I’m sure that you’ll have heard by now that the Ferocious Dog gig in the Victoria Hall in Settle has been postponed due to issues outside the control of the band. Disappointing, but in the face of such adversity of having the promise of a weekend gig it makes you have to work on alternative plans. Hopefully once the gig is rearranged I’ll be able to make it as I was looking forward to the visit!
First up I’ve been playing with some of Waggy’s photos and was particularly pleased with this one of Ken taken at the Evesham gig made up entirely of the words ‘Red Ken’ – I’ll have to have a play with other images when I get the chance!
As the clock ticks down to Something to Smile About on Saturday there’s also the excitement of Ferocious Dog releasing Ruby Bridges as a digital single on Monday too. I talked about the song when previewing some of the rough cut tracks from the album a while ago, briefly summarising the subject and that the song was conceived in Dan’s mind when Ruby would’ve hit the news having just turned 60 last year in September.
Dan had earmarked the song as a potential idea for a co-written piece with Maelor Hughes, but subsequently liked what he’d started too much to not have it as a Ferocious Dog track that he finished off with Ken.
The story of Ruby Bridges is one of real inspiration though. In 1960 a federal court order decreed that public schools in New Orleans, where the Bridges family lived, were forced to desegregate. Put simply, white and black children were no longer to be educated separately. Black children from kindergarten were tested to see who would be put forward to go to an integrated school – Ruby duly passed this test and the first challenge was to overcome divisions within the family.
Her father was understandably reticent – worried that the act of his daughter going to a mixed school was ‘just asking for trouble’ whilst her mother saw the opportunity Ruby could have for a better education and future prospects, and of course the bigger picture of taking a opportunity of a real tangible step forward toward racial equality. Eventually after much debate within the family it was this view that won out, and it was decided that Ruby would indeed attend an integrated school in November 1960 – a date decided by a federal judge.
I loaded up Timehop this morning, as I do most mornings. Timehop is an app you can install on your phone and it will trawl through your photos, Facebook and Twitter accounts to find out what you’d been up to on a particular day in previous years. For a maudlin nostalgia-junkie like me it’s a fun way to peruse things and see how things have changed over years gone, or just jog your memory of things you might’ve been up to.
So, on 19th May four years ago today I excitedly finished up my working day then headed up to the Black Market Venue in Warsop to see Mark Chadwick play a solo gig supported by, of course Ferocious Dog. Because when picking up the ticket from Dan a couple of weeks prior I was given an EP I already knew four tracks – Quiet Paddy, Criminal Justice, Mairi’s Wedding Part II and On the Rocks. They’d been on somewhat of a heavy playing cycle in the run-up to this gig.
I remember Ken and Dave both looked at me a bit funny as I was singing along to them despite never having seen them before.
Back then the set opened – I think – with Burford Stomp, a cover version of the song the Levellers recorded for Rev Hammer‘s Freeborn John album – it involved a bandana-clad Ellis taking the stage first with an energetic solo that the band joined in with. I have no real memory of the set list but there were a fair few cover versions – certainly River O’Joe and What You Know featured along with Burford Stomp. I have been able to dredge a video out of my archives of that first gig for me along with the photo.
I guess you can’t really get away from politics at the moment, and let’s face it – the songs Ferocious Dog regale us with are full of political past, present and maybe just the promise of a brighter future (if you listen to Freethinker right the way through at least!). When you finally get your mits on the new album – or if you’re especially keen at picking out lyrics at live gigs – then the second album has an almost certainly more overt political theme.
This isn’t really an appropriate vessel for current political commentary, not least because I’m not really qualified to provide it, but it is quite timely that the band happen to be playing in Putney this coming weekend (c’mon – is it Friday yet already?) given the role this once small town nestled by the river outside the capital once played in shaping modern British democracy (if you can call it that.. hang on, I said I wasn’t going to get political, didn’t I? I do apologise).
Putney is a political landmark for the development of British democracy – in 1647 in played host to a series of discussions (the Putney Debates) between Oliver Cromwell’s New Model Army to attempt to resolve the constitution and future of England. Matters like whether to come to terms with the defeated Charles I, should we even have a King or Lords? Should it really only be owners of property who have the right to cast a vote on those who should govern them? Would giving such power to the common-man lead to destructive anarchy?
Last night I was having a long overdue catch up with one of my friends, Sarah. Killing two birds with one stone I took her to Ye Olde Dolphin Inne in Derby for a bite to eat before Paige Seabridge was due to take the stage there. It was a lovely evening and Paige was on sparkling form – she’s one of many amazingly talented acts I’ve gotten to know thanks to following Ferocious Dog. You should definitely check her out, an amazing singer, songwriter, guitar player and generally lovely lass.
Anyway, I digress right from the start. On the drive down the A52 we were chatting about the weekend just gone – as we’re friends on Facebook she’s familiar in photo form of what a typical weekend of Ferocious Dog gigs looks like, but hadn’t ever heard them. “What do they sound like?” she asked, “This is them now” came the reply – I forget which track was playing, but I think it was Living on Thin Air. “Wow, this is really tuneful – I saw the pictures and imagined it was death metal or something!”
First impressions are funny things aren’t they? You can form them without even a fraction of the facts and they can be difficult to shift. Sarah had filed away Ferocious Dog as something I enjoyed but she probably wouldn’t – now she’s shifted that perception and if she can’t wangle Deerstock then we’ll definitely be looking for her debut at a gig on the autumn tour some time once the dates are announced – on Monday, so keep an eye out on Facebook for that!
I spend quite a lot of my time driving – I have an eighty mile round trip to and from work most days (sometimes more) and live a bit in the sticks so often drive to gigs or social gatherings. Generally in the car I listen to music, I use my phone for this (which is also sometimes acts as a sat nav) and whether I choose specific things to listen to or have it on shuffle there’s quite a lot of Ferocious Dog music on there.
So you’re always likely to encounter them on any particular trip with me in the driving seat.
Having just checked there’s 68 Ferocious Dog tracks on there. Admittedly there’s a lot of duplication – I am sad enough to have both the UK and German versions of the album on my phone, as well as the previously released mini-album, the acoustic album and two EPs, the iTunes Hell Hounds release, a recording of Too Latebeing played on The Beat on the BBC and a couple of live tracks I had kicking around. So there are many tracks that appear more than once.
In the run up to a Ferocious Dog gig I will normally just entrust Siri to control my musical selection – so I’ll summon her and say “Play music by Ferocious Dog” – normally she understands me and basically that means she’ll shuffle through any music by that artist in a random order – ideal! But as I spent the last week to-ing and fro-ing from work it inspired a few dilemmas or pit-falls (ha, pit-falls, I had a few of those on Saturday night in the Hairy Dog!!) that can crop up when driving whilst listening to Ferocious Dog.
Maybe you can think of a few more? Frustratingly I couldn’t come up with final one to make a top ten!
An epiphany is a sudden realising of a truth, a revelation. What I’m about to describe is probably a slow acceptance of the bleeding obvious, but well, with the next tour date looming on the horizon it prompted the thought process – so now you have to put up with it, ha ha!
In another part of my life I’m a pretty avid football fan – I support Nottingham Forest for my sins – and have a season ticket. A few times in the last few years Ferocious Dog has come into conflict with this other life passion of mine. This passion is one I don’t regret – it’s if nothing else a chance to spend time with my brother and a number of my closest friends – many of whom I met through this shared interest.
Of course, it also allows me to fund millionnaire footballers which sits less easily in the justification stakes!
I don’t know if it’s just me that often researches subject matter of songs – the last Levellers album has resulted in me gathering books about the Raft of the Medusa and the Étaples mutiny to learn more about the inspiration for songs on the album, indeed, 3 Daft Monkeys‘ Days of the Dance too added to my library to learn more about the dancing plague of Strasbourg.
Dan let slip on Facebook yesterday that the second album will be completed in recording terms at the end of this week – and that the name of it will be ‘From Without’. He might’ve mentioned that before to be fair, but he encouraged folk to have a hunt on Google to try to find the reference it might be inspired by. So I’ve been doing just that to pass the time – whether I’ve landed on the inspiration for the name or not remains to be seen!
In the context of without meaning ‘on the outside’ it’s listed as archaic – so whilst you might be without something, to be – for example – opening a door from without seems a charmingly antiquated way of phrasing compared to opening a door from within. Could it be as simple as that? A traditional way of describing themselves as being from the outside? It sort of fits, no record label, self-releasing, shunning many of the trappings of the modern music industry.
Martin Gormley posted in the Ferocious Dog Facebook group earlier confessing to a mis-heard lyric situation – we’ve all been there. In his case it was the very name of the song that featured in the error though! In Hell Hounds rather than “And the devil sends his hell hounds for me boys” he was merrily singing along “And the devil sends his ale hounds for me boys” – which if you listen to it could be understandable given Ken’s accent (and if you go to the trouble to forget what the song is called!).
It got me thinking of my own mishearing of Ferocious Dog songs – indeed, Hell Hounds was my the source favourite one – in the line “Tonight I lay with a buxom whore in a brothel drenched in beer” I had somehow conspired to hear it as “Tonight I lie with a buxom whore on the bonnet of an HGV” – have a listen, tell me I’m wrong! The mental image it’s evoked tickled me so much I got my sketch book out. I apologise unreservedly to Kenny for my awful caricature skills!