music

Gigs, geeks and getting older..

I’ve had a fun-filled time of late – plenty of awesome gig action, the Levellers were amazing in Buxton.  First up we got to see the film A Curious Life, a semi-documentary type film that Dunstan Bruce of Chumbawamba fame has put together.  It was a charming insight into a band that has been a fairly constant feature of my life for the last twenty years or so (wow, twenty years!).  This was followed by a mesmerising acoustic gig.

Before that I finally did the giving blood deed – it wasn’t remotely traumatic so I shall certainly be signing up for a repeat performance.  I was convinced for some reason I had blood type B (probably because my Mum does), but it turns out I’ve inherited my Dad’s blood type of A+ – no matter really, but interesting nonetheless!  It certainly made the relatively small number of beers I had before the gig have a quicker impact than they normally would!

Where Levellers tread in my gig-going life then Ferocious Dog are sure to follow – I’ve been writing about them in some detail over at Ferocious Blog.  The tour started at the Bodega in Nottingham which was a magically awesome day, and I’ve been lucky enough to head to Nuneaton and Barnsley subsequently to see their next shows – they’re on rip-roaringly good form so looking forward to heading down to Harlow on 27th when the tour recommences!

Team Holly!  Had a lovely day working with Hattie Hayridge at EM-Con

Team Holly! Had a lovely day working with Hattie Hayridge at EM-Con

After these last two gigs it was time for EM-Con – a sci-fi convention organised by one of my good friends Lee Wallis.  I’d volunteered to help for the day and he bagged me the awesome job of being an assistant to Hattie Hayridge for the day.  As someone whose childhood was played out watching (and quoting from!) Red Dwarf it was a great opportunity – and mercifully it turns out Hattie is a lovely lady to spend the day with chatting nonsense and reminiscing about Red Dwarf!

I'm officially a joy to work with.

I’m officially a joy to work with.

It’s true being busy working with her all day dealing with fans wanting her to sign stuff meant I didn’t get to take in much of the other attractions at the convention, but that’s okay – having been in Barnsley the night before I wasn’t exactly full of energy so sitting down all day and chatting with someone who played a significant role in a lifelong favourite show was a perfectly good way to be spending the day!

IMG_9284

Arlo as a Ferocious Sprog

Then it was my birthday which I’d booked holiday from work for as is my habit – given the previous days gig-going and convention volunteering a quietish day was an appealing prospect, but I did get to go see my Granny, have a burger at Annie’s and have a lovely stroll around Colwick Park with the folks, Rich, Emma and Arlo – so it was all told a rather splendid way to spend the day followed by a resurgent interest in Red Dwarf on the media server!

Last things last Forest took on Rotherham last night and in a largely uneventful game two moments of absolute magic saw the Reds emerge 2-0 victors.  The unplayable Mikael Antonio set up a chance for Dexter Blackstock to delightfully lob the too-far-out ‘keeper who could only touch it into the goal, then the marauding winger picked up the ball in his own half and powered his way past three defenders before planting the ball in the bottom corner from 25 yards.  It was Collymore-esque.

The benefit of a couple of days holiday at the start of the week means that the weekend is already looming large on the horizon.  Tomorrow sees a more chilled gig to see the awesomely talented Paige Seabridge, a quiet Saturday will be followed by Sunday where there’s promise of seeing Ellie Keegan and Sam Jones’ open mic night at the Brown Cow in Mansfield.  Got to love music!

Categories: blog, ferocious dog, footy, levellers, music | Leave a comment

Busy bee watch the world go by…

Phew. It’s been a busy ol’ time, it seems.

Forest briefly turned not rubbish before losing to Charlton, which gave a bit of much needed cheer at the City Ground under the stewardship of Dougie Freedman.  It’ll be interesting to see how he handles this latest setback with the not unchallenging arrival of Middlesbrough at the City Ground this weekend, but the new manager has undoubtedly made a good start (much like his predecessor).  Doubts remain over his longer term future at the club so I remain a bit dubious – I hope he’s here for a while though, I’ve been impressed so far.

Now I half know what’s going on at work that’s been quite busy but really interesting too – it’s nice to feel like you’re actually able to contribute something useful having spent a few months acclimatising to a very different industry indeed.  Still lots to learn, but I at least feel like I roughly know what’s going on – it’s always a good starting point I find!  Certainly a lot of perceptions I had before working in a media-maligned industry have been proven rather inaccurate.

I’ve got a couple of days off now to take in the Levellers, followed by the Ferocious Dog tour kicking off at the weekend.  Whilst I mention Ferocious Dog I set up a separate blog about them partly for indulgence, partly because it stops me flooding this blog (hmm… maybe trickling this blog!) with writing about them, partly because I couldn’t resist the pun-tastic opportunity to register ferociousblog.co.uk, partly because they’re on a real roll and someone else would’ve done it sooner or later and I’d have kicked myself having been pondering it for ages, and well, because it’s a fun side project since I lost momentum on blogging about Forest!  So should you desperately miss reading about them – head over there instead!

The weekend should be great though – an opportunity to catch up with countless friends and hear the new line up for the first time and some new album tracks – what could be better!  The countdown to giving blood is nearly up too – that happens tomorrow before I hotfoot it up to Buxton to see the Levs – the dauntingness of it somewhat compensated for by a cunning plan to have a massive carvery just beforehand!

Ooh, and Pebble have announced a new watch they’re launching via Kickstarter again – which I’ve tempted myself into.  It’s called Pebble Time and there’s also a Steel variant – this time round it has a colour screen and a microphone, and my beloved original Pebble is a bit battered so I think an update is justified.  I shan’t be accidentally taking the new one into a mosh pit or on a climbing wall, that’s for sure.  Whether that does enough to quell the inevitable desire for the soon-to-be-launched Apple Watch remains to be seen – but I think I’d like to see them out in the wild a bit before deciding anyway.

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Taking sides

It’s normally the case when Apple release some new tech. As an unashamed fan of their products there’s normally a queue of people waiting gleefully to try to derail whatever modicum of excitement or interest folk such as me may show. Who knew aluminium would bend under sustained pressure? Did you know that a Samsung something or other could perform that new feature x years ago? Yawn.

None of this really bothers me (although sometimes I bite on Facebook 😉 ) but it’s interesting and got me thinking more widely about such motivations, and how people still readily jump to polarities with little provocation or need.

It seems to me as a species we seem very prone to irrational polarities. Which has always sat rather uncomfortably with me, I’m a creature of comfort when people are in harmony. If someone especially loves whatever flavour of Android phone they have then I’m pleased for them – indeed, as a selfish consumer of shiny things the more the competition up their game then the pressure remains on Apple to keep improving too – and vice versa, of course.

At secondary school people were divided into liking Rock or Rave – before the needless subsubsubgenrefication of music took sway, I secretly liked a bit of both. On the tech front you either liked Commodore Amigas (naturally!) or Atari ST’s (urgh!). The meagre differences in their merits built up to gigantic gulfs during bolshy playground debates (I was pretty entrenched in camp Amiga on this one – although when networked up together the ST always seemed to win on Lotus Esprit Turbo Challenge 2!).

In the sixth form we were told we must either like Blur or Oasis by an overexcited Britpop obsessed media, I liked both with a slight preference for Blur, although Pulp were and are better than both. It’d be around this time that I’d begin an enduring affair with the Levellers of course which quickly resolved that ‘debate’ for me in a different direction – but even then (and still now amazingly) rather than focus on the frankly amazing music they produced (and indeed, continue to produce) instead people make snide tabloid-inspired remarks about dogs on bits of string or being a crusty.

This is a band who’ve endured 25 years of being, have a veritable string of hits so are even validated somewhat by the facile trappings of the music industry, and continue to tour to thousands of people every year and run their own festival as well as appearing at countless others. They must be doing something right! If you doubt me, grab their recently released Greatest Hits album and decide for yourself.

People who like similar music even fall into the division trap – I always imagine a continuum of folky-indie style music (now who is subgenreing?!) starting (this won’t be an exhaustive list!) with bands like The Wonder Stuff and 3 Daft Monkeys – plenty to say, but with a sense of fun and not taking themselves too seriously through to say, New Model Army who I’ve always found more serious and sometimes bleak (that’s not a critique, I really like NMA too!) – the Levs sit somewhere in the middle with aficionados of the former group finding them too serious, those of the latter too frivolous.

I guess being a football fan is the ultimate expression of our tendency to polarise things that are fundamentally very similar – being a staunch Forest fan obviously the city of Derby is the worst place in the world, and its fans are remorselessly moronic. Which is palpably absurd – I’ve had some great nights out in Derby and count a number of ‘sheepshaggers’ as my dearest friends. Obviously that all goes out the window for 180 minutes or so per season, but normally I can be pretty rational even on this most divisive of topics.

Politics of course is like football fandom taken up a notch – although because I don’t really feel much affinity for any of them – and vote generally tactically to try to thwart the one I like the least – but I see staunch supporters of either red or blue passionately debating what to me seem like minuscule differences between the policies, performance and conduct of their respective parties – whereas I’m left thinking they’re both a bit pants really.

I’m not sure what conclusion I was leading to here really – I’m sat in a hotel room having been on a course for the last few days and I’m bored blogging on my phone! But wouldn’t it be nice if – certainly for trivial differences such as these – people didn’t leap to create division and conflict?

Okay, maybe not for the football, as that’s fun (so long as it doesn’t lead to genuine abuse or violence). In truth though, even the footy ‘banter’ (god I hate how that word has been misappropriated!) is probably symptomatic of a fairly fundamental flaw in our collective nature which leads to cataclysmic consequences particularly in the political and religious spheres.

This is all probably a residual tendency from our more tribal past. Or something. It’s worrying though because it’s precisely these motivations that organisations like Britain First or even UKIP leap upon to exploit – fortunately for me my Facebook feed is relatively clear of such bilious content but I see plenty of folk complaining about theirs.

So what started as a covetous piece about my desire for shiny capitalistic consumerism has started to make me reminisce about manipulation of needs and other university time heavily left-leaning learning – goddammit, maybe I’d be less of a schizophrenic paradox if I had more of a proclivity to just irrationally pick a side and stick with it!

Categories: blog, iPhone / iPad / Mac, levellers, music | Leave a comment

Hey bro, take it slow..

Chance clickings on a friend’s Facebook feed found this rendering of Dolly Parton singing Jolene, but played at 33 rather than 45rpm.  It’s ace.

My favourite one along these lines though was finding out what happens to The Osmonds ‘Crazy Horses’ when it’s slowed down – it turns into some kind of grungy metal anthem!  The themed dancers are, um, interesting too.

Reminds me of a ye olde blog post I did about hyper-slowing down a Justin Bieber song which turned it into some kind of mesmerisingly beautiful ambient soundscape.  Alas the sound files I linked to back in 2010 don’t seem to be online any more 😦

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I thought at first there’d been a mistake..

.. when a caller dropped me off a cake.

cake

These happen to be a words from a song I’m pretty fond of (see video link below), but also what actually happened to me on Sunday.

My Ma had arranged to pop around for some technical support related stuff which, whilst it turned out to be pretty genuine, was a front for a sneaky arrangement she’d been making.  Because she’d been clandestinely arranging for me to in so that a visitor could drop off a surprise for me.

Margaret, who runs a company called Maggie’s Marvellous Cakes has pledged to make one cake every week for somebody, and opened up nominations via Facebook which is where Ma continued the recent theme people seem to have taken up with a zeal which is making me feel awkward about the whole bone marrow donation thing.  Indeed, it was even mentioned during our company’s last balcony briefing (although mercifully the senior dude in question clearly didn’t have his notes so didn’t know my name!).

Anyway, residual awkwardness aside Ma popped off to ‘pick up her hat’ from the car and came back with Margaret who was bearing a big cake box.  I was ensconced on the settee with a laptop on my knee sorting out Ma’s iTunes and was a little bit confused even as she explained why she was there.  As she was on the way to walk her dogs there was no time for tea and a lengthy chat so the long term impression I’ll have formed will have been as a slightly shell-shocked mute.

However, the New York style cheesecake festooned with strawberries and blueberries was a visual and literal feast enjoyed by all of us.  So if you’re in the market for some rather splendid cake then you should certainly give Maggie’s page on Facebook a look, or maybe nominations are still open if you know somebody deserving of a surprise tasty treat?

Unlike in the song below by Miles and Erica, I didn’t take a slice and wrap up the rest – although I did share with Ma, Dad, Cat, Rich and Em – and we still have enough left for small slice each tonight.

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Moulettes at Glee Club, Nottingham

Whilst thousands of people vacuously departed the Nottingham Arena having endured a JLS concert tonight Cat and I were smiling on the way back to the car having been treated to not just the headline act we’d planned to see, but two new support acts.  For the price of one JLS ticket we both had something to eat in a nearby restaurant, a few drinks and entry to tonight’s gig to see the Moulettes.  Pretty bargainous really.

I find it both sad and kinda nice that it’s this way – a few dozen folk nestled in the intimate enclave that is the Glee Club in Nottingham to appreciate what I would wager, not being a connoisseur of the JLS back catalogue, a spectacularly more significant array of talent than the multitude of arena drones, but really it deserves to be the other way around.

Georgie Rose kicked off proceedings

Georgie Rose kicked off proceedings

First on stage was Georgie Rose from our very own Nottinghamshire, Mansfield to be precise.  She immediately and confidently took to the stage with a virtuoso display of picking on a guitar accompanied by a fantastic voice.  Her ability to pick through the strings on the guitar simultaneously mesmerises me – and gives a rich sound that sounds almost like there’s a bass guitar in the mix somewhere too.

Definitely one to check out if you see her on any local billings.

Next up was Liz Green who has accompanied the Moulettes throughout their recent touring.  Initially performing with a guitar she interchanged between that and a keyboard, and played both deftly – her songs were fun and charming and energetic with some fun banter with the crowd in between to boot.  Oh, and how could I forget the mouse trumpet solo?  Another charming performance that left me feeling like I’d already had value for money out of my ticket before the headline act was even on stage.

Liz Green here behind her keyboard

Liz Green here behind her keyboard

One of the things I really like about heading out to a gig where you know the main act is the potential to pick up on some new ones – indeed, that’s how I discovered the Moulettes initially from their supporting the Levellers on their acoustic tour a couple of years ago.  Sometimes it can be hit and miss, tonight it felt like we hit the jackpot twice before the main act even came on which is always a lovely happenstance!

The Moulettes took to the stage, a slightly adjusted line up to that which I’d seen before.  Hannah Miller provides the lead vocals whilst playing either cello or guitar, Ollie Austin plays guitar, drums, glockenspiel whilst also providing backing vocals/sound effects (often three or more at the same time!), Jim Mortimore plays double bass and backing vocals whilst Anisa Arslanagic overlays her violin and also backing vocals.  They were joined for a number of songs by a harp and clarinet player who also sang backing vocals too – I’m afraid I couldn’t find her name though 😦

Time for the main event - the Moulettes take to the stage..

Time for the main event – the Moulettes take to the stage..

The melodic and sometimes hypnotic strings combined with melodic and harmonised vocals underpinned by punchy and ever-changing rhythms gives them a sound that I find difficult to describe given my lack of musical understanding.  It’s awesome though, and it’s brought alive on stage by the expressive and infectiously enthusiastic reactions from the band.

Not only are these wonderfully accomplished musicians impressing with their abilities – it’s clear they’re really enjoying themselves, as they lock eyes momentarily with each other to keep time as a beat switches from a waltz to something much faster – or an abrupt silence – you catch fleeting smiles, eye sparkles and a joy to just be playing.  Each of them is mesmerising to watch if you take a few minutes to observe them during a song.

Hannah betrays nearly every feeling that runs through the songs with her facial expressions, and even the soaring temperature in the venue causing her to forget a few words didn’t throw her off stride for too long as a helpful audience member in the front row helped her get back on track.

Ollie really destroys the notion that blokes can’t multitask, switching from guitar to full on drumming in seconds, he’ll then bring back the guitar but carry on the percussion with feet and hands in between strums all whilst never missing the moments when his vocals are needed too, all delivered with a brilliantly casual and relaxed demeanour that betrays how much expertise and concentration is being demonstrated out there.

Jim gives the bassy oomph at the perfect moment when slow ballads kick in to a darker atmospheric mood or more of a stomping tune and too is on hand to lend his vocals to the harmony mix that is impressive in its own right before you consider the complex layers of instrumental accompaniment underpinning it.

Anisa’s violin gives that high end melodic accompaniment to its larger relatives in the string section – anyone who knows me will note the violin is often present in my favourite music, it gives real soul and emotion somehow to a piece of music when used well – and it is here, Anisa too adds to the overall vocal harmonising too.

Whilst nestled in the corner of the stage for only some of the set the harp, clarinet and backing vocals of the lady whose name I don’t know (sorry!) added that extra layer to the whirling dervish that Moulettes songs become.

The set was a mixture of the familiar and songs from the new album that is due out next spring.  Whilst I do like Moulettes recordings very much, they never seem to quite capture the vibrancy of their live performances (something not uncommon with many artists I like, I might add!), however, I’d recommend checking some out nonetheless.

So for a mere £8 a piece we were treated to a veritable smorgasbord of excellent music – I’ll be certainly exploring more of Georgia and Liz’s respective music and look forward to the forthcoming Moulettes album.  I quite enjoyed the Glee Club as a venue too – the seats got a bit uncomfortable after a while and sitting down at a gig is a bit, well, weird – but worked well for this more relaxed and melodic gig to those I typically find myself at.

It will be interesting to see if they opt for a seated arrangement for when we go to see The Beards play there in February!

I tell you what else is good about The Glee Club too, because they unusually insist you arrive between 7:30 and 8:00, it gets everyone in the venue and settled in plenty of time before the entertainment starts – and there was no background chatter or interruptions I could detect during the performances (something I’m normally very sensitive to and irked by) – either it was down to that or a particularly polite and attentive crowd.

Either way, it made for a splendidly enjoyable evening!

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McDermott’s 2 Hours – Anticlockwise

OTF011D Anticlockwise 1400I’ve written about Nick Burbridge and McDermott’s 2 Hours on these pages before.  McDermott’s are one of those bands that fit typically into the canon of ‘bands nobody has ever heard of’ depending on which circle of friends I’m talking to, although – led by Nick Burbridge – you get the impression that that’s kinda the way he likes it.

They thrust themselves into my consciousness through my many-years-standing obsession with the Levellers.  The band, like the Levs, hail from Brighton and have been a huge influence as well as collaborator with the more well-known folksters.  Whilst the Levellers became well known, Nick and McDermott’s 2 Hours remained wilfully obscure – indeed, whilst remaining active, as well as creating awesome music Nick also writes poetry, novels and stage plays.

Anticlockwise is an interesting concept, and one that perhaps seems strange until you give it some thought – it’s a compilation of twelve tracks from previous releases, combined with two teaser tracks from an album to come out next year.  It’s comforting to listen to familiar songs, but spruced up with remastering and then move into a taste of what is to come.

What are they like?  I find Nick’s singing mesmerising, he plays with lyrics that evoke such strong emotions and imagery coupled with fine folky but ballsy musicianship.  It’s uncompromising and it’s all the more beautiful for it – in an era of shiny and polished ‘personalities’ with no soul or purpose, Nick’s deft avoidance of the limelight and the media circus that necessitates any degree of mainstream musical success is wonderfully pure.

As for the selections – well there are songs by McDermott’s 2 Hours that I like better than some that make the ‘cut’ – but nonetheless, there’s not a bad track on here.  Opening with ‘Dirty Davey’ is apt – this is the song I and I’m sure many others discovered the band through as it was covered by the Levellers.  It then skips through a diverse mixture of stomping band epics and acoustic numbers from the band’s back catalogue and then of course two from their future-catalogue.

There’s a mixture of tracks from McDermott’s 2 Hours on their own as well as a number from their awesome collaboration albums with the Levellers – you get a real flavour for the different levels of energy that they create.  Hopefully it piques your interest and it inspires a bit more exploration, because if you don’t listen to it and then go and avail yourself of the album The Enemy Within and definitely Nick’s project with Tim Cotterell Gathered then you’re really missing out.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it, and I guess it would be even more perfect for a person discovering the band for the first time – a taster of sublime quality, and with the band’s back catalogue now available as digital downloads on iTunes or Spotify if you find yourself hooked you can sate your appetite for more very easily whilst anticipating the release of the new album Besieged in early 2014.  Do yourself a favour and get yourself some awesome music!

Whether he craves it or wants it or not, Nick Burbridge deserves the accolades he’s received (such as songwriter of the year from SpiralEarth) and more.  This compilation is a lovely edited introduction to the fantastic work he and his band have been creating over many years, and will hopefully inspire you to dip further into their impressive back catalogue.

iTunes type links:

The Enemy Within – McDermott’s 2 Hours
The World Turned Upside Down – McDermott’s 2 Hours vs Levellers
Claws and Wings – McDermott’s 2 Hours vs Levellers
Disorder – McDermott’s 2 Hours vs Levellers
Goodbye to the Madhouse – McDermott’s 2 Hours
Gathered – Nick Burbridge and Tim Cotterell
Anticlockwise – McDermott’s 2 Hours

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What’re you up to at the weekend?

It’s the classic ice-breaker question as you wind down from a week at work, certainly it’s a popular one in my team.  Last weekend I was asked it and it made me chuckle as the dialogue was unerringly common..

Colleague: “Any plans this weekend, Al?”
Me: “Just the footy, and a couple of gigs lined up”
Colleague: “I bet you’re off to see bands nobody has heard of again!”

That’s no intended criticism of my colleague – but underlines a worryingly prevailing attitude.  As it happens, that weekend I was off to see 3 Daft Monkeys on the Friday night, and on the Saturday a line-up of six acts including Red Jester, Seven Little Sisters, Raynor Jackson and Brad Dear.  All these acts are great live performers.

Monkey Magic

It’s reasonable to assume that a reasonable chunk of readers probably hadn’t heard of any of them – and that’s a real shame, because I refuse to believe that those same people wouldn’t have a much better time checking out these or other local talent rather than sitting in watching X-Factor or Strictly or whatever other turgid televisual detritus that is currently running through the mainstream channels.

So, to return to the 3 Daft Monkeys.  They’re currently out on tour promoting their album which was released yesterday.  I’ve seen the ‘Monkeys a few times, and they’re one of the most engaging live performers I’ve seen – and it flabbergasts me that they aren’t more well known because they’re such good fun to watch.

More than any other act I’ve seen they’re the personification of a band who thrive on the energy they get from the crowd.  As the irresistible urge to dance (even when sober, as I was) kicks in as the music plays you can palpably appreciate the energy exchange from mosh-pit to stage.  This is wonderfully cyclical because the crowd get the band’s energy up, and this is magnified right back at the crowd leading to an inevitable frenzy of good times (or perhaps civilised debauchery?).

As well as playing their existing well known songs – personal highlights for me including One Fine Day, Social Vertigo, Days of the Dance and – probably my favourite – The Antiquated and the Arcane (which was a tease as they left it for the encore!) – there were four or five new songs from the soon-to-be-released album slipped in, all of which didn’t see a stutter from the crowd who continued like a whirling dervish to sway and bounce to the rhythm of the four conductors on the stage.

Fast forward a week and the album popped through the letterbox – it only cost a tenner, it was signed by the band too – and it’s a lovely and lively record.  Musical renditions of old Cornish folk tales it is not only musically pleasing but lyrically fascinating, as I listen more I’m sure I’ll be googling for some of the back stories the songs cover.  Indeed, from their last album I even ended up buying a book about the dancing plague of Strasbourg.

The thing I like best about the album is that it doesn’t simply seek to replicate the boisterous live experience you get with the Monkeys, you get more of the story-telling and the different tempos that started to appear in their previous album The Antiquated and the Arcane (which I also heartily recommend).  I’ve only had a couple of listens so far and am already captivated, and looking forward to getting to know the songs better and reading up about the stories that inspired them.

So next time somebody recommends a band you’ve never heard of, why not open your mind and go along – such gigs usually only cost a few quid to get into, and I don’t believe it’s blind luck that more often than not I end up finding acts that are enchanting, beguiling and inspiring – and not least that I end up meeting great folks who put me on to further talented artists – and so the cycle goes on…

Anyway, you should get yersen a copy of their album, and you should definitely look out for the next live performance near you.  You should also go and see The Beards in February.

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Tick tock, tick tock..

Bloody hell, July has gone completely!  Of course, quite difficult to follow a blog post as interesting (to me at least) as our Polish adventure – but that’s not to say there’s been reasonably exciting things occurring since then.

Not least  – and top of mind – the return to the football pitch for me after the dreaded drop-foot.  On a fitness level, this has been monumentally horrible – half a year of not playing, and not exactly doing a great job of finding alternative ways of maintaining my fitness, has really taken its’ toll. Fortunately my technique – such as it is – doesn’t seem to have suffered too much after my first couple of ‘bedding in’ games.

I’ve been getting a bit of jip in one of my thigh muscles from kicking the ball hard, but I’ve had that before – a combination of not stretching/warming up properly and my spell out of action have been causing this – but a combination of anti-inflammatories and treatment with heat is seeing this recover faster after each game, which is reassuring.  Tonight is my first outing for Thursday football so far this year, probably my more challenging group.  So fingers crossed!

I’m really hoping Henri Lansbury has kept this summer addition to his head. It’ll almost be like a Ferocious Dog gig at the City Ground!

As well as playing football of course we also have watching it to look forward to.  Forest kick off the season at home against Huddersfield on Saturday and now Forest have deigned not to evict us from our seats I’m looking forward greatly to seeing how Billy Davies starts the season.  We’ve made some shrewd acquisitions and seem likely to add some more – if you read the rumour mills then there are very few players out there who haven’t had some kind of medical or offer from Forest.

Following Forest online lost a lot of lustre for me last season when I literally ‘lost that loving feeling’ and opted to shut down my semi-anonymously written Forest blog, which now sits in mothballs like an old abandoned place.  I must say I haven’t missed what had become a bit of a drudgery, whilst the goings on at Forest are rarely dull – sometimes I wish they just were a bit.  The forums are increasingly like warzones and I barely follow any Reds related users on Twitter aside from folk I actually know.  It’s sad that by and large football fans are so incapable civil communication – even when they support the same team.

On the music front a last minute decision to snag a day ticket for Deerstock in nearby East Bridgford proved a masterstroke – an excellent little event organised by Jed Southgate at the rear of the Reindeer Pub took place, even a fair amount of rain on the Saturday night couldn’t spoil a top day – it was headlined by Ferocious Dog which is always going to float my boat of course, but a nice mix of other talented acts throughout the day kept us very well entertained.  I shall look into probably going to the whole festival next year, as the Friday and Sunday were awesome too from what I’ve read.

Related to Ferocious Dog was the recent Panorama show relating to post-traumatic stress disorder suffered by people coming away from active service in the forces.  Lee Bonsall, son of Ken and brother of Dan in the band, was featured in the show – he tragically took his own life having not received the support he needed from the army.  Alarmingly the programme revealed that this tale is disturbingly common – I would recommend taking a look at the programme, and most definitely signing this petition calling for support for our service personnel.

Ken and the band continue to do sterling work in raising both awareness and money to directly help folk in the same boat that Lee found himself through the Lee Bonsall Memorial Fund.  Families of others who suffered the same fate are similarly taking real positive action to help others – it’s a real inspiration and I’m in awe of how brilliant these people are considering how badly let down their loved ones have been.  They fight on, and I’m proud to support them in whatever small ways that I can – which will definitely include hammering out any fundraising activities via Facebook and Twitter for those of you that have the undoubted joy of me on your social networks.

To finish on a lighter note I’ve become strangely addicted to Rooibos tea.  As part of last year’s ‘Project Fatty’ I basically knocked caffeinated tea on the head at work, opting instead for herbal variants (ostensibly to cut down my dairy intake).  Having run out of such tea a couple of weeks back I started back on my old stash of tea which had an impact on both sleep and digestion patterns (I’ll leave that there!).  I picked up some Rooibos on the recommendation of a workmate and it does the refreshment job without any of the caffeine nasties.

Speaking of ‘Project Fatty’, that half year of inactivity has rendered a sequel to probably be in the offing, I really need to eat a bit more sensibly and get a bit of weight off again…. at least being back on the football pitch 2-3 times a week will help at least arrest the weight gain!  I also need to face up to the elephant-in-the-room that my guitars seem to have become since recovering from ‘Susan’..

Categories: blog, ferocious dog, footy, music | Leave a comment

Weirdy beardies..

Dean clambers up on to a surfboard comprising of yours truly!

Dean clambers up on to a surfboard comprising of yours truly!

As the weeks drew closer to my first ever visit to Bearded Theory I was pensively looking at the long range weather forecast.  Rain. Lots of it.  It didn’t bode well, despite the frankly amazing line-up of acts and the potential for new discoveries.  The sticking point for me was not really liking camping very much.  Being less than an hour from home, I suppose heading home each day wouldn’t be impossible – as it turned out, the camping wasn’t so bad.

Luckily for me Linda and Lou insisted I go and camp with them – so I met them on Thursday in the carpark and we set up in a likely looking spot – starting with a 5m by 3m shelter (thereafter dubbed ‘the erection’) which proved invaluable as a sitting spot during down time.  After a few attempts we got the shelter looking like it should and duly pitched our tents around it including one for an arrival in the morning.

Nearby were plenty of Ferocious Dog types so there were plenty of people to chat to, and with Simon and Lynn arriving at our camp later, as well as Mike and Martine camping nearby too there was a great community vibe going on once we were fully underway.

However, back to Thursday night eventually we headed off to see the not particularly secret gigs in the Lock Inn tent.  One awesome thing about Bearded Theory is the laid back attitude to people bringing their own alcohol, not only is it fine to do this in the campsites, but in the arena too it’s absolutely fine, the only rule was a reasonable request to not bring glass onto the site.  That said, we still bought a fair few beers!

Whilst I’m bound to forget notable things I saw during the weekend, it opened stormingly with Ferocious Dog and then 3 Daft Monkeys taking to the Lock Inn stage.  A chance to get a mosh in early doors is always good, and getting to be ‘the surfboard’ during Freeborn John a personal highlight in my now not inconsiderable journey following the band around – even if the security got a little over-zealous and tried to eject Dean from the premises, order was restored – as was the song, and the surf.

Other musical highlights in no particular order (and probably missing some) were scattered around the venues – in the Something Else Tea Tent we were treated to awesome performances by the Star Botherers, Red Ruff, Brad Dear, Gentle Kitten (arf) and annoyingly missed the Beanfeast Banjos.  In Tornado Town we were treated to Whisky Stain, Bootscraper, Pussycat and the Dirty Johnsons and The Beards whilst the main stage played host to Goldblade, Reverend and the Makers, New Model Army, Asian Dub Foundation and – of course – The Levellers.

I didn’t spend much time in the Magical Sounds tent although enjoyed from afar the sounds of the Peatbog Faeries, and found that Subgiant had a strangely soporific effect from the campsite nearby as it lulled me to sleep.  Not quite so much the case for A Guy Called Gerald who was a bit more jarring when trying to find a comfy position whilst clothed in many layers inside a sleeping bag!

There was loads more too – but when you’re addled with cider, beer and/or rum then you don’t remember all of it, and looking idly at the line-up on the Bearded Theory website makes me think “Oh, how did I manage to miss that too?”  I’m not too downhearted by that though as I saw some really cracking new bands, a few that I’m not too bothered about and some consumately awesome performances from bands I’m more familiar with.

As well as drinking my own booze we also sampled a few of the ales available at the festival – they’re reasonably priced (in the beer tents – the Lock Inn was quite pricey) and tasty.  The thing that consumed most of my cash over the weekend was the awesome array of food though!  I had brought quite a lot of food with me, but found that both the quality and reasonable prices – we had toasties, pies with mash, shish-kebabs, halloumi, hotdogs, burgers and still managed to not visit ever vendor – not to mention an excellent full Welsh breakfast every morning to set us up.

Having said that, the restorative powers of ‘Betty’ the gas stove was needed to mobilise us for breakfast – Lou’s coffee making skills of a morning came with a high billing, and she certainly didn’t disappoint.  Betty did run out of gas literally come the final day, but we were rescued by one of our kind neighbours who let us pinch a bit of theirs.  There’s no way I’d have had a gas stove and kettle if camping alone!

The pervading thing about the whole weekend was the laid back and easy vibe from staff and visitors alike – with the weather not as bad as feared spirits were high and fun was had.  The participation rate for the final day fancy dress and beard-wearing speaks volumes for the crowd – as well as the considerable number of folk I already knew there, I met plenty more who seemed to have a similar mindset of having a great time without being an arse.

On the slightly less positive side there were tent thefts on the first couple of nights – many quite close to us, however the security team really excelled themselves and managed to capture and detain a group of them and hand them over to police custody and take steps to return people’s property – but that and a bit of rain on the Friday night were really the only blemishes on an otherwise splendid weekend of good friends, good music, good drink and good food.

Definitely a festival to recommend – my favourite performances of familiar bands was undoubtedly delivered courtesy of the Levellers, Ferocious Dog and 3 Daft Monkeys, whilst new discoveries like The Star Botherers (‘Bad Guy’ might well be song-of-the-weekend for me), Red Ruff, Whisky Stain, The Beards and Bootscraper will all be future welcome additions to my playlists and gig-going.  I’ve been enjoying the photos filtering through on Facebook – just Linda’s to go I think.. c’mon Linda, get a move on!

Categories: blog, ferocious dog, levellers, music | 1 Comment

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