Brad-bothering on Sunday..

IMG_4165I’d deliberately planned a quiet weekend for the one just gone, and it was very welcome – a chance to relax, watch the England match with my Dad and generally not be dashing about all over the place was great.  But come Sunday with the working week looming I had a craving, and spotting Brad Dear was playing at the Workman’s in Warsop for Star Bothering on Sunday I fired off a WhatsApp message to Andy to see if he fancied a sedate road trip oop North.

He was!  So we were off – Brad was due to play as well as of course a bit of Star Botherers and a couple more acts… or so we thought.  A young lass due to play did arrive, but hadn’t realised the start time would be a bit later and had another open mic night to play, a pity – Bart too wasn’t around so no Star Botherers – and I’m not sure what happened to the third act – Warren Ireland – but well, it all worked out pretty well for us all told.

Brad arrived – and with a fairly small crowd of friends to watch we basically had a lovely ‘evening with Brad’ – he kicked off the evening, unusually opting to sit down with his guitar (I think he wanted the novelty of moving a mic-stand downward.  A quick initial set took in the likes of Far AwayFestival Bar Blues (see first video) and Maid of the River (unprompted – and my favourite Levellers song too!).  With just a few locals, Dave and myself and Andy initially it was a very up-close and personal session!


Freeborn Al / 13th June 2016 / Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos, Videos / 0 Comments

When you’re smilin’ the whole world smiles with you..

IMG_4001I’ve been dreading starting this post.  Of course I’m looking forward to rummaging through my photos and notes and re-living another fantastic weekend, but I must admit I’m feeling the pressure to do it justice just as I did with Bearded Theory the preceding weekend.  Getting a glimpse of the work Pete and Becky have put into Something To Smile About, it was so good to see them able to announce a sell-out as the deadline for ticket sales loomed on the horizon.  I’m going to break this down to a post for each day – so here’s Friday (with a bit of bonus Thursday)..

We arrived a night early, delivering a gazebo Debbo and Phily kindly offer to loan – not that any of us could work out how to put it up, it lay dormant where I left it until I collected it again on Monday morning to bring back.  Never mind!  It gave us the chance to pop the van back stage and plug in to the hook up for a night and enjoy pizza, drinks and campfire songs whilst the finishing touches were being added to the arena – we also got to meet Phat Bollard, who as well as being awesome are really lovely folk too (thanks for the CDs!).

Come morning we de-camped to the camper van field along with Roger and Kaye, finding a good spot to set up camp and save a few spaces for folk who’d arrive later.  With an idea of our layout sorted we got the tent up for Becki and Maia who’d be arriving later too, and watched folk starting to arrive as the campsites officially opened – an assortment of vehicles started trundling into the L shaped field a short walk from the festival site proper to pick a suitable spot to set up home for the weekend.


Freeborn Al / 6th June 2016 / Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments


IMG_3824For Nearstock we had the sublime good fortune to have the opportunity to crash with Paul and Sarah who live in the village it was hosted.  We got there early and were treated to barbecued burgers and chips sat by a fire pit Paul had been itching to set fire to ever since we arrived.  With Andy arriving shortly after it was a fun afternoon of food and beers before wandering to the pub.

The beer garden of The Royal Oak played host to the taster of what is to come at Deerstock in a couple of months, the party was already in swing when we arrived – Nirvana played from the sound system, upon gaining entry and getting wristbanded up by Pat we were accosted by Joe with the charity bucket, along with a warning that he’d be haranguing us all day and all night.

He wasn’t wrong!

IMG_3800First act up was Jake Smallbones – a solo acoustic guitar performer, he’d got the tough slot of ‘people arriving or working their way around the crowd’ – that said, he was an engaging and tuneful performer.  At a glance he looked a bit like Nick Parker – Ella thought a cross between him and Gaz Brookfield, but I couldn’t see that!  He started up with On The Road and then Falling for Another.


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

The dawning of the age of the Star Copiers..

IMG_3787The first order of business after slowly boiling alive in the tent as the sun came up was getting out and assessing damage to glasses – pretty much beyond repair, although John kindly at least got them to a state where I could drive safely.  I nipped Lisa home to pick up her van, then got back in time to get some Nana’s Kitchen breakfast (amazing home made sausages) to try to stave off the hangover a bit.

Then t’was over to the Acoustic Tent to join the burgeoning crowd eager to witness the debut of The Star Copiers.  Mark and Kev have oft been spied with guitars around campfires and had become a bit of a self-created parody, until Suzy laid down the gauntlet for them to appear at her festival.  They’ve been operating very mysteriously, recruiting Kieron as front man, and preparing a set list and building hype on social media.

Mark had prepared an intro recording comprising – Captain Sensible’s Happy Talk blasted out followed by sirens and a countdown as the band stood looking a bit awkwardly at each other stood on the stage, bedecked with photos of Bart and Dave from The Star Botherers, their spiritual mentors.   This was the first time they’d performed to a sizeable crowd after a short rehearsal out in the wild in Warsop the week before.

The plan was I think for folk to expect something terrible, and deliver something competent – I’d say they went a bit beyond that, and delivered a genuinely cracking set.


Freeborn Al / 10th May 2016 / Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

Rolling out the festival barrel in style.. (part two)..

aIMG_3284A combination of factors had made for a bad night’s sleep – a small degree of being drunk (not too much though), an airbed that deflated itself at an alarming rate, persistent rain and the presumably associated crackling and buzzing from the overhead powerlines.  Eventually I deigned to emerge from the tent to find the guy rope from the front had been ripped away from the tent – I’d assumed by a passing early hours reveller in the dark, it’s happened before (and I’ve got the kit to fix it, so no big deal).

First call was one of nature so wandered toward the building – in time to find Steve, Matt and Dave packing up their gear.  Then some less good news, it turned out there’d been some opportunist thefts in the night – a couple of vans had had cash and phones taken – whilst folk were asleep in them.  This is distressing and unfortunately not unheard of in festivals.  I believe that it wasn’t anybody on the site already, but we’ll probably never know.  It made me wonder about our torn guy rope and the tent being partially unzipped, but who knows.

IMG_3243It’s a learning for future events – to double-check the security of access to the site from outside, and perhaps have a couple of security guys patrolling in the evening and early hours.  And of course, a reminder to all of us to be vigilant with valuables – keep them on your person or locked away in vans (or cars if you’re tenting it), and be a bit paranoid even once you’re in and asleep.  I pondered not mentioning this at all, but it’s something to be aware of – but absolutely shouldn’t put people off attending events, poor Debs and Phil were understandably distraught as were all the festival team (not least the folks who’d had things taken too).


Freeborn Al / 4th April 2016 / Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos

Back t’Tarn..

Following is a guest post from Simon, since we are living it up in the Canaries we missed Brad Dear, Funke and the Two Tone Baby and Ferocious Dog in Barnsley. He’s a man of less waffle than me…

Not A Ferocious Blog… Whilst Alan Fisher is checking out exotic parrots and Ella Woods is looking more and more like Sebastian from the Little Mermaid. Here is an abridged version of the usual blog… 300 mile round trip t’Barnsley.. hotel,shower,venue. Meet and say hi to everyone. Brad Dear.. awesome set.. Special Brew=Conga… Funke and the two tone baby( or 5 leylines rolled into 1).. another awesome set… Broken strings, bonobos, dancing monkey.. FD.. aboriginal intro.. jig of death song. Rock Lobster with added lobster claws hand gestures from the crowd. Some more songs, bit of politics and thank you’s. More songs. Birthday shout out. Encore. Potential stroke victim, arguments about astro turf. Say goodbye. Hotel. Sleep. Wake up. Drive home. Ta Da. Piece of Piss. Till next time.. au revoir.

Buenas tardes!


Freeborn Al / 12th March 2016 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands / 0 Comments

Entertaining the riff-RAFA in Newark..

IMG_2926I’d ummed and aahed about heading up to Newark – a busy week left me tired, but probably infinitely predictably it proved to be a shrewd move.  A blast up the A46 just after rush hour, a parking spot outside the RAFA club for a quid and the chance to show a bit of support for Brad Dear.  What could be a better way to spend a Friday night?  With the bonus of support from Troy Foster (and Dylan, I think) from Black Rose Garden and some band called Ferocious Dog, or at least a third of them.

Arriving early meant soundchecking was underway, Tina spotted us in the car park so we headed into the venue along with her and Tim.  We’d not bought tickets as it was a last minute decision so paid on the door and into the very empty RAFA club – which has been running since 1989 raising vital funds for ex servicemen – a cracking little spot, a small stage, a bar and a surprisingly decent quality sound system (at least the end result was!) and an amusing mixing desk that looked like a gun turret.

First up were Troy and Dylan (I’m really sorry if your name isn’t Dylan!).  Troy on vocals with an acoustic guitar and Dylan on a twelve string initially that sounded a lot more like an electric guitar.  They opened with a cover of Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here – one of my favourite songs, so always a good start.  The combination of picking from Troy and more of the rhythm working well together.  The next couple were original numbers which the titles evaded me – one involved the sun (or a son), the next one involved a school bus and saw the 12 string switched out for another electro-acoustic.


Freeborn Al / 27th February 2016 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Lee Bonsall, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments



I just spent a good ten minutes trying to think of a witty headline, and then figured – why do I need a witty headline?  Dogfest kinda speaks for itself, doesn’t it?  I certainly don’t pretend to be able to speak for it, but I’ve just breached 2,500 words trying – I’d probably better stop there!

I think this was the fourth Dogfest.  Certainly it’s the fourth Dogfest I’ve been to, and like much about Ferocious Dog related activities they illustrate a stark exponential progression – from a handful of folk rattling around the main hall of the Black Market venue in 2012 to a jam-packed room of folk, many of whom have come to be firm friends.  Plenty that’s familiar, plenty that’s grown – the only problem with that was how bloody hot the mosh pit gets in there, and the difficulty in navigating the room with tables in the middle.  Small issues with an otherwise amazing day.

It started for us at Dukeries Lodge in Edwinstowe where we set up base this weekend – breakfast was a welcome addition with Adele, Drew, Simon, Richard and Julie – whilst I might’ve overdone it more than intended at A Bit of Bothering Before Dogfest I was feeling relatively fresh.  Ella opted for a lie-in instead, and once we were about ready Becki arrived so that we could get ourselves sorted and in the car ready to head to Warsop – again, eager to get there for the start of proceedings.

We arrived in plenty of time, time to get wristbanded up, greet the countless folk also already there – and down to the stage in time for Brad Dear to open the day.  He’d got a few chaps filming some up-to-date gig footage for them – and it was great to see so many people there early and in the party spirit, I’m looking forward to seeing the footage!  Plenty of familiar songs like They SayFestival Bar Blues, Save Our Souls  and Far Away kept us all bopping and singing along.


Freeborn Al / 15th February 2016 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Lee Bonsall, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments


12540637_10208690227158086_1485361613149906056_nThis post nearly didn’t make it due to some fairly desperately sad news in our family over the weekend – but I’ve since rationalised that tragedy should make you treasure the precious moments and people in your life all the more.  So it would be daft not to write about the weekend just gone for that reason alone.  You can never be sure when fate might deal you a truly shitty hand – so grab those opportunities to celebrate and be amongst your loved ones whenever you can.

So, on Saturday it was a surprise slightly early birthday party for Ella which Simon and Andrea had been busy organising.  The first I heard of it was a message from Simon asking me to set up a secret Facebook group to invite people to – unfortunately the eagle-eyed Ella was with me at the time… “What are you talking about with my Dad?” came the inevitable question, I’m not a good bluffer at the best of times but kinda got away with it.

The only other significant gauntlet to run was Brad’s gig up in Eastwood where plenty of now co-conspirators were present – but again, whilst she was aware stuff was afoot we got away with it for the most part.  The Saturday before her birthday as far as she was concerned involved going to Annie’s for lunch then heading out for a meal later, where I suspect she was expecting a few surprise faces to mysteriously be present at.


Freeborn Al / 12th January 2016 / Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

East(wood) bound and down..

IMG_2388My yearly stats tell me this is my hundredth post on Ferocious Blog which of course was born back in March this year – so not a bad rate of updating.  It was to Eastwood that Ella and I headed for our last gig of what’s been a very busy year to see Brad Dear supported by Kate Auburn, Joseph Knight and until childcare issues put a spanner in the works a certain Ken Bonsall.  Whilst of course it’s always nice to see Ken perform, it didn’t take away from a cracking evening’s music.

Chris organises Roots Acoustic Evenings every tuesday up at the Wellington Inn in Eastwood – normally tuesdays don’t normally work well for me, but in the limbo period between Christmas and New Year gave me the chance to get up there for what turned out to be a splendid gathering of friends to enjoy the musical fayre on offer.  With work in the morning I was driving and found a parking space right outside the pub which is always a bonus!

1655978_10206088746880936_2027774275571544787_nFirst up was Kate Auburn, she took to the stage with her guitar and launched into Jolene which was a nice way to get the crowd warmed up with something familiar.  The bulk of her set was made up of original songs though – lots of delicate guitar picking overlaid with a great voice – she’s already confirmed for Ey Up Mi Duck festival so I’m looking forward to seeing her perform again.  Let Me GoMorning Light and Me and You were stand out tracks then the set was finished up with a cover of Girl from the North Country by Bob Dylan.


Freeborn Al / 30th December 2015 / Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments