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

Just the Start..

Ah, the impossible review – how do you go about reviewing an EP that your other half is the lead singer for?  I shall attempt to do so dispassionately, after all, this whole blog generally documents and is named after a band who’ve all become my mates over the years – so I should be able to do this without bias.  Morganella have been on the scene a little over a year, forming to play an open mic slot at Something to Smile About last year, and comprising of Morgan on guitar and Ella on vocals.

The way they work is pretty interesting and I guess I get a unique view of that – there’s a pretty big distance between where they live, Morgan is still at school, Ella can’t drive (yet) which makes regular practices well, pretty much a no go.  So when they started out with acoustic covers it’s relatively understandable they could work in isolation then bring things together with a quick run through somewhere quiet before a performance, but to come up with original material – surely that’s a step too far?

Apparently not.  And I’ve seen how it happens – Morgan will sit and come up with the instrumental parts of the songs, he’ll video them and send them to Ella who will have ideas around themes or subjects for the lyrics and then fit them to the music – they can back and forth this a bit and come up with something that works, then next time they’re in the same place they’ll fine tune it literally just before going on stage, and invariably smash it.  That’s pretty much the story for three of the five songs on Just The Start.

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Freeborn Al / 18th September 2017 / Music, Other Bands, Photos

Farmer Phil’s 2017 – part two!

Saturday morning started with sausage cobs (yes, they are cobs!) for breakfast – then we were up to the arena early doors as Morgan and Ella were doing a Morganella ‘meet and greet’ at the Pink Flamingo Bar. Lucan was a hero and arranged for a 4×4 to pick up our stuff to take up to the stage so I left Mark in charge of my stuff and accompanied Ella up to the arena. Starting the day with a cheeky cocktail and the first questions and answers was fun, but soon enough I needed to report back stage to get The Star Copiers set up – so that’s where I headed.

The sound crew were awesome – we aren’t very experienced really so we take all the help we can get! They got each monitor set up for us so that we could hear what we needed to hear, something I’d never really appreciated before until performing.  Once soundchecking was finished I found a quiet corner to get changed into my silly stage wear (okay, I just got changed in front of everyone back stage, haha!). Mark’s guitar seemed to not want to stay in tune, Kev was a bit nervous, Jacquie was practising lines – I was pretty excited in truth, definitely our biggest stage to date.

We started up by going on one by one with a slow intro to Down Under, Mark first, then Jamie, me, Kev and finally Jacquie to kick off the vocals. I thought it worked rather well! Donning sunglasses meant I couldn’t see the people in the barn – but I could see Kenny grinning at us from the bank outside the stage enclosure. What’s Up was next – even if I was tapping into a different song, already looking too far forward on the set list. Oops! It didn’t put the others off, so I could drop back into the correct beat soon enough. Listen was next, then I Still Believe (the one I started off on before by accident). It’s a song we always cock up in rehearsals – I’m happy to say this time I don’t think we did, although my monitor mix was largely Mark, Jacquie and me.

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Freeborn Al / 27th August 2017 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Lee Bonsall, Music, Other Bands, Photos

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

Great music with a Worcestershire source..

So, yeah – welcome to 2017!  January is traditionally a bit of a live music hibernation and it’s been the same for me – until the last couple of days so I can sneak a couple of posts in before we’re into February and assorted tours beginning in earnest.  Home ownership diverts more funds these days so I’m having to be a bit more picky and choosy on dates but that’s okay – life’s all about balance isn’t it?

So on Sunday Ella and I headed on down to Droitwich.  All I think of when I think of Droitwich was the highly repetitive and irritating adverts around childhood Christmas for a furniture company who had a sale on, and outlets in Darley Dale, Measham and Droitwich.  I think it might have been DFS.  Tom Adams did the voiceover.  Anyway, I digress, it was an early start and finish, which is good as it’s about an hour’s drive to get there – and a couple of miles outside Droitwich proper we found ourselves parked up at The Maltstone Pub & Kitchen.

Definitely more eatery in aspect than gig venue, it was a really nice space – with a few locals hanging around awaiting live music – this evening being provided by Paul Henshaw and Nick Parker.  I’d cunningly deployed the slow cooker before leaving so we resisted the tempting looking menu opting just for drinks instead (although I still regret not succumbing to the ingenious idea of a bar snack comprising a Yorkshire pudding with gravy!).  Paul and Nick arrived and had their PA set up in the blink of an eye.

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Freeborn Al / 31st January 2017 / Gigs, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

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

Geddin’ on Farmer Phil’s land.. part one..

IMG_5010How to go about summing up the best part of a week in a field in Shropshire at Farmer Phil’s? Herb did a great job in poetic form already – I doubt I’ll be as succinct!  It was a windy field I arrived at on Tuesday evening, soon enough I’d got myself sorted nearly in the same spot as the year before, a fun night was spent eating fish curry (thanks Spike!), being cheated out of winning a rock, paper, scissors game, campfire singing and watching the stars.

Wednesday arrived and so did more people – Dave and Caroline got stuck in the mud, needing to be towed out by festival ‘Mr Fix It’ Craig, having spent our time in the campsite Tim, Jo and I opted to head up to the arena to case things out – and see Debbo and Phily in the Cheezy Vinyl Bar.  Back in the campsite there was more fireside singing, more star gazing and lots of dogs to make friends with.  Lurgan was a gorgeous young lurcher camped nearby – sadly Murphy didn’t get on with him!

IMG_5017Thursday started with bacon, a shopping trip with Tim and Jo to pick up supplies (for me that was a gas bottle and more bacon, ha!) whilst Caroline whipped up an awesome chilli.  Ella arrived having been delivered by the lovely Parry clan – eventually finding me having been for a wander around the campsite.  We took Kezzi up to the arena where she put on a dazzling performance in the kids open mic, before Emma and the Professor put on an early performance whilst we socialised.

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Freeborn Al / 16th August 2016 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Lee Bonsall, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

2015 – The year of the Dog..

12347814_10153863571453060_2422930688827816042_nOkay, so Ferocious Dog have been around a little longer – but this last year has felt rather like a landmark.  And not just because back in February it’s when Ferocious Blog was born, ha!  The lead up to a new year is traditionally a time for reflecting back on the year just gone and looking forward to the next one, so I figured it’d be nice to trawl back through the months and pull out a highlight or two for each month of 2015, it will be tough to pick just one or two so feel free to chip in your own in the comments – despite my best efforts I didn’t quite make it to every Ferocious Dog gig in the year!

January 2015 – a light month, Ferocious Blog was yet to be created (although it had been an idea kicking around in my head for at least a couple of years).  Checking my calendar and personal blog doesn’t reveal much at all in the way of Ferocious Dog activity – we’d have been still basking in the warm glow of Dogfest back in December – I latterly discovered that a 3 Piece Acoustic performance took place in honour of Ella’s 21st birthday in this month, but alas I didn’t know Snotty at this juncture!

IMG_9188_gFebruary 2015the blog is born after an acoustic appearance by Ken and Dan at the Brown Cow in Mansfield.  Seldom has one of Sam’s nights had such a huge crowd packed in.  The demand for the event was the perfect excuse to arrive early and chat nonsense with friends for the afternoon.  An afternoon of drinking had taken its toll on Dean who for the first time decreed I needed to get up and surf in his place – a great way to start what became a year of extreme ‘dogging’.  These smaller intimate gigs are as enjoyable for me as the bigger and bolder shows that are to follow.  We were first introduced to Scott at this appearance too.

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Freeborn Al / 30th December 2015 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos, Thoughts

Surfin’ bird in Shropshire..

IMG_1830Once again a weekend is over and I’m kinda regretting not taking my laptop on my travels to write as I go – so here comes part one of a triple-header of gigging with Ferocious Dog again.  The day started for us heading off to Telford in Shropshire via Loughborough train station where Ella arrived from down south.  A pretty uneventful journey arriving just in time for a strange window of closedness for our hotel.

So with a couple of hours to kill we wandered to find the venue where Dom and Waggy were already engrossed in a skill-ridden game of pool in the main bar area.  Wez, Dan and Leanne were hanging around too.  Tour tattoos were in progress for some of the others, Waggy was due to go under the needle too – whereas we’d killed enough time to head back to the hotel – timing it perfectly finding Mick driving past so he kindly dropped us off.

By the time we’d got ourselves sorted it was time to wander back again – via a cheeky pasty from the local shop just down from The Haygate, only to find the venue properly locked up, with a few folk already waiting outside.  Bumping into John having a smoke was fortuitous as it gained us entry to hang about inside before the place opened up – it was getting a bit chilly outside!

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Freeborn Al / 23rd November 2015 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos

The lesson here it’s not too late to write your song and tune..

DSC_0227One of the unplanned but very welcome spin-offs of starting this blog has been getting my mits on music before it’s released to have a listen to and a ponder about.  This last week or so I’ve been lucky enough to be listening to some demos that none other than The Star Botherers have been working on in the studio lately, and what a treat it’s proven to be!

I first encountered them as an act at Bearded Theory 2013 in Gail’s tea tent – eager to check out the then Ferocious Dog bass player’s side project with the dude who wrote Freethinker.  I’ve seen them perhaps harshly categorised as novelty act – but then again the early gigs I saw of them were dominated by expansive bingo sessions or heavily customised merchandise including tins of beans and condoms – these days the focus is fully and deservedly on the music.

Four songs landed in my email from Bart inviting comment, two of them later reprised as spoken word tracks – and my gosh they’ve had some hammer over the last few days.  For those of you who’ve seen Bart, Dave (and now with added Brad on drums) on the festival circuit this year then this won’t contain too many spoilers as these songs have all featured in set lists over the course of the summer – indeed, many of us so familiar with them there are already singalong opportunities aplenty.

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Freeborn Al / 13th October 2015 / Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments