Rockstock and … well, long overdue…

This is long overdue, so apologies – it’s been a busy ol’ time.  Rockstock and Barrel happened at the end of September, and it was as magnificent as ever.  After finishing up work we arrived on site on Thursday evening and got ourselves set up and reunited with our lovely festival friends.  Soon enough the cider was flowing (Pear and Chilli was my weapon of choice for most of the weekend) – and the music was starting in the acoustic lounge before the festival proper started on Friday.

Phil Cudworth took to the stage first – probably more familiar to most of us for his awesome woodwork, it turns out he’s a bit of a dab hand with guitar and singing too!  He opened with a potentially childhood-destroying song called Disney Princesses where he painted probably on reflection a more healthy set of role models than those proferred by the film company in question, then on to Coward about growing up in the 70s.  A mixture of irreverence, humour but also underpinned with real charm.

Coward was up next and then Bounce, then it was on to Hippy Chick.  I must admit I started losing track of song names – there was one about a chap called Gary, Computer Nerds has a question mark next to it then there was a really bluesy number called Tollpath Blues.  Then we get to where I’ve just covered subject matters – one song was about Russians, another about VIPs, then one called Green-eyed Monster.  The set finished up with Free for a Day but as Zoe took the stage she asceded to the crowds demands for an encore, which we got in the form of Sunglasses – a reflection on how stage-performing can adversely affect ones personality.  Something to watch out for!

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Freeborn Al / 10th October 2017 / Gigs, Hell Hounds, Lee Bonsall, Music, Other Bands, Photos, Videos

Rock-Stock is rising.. saturday..

Saturday morning came with no particular hangover, the joys of Scrumptiddly Cider and pacing yourself!  With the morning likely to be taken up with wedding preparations, as Dave and Caroline were being handfasted early in the afternoon, and with The Star Copiers having a set mid-afternoon I was more interested in acquiring some breakfast and tea than thinking about getting on the cider.  We did find time to pop into the main room to see Phily’s daughter and her band open up the day with some ace indie rock to blow the cobwebs away.

I’m going to try to remember that I think they were called The Hatters – I’m really sorry, that’s pretty bad not even getting a name written down!  I was dipping in and out of the set trying to track down the sword I needed for the ceremony shortly, but one song was dedicated to a dead fish called Speedy (I think!), and there was a rousing rendition of Chelsea Dagger to enjoy too.  It was a shame not to have seen more of the set but my principle duty until he was handtied was to protect Dave, so I set out to find him.

Eventually guests were ushered into the acoustic room which had been set up to perform a handfasting ceremony – which Tina expertly guided them through.  Siobhan and I were witnesses – along with the rest of the room.  It was a really quite moving, I’ve never really experienced a handfasting before.  I was sorry to have to give up the sword to Dave though, I must admit!  The indoor ceremony was concluded with the sharing of mead from a drinking horn, whilst outside bird seed was scattered and the happy couple jumped a broomstick held by the witnesses.  A beautiful way to start the day.

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Freeborn Al / 3rd April 2017 / Hell Hounds, Lee Bonsall, Music, Other Bands, Photos

Rock-Stock is rising.. friday..

One hell of a bar has been set as the festival season commenced this weekend, for Ella and I it started on Thursday evening for Jonny’s EP Launch. After finishing up at work Ella got a train in to Solihull and we headed off to grab last minute stuff from home and jump into Ludo to take the short drive up to The Chimneys in Willington for Rockstock and Barrel. On a normal day it’s a nice-but-functual former industrial social club site – when Debbo, Phily and the team get their hands on it they turn it into a magical festival wonderland.  We got ourselves parked up in a handy spot, and set to the quick job of getting the van sorted as our accomodation for the next few nights.

The Cheezy Vinyl Bar and The Scrumptiddly Cider Bar were set up outside, the former also housing a Murphy’s Stage giving a third performance space at the festival.  Inside the main hall housed the main stage area, the acoustic stage moved into the former snooker room which had – predictably – had a Rockstock and Barrel makeover to create a wonderful intimate space.  Friday morning started with helping John move his tent – then a stint covering the gate to the Riverside campsite for just under a couple of hours.  It was quite nice to just watch the world go by and guide in a few early arrivals to their camping spots.

Then it was time to loiter around the Chimneys campsite as people started to rouse or arrive – a quick walk to Willington for supplies passed some more time, and a chance to ‘vandalise’ Tim and Jo’s new van, Tootle (it has a blackboard-paint covered boot lid and they had chalk pens for us to use).  We were pretty restrained I think, it will be interesting to see how it fairs over the course of the festival season!  Soon enough though it was time for the music to start.  I’ll make no apology for doing lots of dipping in and out of things and not making detailed notes – but hopefully I can still do the weekend some kind of justice!

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Freeborn Al / 2nd April 2017 / Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos

Year of the Fox…

I’m going to tackle Jonny Wallis’ EP launch night as a separate blog post I think – because well, an EP launch is a big deal and whilst he utilised the night-before-Rockstock to use the same venue, it was a separate and significant event in its own right, so should be treated as such in blog terms I think!  We’d arrived on site early evening near enough straight from work for me via a quick trip home to get changed, packed and a quick vehicle change – so by the time the music was starting we’d already been having a great time!

With a few folk already on site (and clearly had been for a while!) we were summoned over to Ian and Lynne’s van (Eleanor) for an impromptu jam – with Jamie in attendance it wasn’t long before tequila slammers were produced.  All in all, a thoroughly lovely way to ease into the evening – this wasn’t technically part of the festival, but an EP release night for the excellent Jonny Wallis – he’d got Stevie Simpson and Brian Stone to provide support slots for what promised to be a splendid warm-up for the festival proper.

Rather than have an outdoor/tented acoustic stage for the festival this year, the recently cleared former snooker room had been appropriated and used to create an amazing intimate space.  This was where Jonny’s launch was taking place, from our point of view in The Star Copiers it was of intense interest to us too as we would be playing in there on the Saturday night, a great space and it was great to see plenty of people had managed to get to the site early in order to support the launch and enjoy a bonus night of excellent entertainment.

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Freeborn Al / 2nd April 2017 / Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos

Foxy bingo!

I’ve been really looking forward to getting my hands on Jonny Wallis‘ debut EP ever since we collectively coaxed him into setting up a crowdfunding page to get the cash in to make it happen, so to find it hand-delivered (thanks Katie – sorry I wasn’t in to offer you a cup of tea!) when I got in from work this evening was a real treat (admittedly, the email confirming the digital download details probably spoiled the surprise a bit, but that’s okay!).  Clad in a cardboard monochrome sleeve featuring an excellent shot by Dan of Ferocious Photography, I eagerly got it downloaded and synced over to my phone to get it playing.

The Year of the Fox is a reference to Jonny’s old band, 3 Eyed Fox, who I first encountered way back in 2011 – way before Ferocious Blog existed, although it did warrant a mention on my (even more) self-centred personal blog – a very short mention.  By the time I started more dutifully writing about music I don’t think they were any more sadly, so I couldn’t tell you how many times I got to see them – although obviously since this platform has been available to me Jonny has featured quite a lot on my gigging roster!  One musical door closes, another opens – catalysed perhaps somewhat by his occasional partnering with Brian Stone for a spot of The Fox and the Pirate.

Light the Darkness has a ludicrously catchy finger-picked riff breaking into occasional strums overlaid with initially gentle lyrics.  Jonny has a wonderfully melodic voice – but then get let rip into empassioned mode too as he does in the chorus here.  It’s a powerful song of togetherness, offering support to bring someone out of a dark place.  It’s a lovely start, having heard it live a few times now it’s translated brilliantly to a recording – it sounds polished without losing its heart, so some credit needs to go to Electric-Bear Productions who provided the mixing and mastering.  They’ve really rendered something here that sounds slick but is a great representation of what Jonny delivers live too.

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Freeborn Al / 21st March 2017 / Music, Other Bands, Photos

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 / 0 Comments

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

aIMG_3284A combination of factors had made for a bad night’s sleep – a small degree of being drunk (not too much though), an airbed that deflated itself at an alarming rate, persistent rain and the presumably associated crackling and buzzing from the overhead powerlines.  Eventually I deigned to emerge from the tent to find the guy rope from the front had been ripped away from the tent – I’d assumed by a passing early hours reveller in the dark, it’s happened before (and I’ve got the kit to fix it, so no big deal).

First call was one of nature so wandered toward the building – in time to find Steve, Matt and Dave packing up their gear.  Then some less good news, it turned out there’d been some opportunist thefts in the night – a couple of vans had had cash and phones taken – whilst folk were asleep in them.  This is distressing and unfortunately not unheard of in festivals.  I believe that it wasn’t anybody on the site already, but we’ll probably never know.  It made me wonder about our torn guy rope and the tent being partially unzipped, but who knows.

IMG_3243It’s a learning for future events – to double-check the security of access to the site from outside, and perhaps have a couple of security guys patrolling in the evening and early hours.  And of course, a reminder to all of us to be vigilant with valuables – keep them on your person or locked away in vans (or cars if you’re tenting it), and be a bit paranoid even once you’re in and asleep.  I pondered not mentioning this at all, but it’s something to be aware of – but absolutely shouldn’t put people off attending events, poor Debs and Phil were understandably distraught as were all the festival team (not least the folks who’d had things taken too).

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Freeborn Al / 4th April 2016 / Gigs, Hell Hounds, Music, Other Bands, Photos

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