Escapology..

static-logoA total diversion from my normal subject matter – but we’ve just had a really fun afternoon that’s worth talking about.  Back in March my Mum and Dad came up with the hugely original birthday gift of taking three friends and being locked in a room which we then have to try to escape from by decoding clues in there within a time limit.  Given the busyness of social calendars it took ’til this week for us to finally get it locked down!

So myself, Ella, Sarah and Paul met up to tackle Contraption – I was ordered by Ella that no rooms involving mannequins was allowed, and Sarah has an aversion to clowns, so when I rang up to book I made those points to the chap on the phone, and he recommended this room.  It was set up as a laboratory of a scientist, machinery and artifacts make up the clues you need to eventually solve the room to escape.

Our very first task proved quite tricksy to solve – it was actually pretty easy really, but then isn’t everything once you’ve worked it out?  We then had a series of finding objects, cracking codes and clues and eventually finding our way out of the room with nine minutes to spare from our allotted hour.  It wasn’t scary as such, but there were a few jumpy moments (especially for scaredy cat Ella!).

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Freeborn Al / 22nd October 2016 / Photos, Thoughts / 0 Comments

Well it takes my breath away!

justice9n-1I never think of Funke and the Two Tone Baby as an overt story-teller in his songs – obviously there are stories in there, but the lyrics are obtuse – they don’t spell things out (that for me combined with the masterclass in multi-instrumental multi-tasking is a big part of the appeal!).  So you could be forgiven for mistaking Bella’s Kiss as being a passionate tribute to the breathtakingly good kissing technique of a lass called Bella.

It’s certainly something I fell foul of, with Bella rhyming with Ella it even took on a degree of soppy significance.  It was at Deerstock that before playing it Funke casually introduced it like this: ‘here’s a song about a Hungarian serial killer’ – at the time I was looking forward to a new song, only to be faced with the confusion of a familiar tune that I thought I already knew well.  Being a song-story geek I took to Google almost immediately – and unearthed, well, a pretty disturbing tale.

Bella’s Kiss is about Béla Kiss.  Born in 1877, he was a tinsmith who lived in Czinkota (then it would’ve been a town in its own right, now part of Budapest) since 1900.  In 1912 – according to some reports after his wife Marie, fifteen years his junior, left him for another man called Paul Bikari.  Kiss, well thought of in the local community, probably illicited great sympathy from friends and neighbours when he confessed they’d run away together.

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Freeborn Al / 16th September 2016 / Music, Other Bands, Thoughts / 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

A bit of bothering on a Sunday..

10393576_733673203416234_6760695815172788004_nWith work on a Monday morning and travelling logistics to sort out on Sundays it renders Star Bothering on Sunday something I’ve not had the chance to do before.  A bank holiday and evening plans with friends in the area made it a distinct possibility this weekend just gone.  Albeit one we had to cut a bit short – missing the final act entirely (doubly gutting, as my friend Lynn plays flute and pennywhistle for Last Word Dogs – another time, Bart tells me they were great).

We arrived in sunny Warsop in time for a sneaky visit to the chip shop before making our way into the venue – the remnants of Mac-Stock evident from camper vans still in the car park and a pretty full room.  Star Bothering nights happen in the front room, we grabbed ourselves a drink and a seat and watched Dave and Bart grappling with the not inconsiderable amount of electrical stuff Last Word Dogs had with them.  In the meantime it was nice to just have a relaxing drink and natter with assorted folks.

IMG_3201Star Botherers were up first, already somewhat later than initially planned.  As it was Easter Sunday they introduced themselves as offering up a religious themed set – which comprised a quick run through Just Around the Corner, the song that I’ve yet to divine the title of that’s about ringing in sick at work and finally One Inch Death Punch.  Certainly it got the feet tapping around the room – and it was a very full room!  We were cautiously keeping an eye on the time.

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Freeborn Al / 29th March 2016 / Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos, 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

2015 – The year of the Dog..

12347814_10153863571453060_2422930688827816042_nOkay, so Ferocious Dog have been around a little longer – but this last year has felt rather like a landmark.  And not just because back in February it’s when Ferocious Blog was born, ha!  The lead up to a new year is traditionally a time for reflecting back on the year just gone and looking forward to the next one, so I figured it’d be nice to trawl back through the months and pull out a highlight or two for each month of 2015, it will be tough to pick just one or two so feel free to chip in your own in the comments – despite my best efforts I didn’t quite make it to every Ferocious Dog gig in the year!

January 2015 – a light month, Ferocious Blog was yet to be created (although it had been an idea kicking around in my head for at least a couple of years).  Checking my calendar and personal blog doesn’t reveal much at all in the way of Ferocious Dog activity – we’d have been still basking in the warm glow of Dogfest back in December – I latterly discovered that a 3 Piece Acoustic performance took place in honour of Ella’s 21st birthday in this month, but alas I didn’t know Snotty at this juncture!

IMG_9188_gFebruary 2015the blog is born after an acoustic appearance by Ken and Dan at the Brown Cow in Mansfield.  Seldom has one of Sam’s nights had such a huge crowd packed in.  The demand for the event was the perfect excuse to arrive early and chat nonsense with friends for the afternoon.  An afternoon of drinking had taken its toll on Dean who for the first time decreed I needed to get up and surf in his place – a great way to start what became a year of extreme ‘dogging’.  These smaller intimate gigs are as enjoyable for me as the bigger and bolder shows that are to follow.  We were first introduced to Scott at this appearance too.

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Freeborn Al / 30th December 2015 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos, Thoughts

Fly on the wall..

IMG_1943Over the last year I’ve been privileged and humbled by the fly on the wall opportunities I’ve been afforded by the band.  Last week I was lucky enough to join them in the rehearsal studio after a day of exploring then driving back from Clitheroe to get a sneak preview of some of the treats in store for Rock City.  Of course, I couldn’t write about it then as it would’ve spoiled some of the surprises – but I can now!

It is a small glimpse into the work that happens behind the scenes from the band – after a gruelling three days with Ken suffering from what turned out to be laryngitis it was essential they got some time in to run through some of the finer details.  Les and Scott had never played Pocket full of Madness before, John had a few times and the rest of the band hadn’t played it in ages (nor had Kyle!).

Whilst Chloe and Megan had worked out their dance routine it was important to get a chance to practice with the band – timings between live and recorded songs can differ quite dramatically, and then of course there was the extended version of Freeborn John to work through with The Afterdark Movement rapper Bru-C (as an aside, since then I’ve been listening to a bit of The Afterdark Movement and I really like it (aside from referring to my favourite football team as Notts Forest – haha!)).

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Freeborn Al / 30th November 2015 / Band, Music, Photos, Thoughts, Videos / 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

Stroud and Cardiff cancelled..

I’m sure you’ll have seen the news already, but with regret Ferocious Dog have been forced to pull out of this week’s shows at Cardiff and Stroud. Ken has been suffering with laryngitis and under doctors orders has been told he needs to rest his voice to have any hope of being able to perform at Rock City on Saturday.

 
Listening to Ken practically miming through rehearsals on Sunday, and having been privy to some of the deliberating over the decision I know how gutted all the band are. They have been agonising over the possibility of needing to let down those folk with tickets for the two shows – but well, medical mandate has made the call for them.

The Cardiff gig has been rescheduled for 6th February 2016, and tickets remain valid – if folk need to get refunds then get in touch with the ticket provider you used. It’s really regrettable and nobody is more gutted than the band – I know how excited they were about all the gigs on the tour.

Freeborn Al / 24th November 2015 / Band, Gigs, Music, Photos, Thoughts / 0 Comments

And he’s turned to the bottle..

unnamedI might’ve been a bit quiet but the band haven’t – they released a radio edit of Slow Motion Suicide as a single this week (which you can buy from iTunes, Amazon or Google Play) – a timely release given the subject matter of the impact of the decimation of the mining industry, just as Hatfield Colliery was issued with a winding-up order earlier this month.  It’s been a mainstay of live performances recently and is one of my favourites – and a nice teaser leading up to the album.

On the album, the production is all but done and the mastering is near completion so the drop date for the CDs we’ve all been waiting patiently for is looming large.  Having been lucky enough to have heard the tracks in their various stages of rough-cuttery up to pre-mastering I’m extremely confident that the unexpected delays in perfecting the content will prove well worth the wait to get the final CDs in your hands and CD/record players.  It really won’t be long now.

At Farmer Phil’s around a campfire I had an interesting conversation with someone who wasn’t sold on the new songs from a few live viewings.  Having probably heard them live more than most folk as well as the recordings (and, I freely admit, being more than a tad biased) I’m hooked.  But then I was from the gig at Bodega.  One comment was of the lack of variation in style – which I’d dispute – just think about the raucous cacophony of Gallows Justice opening a gig, to the more tuneful Ruby Bridges, the reggae infusion into Marikana Massacre..

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Freeborn Al / 27th August 2015 / Band, Music, Thoughts / 0 Comments