Howay the Dog in Toon..

IMG_1504… and so seemingly no sooner had my head hit the pillow it was time to get up again for the reverse journey of a few hours before, Mansfield to pick up Scott and John, then onward to Warsop to reconvene with the Ken, Waggy, Carl and Brad to get into Cerebus and head north to Newcastle.  It was a decent run, punctuated by card games – some pretty impressive card tricks from John and some unfortunate experimenting with sherbet and crushed Parma Violets.

The least said about that the better.  Let’s just say that the crushed Love Hearts were a step too far.

The Cluny is an old converted industrial spinning mill in the Ouseburn Valley area of Newcastle.  A cracking venue with a low dance floor/stage area overlooked by a balcony with a small bar at the back of a nice looking eatery/bar area.  As this was my only gig of the weekend where drinking was really an option we’d indulged a little on the way up, and carried on in the venue after loading in all the gear whilst everyone went about their setting up.  It was quite nice to just sit up on the balcony and chill for a bit – Mick had arrived early too so joined us.

The soundcheck was over quickly for the band, when it was Gaz’s turn he even did a few Brad impressions – meanwhile Waggy had been sorting out who was rooming with who at the hotel later, and gave Brad a few tips on how to get Ellis to settle down to sleep.  I hope he didn’t take it too seriously!  I was sharing a room with Carl which worked quite well – we were both knackered from lack of sleep so were up for a few drinks post-gig but not a ridiculously heavy night.  Meanwhile Scott dropped the revelation that he could do Mongolian throat singing and promised to demonstrate at the soundcheck in Carlisle.

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Freeborn Al / 25th October 2015 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos, Videos / 0 Comments

Deer, stock and (mead) barrel..

IMG_0711Ah, so that was Deerstock.  Now I’m home, the tent is dried and back in the bag (subject to repairs later), I’m showered and the washing machine is on probably the most daunting task of the day is how on earth to go about summing up four days and nights of mayhem in a field in Newton?  Deerstock 2014 was definitely the highlight of my year last year, and this year might well have just gone and topped even that.  So I will apologise in advance for the wordiness, and for the inevitable blanks in my recall… this is going to be a loooooong post.

Off work on Thursday I was mooching around planning on arriving on the site around 4pm – upon messaging Tim around lunchtime he revealed that he and Tina had already set up camp – so rather than pace around the house I hopped straight in the car and made my way to Newton via the supermarket for last minute supplies.  Tina and Tim had done a great job in saving a chunk of space to keep us all together – and I was soon pitched and sorted in time to help Lisa and Pixie get their tent up.

Once cabin fever relieves you get that slight craziness and the concoctions came out perhaps a little earlier than planned.  As we got steadily more pickled by the fire we had the chance to marvel at how quickly Spike can put up his gigantic tent, and see our village slowly constructing itself around us.  A ramshackle and wonderful mixture of camper vans and tents nestled together containing many of my favourite people – sure, there wasn’t any music on, but that wasn’t really needed.

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Freeborn Al / 27th July 2015 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Lee Bonsall, Music, Other Bands, Photos, Videos

Wistful amnesia..

IMG_0505Even with Ferocious Dog partying in a park this weekend in Galhampton, it was always going to be to Derbyshire near Matlock Bath that I’d be heading this weekend for Wistful Festival, organised by my lovely friend Lisa to raise money and awareness for the Lee Bonsall Memorial Fund.  An expansion of the day event she put on last year, and this time on a lovely spot of farmland with a campsite built in.  A debut outing for my new tent, and an excuse to raise hell whilst raising money – what’s not to like?

Amnesia is because, well, I might have a little bit of difficulty in bringing to mind everything that happened, which is where Snotface’s blog might help to fill in a few gaps – although she’s got loads of photos to get through before that’s likely to happen.  Sometimes there’s a benefit to simply taking a grainy picture on your phone for blogging purposes rather than taking hundreds of (mostly) lovely shots on a proper camera!  You can’t possibly do justice to a couple of days in words, so apologies in advance to any events or people missing from my musings.

Anyway, I arrived on the campsite early on Friday – the festival wasn’t occurring until the day after, but I had the day off, and what better thing to do is spend an extra day in a field with your friends, plus if there were any last minute bits of help needed then I’d be about.  Luckily there wasn’t beyond writing up the acts on a blackboard (with a few errors), supervising Paul’s barbecue and well, starting on the cider probably a little earlier than is officially recommended once the tent was up.

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Freeborn Al / 12th July 2015 / Gigs, Lee Bonsall, Music, Other Bands, Videos / 4 Comments

Glaston-buried, but the fun doesn’t end..

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I think it’s fair to say that Ferocious Dog‘s debut at Glastonbury has been a resounding success – just look at this photo I pinched from Scott!  Certainly the number of search engine hits to this site searching for more information about them has increased since Monday.  The cherry-on-the-cake of some BBC coverage of course never transpired, but with folk uploading photos and videos to Facebook we did at least catch a glimpse of the performance, to the third biggest Avalon crowd of the weekend.  Fantastic. (special shout out to Colin who was uploading stuff as it was happening).

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Freeborn Al / 1st July 2015 / Band, Gigs, Interview, Music, Photos, Videos / 0 Comments

The south-west? We shall exit ‘er in Exeter..

Well, now the dust has settled and I’ve grabbed a few hours of kip in my own bed it brings us to the Exeter leg of the tour.  Having surfaced and written yesterday’s blog I got the call from Dan on loading times from the venue, so I checked out and staggered that way to find John and Scott had pretty much got everything out of The Hub and we just had to wait for the bus (or ‘the buzz’ if you’re John) to load up.  It’s worth considering at this point how much stuff it takes to make a Ferocious Dog gig.  Just some of it is pictured below.

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It’s fairly obvious really – there’s six of ’em, Ellis plays about eight million instruments, there’s a drum kit – there’s amps, there’s merchandise, there’s the stage backdrop and assorted maintenance kit, there’s a few spare guitars for quick changes in case of string snappage.  Then of course there’s up to ten people in the bus too along with their travelling gear (in our case we only had six of us for most of our journeying).  It’s a logistical challenge for sure – and Waggy and Ken are masters of the game of 3D Tetris involved in getting everything in the back section of the dog bus.

When you see a band playing to a group of people going crazy, people eulogising about them on Facebook (not least me) and clamouring to get photos or just talk after gigs it’s easy to forget after that it’s the same people – admittedly with some help from venue staff or folk they might have on tour with them – who will be packing everything up and getting it either in the bus or ready to collect in the morning.  It makes Ken’s mingling with the crowd after gigs all the more charming – and it’s not an act either, he turns heads and starts conversations wherever he goes!

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Freeborn Al / 19th April 2015 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos, Videos / 0 Comments

Ply-mouth to mouth.. resuscitation required..

The morning after the night before wasn’t too bad in Bridport – a relatively early rise, a return to the venue to meet Ken and Waggy to load up the van then a return to my hotel for and awesome breakfast before reconvening to prepare for our onward journey.  Scott and John were ready but it was a little more challenging to get Ellis upright.

The locals passing by as the van was loaded were all really friendly – a few had been to the gig, others drawn by Ken’s unusual appearance in the area.  It gave rise to some conspiracy theories on the bus that it was all a front for some kind of Hot Fuzz style hidden sinister society underpinning the place, everything just seemed so lovely and welcoming – I’m not sure that’s really true, but it made for some amusing bus banter.

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The going was good before the roads became terrifying!

The run from Bridport to Plymouth is relatively straight forward so was done and dusted reasonably quickly.  With John added to team crossword we did a bit better on this trip.  As we didn’t have a cigarette stop it’s true that Ellis did start to get a little bit agitated – the signal for this I’ve discovered is when he starts to quote from Robocop!  It does make for an entertaining end of journey though, although judging by the look on John’s face maybe it’s novelty factor from my point of view!

Moments later the RoboCop quotes were out in earnest!  "You see I got this problem..."

Moments later the RoboCop quotes were out in earnest! “You see I got this problem…”

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Freeborn Al / 18th April 2015 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Photos, Videos / 0 Comments

Getting in the mood..

It’s only one more sleep ’til the tour recommences in Cambridge – and as if to heighten the excitement Ken shared a video that’s surfaced from the Nuneaton gig.  I forgot to mention the exciting prospect of a film crew recording the gig.  The best bit is that it says ‘sample’ in the title – implying to my ever optimistic mind that there might be more to follow!  Either way, I can’t think of much better preparation for this weekend’s mosh-fest than reliving a past one!

Keep an eye on howling mad productions‘ YouTube channel and see if any more videos surface!  For now, here’s ‘Poor, Angry and Young‘ (which Roger amusingly pointed out on Facebook has a similar intro to ‘Rock Lobster‘ by the B52s – which once you realise can’t be unheard!  Sorry about that.

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Freeborn Al / 9th April 2015 / Band, Gigs, Music, Videos / 0 Comments

Back to basics..

There’s no substitution for a full on Ferocious Dog gig, it’s true – however, there’s something quite magical about hearing their songs stripped back to their acoustic foundations too.  At one time that would happen when songs were being written or kicked about and sometimes we were lucky enough to have them appear on YouTube (I’ve chosen Ken performing a beautiful rendition of Unconditional, but equally you could pick Dan’s preview of Lyla that he teased us with before the band worked their magic on it).

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Freeborn Al / 19th March 2015 / Band, Gigs, Music, Videos / 0 Comments

Freeborn Al / 16th March 2015 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos, Videos / 0 Comments

The aftermath..

The day following a Ferocious Dog gig is usually a mixture of nursing a hangover, ringing ears, counting bruises and reviewing the steady stream of Facebook notifications that start to flood through as assorted pictures, videos and statuses are posted by similarly content but somewhat broken people.  I guess most evening events are quite similar really – that morning after post-mortem helps re-live the excellence of the night before!

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Freeborn Al / 11th March 2015 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos, Videos / 0 Comments