Ploughing an unlonely furrow..

Speaking as a member of The Star Copiers we were dead excited to get the chance to play Brad Dear‘s open mic night in The Plough, Warsop again.  It’s a great chance for an on-stage warm-up ahead of Farmer Phil’s, and a chance for our ‘secret weapon’ to blow the cobwebs out of live performing.  With added excitement of course of getting to see Brad perform too, along with The Band With No Name and a quick set from Herb at the end too!

Brad Dear was up first – he opened with the yet to be titled New Song, then followed it up with old favourite Circles and Roundabouts.  Then it was time for New New Song – he’s been on a bit of a songwriting marathon lately apparently which bodes well!  The Only Road I Know was up next then he dipped into his arsenal of cover versions for Levellers track Together All The Way, he finished up with Special Brew with The Lindleys bullying everyone into a conga-line around the pub, ha!

The Band With No Name could do with a name really – with the very familiar Russ on vocals, two guitars and cajon made up the remainder – and they were really rather very good.  They kicked in with Land Pirate’s Life by Gaz Brookfield, and then into Whiskey In The Jar (I think by this point Mark was probably getting a bit pissed off by his band mates asking him why he couldn’t do that on guitar!).  Unconditional was up next – with Ken sitting in the front row Russ got over his nerves to deliver a cracking version.

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Freeborn Al / 5th August 2017 / Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos

Studio time with Ferocious Dog..

Back when Ferocious Dog were recording From Without I remember Ken telling me I ought to have popped in to see them, and I always wished I had – so I definitely wasn’t going to miss my chance now The Red Album is underway.  I hotfooted it to Electric Bear studios last week and rang the doorbell.  The flaw in that plan was it wasn’t audible with not too many people in attendance – luckily Dan was nipping out and found me loitering!

Inside I found Phil behind an imposing mixing desk, a screen full of soundwaves infront of him, and Ken through the window above laying down some vocals.  Whilst I have a basic grasp of what recording music entails, I’ve never really sat and witnessed it – it was pretty fascinating.  Ken would sing a verse or a chorus, Phil would give immediate feedback whilst simultaneously chopping up and reordering the recordings he’d already captured (one take Ken, my arse!).

Passages that sounded great to me had tiny flaws quickly identified – and soon enough were being re-recorded.  Occasionally lyrical adjustments were needed, these songs are ridiculously hot of the press (the last one I saw Ken recording had only been written lyrically the night before, and was one hell of a wordy one).  Tweaks and adjustments were needed – it’s quite hard work on Ken’s voice, so he needed a quick break and some hot water with squash and honey.

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Freeborn Al / 5th August 2017 / Band, Music

Wistful festival goodness..

Whilst YNot Festival was busy providing both the question in its name, and the answer in its execution, just three miles over the hill Wistful Festival continued to incrementally grow and deal admirably with the occasionally inclement weather conditions high up in the Derbyshire Hills.  When I think back to the first nameless event Lisa organised, it’s pretty amazing to see how much it has grown into a fully fledged festival.

Arriving on site on Friday morning we were just in time to see Dirty Davey, increasingly confident on stage he rattled through a set including Shirt of Blue, the acapella Summer Fields and Riot ShieldsLand of Hope and GloryThe Old ManMarch On Have You Seen Them and finally I Hate You Mrs Thatcher.  Longest set I’ve seen from him, and no drafted-in accompaniments to boot!

A few sound issues troubled the set up of The Collective, but soon enough they were underway with a lively fusion of hip hop, rock and just generally bounciness – I couldn’t tell you many song names beyond Smoke My Troubles Away and a cover of Walking on the Moon – in the meantime we’d been checking out the set up of the arena, The Meadevil Bar debuting their new tent, the Cheezy Vinyl Bar next door – that was me pretty much sorted for the weekend!

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Freeborn Al / 5th August 2017 / Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos

Celebrating a local hero..

I’m sneakily skipping a post because writing up the wonderful Wistful Festival is going to take a little bit of time, but the reason I spent the saturday of that sober and left when the final act finished to get home was because we’d organised a little shindig to celebrate the amazing achievement that a notable Hell Hound was celebrating.  Sergeant Andrew Harrison is now Sergeant Andrew Harrison MBE – gaining recognition from the highest place going for his unceasing efforts in volunteering and fundraising for charities as well of course as an ongoing distinguished miltary career.

Andy’s my mate and to say I’m incredibly proud of him (irregardless of any official honours, I might add) is an understatement.  Finding a spot of time when he was around the area and – more crucially – Ferocious Dog weren’t gigging all over the place was tricky, so whilst it wasn’t ideal to have to be a bit more thoughtful about the last day of a festival, it was worth it!  Andy was at Wistful too and went for the more hardcore approach of leaving this morning to head down to Nottingham for his party, and why not?

Tom from Saltbox Bar had been conspiring with Rich and Paul to throw something together to mark this landmark, my job on the organising committee was to see if we could get Ken to come and play (and Dan too, who sadly couldn’t make it in the end due to illness – get well soon, Dan!).  He immediately agreed when I asked him a while back, I know we all know Ken is a generous man but it’s still a big ask to get him to come and play a set in the middle of recording an album, gigging, tattooing and the other myriad of things he gets up to.

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Freeborn Al / 30th July 2017 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Lee Bonsall, Music, Other Bands, Photos

Rainstock!

Whichever malign entity invoked the heavens to open with a rain dance couldn’t dampen too many spirits in Nottinghamshire this weekend.

We arrived at the Deerstock site on Thursday evening, one of the perks of buying a live-in vehicle pass!  Having accidentally bought an extra ticket I donated it at the gate for a charitable contribution, then headed on in to the site – finding our camping spot for the weekend with Mark, Amanda, Paul, Nicki, Ian and Lynne (with more to join later!).  Unlike previous visits we’d settled up on the open flat space nearer the arena – with the weather forecast due it made sense not to venture too far down into the narrow wooded area in heavy vans.  Although Wez had made quite a home there with his recently acquired horse box!

Soon enough everyone was set up and sorted – we had a few cheeky drinks and wiled away the evening by the vans and in the Cheezy Vinyl Bar whilst the tireless folks making the festival happen beavered away on getting the site ready for Deerstock to happen when it started properly the following day.  I should admit from the off, we were slightly weather-wusses – Saturday in particular we rarely ventured far from the campsite – so there will be some hefty musical gaps in my musings.  I would apologise but well, it meant we stayed dry and we still had an absolute hoot – so I’m not going to!

Friday’s music started with catching the very end of Jake Martin‘s set (oops, sorry Jake!) having been fed by Paul and Nicki’s seemingly miraculous Cadac Chef – which has attachments for every conceivable way of cooking (it had cooked us pizzas the night before, now it was doing a fine job of breakfast too!).  Anyway.. Jake finished his set with I Don’t Wanna Be Your Heroes, I was just heading in to the Roy’s Place stage to see more and he thanked everyone and duly unplugged his guitar.  D’oh!

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Freeborn Al / 24th July 2017 / Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos

Tring Tring!

It’s almost like the sound of a doorbell isn’t it? Arf. Definitely an apt spot for Morganella to be making an appearance hot the heels of releasing pre-order details for their forthcoming EP.  The event at the excellent Anchor in Tring (which is in the wonderfully named Borough of Dacorum) was organised by Neil for young students he works with (of which Morgan is one) to showcase their talents, it’s great there’s folk like Neil inspiring folk to pick up instruments and perform, and helping them to get together to form bands!

With the venue being pretty small and unsurprisingly each of the performers bringing a number of family members with them to watch it wasn’t always easy to take in the vast array of acts on offer, but it was a fun afternoon spent mostly outside nattering with folk waiting for the Morganella spot at 4pmish.  Although Morgan did have two other sets to perform first – I caught some of his second, which was him in his rockier guise and it was pretty awesome.  I live-streamed a track via the Morganella Facebook page of them in action (Ella did the same for his first stand-in appearance in another band – talented bugger!).

Quite a gathering of folk had arrived by the time it was time for Morganella to hit the stage – a tribe of Ella’s family from Stevenage, Nick, Lucy and Evan from nearer by, myself obviously – as well as Brian and Karen, Paul and quite a few others – always great to see a decent crowd of folk, luckily for us a fair few folk had cleared out of the narrow bar area so we were able to find some decent spots to take in the set.  Only a short one too!

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Freeborn Al / 9th July 2017 / Gigs, Music, Other Bands, Photos, Videos

Small but perfectly formed.. part 2..

For longer term readers you might remember a detrimental Saturday morning breakfast with Jamie, Paul and Jayne at last year’s Roystonbury Festival.  I’m happy to say that this tradition was continued but with a different cast – he led a merry band of troubadours to a local pub to watch the Lions play Rugby – I swerved this, with little interest in the game and a desire for a lie in and being able to remember the day – those that did complete the trip returned with mixed results!

So with lie-in in the bag I surfaced and was offered some delicious breakfast wraps by John and Angela, which along with a cheeky cider set me up for the day very nicely indeed!  We popped to see Amanda and Sarah by the Purrple Peeple Eater to await the return of the Rugby revellers which was suitably hilarious.  Between the five of them they’d managed to run up an impressive bar tab and an advanced level of drunkenness.

Dean immediately set to the task of providing speciality shot slippery nipples for everyone, with limited success – before reappearing in slightly different clothing – that soon made its way onto Jamie who spent the rest of the day in a rather fetching dress.  Mark fared less well, he and Simon ended up in bed whilst Darren the fifth intrepid adventurer had been less voracious on the Guinness, Jäger and tequila consumption so was doing pretty well!

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

Small but perfectly formed.. pt 1..

I’ve been feeling the pressure a bit of trying to find the right words to sum up another lovely experience courtesy of Roystonbury Festival, with a busy week leaving me no time the task has – if anything – become more daunting, but I’ve taken the plunge!  A little over a week ago we’d set off for the hour or so journey, we encountered a white van with a Star Copiers logo on the back on the way in that looked suspiciously like Jamie, indeed it was as he veered off to a service station for last minute supplies!

We got onto site to a lovely welcome from the volunteers getting everyone in and sorted, and found ourselves a spot close to the arena next to John who was setting up his tent (hell, the whole place is close to the arena, haha!) – Russ and Michelle arrived shortly after so a bit of adjusting of position we got everything sorted in the van and settled with a cider or two before getting our bearings ending up sat by a certain Purple Bus for some early liveners.

The open mic set was open on the acoustic stage early afternoon, and first up was Emily Batchelor who was stepping up for her very first live performance with her guitar.  We’d caught a glimpse of her rehearsing just before as they were camped close by, apparently she was dead nervous (which is understandable!) as we all gathered in the beautifully decorated acoustic area to watch.  She kicked off with Imagine Dragon’s Radioactive – nerves visibly evaporating as the song went on.

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Freeborn Al / 7th July 2017 / Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos

Keeping it Real (Time)..

When the tickets for this gig went on sale I was at Ey Up Mi Duck and had decided that, having secured tickets for the Rough Trade gig that I’d hang fire and give folk who had missed out a chance.  By mid-afternoon there were still a few left so sod it – folk had had a chance, I duly ordered!  I’m glad I did, I’m a big fan of Real Time Live as a venue – sat above a music shop in Chesterfield, it’s an absolute musical grotto!

Come the day we offered to pick up Geoff en route since he’s just a short diversion off the M1, and duly arrived in Chesterfield with a good amount of time to spare.  Once we’d got our bearings (which took a while longer than it should’ve done!) we headed to The Barley Mow, just around the corner from a venue – a nice pub, with plenty of friendly faces already there – and seats outside to enjoy the not-quite-as-warm-as-we’d-hoped weather.

After a good deal of catching up, random photos and a strange experiment involving leaning against a wall and picking up a stool we wandered over to the venue.  Over the course of the evening I was also informed that my good friend and fellow Ferocious Dog fan Andy Harrison has been honoured with an MBE in the Queen’s birthday honours list – over the course of the evening we weren’t allowed to mention it, but come midnight – well, I think everyone who knows him knows about it now!  It’s an amazing and well deserved acknowledgement of the commitment he’s shown to good causes.

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Freeborn Al / 17th June 2017 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Lee Bonsall, Music, Other Bands, Photos

Fishing for Owls..

I’ve been sitting on Paul Henshaw and the Scientific Simpletons‘ latest album for a while so I do apologise profusely for the delay in finally jotting down my musings.  Fishing For Owls has been on my regular playlist for a little over a month now, and it’s a mixed paced collection of folk-punk goodness – one moment irreverent, one moment deeply moving and at times funny.  There’s full band big sound, acoustic moments and all manner of paces.

Middle Finger Thank You is a ballsy opener – drumsticks click a count in to a wall of guitar and percussion before it slows up for the vocals to kick in.  Defiant in sound and message – Paul describes it as a ‘bit of an internal battle and ‘fuck you’ to myself, which fits nicely with the sound here – uncompromising, relentless and aggressive instrumentals overlaid with measured and considered vocals for the most part.  Don’t let life get you down and deal with your problems is the message here.

A folksier feel with stomping feet and acoustic strumming heralds Wild Turkey – a song telling the tale of a trip to London to play a gig involving perhaps a little bit too much of the titled whiskey for the narrator.  Slightly self-sorry in tone, but quite philosophical about it too – I’m sure we’ve all had one of those moments when you feel like there’s nobody on your side and you’ve only got yourself to rely on.

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Freeborn Al / 14th June 2017 / Music

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