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

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

Ey Up Mi Ducks! Part one.

This weekend is going to be one of those impossible to sum up festivals.  Ey Up Mi Duck – what an absolute triumph!  We arrived on site on Friday afternoon and were immediately directed to ‘Camp Copier’ by Jamie (this was our corner of the campsite, not Mark’s nickname – although it might yet have a dual purpose!).  So after finding a suitable spot to park up we set about sorting out van things before cracking a drink and settling down with our neighbours – Jacquie, Aimee, Mark and Amanda were already in situ, soon enough Kev, Julie and the kids would arrive and Jamie would be relieved of his stewarding duties.

It was a bit of a headspin (in a nice way!) to have an artist wristband for the first time, too!

The entertainment in the evening would all be in the clubhouse – as we’d got an earlyish set the next day we all decided not to be too ridiculous on the drinking front, the best laid plans and all that!  As we moseyed on down to the clubhouse we found some rather splendid ciders on offer – and Al Rate kicking off the music.  Difficult slot, it was a talky room with lots of folk catching up, but Jacquie and I made a point of watching his set – at one point the gentleman whose name I’ve forgotten (but he was drawing folk as they played) settled nearby – and promptly started drawing me rather than Al!  Awkward!

I really enjoyed Al’s set – he kicked off with Lady Chatterley’s Bower, and attempted to fight the background noise with Americana-infused folk – Greenback Dollar was in there, A Protest at the Protest and Sinnerman (with some vocals help from a chap whose name I didn’t catch) – my notes are a bit sketchy at this juncture, it has to be said!  It reminded me that I really must make an effort to get to see DH Lawrence and the Vaudeville Skiffle Show soon, though.  If nothing else it had me listening to their album when driving about today!

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Freeborn Al / 2nd May 2017 / Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos

That difficult second festival… day two!

img_0052Friday night was so memorable, so it was with that ambivalent mixture of excitement and tired reluctance we hauled ourselves out of the hotel come Saturday to taxi our way back to the Robin 2.  As such, we owe apologies to Stevie Simpson for missing his set in its entirely and to Emma & The Professor who were half way into theirs by the time we made it – but well, non-stop music for twelve hours, it wouldn’t be the only stuff we missed – and I must confess to sitting and feeling daunted about trying to write it all down!

img_0051Heading back into the gloomy venue worked a lot like the casinos in Vegas – it made it seem perpetually evening.  Emma & The Professor were on the second stage, and just striking up Bostin’ track Men An Tol – thankfully plenty of folk were more disciplined at getting up than we were, there was a good crowd in already!  This was followed up with Battle of the Marches and The Old Black Crow.  They have such a unique sound, and a new album in the offing which I’m excited about!

The two stages were alternating – Stevie Simpson compering the main stage, handing over to (or being handed over from) Brian Stone on the second stage.  If you take a moment to think about the logistics, soundchecking through the sound-desk only, the first chance to artists get to hear their monitor mix was starting the set – the sound guys and stage management deserves some serious kudos for even considering this way of working, to have pulled it off – just wow!

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Freeborn Al / 19th October 2016 / Gigs, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

That difficult second festival… night one!

13076514_485725474954762_3562155143094634744_nI’m sure you know the story behind Bostin’ Days – in a nutshell, an accident happens at Beautiful Days… it’s sorted out thanks to the local air ambulance.  Addie Burns has a crazy idea.  It’s the kind of idea that people probably have all the time – but in this case, he made it happen – get a fabulous array of musicians to record a cover of a Levellers song and release it as a compilation, then have an associated event by the said same artists.

That album is still a regular feature on my playlists – and last year’s event was superb.  How do you follow up something like that? Well, they bloody well did it – I’ve just got back from a fabulous weekend, and after sorting out assorted domestic stuff now I have the unenviable task of trying to put it in to words!  Unlike last year I was able to make the Friday night too, so arrived at the hotel in Wolverhampton early afternoon in time for a bit of a chill out.

Ella and her Mum would be arriving later – so after a pleasant afternoon with a book (rock and roll, huh?) – I hopped in a taxi to The Robin 2 in Bilston with Mark and Amanda.  I’d booked it using an app, and pre-paid for it – which confused my journey companions when I thanked the driver and got out without paying, as they thought!  Haha!  The venue wasn’t open yet, but the attached bar was so we headed in there and got ourselves some beers.

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

An electric atmosphere..

img_5635Rockstock and Barrel is fast becoming one of my favourite festivals – to take what is, frankly, a somewhat tired old social club attached to an abandoned power station and sprinkle it with imagination, art and music is a real testament to Debbo, Phily and their ever-expanding team of helpers.  This year the them of the festival was Tim Burton films – the decor and fancy dress were the magic dust on top of a solid foundation of facilities and great acts.

img_5560I’d dumped Ludo on the site on Thursday night, but alas work commitments meant I couldn’t stay – arriving back on site on Friday afternoon – complete with some shopping for Tim and, perhaps most randomly, a watering can for Lynne and Ian (which looked alarming like some kind of thing you’d find in Ann Summers!).  First order of business was to get the van sorted out – and then get my mits on the first of many Pineapple ciders.

As well as organising superb venues, decor and entertainment the stand out feature of Debbo and Phily’s events are their wonderous array of ciders and wines – and of course the Cheezy Vinyl Bar, which even had the option of pre-booking a baked camembert too.  The main stage was in the social club, the cider bar hosted the second stage and a third was nestled in the attached Cheezy Vinyl Bar.

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Freeborn Al / 5th October 2016 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Lee Bonsall, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

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

14045553_10210020946138400_6248960456736454191_nSunday morning arrived with that feeling of simutaneous amazement at how quickly the time had gone whilst feeling like we’d been on that happy campsite for much longer than just under a week.  We started the day cooking bacon (we had a lot of bacon to cook) and celebrating Sally’s birthday with.. well, bacon.  And cake, too, as all birthdays should be celebrated.

I think we were supposed to dress up in olympic get-up on Saturday, as we hadn’t done that Tim, Dave, Andy and I donned our Cool Runnings inspired lycra suits perhaps a day late (there was at least one other Jamaican bob-sled team on site though, so maybe it didn’t matter!).  It was universally decided that in the interests of decency that shorts or kilts should be worn over aforementioned suits.  I’m not sure it was any more flattering!

We’d got Sunday dinner booked at Nana’s Kitchen for noon (didn’t stop a sneaky bacon cob though), which clashed with Headsticks opening up the music.  The lovely Drew was happy to serve our food into takeaway boxes – and lucky for us a few technical wibbles meant that there was enough time for us to sit by the main stage and get our dinner eaten before the first act started on the stage.  It turns out Headsticks is a great way to work off a Sunday roast!

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Freeborn Al / 17th August 2016 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Lee Bonsall, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

Pissed fool at Wistful (part two)..

IMG_4653Saturday started with a slightly thick head, which was soon put to rights by a hearty breakfast from Moo n’ Brews (whose awesome home made burgers I neglected to mention in Friday’s update).  Coupled with a nice slug of breakfast mead from The MeadEvil bar and the world was looking a much better place, certainly was for Paige who appeared to have taken up residence at the bar for much of the day!

Meanwhile in the barn Ovacast got the day off to a very lively start – mainly blasting out very accomplished rock covers (clearly my note-taking wasn’t up to much, I only captured Wanted Dead or Alive – but it was very tight.  Lisa H was their main spokesperson over the weekend so I discovered they’d actually been performing together for years, they were excellent – I think the energy of their set would’ve benefited from being on a little later in the day but still most enjoyable!

IMG_4655To follow was the inimitable Brian Stone, it was pretty warm in the barn – and I don’t doubt he was up ’til the wee small hours around a campfire somewhere on the site.  It didn’t detract from the performance though – kicking off with Life Begins @ 50 and then into Barrow Downs.  His rendering of Ward The Pirate was delivered complete with ‘the dance moves’ from Karen and Ella initially, before spreading further into the crowd.

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Freeborn Al / 19th July 2016 / Band, 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

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