The year the music died?

Image credit: christhebarker

2016 will probably go down as one of those years where sad news overshadowed the good – certainly that was true for me both in personal terms, which I won’t cover here, but also the seemingly relentless march of famous icons being taken by the grim reaper.  Just as we were coming to terms with Lemmy passing away at the end of 2015, in 2016 we’d be constantly reminded by social media of a glittering parade of cultural icons shuffling from this mortal coil.

David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Glenn Frey, Jimmy Bain, Terry Wogan, Harper Lee, Frank Kelly, George Martin, Keith Emerson, Frank Sinatra Jr, Paul Daniels, Ronnie Corbett, David Gest, Victoria Wood, Lonnie Mack, Prince, John Berry, Nick Menza, Muhammad Ali, Henry McCullough, Anton Yelchin, Caroline Aherne, Kenny Baker, Dalian Atkinson, Gene Wilder, Pete Burns, Leonard Cohen, Andrew Sachs, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Rick Parfitt, George Michael, Liz Smith, Richard Adams, Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds.

That’s not an exhaustive list, I’m sure, but that’s not really what I wanted this blog post to be about – but you can’t really do a review of the year without mentioning the elephant in the room.  As with seemingly most things these days it caused ruckuses on Facebook with folk taking to social media to express their sadness whilst others get irked at seeming over-emotionalness.  Certainly there’s a lot in that list who whilst I’ve never met have had huge influences over my life, and I felt genuine sadness at them moving on – some seemingly far too early, others having reached a ripe of age.

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Freeborn Al / 30th December 2016 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Lee Bonsall, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

That difficult second festival… day two!

img_0052Friday night was so memorable, so it was with that ambivalent mixture of excitement and tired reluctance we hauled ourselves out of the hotel come Saturday to taxi our way back to the Robin 2.  As such, we owe apologies to Stevie Simpson for missing his set in its entirely and to Emma & The Professor who were half way into theirs by the time we made it – but well, non-stop music for twelve hours, it wouldn’t be the only stuff we missed – and I must confess to sitting and feeling daunted about trying to write it all down!

img_0051Heading back into the gloomy venue worked a lot like the casinos in Vegas – it made it seem perpetually evening.  Emma & The Professor were on the second stage, and just striking up Bostin’ track Men An Tol – thankfully plenty of folk were more disciplined at getting up than we were, there was a good crowd in already!  This was followed up with Battle of the Marches and The Old Black Crow.  They have such a unique sound, and a new album in the offing which I’m excited about!

The two stages were alternating – Stevie Simpson compering the main stage, handing over to (or being handed over from) Brian Stone on the second stage.  If you take a moment to think about the logistics, soundchecking through the sound-desk only, the first chance to artists get to hear their monitor mix was starting the set – the sound guys and stage management deserves some serious kudos for even considering this way of working, to have pulled it off – just wow!

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Freeborn Al / 19th October 2016 / Gigs, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

That difficult second festival… night one!

13076514_485725474954762_3562155143094634744_nI’m sure you know the story behind Bostin’ Days – in a nutshell, an accident happens at Beautiful Days… it’s sorted out thanks to the local air ambulance.  Addie Burns has a crazy idea.  It’s the kind of idea that people probably have all the time – but in this case, he made it happen – get a fabulous array of musicians to record a cover of a Levellers song and release it as a compilation, then have an associated event by the said same artists.

That album is still a regular feature on my playlists – and last year’s event was superb.  How do you follow up something like that? Well, they bloody well did it – I’ve just got back from a fabulous weekend, and after sorting out assorted domestic stuff now I have the unenviable task of trying to put it in to words!  Unlike last year I was able to make the Friday night too, so arrived at the hotel in Wolverhampton early afternoon in time for a bit of a chill out.

Ella and her Mum would be arriving later – so after a pleasant afternoon with a book (rock and roll, huh?) – I hopped in a taxi to The Robin 2 in Bilston with Mark and Amanda.  I’d booked it using an app, and pre-paid for it – which confused my journey companions when I thanked the driver and got out without paying, as they thought!  Haha!  The venue wasn’t open yet, but the attached bar was so we headed in there and got ourselves some beers.

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Freeborn Al / 16th October 2016 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

2015 – The year of the Dog..

12347814_10153863571453060_2422930688827816042_nOkay, so Ferocious Dog have been around a little longer – but this last year has felt rather like a landmark.  And not just because back in February it’s when Ferocious Blog was born, ha!  The lead up to a new year is traditionally a time for reflecting back on the year just gone and looking forward to the next one, so I figured it’d be nice to trawl back through the months and pull out a highlight or two for each month of 2015, it will be tough to pick just one or two so feel free to chip in your own in the comments – despite my best efforts I didn’t quite make it to every Ferocious Dog gig in the year!

January 2015 – a light month, Ferocious Blog was yet to be created (although it had been an idea kicking around in my head for at least a couple of years).  Checking my calendar and personal blog doesn’t reveal much at all in the way of Ferocious Dog activity – we’d have been still basking in the warm glow of Dogfest back in December – I latterly discovered that a 3 Piece Acoustic performance took place in honour of Ella’s 21st birthday in this month, but alas I didn’t know Snotty at this juncture!

IMG_9188_gFebruary 2015the blog is born after an acoustic appearance by Ken and Dan at the Brown Cow in Mansfield.  Seldom has one of Sam’s nights had such a huge crowd packed in.  The demand for the event was the perfect excuse to arrive early and chat nonsense with friends for the afternoon.  An afternoon of drinking had taken its toll on Dean who for the first time decreed I needed to get up and surf in his place – a great way to start what became a year of extreme ‘dogging’.  These smaller intimate gigs are as enjoyable for me as the bigger and bolder shows that are to follow.  We were first introduced to Scott at this appearance too.

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Freeborn Al / 30th December 2015 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos, Thoughts

And a Bostin’ time was had by all!

IMG_1373How on earth do you go about summing up a day like Bostin’ Days Live? Both Jamie and Bart at different points in the day asked me how on earth I was going to keep track, I revealed a bit of note-taking on my phone to act as an aide memoire but well, that’s something I generally do (except when in Ferocious Dog moshpits funnily enough – can you imagine?!) and I frequently still frequently forget crucial details.  But making a few notes and making sure I grab a photo of key things I’ve seen generally suffices to at least try to get the point across.

The early finish in Bristol combined with exorbitant drink prices in the O2 Academy saw me on the road in good time – only an accident on the M42 caused some delays around Solihull, as I work there I’m well-versed in dodging that road, so got myself to my hotel where the owner was glad to let me check in early so I was at The Crew well before everything started.  Clad in the best wristband I’ve been given all year (it’s going to be a real bind to take this one off) and a nice plastic pint pot.  I thought about being sensible and ordered a cider.  Oops.

Shortly after Snotty and Simon arrived, it had been a bit odd being at a couple of Ferocious Dog gigs without her (the first question either of us get when out without the other is ‘where’s Snotface/Fisher?’  Anyway, it was good to be at an event together – as folk started arriving we made our way upstairs where things were kicking off – Steve Bentley opened the event by introducing the first performer and compere for the upstairs stage, Stevie ‘One Bloke One Mandolin’ Simpson, and also inviting a sheepish looking Addie on to the stage to mark the start of the event.

Now, I am confident I’ll remember everyone I saw – whether I remember songs I heard is another matter entirely!

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Freeborn Al / 18th October 2015 / Gigs, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

The shizzle in Brizzle..

IMG_1362Tonight has been bloody brilliant.  I leisurely got up in Birmingham and had an awesome breakfast at the Old Crown and had a slow wimble down the M5 to get to Bristol to coincide with check-in time at the Travelodge rather than fart about.  Having parked up and settled in I might’ve succumbed to a little snooze – but that left me time to get showered and out in time feeling thoroughly refreshed and ready for more of the same.  With the huge bonus of some Mad Dog Mcrea thrown into the mix too!

The Hatchett was our first port of call – just over the road from the venue and chock full of familiar faces, including Justin – unscathed from his epic voyage from over the sea.  Amongst other random pre-gig nonsense being talked the thing that has stuck in my head ever since was Waggy’s revelation that the story behind Mad Dog Mcrea’s Happy Bus in real life culminated in them driving a minibus into the sea.  Fully populated.  The mind boggles!

Given my sneaky nap it was soon time to get into the O2 Academy – with a strict 10pm curfew Gaz was on ludicrously early.  But first, the venue is very swanky and new looking, the merch and loos were encountered first, the steps up to the auditorium with a raised bar/standing area and steps down to an extensive dancing area.  It reminded me of the gig they played in Newbury earlier in the year but on a much grander scale!  The sticking point was the price of £4.55 for a pint of cider – outrageous!  I was planning on taking it steady given the need to get to Nuneaton tomorrow for noon – and well, there was some extra motivation!

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Freeborn Al / 16th October 2015 / Band, 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.

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Freeborn Al / 7th August 2015 / Band, 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!

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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.

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

Why Settle for less?

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!

red_ken

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Freeborn Al / 18th June 2015 / Band, Music, Other Bands, Photos, Thoughts / 0 Comments