Another fine Dogfest!

As if Dogfest isn’t a prospect mouthwatering enough for your musical delectation, Bart runs a pre-Dogfest night to get you limbered up for what is to follow – so I decided to bash the two reviews together as a further time-saving measure (given I’ve got three gigs coming up this weekend, d’oh!).  We got ourselves up to The Black Market Venue in good time and for a mere fiver were granted entry to the back room where both stages were being utilised to put on an amazing line-up.

First up on the side stage were 3 Wise Men, acoustic mellow tunes with all three of ’em providing vocals at one point or another and well synchronised guitars.  In The Cold Cold Night was early in the set which was followed up with That’s Life.  I was really enjoying the set – especially a cover of Massive Attack’s Man Next Door which was simultaneously unexpected and delightful in equal measure – well worth getting in early doors for (not, of course, that the event started on time – arf!).

The Outlines were up next on the main stage – looking ever more confident in their own skins, launching into Waiting and filling the room with energetic grungy rock, a stark contrast to the gentle set before but just as enjoyable.  Static, She Don’t Know, Calm Down – all quickly establishing themselves as classics.  Next up was probably my favourite of theirs (for now) in Buried a Lie.  Tight backing vocals and Kyle’s distinctive voice over an unfeasibly heavy sound for three of ’em..

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Freeborn Al / 13th December 2017 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Lee Bonsall, Music, Other Bands, Photos, Videos

There ain’t no party like.. TWO house parties!

Because I’m so ridiculously behind on blog posts, I’m going to combine an entry for two excellent house gigs – the first was hosted by the lovely Parry Clan and featured Morganella and Doozer McDooze doing their thing in an intimate and unplugged setting, the second was hosted by the equally lovely Fairish Clan and featured The Star Copiers and Nick Parker all amped up – along with a raucous open-mic finalé – I’m very lucky to have the opportunities to go to such awesome events!

So first up was Parry Towers.  I’d arrived early and Lucy and Nick had laid on a mountain of food for the revelry, so after troughing and discovering the wonder of the Akinator phone game with Evan, eventually guests arrived and it was time to start getting set up.  Morganella were up first in support guise – they’d had a quick rehearsal beforehand which they don’t get to do very often (at least not in the same place), but in no time found themselves a spot in the lounge to act as the performance area.

Kicking off with Black Horse and a Cherry Tree it sounded really good – my limited dalliances into singing have made me really appreciate the wonders of what a monitor does, so to perform fully acoustic is always impressive to my ears (well, if it’s in tune!  And it was!).  Self-penned track Daisies and Sunshine was up next and straight into Refuge and The Standing Stone of Onich to showcase their own EP tracks.  They don’t get away without playing Weak these days, so that featured next followed by Photosynthesis which is one of Nick’s favourites.

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Freeborn Al / 11th December 2017 / Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos

The Red Album is no red herring..

I remember when From Without came out I wrote about that difficult second album – the original Ferocious Dog self-titled album was a canon of years of built up song-writing, and a lifetime to date of experiences to draw upon for subject matter.  Subsequent works are always gonna deal with less life back-history, and with more weight of pressure.  But well, I feared in vain – From Without was an undoubted triumph – so I should’ve learned really and not worried about The Red Album, but still, you just can’t help it can you?

I’d heard bits and pieces of live performances, rough cuts and sneaky peeks, but hadn’t heard the final product in earnest ’til Dean popped it on the minibus on the way to The Netherlands last weekend, and even then the excitement of our impending trip (or desperation of Mark’s bladder situation as we blasted into Hull right up against the deadline for the ferry) meant that it probably wasn’t the environment to really sit and take it in.  Luckily when I arrived back from the trip it was waiting for me on my doormat so I’ve quickly been familiarising myself with it, and by gosh, they’ve only gone and done it again.

Unlike From Without, which was an expensive endeavour in a swanky studio with recognised producers and masterers, the band have looked closer to home and recorded it at Electric Bear Studios under the watchful eye of Phill Wilbraham.  Having seen Phill at work he does more than just record tracks and choose levels, even in the couple of hours I spent in the studio he was making lyrical suggestions and tweaks, and extrapolating the logistics in rendering recordings that would be replicable on a live stage.  He’s a clever guy, and the quality of the recording is a real testament to his skills.

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Freeborn Al / 24th November 2017 / Band, Music, Other Bands

Doozer and Funke rock Derby!

Childishness

I’ve not been to The Hairy Dog in Derby for a year or so – so last night was a first chance to check out their new bigger room rather than the old upstairs venue which now houses a smaller venue and a tattoo studio.  The newer main room is a great space – around a 400 capacity, a bar with sound-desk, cloakroom and merch desk with a good sized raised stage.  It’s superb set up nestled behind the no-nonsense rock pub out front.  I whole heartedly approve.

With car woes continuing I decided not to risk it and took the van, parking up at nearby Abbey Street car park and then it was a short walk to the venue.  Outside we found the acts for the evening out front enjoying a drink along with The Famous Artist Birdy Rose too, so we settled down for a natter and a drink.  It was a little while before the doors to the back room were opened, so it was nice just to catch up.  Gradually other gig goers started to arrive – and soon enough we decamped into the main room, Ella doing a stint on the merch desk for the evening.

Funke was up on stage to introduce Doozer McDooze who opened up the live music – despite being a bit poorly (you could only really tell from his between-song chatter, it sounded like he had a bad throat), he didn’t let it inhibit an energetic and empassioned performance though!  I didn’t recognise the song he opened with, I’ll hazard a guess at I Thought We Were Friends.  It always amazes me how prolific Dooze is at songwriting, I see him quite frequently and there’s nearly always something in his sets to throw me!

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Freeborn Al / 11th November 2017 / Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos

The gig that launched a brace of albums..

The Black Market Venue was resplendent with candlelit tables and black table cloths, the curtains were pulled across (initially at least!) to make what is a cavernous space feel more intimate, red and black balloons bedecked the place (including some HUUUUUGE ones by the stage!).  The room was filled with possibly a larger crowd than anticipated – eagerly ready to support the album launch for not just Star Botherers, but Strange Currencies too – and if that wasn’t enough, there was a set by Black Thorn to get the night underway!

Jamie had been kind enough to give us a lift up to the venue – so I could have a cheeky pint of Illicit or two for a change – and not have to gamble a trip in my increasingly erratic car (but that’s another story!).  By the time we were herded into the back room by Brad there was a sizeable gathering in the front bar, but unbeknown to us there was quite the crowd already ensconsed in the back room – tables had filled up, we installed ourselves by the bar, by the time Kev, Julie and the kids arrived the curtains had to go back to make room for everyone.

I’m really glad about that – it’s great to see so many people out to support local independent and unsigned artists.  As well as an album launch it was a showcase for The Black Market Venue’s recording facilities – where, of course, Happy Angry was recorded, and is headed up by Joel.  Venue, bar, brewery and now recording studio – certainly a diverse establishment!  As we got ourselves settled in Black Thorn were getting themselves soundchecked – and soon enough were underway.

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

Star Botherers are Happy and Angry with a new album!

I’ve been looking forward to Star Botherers releasing their album ever since it was announced it was in progress – and by gosh it doesn’t disappoint.  I think all but one of the generous fourteen songs on here I’ve heard performed live, and there’s a fair few that have appeared on EPs released before.  But these familiar friends have been lovingly caressed and enhanced in the studio so even these songs you think you’ve heard before take on new and interesting dimensions without losing their charm.

The once semi-novelty duo – mixing in originals, cover versions and games of bingo into chaotic sets, have been slowly but surely building their portfolio of songs and once you see them laid out here you realise it’s quite an impressive canon.  They’ve managed to retain their fun and irreverence whilst adding layers and sublime production.  Brad has of course joined often on stage to add more intricate percussion, and we’ve seen both Joel and Ellis add extra stringy things of late – and the album is full of this.

Joel too has been responsible for all the technical wizardry in mixing and mastering the now more complicated audio channels – we know from Black Thorn’s album how adept he is at this, and this will sit alongside that as a fine testament to his technical skill.  This really is an album to be proud of – the songs rollercoaster you from amusement, nostalgia, cutting political observations, meloncholy and at times downright hilarity.  Bart is a very clever lyricist and he’s assembled an expert team to augment his guitar in accompanying the words.

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Freeborn Al / 3rd November 2017 / Music, Other Bands, Photos

When there’s something strange in the neighbourhood..

Well this weekend we’ve discovered that The Lindleys can host one hell of a party!  With Doozer McDooze embarking on a series of house gigs, they threw their house and garden open to the masses for a Hallowe’en themed party, nay, mini-festival.  John had made a stage in the garden from pallets, chipboard and a gazebo, Russ had provided a PA and lighting, and Angela had really gone to town on spooky decorating to create an amazing space for the guests descending for good times and entertainment.

Not only did we have the treat of Doozer’s set, we had four acts preceding him.  We arrived in the car – Ella had dressed up as an undead Romany girl, I’d dragged out my evil jester costume – certainly the other costumes on display from the guests were impressive – most folk had really entered into the spirit of it, and were tucking into spooky snacks or mysterious glow-in-the-dark jellies.  A sinister bird chirped in the kitchen, whilst even the toilet had been made to look suitably eerie.

The weather was very kind and the firepit gave the option of heating up if it did get a bit chilly, and there was a dazzling array of warming food inside – the forty or so odd revellers were very well catered for indeed!  In the meantime though the first act up on the stage was Dusty Herb, for the second time in a week for us!  He started up with Sometimes as last week, and was sounding really good – and followed it up with Black Dogs Eyes again – the fact he forgot the first verse makes me feel better for once again not noting his third song (might be partly down the food becoming available, haha!).

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Freeborn Al / 29th October 2017 / Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos

A lovely bit of Bothering..

Oops – nearly a week late, but it has been a busy week in my defence!  But last Sunday we had a welcome trip up to Market Warsop for a bit of Stars Bothering on Sunday in the Black Market Venue.  I love nights like these, relaxed and informal and fun – and usually with a spot of entertainment.  For our second time we’d been booked too, due on after appearances from the hosts, Herb and Alex Bradford – and followed by Josh Francis (who was running a bit late owing to traffic).

Having settled down with John, Angela, Tony and Trudy folk started arriving and The Star Botherers got themselves set up and the evening underway.  With a slightly later start than planned it was just a two song treat – kicking off with One Inch Death Punch (at least Bart did, Dave start the bass riff for Just Around the Corner which was quite amusing!).  That helped decide the next song, it was indeed Just Around the Corner – short but sweet.  Don’t forget their album launch is a week today and it’s free!

I was looking forward to catching up with Herb – each time I see him take the stage he gets more confident, especially with a sharp new hair cut!  For a blogger he’s great as he interperses songs with the stories behind them and their titles.  He opened with Sometimes, a melancholic finger-picked tune with philosophically observing life’s ups and downs – I really liked the lyrics.  Black Dog’s Eyes picked up the pace a bit – more strumming, and more empassioned vocals – dealing with escapism through substances, another really nice song.

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Freeborn Al / 27th October 2017 / Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos, Videos

Gaz, Joe and Maelor not lost in The Maze..

(pic by Angela)

Gaz Brookfield is a very special performer – The Maze is a very special venue, and yet put the two together and you get some kind of exponential growth in awesomeness.  With many people seemingly surprised I wasn’t over at the Hairy Dog for Ferocious Dog (including Gaz!) there really was only one choice for me on this occasion, as much as I’d have loved the other option too.  Nottingham always seems to reserve an especially warm welcome for Mr Brookfield – and it is actually exhilarating to be a part of it.  The last night of the tour too, so extra special for that too.

We drove into Nottingham and dumped the car behind The Maze and hotfooted it through town to find some of the revellers already well on their way in town – John, Angela, Russ, Michelle, Tony, Trudy and Wez were duly found in the ‘Spoons off St James’ Street.  So drinks (soft drinks for me – boo!) and merriment commenced (well, for us – the rest of the party had been engaged with merriment for some time – not least Angela who’d earned yet another 7 deadly sins t-shirt from The Pit and Pendulum and gifted it to Ella, ha!).

Soon enough it was time for the walk back up the hill to The Maze – the back room wasn’t open yet, so we settled in the front room of The Forest Tavern and awaited with lots of other familiar and friendly faces. Soon enough we made our way into the venue to get wristbanded by Jayne and Lee, I found Maelor and Gaz inside – both somewhat surprised to find me there rather than in Derby, and once we’d all caught up it was soon time for the former to take the stage.  That’s the bonus I’d not mentioned yet – support from Maelor Hughes and Joe McCorriston was also on offer.  All for £8.  What a bargain.

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Freeborn Al / 22nd October 2017 / Gigs, Music, Other Bands, Photos, Videos

A song for everyone..

I feel a bit vindicated in taking a while to get this review out the blocks because I’ve waited for ages for Shanks’ Pony to get some of their songs recorded!  I can’t remember exactly when I first saw them play, but I know it wasn’t long after I’d first got into Ferocious Dog, I have a vague memory of my first sight of a cajón in use at The Black Market Venue in the murky past – and ever since then I like many of you have had to make do with getting to see them live and not be able to listen in the comfort of our own homes.

But no longer!  We knew an album was in progress and then suddenly a Facebook post announced we could order – so that’s what I did and greedily eyed the letterbox at home until it arrived – clad in a delightfully designed cover (courtesy of Kezia Parsons) depicting the band in a woodland scene.  I eagerly grabbed the CD out of the case and got it ripped onto a device I could play loudly – whilst the technical stuff was happening I cast an eye down the track list – eight songs all familiar titles (and will help with me trying to translate their impossible set lists in future, haha!).

Top of the World is up first, kicking in with Bob’s distinctive drumming intro then layered in some staccato guitar strums from Paul and then the fiddle instrumental builds up for the vocals, I’m sure I remember this song documents an event at Harefield Hall (I know Dean has said more than once during a live airing that he was there!).  You don’t really have to be familiar with the precise events chronicled though – lots of name-checking of now familiar artists – plus Edward Tudor-Pole in there too..

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Freeborn Al / 17th October 2017 / Music, Other Bands, Photos

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