Wistful festival goodness..

Whilst YNot Festival was busy providing both the question in its name, and the answer in its execution, just three miles over the hill Wistful Festival continued to incrementally grow and deal admirably with the occasionally inclement weather conditions high up in the Derbyshire Hills.  When I think back to the first nameless event Lisa organised, it’s pretty amazing to see how much it has grown into a fully fledged festival.

Arriving on site on Friday morning we were just in time to see Dirty Davey, increasingly confident on stage he rattled through a set including Shirt of Blue, the acapella Summer Fields and Riot ShieldsLand of Hope and GloryThe Old ManMarch On Have You Seen Them and finally I Hate You Mrs Thatcher.  Longest set I’ve seen from him, and no drafted-in accompaniments to boot!

A few sound issues troubled the set up of The Collective, but soon enough they were underway with a lively fusion of hip hop, rock and just generally bounciness – I couldn’t tell you many song names beyond Smoke My Troubles Away and a cover of Walking on the Moon – in the meantime we’d been checking out the set up of the arena, The Meadevil Bar debuting their new tent, the Cheezy Vinyl Bar next door – that was me pretty much sorted for the weekend!

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Freeborn Al / 5th August 2017 / Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos

Smiles defeat the rain..

Sometimes the best way to judge or consider the impact of anything is when you place it into adversity – and Something to Smile About had a few moments like that, from last minute snags with the camper van field, broken strimmers and mowers making the alternative somewhat overgrown, a near miss with a lorry deciding to nearly drive directly into the car park from the motorway to a biblical storm and stage malfunction on the Friday night – but organisers and volunteers alike rallied and sorted everything out – and more importantly the lovely festival goers kept their smiles intact.

We arrived the night before and found a handy spot backstage to set up camp for the weekend – in time to muck in with the stage set up whilst catching up with the other folk who’d got on site early.  Come Friday morning everything was looking good – there was a bit of rain forecast just after lunch, otherwise all looked good!  I put some bins out and tried to get a cider early only to be reminded the bar opened at noon by Zoe – so at noon I made sure I was first in the queue for a ginger cider – wow, what a revelation – it might be my new favourite festival tipple.

On the main stage Regime kicked things off – funky reggae dub with a healthy smattering of hip hop was a perfect way to gently introduce music to the arena.  In the meantime Becki had arrived along with Emma and Nick so I popped over to help lug stuff and attempt to help with putting their tents up, which wasn’t too traumatic an experience. It was heading to the car to pick up bags that I first caught sight of the jack-knifed lorry that had nearly ploughed into the car park / camper van overflow field – luckily the driver and presumably other drivers were unharmed in the incident – it was eventually craned away.

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Freeborn Al / 7th June 2017 / Gigs, Music, Other Bands, Photos

Wakey Wakey..

Last weekend’s gig followed a really informative day at the same venue beforehand, which is something that I might return to when I’ve had a bit more ponder time.  The closest thing I have to a mining background is playing around the Gedling Colliery site as a young ‘un, and my brother’s ill-timed ambition in the mid eighties (at the age of about 4-5) of being a coal miner.  And years of abuse from Yorkshire football fans for being a scab, what with being a Forest fan.  The ramifications of the strike were something alien to me until it featured in my university studies – I’m not really qualified to write about it with any authority, but then of course this isn’t really a vessel of authority anyway – but it’s a topic that needs treating appropriately.

After the day’s speeches and discussion groups though some very in-theme musical entertainment was on offer – all three acts fronted by former mineworkers.  First up was The Star Botherers, or well, The Star Botherer in this instance – it was Bart in solo guise who took to the stage first, unusually opting to stand up for the set.  It was a big old room, bedecked with banners from the different mines around the area – heraldic, proud and defiant, much like the tone of the day – maybe it’s right that Bart was standing up!

He kicked off with Just Around the Corner, the sound in the venue was great and with the lights low in the crowd and the stage lights picking him out it was impossible not to be drawn to the performance – it was a confident one too.  Of course we missed Dave but the songs and lyrics in particular cut through the room bringing plenty of smiles.  If I was a Tory was always likely to go down well in this particular crowd, and it certainly did here (I’m sitting typing this whilst watching I, Daniel Blake – it feels strangely apt to be remembering Bart’s scathing lyrics whilst the film plays.

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Freeborn Al / 6th March 2017 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Lee Bonsall, Music, Other Bands, Photos, Videos

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

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

IMG_4816Feeling surprisingly fresh we emerged from the van into an already pretty warm day – greetings made, breakfast acquired (again, from Nana’s Kitchen), we had an early appointment up at the arena.

Saturday was Pixiestock day – so it started for us in the kids tent, where Tina was telling the assembled young ‘uns a story about why foxes and badgers live in holes.  Ella was up next, complete in tiger onesie, to read The Tiger That Came To Tea – with the temperature already soaring it was warm work!  Kezzi followed with a fairy story before the assembled children were led to the glade by the Pixie King.

IMG_4817Lucky escape for me, Naomi had been plotting for me to dress as the pied piper at one point for the purpose of leading the procession to the stage!  Once in the glade Spike read The Gruffalo complete with amusing accents – before we were treated to a frankly slightly sinister yet oddly compelling Mouse Circus puppet show.  One of the fantastic things about Deerstock is the amount of thought that goes into keeping the young folk entertained.

There was a vote whether the wooden deer mascot called ‘No Eye’ should be burned or saved – I’ve no idea what the outcome was.  I voted to burn him. Mwah ha ha!

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Freeborn Al / 29th July 2016 / Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos, Videos / 0 Comments

Smile like you mean it..

IMG_4027So, Saturday morning. Feeling pretty fresh, after charging up on tea and coffee by the vans we hotfooted it over to the hidden stage for Hector’s Pirates.  For folk more observant than me when it was announced, you’d have noted it was a clever anagram of The Star Copiers – it took somebody to tell me to suss that bit of intelligence out, it’s made other festivals over the summer all the more suspicious though.

As Paul said, I’m looking forward to Prosthetic Arse making an appearance!  Anyway, the boys had roped Ferocious Dog’s John in to joining them on bass, and most charming of all moments was Dan walking into the hidden stage area in the nick of time and politely asking if it was okay for him to play with them too.  Once everyone was set up it was time for the set to begin.

IMG_4032They kicked off with Another Man’s Cause and into Basket Case – Mark had pledged to wear whatever people threw on stage after pants-gate at Ey Up Mi Duck, so started in a pair of Jacquie’s shoes, these were quickly switched out for her crocs – and then added to with Morgan’s top hat.  Rocking in the Free World went pretty well considering the in-flight costume changes.

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Freeborn Al / 7th June 2016 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos

The theory of Beard-ativity…

IMG_3875Well how do you go about trying to summarise four days at Bearded Theory? My normal modus operandi of slavishly noting set lists would probably lead to a novel that I don’t want to write and you certainly don’t want to read – so I’m going to force myself to be a bit less unimaginative and try to summarise what was a bloody fantastic time – a great setting, wonderful weather, amazingly well organised, great acts and a frankly marvellous collection of people to party with.

It all started for us on Thursday afternoon, we arranged to meet Addie, Jane, Dave and Nadine in a layby near the site to secure a camping spot together.  Getting back onto a busy A38 was entertaining for the two caravanners in our convoy, but soon enough we’d found ourselves queuing to get on site – a few very familiar vehicles already snaking their way around to the entrance to the camping field.  This was Ella and I’s first trip to a festival in our new van – Ludo – so it was pretty exciting!

IMG_3879Eventually in and sited, everyone set about getting things set up – for us it was pretty simple, extract things from the storage under the back seats, spinning the front bench seat around, putting the silver screens up in the window – and cracking open a can of cider!  The only fly in our oinment was a dead leisure battery – despite having been on charge for a couple of days – but well, even the lack of promised power a van would provide still proved infinitely better than the faff of tenting!

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Freeborn Al / 30th May 2016 / Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

A bit of bothering before Dogfest..

IMG_2705Of course everyone was rightly excited for Dogfest the weekend just gone, but there was the small matter of a bit of ‘bothering’ for the night before.  The bargainous sum of £5 gained entry to the main hall in the Black Market venue for a nice little warm up.  I arrived in where we were staying in Edwinstowe and met up with Ella and Simon who were awaiting a bit of food, giving me time to get checked in and finish up my working week with a couple of conference calls (oh such fun!)

Once that was over and we were suitably fed and relaxed we hopped into the car for the short drive to Warsop – keen to arrive in time for the first act, easily making it in time for a marathon round of hellos before heading through to the main room.  First a word for Black Market Brewery‘s offerings – well recommended for ale lovers, after a warning from Dave (which I suspect for many would be an advert!) I steered clear of Insane but did enjoy a few pints of Illicit and Imposter, quickly putting paid to my plan of not going to mad with alcohol.

First up on stage was the inimitable Brian Stone.  He is building in confidence more and more – although taken aback at how many people had made it to the wilds of Warsop for a 6pm start.  Launching into Life Begins at 50 his set was an energetic singalong both of his own songs and an eclectic selection of cover versions like Believers by Levellers and Ward the Pirate.  Highlights for me were his own song Where is all the Rum Gone evoking memories of that campfire at Farmer Phil’s, and a raucous singalong of Gaz Brookfield’s Let the East Winds Blow to finish.

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Freeborn Al / 14th February 2016 / Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos, Videos / 0 Comments

And a Bostin’ time was had by all!

IMG_1373How on earth do you go about summing up a day like Bostin’ Days Live? Both Jamie and Bart at different points in the day asked me how on earth I was going to keep track, I revealed a bit of note-taking on my phone to act as an aide memoire but well, that’s something I generally do (except when in Ferocious Dog moshpits funnily enough – can you imagine?!) and I frequently still frequently forget crucial details.  But making a few notes and making sure I grab a photo of key things I’ve seen generally suffices to at least try to get the point across.

The early finish in Bristol combined with exorbitant drink prices in the O2 Academy saw me on the road in good time – only an accident on the M42 caused some delays around Solihull, as I work there I’m well-versed in dodging that road, so got myself to my hotel where the owner was glad to let me check in early so I was at The Crew well before everything started.  Clad in the best wristband I’ve been given all year (it’s going to be a real bind to take this one off) and a nice plastic pint pot.  I thought about being sensible and ordered a cider.  Oops.

Shortly after Snotty and Simon arrived, it had been a bit odd being at a couple of Ferocious Dog gigs without her (the first question either of us get when out without the other is ‘where’s Snotface/Fisher?’  Anyway, it was good to be at an event together – as folk started arriving we made our way upstairs where things were kicking off – Steve Bentley opened the event by introducing the first performer and compere for the upstairs stage, Stevie ‘One Bloke One Mandolin’ Simpson, and also inviting a sheepish looking Addie on to the stage to mark the start of the event.

Now, I am confident I’ll remember everyone I saw – whether I remember songs I heard is another matter entirely!

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Freeborn Al / 18th October 2015 / Gigs, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

Talk of the Tarn..

Another day, another chance to discover a new venue for a Ferocious Dog gig!  Barnsley Rock and Blues sits near the hospital in Barnsley and comprises a friendly bar with a hidden gem of a venue room at the back – something Andy and I rather spoiled the surprise of by arriving early and inadvertently going in via the back way, but never mind, huh?  It was a good chance for Andy to catch the end of the egg-chasing and to watch the end of the Burnley vs Man City match along with Dan and Ken.

Anyone local should pop back tomorrow (well, later today now) to check out the Star Botherers.

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Freeborn Al / 15th March 2015 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments