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

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).

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

Transatlantic Doozer goodness..

a0132217080_2Doozer McDooze fascinates me in general – he and Birdy (The Famous Artist Birdy Rose) eschew much of the trappings we succumb to in life, living like modern-day troubadours in a van working and travelling hard to fill the world with music and art.  They’re lovely folk too – Doozer even wrote a song for me dedicated to my as then unborn nephew, Arlo – charting his destiny to reawaken Nottingham’s rebellious past and kick off a new generation of cheese riots.  Once he is beyond toddling at least.

His music is raw, fun and generally released for a pay-what-you-think-it-is-worth on his Bandcamp page – the priority clearly being getting his music out there in recorded or gig form above and beyond trying to make a quick buck.  Learning more as I do about the lot of independent musicians and artists, it’s really not a very easy industry to make money out of compared to the amount of effort it takes to organise recordings and events, not to mention the time to learn to sing and play, practice, sit and write songs.

In more recent weeks the intrepid duo crossed the Atlantic to take their show stateside – from watching their Facebook posts it looks like they’ve had an absolute blast, and a culmination of that is a live recording of Doozer’s set at Vigilstock which took place in the wonderfully named Knickerbocker Saloon in Lafayette, Indiana at the end of September.  Vigilstock has been running since 1996 in memory of musician Shannon Hoon, best-known as singer for Blind Melon who tragically passed away in 1995.

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Freeborn Al / 10th November 2015 / Band, Gigs, Lee Bonsall, 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

Bostin’ Days album review..

albumcover4I was dead excited when Bostin’ Days was announced.  A compilation of covers of Levellers songs – who are the root node of pretty much all my musical loves –  performed by loads of my favourite performers many of whom have become friends.  Then I got scared.  Like many fans I guess Levs songs are precious to me – what if I didn’t like them? What if I didn’t like them and the artist in question was somebody I knew? What if it was all just a terrible idea?

Luckily Addie isn’t as big a worrier as me – and his drive and passion along with the folk who’ve been helping him has seen the project come through to fruition finally, and it’s an absolute triumph.  I’ve not been able to stop listening to it – a four hour plus round trip on a Sunday would normally be a bind, but last weekend it meant I got to listen to it through twice – and suddenly hold-ups on the way to work are a bit more tolerable because it might mean that I get to squeeze in another couple of tracks before reaching the office.

Of course, we should start with the mission of the project – and that was to raise money for the Devon Air Ambulance.  This came about in the wake of an accident at Beautiful Days last year where the service was mobilised to airlift a couple of injured folk to hospital.  The idea of the album was conceived to raise money for the charity, and there’s also an accompanying live event which you’d be a fool to want to miss, in Nuneaton in October.

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Freeborn Al / 7th August 2015 / Band, Music, Other Bands, Photos

Deer, stock and (mead) barrel..

IMG_0711Ah, so that was Deerstock.  Now I’m home, the tent is dried and back in the bag (subject to repairs later), I’m showered and the washing machine is on probably the most daunting task of the day is how on earth to go about summing up four days and nights of mayhem in a field in Newton?  Deerstock 2014 was definitely the highlight of my year last year, and this year might well have just gone and topped even that.  So I will apologise in advance for the wordiness, and for the inevitable blanks in my recall… this is going to be a loooooong post.

Off work on Thursday I was mooching around planning on arriving on the site around 4pm – upon messaging Tim around lunchtime he revealed that he and Tina had already set up camp – so rather than pace around the house I hopped straight in the car and made my way to Newton via the supermarket for last minute supplies.  Tina and Tim had done a great job in saving a chunk of space to keep us all together – and I was soon pitched and sorted in time to help Lisa and Pixie get their tent up.

Once cabin fever relieves you get that slight craziness and the concoctions came out perhaps a little earlier than planned.  As we got steadily more pickled by the fire we had the chance to marvel at how quickly Spike can put up his gigantic tent, and see our village slowly constructing itself around us.  A ramshackle and wonderful mixture of camper vans and tents nestled together containing many of my favourite people – sure, there wasn’t any music on, but that wasn’t really needed.

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Freeborn Al / 27th July 2015 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Lee Bonsall, Music, Other Bands, Photos, Videos

Wistful amnesia..

IMG_0505Even with Ferocious Dog partying in a park this weekend in Galhampton, it was always going to be to Derbyshire near Matlock Bath that I’d be heading this weekend for Wistful Festival, organised by my lovely friend Lisa to raise money and awareness for the Lee Bonsall Memorial Fund.  An expansion of the day event she put on last year, and this time on a lovely spot of farmland with a campsite built in.  A debut outing for my new tent, and an excuse to raise hell whilst raising money – what’s not to like?

Amnesia is because, well, I might have a little bit of difficulty in bringing to mind everything that happened, which is where Snotface’s blog might help to fill in a few gaps – although she’s got loads of photos to get through before that’s likely to happen.  Sometimes there’s a benefit to simply taking a grainy picture on your phone for blogging purposes rather than taking hundreds of (mostly) lovely shots on a proper camera!  You can’t possibly do justice to a couple of days in words, so apologies in advance to any events or people missing from my musings.

Anyway, I arrived on the campsite early on Friday – the festival wasn’t occurring until the day after, but I had the day off, and what better thing to do is spend an extra day in a field with your friends, plus if there were any last minute bits of help needed then I’d be about.  Luckily there wasn’t beyond writing up the acts on a blackboard (with a few errors), supervising Paul’s barbecue and well, starting on the cider probably a little earlier than is officially recommended once the tent was up.

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Freeborn Al / 12th July 2015 / Gigs, Lee Bonsall, Music, Other Bands, Videos / 0 Comments

Har-low can you go?

IMG_9368After a bit of an enforced break from ‘dogging’ it was back into action yesterday, hitting the road for I think my furthest flung Ferocious Dog gig in Harlow, Essex.  With the threat of the M25 around rush hour I allowed plenty of time for the drive and predictably hit no traffic at all, arriving at the venue and parking up with an hour and a half to spare before opening.  Oops!  Dan and Leanne arrived moments later, the rest of the band were already in situ.

Luckily The Square has a bar area that was open so it was there I headed and earwigged the sound-checking as more folk began to arrive.  After getting armbanded up and heading upstairs the gig venue was pretty compact – wide with a shallow dance floor with a worryingly nearby staircase you could end up getting launched down – luckily the mosh pit wasn’t too expansive so that never proved to be too much of a risk!

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Freeborn Al / 28th March 2015 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands / 0 Comments

That keen sense of belonging.. that feeling that I’m home..

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I mention Ferocious Dog occasionally, I know. It’s an exciting time to be a fan of theirs though, indeed, it generally has been – but with a refreshed line-up and a recent announcement of a headline slot in the main room at Rock City in November it’s properly a case of the year of the dog, what with a new album coming in the next few months too (and the tour starting in 10 days!) it does feel like the dawn of a very special chapter for them, and I feel privileged to be able to tag along for the ride.

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Freeborn Al / 24th February 2015 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Other Bands, Thoughts / 0 Comments