A pissed fool at Wistful (part one)..

IMG_4568There’s no greater frustration than working the day you’re heading to a festival – coupled with that, I was waiting for a delivery so even when I’d worked my way through my to do list for the day I was still waiting to set off to Wistful Festival.  The Parcel Force man arrived, I hit the road and got to Hankin Farm by early evening on Thursday – the lovely folk that run the farm were on hand to arrange payment for the camping, and after a few attempts I found a good flattish bit of the field to get set up.

The van sorts itself out for the most part, I’d packed the teepee too for Becki and Emma who were arriving the next day and brought a gazebo as an experimental awning substitute.  Soon enough I had everything where I wanted it, greeted the neighbours (Mary, Rachel, Spike, Beth, Christina, Julie, Mark and The Seabridges amongst others!) and headed down to the arena where a film screening was happening courtesy of a projector and a white screen on the side of Paul and Lisa’s caravan.

A fun way to pass the evening – although the temperature dropped ludicrously after dark – still, cider and mead flowed nicely and Paige and I fought for the attentions of Alfie and Pebble the dachsunds (furry hot water bottles!) before starting to wander back up the hill.  A campfire drew me over where rum was flowing, and Brian and Jonny were entertaining us with guitars and songs – perfect wind down before the lure of bed finally took over.  The first time I’d slept in Ludo on my own, which was a bit weird!

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Freeborn Al / 17th July 2016 / Gigs, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 1 Comment

Royston-buried! It was Jamie’s fault..

IMG_4488One of Ella’s many talents is an ability to sleep in once the sun’s up – be it in a sweltering tent or a less-so van.  Not so much me, I was awake, I made myself a tea and went for a wander – Jamie was up too, I made him a tea and eventually we all settled around Paul and Jayne’s van for a civilised sit down.  I’d grabbed a breakfast from Nana’s Kitchen, Paul and Jayne were cooking theirs, and that’s when it all started to go a bit wrong…

“Fancy a Bloody Mary, Alan?” asked Jamie, casually.  I was reluctant, but as I’d not indulged too much the night before there was no normal festival delicateness, I went for it.  And breakfast descended into a bit of a shot-fest – there was vanilla vodka, Disaronno, Honey Rum, Tequila (complete with lime/lemon and salt purloined from Nana’s), Triple-sec and – well – safe to say we were all pretty drunk well before lunch time when the music started.  Ah well!  We did have a bubble machine and some ace tunes to accompany our excesses!

IMG_4495Doozer McDooze was up first, having broken the main stage – which hadn’t been used yet! – he switched to the acoustic stage to open up the day of music.  He launched into Searching, a track on his new album (stay tuned for a review of that in due course) and into Dreams – given our alcoholic lubrication we were probably much more fun for an early performer than we normally are!

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Freeborn Al / 4th July 2016 / Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

Disarm you with a smile..

IMG_4102Late on Saturday Ella and Morgan had sneakily secured themselves an open mic slot on the hidden stage.  As Sunday morning came I was up and ready way before the performer – luckily for me I scored some bacon and and egg from Herb to cook up for breakfast to stick on a sandwich, thanks Herb!  We alternated kettle boiling whilst the rest of the camp got themselves mustered.

I sneakily told as many people as I could about the imminent performance – given the relative earliness of the hour – Mick had come round to say goodbye, but was eager to stay to watch, and we managed to round up a few more folk to get a bit of a crowd ready to head on down to the hidden stage where last minute rehearsals / discussions were taking place, whilst the stage crew got everything plugged in and soundchecked.

Morgan – as noted yesterday – had been writing down guitar chords during The Leylines set, then wasted no time in teaching himself Run For Cover overnight, which was the song they opened up with.  As Ella spent time in the recording studio with The Leylines and did backing vocals for that particuar song – it was one she didn’t need any lyrical help with at all!  It sounded lovely, to my admittedly biased ears.

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Freeborn Al / 8th June 2016 / Gigs, Hell Hounds, Lee Bonsall, Music, Other Bands, Photos, Videos / 0 Comments

The dawning of the age of the Star Copiers..

IMG_3787The first order of business after slowly boiling alive in the tent as the sun came up was getting out and assessing damage to glasses – pretty much beyond repair, although John kindly at least got them to a state where I could drive safely.  I nipped Lisa home to pick up her van, then got back in time to get some Nana’s Kitchen breakfast (amazing home made sausages) to try to stave off the hangover a bit.

Then t’was over to the Acoustic Tent to join the burgeoning crowd eager to witness the debut of The Star Copiers.  Mark and Kev have oft been spied with guitars around campfires and had become a bit of a self-created parody, until Suzy laid down the gauntlet for them to appear at her festival.  They’ve been operating very mysteriously, recruiting Kieron as front man, and preparing a set list and building hype on social media.

Mark had prepared an intro recording comprising – Captain Sensible’s Happy Talk blasted out followed by sirens and a countdown as the band stood looking a bit awkwardly at each other stood on the stage, bedecked with photos of Bart and Dave from The Star Botherers, their spiritual mentors.   This was the first time they’d performed to a sizeable crowd after a short rehearsal out in the wild in Warsop the week before.

The plan was I think for folk to expect something terrible, and deliver something competent – I’d say they went a bit beyond that, and delivered a genuinely cracking set.

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Freeborn Al / 10th May 2016 / Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

Newbury revisited..

Aye aye, Capt'n Burns!

Aye aye, Capt’n Burns!

Whilst obviously disappointed at missing out on what sounded like an amazing night at Exeter (actually we only partially missed out, Laura was thoughtful enough to video call Ella during the gig so whilst the audio stream was pretty bad we had fun watching the moshpit and the band for three or four songs, including getting the chance to wave to Ken, John and Ellis and watch Dean surfing!), there was a high degree of consolation in making a return visit down to the Arlington Arts Centre just outside Newbury.

On Friday night, clearly sympathetic to my dilemma, Addie had invited Ella and I to go with him, Jane and Tommy to West Midlands Safari Park on Saturday too.  Sod it, we thought – it’s practically on the way to Newbury from here so why not make a full day of it – we also considered the logistics in heading into Newbury itself after the gig to catch the end of Gaz Brookfield‘s set in The Monument.  That would prove a step too far in a very long day, so sorry Gaz, the minds were willing but our bodies weren’t!

IMG_3381So a fun day was spent of accidental crocodiles, sea lion shows, feeding lorikeets and goats and other general animal fun – followed by the M42-in-rush-hour simulator that is the drive through safari experience.  With the added danger of the fuel light coming on part way round, we were genuinely worried we might have to survive for days on a sachet of mayonnaise and some deer food the traffic was so bad – that said, we did see some wild dogs, lions, cheetahs, rhinos and assorted deer-like things before we took advantage of a shortcut to escape.

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Freeborn Al / 10th April 2016 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Lee Bonsall, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 2 Comments

Happy birthday.. Woop and He-lennnn…

IMG_3364

… alright, in my head the headline went with Levellers song Happy Birthday Revolution – but that might be a bit of a stretch (I think it’s a Rev Hammer song originally anyway!).  Come to think of it, it fits the first line of Ruby Bridges too!

As usual I digress from the start.  I love nights like tonight!  A bit of a no-brainer thing to say really, I’ve been in a pub watching Gaz Brookfield – but when festival and gig friends have parties it’s ace, because you get to be part of the melting pot of all the different strands of their lives coming together.  So it was that Jamie and Helen celebrated their respective birthdays – crossing the streams of family, friends from other areas of their lives and festival weirdos like me in the White Hart in Ashby-de-la-Zouch.

Being a work day – and being near enough directly on my way home from work – I drove up straight from the West Midlands with the thought of grabbing a bite to eat in the pub.  The birthday duo were already present, ‘supervising’ Jon setting up the sound.  Time for a natter: Helen works for a competitor of my work – but we didn’t bother talking shop, that’s not what nights like this are for!  Soon enough Gaz arrived, followed shortly after by Teresa, Simon, Dave, Caroline, John, Angela and Joel – so loads of familiar faces along with the other lovely people heading into the pub.

IMG_3358It’s worth mentioning the pub – a surprisingly roomy heavily beamed drinking den with a stuffed bear in the cellar you could look at through glass.  That’s right.  A stuffed bear.  There’s a picture over there if you don’t believe me.  Apparently history would have it the landlord of the pub in days of yore once kept a live bear in his cellar, which come kicking out time he’d set upon reluctant drunks who wouldn’t vacate the premises!

And here’s me getting a bit uppity when you get a surly bouncer asking you to leave a gig venue because they are keen to open a crappy club night!

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Freeborn Al / 8th April 2016 / Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

Re-living Rock City..

IMG_3347I’m probably late to the party for anyone who reads this blog – but whilst Rockstock and Rolling out the Festival Barrel was a perfectly justifiable excuse for missing trips to Buckley and Burnley at the weekend with Ferocious Dog, waiting for me when I got home was what might prove to be my salvation when financial and logistics make a trip to Exeter and Newbury highly unlikely next weekend.  Yes, the hotly anticipated live CD and DVD from November’s sell out gig at Rock City in Nottingham!

Having got back from Willington Ella and I spent a chilled afternoon airing the tent in the garden listening to the CD – the sound quality is great!  Remembering poor croaky Ken just a week before the gig in the rehearsal studio, it’s pretty amazing really.  After that the doctor ordered him to cancel the gigs in Stroud and Cardiff right before Rock City – the transformation that rest and recuperation yielded is incredible.  Not so much as a lyrical slip either!

If you’re a ‘full contact’ Ferocious Dog spectator frankly quite often nuances either visual or aural can easily be missed in the blur – and on Rock City day, okay – the Hell Hound AGM – it had been a long day!  Coupled with a raft of awesome music before the main event, plenty of drink and food (and Ella and I were both feeling ill) – my memories of the night itself are a bit blurry, the amazing atmosphere, getting my surfboard nicked (ha!), being pinballed round the moshpit – but above everything else an amazing homecoming and moment of history, watching them take to that famous stage and frankly own it for an hour and a half.

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Freeborn Al / 4th April 2016 / Band, Hell Hounds, Lee Bonsall, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

Gaz a-Maze-s us again..

IMG_2783I defy anyone to have had as fun a saturday night as we just did for the princely sum of £8.  I’ve used this kind of comment before, but the entry fee would have been good value for any one of the four acts on offer at The Maze, nestling behind The Forest Tavern on the fringes of Nottingham’s city centre.  To have basically paid a couple of quid to see each of them is frankly insulting really.  I was surprised that the crowd wasn’t a little fuller in truth, not that that detracted from a most excellent evening.

With Ella arriving in the afternoon fresh from album recording with The Leylines we headed into Nottingham to meet Paul, Sarah and Andy and attempt to find somewhere to eat that wasn’t booked up – initially attempting to fulfil a craving for barbecued food we ended up settling for the newish Handmade Burger Co in the revamped-but-still-soulless Victoria Centre – which at least was on the way up to The Maze.  The food was decent – and by the time we’d finished the grotty weather had eased up making the schlep up Mansfield Road a less traumatic prospect.

Once in the pub there were plenty of folk already assembled awaiting the venue at the back to open up, including Sam Jones who’d had an unfortunate beard over-trimming incident making him resemble someone still at school.  Haha!  It wasn’t long upon getting through to the back before Star Botherers took to the stage.  Or at least two thirds of them – Dave apparently competing in an international bingo tournament in Skegness (so Bart informed us!).  This left us with just Bart on guitar and vocals, and Brad adding percussion and backing vocals.

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Freeborn Al / 21st February 2016 / Gigs, Hell Hounds, 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

True, Fast and (mostly) balanced..

IMG_2219Nights like last night are the kind of occasions that you simply won’t forget – to coin a phrase from one of the acts in question, I can’t stand the thought of lying on my death bed with regrets, but I’m pretty sure this evening’s fun and games will be one that I relive when that time comes.  Okay, a bit morbid, sorry.  For a mere £8 something Andrea had bagged not just Funke and the Two Tone Baby and Gaz Brookfield, but Maelor Hughes and Ken Bonsall in a Ferocious Dog one-piece guise too.

Any one of those acts in my admittedly slightly biased opinion are worth that fee – throw in a bonus song from Brian Stone, the awesome Rock and Blues venue in Barnsley and friends too numerous to count in attendance and I don’t think I’m exaggerating at all to say it’s one of my favourite gigs of this year.  Ella and I headed up to Barnsley from Loughborough and had treated ourselves to an inexpensive Premier Inn room a ten minute stagger down the road, and were soon battling through the wind to get there.

Upon getting into the venue and wrist banded up it was already pretty full of familiar faces, we had plenty of time for mingling and getting a few drinks down us before the doors to the venue proper were opened.  Maelor was up first with a slightly poorly throat – it didn’t take away from a top opening set though, Morning Sun was the second song in, by the time he’d moved into Better Day the crowd were already shouting the ‘Oi Oi’ bits without him asking them to, he treated us to Won’t Fight Your War before offering us the bonus of a guest appearance.

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Freeborn Al / 12th December 2015 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos, Videos / 1 Comment