Wakey Wakey..

Last weekend’s gig followed a really informative day at the same venue beforehand, which is something that I might return to when I’ve had a bit more ponder time.  The closest thing I have to a mining background is playing around the Gedling Colliery site as a young ‘un, and my brother’s ill-timed ambition in the mid eighties (at the age of about 4-5) of being a coal miner.  And years of abuse from Yorkshire football fans for being a scab, what with being a Forest fan.  The ramifications of the strike were something alien to me until it featured in my university studies – I’m not really qualified to write about it with any authority, but then of course this isn’t really a vessel of authority anyway – but it’s a topic that needs treating appropriately.

After the day’s speeches and discussion groups though some very in-theme musical entertainment was on offer – all three acts fronted by former mineworkers.  First up was The Star Botherers, or well, The Star Botherer in this instance – it was Bart in solo guise who took to the stage first, unusually opting to stand up for the set.  It was a big old room, bedecked with banners from the different mines around the area – heraldic, proud and defiant, much like the tone of the day – maybe it’s right that Bart was standing up!

He kicked off with Just Around the Corner, the sound in the venue was great and with the lights low in the crowd and the stage lights picking him out it was impossible not to be drawn to the performance – it was a confident one too.  Of course we missed Dave but the songs and lyrics in particular cut through the room bringing plenty of smiles.  If I was a Tory was always likely to go down well in this particular crowd, and it certainly did here (I’m sitting typing this whilst watching I, Daniel Blake – it feels strangely apt to be remembering Bart’s scathing lyrics whilst the film plays.

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Freeborn Al / 6th March 2017 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Lee Bonsall, Music, Other Bands, Photos, Videos

A cheesy escapade to see Gaz in Ashby..

Last night was a landmark gig – one I could taxi to and from to home, woo!  Gaz Brookfield has made Ashby-de-la-Zouch an annual stop for his tour, and generally it centres around someone’s birthday – and features the patent-pending Ashby ‘cake break’ in between two sets.  Being so close Dave and Andy came over to stay, both armed with cheese (hurrah!) for a late night snack once home, some of the cheese in the sealed Tupperware box Dave brought so powerful it even broke through the airtight seal to make the house smell of, well, bum! Haha!

A taxi was duly arranged and into Ashby we headed – a quick cash point trip and we spotted an alluring micropub opposite the venue for a cheeky pint, before heading on over to the Bulls Head – a really nice traditional pub on the high street, to find it full of very familiar faces.  Best of all, they had cider from the same stockist that the amazing Scrumptiddly Cider Bar of Rockstock and Barrel fame on offer – rhubarb initially which once emptied was replaced with mango (whether it was a godless mango or not wasn’t specified).  Either way it kept me very happy for the night!

As gig time approached Jamie took to the mic to introduce ‘the marvellous Gaz Brookfield’ – a fitting accolade, but as Gaz pointed out, people probably shouldn’t expect a magic act from him – arf.  With such a friendly familiar crowd it was a very relaxed feeling performance which is always a pleasure to bear witness to – he launched into Solo Acoustic Guy, including amusing echoing on the ‘a touch of reverb if ya like, like, like, like, like’ line.

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Freeborn Al / 3rd March 2017 / Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

The Leylines tour is underway!

I’m a bit late with this update – apologies, but last weekend a rather splendid event took place at The Black Market Venue in Sunny Warsop.  Well, threatening-to-be-snowy Warsop I suppose!  I hotfooted it up there early, because it would let me get a good spot to park the van which would be our bed for the night, but also because Becky and Pete were bringing Buster down for a bit of socialising practice. The band were in place soundchecking, I passed a lovely few hours nattering with folk and supping a pint of Illicit or four!

This was the opening night for The Leylines tour – and Andrea had pulled out all the stops as promoter (is anyone really surprised at that? Ha!) and snagged not one, not two, not three, but four support acts so the night got underway pretty early – utilising the main stage which is sporting a new sound system for the assembled crowd.  It was particularly exciting to see Dirty Davey get his first announced outing for a while (although I did make a sneaky trip to see him at an open mic night last week!).

The last time I saw Dirty Davey performing at an announced event it was his first time being microphoned up and it’s fair to say the experience was overwhelming – but this time the practice has clearly paid off, a very confident performance – showcasing two of his own compositions as well as a couple of well-chosen cover versions.  It was a short set as he’s been struggling with illness, but it left not just me bursting with pride watching him do his thing on the big stage.

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Freeborn Al / 14th February 2017 / Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

The happy bus pulls into Nottingham..

Mad Dog Mcrea are right up there in the increasingly populous pantheon of bands I absolutely adore to see live.  So it was a bit surprising that I hadn’t registered they were playing up the road until earlier this week when Dan posted about it on Facebook!  Luckily with no other plans I obtained myself a ticket for The Rescue Rooms, which made up for Ella going to see them in Cambridge last night which I couldn’t really justify on a work night!

There was of course the extra bonus of support from not just The Outlines, but a bonus addition of The Star Botherers too.  With a relatively early curfew it was an early start, so I got myself to venue in good time to find Adam, Hollie and Mark in the bar.  I really like going to The Rescue Rooms, it was a trip there to see Mark Chadwick years ago that first put me on to Ferocious Dog, and that in turn has led me to countless other awesome musical diversions – not least all of this evening’s entertainment!

Lots of other friendly faces in attendance too – although not as many as I’d have thought, even given it was a weeknight.  The Star Botherers got us underway to a room still filling with folks, kicking off with Just Around The Corner and then into Ringing in Sick, Bart joking that his songs were all about his disdain for work – dedicating the latter for folks who had work in the morning (cheers, Bart!), then gleefully pointing out he didn’t (bastard!).

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Freeborn Al / 10th February 2017 / Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos, Videos / 0 Comments

The year the music died?

Image credit: christhebarker

2016 will probably go down as one of those years where sad news overshadowed the good – certainly that was true for me both in personal terms, which I won’t cover here, but also the seemingly relentless march of famous icons being taken by the grim reaper.  Just as we were coming to terms with Lemmy passing away at the end of 2015, in 2016 we’d be constantly reminded by social media of a glittering parade of cultural icons shuffling from this mortal coil.

David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Glenn Frey, Jimmy Bain, Terry Wogan, Harper Lee, Frank Kelly, George Martin, Keith Emerson, Frank Sinatra Jr, Paul Daniels, Ronnie Corbett, David Gest, Victoria Wood, Lonnie Mack, Prince, John Berry, Nick Menza, Muhammad Ali, Henry McCullough, Anton Yelchin, Caroline Aherne, Kenny Baker, Dalian Atkinson, Gene Wilder, Pete Burns, Leonard Cohen, Andrew Sachs, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Rick Parfitt, George Michael, Liz Smith, Richard Adams, Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds.

That’s not an exhaustive list, I’m sure, but that’s not really what I wanted this blog post to be about – but you can’t really do a review of the year without mentioning the elephant in the room.  As with seemingly most things these days it caused ruckuses on Facebook with folk taking to social media to express their sadness whilst others get irked at seeming over-emotionalness.  Certainly there’s a lot in that list who whilst I’ve never met have had huge influences over my life, and I felt genuine sadness at them moving on – some seemingly far too early, others having reached a ripe of age.

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Freeborn Al / 30th December 2016 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Lee Bonsall, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

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