2017 – the ‘slow down year’..

Whilst I always seem to be busy, 2017 was a quieter year than the last couple – that’s borne out by the blog activity, 68 posts this year compared to 90 in 2016.  Home ownership, life events and an inherent need to slow down a little bit (but only a little) took its toll.

There were a few occasions where I bundled events into single mega-posts rather than splitting them out that might be artificially manipulating the statistics downward.  But on the music front it’s been another belting year, regardless!

January got underway pretty late with a trip to Droitwich to see Nick Parker and Paul Henshaw, an ace gig and a chance to finally put a visual reference to a place that had always stuck in my mind from DFS adverts of yore.  Now I’m just looking to head to Darley-Dale and Measham for gigs and I can tick off the sofa-based trilogy of places from those cursed interludes that used to plague us between films around Christmas in the 80s and early 90s!

February was a little livelier, we had a trip with off-duty Nick Parker to see previously unheard of Kevin Devine in Nottingham which was awesome, great support too from The Lion and the Wolf and George Gadd.  Ferocious Dog dropped their From Without acoustic album to us which went down very well indeed, whilst Mad Dog Mcrea played an amazing set in Nottingham along with The Outlines and Star Botherers (I’m not sure if they’d officially dropped the ‘the’ by this point!).

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Freeborn Al / 30th December 2017 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos

Another fine Dogfest!

As if Dogfest isn’t a prospect mouthwatering enough for your musical delectation, Bart runs a pre-Dogfest night to get you limbered up for what is to follow – so I decided to bash the two reviews together as a further time-saving measure (given I’ve got three gigs coming up this weekend, d’oh!).  We got ourselves up to The Black Market Venue in good time and for a mere fiver were granted entry to the back room where both stages were being utilised to put on an amazing line-up.

First up on the side stage were 3 Wise Men, acoustic mellow tunes with all three of ’em providing vocals at one point or another and well synchronised guitars.  In The Cold Cold Night was early in the set which was followed up with That’s Life.  I was really enjoying the set – especially a cover of Massive Attack’s Man Next Door which was simultaneously unexpected and delightful in equal measure – well worth getting in early doors for (not, of course, that the event started on time – arf!).

The Outlines were up next on the main stage – looking ever more confident in their own skins, launching into Waiting and filling the room with energetic grungy rock, a stark contrast to the gentle set before but just as enjoyable.  Static, She Don’t Know, Calm Down – all quickly establishing themselves as classics.  Next up was probably my favourite of theirs (for now) in Buried a Lie.  Tight backing vocals and Kyle’s distinctive voice over an unfeasibly heavy sound for three of ’em..

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Freeborn Al / 13th December 2017 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Lee Bonsall, Music, Other Bands, Photos, Videos

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

T’was Dogfest eve, babe..

Thanks John 🙂

With reports of the awful incident that caused the M1 to be closed on Friday (obviously thoughts and best wishes to everyone affected by that) I set off early to make it up to the Black Market Venue in time for us to get set up and soundchecked as we were up first for pre-Dogfest Stars Bothering on Friday.  I picked up magician Tom en route – more on his awesome skills later – and mercifully was able to get to Warsop in time and get the van parked up in the car park.

We got ourselves all set up as The Star Copiers – during the soundcheck the cajón was sounding huge – I think it could’ve done with turning up a bit during the set.  Alas I didn’t realise ’til it was too late, never mind!  As for our set, we left feeling a bit disappointed – we dropped a sound to make sure we could fit in Merry Christmas Everyone at the end and well, we all felt like we’d made a few too many mistakes.  Whilst we don’t take ourselves remotely seriously we do want to be as good as we can be!

That said, the first thing that happened when I got off the stage was to be faced by Rob who said “Al, I’m really disappointed” – I was about to concede we were a bit too, only for him to follow up with “I was expecting it to be all tuneless and rubbish!” – maybe it’s true you’re your own worst critics!  Either way, we had some fun and we started distributing the CDs we’ve had made to raise money for Framework.  The raffle on the night was also supporting them, not to mention the collection of food and toiletries occuring the next day too.

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Freeborn Al / 18th December 2016 / Gigs, Hell Hounds, 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

A bit of bothering before Dogfest..

IMG_2705Of course everyone was rightly excited for Dogfest the weekend just gone, but there was the small matter of a bit of ‘bothering’ for the night before.  The bargainous sum of £5 gained entry to the main hall in the Black Market venue for a nice little warm up.  I arrived in where we were staying in Edwinstowe and met up with Ella and Simon who were awaiting a bit of food, giving me time to get checked in and finish up my working week with a couple of conference calls (oh such fun!)

Once that was over and we were suitably fed and relaxed we hopped into the car for the short drive to Warsop – keen to arrive in time for the first act, easily making it in time for a marathon round of hellos before heading through to the main room.  First a word for Black Market Brewery‘s offerings – well recommended for ale lovers, after a warning from Dave (which I suspect for many would be an advert!) I steered clear of Insane but did enjoy a few pints of Illicit and Imposter, quickly putting paid to my plan of not going to mad with alcohol.

First up on stage was the inimitable Brian Stone.  He is building in confidence more and more – although taken aback at how many people had made it to the wilds of Warsop for a 6pm start.  Launching into Life Begins at 50 his set was an energetic singalong both of his own songs and an eclectic selection of cover versions like Believers by Levellers and Ward the Pirate.  Highlights for me were his own song Where is all the Rum Gone evoking memories of that campfire at Farmer Phil’s, and a raucous singalong of Gaz Brookfield’s Let the East Winds Blow to finish.

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Freeborn Al / 14th February 2016 / Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos, Videos / 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

Cutting a Funke Outline..

funke-and-the-two-tone-babyA diversion away from my normal subject matter again, but a good one – and kinda FD-related.  For my day job I do quite a bit of driving, which can be a bind but also a great opportunity to absorb music, and this week the postman was especially kind to me this week delivering new albums from both The Outlines and Funke and the Two Tone Baby (the latter of which I forgot that I’d backed as part of a crowdfunding campaign a while ago – so that was a great surprise!).

Both acts are probably familiar to most folk reading a Ferocious Dog themed blog – Funke has shared events with them a number of times, including DogFest and indeed Something to Smile About last month.  To my eternal shame whenever I’ve been at events he’s played I’ve either found myself missing it due to getting food (DogFest) or being under extreme influence of alcohol and not really taking it in (Something to Smile About) – only to find my friends absolutely raving about him.

So come Deerstock I fully intend to be in a fit state to appreciate his performance.  I’m making no promises though, there’s strange fruit and other goodies at that particular festival!  As for The Outlines, well they are fronted by none other than Kyle Peters who was guitarist and vocalist for one song for Ferocious Dog until recently – now along with Martyn Brown on Bass and Dean Hill on drums they are producing some rather awesome punk rock tuneage.  I’ve yet to catch them live, I’m looking forward to doing so soon though!

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Freeborn Al / 2nd July 2015 / Music, Other Bands / 0 Comments