It’s all about Drew..

IMG_2295There’s a common phrase that behind every great man there’s a great woman – of course, ignoring the simplistic assumptions around sexuality and dated notions around gender-equality it’s a nice sentiment.  The reason it sprang to mind when finally getting around to write about Drew’s 50th birthday bash which happened last weekend is that he and Adele kinda turn that on its head.  Whilst Nana is the public face of the kitchen that bears her name, Drew is the ever-dependable dude there too.

Anyway, I digress.  For months Adele had been plotting a surprise party for Drew to be hosted at the Black Market Venue in Warsop.  Why I’ve felt compelled to write about a private party on here is that every person in the room bar one, indeed, the room itself, were only known to me either directly or indirectly because of Ferocious Dog.  Folk met at gigs or festivals all of which I attended because of the spark the band provided and ignited me into a sometimes non-stop gig and festival going machine.

We had arrived in Warsop early – I’d picked up Ella and Dave from Loughborough station and after a tea stop at home we headed straight up there via grabbing Andy in Clifton.  So there was time aplenty for chat with the other attendees before we were ushered into the main hall at the back.  It’s been lovingly redecorated since I last went and we were soon all clustered behind the curtain in front of the main stage.  Drew was ostensibly just being taken for a drink in the bar area with a few local folk ahead of a trip to Nottingham the next day to see The Bar-Steward Sons of Val Doonican.

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Freeborn Al / 22nd December 2015 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

Dogfest 2016 – going, going… gone!

If you blinked you might’ve missed the window of opportunity for ordering tickets for Dogfest 2016 which went on sale shortly after the Rock City gig.  Dan announced on Facebook he was putting on sale the remainder of the tickets for the event on 13th February 2016 – which will once again be hosted at The Black Market Venue in Warsop – and it’s now officially sold out in a matter of days.

The line-up is all but confirmed – with one slot remaining for prospective bands to vie for – there’s been some amazing suggestions on the thread in the Facebook group already, so if any of those are successful in getting the final place it’ll be a fine addition to what is already a stellar line-up.  Gaz Brookfield isn’t available for the date sadly, although y’know, you need to mix it up a bit – he’s done the last two Dogfests after all!

Quite a change from the first Dogfest I attended back in 2012 – that definitely wasn’t a sell out, and my own attitude was less committed too.  We hotfooted it up mainly to see Ferocious Dog finish the day off having been at the football in the afternoon.  Fast forward to 2013 and there was merchandise and a lot more people, 2014 I think was sold out and amazing, of course 2015 was skipped to make way for Rock City and a change of date for February in 2016.

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Freeborn Al / 2nd December 2015 / Band, Gigs, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

Sell outs..

IMG_2066.. in the best possible sense, of course – it took until the day but Ferocious Dog were indeed successful in capping off the tour by selling out home town (ish) venue Rock City in advance – the first unsigned act to do so in the 35 year history of the venue.  28th November 2015 is a day that history was made.  For me it felt like a real watershed moment for a band I’ve had the pleasure of following for the last few years.

IMG_2034I spent the evening before making my hair look a bit more silly than normal.  It turns out I should’ve probably checked in with Spike and Chris who would end up with the same coloured hair as me for the evening, but never mind, eh?  I’ll probably regret it more when it starts to fade out to pink!  I even managed to get it spiked into a pretty good mohawk without the assistance I often get from Ella!

IMG_2033Come Saturday morning unusually the postman turned up before midday bringing me Gaz Brookfield‘s new acoustic album to provide the soundtrack to my fairly short drive into Nottingham.  More on this at another time, though!  I got parked up near Rock City and found Cerebus being unloaded, so time for a few greetings with the band and crew who were all looking suitably excited about what was to come.  Simon and Ella arrived which meant for us it was time to head for food.

IMG_2037Dave and Bettina had done a great job in organising the whole of the downstairs of Annie’s Burger Shack to be reserved for a group of fifty or so of us to be fed a fine array of burger goodness in a buffet style.  Very filling it was too, handy stomach lining for what was to follow and a chance to have a nice leisurely chat with a section of the wonderful folk we’d be coming into contact with over the course of the day!

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Freeborn Al / 29th November 2015 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Lee Bonsall, Music, Other Bands, Photos, Thoughts

Triumphant return to an old Haunt..

IMG_1781In Southampton I was lucky enough to wake up in time for breakfast this time, and once everyone had convened and Wez had fetched Cerebus round for the next leg of the journey it was rather a more sombre trip along the coast to Brighton as the full extent of the awful events in Paris became apparent.  There was a degree of mood lightening with the scattered remnants of the previous night’s entertainment that John and Scott, both surprisingly chipper considering, could actually remember.

The hotel we were staying in was actually in Newhaven, some miles outside of Brighton, we opted to head there first to get checked in – Waggy’s sat nav amusingly taking us to a Premier convenience store nearby instead – but soon enough we did find our destination.  I ended up in with Ken for this night as Les was travelling home after the gig since Margate is just down the road for him relatively speaking – we got our bags dumped, freshened up and it was back on the bus to get to the venue.

Of course we were all at The Haunt earlier in the year – it’s an ace little place, sound checking seemed to go pretty well.  Ken had casually announced Jeremy from the Levellers was coming later, and Nick Burbridge too – hopefully getting up to perform with the band.  Nick is one of my all time favourite songwriters – so this was unfeasibly exciting for me even more so than normal!  Waggy and I also cased out the balcony – not open that evening for the public – as a good potential photography spot – the video below shows the soundcheck from up there.

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Freeborn Al / 17th November 2015 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos, Videos / 0 Comments

Talking heads and moshing elephants..

IMG_1766Premier Inn has a good night sleep guarantee (this is definitely something endorsed by Scott – but you’ll have to ask him about that), and they certainly delivered after Camden – both Waggy and I slept in and missed breakfast.  By this point the cold I’ve been having an on-off relationship with over the last few weeks seems to have developed into a nocturnal rasping cough, but that didn’t seem to disturb Waggy, unlike the early hours phone calls for the late night revellers looking for directions back to our digs, haha!

Having not really attempted to get my mohawk up for Camden I actually did a reasonable job of it in the hotel room with the hairdryer and some hairspray, we headed down to the eatery which was being cleared up and charmed some tea from the cleaning staff who were very taken with Kenny, discussions centring around the best hair products to use to achieve his liberty spikes (Schwarzkopf got2b glued blasting freeze spray, if anyone was wondering – I’ve got some now since I used all my hairspray up at the weekend!).

As we drove through London heading inexorably south Scott’s observation skills came to the fore “It’s fucking ginormous int it, London?” he opined.  There was lots of speculation on house prices as we saw the many facets of the capital, meanwhile no matter how far we got out of Camden John, Ken and Scott were adamant that they’d wandered down passing streets at some point last night whilst out galavanting post-gig.  The missed breakfasts on board  was causing some widespread hunger issues, so it was time for me to bring out my secret weapon…

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Freeborn Al / 17th November 2015 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos, Videos / 0 Comments

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

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

Rockstock and barrel-of-laughs..

pylonSo we’ve just spent a splendid weekend at Rockstock & Barrel, nestled in the shadow of the cooling towers at Willington – just a short twenty minute drive up the road for me.  The atmosphere was literally electric with live power lines crackling overhead and people literally charged up with static electricity – but figuratively too with a fantastic and varied line-up of musicians and a ridiculous number of familiar faces in the crowd too.  Okay, so we weren’t brave enough to camp out in freezing October – which denied me the inevitable thick-head from the dangerous looking Scrumptiddly Cider Bar.

Paul took this awesome shot from under a pylon which you could drive under – as I discovered when moving a drunken Andy’s van from Campsite B to Campsite A as a space in the field became available thanks to the 3 Daft Monkeys electing not to stay over after their headline set.

IMG_1244Arrival time was planned after finishing up with work to take in the opening act, the very familiar Brad Dear who took to the outdoor-in-a-tent Electric Stage to kick off the festival with an acoustic set.  As noted from his support slot at The Beards the other week, Brad is a lad who is growing in confidence with his performances – he looks like he’s really enjoying performing and he’s on great form.  The news that studio time is likely to be imminent is great news for me too, looking forward to more tracks I can play on my travels – the newer songs he’s been adding to his sets recently sound great.

Then it gave us chance to catch up with the many many more hardy souls than us who had decided to brave camping – there was a campsite on ‘The Chimneys‘ site just behind the performance area but also another over t’road.  Already in position were countless familiar faces – Tim, bless him, had even provided some non-alcoholic shots so that the tee-totalers didn’t feel left out.  The sun was veritably beating down and I must confess that briefly I was a little bit sad I’d decided not to camp – that would change later when the sun went down and it was freezing!

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Freeborn Al / 4th October 2015 / Band, Gigs, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

Colour of Ugly Kid Beards…

IMG_1145In a slight diversion from my usual subject matter, it’s been a fun weekend of distractions which whilst not really related to Ferocious Dog – has certainly involved many of my Hell Hound brethren.  It started on Friday night with a blast from my youth with Ugly Kid Joe visiting the Rescue Rooms in Nottingham.  I used to love them in the early 90’s – before meandering off to the Levellers – my brother retained his love of metal though and accompanied me along with Snotty.

I must admit, my expectations were pretty low – having not really stayed abreast of Ugly Kid Joe developments I was imagining a desperate cash-grab from some washed up 90’s almost novelty-act that I’d never had the chance to see live ‘back in the day’ to a half-empty venue.  As an aside I do remember us listening to them live on the radio supporting Def Leppard at some point, cringing slightly at Whitfield Crane’s lewd references to the joys of blowjobs whilst I think my Mum was listening along with us.. anyway, I digress…

Whitfield Crane has grown up a bit – shorter hair, a suspicious whiff of Just for Men and I’d say a humble demeanour – he seemed genuinely grateful to what was a packed out, not half-empty, Rescue Rooms.  Launching into an intro then straight into Neighbor (the first CD single I ever bought!) it was a cracking performance from the band – with the guitarists throwing solos between one another, Cordell Crockett giving the funky underpinning with his bass and a drummer wearing nothing but pants – with the front man conducting the crowd.

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Freeborn Al / 21st September 2015 / Gigs, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 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.

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