Monkeying around in Cornwall..

Around a year ago 3 Daft Monkeys unveiled a brilliant crowdfunding campaign to get their album, Year of the Clown recorded and produced.  I’m a big fan of this approach for artists who need some cash up front to cover these costs without the luxury of a record label to advance them the money – and it was particularly excited as a couple of the rewards combined would make for an awesome birthday present for Ella.  Of course there’s the considerable fringe benefit that I get to share the experience too – so everyone’s a winner!

Part one of our weekend of awesomeness was joining the band for a zip wire experience near Liskeard in Cornwall – with it being on a Saturday I cunningly worked in Solihull, then headed down to Gloucester where Ella would train to, and we could meet at the hotel we’d booked.  It’s fair to say that it wasn’t a brilliant hotel – but certainly made the drive onward to Cornwall in the morning a lot less daunting!  The next morning we headed straight to Adrenaline Quarry with the nerves of one of us starting to jangle a tad.

We were pretty early, so got to see a jump before Rich was the first Monkey to arrive on scene – and before long the rest of the party arrived, got checked in and we climbed into the deeply unflattering harnesses ready to be weighed in.  I’m pretty confident I was comfortably the heaviest!  Paired up we waited our turn to get hooked onto the zip wires and – boom! – it was over, it was great fun, the persistent mizzle kicked up a cloud of raindrops behind the descending folk, probably the highlight was Rich’s daughter Eliana who eagerly stepped up for her descent – completing it sat on a barrel to get her weight up.

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Freeborn Al / 13th October 2017 / Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos, Videos

Rockstock and … well, long overdue…

This is long overdue, so apologies – it’s been a busy ol’ time.  Rockstock and Barrel happened at the end of September, and it was as magnificent as ever.  After finishing up work we arrived on site on Thursday evening and got ourselves set up and reunited with our lovely festival friends.  Soon enough the cider was flowing (Pear and Chilli was my weapon of choice for most of the weekend) – and the music was starting in the acoustic lounge before the festival proper started on Friday.

Phil Cudworth took to the stage first – probably more familiar to most of us for his awesome woodwork, it turns out he’s a bit of a dab hand with guitar and singing too!  He opened with a potentially childhood-destroying song called Disney Princesses where he painted probably on reflection a more healthy set of role models than those proferred by the film company in question, then on to Coward about growing up in the 70s.  A mixture of irreverence, humour but also underpinned with real charm.

Coward was up next and then Bounce, then it was on to Hippy Chick.  I must admit I started losing track of song names – there was one about a chap called Gary, Computer Nerds has a question mark next to it then there was a really bluesy number called Tollpath Blues.  Then we get to where I’ve just covered subject matters – one song was about Russians, another about VIPs, then one called Green-eyed Monster.  The set finished up with Free for a Day but as Zoe took the stage she asceded to the crowds demands for an encore, which we got in the form of Sunglasses – a reflection on how stage-performing can adversely affect ones personality.  Something to watch out for!

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Freeborn Al / 10th October 2017 / Gigs, Hell Hounds, Lee Bonsall, Music, Other Bands, Photos, Videos

Doozer is here to HELP!

One of the great powers music has is to get important messages out there – and that’s just what Doozer McDooze is aiming to do wiht his latest release to coincide with World Mental Health Day.  Help is a heartfelt call for awareness of mental health issues – something that is not only becoming more and more prevalent, particular amongst young people, but is being systematically decimated in terms of funding for treatment through the NHS thanks to the machinations of our current government.

As far as the song goes – it’s a very melancholy affair compared to usual Doozer McDooze fair, poignant and very personal lyrics – his very raison d’être is that of the troubadour bringing a bit of frivolity and joy to the world be it through festivals, gigs – or just sharing his and Birdy’s alternative lifestyle choices in ecshewing the trappings of mortgages and being rooted (perhaps as much by necessity as by choice, but nonetheless it’s a story I find endlessly inspiring and fascinating).  But that must be a tough role to fulfil when you’re feeling low or suffering with depression.

You can listen to the song and watch the awesome video below:

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Freeborn Al / 10th October 2017 / Music, Other Bands, Photos, Videos

Might as well be on Marr’s..

Sunday’s road trip taught me I really need a Geography lesson, I excelled at the subject at school and A-Level – but clearly the syllabus had a bit too much focus on longshore drift, precipiation levels and the GDP of assorted countries rather than the basic location and direction of towns and cities in the UK.  I was down in Stevenage, and needed to head home to South Derbyshire, and figured – hell, Worcester is definitely kinda on the way, right?  Um. No.

That said I knew that when I put the destination in the sat nav and still went – even though it was 20 miles further than driving straight home.

Basically when I’ve run out of M42 I realise I’ve actualy gone quite a long way – echoes of going to Droitwich back in January (which also means I’ve already used the Worcester Sauce pun – dammit!).  I must admit that I’ve always had a bit of a hankering to visit The Marr’s Bar in Worcester too – so with Nick Parker along with Ben Wain playing, it seemed like this was to be my excuse!  There’s a car park 2 minutes away, and once I’d mastered the intricate one way system of Worcester I found myself parked up and a bit early so off in search of a hostelry, settling in the nearby Wetherspoons.

Inside a surprising number of people wearing double denim – I must’ve been in the right place!  Nick, Ben and Emily arrived shortly after looking for food, so we sat and had a natter, I wasn’t hungry until presented with the chips Nick didn’t want which were strangely demolished in no time at all!  Nick sorted out the set list for the evening, always keen to get feedback from attendees to keep them happy, I probably frustrated him by just saying I was happy to see whatever he wanted to play!

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Freeborn Al / 11th September 2017 / Gigs, Lee Bonsall, Music, Other Bands, Photos, Videos

I find myself a-Maze-d again..

When you’ve had an utterly shit week, probably one of the best temporary remedies you can find is a night watching Ferocious Dog in acoustic guise (now four rather than three piece, with Alex adding some percussive oomph) at The Maze in Nottingham.  Add to that the support of the very familiar Brad Dear  (a late replacement for double-booked Bart) and the new-to-me JD the Acoustic Anarchist, and plenty of familiar folk to enjoy the evening with, and it’s bound to be a winner.  The promise of a chicken tikka kebab from Victoria Kebab the cherry on the top of the cake!

With it being a work-in-the-morning kinda affair I opted to drive in, depositing my car on the road behind the venue just outside the parking-meter zone, bonus!  Once we’d found ourselves a cashpoint and picked up some supplies for a food bank donation we made our way into the venue, or at least the bar at the front just before the back room was opened up ready for the evening’s revelries.  I love The Maze as a venue – it’s rough and ready but has friendly staff, and great sound – although it does get warm in there!

JD the Acoustic Anarchist started the show – casually announcing himself and striking up with The Moron Song (I’ve half guessed at some of the song titles so fingers crossed they’re closeish).  Initially he was evocative of a solo incarnation of Phat Bollard but as he progressed he became more and more bluesy, so a kind of blues punk – a really engaging set, always a tough spot to play with the venue still filling up with folk.  How Did We Get This Far as a Species was up next, and was making me smile.

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Freeborn Al / 8th September 2017 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Lee Bonsall, Music, Other Bands, Photos, Videos

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

Kev-Fest?

I don’t think I’ve ever been to an album launch tour date that comprises a house party – but that was part of Nick Parker‘s plan in between more conventional dates.  Kev duly leapt on the opportunity to host one of these, and of course supply a support band in the form of The Star Copiers (and bonus ‘Dirty Torry’ – ie, Dirty Davey and Russ too!).  So we move right from what was a really up close at personal gig in Chetwynd Aston to a really really personal one at Kev and Julie’s house.

The original plan was to take Ludo up there and stay over, but with quite a bit of stuff to do over the weekend instead I just took the car up instead.  With illness ravaging half of our band we’d not had a rehearsal this week and decided to wing it in terms of a set list – on arriving the PA was already set up and people were starting to arrive.  Dave and Russ were also keen to do a set so once folk had arrived and a ridiculously huge amount of food and drink was laid out they got themselves sorted under orders from stage manager Josh.

Dirty Torry (ie. Dirty Davey and Russ) kicked off with Sell Out – Dave playing guitar and Russ providing vocals – they work well together as a team.  Criminal Justice was next (with an interesting lyric change of ‘Egyptian Whores’ instead of ‘Eviction Laws’ – there’s one for Ferocious Dog misheard lyrics!  Millionaires was up next and then into Riverflow.  Back on to Ferocious Dog and Unconditional got a welcome airing, then a brave and cracking version of Elation finishing up with Slow Motion Suicide.

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Freeborn Al / 6th May 2017 / Gigs, Music, Other Bands, Photos, Videos

Groundhog night?

Ah, day two.  Groundhog night? Not a bit of it really. This time the evening started in a hotel, waiting for Ella’s train to get in – once we’d got ourselves checked in and sorted we nipped up to the marvellous Tap and Tumbler for a few drinks and general catching up with folk.  There was a nice atmosphere about the place, and I finally succumbed to the temptation I always have in there to buy a pint of Trooper – Iron Maiden produced beer, and very nice it was too.  With plenty of folk on hand to talk to, it was a splendid way to start the night.

Better still, who should be stood next to me at the bar but Cliff – who I mentioned yesterday.  I’ve literally not seen him for a good many years, and it was absolutely fantastic to get the chance for a prolonged natter at the bar.  Reminiscing, putting the world to rights and occasional introductions – it was great.  As I mentioned in yesterday’s blog (which gave me my record views in a day since the blog’s inception – thank you!) Cliff tutored me through firewalking and glasswalking back in the day – both amazing experiences on different ends of the adrenaline scale.

The only pitfall was as time did its inevitable thing we realised we’d propped the bar up and talked our way through the support slot of Louise Distras which is very remiss of me, my humblest apologies to her.  In the venue we headed up to the balcony, Ella was planning on taking in the gig from on high – whilst unlike yesterday I was planning on getting smashed around the moshpit for an hour and a half.  Which gave Ella dual duties of set list noting and carrying my assorted breakables.  So it’s thanks to her that I have the song order, haha!

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Freeborn Al / 22nd April 2017 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Lee Bonsall, Music, Other Bands, Photos, Videos

Gone for a Burton..

Saturday started for many of us with reminders to get online for noon when Ferocious Dog tickets for the Red Album intimate gig ticket link going live.  Dan always gets a hard time for lateness, sometimes a little unfairly, he was bang on time on this occasion – alas, so were the technical gremlins at Alt Tickets meaning lots of F5 pressing was going on around the country.  After a bit of waiting the new link went live and I’m happy to say I snagged a couple of tickets.

It would be a bit rubbish if I wasn’t able to write about the first airing of their new album material after all – so very much a relief!  Then it was a day of chilling – for the second time this year there was going to be a gig that was easily taxiable from home!  Indeed, had the day gone fully to plan then Simon would’ve given us a lift but unfortunately couldn’t make it up to stay, so I booked a taxi and loafed – Becki arrived, we had pizza and honey rum and coke and eventually hopped in a cab to Tower Brewery in Burton on Trent down the road.

Upon arrival soundchecking was going on – but outside Dave, Caroline and Murphy had already set up camp outside – with Russ and Michelle arriving shortly after we took advantage of the sunshine and sat outside enjoying a drink or two and a catch up.  Heaven knows what the passing motorists must’ve thought as we sat there.  Gradually as more and more folk arrived we headed into the venue – it’s a great venue, a high stage by the front, a bar at the back, some seating, a balcony and an irresistible spiral staircase makes for some interesting photo angles!

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Freeborn Al / 10th April 2017 / Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos, Videos

Funke friday!

Everyone loves a Funke Friday!

I’ve been looking forward to the first Funke headline show I’ve been to, I think.

Bodega in Nottingham was the venue, with another night out on Saturday I opted for driving rather than working out a way of making it a drinkable trip – so we picked up Jamie and Teresa en route and headed to beautiful downtown Nottingham and got to the venue for a drink or two downstairs before the venue was open.  Plenty of familiar faces were amassing (and an impressive collection of Brian Stone t-shirts, clearly some of us need to have a quick wardrobe-plan conversation before we head out to a gig!).

First up was local act Motormouf who I’m aware of but had never seen before – and wow, was he impressive!  He unassumedly got himself on stage and straight into it combining a soundcheck with the start of his set.  Highly compatible with Funke in that he was using loops and a sampler – but it was pretty much all vocal beatboxing (possibly with some other samples thrown in) – overlaid with hip hop vocals, thoughful rapping and clever lyrics, and an amazing stage presence with plenty of movement and eye-contact for the crowd.

I was really rather taken with him – in terms of track names, well I didn’t do very well on that score – What You Waiting For? was second track in I think, and he finished up an all-too-short set with a cracking interpretation of Earth Wind and Fire’s It’s Alright.  He had to dash as he’d inadvertently double-booked himself so needed to get up to The Maze for another gig minutes later (good luck with that!), but definitely a good support act moment, someone I’d love to hear more from, and shall make sure that I do that very thing!

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Freeborn Al / 8th April 2017 / Gigs, Music, Other Bands, Photos, Videos

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