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

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

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

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

Nearstock..

IMG_3824For Nearstock we had the sublime good fortune to have the opportunity to crash with Paul and Sarah who live in the village it was hosted.  We got there early and were treated to barbecued burgers and chips sat by a fire pit Paul had been itching to set fire to ever since we arrived.  With Andy arriving shortly after it was a fun afternoon of food and beers before wandering to the pub.

The beer garden of The Royal Oak played host to the taster of what is to come at Deerstock in a couple of months, the party was already in swing when we arrived – Nirvana played from the sound system, upon gaining entry and getting wristbanded up by Pat we were accosted by Joe with the charity bucket, along with a warning that he’d be haranguing us all day and all night.

He wasn’t wrong!

IMG_3800First act up was Jake Smallbones – a solo acoustic guitar performer, he’d got the tough slot of ‘people arriving or working their way around the crowd’ – that said, he was an engaging and tuneful performer.  At a glance he looked a bit like Nick Parker – Ella thought a cross between him and Gaz Brookfield, but I couldn’t see that!  He started up with On The Road and then Falling for Another.

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Freeborn Al / 16th May 2016 / Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 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

Ey Up Mi Ducks! The friday file..

IMG_3675Uncharacteristic bad planning from me made me think that Ey Up Mi Duck started on Friday evening – and as such I hadn’t arranged the time off work to get there until early evening.  We did, however, think forward enough to get down to Amber Valley Rugby Club on Thursday evening to get the tent set up to save us a job once the festival was underway, so after finishing up with work with excitement we headed to the site.

A lovely setting – a raised Rugby field for camping, stalls and the acoustic stage with a dip down to the clubhouse and the main stage – and the Meadevil Bar – and already a festival well underway, with plenty of folk to mingle with whilst clutching the first of too many ciders purloined from Pete (and a pink mead – which was amazing).  After a good while we realised we’d not eaten, so made a beeline for Nana’s Kitchen for plateful of steak and ale pie, mash and peas.  Awesome food.

IMG_3668We’d settled with Dave, Caroline and Murph – which was fortuitously next to the Cheezy Vinyl Bar – I couldn’t resist a cheese platter despite not exactly being starving, Phil and Debbo served up a monumental (not emmental – ha!) portion which I battled my way through with relish, washed down with a lovely slug of port.  Happily the Cheezy Vinyl Bar will be making appearances at plenty of other festivals on our roster this year!

It’s not easy being cheesy.  But I’m happy to keep giving it a good go.

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Freeborn Al / 9th May 2016 / Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos

The end of an era..

IMG_3459Sam Jones has been running his acoustic evenings at The Brown Cow in Mansfield getting on for two  years now.  I’ve had some great nights there – I forget even what lured me to them in the first place, I suspect it was to see Paige Seabridge, but it gave me a chance to get to know Sam’s music, and countless other artists in that time as well as see more familiar faces playing.  It even gave me my first opportunity to surf to Freeborn John when Ken and Dan appeared there a little over a year ago.

In more recent months I’ve been a lapsed worshipper at the church of the Brown Cow, happily for me my weekends have become centred around spending time with Ella and Sunday afternoon is return-to-Stevenage time – but as I’m currently driving around in a capped mileage courtesy car we’ve reverted to trains to and from of a weekend, so my car accident whilst being crap has been great timing on that front, as I’d have really hated to not be able to make Sam’s last evening.

So it was I headed on up to Mansfield – the car park in the pub already full but a parking space found around the corner easily enough!  Outside was time for a quick catch up with Chris of Roots Acoustic fame, as one era ends another begins – he’ll be taking on Sam’s night as one of his own which will be great!  Getting in the pub the background music was courtesy of Roots Radio – inside it was great to be immediately greeted by Andrew, Brian, Paige, Suzy, Rob and Sam – with Martin, John, Angela, Joel, Brad and Kila arriving shortly after.

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Freeborn Al / 18th April 2016 / Gigs, 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