Sunday smiles!

Sunday started with an early morning conversation with a hedgerow near my van thanks to the previous night’s over-indulgences!  Oops!  It’s safe to say I was feeling a little delicate whilst we mustered on the benches infront of the Merch stall listening to the lovely chilled out acoustic vibes of River Roots.  Some beautifully melodic singing and playing, just the thing for soothing an angry hangover!

Meanwhile Les, Nick and Skeg had arrived for a natter – once I’d got some tea and a sausage cob down me things were looking decidedly less troublesome!  I wandered down to the Hidden Stage just in time to catch Oliver Cunliffe finishing up what I’m told was an excellent set – he ended with Don’t Look Back in Anger, a confident vocal and guitar delivery, I wish I’d caught his full set – definitely one to watch out for in the future – a real talent.

Back on the mainstage and The Fargo Railroad Co. were set up and underway – drenched in Americana, delivering a set of amazing bluesy southern rock (with suspicious lapses into Yorkshire accents between songs, haha!) – I really enjoyed these guys, they were certainly dressed for the part and sounded amazing – but we needed to head into the campsite so Ella and Morgan could practice some of the songs for their set later (some of which they’d never done before!).

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Freeborn Al / 9th June 2017 / 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

Smiles defeat the rain..

Sometimes the best way to judge or consider the impact of anything is when you place it into adversity – and Something to Smile About had a few moments like that, from last minute snags with the camper van field, broken strimmers and mowers making the alternative somewhat overgrown, a near miss with a lorry deciding to nearly drive directly into the car park from the motorway to a biblical storm and stage malfunction on the Friday night – but organisers and volunteers alike rallied and sorted everything out – and more importantly the lovely festival goers kept their smiles intact.

We arrived the night before and found a handy spot backstage to set up camp for the weekend – in time to muck in with the stage set up whilst catching up with the other folk who’d got on site early.  Come Friday morning everything was looking good – there was a bit of rain forecast just after lunch, otherwise all looked good!  I put some bins out and tried to get a cider early only to be reminded the bar opened at noon by Zoe – so at noon I made sure I was first in the queue for a ginger cider – wow, what a revelation – it might be my new favourite festival tipple.

On the main stage Regime kicked things off – funky reggae dub with a healthy smattering of hip hop was a perfect way to gently introduce music to the arena.  In the meantime Becki had arrived along with Emma and Nick so I popped over to help lug stuff and attempt to help with putting their tents up, which wasn’t too traumatic an experience. It was heading to the car to pick up bags that I first caught sight of the jack-knifed lorry that had nearly ploughed into the car park / camper van overflow field – luckily the driver and presumably other drivers were unharmed in the incident – it was eventually craned away.

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Freeborn Al / 7th June 2017 / Gigs, Music, Other Bands, Photos

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

Freaky fingers in Doncaster..

IMG_5261A welcome return to live music came courtesy of Darren Eastell and the Freaky Fingers EP launch in The Leopard, Doncaster this weekend just gone.  Darren was a last minute replacement at Wistful Festival, and they made a great impression – certainly on Ella who treated us to the tickets!  Gritty bluesy rock was my vague memory from Wistful, a bearded frontman in a truckers cap – what could possibly go wrong? We had the bonus of two support acts too – Laura Kelly and Framing Witches.

Becky and Pete were hosting the evening (and us, having fed us before driving into Donny!), and we met Herb at the venue too.  It was certainly more packed than last time we ventured to The Leopard, soon enough we were amongst a very healthy crowd – including assorted members of Darren’s family.  As well as entry to the gig the ticket also provided access to a free EP and a sticker too – stickers adorned most of the people in the room, often with a fair bit of encouragement from family members in attendance!

We sat and drank cider in the green room for a while whilst sound-checking was underway, before heading downstairs to the bar for general nattering and merriment.  It was probably the freaky fingers element of the performance I was most excited about watching – as a fledgling cajon player listening to Liam’s soundcheck (which you’d think was a full drum kit if you weren’t able to see him) was at once inspiring and incredibly daunting!

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Freeborn Al / 5th September 2016 / Gigs, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

Levelling the Dome..

IMG_2120Of course being in dire need of a rest from a fairly relentless few months of going to gigs, what better way to wind down from the crescendo of last weekend than going to see the Levellers on their Beautiful Nights mini-tour last week?  Ha.  After finishing up work Ella and I hotfooted it up to Doncaster to check in to the slightly sinister Campanile Hotel which is right next to the venue, and looks a bit like an American motel with the rooms in a block on two levels separate from the reception and bar area.

As well as us numerous friends were also staying there – Dave, Caroline, Dave, Nadine, Naomi, Kev and Magz.  Dave and Caroline were already there, and once we’d got ourselves sorted the first order of duty was to head round to nearby Brewers Fayre for some drinks, socialising and food. Eventually everyone had arrived including Becky, Pete, Rachel so we headed on over to the venue shortly after it had opened – and well, frankly it was a riot of people we knew which was great.

The Doncaster Dome is an interesting venue, a multi-functional space you’re assaulted immediately with a chlorine smell from the swimming pool, enticed tantalisingly by a children’s play area as you head to the dome itself and descend to the floor level which housed a bar and the merchandise stall.  I resisted a splurge and instead just nattered to the countless friends assembling – the sound insulation was pretty good too as by the time I’d thought to check the time I’d managed to miss Ruts DC which was a bit annoying – I’ve seen highly appreciative comments on Facebook about their set.

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Freeborn Al / 5th December 2015 / Gigs, Hell Hounds, 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 / 1 Comment

A midsummer afternoon’s reality..

Fran Minney kicked off the day's music

Fran Minney kicked off the day’s music

Travelling up to Thorne near Doncaster for an event designed to engage the local folk with the arts might seem a strange thing to do, but as Pete and Becky (organisers of Something to Smile About and also responsible for the malign influence that is the MeadEvil Bar) had set it up and we had a free weekend it seemed like an excellent way to pass the time.  A Midsummer’s Music was a pay-what-you-think-it’s-worth gathering in Thorne Memorial Park which would help fund both the park itself and the community woods.

It would also help to treat the people of Thorne to some excellent musical entertainment.  And the people in our party of Hertfordshire, Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire – but still!  I drove up with Snotty, quickly spotting the MeadEvil marquee in the park as we drove past and to the carpark we thought was the one we were meant to be aiming for – more on that later – and wandered back to the park to find Tina, Rhii, Kev and Rachel already there.  Tim had called to say he could make it too with Lisa after getting out of work early.

The sun was shining, as I was driving back no mead for me – but the cafe on the park was there to provide soft drinks and food, as the finishing touches were being made to the sound system.  All in all, an idyllic setting for Thorne Charity Events to stage this mini-festival of entertainment.  Five musical acts were lined up for the band stand in all, with a healthy pause in between for plenty of chatting, laughing and general messing around (including repeatedly running off with Tim’s trainers).

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Freeborn Al / 11th August 2015 / Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments