|The Summer of 1988 saw a hectic period in the countryside of Southern Britain. Events at Stonehenge around Solstice saw ten thousand people walking towards the Stones, and being met by a thousand police, most donned in riot gear. Festivals, mostly free, were springing up every weekend and Hawkwind, albeit in various guises, could be found at many of them.
Meanwhile, Dave Brock and Harvey Bainbridge had become good friends with Midlands band "Tubilah Dog" (who they had met at a free festival the previous Summer and later went on to support Hawkwind on tour) and found they shared a common interest in frenzied free festival music.
Hawkdog Line-Up # 1 : June September 1988
An old quarry in Wick, just outside of Bristol, saw over a thousand people gather towards the end of May for the annual Avon Free Festival, as the grapevine buzzed with the imminent arrival of Hawkwind. The band did indeed show and played for free, then headed off for another gig a few days later. This began the series of gigs performed using the name "Hawkdog". The first was a Stonehenge Benefit near Silchester, and was followed by a gig at the Burghfield Common Festival near Reading. Most of the set included Tubilah Dog numbers like 'Safe Zone', 'Stand Down' and 'Making Love On The Telephone', but also featured covers of 'City Of Tiny Lights' by Frank Zappa, a version of 'Lucifer Sam' by Pink Floyd and 'Saucer Surfing' by Steve Hillage. A few well known Hawkwind numbers featured at the end of the two hour set.
05 June 1988 Silchester, Calleva Henge Party
Elsewhere, the Hawkdog shows continued throughout the Summer, seeing a performance at the Brecon Free Festival being staged atop a mountain called 'Twm Barlwm' near Cwmbran. The whole site was shrouded in mist and murk the whole weekend, which gave a truly atmospheric feel to the high spirited proceedings. The stage was a little on the small side to accommodate all the musicians, so Dave and Harvey's input to the show was limited, but nonetheless they spent much of the time grooving out in the audience.
A week later, the band arrived in Barnstaple for the Armada Rock Festival. The modest six pound weekend entrance fee was going to a local charity and helped to bring in free festival regulars like 'The Rhytmites', 'Tin Tin Tin' and many more. It was a low-key festival with only a few hundred on site but the atmosphere was great, and the band put on a spectacular performance aided by fire displays from Kris Tait and Scouse, along with conga player Norman Alman from the 'Alman Mulo Band'.
Following Barnsaple, the band moved to Cornwall, where they were due to play the Blowinghouse Fayre (part of the Aktivator series of festivals during the Summer). Stopping at a pub in Newquay on the way, they picked up a gig from the landlord, who was a Hawkwind fan and packed the place to the brim for a wild chaotic gig.
23 July 1988 Cwmbran, Brecon, Free Festival
A week later, the band arrived at the Bushney Free Festival near Tewkesbury. Onstage, the band were joined by Nik Turner, who guests for most of the set. Interestingly, this was the first time Nik and Dave had worked together since Westbury three years earlier. The performance also saw two drummers, in Mick Kirton, working with 'Dumpys Rusty Nuts' and Richard Chadwick from the band 'Smart Pils', who also played over the weekend.
On the 14th August, the same day Hawkdog played Tewkesbury, street-poet, lyricist and playwright Robert Calvert died of a heart attack at his home in Margate. He was just forty-three.
The Hawkdog festival shows continued with performances at the Ribblehead Free Festival, that again saw Kris Tait and Scouse providing some fine fire displays, along with others breathing fire from the top of the viaduct that loomed silently over the site near Settle.
The beginning of November saw a short series of inside gigs by the band. By this time, Harvey had opted out and was replaced by Crum, a friend of Dave Brock's who had assisted with keyboards on Dave's second solo album that had been released back in April under the title 'The Agents Of Chaos'.
Hawkdog Line-Up # 2 : November 1988 May 1989
The 'Hawkfrendz Exhibition', concieved and built in memory of Bob Calvert, appears at the Hawkdog gigs for the first time. It consisted of fourteen boards that linked together and upon which were mounted numerous Hawkwind and Calvert related exhibits. The gigs themselves were real crackers, with 'Living On A Knife Edge' being played for the first time, along with other old favourites reworked for the performances.
14 November 1988 Birmingham, Kaleidascope Club
1989 continued with another oneoff Hawkdog performance in Birmingham, seeing the same line-up as from the previous November shows. Played for the first time here, was the Hawklords track 'The Only Ones'.
27 February 1989 Birmingham, Kaleidascope Club
The Hawkdog shows continue sporadically into the Spring inbetween a few Hawkwind gigs, with performances at Leeds (which had been postponed from last November), then a gig in Bristol, followed by a show at Finsbury Park in London. Dave Brock never made it to this gig, so the rest of the band went ahead nonetheless and pulled out all the stops for a blistering performance.
15 March 1989 Leeds, Phoenix Club
Come May, there was another couple of oneoff gigs. The first was in Walsall, where the band were joined by Alan Davey and Richard Chadwick, giving a huge two drum two bass presence to a gig that was a real thumper. A week later saw a scaled down performance at the Avon Free Festival on Inglestone Common. Here, Jerry Richards, Alan Davey and Richard Chadwick took to a makeshift stage for several hours of fun and chaos.
23 May 1989 Walsall, Junction 10
It's worth noting that to date, there have been no official Agents Of Chaos / Hawkdog releases, which is a real shame. However, as with Hawkwind, there are a number of bootleg audios knocking around, which is just as well really, as they were a top free festival band that hopefully one day will have an official release to their name.
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