All’s well at Birdwell..

img_0212Our original plan for Birdwell was to head up to Sam and Matt’s in Ludo and then taxi in, which would have undoubtedly been ace, but since we have plans today back in the Midlands it just made more sense to drive.  Allowing for the not-particularly-bad Friday night M1 traffic meant we made it up there in good time, so parked up and went for a wander around Birdwell – a place I must admit I never knew existed!

The Travellers Inn clearly designed for eaters – as we popped in for a couple of soft drinks to pass the time one of the waitresses stood by our table like a hawk to whisk our glasses away.  The food did look good mind, even if the welcome was frosty!  Rather than endure another round of that we headed down to the venue, what I guess is an old social /working man’s club – bar at the front, venue at the back.  The venue wasn’t open yet but the bar was.

It gave us a chance to have a sit and a natter with Rob and Russ, and admire Russ’ new tattoo that Ken has been working on before eventually being permitted into the venue room.  What a room too, nestling back there is a big stage, dancefloor and tabled area along with a bar – slightly reminiscent of The Black Market Venue but without the head space (or balcony) – cracking space in there though, and for my non-audiophile ears at least a decent sound system,

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Freeborn Al / 22nd October 2016 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Lee Bonsall, Music, Photos, Videos / 0 Comments

An electric atmosphere..

img_5635Rockstock and Barrel is fast becoming one of my favourite festivals – to take what is, frankly, a somewhat tired old social club attached to an abandoned power station and sprinkle it with imagination, art and music is a real testament to Debbo, Phily and their ever-expanding team of helpers.  This year the them of the festival was Tim Burton films – the decor and fancy dress were the magic dust on top of a solid foundation of facilities and great acts.

img_5560I’d dumped Ludo on the site on Thursday night, but alas work commitments meant I couldn’t stay – arriving back on site on Friday afternoon – complete with some shopping for Tim and, perhaps most randomly, a watering can for Lynne and Ian (which looked alarming like some kind of thing you’d find in Ann Summers!).  First order of business was to get the van sorted out – and then get my mits on the first of many Pineapple ciders.

As well as organising superb venues, decor and entertainment the stand out feature of Debbo and Phily’s events are their wonderous array of ciders and wines – and of course the Cheezy Vinyl Bar, which even had the option of pre-booking a baked camembert too.  The main stage was in the social club, the cider bar hosted the second stage and a third was nestled in the attached Cheezy Vinyl Bar.

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Freeborn Al / 5th October 2016 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Lee Bonsall, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 2 Comments

Geddin’ on Farmer Phil’s land.. part three..

14045553_10210020946138400_6248960456736454191_nSunday morning arrived with that feeling of simutaneous amazement at how quickly the time had gone whilst feeling like we’d been on that happy campsite for much longer than just under a week.  We started the day cooking bacon (we had a lot of bacon to cook) and celebrating Sally’s birthday with.. well, bacon.  And cake, too, as all birthdays should be celebrated.

I think we were supposed to dress up in olympic get-up on Saturday, as we hadn’t done that Tim, Dave, Andy and I donned our Cool Runnings inspired lycra suits perhaps a day late (there was at least one other Jamaican bob-sled team on site though, so maybe it didn’t matter!).  It was universally decided that in the interests of decency that shorts or kilts should be worn over aforementioned suits.  I’m not sure it was any more flattering!

We’d got Sunday dinner booked at Nana’s Kitchen for noon (didn’t stop a sneaky bacon cob though), which clashed with Headsticks opening up the music.  The lovely Drew was happy to serve our food into takeaway boxes – and lucky for us a few technical wibbles meant that there was enough time for us to sit by the main stage and get our dinner eaten before the first act started on the stage.  It turns out Headsticks is a great way to work off a Sunday roast!

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Freeborn Al / 17th August 2016 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Lee Bonsall, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 1 Comment

Geddin’ on Farmer Phil’s land.. part one..

IMG_5010How to go about summing up the best part of a week in a field in Shropshire at Farmer Phil’s? Herb did a great job in poetic form already – I doubt I’ll be as succinct!  It was a windy field I arrived at on Tuesday evening, soon enough I’d got myself sorted nearly in the same spot as the year before, a fun night was spent eating fish curry (thanks Spike!), being cheated out of winning a rock, paper, scissors game, campfire singing and watching the stars.

Wednesday arrived and so did more people – Dave and Caroline got stuck in the mud, needing to be towed out by festival ‘Mr Fix It’ Craig, having spent our time in the campsite Tim, Jo and I opted to head up to the arena to case things out – and see Debbo and Phily in the Cheezy Vinyl Bar.  Back in the campsite there was more fireside singing, more star gazing and lots of dogs to make friends with.  Lurgan was a gorgeous young lurcher camped nearby – sadly Murphy didn’t get on with him!

IMG_5017Thursday started with bacon, a shopping trip with Tim and Jo to pick up supplies (for me that was a gas bottle and more bacon, ha!) whilst Caroline whipped up an awesome chilli.  Ella arrived having been delivered by the lovely Parry clan – eventually finding me having been for a wander around the campsite.  We took Kezzi up to the arena where she put on a dazzling performance in the kids open mic, before Emma and the Professor put on an early performance whilst we socialised.

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Freeborn Al / 16th August 2016 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Lee Bonsall, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

Sunday.. that’s my fun day..

IMG_4983Departing in the morning from Thorne – fuelled by bacon and tea (thanks Becky and Pete!) we had a pretty packed agenda – all before getting Ella back down south for a reasonable hour given that we both had work in the morning.  A top way of ekeing out a weekend!  So we jumped into Ludo and hotfooted it to Shirebrook FC’s ground where a charity match for the Lee Bonsall Memorial Fund was taking place.

We bought some raffle tickets and watched the match, featuring Lee’s old team (including frequent sub appearances from Ken).  It was good to catch up with everyone, and the match was pretty entertaining – the first live footy I’ve watched in ages!  I think the score was 3-2 to Lee’s team when we left during the second half – Ken had had an eventful game, missing a penalty at the end of the first half, and scoring one in the second (sorry Ken, I was too slow with the camera for the second one!!)

There was an afternoon fun day planned at Fatboy Ink Tattoo Studio after the game – but unfortunately it was one of those days where too much was going on so we had to miss that.  We hotfooted it to the Yew Tree Inn in Ednaston, both ready for lunch – and what a lunch it was, I went for a beef roast and Ella an awesome looking lamb shank, which we duly devoured whilst nattering with Jonny and Katie.  The Yew Tree is a bloody lovely pub!

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Freeborn Al / 8th August 2016 / Gigs, Hell Hounds, Lee Bonsall, Music, Other Bands, Photos, Videos / 0 Comments

Disarm you with a smile..

IMG_4102Late on Saturday Ella and Morgan had sneakily secured themselves an open mic slot on the hidden stage.  As Sunday morning came I was up and ready way before the performer – luckily for me I scored some bacon and and egg from Herb to cook up for breakfast to stick on a sandwich, thanks Herb!  We alternated kettle boiling whilst the rest of the camp got themselves mustered.

I sneakily told as many people as I could about the imminent performance – given the relative earliness of the hour – Mick had come round to say goodbye, but was eager to stay to watch, and we managed to round up a few more folk to get a bit of a crowd ready to head on down to the hidden stage where last minute rehearsals / discussions were taking place, whilst the stage crew got everything plugged in and soundchecked.

Morgan – as noted yesterday – had been writing down guitar chords during The Leylines set, then wasted no time in teaching himself Run For Cover overnight, which was the song they opened up with.  As Ella spent time in the recording studio with The Leylines and did backing vocals for that particuar song – it was one she didn’t need any lyrical help with at all!  It sounded lovely, to my admittedly biased ears.

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Freeborn Al / 8th June 2016 / Gigs, Hell Hounds, Lee Bonsall, Music, Other Bands, Photos, Videos / 0 Comments

In-Spire-d in Chesterfield..

IMG_3611I’ve been feeling a bit ropey all week – by the time I’d got in from work I regretfully couldn’t drag my arse out on Friday night for a The Leylines and Under A Banner which was a pisser.  Yesterday was touch and go whether I opted to head up to Real Time Live to see Ferocious Dog and The Outlines, but having rested up in the day the relatively short drive up the M1 didn’t seem too daunting so I jumped in the car to hook up with some of the early revellers in the Barley Mow pub.

First order of business was food, we left Kieron and Helen in the pub cheering on Norwich in their bid to beat Arsenal (which didn’t go too well, bad luck Kieron!) and eventually ended up in Einstein’s, a German themed bar / eaterie – the food there took a while to arrive, but bloody hell it was nice!  I ordered a schweinshaxe (pork knuckle) – it was a thing of meaty beauty.  The food Mick, Michael, Becky, Mark and Amanda had was similarly impressive.  Next time I’m in Chesterfield I’ll be sure to eat there!

IMG_3613Back to the pub it was, later than planned as the food took a while so it was a short stay before wandering over to the venue.  Real Time Live is a cracking venue sat above a music shop on a very domestic looking street – apparently it used to be a Conservative Club so it’s nice that such vestibules of corrupt ideology are being reappropriated for better purposes.  A big Ferocious Dog sold out poster adorned the wall along with other adverts for mostly cover bands.

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Freeborn Al / 1st May 2016 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Lee Bonsall, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

Derby heralds.. a NEW SETLIST!

IMG_3527Unusual gig in Derby tonight, as I popped to see a friend embarking on a leaving do before heading on to the gig and feeling a bit lazy and sore of back I made a conscious decision to spend the gig out of the mosh pit.  And whilst of course the lure is always there, I’m glad I did – it’s literally been years since I stood back and just watched the performance – it was a rewarding experience!

Parked up near The Venue, it wasn’t long before folk started landing – we wandered to The Flowerpot for a quick drink, with Ella and Simon arriving at the car park not long after it was a short wander back, just in time for the doors opening.  The Venue is a nice place, you enter into the bar area, up a couple of steps into an expansive flat performance area with a relatively small stage. The only quibble are the pillars which normally I wouldn’t notice but for my withdrawn position for a change.

IMG_3487The support act, Seas of Mirth, entered the stage – all nine of them (it took a while for me to confirm this, and confusingly their Twitter bio reckons there’s eight of ’em!) – coming on with Belinda Carlisle’s Heaven is a Place on Earth playing – with ‘place on Earth’ replaced with ‘Seas of Mirth’ – an interesting start!  I know that Seas of Mirth played at Deerstock last year, whilst we were either tucking into – or sleeping off – a massive roast dinner from Nana’s Kitchen, but folk were raving about them so it was exciting to get the chance to see them for the first time.

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

Newbury revisited..

Aye aye, Capt'n Burns!

Aye aye, Capt’n Burns!

Whilst obviously disappointed at missing out on what sounded like an amazing night at Exeter (actually we only partially missed out, Laura was thoughtful enough to video call Ella during the gig so whilst the audio stream was pretty bad we had fun watching the moshpit and the band for three or four songs, including getting the chance to wave to Ken, John and Ellis and watch Dean surfing!), there was a high degree of consolation in making a return visit down to the Arlington Arts Centre just outside Newbury.

On Friday night, clearly sympathetic to my dilemma, Addie had invited Ella and I to go with him, Jane and Tommy to West Midlands Safari Park on Saturday too.  Sod it, we thought – it’s practically on the way to Newbury from here so why not make a full day of it – we also considered the logistics in heading into Newbury itself after the gig to catch the end of Gaz Brookfield‘s set in The Monument.  That would prove a step too far in a very long day, so sorry Gaz, the minds were willing but our bodies weren’t!

IMG_3381So a fun day was spent of accidental crocodiles, sea lion shows, feeding lorikeets and goats and other general animal fun – followed by the M42-in-rush-hour simulator that is the drive through safari experience.  With the added danger of the fuel light coming on part way round, we were genuinely worried we might have to survive for days on a sachet of mayonnaise and some deer food the traffic was so bad – that said, we did see some wild dogs, lions, cheetahs, rhinos and assorted deer-like things before we took advantage of a shortcut to escape.

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Freeborn Al / 10th April 2016 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Lee Bonsall, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 2 Comments

Re-living Rock City..

IMG_3347I’m probably late to the party for anyone who reads this blog – but whilst Rockstock and Rolling out the Festival Barrel was a perfectly justifiable excuse for missing trips to Buckley and Burnley at the weekend with Ferocious Dog, waiting for me when I got home was what might prove to be my salvation when financial and logistics make a trip to Exeter and Newbury highly unlikely next weekend.  Yes, the hotly anticipated live CD and DVD from November’s sell out gig at Rock City in Nottingham!

Having got back from Willington Ella and I spent a chilled afternoon airing the tent in the garden listening to the CD – the sound quality is great!  Remembering poor croaky Ken just a week before the gig in the rehearsal studio, it’s pretty amazing really.  After that the doctor ordered him to cancel the gigs in Stroud and Cardiff right before Rock City – the transformation that rest and recuperation yielded is incredible.  Not so much as a lyrical slip either!

If you’re a ‘full contact’ Ferocious Dog spectator frankly quite often nuances either visual or aural can easily be missed in the blur – and on Rock City day, okay – the Hell Hound AGM – it had been a long day!  Coupled with a raft of awesome music before the main event, plenty of drink and food (and Ella and I were both feeling ill) – my memories of the night itself are a bit blurry, the amazing atmosphere, getting my surfboard nicked (ha!), being pinballed round the moshpit – but above everything else an amazing homecoming and moment of history, watching them take to that famous stage and frankly own it for an hour and a half.

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Freeborn Al / 4th April 2016 / Band, Hell Hounds, Lee Bonsall, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments