Tag Archives: Hoggin The Beaver

Hoggin’ The Beaver

It’s more than 18 months since I ended my involvement with Sherwood Chapter of the Harley Owners Group and posted an explanation here on this blog. At the time, I was quite clear that this was final.

However, life is never quite so cut and dried, so this weekend, we loaded up the disco gear and went to play for the Chapter Director, Pete and Partner Sam’s long-running weekend in the Vale of Belvoir (in which “Belvoir is pronounced “Beaver”). With HOG being either the Harley Owners Group, or a nickname for the bikes themselves, we arrive at Hoggin’ The Beaver.

I have to admit that when I was asked to do the disco for the Saturday night, I was a little apprehensive about how I would be recieved. I really should not have worried.

There have been a number of changes in the time that I’ve been away from the politics of the organisation. In particular, the people who were behind my departure have themselves moved on, leaving behind a far better atmosphere.

It felt really good to be greeted so warmly by so many people that we used to ride with and meet at the monthly chapter meetings. I really did feel that I was among friends.

Yes, there were some people who, I am sure, consciously blanked us and others who did nothing untoward, but just saw us as “the disco”, but I was very touched by the number of warm handshakes from the blokes and hugs from the women who took the trouble to come over and say “hi”.

So we arrived at the Dirty Duck at Woolsthorpe and started setting up the equipment. Just as we were finishing, the band arrived and we struck up a good working relationship straight away – something that doesn’t always happen between a band and a disco. If I get to work with the Nathan Wall Band again in the future, I will be very happy.

We shared the space on the stage between us and even reached an agreement that the band would use my sound system for their vocals to save them setting up their own speakers in front of mine.

Having done a number of gigs for the chapter that always involve bands, I really must stress how great these guys were. They set up smoothly and efficiently, their soundcheck was quick and to the point and I was able to start the disco bang on time. We had to come up a little jiggery-pokery with cables and plugs to make the change-over from disco to band work, but this was OK

I was delighted that a couple of people were straight on the dance floor, even before the band’s first set. Thanks, Jane and friend.

The band were also happy to give me a set list that was mostly indie rock, but inculded a few sixities classics. This is always an enormous help as I know what not to play and can try to lead in to the band’s sets with tracks that complement, rather than clash with their music.

As soon as they started playing, I realised that they were a cut above the average. I really enjoyed their first set and when I got back onto the stage, they left me a fairly full dance floor to sustain.

After about half an hour of me, it was presentation time and I was gobsmacked when Pete called Sue an I forward to present us with an engraved tankard in recognition of our support for the event. That really put the icing on the cake for me in making feel that I was still part of something that I had walked away from.

There were a number of other presentations, including to the winners of the bike show. Then it was time for one of the highlights of Hoggin’ The Beaver, Yi-Aye Man’s charity auction. Jeff had a new glamorous assistant this year who was an imporvement on her predecessor, although keeping the auction shorter than previous years also helped to make it effective.

The auction must have raised well over 100 pounds and was followed by the raffle with loads of prizes (alough none wo by Sue who had splashed out on a fistful of tickets.

After a quick tune or two from me, it was time for the band’s second set which was as good as their firstand as the evening went on and the alcoholic beverages started to hit the spot, the dance floor was quickly packed.

After they had played for over an hour, and been called to do a couple of extra, unplanned encore songs, I was given free reign. Musical highlights for me were Led Zep;s “Rock and Roll” and Meatloaf’s “Paradise by the Dashboard Light”. The sound in that small function room was really good and I loved the whole vibe.

I didn’t even let one very drunk idiot spoil things; he objected loudly when I started to play a Smiths track, so I dumped it and hit another track instead. Although I am still wondering what Morrissey had done to upset him.

By 1am, it was becoming clear that the weekend had taken its toll as people started wandering off to bed and by about quarter past one, I wound it down with a pile of bodies on the front of stage (Pete, Sam, Beasty and one or two others) and I finished with a most unlikely biker anthem – Louis Armstrong’s “What A Wonderful World”.

It was great to be asked to do Hoggin’ The Beaver and now I know that I can look forward to my next outsing for this bunch of reprobates when we spend three nights working at the Sherwood Chapter’s Rally at Thoresby Park in September.

It also looks like we’ll be back at the Hoggin’ The Beaver next year. I can’t wait.

Ride Safe


Hoggin The Beaver V – Part 3

Follow these  links if you want to read Part 1 and Part 2 before coming back to the final part of this tale of our last Harley-Davidson Weekend.

After the naked truth about some of the great and good within the Hoggin the Beaver and Sherwood Chapter organisation, Saturday evening back on the campsite could have been a real anticlimax. However, the band that Pete had booked for this evening proved to be more than equal to the task of filling the dance floor and keeping the assembled throng entertained.

The Hound Dogs are a three piece rockabilly band. This statement does nothing to convey the supreme musicianship of these three lads, a guitarist who fingers turn into a blur across his semi-acoustic instrument as he finds time for fills, riffs and solos among the frantic pace set by a drummer who hardly ever sits down and an upright bass player who spins his bass around, lifts it above his head and never misses a beat.

The only down side to Saturday night at Hoggin the Beaver is the interminable raffle and auction that went on for over an hour between the band’s two sets. It’s a real shame that the music has to stop for so long, but let’s also remember that the weekend is fundamentally all about fundraising. I know that I am in a minority here, but my own approach to this long and dull hour is to stay out of the way. 

Maybe last year’s experience of having a pint of beer spilled over one of our speakers also influenced on my lack of interest in this, apart from a healthy determination to keep our equipment right out of the firing line.  Once we had achieved this, we stayed outside the building among the smokers, having some good conversations with a few other people who were .

It is a real credit to the Hound Dogs that they managed to rekindle the vibe once their second set got under way. Sue and I pushed and shoved our way back into the room to enjoy the music and the whole spectacle of the show. This culminated during their encore with the drummer setting fire to one of his cymbals and the guitarist standing on the bass drum.

If you get a chance to see the Hound Dogs, grab it, it will be a night to remember. They really are the ideal band for a small venue like the Rutland Arms at a gig packed with middle-aged bikers. From my point of view, they are also the kind of consummate professionals that any DJ is delighted to support.

After the band had finished, I was able to pick up on the great atmosphere, although I was disappointed that Sue was again unable to be with me on stage and that she went off to the tent and to bed.  Would you credit the fact that I even played some Northern Soul at a biker gig! Dobie Gray’s “Out On The Floor” went into Muriel Day’s “Nine Times Out Of Ten” and segued into the original version of “Tainted Love” by Gloria Jones. With lots of other Motown and sixties music as well, we all had a chance to re-live our youth club days.

Whenever I do a gig for the Sherwood Chapter lot, I always play the favourite record of one of our members, Carol Wright. From the reaction at this gig, it seems that a lot of other people also have a soft spot for “Everlasting Love” by Love Affair.  One of these days I must play Robert Knight’s version for Carol.

At about quarter past one on Sunday morning, I was asked by one of the bar staff what time we intended to finish, so, abandoning the usual end-of-evening love songs, I finished with Led Zep’s “Whole Lotta Love”.

I was almost glad to stagger off down the camping field and fall into bed.

Sunday morning dawned bright, sunny and dry. We were still in the land of nod when we heard the first V-Twin engine rumble into life and away from the rally at about 7:30am. We had already decided that we were in no hurry, so the day eventually started with a cup of tea and spaghetti on raw toast (OK, it was on bread.)  We eventually went up to the pub and borrowed the function room key and got stuck into  a leisurely de-rig of the equipment. After loading up the car, it was time to turn our attention to the tent and camping gear.

By this time, the last of the dew had long dispersed and we stacked the contents of the tent outside on the grass while we took the tent down and worked out how to pack it back into the bag.

I really don’t know why such a simple task always has to result in a few “words” between Sue and I, but it always does. She ought to know by now that I don’t need to be told how to fold a tent. In fact, I’m reckon that tent packing is one skill that all men acquire in their genes.

Once the camping gear had been stuffed into the car on top of the disco gear it was almost lunchtime and Sue had very sensibly booked us into the pub for our Sunday lunch. We had to wait for a few minutes, which I used to help with some of the clearing up before settling down to an excellent Sunday roast and all the trimmings. I was surprised that we were the only campers in the place, although enough people seem to travel to the Rutland Arms that the campers weren’t missed.

After lunch, we said our final goodbyes and set off for home where, after unloading the car, we crashed out to catch up on some much needed sleep.

Although we don’t know the dates for next year’s Hoggin the Beaver, it is possible that we won’t be able to go if it’s the same weekend in 2009. This has already been booked for my eldest son’s wedding.

Ride Safe

Hoggin The Beaver V – Part 2

You can read part 1 of this post by scrolling down the page or by clicking on

Saturday morning dawned overcast and the overnight rain had left the tent wet and the camping field pretty soggy. After a hearty breakfast, and Sue and I shared a mug of tea with Eric, also known to Sherwood Chapter members as Bananaman, it was time to get ready for the ride-out. 

There was some debate about weariing waterproofs as the dark, rain-laden clouds were scudding overhead. I decided to compromise and wear waterproof trousers, but to put my waterproof jacket in the saddlebag. As it turned out, waterproofs weren’t really needed as we only saw a few drops of rain all day, and nothing to worry a bunch of tough biker types.

The initial route was the one that has been established over the last three years of Hoggin the Beaver. We ride up to Belvoir Castle and assemble on a terrace behind the castle where we park the bikes and present the cheque for the funds raised during the previous year. This year we presented £3000 to the Air Ambulance and it was announced that the next 12 months fundraising wil go to cancer Research.

The ride up to the castle through the parkland was interesting this year as we were sharing part of our route with a triathalon. At the briefing before the ride, Pete warned us to give way to any runners that we encountered and there were plenty of them all the way through the park. I felt quite happy to be using 1440cc of Harley-Davidson power up the hills rather than the muscle power that the runners were having to employ.

After the cheque presentation, it was time to set out on the ride proper. Our route took us through Leicestershire towards Market Harborough and into the village of Tur Langton. We have now been here three times to the very welcoming hostelry, the Crown. Each time we have been there for a rideout, the staff have been great. They have put on a band, a barbecue and generally made us very welcome. Although the range and quality of food on the barbecue wasn’t quite up the high standard of last year, my burger was perfectly OK.

The first time we went to this unsuspecting little village, a couple of people raised quite a lot of money by riding their bikes naked along the main street.  A couple of tasteful pictures of this can be seen on the Hoggin The Beaver website. This naked riding has become something of a tradition and this year the assembled throng were stunned when someone came round with a jug saying that Sam wouls strip off and ride down the high street if we filled the jug with pound coins. It didn’t take long for the jug to filled with coins and notes of all denominations.

There was a lull while preparations were completed, although I suspect that this was well planned before the day. Eventually, no less than three bikes appeared, led by a naked Pete, followed by an equally naked Sam with another young lady on her pillion and a husband and wife couple. they were followed by the van from the Robin Hood Harley-Davidson dealership which had served as changing room and support vehicle.

There were lots of people taking pictures, so I am sure that these will appear sometime soon and maybe I’ll update this post when that happens.

In Part 3 I’ll cover Saturday evening’s entertainment and anything else I can think of about the weekend.

Ride Safe

Hoggin The Beaver V – Part 1

I almost wrote “Blogging The Beaver”, but that’s one step too cheesy, even for me.

If you stumbled across this post and are completely mystified about that title, stick around for a few moments and I’ll reveal all. You know, that might just be the most appropriate phrase that I could have used to describe the most recent weekend of our lives.

Hoggin the Beaver is an annual rally where (mostly) members of the Harley Owners Group get together as the culmination of a year’s considerable amount of fundraising. It’s held in the Vale of Belvoir, close to Belvoir Castle, where Belvoir is pronounced (and I know that you’re ahead of me here) Beaver! Obviously Hoggin The Beaver V is the fifth time that this event has been run.

Although the vast majority of people attending are from various HOG chapters, including Sherwood Chapter, it isn’t a chapter organised event, but is organised as a labour of love by Pete Clifford and his partner Sam York. They sort out the whole weekend between them with what always appears to be the absolute minimum of support from anyone else.

The format is much like any other biker rally (in my limited experience), with arrival and tent pitching on the Friday afternoon and evening, before Saturday’s main events and a Sunday packing up and travelling home.

This year, Friday was decidedly showery, but Sue and I had a dry journey from Nottingham to the venue, the Rutland Arms, aka the dirty Duck,  just outside the village of Woolsthorpe. We had bought a new tent a day or so earlier and we are very grateful to Eric, one of the Sherwood Chapter members, for his help putting it up.

This is an enormous 4 berth dome tent, and even though there are only the two of us who will ever use it, the domestic authority needs the extra space to scatter her belongings. (Don’t ask me, I’m just a man.)

One the tent was up, we could ignore the showers and turned our attention to our major responsibility of the weekend, providing the disco. It seems that it is 100% compulsory to have a live band to provide the evening entertainment at every rally. The band booked for Friday night was El Gecko, an alt.country four piece who were the most laid-back and easy-going bunch of musicians you could ever hope to work with. They arrived bang on time and took less than an hour to set up and be ready to go. I even had to invite them to take the time to do a full band soundcheck because they knew that I was waiting to start the disco. It was a refreshing contrast to work with these guys after one or two bands in previous years.

However, the problem with this venue has always been space. The stage is only just big enough for my own disco rig and the band. This means that Sue cannot take her rightful place at my side during the disco sessions and has to hang around at a loose end while I’m performing.  She won’t thank me for telling you that last year she got a bit drunk and got into an argument with a hanger-on from the band. This year, she took a book and sat in tent reading during my early sessions. We linked up while the band were on, and although I don’t normally drink at all when I’m doing disco, but everybody else was certainly getting stuck in, so Sue and I had a night on Magners cider.  It doesn’t take much to be enough for either of us these days, but it’s a fine tipple, if you like that sort of thing. But once the band had finished and I started my main set through until  about 1am, Sue went back to the tent and went to bed.

In Part 2 of this report, look out for my ride-out report and an update about Saturday night’s entertainment.

Ride Safe