CROPREDY 2017 – Campie’s Highlights Of An Amazing Few Days

Cropredy 2017
All photographs by Jean Camp

Last year I was a Cropredy virgin, but this year on THAT field in August, I knew what the score was. Well, until I tried to do the camping and putting up the tent thing! Every year will bring new things I guess!

Arriving at the Folkmaster’s abode on Wednesday 9th August, things were in full swing for the journey to meet the other Folkingdotcommers in Tesco car park, on the outskirts of Banbury, early the following morning. The kitchen sink was being loaded into the Folkmaster’s car in an orderly fashion, and it was suggested that if I hadn’t bought wellies with me, that I should go out and buy some. Talk about the 11th hour, I found a store and paid for them at 5.29pm when the store closed at 5.30! I was a bit anxious at this point as surely it wasn’t going to rain? I don’t do wet camping, I don’t do camping generally!

Sparrow spit early Thursday morning came, and off we went to Banbury. Not a bad journey, although I slept most of it! (NO – I wasn’t driving)! We all arrived at mostly the same time, Paul, Jonny Mac, No Chance and ourselves were too early for breakfast, so spent some money in Tesco, before we had breakfast. Full English were ordered by all but 2 of us, and then off we set, into the midst of Cropredy bound Festival goers. All wanting to get the best fields and parking. Last year I remember the queues, but this year was plain sailing. We soon found out why, because loads of others had started out before us, so we should have forgone breakfast! We were shepherded in to Field 7B, ended up right in the middle of the field, miles away from the few loos and the even fewer showers. I was panicking already!

Tent time. Paul was in his van, so all he had to do was connect his awning. Few minutes and he was ready. No Chance had a smaller tent and he knew what he was doing, Folkmaster had a new tent which was an air based one, so he got his instructions out and sorted his out, Johnny Mac was ably putting his tent up, and there was little old me, with a new tent. Poles and all.

I tried, dear readers, I really did. The lads were brilliant though, and thank them all for it. It was suggested I wore my new wellies, as mud could well be present, due to the onslaught of rain in the days leading up to the Festival. Visions of Glastonbury encroached in my mind……

We were a bit early when finished, as we couldn’t get into the arena field until 2pm, so were twiddling our thumbs for a while. The usual banter flowed. We were expecting another member of the Folking team – Paul Johnson – but he was nowhere to be seen or heard, so we did the Chariots Of Fire walk with our chairs and bags and waited for the gates to open. On the way there, we were serenaded by medieval musicians, Myal Pyper, who were a delight to listen to.

We finally got in, and headed for our usual spot. Looking at the Stage we headed left, near Leon’s food stall, always a lovely experience to savour their food. The queue for Fairport merchandise was already growing rapidly and that did not stop all day and evening. The staff in that tent were heroes! It was the same the following day!

4pm finally arrived and Fairport Acoustic opened the Festival. Riotous applause from the crowd, a full packed arena, for the Thursday is not what usually happens apparently. A mostly cracking line up and one that I didn’t want to miss. Feast Of Fiddles came next featuring an array of the best fiddle musicians this country has produced, such as Peter Knight of Gigspanner, Hugh Crabtree – melodeon player with attitude, Garry Blakeley, Tom Leary, Ian Cutler, Brian O’Neill and Fairport’s own superb fiddler – Chris Leslie. Phil Beer, Marion Fleetwood and Sophie Crabtree came on later on in the set to enhance the line-up, totalling nine fiddle players! Legendary drummer Dave Mattocks was over from America, Martin Vincent and Dave Harding on guitars and Alan Whetton on sax and keyboards. Awesome!

Show of Hands next – favourites of mine, they played an absolutely blinding set. Highlight was their rendition of Don Henley’s classic – ‘Boys Of Summer’. The whole field was talking about how fab it was.

Chris While guested for ‘Dark Fields’ and it was indeed a lovely occasion to witness her singing on this again. Phil told us that he will be virtually taking next summer off to revive his Folkboat activities, which is why this year they have so many festivals booked and Steve will be doing solo work next summer. Really enjoyed the whole set.

Eventually we met up with our lost team mate – Paul Johnson – who had had a nightmare putting up his tent apparently, and his mobility scooter had a flat battery. Could only happen to Paul!

Next up – The Trevor Horn Band – consisting of three producers – Trevor Horn, Steve Lipson and Lol Crème (of Godley & Crème) who had played and or produced songs for other artists. A kind of covers set but all perfectly connected to these three fine producers. They sounded good too. They got the crowd going and singing along to numbers we all knew, such as ‘Two Tribes’, ‘Relax,’ ‘Video Killed The Radio Star’, ‘Rubber Bullets’ etc. They have over 200 hit singles and albums to choose from and it was very pleasant and lively set. Nice mix.

Headliners for Thursday evening were The Divine Comedy. Frontman Neil Hannon came on and his first sentence had the ‘f’ word in it. He seemed star struck initially about the big crowd and following Trevor Horn and Lol Crème. He didn’t do it for me but I hear that they went down well with some people.

Friday came and rain was forecast. Oh no!! Kick off was at midday after the gates being opened at 11am for the festival goers.

Paul Johnson tests the folking digital interview recorder on Paul Miles, the original co-founder of folking.com – its quite funny so we have kept it in…

Josie Duncan & Pablo LaFuente (2017 BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award Winners) opened up the proceedings and I could see why they had won this accolade. Scottish traditional, Gaelic, and other influences, songs from the mines and cotton mills. They have played some well-known festivals including Cambridge and in their short time together, are certainly making a mark for themselves.

Another favourite of mine – Gerry Colvin Band – delighted the crowd, for those that were aware of his music and for those that didn’t. A cracking set from Gerry and the Band. Gerry is a delight to watch and although is so hyper, can sing, play and write a fab song. Particularly ‘Watching Feathers Fall’ from his Colvin/Quarmby days. Nick Quarmby, Gerry’s sidekick who left us last year, would have been so proud of Gerry taking centre stage at Cropredy. Gerry gained a lot of fans during that set.

A Cropredy moment for me was asking Gerry later, as I came across him backstage, how he felt and could obviously tell he was ecstatically happy, he said he had met Pet Clark. She spoke to him and said get out of her dressing room. I’m sure he was joking, he usually is!!

Quill were a new name to me. Quite Gothic and I thought the lead singer Joy had a little Kate Bush about her. They have been going since the 70’s, have loyal audiences, and are amazing story-tellers. Really enjoyed them.

Darren Beech and Paul Johnson caught up with Joy from Quill shortly after the set. The Elephant in the Room EP that Joy discusses in the interview will be released on the 23rd of August.

To order the EP or to find out more details about Quill visit: http://www.quilluk.com/

Click the play button below to listen…

Next up Gigspanner, who a lot of folks were waiting to see (especially the folkmaster, the editor Dai Jeffries and Paul Johnson who are huge fans). While I admire their immense talent, I am not a huge fan myself, but respect that Peter Knight and the Big Band are all superb musicians. They are a little too trad for me.

CC Smugglers were another new one on me, and were superb, in my eyes. The effervescence of the lead singer was palpable and infectious. His shirt was wet through by the time he finished. The rain had arrived by this time but didn’t dampen theirs or the audience’s spirits. CC Smugglers are a band of buskers, who had come together, to form this band. They have even performed at Glastonbury! Definitely ones to watch.

Darren Beech and Paul Johnson caught up with Chris on the Friday. 

The annual Chris Leslie Cropredy interview has become a bit of a tradition for us at folking.com and Chris tells us that he looks forward to it as much as we do.

Click the play button below to take a listen.

The absolutely brilliant Pierce Brothers twins came on to a stunning welcome. They were so happy to be there and in tears of happiness! Great guys, great musicians, great energy and great stage presence. So glad the organisers brought them back after last year’s success. Something that is rarely done two years on the trot. I hope they make it third time lucky.

The amazing event of having Petula Clark attend her first festival ever at Cropredy was certainly a scoop. A favourite of my mothers, she would have loved it. Pet at 84 years of age looked and danced as though she was in her 50’s. She sounded great. She performed her hits pitch perfect and aired some numbers from her new album – From Now On, Awesome. She had the crowd eating out of her hand, and they all sang along. A very special moment. Pet did say at the end of her set that she had enjoyed it immensely, and she certainly seemed to have done so, from the audience’s point of view.

Headliner for Friday evening was the Folk Rock Legend Richard Thompson OBE. A co-founder of Fairport in the 60’s he helped pioneer British Folk Rock. He is known as one of the world’s most critically acclaimed and prolific songwriters. He didn’t disappoint. Just amazing. You would have thought four guitarists were on the stage and it was only him, doing it all. His fingers were a blur as he worked so fast. I had the pleasure of meeting Richard at the signing his new album – Acoustic Classic 2, and he was very quiet and unassuming, and lovely to talk to. No ego at all.

I will say at this point that compere for the weekend was Anthony John Clarke, who did a marvellous job of introducing artists and keeping dedications flowing and read them out to the audience. Excellent choice for an MC.

Richard Digance was missed from his usual spot on kicking off proceedings on the Saturday, but he sent a message to say he was busy touring and not to forget his album and books in the merchandise tent. When he came on to the big screens, the audience applauded him, even though it was a pre-recorded message. Lovely.

Richard’s slot was taken by the Ashley Hutchings Morris On Band, who did a marvellous job of performing some classics from the Morris On album, and we had Morris Dancers dancing on stage to complete the scene. Hankies were at the ready and the audience took part in what is usually Richard Digance’s attempt at getting the whole crowd to wave hankies Morris style! A superb sight to see.

Next up ex-Fairport member Judy Dyble and the Band Of Perfect Strangers who took us on a musical journey, ending with her promoting her autobiography – An Accidental Musician – published last year.

Plainsong included another ex-Fairport Member – Iain Matthews and was formed 20 years ago. A very pleasant set, and Iain obviously has his fans.

I then went to try and find a shower, hopefully no queues at this time, so sadly I missed most of the Cats In Space set. I could hear them from afar, but they were visual, and glad I could see even a short bit. Surprisingly only formed last year, they were a tight knit of pop rock genre. All six of them. I enjoyed what I saw. Blew a few cobwebs away!

Marillion followed. Not my cup of tea, but they clearly had their fans there, and were enjoyed by them.

Scottish multi award winning singer-songwriter Dougie McLean OBE followed. He has a global following. I hadn’t seen him before, and certainly did enjoy his set. Full of stories and song, and lots of audience participation. Particularly on his ‘Caledonia’, which has a high regard in Scotland. He also has a Lifetime Achievement Award from the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards. Superb.

Now was the time for the BIG set!!! Three hours of Fairport and friends. And what a gift to us!!

Difficult to put this all into words as to how the atmosphere of what it was. You just had to be there. Fairport’s Golden Anniversary and an extremely emotional crowd.

Their guests came on during the course of the evening. Richard Thompson came back into the set, as did Judy Dyble, Iain Matthews and Ralph McTell sang us a version of ‘White Dress’ which was the song Dave Swarbrick wrote for Sandy Denny. That was Ralph’s only contribution, which was a shame as he is a great favourite of the Cropredy crowd. All the Folking Team gave a big cheer and Paul Miles kept saying I love him, I love him I don’t know how many times, bless him! Don’t we all!

Former Fairport member Maartin Allcock dazzled us in with his playing and his electric blue suit. He looked very dapper. We had Sally Barker who also sang ‘Rising For The Moon’, Ashley Hutchings, Dave Mattacks joining Gerry Conway on drums and percussion. Such a wealth of talent, emotion and music was enjoyed by all. The finale of ‘Meet On The Ledge’ had the audience spilling tears all over the now dry grass.

You came, we saw, and you conquered Fairport and all. Congratulations on your Golden Anniversary can’t wait for next year for the start of a new decade.

Jean Camp

Festival website: http://www.fairportconvention.com/

All Jean Camp’s Cropredy 2017 photos can be viewed HERE

Feast Of Fiddles – new studio album

Feast Of Fiddles

Feast Of Fiddles was formed in 1994 as a one-off concert ensemble as Hugh Crabtree thought it would be a good idea and Mike Sanderson of Nettlebed Folk Club thought so too!

Their first live recording Live 01 was released in 2002 – quite a long wait for the increasing number of fans of the band. However it was only another two years before the next CD appeared – Nicely Wrong. Three more years before yet another live recording Still Live and then after another three years the first studio album Walk Before You Fly. You guessed it, another three years for the second studio album Rise Above It and with a slight break with tradition it’s taken four years to get to studio album number three. Fast forward and in 2017 their sixth album entitled Sleight Of Elbow will be released.

Feast Of Fiddles embarks on its 24th annual spring tour in 2017 to coincide with the release of their new album.  The band that has been variously likened to a “group of geography teachers” or “Bellowhead with bus passes!” doesn’t seem to be slowing down any.  A band of musical friends that puts on a show of huge dynamic range performed with passion, joy and a liberal dose of fun. It all started at a folk club but has become a folk-rock institution with seven CDs to their name, several festival appearances and sell out shows up and down the UK. Typically, fiddlers Peter Knight (Steeleye Span), Chris Leslie (Fairport Convention), Phil Beer (Show of Hands), Brian McNeill (Battlefield Band), Ian Cutler (Bully Wee), Tom Leary (Lindisfarne) and Garry Blakeley (Band of Two) add their extensive range of fiddle playing styles to the rock back-line of guitars, keyboards, sax and accordion – all held together by legendary drummer Dave Mattacks. A live music entertainment like no other which is guaranteed to be enjoyed by even the most doubting of friends dragged along! Continue reading Feast Of Fiddles – new studio album

First acts announced for Fairport’s Cropredy Convention 2017

Cropredy Convention

Fairport Convention has announced acts booked so far to appear at Fairport’s Cropredy Convention music festival in 2017. The line-up is not yet finalised and late additions will be announced in January. The three-day event takes place on Thursday 10, Friday 11 and Saturday 12 August 2017.

The festival will celebrate Fairport Convention’s Golden Anniversary with performances by many former members as well as the band’s current line-up.

Thursday’s headline act is The Divine Comedy. Fronted by Neil Hannon, the band’s repertoire is rich in Top 40 hits and their sumptuous orchestral sound is complemented by acerbic and sophisticated lyrics.

Former Fairport member Richard Thompson is a regular at Cropredy and this year will be playing on Friday evening.

Show of Hands features Steve Knightley and Phil Beer. The duo return to Cropredy after a ten-year absence.

Feast Of Fiddles presents six of Britain’s finest fiddlers backed by a five-piece band in a musical extravaganza of dazzling instrumental virtuosity.

Multi-instrumentalist duo The Pierce Brothers return by popular request. Jack and Pat Pierce stormed their Cropredy debut in 2016 earning themselves a repeat invitation.

A Cropredy first appearance for composer, songwriter, singer and multi-instrumentalist Dougie MacLean, one of Scotland’s best-loved solo performers.

Making a welcome return to Cropredy, Marillion pioneered the British ‘neo-prog’ genre and remains one of the most innovative bands on the UK prog scene.

Formed in 2016 Cats in Space is a power-pop seven-piece playing high quality 1970s ‘commercial rock’ with a contemporary twist.

Former Steeleye Span fiddler Peter Knight’s Gigspanner Big Band makes its first appearance at Cropredy.

Characterised by his energy and enthusiasm on stage, Gerry Colvin performs beautifully-crafted imaginative songs.

Cropredy will also present a set by the winner(s) of the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award.

Golden Anniversary performances at Cropredy

Saturday’s afternoon programme will start with a triple bill of performances from ‘early years’ former members of Fairport – Ashley Hutchings, Judy Dyble and Iain Matthews – as part of the anniversary celebration.

Ashley Hutchings founded Fairport Convention and at Cropredy 2017 he will present Morris On, a spectacular of traditional music and dance. Fairport’s original female vocalist Judy Dyble will be performing with Band of Perfect Strangers, her regular musical collaborators. Iain Matthews, Fairport’s first male lead singer will be joined by Andy Roberts and Mark Griffiths to present Plainsong, a harmonic blend of English folk-rock and American alt-country.

There will be two chances to see Fairport Convention co-founder Richard Thompson. He will play a full set in his own right on Friday then join Fairport on Saturday evening.

Fairport Convention will celebrate their fifty years with a marathon performance to close the festival on Saturday. Joined on stage by former members and guests, their set will feature the very best from half a century of musicmaking. Fairport will also play on Thursday when the festival will open with a short welcoming set by the band’s semi-acoustic line-up.

Cropredy tickets on sale for Christmas

Fairport Convention is putting three-day festival tickets on sale in time for Christmas. The online box office will open on Sunday 11 December 2016 and tickets will remain on sale for one week. UK orders will be mailed Special Delivery at no extra cost to ensure delivery in time for Christmas.

The box office will re-open on Wednesday 1 February 2017 when all concert tickets and camping tickets will be available.

Pre-Christmas three-day concert tickets cost £125 and are exclusively available from Fairport Convention’s website fairportconvention.com. Camping tickets cost £45 for three nights.

Chris Leslie of Fairport Convention Releases Origins

Chris Leslie of Fairport Convention Releases OriginsWhen Paul Johnson and Darren Beech of Folking interviewed Chris Leslie at the 2008 Cropredy festival, Fairport Convention’s main songwriter and multi-instrumentalist joked that the festival site Oxfordshire is the center of the universe.

As the saying goes, many a truth is said in jest. So it may well be in this instance. Leslie’s traveled a long way, literally and figuratively, since he was a young, self-taught fiddler in Banbury, dreaming of joining Fairport. And while he’s won acclaim for his work with the band and his mastery of an array of other musical genres, it’s clear his allegiance is to the Fairport-styled Folk that captured his youthful heart. Indeed, Oxfordshire remains the center of his universe.

Doubters need only listen to Origins, Leslie’s just-released solo album, for confirmation.

It’s almost unnecessary to say that Leslie’s musicianship and vocals are as strong as at any time in his career. Anyone who follows Fairport or Leslie’s side projects — Feast of Fiddles and St. Agnes Fountain — know that’s obvious.

But it’s even clearer here because Leslie supplies all vocals and instrumentation as he moves gracefully from traditional folk (Sandy Denny’s “Sweet Rosemary,”) to country-flavored rock (Michael Martin Murphey’s “Geronimo’s Cadillac,”) to pure Native American music (his own “Tipis in the Snow”) on the 13-track album. And stand-out track “Lost Bird,” is just pure beauty.

It must be tempting for the multi-instrumentalist to make his arrangements complex, but Leslie’s fans know he always leans toward keeping his sound pure though a close listen will reveal its sophisticated intricacy. The Beach Boys’ songs come to mind for comparison (though the artist himself would certainly disagree with any comparison of his work to the legendary Brian Wilson just as he does with comparisons to Fairport’s past songwriters including Sandy Denny, Richard Thompson and Dave Swarbrick).

Fans of Leslie’s last two solo albums ­­–– The Flow and Dancing Days — will find the same sophisticated yet accessible music on this album and likely trace the mastery of many of these songs back to their Origins.

What’s different here, though, is that Leslie really lets his listeners hear him soar on these songs, half of which he wrote himself.

The result is a sophisticated musical tapestry that explores multiple facets of the “Origins” of the artist and all of mankind.

In less capable and cultured hands, the album could easily be the musical poster child for multiple musical personalities.

But under Leslie’s masterful artistry, the album can only be described as an enchanting and often spellbinding tour de force.

Find out more about Chris Leslie and order Origins on his website.

NANCY DUNHAM / @NancyDWrites

Folking at Cambridge Folk Festival 2013 – Day 3

wb3_300Those following this blog will know that it would not be complete without an early morning campsite folking shower report – although those on-site would have had a deluge of their own later in the day when KT “rain goddess” Tunstall took to the stage and opened the heavens – but more on that later. My first shower was at 5.00am, an hour earlier than the day before! Perhaps it was the excitement of the previous 2 days, or perhaps it was just the the showers but Cambridge was not awarding me much sleep.

Breabach danceAs I was finishing the day 2 blog We Banjo 3 took to the main stage, a quintet from Galway playing Irish, bluegrass and American old time music. From what I saw on the #CFF13 @CamFolkFest twitter feed they were definitely making many instant fans and got Saturday stage 1 off to a rousing start. Next up were the mighty Breabach, a tour de force in the Scottish music scene. They had a great array of weaponry on hand including: highland bagpipes, fiddle, guitar, double bass, mandolin, bazouki and even included a set dance by fiddle payer, Megan Henderson.

Saturday Cambs FF CrowdBoth SOC (Son of Clicker – the folking photographer) and I knew that getting to see everything today was going to be tough with all 3 stages in full swing. In fact panic set in and we ran around like headless chickens for a bit until coming to our senses and catching the end of the Festival Session, hosted by Battlefield Band and Feast of Fiddles academic legend Brian McNeil. This was a one off line-up featuring: The Chair, Frigg, The Rambling Boys of Pleasure, Radio 2 young folk award winners Greg Russell & Ciaran Algar, Martin Simpson, Le Vent du Nord and We Banjo 3 again.

Hop and a skip back to the Stage 1 to see Martin Simpson performing a guitar master class wrapped up in his usual exemplary solo set kind of way which included favourites like the you were never any good with money gem Prodigal Son and Jackie and Murphy, a story song of an epic true tale of bravery, donkeys and Gallipoli.

Thea Gilmore CFFManaged to then catch the end of the talented and velvet voiced Heidi Talbot on stage 2 as she left us all going up and down her music tree, Korrontzi from Northern Spain were next up and made you feel part of a Basque hill town knees up for a short while (it was great to see Thea Gilmore dancing along to them back stage). It wasn’t long until Thea took center stage with her full band line up which included producer, husband and multi-instrumentalist Nigel Stonier. Thea definitely showed off her folk credentials by giving us a faultless performance of Pity the Poor Immigrant. Thea then belted out the Radio 2 A listed song Start As We Mean To Go On, before ending with what for me was the highlight of the day, a perfect rendition to the stunning London with her little lad taking center stage on the fiddle. Sandy Denny who wrote the lyrics to this song is my folk heroine and Thea is equally addictive.

There was only one way to come down and that was to head over to the club tent and catch State Of The Union, aka Boo Hewerdine and Brooks Williams. In the grand tradition of ‘The Special Relationship’, State Of The Union combines the talents of America and England, producing an end result that delighted the club tent crowd with hook-laden songs, fiery and emotional guitar playing and soulful vocals. By this time I had a few jars of Ringwood’s finest Boon Doggle ale and was amusing myself by keeping the girls at the bar on their toes and coming up with different names for it. The firm favourite was Moon Poodle!

Fully Protected & The Moon PoodleThe Moon Poodle was listening as the heavens opened and the poodle piddled down on us as KT Tunstall hit the stage. A great set followed, my favourite being Other Side of the World or dark side of the poodle moon by the Black horse and a cherry tree, no that one actually came later… but don’t blame it on the Sunshine, don’t blame it on the moonlight, blame it on the Boggle. I was past caring as I was now focused on keeping the umbrella in the right place for KT’s Mexican “brella” wave!

I caught a bit of the Mavericks but it was definitely time to head back to Coldham’s before I did myself mischief…

The folkmaster

Feast Of Fiddles – Walk Before You Fly

I didn’t know that Elmer Bernstein was a closet ‘folkie’ and that he’d contributed to a canon of ‘folk’ tunes that grace this great little silver disk. Then again, I’m not sure either what he would have thought of having his ‘Magnificent 7 Theme’ being both crusts to a jig sandwich with “Victor’s Return” & “Tar Road To Sligo” as the filling. Somehow though I think he’d have a wry smile on his face rather like that of this reviewer. As an opening hand this could be quite a gamble but for those that have seen this band of merry men on their annual foray around the UK will already know that as well as exceedingly fine musicians they also enjoy a bit of a laugh with their audience. The line-up reads like a who’s who of the scene including Phil Beer, Ian Cutler, Peter Knight, Tom Leary, Chris Leslie, Brian McNeill and Garry Blakeley and that’s just the fiddlers! In the engine room we have Dave Mattacks (drums), Hugh Crabtree (melodeon), John Underwood & Martin Vincent (guitars) and Dave Harding (bass). Perhaps not so cool these days but personally I’m pleased to see a return to the time-honoured riffs and guitar solos as utilised on Crabtree’s “Ivor The Knight” that were so much a part of the make-up of folk-rock bands in the 70’s/80’s also listening to “Dave Robert’s French Waltz” brings a sentimental longing for days that have long since past. As you’d expect, the album features many fine traditional (and traditional sounding) tunes but it’s the band’s cheeky doffing of the cap (although still respectful) tribute to Aerosmith and Deep Purple that will get tongues wagging. More please fellas! http://www.feastoffiddles.com Pete Fyfe