Farmer Phil’s 2017 – part two!

Saturday morning started with sausage cobs (yes, they are cobs!) for breakfast – then we were up to the arena early doors as Morgan and Ella were doing a Morganella ‘meet and greet’ at the Pink Flamingo Bar. Lucan was a hero and arranged for a 4×4 to pick up our stuff to take up to the stage so I left Mark in charge of my stuff and accompanied Ella up to the arena. Starting the day with a cheeky cocktail and the first questions and answers was fun, but soon enough I needed to report back stage to get The Star Copiers set up – so that’s where I headed.

The sound crew were awesome – we aren’t very experienced really so we take all the help we can get! They got each monitor set up for us so that we could hear what we needed to hear, something I’d never really appreciated before until performing.  Once soundchecking was finished I found a quiet corner to get changed into my silly stage wear (okay, I just got changed in front of everyone back stage, haha!). Mark’s guitar seemed to not want to stay in tune, Kev was a bit nervous, Jacquie was practising lines – I was pretty excited in truth, definitely our biggest stage to date.

We started up by going on one by one with a slow intro to Down Under, Mark first, then Jamie, me, Kev and finally Jacquie to kick off the vocals. I thought it worked rather well! Donning sunglasses meant I couldn’t see the people in the barn – but I could see Kenny grinning at us from the bank outside the stage enclosure. What’s Up was next – even if I was tapping into a different song, already looking too far forward on the set list. Oops! It didn’t put the others off, so I could drop back into the correct beat soon enough. Listen was next, then I Still Believe (the one I started off on before by accident). It’s a song we always cock up in rehearsals – I’m happy to say this time I don’t think we did, although my monitor mix was largely Mark, Jacquie and me.

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Freeborn Al / 27th August 2017 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Lee Bonsall, Music, Other Bands, Photos

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

All’s well at Whitwell..

bbWe had a really busy weekend just gone – with events on Friday and Sunday we wouldn’t have missed for the world, combined with the possibility of me finally getting completed on a new house we thought Whitwell might’ve been a step too far.  Luckily the house move was delayed by a week – some hasty arrangements involving somewhere for us to park Ludo meant that we could at least make the Saturday.  And it was sure worth it!

The festival nestles in the Whitwell Community Centre – what I’m presuming is a former school building eerily reminiscent of my old Primary school (which has long since been torn down and replaced by an old folks home!) – with a stage and stalls outside, and a couple more inside functioning as the second stage and an open mic performance area.  Stalls ranged from food, clothing and of course a bar.

Upon advice of people who’d been there on the Friday I was pointed towards the cider bar to sample the Mango cider – it had sold out the night before, hasty new provisions had been sourced – and I took heed and made sure I got a few pints in before it had gone.  My gosh, what a delicious drink… keep an eye out for Lilley’s Mango Cider – it really is a thing of beauty (not quite up there with Rockstock Pineapple cider for my money, but bloody nice!).

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Freeborn Al / 14th September 2016 / Gigs, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

Geddin’ on Farmer Phil’s land.. part three..

14045553_10210020946138400_6248960456736454191_nSunday morning arrived with that feeling of simutaneous amazement at how quickly the time had gone whilst feeling like we’d been on that happy campsite for much longer than just under a week.  We started the day cooking bacon (we had a lot of bacon to cook) and celebrating Sally’s birthday with.. well, bacon.  And cake, too, as all birthdays should be celebrated.

I think we were supposed to dress up in olympic get-up on Saturday, as we hadn’t done that Tim, Dave, Andy and I donned our Cool Runnings inspired lycra suits perhaps a day late (there was at least one other Jamaican bob-sled team on site though, so maybe it didn’t matter!).  It was universally decided that in the interests of decency that shorts or kilts should be worn over aforementioned suits.  I’m not sure it was any more flattering!

We’d got Sunday dinner booked at Nana’s Kitchen for noon (didn’t stop a sneaky bacon cob though), which clashed with Headsticks opening up the music.  The lovely Drew was happy to serve our food into takeaway boxes – and lucky for us a few technical wibbles meant that there was enough time for us to sit by the main stage and get our dinner eaten before the first act started on the stage.  It turns out Headsticks is a great way to work off a Sunday roast!

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Freeborn Al / 17th August 2016 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Lee Bonsall, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 1 Comment

Sunday.. that’s my fun day..

IMG_4983Departing in the morning from Thorne – fuelled by bacon and tea (thanks Becky and Pete!) we had a pretty packed agenda – all before getting Ella back down south for a reasonable hour given that we both had work in the morning.  A top way of ekeing out a weekend!  So we jumped into Ludo and hotfooted it to Shirebrook FC’s ground where a charity match for the Lee Bonsall Memorial Fund was taking place.

We bought some raffle tickets and watched the match, featuring Lee’s old team (including frequent sub appearances from Ken).  It was good to catch up with everyone, and the match was pretty entertaining – the first live footy I’ve watched in ages!  I think the score was 3-2 to Lee’s team when we left during the second half – Ken had had an eventful game, missing a penalty at the end of the first half, and scoring one in the second (sorry Ken, I was too slow with the camera for the second one!!)

There was an afternoon fun day planned at Fatboy Ink Tattoo Studio after the game – but unfortunately it was one of those days where too much was going on so we had to miss that.  We hotfooted it to the Yew Tree Inn in Ednaston, both ready for lunch – and what a lunch it was, I went for a beef roast and Ella an awesome looking lamb shank, which we duly devoured whilst nattering with Jonny and Katie.  The Yew Tree is a bloody lovely pub!

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Freeborn Al / 8th August 2016 / Gigs, Hell Hounds, Lee Bonsall, Music, Other Bands, Photos, Videos / 0 Comments

Rolling out the festival barrel in style.. (part one)..

aIMG_3283Glancing through my notes this might be better off broken up into two parts – although since it makes sense to write it by day part one will be a nice introduction to the longer part two.

I’d been looking forward to the festival season getting under way – maybe that explains a loss of concentration resulting in me getting into a car accident (and hence the car off the road) on Thursday morning, already more than one eye on the weekend?  Friday was spent trying to get a courtesy car sorted in between finishing up the working week (mercifully I am able to work from home pretty easily – which is lucky really, with the office 40+ miles away and me without wheels!).  Fortunately the garage called in the afternoon and had sorted out a car for me to use whilst mine gets itself mended.

And so it was we were able to chuck everything in the back and head on over to Willington and get the tent pitched – I’m not a fan of tents, hopefully this is the last time we have to sleep in one!  We located a spot that looked flat and not too prone to bogginess should it rain and got camp set up, catching up with folk already there – before heading over to check out the venue.  As Ella was recording all the ‘Up Close and Personal’ gigs in the Purrple People Eater we went to check that out, always a risky prospect, but great to have a natter with everyone over some worryingly early shots.

IMG_3244It’s worth noting the transformation the fairly industrial site undergoes – a couple of teepees, a purple bus and the stalls outside bedecked with colourful throws, charming hand-painted signs and the like really brings the place to life.  The alluring cheese bar was set up outside too sadly not yet open for business, more on that later!  Folks were arriving all the time so that the sparsely populated camp site was filling up nicely, Dave, Caroline, Brian, Karen, Joe and Naomi all parking up near us (and Murphy the Festival Dog of course!) making for some ace neighbours.

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Freeborn Al / 3rd April 2016 / Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos

Monkeying around in Tarn..

Dollar is Clinically Insane

Dollar is Clinically Insane

Okay, so Ferocious Dog were playing in Fleetwood last night and I cheated on them in Barnsley to watch 3 Daft Monkeys – but t’was most definitely worth it.  It was off to the Polish Club in Tarn I went, a previous scene of Ferocious Dog goodness from earlier in the year, for a splendid evening of fun organised by the awesome Andrea who runs Let the Music Speak for Itself.  As I’ve discovered in the last year, promoting and organising gigs is hard work with little reward trying to lever people from their sofas – so I’m personally very thankful there are such passionate folk about to supplement my social life.

For Friday night in rush-hour the M1 was reasonably kind, we detoured via Thorne to pick up Becky and Pete and arrived pretty much bang on schedule at the venue.  There was time to have a natter with assorted folk like Darren, Collette, Rachel, Lisa, Janet and Dom (with an awesome Levellers shirt on) before getting hand-stamped up and heading into the venue proper ready for the show.  Which commenced with the slightly terrifying spectacle of Dollar is Clinically Insane strutting around the stage banging a gong.

He described his act as spoken word – it was a combination of stand-up and poetry despite his protestations to the contrary.  Self-depreciating and funny – probably funniest for us was watching 14 year old Dom, right at the front, listening to the – um – very adult themed pieces.  An inability to get laid, being stuck in a porn vortex, celebrity stalking and – my personal highlight – regret at not being ‘the shag-monster of Yorkshire.’  It was certainly something a bit different to my normal choice of entertainment – and gave us some laughs with a follow-up underpinning of seriousness.

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Freeborn Al / 5th September 2015 / Gigs, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

Bostin’ Days album review..

albumcover4I was dead excited when Bostin’ Days was announced.  A compilation of covers of Levellers songs – who are the root node of pretty much all my musical loves –  performed by loads of my favourite performers many of whom have become friends.  Then I got scared.  Like many fans I guess Levs songs are precious to me – what if I didn’t like them? What if I didn’t like them and the artist in question was somebody I knew? What if it was all just a terrible idea?

Luckily Addie isn’t as big a worrier as me – and his drive and passion along with the folk who’ve been helping him has seen the project come through to fruition finally, and it’s an absolute triumph.  I’ve not been able to stop listening to it – a four hour plus round trip on a Sunday would normally be a bind, but last weekend it meant I got to listen to it through twice – and suddenly hold-ups on the way to work are a bit more tolerable because it might mean that I get to squeeze in another couple of tracks before reaching the office.

Of course, we should start with the mission of the project – and that was to raise money for the Devon Air Ambulance.  This came about in the wake of an accident at Beautiful Days last year where the service was mobilised to airlift a couple of injured folk to hospital.  The idea of the album was conceived to raise money for the charity, and there’s also an accompanying live event which you’d be a fool to want to miss, in Nuneaton in October.

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Freeborn Al / 7th August 2015 / Band, Music, Other Bands, Photos