Sell outs..

IMG_2066.. in the best possible sense, of course – it took until the day but Ferocious Dog were indeed successful in capping off the tour by selling out home town (ish) venue Rock City in advance – the first unsigned act to do so in the 35 year history of the venue.  28th November 2015 is a day that history was made.  For me it felt like a real watershed moment for a band I’ve had the pleasure of following for the last few years.

IMG_2034I spent the evening before making my hair look a bit more silly than normal.  It turns out I should’ve probably checked in with Spike and Chris who would end up with the same coloured hair as me for the evening, but never mind, eh?  I’ll probably regret it more when it starts to fade out to pink!  I even managed to get it spiked into a pretty good mohawk without the assistance I often get from Ella!

IMG_2033Come Saturday morning unusually the postman turned up before midday bringing me Gaz Brookfield‘s new acoustic album to provide the soundtrack to my fairly short drive into Nottingham.  More on this at another time, though!  I got parked up near Rock City and found Cerebus being unloaded, so time for a few greetings with the band and crew who were all looking suitably excited about what was to come.  Simon and Ella arrived which meant for us it was time to head for food.

IMG_2037Dave and Bettina had done a great job in organising the whole of the downstairs of Annie’s Burger Shack to be reserved for a group of fifty or so of us to be fed a fine array of burger goodness in a buffet style.  Very filling it was too, handy stomach lining for what was to follow and a chance to have a nice leisurely chat with a section of the wonderful folk we’d be coming into contact with over the course of the day!

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Freeborn Al / 29th November 2015 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Lee Bonsall, Music, Other Bands, Photos, Thoughts

Rockstock and barrel-of-laughs..

pylonSo we’ve just spent a splendid weekend at Rockstock & Barrel, nestled in the shadow of the cooling towers at Willington – just a short twenty minute drive up the road for me.  The atmosphere was literally electric with live power lines crackling overhead and people literally charged up with static electricity – but figuratively too with a fantastic and varied line-up of musicians and a ridiculous number of familiar faces in the crowd too.  Okay, so we weren’t brave enough to camp out in freezing October – which denied me the inevitable thick-head from the dangerous looking Scrumptiddly Cider Bar.

Paul took this awesome shot from under a pylon which you could drive under – as I discovered when moving a drunken Andy’s van from Campsite B to Campsite A as a space in the field became available thanks to the 3 Daft Monkeys electing not to stay over after their headline set.

IMG_1244Arrival time was planned after finishing up with work to take in the opening act, the very familiar Brad Dear who took to the outdoor-in-a-tent Electric Stage to kick off the festival with an acoustic set.  As noted from his support slot at The Beards the other week, Brad is a lad who is growing in confidence with his performances – he looks like he’s really enjoying performing and he’s on great form.  The news that studio time is likely to be imminent is great news for me too, looking forward to more tracks I can play on my travels – the newer songs he’s been adding to his sets recently sound great.

Then it gave us chance to catch up with the many many more hardy souls than us who had decided to brave camping – there was a campsite on ‘The Chimneys‘ site just behind the performance area but also another over t’road.  Already in position were countless familiar faces – Tim, bless him, had even provided some non-alcoholic shots so that the tee-totalers didn’t feel left out.  The sun was veritably beating down and I must confess that briefly I was a little bit sad I’d decided not to camp – that would change later when the sun went down and it was freezing!

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Freeborn Al / 4th October 2015 / Band, Gigs, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

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

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 / 0 Comments

A fish that’s learned to fly..

Sam Jones

Sam Jones

Nights like tonight are how a weekend constrained by work in the morning should be eased out of.  Of course, like many of us I was forlornly checking Facebook for scraps of how the boys might be going down at Glastonbury (and thanks to a kind chap called Colin uploading some videos, as well as a few pictures arriving, I saw much more than I thought I would – scan the FD Facebook Group to see).  It sounds like a rip-roaring success we were confident they’d achieve.

The third biggest crowd in Avalon over the weekend, and whilst perhaps not as lively as they’re accustomed to, a lively crowd nonetheless and an encore demanded and delivered – there’s a video of the crowds reaction as Ken was leaving the stage (with the obligatory picture from Waggy in the background) which suggests that there might have been a fair number of new Hell Hounds indoctrinated into he fold this afternoon.  I’m sure further video and photographic evidence will feature over the next week or so!

But for me today was leading up the M1 to Mansfield to the Brown Cow for one of Sam Jones’ acoustic evenings – a somewhat hidden gem of a fortnightly event that takes place showcasing both Sam himself as well as a fine array of other talented performers.  Tonight we had Sam, Paige and an unknown quantity for me called King of Rome – something I twigged as being a reference to the famous homing pigeon from Derby (don’t even ask how I knew that…)

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Freeborn Al / 28th June 2015 / Gigs, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

Not-being-at-Glastonbury distractions..

IMG_0406As the appointed hour of the appointed day comes for Ferocious Dog at Glastonbury since I’ve not been able to follow them to this particular landmark it’s been a week of finding alternative musical amusement for myself, and frankly it’s been rather an easy task.  I’ve heard reports that their smaller gig at the Bimble Inn went down very well indeed and now they’ll be psyching themselves up to take to the Avalon Stage at 2pm today.

Looking at the array of talent available in the Fields of Avalon I’d be spending a lot of time there – so hopefully plenty of similarly-minded folk are doing just that to get them in front of plenty of new appreciative faces.  Not least I hope the various folk I know who are there heed my advice and get themselves there – otherwise there’ll be trouble, and since the BBC cameras don’t reach as far as Avalon, we’re depending on Waggy et al to try to capture some of the event.

But for me I’ve been finding my fun elsewhere – whilst I can well imagine the experience of being at the festival is unforgettable – I’ve never really got much out of watching highlights on TV.  So last night I headed over to the lovely Colville Arms in Lullington where a small beer festival was underway with the promise of a couple of sets from Paige Seabridge to make up for the fact that I needed to drive there so couldn’t sample more than one of the beers on offer.

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Freeborn Al / 28th June 2015 / Band, Lee Bonsall, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

Reflections, revelations and anticipation..

IMG_9589Last night I was having a long overdue catch up with one of my friends, Sarah.  Killing two birds with one stone I took her to Ye Olde Dolphin Inne in Derby for a bite to eat before Paige Seabridge was due to take the stage there.  It was a lovely evening and Paige was on sparkling form – she’s one of many amazingly talented acts I’ve gotten to know thanks to following Ferocious Dog.  You should definitely check her out, an amazing singer, songwriter, guitar player and generally lovely lass.

Anyway, I digress right from the start.  On the drive down the A52 we were chatting about the weekend just gone – as we’re friends on Facebook she’s familiar in photo form of what a typical weekend of Ferocious Dog gigs looks like, but hadn’t ever heard them.  “What do they sound like?” she asked, “This is them now” came the reply – I forget which track was playing, but I think it was Living on Thin Air.  “Wow, this is really tuneful – I saw the pictures and imagined it was death metal or something!”

First impressions are funny things aren’t they?  You can form them without even a fraction of the facts and they can be difficult to shift.  Sarah had filed away Ferocious Dog as something I enjoyed but she probably wouldn’t – now she’s shifted that perception and if she can’t wangle Deerstock then we’ll definitely be looking for her debut at a gig on the autumn tour some time once the dates are announced – on Monday, so keep an eye out on Facebook for that!

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Freeborn Al / 23rd April 2015 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Thoughts / 0 Comments

Preparing for a road trip!

Today’s been a good day – a nicely truncated working week finished, and anticipation of a road trip starting tomorrow heading to the South West for a triple-header of Ferocious Dog gigs in Bridport, Plymouth and finally Exeter.  Given how broken I was after just two consecutive gigs last weekend this will certainly prove an interesting experiment!

What better way to get into the mood than by enjoying some video compilations of Waggy’s awesome photos from the Cambridge and Derby gigs?  I certainly can’t think of one!  I’ve just had an exciting offer to travel down to the West Country on the Dog bus too… wow!  This could prove memorable!

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Freeborn Al / 15th April 2015 / Band, Gigs, Music, Photos / 0 Comments

Had a fight in my head today..

FullSizeRender-2

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