How now, Brown Cow!

This blog post is nearly as horrendously late as I was a week ago to the Roots Acoustic Evening at the Brown Cow in Mansfield, it meant I managed to miss the host, Phil Ashmore and the first act on too, Alan Robinson – but luckily my epic day of driving got me there in time for Sam Jones.  I’ve not seen Sam in solo acoustic guise in ages, and it’s always a treat (and in truth, why I feel motivated to write a blog post more than anything, especially in this venue where I first saw him!).

So once I’d got myself loaded up and my gear out the car (chances are I wouldn’t have made the trek from home to Stevenage and then to Mansfield, but we were playing, you see, under the guise of The Carrot Spies since Kev couldn’t make it, sadly – and frankly we aren’t The Star Copiers without a full compliment of members – lucky we’ve got a gigantic list of anagrams isn’t it?

But anyway, the amazing Sam Jones was up first – he’s such a talented fella.  He was standing in for his dad, Mark, who was feeling under the weather (Sam himself complained of feeling rough too, but it didn’t bring his performance down any that I could see!).  He kicked off with Death of the Free Man, then that lovely cover of Bee’s Wing he busts out for his Mum, Kathie – who was in the crowd to enjoy it, always lovely to see!  I took to Facebook live for this as it’s one of Ella’s favourite songs too (I couldn’t resist getting Lucy in on the act!).

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Freeborn Al / 25th February 2018 / Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Photos, Politics

Oh man, look at those cave men go..

I must admit I was a bit surprised when we got to not particularly far away Corby at the lack of familiar faces in the busy crowd at The White Hart.  Of course there were a fair few as ever – reassuring that a sell-out can be achieved in a new town in terms of playing, I guess! We got there early, had a quick drink a nearby funky cocktail bar (the perils of needing the loo, seeing a bar called ‘Malt-something’ and assuming it was an ale pub, ha!).  Some chips from the chippy and we were good to go.

The venue was the backroom of the pub, a work in progress the landlord was telling me, but workable enough – it was evocative of the kinds of places we used to go see Ferocious Dog years ago – but in this case very much full of people!  A nice mixed crowd in terms of age and look – there were FD t-shirts a plenty, folks who perhaps didn’t normally see them, plenty of kids – a really good mixture.

First up on stage was Emma McGrath (accompanied by Alfie on drums), she has a new single out next week, and is off on tour supporting Hayseed Dixie too.  She started off on guitar and wow, what a voice she has!  I’m going to guess the opening song was called either Don’t Leave Me Behind or Lifeline, really engaging – I’m sure there was some jiggery pokery going on with the drumkit alongside traditional drums too.  A really full sound for just the two of ’em.

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Freeborn Al / 28th January 2018 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Lee Bonsall, Music, Other Bands, Politics

Dear Brad, you rock!

I’ve been looking forward to Brad Dear‘s EP launch ever since it was announced – it’s been literally years I’ve been watching Brad but I think this is only the second time in that time I’ve seen him headline his own gig, and the first time he’s done so with the full line up of him, Andy, Chris and now of course Lizzie on fiddle.  With Unknown Era unfortunately having to drop out, Spud was drafted in as a last minute support which frankly is a bonus in itself.  As we normally would anyway we made sure we were there in time for proceedings beginning.

Plenty of folk were already in Bodega early doors too – Spud got himself sorted and on stage, kicking off with The Small Festival Scene, charting the awesome array of grassroots events that go off around the country (and how tricky it can be to get to play them!).  Amusingly, being in a DHP venue, he went for Life Without DHP next – explaining to the crowd how difficult not being on the radar of the ubiquitous Nottingham-based promoter can be.  Certainly raised a few chuckles in the crowd.

Getting into his stride next up was the inimitable I Can’t Get Penetration on Tinder – raising the stakes of chuckles to downright laughter!  His love of fishing was up next for Wherever I May Roam (not a Metallica cover, I hasten to add!) before his love of, well, other things was paid tribute to with High Green.  A proud Nottinghamian his homage to Robin Hood was next with The Legend of Nottingham has its own video(which which I never knew!), he finished up his set in the crowd with Sam on guitar for a raucous final track of Chocolate Biscuit.  Ace set.

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Freeborn Al / 12th March 2017 / Gigs, Music, Other Bands, Politics / 0 Comments

Bill Sykes had a wife..

The Norwood

The Norwood

I’m not sure if it’s just me that gets a bit intrigued by stories that inspire songs.  This one’s a bit convoluted, I was watching Sharpe on some random Freeview channel and rifleman Daniel Hagman was singing a traditional folk song about poachers in Rufford Park.  I googled it, I even messaged Ken about it as it brought Crime and Punishment to mind and well, one Google search leads to another and you end up with this!

Plus I’ve not written anything about Ferocious Dog, my principle subject matter, for quite a while, have I?  I touched on the back story of the song back when I first wrote about the album – the star of the song, Bill Sykes, actually being a relative of Ken’s – and probably would’ve faded into obscurity as a historical figure were it not for the discovery of letters his wife wrote to him after he’d been transported out to Australia.

You see – Bill Sykes did have a wife (children he had four, too!) – and well, it’s pretty safe to assume that he didn’t see them no more as well.  You can read Myra Sykes’ letters in full here thanks to Wikisource – initially sent to Portsmouth prison where he spent a couple of years before being transported aboard the Norwood (Barry, are you reading this? I’m sure we were discussing the name of the ship outside Newbury!).  You can even read Bill’s own diary of the voyage here, too.

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Freeborn Al / 11th July 2016 / Band, Music, Politics, Thoughts / 0 Comments

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