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

A-Maze-ing – part three!

It’s no secret (nor, I imagine, a surprise) that if work holiday and funds were no object then I’d have spent the last few days gallivanting around the Netherlands to check out the new Ferocious Dog line-up, but when Gaz Brookfield announced his Nottingham date it made for a very welcome consolation activity to be undertaking.  In the meantime Lee and Jayne had pulled out all the stops to make it a full half-day of fantastic music at The Maze.

European-trekking decision was further vindicated by an unexpectedly high car maintenance bill – so I opted to drive for this one and stick to a few soft drinks.  We hit town in time for the doors to open and for a free parking space within a short stagger of the venue, and being one of the first fifty people through the door were handed a raffle ticket for a prize draw later (I never did find out what it was for, although I do know I didn’t win, ha!).

I do like The Maze as a venue.  Nestled behind the Forest Tavern on Mansfield Road it’s compact-but-big-enough, the lack of lighting in the rearmost loos did present a certain challenge but added a veneer of adventure to an otherwise mundane activity, the sound was superb and well, it was full of lots and lots of my favourite people to spend time with. I’d have gladly paid the ticket price just to see Gaz, to have six high quality support acts on the bill made it ludicrously good value!

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Freeborn Al / 19th February 2017 / Gigs, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

The Leylines tour is underway!

I’m a bit late with this update – apologies, but last weekend a rather splendid event took place at The Black Market Venue in Sunny Warsop.  Well, threatening-to-be-snowy Warsop I suppose!  I hotfooted it up there early, because it would let me get a good spot to park the van which would be our bed for the night, but also because Becky and Pete were bringing Buster down for a bit of socialising practice. The band were in place soundchecking, I passed a lovely few hours nattering with folk and supping a pint of Illicit or four!

This was the opening night for The Leylines tour – and Andrea had pulled out all the stops as promoter (is anyone really surprised at that? Ha!) and snagged not one, not two, not three, but four support acts so the night got underway pretty early – utilising the main stage which is sporting a new sound system for the assembled crowd.  It was particularly exciting to see Dirty Davey get his first announced outing for a while (although I did make a sneaky trip to see him at an open mic night last week!).

The last time I saw Dirty Davey performing at an announced event it was his first time being microphoned up and it’s fair to say the experience was overwhelming – but this time the practice has clearly paid off, a very confident performance – showcasing two of his own compositions as well as a couple of well-chosen cover versions.  It was a short set as he’s been struggling with illness, but it left not just me bursting with pride watching him do his thing on the big stage.

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Freeborn Al / 14th February 2017 / Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

The happy bus pulls into Nottingham..

Mad Dog Mcrea are right up there in the increasingly populous pantheon of bands I absolutely adore to see live.  So it was a bit surprising that I hadn’t registered they were playing up the road until earlier this week when Dan posted about it on Facebook!  Luckily with no other plans I obtained myself a ticket for The Rescue Rooms, which made up for Ella going to see them in Cambridge last night which I couldn’t really justify on a work night!

There was of course the extra bonus of support from not just The Outlines, but a bonus addition of The Star Botherers too.  With a relatively early curfew it was an early start, so I got myself to venue in good time to find Adam, Hollie and Mark in the bar.  I really like going to The Rescue Rooms, it was a trip there to see Mark Chadwick years ago that first put me on to Ferocious Dog, and that in turn has led me to countless other awesome musical diversions – not least all of this evening’s entertainment!

Lots of other friendly faces in attendance too – although not as many as I’d have thought, even given it was a weeknight.  The Star Botherers got us underway to a room still filling with folks, kicking off with Just Around The Corner and then into Ringing in Sick, Bart joking that his songs were all about his disdain for work – dedicating the latter for folks who had work in the morning (cheers, Bart!), then gleefully pointing out he didn’t (bastard!).

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Freeborn Al / 10th February 2017 / Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos, Videos / 0 Comments

The year the music died?

Image credit: christhebarker

2016 will probably go down as one of those years where sad news overshadowed the good – certainly that was true for me both in personal terms, which I won’t cover here, but also the seemingly relentless march of famous icons being taken by the grim reaper.  Just as we were coming to terms with Lemmy passing away at the end of 2015, in 2016 we’d be constantly reminded by social media of a glittering parade of cultural icons shuffling from this mortal coil.

David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Glenn Frey, Jimmy Bain, Terry Wogan, Harper Lee, Frank Kelly, George Martin, Keith Emerson, Frank Sinatra Jr, Paul Daniels, Ronnie Corbett, David Gest, Victoria Wood, Lonnie Mack, Prince, John Berry, Nick Menza, Muhammad Ali, Henry McCullough, Anton Yelchin, Caroline Aherne, Kenny Baker, Dalian Atkinson, Gene Wilder, Pete Burns, Leonard Cohen, Andrew Sachs, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Rick Parfitt, George Michael, Liz Smith, Richard Adams, Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds.

That’s not an exhaustive list, I’m sure, but that’s not really what I wanted this blog post to be about – but you can’t really do a review of the year without mentioning the elephant in the room.  As with seemingly most things these days it caused ruckuses on Facebook with folk taking to social media to express their sadness whilst others get irked at seeming over-emotionalness.  Certainly there’s a lot in that list who whilst I’ve never met have had huge influences over my life, and I felt genuine sadness at them moving on – some seemingly far too early, others having reached a ripe of age.

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Freeborn Al / 30th December 2016 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Lee Bonsall, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

T’was Dogfest eve, babe..

Thanks John 🙂

With reports of the awful incident that caused the M1 to be closed on Friday (obviously thoughts and best wishes to everyone affected by that) I set off early to make it up to the Black Market Venue in time for us to get set up and soundchecked as we were up first for pre-Dogfest Stars Bothering on Friday.  I picked up magician Tom en route – more on his awesome skills later – and mercifully was able to get to Warsop in time and get the van parked up in the car park.

We got ourselves all set up as The Star Copiers – during the soundcheck the cajón was sounding huge – I think it could’ve done with turning up a bit during the set.  Alas I didn’t realise ’til it was too late, never mind!  As for our set, we left feeling a bit disappointed – we dropped a sound to make sure we could fit in Merry Christmas Everyone at the end and well, we all felt like we’d made a few too many mistakes.  Whilst we don’t take ourselves remotely seriously we do want to be as good as we can be!

That said, the first thing that happened when I got off the stage was to be faced by Rob who said “Al, I’m really disappointed” – I was about to concede we were a bit too, only for him to follow up with “I was expecting it to be all tuneless and rubbish!” – maybe it’s true you’re your own worst critics!  Either way, we had some fun and we started distributing the CDs we’ve had made to raise money for Framework.  The raffle on the night was also supporting them, not to mention the collection of food and toiletries occuring the next day too.

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Freeborn Al / 18th December 2016 / Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

Star Copying on Sunday..

img_0343Another one of those strange blog posts featuring a set where I’m actually a performer rather than spectator, but there are three other acts to cover too – I’ll cross the potential for self-reviewing when I come to it!  Stars Bothering on Sunday is – as I’ve written before – an amazing way to round off a weekend.  An early start and early finish means you don’t need to be out late if you need to get to bed early for work in the morning, and has introduced me to loads of ace new bands.

Tonight was no exception – three familiar bands on offer, one of whom breaking in a new substitute fiddle player, one I’m part of, and of course the Star Botherers themselves.  The new band for me was Swifty’s New Front Teeth who are old friends of Mark’s.  Being in an unfamiliar setting they were a bit pensive before hitting the stage, so when it came to discussions around running orders they were keen to get on first, so set about sorting out the stage.

For just the three of ’em, electric guitar, bass and drums, they make a big noise – I cunningly clocked their set list before they started, although that’s bitten me in the arse now because I didn’t make any notes, and because of the ambitious idea of squeezing four bands into a little under three hours they had to drop a few from there.  D’oh!  Just Friends kicked things off in fine style, and those pre-show nerves seemed to evaporate in no time.

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Freeborn Al / 7th November 2016 / Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

The return of the Fox and the Pirate!

img_0276I wasn’t sure I’d make this, with revelry for birthday celebrations the night before I might not feel too energetic.  On the flipside, I didn’t have the north-south-north run to make – as it happened, I had some errands to run on Sunday that took me nearly half way to Warsop anyway – so well, it would’ve been daft not to have taken advantage of the opportunity to take in a bit of live music to finish up the weekend.  With an early finish it’s definitely do-able on a work night.

Plenty of folk had the same idea – there was a great gathering of friends either already at the Black Market venue or arriving shortly after me.  With tables arranged suitably it was soon time for The Star Botherers to kick things off.  The first thing I noticed was that Dave has added a cajón to his arrangement of instruments with a kick pedal that may or may not have also been attached to his tambourine, alongside his more familiar bass drum.  Exciting!

They kicked off the set with Ringing in Sick, possibly a subliminal move on Dave’s part to encourage people to take part in the quiz straight after the music – haha!  I’m pretty sure it’s been a while since I’ve heard One Inch Death Punch aside from when it pops up on a music shuffle in the car.  Just Around the Corner followed, Bart muttered something about it being his favourite of theirs – I do like it a lot too to be fair.

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Freeborn Al / 31st October 2016 / Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

That difficult second festival… night one!

13076514_485725474954762_3562155143094634744_nI’m sure you know the story behind Bostin’ Days – in a nutshell, an accident happens at Beautiful Days… it’s sorted out thanks to the local air ambulance.  Addie Burns has a crazy idea.  It’s the kind of idea that people probably have all the time – but in this case, he made it happen – get a fabulous array of musicians to record a cover of a Levellers song and release it as a compilation, then have an associated event by the said same artists.

That album is still a regular feature on my playlists – and last year’s event was superb.  How do you follow up something like that? Well, they bloody well did it – I’ve just got back from a fabulous weekend, and after sorting out assorted domestic stuff now I have the unenviable task of trying to put it in to words!  Unlike last year I was able to make the Friday night too, so arrived at the hotel in Wolverhampton early afternoon in time for a bit of a chill out.

Ella and her Mum would be arriving later – so after a pleasant afternoon with a book (rock and roll, huh?) – I hopped in a taxi to The Robin 2 in Bilston with Mark and Amanda.  I’d booked it using an app, and pre-paid for it – which confused my journey companions when I thanked the driver and got out without paying, as they thought!  Haha!  The venue wasn’t open yet, but the attached bar was so we headed in there and got ourselves some beers.

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Freeborn Al / 16th October 2016 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 0 Comments

An electric atmosphere..

img_5635Rockstock and Barrel is fast becoming one of my favourite festivals – to take what is, frankly, a somewhat tired old social club attached to an abandoned power station and sprinkle it with imagination, art and music is a real testament to Debbo, Phily and their ever-expanding team of helpers.  This year the them of the festival was Tim Burton films – the decor and fancy dress were the magic dust on top of a solid foundation of facilities and great acts.

img_5560I’d dumped Ludo on the site on Thursday night, but alas work commitments meant I couldn’t stay – arriving back on site on Friday afternoon – complete with some shopping for Tim and, perhaps most randomly, a watering can for Lynne and Ian (which looked alarming like some kind of thing you’d find in Ann Summers!).  First order of business was to get the van sorted out – and then get my mits on the first of many Pineapple ciders.

As well as organising superb venues, decor and entertainment the stand out feature of Debbo and Phily’s events are their wonderous array of ciders and wines – and of course the Cheezy Vinyl Bar, which even had the option of pre-booking a baked camembert too.  The main stage was in the social club, the cider bar hosted the second stage and a third was nestled in the attached Cheezy Vinyl Bar.

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Freeborn Al / 5th October 2016 / Band, Gigs, Hell Hounds, Lee Bonsall, Music, Other Bands, Photos / 2 Comments