Got stuff to do.. Groovy.

Yesterday was the kind of day that defies description really.  Many readers will know Richard, he’s often found at Ferocious Dog gigs, festivals and countless other events – and has undergone a number of years of recurring diagnoses, remissions and recurrences of that bastard we’ve come to know as cancer.  But rather than let this be a barrier he’s relentless optimistic, sharing his company, humour and wisdom freely (despite not being able to speak any more) along with his ‘rock’ and wife Julie.

In what was originally billed by Rich as a pre-funeral – in typically dark humour – we just enjoyed a superb day and evening of entertaining bands, laughter, tears and dancing – a perfect ‘living wake’ (as I’ve seen another friend coin it).  A dedicated team of friends worked tirelessly to organise the space at The Yew Tree Inn and Lodges in Ednaston, there was space for vans to stay over, and hotels dotted around the area were booked up, and a big mob of friends brought together through a love of music came together with Rich’s family to celebrate – and did so in fine style!

From the open mic with Niamh singing along to Brian’s guitar beautifully, to Spike doing an amazing and difficult job in making a speech that Richard had written but couldn’t physically say himself, since the disease has robbed him of his voice box.  People underwent the two-verses-one-breath challenge (you have to sing two verses of The Subhumans’ Work Rest Play Die in just one breath) – kudos to Mark who learned it on guitar too and did it at the start of our set over the course of the afternoon!

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Freeborn Al / 15th October 2017 / Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos

And a Bostin’ time was had by all!

IMG_1373How on earth do you go about summing up a day like Bostin’ Days Live? Both Jamie and Bart at different points in the day asked me how on earth I was going to keep track, I revealed a bit of note-taking on my phone to act as an aide memoire but well, that’s something I generally do (except when in Ferocious Dog moshpits funnily enough – can you imagine?!) and I frequently still frequently forget crucial details.  But making a few notes and making sure I grab a photo of key things I’ve seen generally suffices to at least try to get the point across.

The early finish in Bristol combined with exorbitant drink prices in the O2 Academy saw me on the road in good time – only an accident on the M42 caused some delays around Solihull, as I work there I’m well-versed in dodging that road, so got myself to my hotel where the owner was glad to let me check in early so I was at The Crew well before everything started.  Clad in the best wristband I’ve been given all year (it’s going to be a real bind to take this one off) and a nice plastic pint pot.  I thought about being sensible and ordered a cider.  Oops.

Shortly after Snotty and Simon arrived, it had been a bit odd being at a couple of Ferocious Dog gigs without her (the first question either of us get when out without the other is ‘where’s Snotface/Fisher?’  Anyway, it was good to be at an event together – as folk started arriving we made our way upstairs where things were kicking off – Steve Bentley opened the event by introducing the first performer and compere for the upstairs stage, Stevie ‘One Bloke One Mandolin’ Simpson, and also inviting a sheepish looking Addie on to the stage to mark the start of the event.

Now, I am confident I’ll remember everyone I saw – whether I remember songs I heard is another matter entirely!

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Freeborn Al / 18th October 2015 / Gigs, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

We shall overcome.. Bagthorpe edition.

weshallovercomeIf I had one regret at the awesome weekend we just spent at Rockstock and Barrel it would be that it clashed with We Shall Overcome – a nationwide campaign of awesomeness, essentially gathering together artistic performers to do their thing under a single banner in protest against the terrible levels of austerity being inflicted by the current government.  Performers, promoters, sound people all gave up their time at over 300 events this weekend for free in order to raise awareness and money to help those effected by homelessness or needing food banks etc.

However, I’m always happy to seek out opportunities to eke out the weekend a little more – and in between family visitations and the logistics in getting Snotty back down south I spotted an irresistible opportunity to head over to Dixies Arms in Bagthorpe where DH Lawrence and the Vaudeville Skiffle Show had organised an afternoon of performers.  Working out our timings, we could get there for a little before 5 and spare an hour – and providence was our friend as the performer in that time was none other than Mr Kenny Bonsall.

As well as Ken also on offer were performances from Paul Carbuncle, King of Rome, Quiet Loner and the hosts, DH Lawrence and the Vaudeville Skiffle Show – two of which I’ve seen and thoroughly enjoyed in the past, so I am a little sad that we couldn’t make the whole afternoon work – but well, if I had to pick one, let’s face it, it worked out pretty well for us!  Upon arriving we found a handy car-sized space next to the Ferocious Dog bus (Cerebus), a deft bit of reverse parking (if I do say so myself!) and we were on our way into the pub.

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Freeborn Al / 4th October 2015 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Lee Bonsall, Music, 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

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 / 4 Comments

Warsop Carnival fun..

IMG_0477Warsop is a place I’ve become more familiar with than I was (which was not at all) before Ferocious Dog entered my life.  It’s a really nice north Nottinghamshire village – that would’ve been developed to support the colliery sunk there and obviously subsequently closed.  The carnival there is one of many years standing and held on the first or second sunday of July, on The Carrs, nestled between Market and Church Warsop.  It’s a cracking community day out in its own right – although of course there was the obvious lure for me of a certain band closing it off in their three piece acoustic guise.

Upon parking up in the middle of Warsop I wandered over just ahead of the procession to find the field set up with an assortment of stalls, a funfair and a central arena, with the music stage in the far corner of the field.  With events like jousting and falconry on offer as well as music there was plenty to entertain.  I bumped into Ken who was talking with a chap from Warsop Remembers, an organisation that he’d painted a picture for that might potentially end up as a raffle prize to raise money for the cause – so look out for that for a bit of unique Ferocious Dog related memorabilia.

IMG_0468However, it was the music that was my main motivation for going – so I soon found myself settled in front of the stage where Ellie Keegan was up first.  I’ve seen Ellie play a few times now and she’s a cracking performer – although not to my knowledge with the addition of a loop pedal (remember spare batteries next time!).  She played a mixture of covers and a couple of original ones – with things ranging from Crazy by Gnarls Barclay, a mash-up of Come Together by the Beatles and Lose Yourself by Eminem (I think – that’s not my genre!) with plenty of use of the loop pedal on both guitar and vocal layers.

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Freeborn Al / 5th July 2015 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Lee Bonsall, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

All smiles in Thorne and Warsop..

IMG_0110Well there was certainly plenty to smile about this weekend for the inaugural Something To Smile About festival up in Thorne near Doncaster.  Before we even contemplated that I picked up an exciting email from the BBC that they were going to play Ruby Bridges that evening too – which of course is to be released as a digital single on Monday 8th June, so get your download fingers ready from tomorrow, folks.

I’ve since managed to get the broadcast ripped courtesy of the listen again link, so hopefully the magical Soundcloud embedding wizard will have worked so that you can listen to it below if you didn’t manage to catch it live.  I’m sure you’ll agree, technical wibble aside where a BBC jingle interrupts the intro, it’s a going to go down a storm when it’s released tomorrow so make sure you get it downloaded and see if we can’t get it somewhere in a chart.

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/209246840″ params=”auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true” width=”100%” height=”450″ iframe=”true” /]

IMG_0112But anyway, Something To Smile About was set up by Becky and Pete to raise money for a number of excellent charities – with not only a fine array of talent to entertain the crowd we were also treated to a splendid selection of ales, ciders, meads and food – which I probably sampled a few too many of judging by the day long hangover I’ve been nursing since.  It was certainly worth it though, a cracking day and a huge success – already looking forward to next year!

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Freeborn Al / 7th June 2015 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 1 Comment

We won’t Stam-ford this kind of rowdy behaviour!

Ella will soon be rivalling Waggy with shots like this!

Ella will soon be rivalling Waggy with shots like this!

Stamford seems to have been destined to be a comedy of errors.  As the gig drew to a close I was expecting Ken to do a speech like Marty McFly at the end of his performance at the ‘Enchantment Under the Sea‘ dance where he shreds his guitar at the end of his rendition of Johnny B. Goode leaving the 1950’s audience including his parents staring dumbstruck at him.  “I guess you guys aren’t ready for that yet“, he says sheepishly.  “But your kids are gonna love it!

I’d arrived in Stamford pretty early – I’d booked a room for the night (and triple-checked the dates after Plymouth-gate!) and was feeling ready to get checked in, sorted out and maybe have a few cheeky beers.  Only to find that the mortified man behind the bar had no record of my booking and had no spare rooms – there’s a lesson if you use Booking.com or similar, call the hotel/pub to confirm they’ve received it…

Luckily Simon and Snotface offered me a place to crash which still meant driving later – but at least in a more helpful direction for Newbury than going back home.  An angry tweet at Booking.com saw them quickly get in touch to try to help – as I’d already sourced accommodation they were simply very apologetic and offered me half of the price of the booking as compensation which was pretty good of them to be fair.

So I did have my one pint of beer in the delightfully quirky old Tobie Norris pub where I met Steve, who had secured somewhere to stay.  After that we wandered to the venue which was, well, unusual to say the least.  Whilst there we caught up with the band and numerous fellow gig-goers whilst drinking coffee and eating flapjacks… when the lovely lady wearing her best twinset and pearls combination checked my ticket and pointed out where my assigned seat was it was getting a little bit surreal.

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Freeborn Al / 26th April 2015 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Lee Bonsall, Music, Photos / 2 Comments

Do you believe in the power of rock and roll?

IMG_9433A slight diversion from the main subject matter of this blog, but a worthy one I think – firstly for the cause tonight was raising funds for.  The Sophie Lancaster Foundation was set up to create respect and address abuse and intolerance against alternative subcultures – in memory of Sophie who was murdered in 2007 after a disgusting attack on her and her partner Rob.  A hugely worthy cause so hopefully everyone there bought themselves a wristband.

Secondly it was being hosted at Foremans, a deliciously non-conformist carbuncle gleefully retaining its punk rock roots whilst being increasingly surrounded by bland corporate chains like Revolution or Slug and Lettuce in the centre of Nottingham, overshadowed by the bleak Cornerhouse eyesore.  With a capacity of 55 people you’re guaranteed an intimate gig venue with some awesome people.  Thirdly the act was Goldblade – a lure in itself, but one I was intrigued to see in an acoustic setting.

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Freeborn Al / 29th March 2015 / Gigs, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

Had a fight in my head today..

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At any Ferocious Dog gig you’ll have heard the chorus and sung along, and most people know the inspiration for ‘The Glass’, it’s a beautifully moving tribute to a desperately sad series of events and perhaps – in its tragedy – one of the best examples of why to many of us this group is more than ‘just a band’.  It’s why Lisa has set up Wistful Festival, why Zoe – terrified of heights –  is skydiving in a few weeks – all to raise money for the Lee Bonsall Memorial Fund.

I’d urge you to support both of these events.

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Freeborn Al / 3rd March 2015 / Band, Lee Bonsall, Other Bands / 0 Comments