his between-song chatter, it sounded like he had a bad throat), he didn’t let it inhibit an energetic and empassioned performance though!  I didn’t recognise the song he opened with, I’ll hazard a guess at I Thought We Were Friends.  It always amazes me how prolific Dooze is at songwriting, I see him quite frequently and there’s nearly always something in his sets to throw me!

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Freeborn Al / 11th November 2017 / Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos

The gig that launched a brace of albums..

The Black Market Venue was resplendent with candlelit tables and black table cloths, the curtains were pulled across (initially at least!) to make what is a cavernous space feel more intimate, red and black balloons bedecked the place (including some HUUUUUGE ones by the stage!).  The room was filled with possibly a larger crowd than anticipated – eagerly ready to support the album launch for not just Star Botherers, but Strange Currencies too – and if that wasn’t enough, there was a set by Black Thorn to get the night underway!

Jamie had been kind enough to give us a lift up to the venue – so I could have a cheeky pint of Illicit or two for a change – and not have to gamble a trip in my increasingly erratic car (but that’s another story!).  By the time we were herded into the back room by Brad there was a sizeable gathering in the front bar, but unbeknown to us there was quite the crowd already ensconsed in the back room – tables had filled up, we installed ourselves by the bar, by the time Kev, Julie and the kids arrived the curtains had to go back to make room for everyone.

I’m really glad about that – it’s great to see so many people out to support local independent and unsigned artists.  As well as an album launch it was a showcase for The Black Market Venue’s recording facilities – where, of course, Happy Angry was recorded, and is headed up by Joel.  Venue, bar, brewery and now recording studio – certainly a diverse establishment!  As we got ourselves settled in Black Thorn were getting themselves soundchecked – and soon enough were underway.

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Freeborn Al / 9th November 2017 / Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos

When there’s something strange in the neighbourhood..

Well this weekend we’ve discovered that The Lindleys can host one hell of a party!  With Doozer McDooze embarking on a series of house gigs, they threw their house and garden open to the masses for a Hallowe’en themed party, nay, mini-festival.  John had made a stage in the garden from pallets, chipboard and a gazebo, Russ had provided a PA and lighting, and Angela had really gone to town on spooky decorating to create an amazing space for the guests descending for good times and entertainment.

Not only did we have the treat of Doozer’s set, we had four acts preceding him.  We arrived in the car – Ella had dressed up as an undead Romany girl, I’d dragged out my evil jester costume – certainly the other costumes on display from the guests were impressive – most folk had really entered into the spirit of it, and were tucking into spooky snacks or mysterious glow-in-the-dark jellies.  A sinister bird chirped in the kitchen, whilst even the toilet had been made to look suitably eerie.

The weather was very kind and the firepit gave the option of heating up if it did get a bit chilly, and there was a dazzling array of warming food inside – the forty or so odd revellers were very well catered for indeed!  In the meantime though the first act up on the stage was Dusty Herb, for the second time in a week for us!  He started up with Sometimes as last week, and was sounding really good – and followed it up with Black Dogs Eyes again – the fact he forgot the first verse makes me feel better for once again not noting his third song (might be partly down the food becoming available, haha!).

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Freeborn Al / 29th October 2017 / Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos

A lovely bit of Bothering..

Oops – nearly a week late, but it has been a busy week in my defence!  But last Sunday we had a welcome trip up to Market Warsop for a bit of Stars Bothering on Sunday in the Black Market Venue.  I love nights like these, relaxed and informal and fun – and usually with a spot of entertainment.  For our second time we’d been booked too, due on after appearances from the hosts, Herb and Alex Bradford – and followed by Josh Francis (who was running a bit late owing to traffic).

Having settled down with John, Angela, Tony and Trudy folk started arriving and The Star Botherers got themselves set up and the evening underway.  With a slightly later start than planned it was just a two song treat – kicking off with One Inch Death Punch (at least Bart did, Dave start the bass riff for Just Around the Corner which was quite amusing!).  That helped decide the next song, it was indeed Just Around the Corner – short but sweet.  Don’t forget their album launch is a week today and it’s free!

I was looking forward to catching up with Herb – each time I see him take the stage he gets more confident, especially with a sharp new hair cut!  For a blogger he’s great as he interperses songs with the stories behind them and their titles.  He opened with Sometimes, a melancholic finger-picked tune with philosophically observing life’s ups and downs – I really liked the lyrics.  Black Dog’s Eyes picked up the pace a bit – more strumming, and more empassioned vocals – dealing with escapism through substances, another really nice song.

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Freeborn Al / 27th October 2017 / Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos, Videos

Got stuff to do.. Groovy.

Yesterday was the kind of day that defies description really.  Many readers will know Richard, he’s often found at Ferocious Dog gigs, festivals and countless other events – and has undergone a number of years of recurring diagnoses, remissions and recurrences of that bastard we’ve come to know as cancer.  But rather than let this be a barrier he’s relentless optimistic, sharing his company, humour and wisdom freely (despite not being able to speak any more) along with his ‘rock’ and wife Julie.

In what was originally billed by Rich as a pre-funeral – in typically dark humour – we just enjoyed a superb day and evening of entertaining bands, laughter, tears and dancing – a perfect ‘living wake’ (as I’ve seen another friend coin it).  A dedicated team of friends worked tirelessly to organise the space at The Yew Tree Inn and Lodges in Ednaston, there was space for vans to stay over, and hotels dotted around the area were booked up, and a big mob of friends brought together through a love of music came together with Rich’s family to celebrate – and did so in fine style!

From the open mic with Niamh singing along to Brian’s guitar beautifully, to Spike doing an amazing and difficult job in making a speech that Richard had written but couldn’t physically say himself, since the disease has robbed him of his voice box.  People underwent the two-verses-one-breath challenge (you have to sing two verses of The Subhumans’ Work Rest Play Die in just one breath) – kudos to Mark who learned it on guitar too and did it at the start of our set over the course of the afternoon!

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Freeborn Al / 15th October 2017 / Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos

Monkeying around in Cornwall..

Around a year ago 3 Daft Monkeys unveiled a brilliant crowdfunding campaign to get their album, Year of the Clown recorded and produced.  I’m a big fan of this approach for artists who need some cash up front to cover these costs without the luxury of a record label to advance them the money – and it was particularly excited as a couple of the rewards combined would make for an awesome birthday present for Ella.  Of course there’s the considerable fringe benefit that I get to share the experience too – so everyone’s a winner!

Part one of our weekend of awesomeness was joining the band for a zip wire experience near Liskeard in Cornwall – with it being on a Saturday I cunningly worked in Solihull, then headed down to Gloucester where Ella would train to, and we could meet at the hotel we’d booked.  It’s fair to say that it wasn’t a brilliant hotel – but certainly made the drive onward to Cornwall in the morning a lot less daunting!  The next morning we headed straight to Adrenaline Quarry with the nerves of one of us starting to jangle a tad.

We were pretty early, so got to see a jump before Rich was the first Monkey to arrive on scene – and before long the rest of the party arrived, got checked in and we climbed into the deeply unflattering harnesses ready to be weighed in.  I’m pretty confident I was comfortably the heaviest!  Paired up we waited our turn to get hooked onto the zip wires and – boom! – it was over, it was great fun, the persistent mizzle kicked up a cloud of raindrops behind the descending folk, probably the highlight was Rich’s daughter Eliana who eagerly stepped up for her descent – completing it sat on a barrel to get her weight up.

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Freeborn Al / 13th October 2017 / Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos, Videos

Rockstock and … well, long overdue…

This is long overdue, so apologies – it’s been a busy ol’ time.  Rockstock and Barrel happened at the end of September, and it was as magnificent as ever.  After finishing up work we arrived on site on Thursday evening and got ourselves set up and reunited with our lovely festival friends.  Soon enough the cider was flowing (Pear and Chilli was my weapon of choice for most of the weekend) – and the music was starting in the acoustic lounge before the festival proper started on Friday.

Phil Cudworth took to the stage first – probably more familiar to most of us for his awesome woodwork, it turns out he’s a bit of a dab hand with guitar and singing too!  He opened with a potentially childhood-destroying song called Disney Princesses where he painted probably on reflection a more healthy set of role models than those proferred by the film company in question, then on to Coward about growing up in the 70s.  A mixture of irreverence, humour but also underpinned with real charm.

Coward was up next and then Bounce, then it was on to Hippy Chick.  I must admit I started losing track of song names – there was one about a chap called Gary, Computer Nerds has a question mark next to it then there was a really bluesy number called Tollpath Blues.  Then we get to where I’ve just covered subject matters – one song was about Russians, another about VIPs, then one called Green-eyed Monster.  The set finished up with Free for a Day but as Zoe took the stage she asceded to the crowds demands for an encore, which we got in the form of Sunglasses – a reflection on how stage-performing can adversely affect ones personality.  Something to watch out for!

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

I find myself a-Maze-d again..

When you’ve had an utterly shit week, probably one of the best temporary remedies you can find is a night watching Ferocious Dog in acoustic guise (now four rather than three piece, with Alex adding some percussive oomph) at The Maze in Nottingham.  Add to that the support of the very familiar Brad Dear  (a late replacement for double-booked Bart) and the new-to-me JD the Acoustic Anarchist, and plenty of familiar folk to enjoy the evening with, and it’s bound to be a winner.  The promise of a chicken tikka kebab from Victoria Kebab the cherry on the top of the cake!

With it being a work-in-the-morning kinda affair I opted to drive in, depositing my car on the road behind the venue just outside the parking-meter zone, bonus!  Once we’d found ourselves a cashpoint and picked up some supplies for a food bank donation we made our way into the venue, or at least the bar at the front just before the back room was opened up ready for the evening’s revelries.  I love The Maze as a venue – it’s rough and ready but has friendly staff, and great sound – although it does get warm in there!

JD the Acoustic Anarchist started the show – casually announcing himself and striking up with The Moron Song (I’ve half guessed at some of the song titles so fingers crossed they’re closeish).  Initially he was evocative of a solo incarnation of Phat Bollard but as he progressed he became more and more bluesy, so a kind of blues punk – a really engaging set, always a tough spot to play with the venue still filling up with folk.  How Did We Get This Far as a Species was up next, and was making me smile.

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Freeborn Al / 8th September 2017 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Lee Bonsall, Music, Other Bands, Photos, Videos

Farmer Phil’s 2017 – part two!

Saturday morning started with sausage cobs (yes, they are cobs!) for breakfast – then we were up to the arena early doors as Morgan and Ella were doing a Morganella ‘meet and greet’ at the Pink Flamingo Bar. Lucan was a hero and arranged for a 4×4 to pick up our stuff to take up to the stage so I left Mark in charge of my stuff and accompanied Ella up to the arena. Starting the day with a cheeky cocktail and the first questions and answers was fun, but soon enough I needed to report back stage to get The Star Copiers set up – so that’s where I headed.

The sound crew were awesome – we aren’t very experienced really so we take all the help we can get! They got each monitor set up for us so that we could hear what we needed to hear, something I’d never really appreciated before until performing.  Once soundchecking was finished I found a quiet corner to get changed into my silly stage wear (okay, I just got changed in front of everyone back stage, haha!). Mark’s guitar seemed to not want to stay in tune, Kev was a bit nervous, Jacquie was practising lines – I was pretty excited in truth, definitely our biggest stage to date.

We started up by going on one by one with a slow intro to Down Under, Mark first, then Jamie, me, Kev and finally Jacquie to kick off the vocals. I thought it worked rather well! Donning sunglasses meant I couldn’t see the people in the barn – but I could see Kenny grinning at us from the bank outside the stage enclosure. What’s Up was next – even if I was tapping into a different song, already looking too far forward on the set list. Oops! It didn’t put the others off, so I could drop back into the correct beat soon enough. Listen was next, then I Still Believe (the one I started off on before by accident). It’s a song we always cock up in rehearsals – I’m happy to say this time I don’t think we did, although my monitor mix was largely Mark, Jacquie and me.

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Freeborn Al / 27th August 2017 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Lee Bonsall, Music, Other Bands, Photos

Farmer Phil’s 2017 – part one!

Farmer Phil’s Festival is one of those impossible to sum up times of the year. It can last potentially for a week if you’re lucky enough to have the time to get on site the Monday preceding it. It was Thursday evening for us when we were able to wend our way to this Shropshire idyll – the original plan was a Wednesday arrival but sadly a funeral waylaid us slightly – it had been raining a bit, we immediately got stuck in some mud but were pushable, having located a route to our camping spot we found ourselves sunk again – this time relying on being towed by the wonderful Craig.

We found ourselves nestled just behind the Purrple Peeple Eater – and quickly reunited with our immediate camp-mates with a cheeky cider or two whilst setting the van up as quickly as we could. Whilst the festival proper hadn’t started yet Bart had organised some music up at the bar tent, and we were keen to get straight into the festival spirit. We wandered up to pick up our wristbands and then onward up the hill and into the arena – still in varying degrees of construction, to find a cast of hundreds of friends already mustered ready for the music to start.

Pete Drake was already underway on the stage, entertaining a burgeoning crowd in the large beer tent, meanwhile we were roving from friend to friend catching up, saying hello and fussing the ridiculous number of four-legged friends. Farmer Phil’s is absolute heaven for anyone, like me, who loves doggies! Pete was followed by Northern Monkey – which seemed to have Joel from Black Thorn amongst them playing bass (I’m sure that’s not the usual state of affairs!). Also nestled on the hill was the Cheezy Vinyl Bar and stalls. It was shaping up to be a stonking weekend.

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Freeborn Al / 27th August 2017 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos