Along the old straight track.. to Banbury!

IMG_4335I didn’t really have any definitive plans for Friday – Ella made the suggestion of going to see The Leylines in Banbury, which is a pretty good idea – and an opportunity to try a spot of stealth camping proper!  Once work was finished I hit the road and arrived to find a handy parking spot, for the princely sum of 80p I was sorted until 7pm from which the parking was free until the next morning – all within a short stagger of the venue!

Once the bed was down in the back and sorted, I was able to catch up with Addie and Jane grabbing some food in the Wetherspoon’s round the corner (seeing most of the band getting settled in to The Swan on the way past) – by the time we’d finished in at the pub we went back round to the venue – Mark and Rob followed, then Maty and Pil and finally Simon and Ella.  There was a slight lack of t-shirt communication with Ella and I both wearing a Sweetchunks Bees t-shirt – I had to nip back to the van to change out of mine!

Soon enough the rest of the band arrived – some deft van reversing from Dave gave them the chance to get unloaded at set up.  The Swan is a nice little pub with a small area up front which disappears off in an L shape around the bar, with another room around the back.  We’d assumed they’d be playing in the back room – but no, they were setting up – all five of ’em – in the front area for what would prove to be a very intimate setting.  Suits me!  It definitely wasn’t me that set off the smoke alarm with an electronic cigarette.  I blame Mark!

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Freeborn Al / 26th June 2016 / Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

Let’s get Stoned!

You've Changed EPThis is another review that’s been waiting a bit too long, so apologies are due to Brian Stone!  Brian sent me a sneaky peek of his EP before it was released, and I was poised to write something but he warned me off, unsure how long he’d wait before releasing.  Then he released it pretty much straight after when we went to see The Leylines in Burton, and well, gigs and other things pushed it unforgiveably down my list of things-to-blog.  But I got there in the end!

My first inkling of Brian Stone the performer was after he and Karen kindly let me crash at theirs after Ferocious Dog played in Cambridge last year – on getting back in the evening he casually picked up his guitar and apologetically blasted his way through some Ferocious Dog, Levellers, Gaz Brookfield and Leatherat songs.  Self-depreciating all the way, he played down his own abilities with voice and guitar although clearly seeds were already growing in his mind!

Brian subsequently became a fixture at festival camp fires throughout the summer whilst writing songs and eventually graduating to stages – to which he’s ascended to like a duck takes to water, so an EP was an exciting prospect, a natural progression from the t-shirts (top tip: when in Tenerife, don’t wear a t-shirt that says ‘Brian Brian Brian, Let’s Get Stoned’ on it – you become an absolute magnet for ‘lucky lucky’ drug dealers!).  The artwork design is great, a pretty good representation of Brian as a landlocked musical pirate!

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Freeborn Al / 22nd June 2016 / Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands / 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

Along the Old Straight Track..

13139052_1049283961774622_1064068471929423814_nThe journey Along The Old Straight Track (see what I did there?) had a rocky final straight for The Leylines – a slick crowd-funding campaign and dual launch party had the fly in the ointment of technical problems leading to a delay for the physical release.  Hey, these things most definitely happen – it makes the waiting all the sweeter.  Technically I’m still waiting – someone (Pete!) had the temerity to go on holiday before getting a chance to add his moniker to the signed album that I’d backed in the campaign.

However, I was lucky enough to get my mits on a friend’s copy for a long awaited listen (thanks Andy!) – Ella and I sat and hammered it a few times on the drive back from Ey Up Mi Duck, and I’ve been getting to know it a fair bit in subsequent days.  Songs that are immediately familiar from an increasing number of live performances I’ve seen from the band burst forth even more polished and shiny thanks to the tender production of Sean Lakeman and mastering from Al Scott.

I’m a big fan of the imagery and packaging, a woodland scene overlaid with the band logo and the album title – a reference to Alfred Watkins’ 1925 book The Old Straight Track – which presented the theory of, well, ley lines!  Without blowing my own trumpet I might just have led them down this particular line (or track) of thinking, suggesting the book title to Steve on Facebook when he was inviting folks suggestions for the name of the album.  Inside you’ll find the band looking moody (aside from Pete) and a lyric/credits booklet.

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Freeborn Al / 12th May 2016 / Music, Other Bands, Photos / 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

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

Dogfest..

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I just spent a good ten minutes trying to think of a witty headline, and then figured – why do I need a witty headline?  Dogfest kinda speaks for itself, doesn’t it?  I certainly don’t pretend to be able to speak for it, but I’ve just breached 2,500 words trying – I’d probably better stop there!

I think this was the fourth Dogfest.  Certainly it’s the fourth Dogfest I’ve been to, and like much about Ferocious Dog related activities they illustrate a stark exponential progression – from a handful of folk rattling around the main hall of the Black Market venue in 2012 to a jam-packed room of folk, many of whom have come to be firm friends.  Plenty that’s familiar, plenty that’s grown – the only problem with that was how bloody hot the mosh pit gets in there, and the difficulty in navigating the room with tables in the middle.  Small issues with an otherwise amazing day.

It started for us at Dukeries Lodge in Edwinstowe where we set up base this weekend – breakfast was a welcome addition with Adele, Drew, Simon, Richard and Julie – whilst I might’ve overdone it more than intended at A Bit of Bothering Before Dogfest I was feeling relatively fresh.  Ella opted for a lie-in instead, and once we were about ready Becki arrived so that we could get ourselves sorted and in the car ready to head to Warsop – again, eager to get there for the start of proceedings.

We arrived in plenty of time, time to get wristbanded up, greet the countless folk also already there – and down to the stage in time for Brad Dear to open the day.  He’d got a few chaps filming some up-to-date gig footage for them – and it was great to see so many people there early and in the party spirit, I’m looking forward to seeing the footage!  Plenty of familiar songs like They SayFestival Bar Blues, Save Our Souls  and Far Away kept us all bopping and singing along.

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Freeborn Al / 15th February 2016 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Lee Bonsall, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

Peace in the valleys.. not!

IMG_2678I hadn’t really got that excited about this gig, other things going on in our family meant it rather snuck up on me.  But once we’d got in the car and underway at lunchtime on Saturday I must admit I was gearing up for a good mosh, it’s been a long time since Rock City after all.  Even the increasingly awful weather and occasional aqua-planing down the roads didn’t dampen my enthusiasm.  Ella chose to use the trip to start to testing out her Go-Pro (video below), an experiment that was curtailed by a technical glitch, but shows some real promise for a fun way of documenting gigs and festivals.

Despite the rubbish weather it was a clear run through to Cardiff and a pretty easy job to get parked up and checked into our hotel.  Opting to have a bit of chill time we’d noticed the rain had stopped a bit, which was cause for optimism.  Alas, by the time we were ready to emerge it was once again pissing it down – after a bit of a wander we found (after a couple of attempts) Hopbunker.  It had been recommended to us on Facebook by fellow Hell Hounds Martin and Diane, who work there and are very proud of their bar.

IMG_2655And with good reason – just opposite the castle and down some stairs you’ll find a grotto of real ales, craft ales and ciders – but without the wanky pretentions that seem to attach to such bars in my experience.  A fun relaxed atmosphere, and just £3 a pint from a fine selection of pumps – I tried a pint of Ella (had to be done didn’t it?) a Ginger beer and an IPA whose name escapes be before switching to Reveller cider – which was lovely.  Dave and Sally arrived with us, and countless folks of a Ferocious Dog persuasion followed.  Once the Rugby was over the bar was awash with Ferocious Dog related music.  Highly recommended pub if you find yourself in Cardiff, and the urinals in the gents were a work of genius – and alas, the only thing I took a photo of in there!

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Freeborn Al / 7th February 2016 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Lee Bonsall, Music, Other Bands, Photos, Videos / 0 Comments

Snotfest?

12540637_10208690227158086_1485361613149906056_nThis post nearly didn’t make it due to some fairly desperately sad news in our family over the weekend – but I’ve since rationalised that tragedy should make you treasure the precious moments and people in your life all the more.  So it would be daft not to write about the weekend just gone for that reason alone.  You can never be sure when fate might deal you a truly shitty hand – so grab those opportunities to celebrate and be amongst your loved ones whenever you can.

So, on Saturday it was a surprise slightly early birthday party for Ella which Simon and Andrea had been busy organising.  The first I heard of it was a message from Simon asking me to set up a secret Facebook group to invite people to – unfortunately the eagle-eyed Ella was with me at the time… “What are you talking about with my Dad?” came the inevitable question, I’m not a good bluffer at the best of times but kinda got away with it.

The only other significant gauntlet to run was Brad’s gig up in Eastwood where plenty of now co-conspirators were present – but again, whilst she was aware stuff was afoot we got away with it for the most part.  The Saturday before her birthday as far as she was concerned involved going to Annie’s for lunch then heading out for a meal later, where I suspect she was expecting a few surprise faces to mysteriously be present at.

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Freeborn Al / 12th January 2016 / Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

2015 – The year of the Dog..

12347814_10153863571453060_2422930688827816042_nOkay, so Ferocious Dog have been around a little longer – but this last year has felt rather like a landmark.  And not just because back in February it’s when Ferocious Blog was born, ha!  The lead up to a new year is traditionally a time for reflecting back on the year just gone and looking forward to the next one, so I figured it’d be nice to trawl back through the months and pull out a highlight or two for each month of 2015, it will be tough to pick just one or two so feel free to chip in your own in the comments – despite my best efforts I didn’t quite make it to every Ferocious Dog gig in the year!

January 2015 – a light month, Ferocious Blog was yet to be created (although it had been an idea kicking around in my head for at least a couple of years).  Checking my calendar and personal blog doesn’t reveal much at all in the way of Ferocious Dog activity – we’d have been still basking in the warm glow of Dogfest back in December – I latterly discovered that a 3 Piece Acoustic performance took place in honour of Ella’s 21st birthday in this month, but alas I didn’t know Snotty at this juncture!

IMG_9188_gFebruary 2015the blog is born after an acoustic appearance by Ken and Dan at the Brown Cow in Mansfield.  Seldom has one of Sam’s nights had such a huge crowd packed in.  The demand for the event was the perfect excuse to arrive early and chat nonsense with friends for the afternoon.  An afternoon of drinking had taken its toll on Dean who for the first time decreed I needed to get up and surf in his place – a great way to start what became a year of extreme ‘dogging’.  These smaller intimate gigs are as enjoyable for me as the bigger and bolder shows that are to follow.  We were first introduced to Scott at this appearance too.

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Freeborn Al / 30th December 2015 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos, Thoughts