If we fight the good fight then they’re gonna have to fall..

IMG_3141I am terribly sorry but I’ve kinda got to start what will probably prove a lengthy blog post with a bit of self-indulgent navel-gazing and context-setting.

I’ve always thought of myself as a bit politically hamstrung.  The only family member of my childhood who would avidly and feverishly impart political discourse to me was my Grandfather who was a rampant conservative who idolised Margaret Thatcher – I quickly learned to disengage from that topic of conversation over the years.  Whilst my school years were against a backdrop of strikes by the miners which I mixed up in my head with teachers strikes at the same time, really all I thought was it was good to get a day off from the classrooms.

There were no miners in the family, I was too young to understand the implications of what was occurring – I vaguely recall some of my Dad’s siblings being angry about the Poll Tax, and noting the disparity in how The MIrror my Dad bought talked about political issues of the day compared to the headlines that featured in The Sun which was the staple reading of my childminders house – possibly because of the allure of Samantha Fox as much as any particular political affiliation.

So it’s maybe understandable why as I reflect that I’ve been somewhat politically remiss since writing Ferocious Blog for the last year.  Of course, politics are inherent in the bands output, and the world that has opened up to me through following them.  I was first politicised at university really – my politics lecturer was an inspirational and cynical Marxist, and just as he revealed a world of corruption and what initially felt like conspiracy theories about ‘the state’ was the time that Tony Blair changed the course of the Labour Party into centrist Conservative Light politics.

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Freeborn Al / 25th March 2016 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Lee Bonsall, Music, Other Bands, Photos, Politics, Thoughts

Aber-done!

IMG_3076Forgive the delay, but waking with a fuzzy head then a 433 mile drive home left me not exactly feeling like firing up the laptop during the evening before recommencing a working-week!  The trip to Aberdeen of course started in Glasgow, I awoke fuzzy-headed with a vague memory of getting back to the hotel – although a walk outside and to the car sorted me out.  T’was pleasant enough out, but the air was certainly fresh enough to blast away the cobwebs of the night before.

We hit the road and headed out to Aberdeen – again once out of the built up area appreciating the lovely scenery on offer, and the scores of stately crows and ravens by the roadsides. We did fall foul of the temptation to follow a brown sign promising a scenic route, which promptly stopped being signposted and with limited signal to get the sat nav to help us having been ignoring her for a good few miles, but never mind!  It was a pretty drive, and we made decent time to the granite city, eventually finding our hotel.

We’d had a bit of a side mission – we’d got a bit of a battery shortage issue for our electronic cigarettes, and neglected to pack the charger.  Despite trips to Maplins and even a Vape Scotland shop (outside which a young lad seemed delighted to shout ‘mohawk!’ repeatedly at me at a traffic crossing) we utterly failed at resolving this, so started rationing our supply of electricity quite severely.  A lesson for the future – pack the battery charger, or get more batteries!

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Freeborn Al / 21st March 2016 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Lee Bonsall, Music, Photos / 0 Comments

North of the wall..

1425544_951976071582295_7672814937064125687_nWe opted for an earlyish start to hit Scotland – you never know what horrors might occur on the roads, plus it’s always nice to not have to rush about once you arrive somewhere.  As it happens, the roads were pretty clear – the sat nav decreed the M6 was the best route up so it was also incredibly scenic as we hit the Lake District and into Scotland – I’m always struck when I visit these areas how stunningly beautiful they are – it certainly didn’t disappoint.

One stop at Tebay for lunch and coffee and we were straight into Glasgow and our car park, a short walk from the hotel – giving us time to have a bit of down time before wandering to the designated pre-gig drinking venue, The Horse Shoe Bar, where we immediately encountered Dean, Sarah and Wez – before being found by the assorted other folk.  To say it was a little before 5 on a week day it was already pretty damn busy in there.  It was good to just have the chance to have a drink and a natter.

With the gig having an early curfew presumably for the venue to reopen as a club night the doors opened at 7 – so we headed there for then, despite the early start we were being treated to two support acts.  Stereo is a stylish cafe bar beneath which nestles the music venue – it’s pretty small, but it was homely with a sufficiently raised stage to avoid any mishaps despite the lack of barriers.  Once inside we got to catch up with more folk – not least the band, Waggy, Dom, Leanne et al.

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Freeborn Al / 19th March 2016 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Lee Bonsall, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

Fine fettle down in Settle..

IMG_3001When I originally bought a ticket for the Settle gig it was going to be in June last year.  I’d naively thought ‘oh, it’s Yorkshire, I’ll probably drive to and from that’ – it wasn’t until more recently, having acquired another ticket for Ella for the rescheduled show, that I troubled to look at a map and realise quite how far up Settle was in North Yorkshire.  Seeing Clitheroe nestled beneath it meant a quick search for accomodation for the evening was very much the mission – luckily I found somewhere suitable, more on that later.

We’d arranged to meet up with Michael, Daren and Michelle for lunch in nearby Malham, having set off in good time we were running an hour early on arrival estimate so pulled into a services.  Checking in on Facebook as you do revealed we were actually really close to Michael’s house – sense prevailed and we arranged to go and pick him up, meaning a chance to catch up wtih Rebecca too which is a bonus – and head onward with a much better carbon footprint than if we’d gone in separate cars!

IMG_2997The Lister Arms is a lovely pub.  Malham was absolutely snidered with cars, we were worried the pub would be rammed – but it seems the streets and carparks were full of vehicles of walkers rather than pub goers so we soon found a table and awaited Daren and MIchelle’s arrival.  A hearty meal of mostly pies and mash or chips (or cajun chicken for Ella) was demolished, followed by a bloody nice selection of cheese with a glass of port (or sticky toffee pudding and a cuppa tea for t’ladies).  A very pleasant few hours before hitting the road to Settle.  Definitely planning on a return visit at some point!

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Freeborn Al / 6th March 2016 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Lee Bonsall, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

Put the wine glass down..

IMG_3790One of the charming traditions that has arisen amongst Hell Hounds is to mark the anniversary of Lee Bonsall’s tragic passing by all raising a glass in his memory.  As I’ve spent the evening watching the notifications pour in (literally!) from the Ferocious Dog group on Facebook with folk posting photos of them doing just that I found it quite moving.

So it seemed to me that the best thing to do was to gather as many of them together as I could (I’m sorry if I missed anyone) and set them to Lee’s Tune from the first Ferocious Dog album.  Here’s the result.  Beautiful people.

Together we are strong.

Freeborn Al / 3rd March 2016 / Band, Hell Hounds, Lee Bonsall, Music, Photos, Videos / 0 Comments

Entertaining the riff-RAFA in Newark..

IMG_2926I’d ummed and aahed about heading up to Newark – a busy week left me tired, but probably infinitely predictably it proved to be a shrewd move.  A blast up the A46 just after rush hour, a parking spot outside the RAFA club for a quid and the chance to show a bit of support for Brad Dear.  What could be a better way to spend a Friday night?  With the bonus of support from Troy Foster (and Dylan, I think) from Black Rose Garden and some band called Ferocious Dog, or at least a third of them.

Arriving early meant soundchecking was underway, Tina spotted us in the car park so we headed into the venue along with her and Tim.  We’d not bought tickets as it was a last minute decision so paid on the door and into the very empty RAFA club – which has been running since 1989 raising vital funds for ex servicemen – a cracking little spot, a small stage, a bar and a surprisingly decent quality sound system (at least the end result was!) and an amusing mixing desk that looked like a gun turret.

First up were Troy and Dylan (I’m really sorry if your name isn’t Dylan!).  Troy on vocals with an acoustic guitar and Dylan on a twelve string initially that sounded a lot more like an electric guitar.  They opened with a cover of Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here – one of my favourite songs, so always a good start.  The combination of picking from Troy and more of the rhythm working well together.  The next couple were original numbers which the titles evaded me – one involved the sun (or a son), the next one involved a school bus and saw the 12 string switched out for another electro-acoustic.

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Freeborn Al / 27th February 2016 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Lee Bonsall, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

Dogfest..

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I just spent a good ten minutes trying to think of a witty headline, and then figured – why do I need a witty headline?  Dogfest kinda speaks for itself, doesn’t it?  I certainly don’t pretend to be able to speak for it, but I’ve just breached 2,500 words trying – I’d probably better stop there!

I think this was the fourth Dogfest.  Certainly it’s the fourth Dogfest I’ve been to, and like much about Ferocious Dog related activities they illustrate a stark exponential progression – from a handful of folk rattling around the main hall of the Black Market venue in 2012 to a jam-packed room of folk, many of whom have come to be firm friends.  Plenty that’s familiar, plenty that’s grown – the only problem with that was how bloody hot the mosh pit gets in there, and the difficulty in navigating the room with tables in the middle.  Small issues with an otherwise amazing day.

It started for us at Dukeries Lodge in Edwinstowe where we set up base this weekend – breakfast was a welcome addition with Adele, Drew, Simon, Richard and Julie – whilst I might’ve overdone it more than intended at A Bit of Bothering Before Dogfest I was feeling relatively fresh.  Ella opted for a lie-in instead, and once we were about ready Becki arrived so that we could get ourselves sorted and in the car ready to head to Warsop – again, eager to get there for the start of proceedings.

We arrived in plenty of time, time to get wristbanded up, greet the countless folk also already there – and down to the stage in time for Brad Dear to open the day.  He’d got a few chaps filming some up-to-date gig footage for them – and it was great to see so many people there early and in the party spirit, I’m looking forward to seeing the footage!  Plenty of familiar songs like They SayFestival Bar Blues, Save Our Souls  and Far Away kept us all bopping and singing along.

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Freeborn Al / 15th February 2016 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Lee Bonsall, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

Peace in the valleys.. not!

IMG_2678I hadn’t really got that excited about this gig, other things going on in our family meant it rather snuck up on me.  But once we’d got in the car and underway at lunchtime on Saturday I must admit I was gearing up for a good mosh, it’s been a long time since Rock City after all.  Even the increasingly awful weather and occasional aqua-planing down the roads didn’t dampen my enthusiasm.  Ella chose to use the trip to start to testing out her Go-Pro (video below), an experiment that was curtailed by a technical glitch, but shows some real promise for a fun way of documenting gigs and festivals.

Despite the rubbish weather it was a clear run through to Cardiff and a pretty easy job to get parked up and checked into our hotel.  Opting to have a bit of chill time we’d noticed the rain had stopped a bit, which was cause for optimism.  Alas, by the time we were ready to emerge it was once again pissing it down – after a bit of a wander we found (after a couple of attempts) Hopbunker.  It had been recommended to us on Facebook by fellow Hell Hounds Martin and Diane, who work there and are very proud of their bar.

IMG_2655And with good reason – just opposite the castle and down some stairs you’ll find a grotto of real ales, craft ales and ciders – but without the wanky pretentions that seem to attach to such bars in my experience.  A fun relaxed atmosphere, and just £3 a pint from a fine selection of pumps – I tried a pint of Ella (had to be done didn’t it?) a Ginger beer and an IPA whose name escapes be before switching to Reveller cider – which was lovely.  Dave and Sally arrived with us, and countless folks of a Ferocious Dog persuasion followed.  Once the Rugby was over the bar was awash with Ferocious Dog related music.  Highly recommended pub if you find yourself in Cardiff, and the urinals in the gents were a work of genius – and alas, the only thing I took a photo of in there!

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Freeborn Al / 7th February 2016 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Lee Bonsall, Music, Other Bands, Photos, Videos / 0 Comments

TV personalities..

3373_10153880894334343_8765133109960421985_nHopefully most of you got to see Notts TV’s hour long Ferocious Dog special which aired last night at 10pm.  Those of you that missed the opportunity through geographical constraints or not having Sky will get the chance to catch up online once their systems update (it doesn’t appear to be quite so quick as more established channels at catching up!), but I thought that it was a superb introduction to what Ferocious Dog are all about from presenter Mark Del.

The programme centred around the climax of the tour – the sell out gig at Rock City, the first ever unsigned act to do so.  My only pedantic quibble was the repeated claim of them being the first local unsigned act to do it – they are the first act, full stop, in 35 years of the venue to sell it out without the backing of a label.  Whilst it is of course nice they’re local, it’s not relevant to the feat at all.

A mixture of interviews from before the gig – constant references to the fans (well, okay, family) – when Anton from Rock City was interviewed before the gig he made some astute references to the relationship between hell hounds and the band being akin to that he’d seen before with the Levellers and New Model Army, and not from other bands since then.  He was also pretty on board with the idea of pushing for more national coverage for the band too – good news!

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Freeborn Al / 2nd January 2016 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Interview, Lee Bonsall, Music, Photos / 0 Comments

Sell outs..

IMG_2066.. in the best possible sense, of course – it took until the day but Ferocious Dog were indeed successful in capping off the tour by selling out home town (ish) venue Rock City in advance – the first unsigned act to do so in the 35 year history of the venue.  28th November 2015 is a day that history was made.  For me it felt like a real watershed moment for a band I’ve had the pleasure of following for the last few years.

IMG_2034I spent the evening before making my hair look a bit more silly than normal.  It turns out I should’ve probably checked in with Spike and Chris who would end up with the same coloured hair as me for the evening, but never mind, eh?  I’ll probably regret it more when it starts to fade out to pink!  I even managed to get it spiked into a pretty good mohawk without the assistance I often get from Ella!

IMG_2033Come Saturday morning unusually the postman turned up before midday bringing me Gaz Brookfield‘s new acoustic album to provide the soundtrack to my fairly short drive into Nottingham.  More on this at another time, though!  I got parked up near Rock City and found Cerebus being unloaded, so time for a few greetings with the band and crew who were all looking suitably excited about what was to come.  Simon and Ella arrived which meant for us it was time to head for food.

IMG_2037Dave and Bettina had done a great job in organising the whole of the downstairs of Annie’s Burger Shack to be reserved for a group of fifty or so of us to be fed a fine array of burger goodness in a buffet style.  Very filling it was too, handy stomach lining for what was to follow and a chance to have a nice leisurely chat with a section of the wonderful folk we’d be coming into contact with over the course of the day!

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Freeborn Al / 29th November 2015 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Lee Bonsall, Music, Other Bands, Photos, Thoughts