Lock, stock and three smokin’ artists..

IMG_1738It was only back on Thursday I was preparing to head off to London town – it feels like a month ago!  The day started with a phone call from Wez who had ended up in the wrong town due to a satnav mishap, soon enough that was remedied and we were hotfooting it up the M1 to Warsop to convene with Cerebus and the rest of its happy band of travellers.  Soon into the journey Scott was sharing his beauty regime secrets meanwhile Ken was absorbed in a book entitled Chavs: The Demonisation of the Working Class by Owen Jones.

To pass the time John, Scott, Brad and I had a few rounds of rummy – I didn’t have masses of change and was running up a substantial gambling debt (okay, it was four quid..) to John before mercifully I won a game and enough cash to clear my increasing arrears.  A trip to the service station saw Brad’s hat end up on the roof of the van, and it wasn’t long before we found ourselves in Camden – and doing a few laps of it to find the spot we needed to unload into Dingwalls. Mercifully it was clear so parking up wasn’t a problem ready to get the gear off the back of the van.

Of course, avoiding the glaze-eyed sauntering dawdlers wandering like a zombie procession down the pavement between the van and the venue was more of a challenge – but we’d soon got the assorted cases and boxes and instruments into Dingwalls enabling Wez to find somewhere to leave the bus until later.

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Freeborn Al / 16th November 2015 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Lee Bonsall, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

Transatlantic Doozer goodness..

a0132217080_2Doozer McDooze fascinates me in general – he and Birdy (The Famous Artist Birdy Rose) eschew much of the trappings we succumb to in life, living like modern-day troubadours in a van working and travelling hard to fill the world with music and art.  They’re lovely folk too – Doozer even wrote a song for me dedicated to my as then unborn nephew, Arlo – charting his destiny to reawaken Nottingham’s rebellious past and kick off a new generation of cheese riots.  Once he is beyond toddling at least.

His music is raw, fun and generally released for a pay-what-you-think-it-is-worth on his Bandcamp page – the priority clearly being getting his music out there in recorded or gig form above and beyond trying to make a quick buck.  Learning more as I do about the lot of independent musicians and artists, it’s really not a very easy industry to make money out of compared to the amount of effort it takes to organise recordings and events, not to mention the time to learn to sing and play, practice, sit and write songs.

In more recent weeks the intrepid duo crossed the Atlantic to take their show stateside – from watching their Facebook posts it looks like they’ve had an absolute blast, and a culmination of that is a live recording of Doozer’s set at Vigilstock which took place in the wonderfully named Knickerbocker Saloon in Lafayette, Indiana at the end of September.  Vigilstock has been running since 1996 in memory of musician Shannon Hoon, best-known as singer for Blind Melon who tragically passed away in 1995.

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Freeborn Al / 10th November 2015 / Band, Gigs, Lee Bonsall, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

We shall overcome.. Bagthorpe edition.

weshallovercomeIf I had one regret at the awesome weekend we just spent at Rockstock and Barrel it would be that it clashed with We Shall Overcome – a nationwide campaign of awesomeness, essentially gathering together artistic performers to do their thing under a single banner in protest against the terrible levels of austerity being inflicted by the current government.  Performers, promoters, sound people all gave up their time at over 300 events this weekend for free in order to raise awareness and money to help those effected by homelessness or needing food banks etc.

However, I’m always happy to seek out opportunities to eke out the weekend a little more – and in between family visitations and the logistics in getting Snotty back down south I spotted an irresistible opportunity to head over to Dixies Arms in Bagthorpe where DH Lawrence and the Vaudeville Skiffle Show had organised an afternoon of performers.  Working out our timings, we could get there for a little before 5 and spare an hour – and providence was our friend as the performer in that time was none other than Mr Kenny Bonsall.

As well as Ken also on offer were performances from Paul Carbuncle, King of Rome, Quiet Loner and the hosts, DH Lawrence and the Vaudeville Skiffle Show – two of which I’ve seen and thoroughly enjoyed in the past, so I am a little sad that we couldn’t make the whole afternoon work – but well, if I had to pick one, let’s face it, it worked out pretty well for us!  Upon arriving we found a handy car-sized space next to the Ferocious Dog bus (Cerebus), a deft bit of reverse parking (if I do say so myself!) and we were on our way into the pub.

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Freeborn Al / 4th October 2015 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Lee Bonsall, Music, Photos / 1 Comment

Deer, stock and (mead) barrel..

IMG_0711Ah, so that was Deerstock.  Now I’m home, the tent is dried and back in the bag (subject to repairs later), I’m showered and the washing machine is on probably the most daunting task of the day is how on earth to go about summing up four days and nights of mayhem in a field in Newton?  Deerstock 2014 was definitely the highlight of my year last year, and this year might well have just gone and topped even that.  So I will apologise in advance for the wordiness, and for the inevitable blanks in my recall… this is going to be a loooooong post.

Off work on Thursday I was mooching around planning on arriving on the site around 4pm – upon messaging Tim around lunchtime he revealed that he and Tina had already set up camp – so rather than pace around the house I hopped straight in the car and made my way to Newton via the supermarket for last minute supplies.  Tina and Tim had done a great job in saving a chunk of space to keep us all together – and I was soon pitched and sorted in time to help Lisa and Pixie get their tent up.

Once cabin fever relieves you get that slight craziness and the concoctions came out perhaps a little earlier than planned.  As we got steadily more pickled by the fire we had the chance to marvel at how quickly Spike can put up his gigantic tent, and see our village slowly constructing itself around us.  A ramshackle and wonderful mixture of camper vans and tents nestled together containing many of my favourite people – sure, there wasn’t any music on, but that wasn’t really needed.

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Freeborn Al / 27th July 2015 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Lee Bonsall, Music, Other Bands, Photos, Videos

Wistful amnesia..

IMG_0505Even with Ferocious Dog partying in a park this weekend in Galhampton, it was always going to be to Derbyshire near Matlock Bath that I’d be heading this weekend for Wistful Festival, organised by my lovely friend Lisa to raise money and awareness for the Lee Bonsall Memorial Fund.  An expansion of the day event she put on last year, and this time on a lovely spot of farmland with a campsite built in.  A debut outing for my new tent, and an excuse to raise hell whilst raising money – what’s not to like?

Amnesia is because, well, I might have a little bit of difficulty in bringing to mind everything that happened, which is where Snotface’s blog might help to fill in a few gaps – although she’s got loads of photos to get through before that’s likely to happen.  Sometimes there’s a benefit to simply taking a grainy picture on your phone for blogging purposes rather than taking hundreds of (mostly) lovely shots on a proper camera!  You can’t possibly do justice to a couple of days in words, so apologies in advance to any events or people missing from my musings.

Anyway, I arrived on the campsite early on Friday – the festival wasn’t occurring until the day after, but I had the day off, and what better thing to do is spend an extra day in a field with your friends, plus if there were any last minute bits of help needed then I’d be about.  Luckily there wasn’t beyond writing up the acts on a blackboard (with a few errors), supervising Paul’s barbecue and well, starting on the cider probably a little earlier than is officially recommended once the tent was up.

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Freeborn Al / 12th July 2015 / Gigs, Lee Bonsall, Music, Other Bands, Videos / 4 Comments

Warsop Carnival fun..

IMG_0477Warsop is a place I’ve become more familiar with than I was (which was not at all) before Ferocious Dog entered my life.  It’s a really nice north Nottinghamshire village – that would’ve been developed to support the colliery sunk there and obviously subsequently closed.  The carnival there is one of many years standing and held on the first or second sunday of July, on The Carrs, nestled between Market and Church Warsop.  It’s a cracking community day out in its own right – although of course there was the obvious lure for me of a certain band closing it off in their three piece acoustic guise.

Upon parking up in the middle of Warsop I wandered over just ahead of the procession to find the field set up with an assortment of stalls, a funfair and a central arena, with the music stage in the far corner of the field.  With events like jousting and falconry on offer as well as music there was plenty to entertain.  I bumped into Ken who was talking with a chap from Warsop Remembers, an organisation that he’d painted a picture for that might potentially end up as a raffle prize to raise money for the cause – so look out for that for a bit of unique Ferocious Dog related memorabilia.

IMG_0468However, it was the music that was my main motivation for going – so I soon found myself settled in front of the stage where Ellie Keegan was up first.  I’ve seen Ellie play a few times now and she’s a cracking performer – although not to my knowledge with the addition of a loop pedal (remember spare batteries next time!).  She played a mixture of covers and a couple of original ones – with things ranging from Crazy by Gnarls Barclay, a mash-up of Come Together by the Beatles and Lose Yourself by Eminem (I think – that’s not my genre!) with plenty of use of the loop pedal on both guitar and vocal layers.

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Freeborn Al / 5th July 2015 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Lee Bonsall, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

Not-being-at-Glastonbury distractions..

IMG_0406As the appointed hour of the appointed day comes for Ferocious Dog at Glastonbury since I’ve not been able to follow them to this particular landmark it’s been a week of finding alternative musical amusement for myself, and frankly it’s been rather an easy task.  I’ve heard reports that their smaller gig at the Bimble Inn went down very well indeed and now they’ll be psyching themselves up to take to the Avalon Stage at 2pm today.

Looking at the array of talent available in the Fields of Avalon I’d be spending a lot of time there – so hopefully plenty of similarly-minded folk are doing just that to get them in front of plenty of new appreciative faces.  Not least I hope the various folk I know who are there heed my advice and get themselves there – otherwise there’ll be trouble, and since the BBC cameras don’t reach as far as Avalon, we’re depending on Waggy et al to try to capture some of the event.

But for me I’ve been finding my fun elsewhere – whilst I can well imagine the experience of being at the festival is unforgettable – I’ve never really got much out of watching highlights on TV.  So last night I headed over to the lovely Colville Arms in Lullington where a small beer festival was underway with the promise of a couple of sets from Paige Seabridge to make up for the fact that I needed to drive there so couldn’t sample more than one of the beers on offer.

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Freeborn Al / 28th June 2015 / Band, Lee Bonsall, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

We won’t Stam-ford this kind of rowdy behaviour!

Ella will soon be rivalling Waggy with shots like this!

Ella will soon be rivalling Waggy with shots like this!

Stamford seems to have been destined to be a comedy of errors.  As the gig drew to a close I was expecting Ken to do a speech like Marty McFly at the end of his performance at the ‘Enchantment Under the Sea‘ dance where he shreds his guitar at the end of his rendition of Johnny B. Goode leaving the 1950’s audience including his parents staring dumbstruck at him.  “I guess you guys aren’t ready for that yet“, he says sheepishly.  “But your kids are gonna love it!

I’d arrived in Stamford pretty early – I’d booked a room for the night (and triple-checked the dates after Plymouth-gate!) and was feeling ready to get checked in, sorted out and maybe have a few cheeky beers.  Only to find that the mortified man behind the bar had no record of my booking and had no spare rooms – there’s a lesson if you use Booking.com or similar, call the hotel/pub to confirm they’ve received it…

Luckily Simon and Snotface offered me a place to crash which still meant driving later – but at least in a more helpful direction for Newbury than going back home.  An angry tweet at Booking.com saw them quickly get in touch to try to help – as I’d already sourced accommodation they were simply very apologetic and offered me half of the price of the booking as compensation which was pretty good of them to be fair.

So I did have my one pint of beer in the delightfully quirky old Tobie Norris pub where I met Steve, who had secured somewhere to stay.  After that we wandered to the venue which was, well, unusual to say the least.  Whilst there we caught up with the band and numerous fellow gig-goers whilst drinking coffee and eating flapjacks… when the lovely lady wearing her best twinset and pearls combination checked my ticket and pointed out where my assigned seat was it was getting a little bit surreal.

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Freeborn Al / 26th April 2015 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Lee Bonsall, Music, Photos / 2 Comments

Had a fight in my head today..

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At any Ferocious Dog gig you’ll have heard the chorus and sung along, and most people know the inspiration for ‘The Glass’, it’s a beautifully moving tribute to a desperately sad series of events and perhaps – in its tragedy – one of the best examples of why to many of us this group is more than ‘just a band’.  It’s why Lisa has set up Wistful Festival, why Zoe – terrified of heights –  is skydiving in a few weeks – all to raise money for the Lee Bonsall Memorial Fund.

I’d urge you to support both of these events.

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Freeborn Al / 3rd March 2015 / Band, Lee Bonsall, Other Bands / 0 Comments