Geddon moi laaaaand…

IMG_0867Wow. Farmer Phil’s you were a bloody spectacularly good festival – I have no idea how many words, edits, or sittings this is going to take (edit – did it in one, sorry in advance for the typos), but felt the need to make a start on trying to document five days and nights of great fun, company, music and just general soul nourishment.  Dean has been telling me to go to Farmer Phil’s for about three years now, I’m glad I finally listened to him.  The festival proper starts on the Friday, but camping passes enable you to get on site from Monday, which many did – I opted to travel on Wednesday.

First order of business for me was to nip and pick up Tina before we headed over to Shropshire in the sunshine – I’ve subsequently found the setting to quell my sat nav’s desire to take me down the bloody M6 toll road at every opportunity it gets – but last week I was lucky that Tina knew the best way to go without having to pay to drive on a road.  Once on the site we drove into the ‘noisy’ field and found a suitable sized area next to Naomi, Joe and family and set about plotting tent and car positioning to try to save space for others arriving later.

It was pretty warm so by the time we’d put up mine and Snotty’s tent, one for Simon, and Tina and Tim’s teepee we’d tired ourselves out pretty well.  There was time to leisurely settle by the campfire to spend time with the Deerstock collective next door – one of the best things about the weekend was getting the chance to get to know Naomi and Joe’s awesome kids Jake, Kezzi and Rohan a bit better, whilst Ant provided a pretty non-ceasing stream of comedy as only he knows how as the ciders started flowing perhaps a little too freely.

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Freeborn Al / 18th August 2015 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos

Deer, stock and (mead) barrel..

IMG_0711Ah, so that was Deerstock.  Now I’m home, the tent is dried and back in the bag (subject to repairs later), I’m showered and the washing machine is on probably the most daunting task of the day is how on earth to go about summing up four days and nights of mayhem in a field in Newton?  Deerstock 2014 was definitely the highlight of my year last year, and this year might well have just gone and topped even that.  So I will apologise in advance for the wordiness, and for the inevitable blanks in my recall… this is going to be a loooooong post.

Off work on Thursday I was mooching around planning on arriving on the site around 4pm – upon messaging Tim around lunchtime he revealed that he and Tina had already set up camp – so rather than pace around the house I hopped straight in the car and made my way to Newton via the supermarket for last minute supplies.  Tina and Tim had done a great job in saving a chunk of space to keep us all together – and I was soon pitched and sorted in time to help Lisa and Pixie get their tent up.

Once cabin fever relieves you get that slight craziness and the concoctions came out perhaps a little earlier than planned.  As we got steadily more pickled by the fire we had the chance to marvel at how quickly Spike can put up his gigantic tent, and see our village slowly constructing itself around us.  A ramshackle and wonderful mixture of camper vans and tents nestled together containing many of my favourite people – sure, there wasn’t any music on, but that wasn’t really needed.

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Freeborn Al / 27th July 2015 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Lee Bonsall, Music, Other Bands, Photos, Videos

A triumphant homecoming..

unnamedI talked about my reservations over Splendour as an event before – a little too sterile, a bit too rule-bound, and it didn’t bode well when arriving at the site as it opened to see loads of people having assorted things confiscated.  In defence of the security guys, they were very courteous and I thought the organisers had done a decent job in communicating what would and wouldn’t be permitted on the site – but well, taking a lads water off him because he’d had a swig on the way to the park?  A bit much!

After the state I got in three years ago I didn’t attempt any smuggling of contraband this year – more’s the pity as I wasn’t so much as patted down on my way through the gate!  It’s probably a good thing though!  Early on to the site my first objective was something to eat, which was duly purloined from the bacon cob van – shortly after this I bumped into Ian and Lucy for a quick chat over our assorted food choices.  They’d hit the bar already, which was my next stop.

Ah, beer tokens.  I loathe them – but grudgingly bought some in order to get that all important first cider of the day.  You can see why they don’t want people bringing their own booze in when they’re charging £4 a pint for their own edited range of beverages.  That said, ales, lager, cider, jägerbombs and Pimm’s were all on offer in exchange for a magic token.  After picking up a drink I wandered down to the Confetti Stage where Georgie and her band were getting set up.

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Freeborn Al / 19th July 2015 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos

The Splendour of the weekend to come..

Splendour-2015_IndianaWhilst I’ve been still basking a bit in the warm fuzziness of last weekend at Wistful, it will be good to get a bit of full-on Ferocious Dog this weekend at Nottingham’s Splendour Festival.  I’m not generally a huge fan of Splendour, it’s pretty pricey (although I guess if you divide the ticket price by the number of acts you want to see it does work out good value this year).  FD played it last year but an early slot on a small stage so I didn’t indulge, although I did go to it when the Levellers played a couple of years back.

The list of terms and conditions are potentially entertaining too depending on how many Hell Hounds descend for the 5:15 showtime.  We shall see!  Definitely this year I won’t be attempting to smuggle in a litre and a half of rum (successfully) like I did on my previous visit… after consuming that I found myself practically asleep  against the crash barrier for much of the Levellers set.  Mercifully this rendered me unable to ‘appreciate’ the headline act of Dizzee Rascal too so perhaps it wasn’t such a bad plan!

This year though with Roots Manuva, The Specials and James on the bill too there’s more to look forward to than just Ferocious Dog which is always a bonus, and there’s sure to be new acts to discover.  The other drawback to Splendour is the lack of camping option – on account of the potentially vicious deer in the park – although whilst not my current home Nottingham is a place I can find places to stay pretty easily – and I’m sure there’ll be a few folk out and about to make it into a suitably fun party!

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Freeborn Al / 16th July 2015 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands / 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

Here comes the Willow man..

IMG_0361To be home in Leicestershire, showered and in bed with t’laptop before 11pm having spent a day basking in a fine array of talent at a festival in North Yorkshire is both a good thing and perhaps in another light testimony to a missed opportunity of spending more time at the Willowman Festival.  It was a cracking day and I’m reliably informed by friends who spent a long weekend there that today was certainly not an exception – definitely one I’ll be looking out for in the future.  I reckon Brian might well blog in more detail about the whole festival later.

Whilst of course I can offer no guarantees of my intentions and what I end up doing to watch Ferocious Dog, it had been my intention to ‘settle for Settle’ this weekend and skip Willowman, but with the twinned revelations that the former gig had been cancelled and that Ferocious Dog’s closing set was in fact finishing before 8pm it opened up the opportunity to travel up for the day and still get home at a reasonable time to get to bed at a reasonable hour in preparation to get up for work in the morning.

So come Sunday morning in the car I hopped and quick service station stop aside it was an event-free journey.  I elected to leave my car outside on the road rather than go into the car park simply to aid the quick escape, and it wasn’t far from there to the entrance to the festival.  E-ticket exchanged for an armband and at just gone noon I found myself walking into the field – almost immediately bumping into Mick, buying the most gigantic portion of nachos I’ve ever seen in my life!

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Freeborn Al / 22nd June 2015 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

Whoa-oh.. the dogs of Brixton..

IMG_0310Gracetonbury in Brixton was going to be another of those pauses in my Ferocious Dog diary that turned out not to be a pause.  A sell-out event, I was lucky enough to spot some returns go on sale in a moment of weakness and snapped them up.  With Simon and Ella kind enough to offer me crash-space for the evening it made the decision all the more easy (not that I take much persuading, as you may have noticed!).

First order of business was to get myself down to their place, from where we picked up Ella from work.  Her boss was somewhat confused to see her literally pounce upon an unsuspecting customer wandering into the place (me), and soon enough we hit the road – the plan being to park the car up in a secure spot in Camden that Simon had access to, tube it down the Victoria line to Brixton and get a taxi back to Camden later.

After parking up and meeting a horse that was close to where we parked (no really!) it was a quick schlep to Kings Cross and off we went.  I had planned on playing my favourite tube game of looking at people and smiling – this backfired when a lovely friendly lady sat opposite me, but that was better if anything, friendly people on the tube!  Even better still, she asked if Simon was my dad – ha ha!  Sorry Simon.

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Freeborn Al / 14th June 2015 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

All about Evesham..

I'm not sure what Ken is chuckling at. Maybe Ellis had just snapped his string?

I’m not sure what Ken is chuckling at. Maybe Ellis had just snapped his string?

Evesham on a school night is actually a pretty convenient destination for me – much of my working life is spent in Solihull so upon clocking off for the day it was a relatively short trip into  Worcestershire.  Arriving at the venue rather early I was lucky enough that Dan was loitering outside gaining me access to their green room since the pub wasn’t open yet – so a chance to sit and have a natter rather than wandering off into the town.

As everyone started to arrive food was eaten, assorted things were signed including the paper that will eventually comprise the excellent lyric art prints that were revealed on Facebook this week, a few of ’em practiced Ruby Bridges, restored to the set list given it’s just been released as a single, Les restringed his guitar, Waggy revealed he used to have a parrot.  As opening time loomed non-band folk were politely dismissed as they did, well, whatever it is they do right before a gig!

Meanwhile the Iron Road had opened itself up – a rock pub that has risen from the ashes of the Railway Inn, what was probably a traditional near-the-train-station pub.  Now on the one side there’s a big screen and seating, on the other a fairly cramped (for a six piece at least) stage and small dance floor.  There were concerns on the size – and more than a few people had noted the fast-spinning ceiling fan above the mosh pit area.

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Freeborn Al / 12th June 2015 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, 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.

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