Farmer Phil’s 2017 – part one!

Farmer Phil’s Festival is one of those impossible to sum up times of the year. It can last potentially for a week if you’re lucky enough to have the time to get on site the Monday preceding it. It was Thursday evening for us when we were able to wend our way to this Shropshire idyll – the original plan was a Wednesday arrival but sadly a funeral waylaid us slightly – it had been raining a bit, we immediately got stuck in some mud but were pushable, having located a route to our camping spot we found ourselves sunk again – this time relying on being towed by the wonderful Craig.

We found ourselves nestled just behind the Purrple Peeple Eater – and quickly reunited with our immediate camp-mates with a cheeky cider or two whilst setting the van up as quickly as we could. Whilst the festival proper hadn’t started yet Bart had organised some music up at the bar tent, and we were keen to get straight into the festival spirit. We wandered up to pick up our wristbands and then onward up the hill and into the arena – still in varying degrees of construction, to find a cast of hundreds of friends already mustered ready for the music to start.

Pete Drake was already underway on the stage, entertaining a burgeoning crowd in the large beer tent, meanwhile we were roving from friend to friend catching up, saying hello and fussing the ridiculous number of four-legged friends. Farmer Phil’s is absolute heaven for anyone, like me, who loves doggies! Pete was followed by Northern Monkey – which seemed to have Joel from Black Thorn amongst them playing bass (I’m sure that’s not the usual state of affairs!). Also nestled on the hill was the Cheezy Vinyl Bar and stalls. It was shaping up to be a stonking weekend.

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Freeborn Al / 27th August 2017 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, 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

It’s a two Dogfest kinda year..

With Dogfest having had a break in 2015, we got to have the bonus of a double-Dogfest year in 2016 – the fifth one (or certainly the fifth one I’ve been to) – it’s amazing to see how much it’s grown from!  In the past it’s always been a race to get to Warsop for the start – no such problem here, I poked my head out of a cosy sleeping bag to face the winter temperatures in my van. Brr! At least I’d remembered to sleep the other way around from normal owing to the slope I’d parked on!

First things first was a trip down to the Co-op to buy some supplies to donate to Framework later in the day.  Once bag there were more stirrings in the urban campsite, a chance to chat with Darren for a bit before Wez and I headed out for a very hearty breakfast at The Tea Cosy on the High Street – recommended, a big ol’ breakfast with plenty of tea was just the fuel needed for a day as relentless as what was to follow.  By the time we headed back the doors were open and wristband acquired courtesy of Rich.

On the main stage the show was opened by Jimmy Carroll, I’ve only found a personal page on Facebook rather than a page so far – so I won’t link to that, but an ideal act to open the day – two chaps, acoustic guitars, relaxed vibe.  As is oft the problem for early acts they fall foul of the ooh! people are arriving! curse that means they get a little relegated to background music – it sounded like great background music to me though.  Just before setting up on stage Sam was excited to see his new band on the t-shirts!

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Freeborn Al / 19th December 2016 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Lee Bonsall, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

Park life in Thorne..

13680884_1712994702295886_1002611072608679530_nIt was a jam-packed weekend just gone – just the way I like it!  It started with a morning soujourn to Thorne near Doncaster for A Midsummer’s Music in the Park, a reprise of last year’s event.  I parked up Ludo outside Becky and Pete’s, got him set up for later in the evening – unfortunately Ella’s train was delayed which put a spanner in our finely honed plans so I grabbed our new camping settee and wandered parkward alone.

With the Meadevil Bar in place, inflatables for the kids, facepainting, and a couple of stalls (including the ever-popular magic stall) already in place I found a suitable spot to spend the afternoon, grabbed a cider.  The sun was shining, there was good company – aside from rail based delays everything was going according to plan beautifully!  I really do like the Memorial Park in Thorne as a place to sit and chill watching good music!

The first music was served up courtesy of Honeywitch – stripped down somewhat, with guitar, bass, cajon (I was watching this most carefully) and Claire on vocals.  They started with acoustic guitar for more ethereal folksy numbers – Fly With Me kicked off the set, followed with a song whose title escaped me but was about a chap who’d until recently been on death row (having subsequently been exonerated) – with the awesome lyric “democracies die when democracies kill” – succinct and perfect.

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Freeborn Al / 8th August 2016 / Gigs, Music, Other Bands, Photos, Videos / 0 Comments

Deer-stocking.. across the universe.. (part two)..

IMG_4816Feeling surprisingly fresh we emerged from the van into an already pretty warm day – greetings made, breakfast acquired (again, from Nana’s Kitchen), we had an early appointment up at the arena.

Saturday was Pixiestock day – so it started for us in the kids tent, where Tina was telling the assembled young ‘uns a story about why foxes and badgers live in holes.  Ella was up next, complete in tiger onesie, to read The Tiger That Came To Tea – with the temperature already soaring it was warm work!  Kezzi followed with a fairy story before the assembled children were led to the glade by the Pixie King.

IMG_4817Lucky escape for me, Naomi had been plotting for me to dress as the pied piper at one point for the purpose of leading the procession to the stage!  Once in the glade Spike read The Gruffalo complete with amusing accents – before we were treated to a frankly slightly sinister yet oddly compelling Mouse Circus puppet show.  One of the fantastic things about Deerstock is the amount of thought that goes into keeping the young folk entertained.

There was a vote whether the wooden deer mascot called ‘No Eye’ should be burned or saved – I’ve no idea what the outcome was.  I voted to burn him. Mwah ha ha!

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Freeborn Al / 29th July 2016 / Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos, Videos / 0 Comments

Smile like you mean it..

IMG_4027So, Saturday morning. Feeling pretty fresh, after charging up on tea and coffee by the vans we hotfooted it over to the hidden stage for Hector’s Pirates.  For folk more observant than me when it was announced, you’d have noted it was a clever anagram of The Star Copiers – it took somebody to tell me to suss that bit of intelligence out, it’s made other festivals over the summer all the more suspicious though.

As Paul said, I’m looking forward to Prosthetic Arse making an appearance!  Anyway, the boys had roped Ferocious Dog’s John in to joining them on bass, and most charming of all moments was Dan walking into the hidden stage area in the nick of time and politely asking if it was okay for him to play with them too.  Once everyone was set up it was time for the set to begin.

IMG_4032They kicked off with Another Man’s Cause and into Basket Case – Mark had pledged to wear whatever people threw on stage after pants-gate at Ey Up Mi Duck, so started in a pair of Jacquie’s shoes, these were quickly switched out for her crocs – and then added to with Morgan’s top hat.  Rocking in the Free World went pretty well considering the in-flight costume changes.

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Freeborn Al / 7th June 2016 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos

The theory of Beard-ativity…

IMG_3875Well how do you go about trying to summarise four days at Bearded Theory? My normal modus operandi of slavishly noting set lists would probably lead to a novel that I don’t want to write and you certainly don’t want to read – so I’m going to force myself to be a bit less unimaginative and try to summarise what was a bloody fantastic time – a great setting, wonderful weather, amazingly well organised, great acts and a frankly marvellous collection of people to party with.

It all started for us on Thursday afternoon, we arranged to meet Addie, Jane, Dave and Nadine in a layby near the site to secure a camping spot together.  Getting back onto a busy A38 was entertaining for the two caravanners in our convoy, but soon enough we’d found ourselves queuing to get on site – a few very familiar vehicles already snaking their way around to the entrance to the camping field.  This was Ella and I’s first trip to a festival in our new van – Ludo – so it was pretty exciting!

IMG_3879Eventually in and sited, everyone set about getting things set up – for us it was pretty simple, extract things from the storage under the back seats, spinning the front bench seat around, putting the silver screens up in the window – and cracking open a can of cider!  The only fly in our oinment was a dead leisure battery – despite having been on charge for a couple of days – but well, even the lack of promised power a van would provide still proved infinitely better than the faff of tenting!

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Freeborn Al / 30th May 2016 / Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

Fine fettle down in Settle..

IMG_3001When I originally bought a ticket for the Settle gig it was going to be in June last year.  I’d naively thought ‘oh, it’s Yorkshire, I’ll probably drive to and from that’ – it wasn’t until more recently, having acquired another ticket for Ella for the rescheduled show, that I troubled to look at a map and realise quite how far up Settle was in North Yorkshire.  Seeing Clitheroe nestled beneath it meant a quick search for accomodation for the evening was very much the mission – luckily I found somewhere suitable, more on that later.

We’d arranged to meet up with Michael, Daren and Michelle for lunch in nearby Malham, having set off in good time we were running an hour early on arrival estimate so pulled into a services.  Checking in on Facebook as you do revealed we were actually really close to Michael’s house – sense prevailed and we arranged to go and pick him up, meaning a chance to catch up wtih Rebecca too which is a bonus – and head onward with a much better carbon footprint than if we’d gone in separate cars!

IMG_2997The Lister Arms is a lovely pub.  Malham was absolutely snidered with cars, we were worried the pub would be rammed – but it seems the streets and carparks were full of vehicles of walkers rather than pub goers so we soon found a table and awaited Daren and MIchelle’s arrival.  A hearty meal of mostly pies and mash or chips (or cajun chicken for Ella) was demolished, followed by a bloody nice selection of cheese with a glass of port (or sticky toffee pudding and a cuppa tea for t’ladies).  A very pleasant few hours before hitting the road to Settle.  Definitely planning on a return visit at some point!

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Freeborn Al / 6th March 2016 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Lee Bonsall, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

Dogfest..

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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.

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Freeborn Al / 15th February 2016 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Lee Bonsall, 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