Painting the town Red..

It’s maybe a bit painfully ironic on the day after Ferocious Dog‘s homeland was painted blue by the electorate that they took to Nottingham to unveil some of the songs which will feature on the forthcoming Red Album.  Or maybe not, the voyage south took them back into Labour territory for a first airing of these new tracks.  But anyway, whilst I might touch on it from time to time this is a blog for music not politics – so I shan’t dwell on that tempting though it might be!

We opted to drive in for the gig – I wanted to concentrate on the new material, plus we’re out and about tomorrow so sobriety made sense, so after finishing up with work for the day into the car we piled and headed to Broadmarsh to take advantage of cheap parking for the evening.  Upon reaching town we wandered past Annie’s Burger Shack knowing a fair few mates were eating there – indeed they were, al fresco so easy to find.

A quick trip to the Angel with Geoff found more friends inside, then it was on to Brewdog where everyone claimed their free pint of IPA in exchange for having a selfie at their polling station.  We found Sigrit to present her with her CD by The Star Copiers she won in Ella’s raffle (unlucky Sigrit!). As I wasn’t drinking and don’t really get on with Brewdog ales Ella and I popped over the road for an iced coffee and a pot of tea respectively – we really are very rock and roll, you know!  After a mooch around the Rough Trade store, the venue was soon open.

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

Sunday smiles!

Sunday started with an early morning conversation with a hedgerow near my van thanks to the previous night’s over-indulgences!  Oops!  It’s safe to say I was feeling a little delicate whilst we mustered on the benches infront of the Merch stall listening to the lovely chilled out acoustic vibes of River Roots.  Some beautifully melodic singing and playing, just the thing for soothing an angry hangover!

Meanwhile Les, Nick and Skeg had arrived for a natter – once I’d got some tea and a sausage cob down me things were looking decidedly less troublesome!  I wandered down to the Hidden Stage just in time to catch Oliver Cunliffe finishing up what I’m told was an excellent set – he ended with Don’t Look Back in Anger, a confident vocal and guitar delivery, I wish I’d caught his full set – definitely one to watch out for in the future – a real talent.

Back on the mainstage and The Fargo Railroad Co. were set up and underway – drenched in Americana, delivering a set of amazing bluesy southern rock (with suspicious lapses into Yorkshire accents between songs, haha!) – I really enjoyed these guys, they were certainly dressed for the part and sounded amazing – but we needed to head into the campsite so Ella and Morgan could practice some of the songs for their set later (some of which they’d never done before!).

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Freeborn Al / 9th June 2017 / Music, Other Bands, Photos

Saturday smiles..

On saturday we awoke to glorious sunshine – a welcome relief from the dampness of the night before!  I headed on down to Creative Intentions to get myself and Ella an awesome vegetarian breakfast, sold largely by the inclusion of halloumi in truth, but it was delicious – and that’s coming from normally a fairly committed meatosaurus!  We ate it listening to Steve Grozier opening up the main stage with some lovely chilled out acoustic music.

Once sorted we wandered to the Hidden Stage – I wanted to catch the open mic slots and we were playing shortly after that anyway, so went armed with the stuff I needed for stage too.  Pete Drake was up first, launching his EP and entertaining the crowd with catchy songs with clever lyrics – one about accidental discoveries particularly tickled my funny bone, I grabbed an EP off him which I’ve been really enjoying!

Dusty Herb was up next on the open mic – I’ve seen Herb perform plenty around campfires but never on a stage.  He got off to a banterous start which had the decent sized crowd chuckling before dedicating his first song to his wife Sue on the dawning of a landmark wedding anniversary.  Initially kicking into Please Release Me he quickly changed tack with a cover of Suzi Quattro’s If You Can’t Give Me Love – it worked really well.

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Freeborn Al / 9th June 2017 / Gigs, Music, Other Bands, Photos

Smiles defeat the rain..

Sometimes the best way to judge or consider the impact of anything is when you place it into adversity – and Something to Smile About had a few moments like that, from last minute snags with the camper van field, broken strimmers and mowers making the alternative somewhat overgrown, a near miss with a lorry deciding to nearly drive directly into the car park from the motorway to a biblical storm and stage malfunction on the Friday night – but organisers and volunteers alike rallied and sorted everything out – and more importantly the lovely festival goers kept their smiles intact.

We arrived the night before and found a handy spot backstage to set up camp for the weekend – in time to muck in with the stage set up whilst catching up with the other folk who’d got on site early.  Come Friday morning everything was looking good – there was a bit of rain forecast just after lunch, otherwise all looked good!  I put some bins out and tried to get a cider early only to be reminded the bar opened at noon by Zoe – so at noon I made sure I was first in the queue for a ginger cider – wow, what a revelation – it might be my new favourite festival tipple.

On the main stage Regime kicked things off – funky reggae dub with a healthy smattering of hip hop was a perfect way to gently introduce music to the arena.  In the meantime Becki had arrived along with Emma and Nick so I popped over to help lug stuff and attempt to help with putting their tents up, which wasn’t too traumatic an experience. It was heading to the car to pick up bags that I first caught sight of the jack-knifed lorry that had nearly ploughed into the car park / camper van overflow field – luckily the driver and presumably other drivers were unharmed in the incident – it was eventually craned away.

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Freeborn Al / 7th June 2017 / Gigs, Music, Other Bands, Photos

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

Havin’ a blast in (Chetwynd) Aston..

Tonight was one of those pseudo-logic nights out – I work in Solihull, I live in South Derbyshire – so it wasn’t too tough a sell to myself that it was kinda on the way home to pop to Chetwynd Aston (not far from Telford) to see Paul Henshaw and Nick Parker at The Wheatsheaf.  It’s not the most ridiculous example of this in my recent gigging history – earlier in the year I’d decided since I was already 30 miles in the right direction from home I might as well plough on to Glastonbury to see Nick along with The Leylines!

So with Ella training in to Solihull upon getting my Powerpoint presentation finished and sent we hit the road reaching the pub really early – soaking in the last of the sun in the beer garden, before Nick and Paul arrived in time for a good natter in the frankly excellent Wheatsheaf.  A proper pub – they’d dedicated the front room to the gig which had a stage and PA set up in the corner – and as the locals wended out landlord Tosh started laying out chairs for what would be a really intimate little gig.

Paul Henshaw was up first – playing a mixture of older songs and some from his very imminent new album Fishing for Owls (more on that next week, I’ve had a sneaky peek at this!).  He kicked off his set with Dancing in Lay-bys, and then on to a new track Wild Turkey – amusingly Tosh was busy behind the bar framing a photo of him with a bottle of the aforementioned whisky in the foreground.  I Declare Shenanigans is one of my favourite song titles ever – and was up next!

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Freeborn Al / 5th May 2017 / Gigs, Music, Other Bands, Photos

Ey Up Mi Ducks! Part two.

Before I start I should make a small confession – we might’ve had a bit of a Roystonbury-style breakfast experience that rendered me a little bit asleep for some of the acts, haha.  So I’m terribly sorry to King of Rome and Amy & Paul whose sets I have limited memories of, and more particularly The Star Botherers, The Outlines and Blind Fever whose sets I missed entirely… it’s not big and it’s not clever, folks!

So the day started with a wander – rather than breakfast in the clubhouse I struck a deal with Pete and Becky to trade coffee for a bacon cob, which was a pretty genius deal I thought!  A chance to trade jokes with the kids and play with Buster before heading back to Camp Copier where folk had been stirring – I’m going to single out Mark for suggesting early morning gin and tonics – it soon escalated with tequila, salted caramel vodka and heaven knows what else!

With a degree of merriment we were keen to go see Adam Thompson open up the day on the acoustic stage – I only recall hazily seeing Adam perform at very late night open mics or round camp fires, so I was looking forward to seeing him with a clear head (ahem).  Inkeeping with Dave’s adult-oriented opening the day before, he announced his first song was about a certain part of Teresa May’s anatomy.. and so Dock of the Bay opened up the set.

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Freeborn Al / 3rd May 2017 / Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos

Ey Up Mi Ducks! Part one.

This weekend is going to be one of those impossible to sum up festivals.  Ey Up Mi Duck – what an absolute triumph!  We arrived on site on Friday afternoon and were immediately directed to ‘Camp Copier’ by Jamie (this was our corner of the campsite, not Mark’s nickname – although it might yet have a dual purpose!).  So after finding a suitable spot to park up we set about sorting out van things before cracking a drink and settling down with our neighbours – Jacquie, Aimee, Mark and Amanda were already in situ, soon enough Kev, Julie and the kids would arrive and Jamie would be relieved of his stewarding duties.

It was a bit of a headspin (in a nice way!) to have an artist wristband for the first time, too!

The entertainment in the evening would all be in the clubhouse – as we’d got an earlyish set the next day we all decided not to be too ridiculous on the drinking front, the best laid plans and all that!  As we moseyed on down to the clubhouse we found some rather splendid ciders on offer – and Al Rate kicking off the music.  Difficult slot, it was a talky room with lots of folk catching up, but Jacquie and I made a point of watching his set – at one point the gentleman whose name I’ve forgotten (but he was drawing folk as they played) settled nearby – and promptly started drawing me rather than Al!  Awkward!

I really enjoyed Al’s set – he kicked off with Lady Chatterley’s Bower, and attempted to fight the background noise with Americana-infused folk – Greenback Dollar was in there, A Protest at the Protest and Sinnerman (with some vocals help from a chap whose name I didn’t catch) – my notes are a bit sketchy at this juncture, it has to be said!  It reminded me that I really must make an effort to get to see DH Lawrence and the Vaudeville Skiffle Show soon, though.  If nothing else it had me listening to their album when driving about today!

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Freeborn Al / 2nd May 2017 / Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos

Finalé..

What a way to end a tour!  For us the day started with a wander across Nottingham from our hotel to Annie’s Burger Shack and Freehouse.  As Matt has recently turned 40 celebration was very much the order of the day – and appropriately around forty of us piled into the basement bar thanks to Dave and Nadine’s organisational skills for a few beers and some epic burgers served up in a buffet style, so whilst you don’t quite get the extravagance of the restaurant offering, boy do you get a superb plate full of scran!

It was great to see Matt’s family and friends mingling with the gig-going types and having an awesome time – probably the most amusing bit of proceedings for me was daring the two Daves into eating the scotch bonnet I’d bravely picked up then cowardlyly deciding not to eat – it’s fair to say that one of the Daves clearly has a higher spice threshold than t’other!  With plates cleared there was time for some cake cutting (an epic violin-shaped creation!) and Happy Birthday singing before we started to make our way gig-ward.

By the council house we bumped into Lee doing promotion for EM-Con complete with a dalek, a quick catch up and we wandered up to The Tap n Tumbler, where we found a few early starters – with more arriving all the time.  The jukebox got a bit of hammer – probably a decided step to the strange for any regular pub goers there expecting a decidedly more rock-based playlist!  It was great to catch up with the folks who’d not been around the rest of the weekend – I’m not gonna start listing ’em, I’ll miss some out, haha!

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Freeborn Al / 23rd April 2017 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Lee Bonsall, Music, Other Bands, Photos

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