Funke friday!

Everyone loves a Funke Friday!

I’ve been looking forward to the first Funke headline show I’ve been to, I think.

Bodega in Nottingham was the venue, with another night out on Saturday I opted for driving rather than working out a way of making it a drinkable trip – so we picked up Jamie and Teresa en route and headed to beautiful downtown Nottingham and got to the venue for a drink or two downstairs before the venue was open.  Plenty of familiar faces were amassing (and an impressive collection of Brian Stone t-shirts, clearly some of us need to have a quick wardrobe-plan conversation before we head out to a gig!).

First up was local act Motormouf who I’m aware of but had never seen before – and wow, was he impressive!  He unassumedly got himself on stage and straight into it combining a soundcheck with the start of his set.  Highly compatible with Funke in that he was using loops and a sampler – but it was pretty much all vocal beatboxing (possibly with some other samples thrown in) – overlaid with hip hop vocals, thoughful rapping and clever lyrics, and an amazing stage presence with plenty of movement and eye-contact for the crowd.

I was really rather taken with him – in terms of track names, well I didn’t do very well on that score – What You Waiting For? was second track in I think, and he finished up an all-too-short set with a cracking interpretation of Earth Wind and Fire’s It’s Alright.  He had to dash as he’d inadvertently double-booked himself so needed to get up to The Maze for another gig minutes later (good luck with that!), but definitely a good support act moment, someone I’d love to hear more from, and shall make sure that I do that very thing!

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Freeborn Al / 8th April 2017 / Gigs, Music, Other Bands, Photos, Videos

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

It’s a two Dogfest kinda year..

With Dogfest having had a break in 2015, we got to have the bonus of a double-Dogfest year in 2016 – the fifth one (or certainly the fifth one I’ve been to) – it’s amazing to see how much it’s grown from!  In the past it’s always been a race to get to Warsop for the start – no such problem here, I poked my head out of a cosy sleeping bag to face the winter temperatures in my van. Brr! At least I’d remembered to sleep the other way around from normal owing to the slope I’d parked on!

First things first was a trip down to the Co-op to buy some supplies to donate to Framework later in the day.  Once bag there were more stirrings in the urban campsite, a chance to chat with Darren for a bit before Wez and I headed out for a very hearty breakfast at The Tea Cosy on the High Street – recommended, a big ol’ breakfast with plenty of tea was just the fuel needed for a day as relentless as what was to follow.  By the time we headed back the doors were open and wristband acquired courtesy of Rich.

On the main stage the show was opened by Jimmy Carroll, I’ve only found a personal page on Facebook rather than a page so far – so I won’t link to that, but an ideal act to open the day – two chaps, acoustic guitars, relaxed vibe.  As is oft the problem for early acts they fall foul of the ooh! people are arriving! curse that means they get a little relegated to background music – it sounded like great background music to me though.  Just before setting up on stage Sam was excited to see his new band on the t-shirts!

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Freeborn Al / 19th December 2016 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Lee Bonsall, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

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

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 / 2 Comments

Well it takes my breath away!

justice9n-1I never think of Funke and the Two Tone Baby as an overt story-teller in his songs – obviously there are stories in there, but the lyrics are obtuse – they don’t spell things out (that for me combined with the masterclass in multi-instrumental multi-tasking is a big part of the appeal!).  So you could be forgiven for mistaking Bella’s Kiss as being a passionate tribute to the breathtakingly good kissing technique of a lass called Bella.

It’s certainly something I fell foul of, with Bella rhyming with Ella it even took on a degree of soppy significance.  It was at Deerstock that before playing it Funke casually introduced it like this: ‘here’s a song about a Hungarian serial killer’ – at the time I was looking forward to a new song, only to be faced with the confusion of a familiar tune that I thought I already knew well.  Being a song-story geek I took to Google almost immediately – and unearthed, well, a pretty disturbing tale.

Bella’s Kiss is about Béla Kiss.  Born in 1877, he was a tinsmith who lived in Czinkota (then it would’ve been a town in its own right, now part of Budapest) since 1900.  In 1912 – according to some reports after his wife Marie, fifteen years his junior, left him for another man called Paul Bikari.  Kiss, well thought of in the local community, probably illicited great sympathy from friends and neighbours when he confessed they’d run away together.

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Freeborn Al / 16th September 2016 / Music, Other Bands, Thoughts / 0 Comments

All’s well at Whitwell..

bbWe had a really busy weekend just gone – with events on Friday and Sunday we wouldn’t have missed for the world, combined with the possibility of me finally getting completed on a new house we thought Whitwell might’ve been a step too far.  Luckily the house move was delayed by a week – some hasty arrangements involving somewhere for us to park Ludo meant that we could at least make the Saturday.  And it was sure worth it!

The festival nestles in the Whitwell Community Centre – what I’m presuming is a former school building eerily reminiscent of my old Primary school (which has long since been torn down and replaced by an old folks home!) – with a stage and stalls outside, and a couple more inside functioning as the second stage and an open mic performance area.  Stalls ranged from food, clothing and of course a bar.

Upon advice of people who’d been there on the Friday I was pointed towards the cider bar to sample the Mango cider – it had sold out the night before, hasty new provisions had been sourced – and I took heed and made sure I got a few pints in before it had gone.  My gosh, what a delicious drink… keep an eye out for Lilley’s Mango Cider – it really is a thing of beauty (not quite up there with Rockstock Pineapple cider for my money, but bloody nice!).

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Freeborn Al / 14th September 2016 / Gigs, 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

Deer-stocking.. across the universe.. (part one)..

IMG_4743We arrived on site at Deerstock on Thursday afternoon for some early revelry – once we’d set up and settled amongst the other festival pioneers it was really just a splendid afternoon and evening for nattering, eating and drinking.  The most exciting part of the day came though when Pete and Becky asked us to keep an eye on their lads for a while, they disappeared off to Nana’s Kitchen for dinner and came back engaged!

Pete had been plotting with Ella, and we’d agreed to watch the boys whilst he whisked the Evil Mead Lady off to a pre-planned steak dinner and proposed.  As they returned to the gathered folk we sat and stared for a while, before Becky announced it was okay to hug her now – awesome news!  They make such an ace couple.  The other thing of note was that upon visiting the on-site portaloos, the inclusion of some air-fresheners made them the most fragrant ever!

The festival proper of course started on Friday though – over a breakfast cider we were treated to a jam from The Star Copiers (well, most of them, Kieron was absent and there’s an extra one now) at the campsite, Paul and Sarah had brought vodka infused watermelon as has become a bit of a Deerstock tradition whilst breakfast was a delicious bacon sandwich courtesy of Nana’s Kitchen (and of course washed down with aforementioned breakfast cider).

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Freeborn Al / 27th July 2016 / Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos

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