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

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

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

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