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..

(more…)

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

Geddon moi laaaaand…

IMG_0867Wow. Farmer Phil’s you were a bloody spectacularly good festival – I have no idea how many words, edits, or sittings this is going to take (edit – did it in one, sorry in advance for the typos), but felt the need to make a start on trying to document five days and nights of great fun, company, music and just general soul nourishment.  Dean has been telling me to go to Farmer Phil’s for about three years now, I’m glad I finally listened to him.  The festival proper starts on the Friday, but camping passes enable you to get on site from Monday, which many did – I opted to travel on Wednesday.

First order of business for me was to nip and pick up Tina before we headed over to Shropshire in the sunshine – I’ve subsequently found the setting to quell my sat nav’s desire to take me down the bloody M6 toll road at every opportunity it gets – but last week I was lucky that Tina knew the best way to go without having to pay to drive on a road.  Once on the site we drove into the ‘noisy’ field and found a suitable sized area next to Naomi, Joe and family and set about plotting tent and car positioning to try to save space for others arriving later.

It was pretty warm so by the time we’d put up mine and Snotty’s tent, one for Simon, and Tina and Tim’s teepee we’d tired ourselves out pretty well.  There was time to leisurely settle by the campfire to spend time with the Deerstock collective next door – one of the best things about the weekend was getting the chance to get to know Naomi and Joe’s awesome kids Jake, Kezzi and Rohan a bit better, whilst Ant provided a pretty non-ceasing stream of comedy as only he knows how as the ciders started flowing perhaps a little too freely.

(more…)

Freeborn Al / 18th August 2015 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos

A midsummer afternoon’s reality..

Fran Minney kicked off the day's music

Fran Minney kicked off the day’s music

Travelling up to Thorne near Doncaster for an event designed to engage the local folk with the arts might seem a strange thing to do, but as Pete and Becky (organisers of Something to Smile About and also responsible for the malign influence that is the MeadEvil Bar) had set it up and we had a free weekend it seemed like an excellent way to pass the time.  A Midsummer’s Music was a pay-what-you-think-it’s-worth gathering in Thorne Memorial Park which would help fund both the park itself and the community woods.

It would also help to treat the people of Thorne to some excellent musical entertainment.  And the people in our party of Hertfordshire, Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire – but still!  I drove up with Snotty, quickly spotting the MeadEvil marquee in the park as we drove past and to the carpark we thought was the one we were meant to be aiming for – more on that later – and wandered back to the park to find Tina, Rhii, Kev and Rachel already there.  Tim had called to say he could make it too with Lisa after getting out of work early.

The sun was shining, as I was driving back no mead for me – but the cafe on the park was there to provide soft drinks and food, as the finishing touches were being made to the sound system.  All in all, an idyllic setting for Thorne Charity Events to stage this mini-festival of entertainment.  Five musical acts were lined up for the band stand in all, with a healthy pause in between for plenty of chatting, laughing and general messing around (including repeatedly running off with Tim’s trainers).

(more…)

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

Bostin’ Days album review..

albumcover4I was dead excited when Bostin’ Days was announced.  A compilation of covers of Levellers songs – who are the root node of pretty much all my musical loves –  performed by loads of my favourite performers many of whom have become friends.  Then I got scared.  Like many fans I guess Levs songs are precious to me – what if I didn’t like them? What if I didn’t like them and the artist in question was somebody I knew? What if it was all just a terrible idea?

Luckily Addie isn’t as big a worrier as me – and his drive and passion along with the folk who’ve been helping him has seen the project come through to fruition finally, and it’s an absolute triumph.  I’ve not been able to stop listening to it – a four hour plus round trip on a Sunday would normally be a bind, but last weekend it meant I got to listen to it through twice – and suddenly hold-ups on the way to work are a bit more tolerable because it might mean that I get to squeeze in another couple of tracks before reaching the office.

Of course, we should start with the mission of the project – and that was to raise money for the Devon Air Ambulance.  This came about in the wake of an accident at Beautiful Days last year where the service was mobilised to airlift a couple of injured folk to hospital.  The idea of the album was conceived to raise money for the charity, and there’s also an accompanying live event which you’d be a fool to want to miss, in Nuneaton in October.

(more…)

Freeborn Al / 7th August 2015 / Band, Music, Other Bands, Photos

Last of the Summer Levellers..

IMG_0815The Levellers are my first musical love, and you supposedly never really get over first loves – so it’s odd I’d almost forgotten that I’d got a ticket for tonight’s gig in Holmfirth until Tim reminded me at Deerstock over the weekend. As such I’d managed to not book today off work, nor book anywhere to stay, or basically do anything sensible at all except wangle working in our Leeds office the day before for a shorter schlep down to the gig.  Since I’ve exponentially grown my gig-going the Levs don’t make up quite such a big proportion of my musical life these days.

However, t’was exciting nonetheless.  Driving through the stunning Yorkshire countryside down to Holmfirth – famous as the location for Last of the Summer Wine – was lovely in the sunshine, less so in the early hours on the way home with a 20mph-slower-than-the-speed-limit numpty in front of me and a full-beam-wanker behind me… but anyway, that’s a moan for another day!  Holmfirth is a lovely picturesque place, at the Picturedrome is a cracking venue comprising of a former cinema with the seats removed and a couple of balconies.

Outside at the nearby Old Bridge I found a partial mini Deerstock reunion in the form of Tim, Tina and Kev – alas no Simon or Snotty (who has elected rather than to summarise Deestock in detail on her blog start a campaign of making lots of people get dust in their eye.  In fact, on the subject of Snotty you should check out her photos from Deerstock too – in numerous and edited form).  But there were plenty of other familiar faces milling around.  Not least much of the band and Gaz Brookfield enjoying a few pre-gig drinks before heading off the soundcheck.

(more…)

Freeborn Al / 31st July 2015 / Gigs, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 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.

(more…)

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

A triumphant homecoming..

unnamedI talked about my reservations over Splendour as an event before – a little too sterile, a bit too rule-bound, and it didn’t bode well when arriving at the site as it opened to see loads of people having assorted things confiscated.  In defence of the security guys, they were very courteous and I thought the organisers had done a decent job in communicating what would and wouldn’t be permitted on the site – but well, taking a lads water off him because he’d had a swig on the way to the park?  A bit much!

After the state I got in three years ago I didn’t attempt any smuggling of contraband this year – more’s the pity as I wasn’t so much as patted down on my way through the gate!  It’s probably a good thing though!  Early on to the site my first objective was something to eat, which was duly purloined from the bacon cob van – shortly after this I bumped into Ian and Lucy for a quick chat over our assorted food choices.  They’d hit the bar already, which was my next stop.

Ah, beer tokens.  I loathe them – but grudgingly bought some in order to get that all important first cider of the day.  You can see why they don’t want people bringing their own booze in when they’re charging £4 a pint for their own edited range of beverages.  That said, ales, lager, cider, jägerbombs and Pimm’s were all on offer in exchange for a magic token.  After picking up a drink I wandered down to the Confetti Stage where Georgie and her band were getting set up.

(more…)

Freeborn Al / 19th July 2015 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos

The Splendour of the weekend to come..

Splendour-2015_IndianaWhilst I’ve been still basking a bit in the warm fuzziness of last weekend at Wistful, it will be good to get a bit of full-on Ferocious Dog this weekend at Nottingham’s Splendour Festival.  I’m not generally a huge fan of Splendour, it’s pretty pricey (although I guess if you divide the ticket price by the number of acts you want to see it does work out good value this year).  FD played it last year but an early slot on a small stage so I didn’t indulge, although I did go to it when the Levellers played a couple of years back.

The list of terms and conditions are potentially entertaining too depending on how many Hell Hounds descend for the 5:15 showtime.  We shall see!  Definitely this year I won’t be attempting to smuggle in a litre and a half of rum (successfully) like I did on my previous visit… after consuming that I found myself practically asleep  against the crash barrier for much of the Levellers set.  Mercifully this rendered me unable to ‘appreciate’ the headline act of Dizzee Rascal too so perhaps it wasn’t such a bad plan!

This year though with Roots Manuva, The Specials and James on the bill too there’s more to look forward to than just Ferocious Dog which is always a bonus, and there’s sure to be new acts to discover.  The other drawback to Splendour is the lack of camping option – on account of the potentially vicious deer in the park – although whilst not my current home Nottingham is a place I can find places to stay pretty easily – and I’m sure there’ll be a few folk out and about to make it into a suitably fun party!

(more…)

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

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.

(more…)

Freeborn Al / 12th July 2015 / Gigs, Lee Bonsall, Music, Other Bands, Videos / 0 Comments

Warsop Carnival fun..

IMG_0477Warsop is a place I’ve become more familiar with than I was (which was not at all) before Ferocious Dog entered my life.  It’s a really nice north Nottinghamshire village – that would’ve been developed to support the colliery sunk there and obviously subsequently closed.  The carnival there is one of many years standing and held on the first or second sunday of July, on The Carrs, nestled between Market and Church Warsop.  It’s a cracking community day out in its own right – although of course there was the obvious lure for me of a certain band closing it off in their three piece acoustic guise.

Upon parking up in the middle of Warsop I wandered over just ahead of the procession to find the field set up with an assortment of stalls, a funfair and a central arena, with the music stage in the far corner of the field.  With events like jousting and falconry on offer as well as music there was plenty to entertain.  I bumped into Ken who was talking with a chap from Warsop Remembers, an organisation that he’d painted a picture for that might potentially end up as a raffle prize to raise money for the cause – so look out for that for a bit of unique Ferocious Dog related memorabilia.

IMG_0468However, it was the music that was my main motivation for going – so I soon found myself settled in front of the stage where Ellie Keegan was up first.  I’ve seen Ellie play a few times now and she’s a cracking performer – although not to my knowledge with the addition of a loop pedal (remember spare batteries next time!).  She played a mixture of covers and a couple of original ones – with things ranging from Crazy by Gnarls Barclay, a mash-up of Come Together by the Beatles and Lose Yourself by Eminem (I think – that’s not my genre!) with plenty of use of the loop pedal on both guitar and vocal layers.

(more…)

Freeborn Al / 5th July 2015 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Lee Bonsall, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments