A Newbie Cropredy Review (2014)

Fairport's Cropredy Convention 2014 Fairport’s Cropredy Convention 2014[/caption]

I had heard of the Cropredy Festival before, and had even heard of Fairport Convention, but as I had grown up with British Heavy Metal and Rock, listening to such bands as Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, AC/DC and the like, my experience of Folk music was limited. I remember taking a guitar to a chap in the Medway Towns for rewiring, and him telling me he would be travelling to Cropredy that summer as he always did and always had.

Chis&Johno_Croppers_14However, it was several years before I attended the festival at the village of Cropredy, near Banbury in Oxfordshire. I went with my wife Sue and a couple of friends; Paul Johnson of Folking.com and his partner Yvonne.

Paul had a press pass, and was kind enough to organise a guest pass for me before the event so I could help with the photos for the backstage interviews that Paul and Darren Beech, of Folking.com had arranged to do with Chris Leslie (of Fairport Convention) and Edwina Hayes.

Edwina Hayes
Edwina Hayes
Marillion
Marillion

I saw some famous people backstage (including Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin, who attends Cropredy regularly and Steve Hogarth of Marillion) which added to the excitement of the weekend.  My wife was particularly taken with Edwina Hayes, purchasing her CD, and I passed her message on to Edwina herself, who told me she would be spending time with friends near the bar that  evening and would be happy to sign the CD.

Cropredy 2014 Blackbeards Tea Party1Unfortunately, Hurricane Bertha had decided to visit Cropredy too, spoiling that plan and sending pretty much everybody, artists included, back to their tents and campers to dry out. I have been to festivals before, including Download in 2012, and was no stranger to camping in the wet, but despite the storm our field (the newly added Field 8, to cater for the sold out show’s additional camping) did not flood, although Bertha did her best to make striking camp as unpleasant as possible on the Sunday morning.

The concert area (Field 9) has a single stage and around the perimeter are the various food stalls and other emporia. The food prices were a little on the high side, but this was expected; the quality was good, although a pizza we bought could have been passed through the machine another time, and queues got longer as the time went on (which was not surprising due to the festival selling out). We sampled the very tasty Cropredy Hop ale too.

Chas & Dave
Chas & Dave
The Waterboys
The Waterboys

As for the music, it was mostly very good, and I enjoyed the Chas and Dave and Marillion sets, and the Australian Pink Floyd Experience (who I have seen before in Rochester in Kent). The Waterboys were excellent, as were Edwina Hayes and Blackbeard’s Tea Party.

 

Fairport Convention
Fairport Convention

Fairport Convention concluded the show, and theirs was a polished performance, ending with the traditional Meet On The Ledge, their second single, released in 1968.

I didn’t see every artist, but the general atmosphere was very pleasant. The place was secure, and despite warnings of thieves operating we saw nothing to trouble us. This festival is a family event, with plenty of young people and dogs too. We took Jack, the Giant Chihuahua, who enjoyed it as much as the rest of us.

Although Bertha did her best, we all had a great time and look forward to going there again.

Roger Sutton – 11th August 2014

Links

Fairport Convention’s website – http://www.fairportconvention.com/
The Chris Leslie Interview Cropredy 2014 – http://folking.com/the-chris-leslie-interview-cropredy-2014/
Cropredy 2014 Photo Gallery – http://folking.com/cropredy-2014-photo-gallery/

WE BANJO 3 – Roots Of The Banjo Tree

WOW (followed by as many exclamation marks as it’s possible to give!) this album gets a resounding ten out of ten and then some. I chanced upon the title of the band via an E mail from folking.com and to say that I was intrigued would be to understate the issue. Banjo players (at least those I have the pleasure of knowing personally) won’t mind me saying that the instrument is much derided within ‘music’ circles but (if you) trust me and are a true ‘music’ lover then do yourself a favour and buy this remarkable offering. Enda Scahill, Martin & David Howley between them show just how, given the right instrument you can engage the listener with displays of brilliant musicianship in both an entertaining (dirty word I know) and truly astonishing technical delivery without having to pander to the “’Ere mate do you play Duelling Banjos?” that is so often encountered in pubs these days. Having delved deep into the Traditional, Old Time and American Music Hall genres as well as doffing the cap to the likes of banjo maestro Gerry O’Connor by performing his beautiful air “Time To Time” alongside the great man himself our heroes all deserve gold medals. I knew the Olympics would crop up somewhere. On another subject it would be great if other ‘folk’ artists would take a leaf out of We Banjo 3’s books and invest some time and money in marketing their product with as much care and attention including the quality of the gatefold jacket, logo and website…ten out of ten for that as well! Dare I say it but if you hadn’t guessed it already this CD will hopefully one day be considered on a par (in folk music terms) with say the first time you heard Steeleye or Fairport. Well, a man can fantasise can’t he?

Pete Fyfe

Artist web link – www.webanjo3.com

If you would like to order a copy of an album (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).

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JEZ LOWE – Croydon Folk Club, Croydon, Surrey (09.07.12)

Expectations are high…they always are for a gig at Croydon Folk Club particularly when this week’s guest is the truly stellar (at least in ‘folk’ terms) Northern star Jez Lowe. Even before you enter the club room there is excited talk of what might form the basis of his set-list tonight. With a bit of luck there’ll be a mixture of old and new songs…whatever, we’re all agreed it’s bound to be a ‘good’ night. Starting proceedings, host Les Elvin engages the audience with Bob Dylan’s “One Too Many Mornings” and chorally warms them up in preparation for the main ‘act’. Opening with an engaging new song “Will Of The People” his off the cuff reference to outlaws including Billy The Kid, Robin Hood and…Boris Johnson are met with a knowing, cynical derision and then it’s straight into “A Small Coal Song” dedicated amusingly to all those mines that Meryl Streep closed down. For those of us that have attended performances by Lowe before it’s this gentle banter and wish to ‘connect’ with everyone that makes us surrender easily to his North-East charms and the torrent (quite appropriate for the start of the great British Summer) of new material including “The Ex-Pitman’s Potholing Pub Quiz Team” and “Simian Son” (which I’d advise against trying in Hartlepool!) are met with a stamp of approval from an ever eager public.

I’m all too aware that with such a prodigious turn-around of songs you’d expect at least one ‘duff’ number to slip through the net but trust me, if there was an award for ‘unblemished’ song-writing ability Jez would receive it. Engaging your audience with wisdom and wit has always been his raison detre and I can assure you that none of it was lost on tonight’s crowd who unashamedly joined in at every possible opportunity. If you are a regular ‘folk club’ attendee or just starting out on a (sorry about the cliché) journey of discovery I couldn’t suggest a better introduction to the scene and surely his OBE won’t be long in coming? For those that need any persuading check out the above You Tube video and see what you’re missing. By the way a special mention must go to New Zealand based singer-songwriter and performance poet Martin Curtis who provided a brief but very enjoyable set and will hopefully be offered a return booking in the future.

PETE FYFE

If you would like to order a copy of an album (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).

Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

Artist web link: www.jezlowe.com

A new Albion Band album… The Vice of The People

Alongside Steeleye Span and Fairport Convention, The Albion Band are one of the “Big Three” of English Folk Rock, fusing traditional British songs and tunes with contemporary instruments and sounds. All three were formed by legendary band leader Ashley Hutchings. Generally considered one of the most important groupings in the genre, The Albion Band has contained or been associated with a large proportion of major English folk performers from Richard Thompson to Martin Carthy in its long and fluid history.

Until 2011, the one constant has been Albion Band leader and bass player Ashley Hutchings but, on the fortieth anniversary of the band’s founding, an idea was sparked for a re-imagined, new line-up that would bring together a new generation of performers. The new line-up recaptures the spirit of The Albion Band’s heyday with a rockier, edgier approach to traditional English folk music.  Taking the unique character of classic era Albion Band (Battle of the Field/Rise Up like The Sun) and fusing it with award winning song writing and a contemporary rock and indie vibe, this is the new sound of 21st century English Folk Rock, and a shot in the arm for the whole genre.

For the first time in the band’s history, Ashley steps aside to let son, Blair Dunlop, lead a new generation of folk artists.

“For a good number of years people have been encouraging me to re-form The Albion Band. I have resisted these calls; getting the old faces together again in a permanent kind of way didn’t seem the right thing to do. Then, just before last Christmas, I had a Eureka moment. The way forward was to allow a new generation to take over the baton of The AlbionBand. The next day I asked my son Blair what he thought of being part of a new re-invented Albion Band. His reply was that he couldn’t think of anything he would rather do. We were up and running. Initially, I thought I would be some kind of Brian Wilson-figure, lurking in the background, pulling the strings. However it hasn’t turned out that way. The youngsters don’t need me and are building something new themselves.” Ashley Hutchings

“We have a hell of a heritage to live up to, but with this record we’re confident we’ve made something that stands comfortably alongside anything the genre has had to offer. It’s contemporary, relevant and will bring the concept of traditionally rooted rock to a new audience.” Blair Dunlop

This new line up features a number of performers from a range of backgrounds reflecting earlier versions of the Albion Band. These members include Folk Award nominee Katriona Gilmore (Tiny Tin Lady, Gilmore/Roberts – Fiddle and vocals) the traditionally biased vocalist, concertina player and guitarist Gavin Davenport, (Solo, Crucible) drummer Tom Wright (former Young Folk Award finalist and member of Eliza Carthy projects, Glorystrokes), and Tim Yates (Blackbeard’s Tea Party/The QP) taking on the onerous duty of playing bass – only the second bass player – the first being Ashley Hutchings himself – and lead guitarist Benjamin Trott.

Such a radical overhaul of Albion recruits has met with some controversy, given that no original member of the band remains after Hutchings’ departure, but the startling debut album strikes a contemporary chord that is set to firmly answer many questions.

In our opinion this album has the potential to become the seminal album release of 2012. The work captures the very essence of what the Albion band is and what it stands for. It cleverly works in the best of what has gone before and boldly demonstrates why Folk-Rock is here to stay! Folking.com

If you would like to order a copy of an album (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).

Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

Folking.com comes to Twitter!

Today Folking.com launched its new “folking tweet for you!” service for all of you people out there who would like to follow us on the brand new @Folkmaster Twitter account.

Every time a new post is submitted a tweet of it will be automatically generated which means that you will hear about as soon as it happens. I’ll also Retweet anything of interest that comes my way.

The latest 15 tweets are displayed over to the right just below the search button.

Happy Twitterings!

Michael MacLennan – Wolves

Michael MacLennan is a Scottish pianist, singer and songwriter. Brought up in the small village of Nethy Bridge in the Scottish highlands, he began playing the piano at seven years of age. Having won his place at the Royal College of Music, playing gigs 7 days a week, and writing two songs each day for a year, Michael MacLennan’s passion for producing awe-inspiring compositions cries out in his debut album ‘Wolves.’ Released February 20th 2012

Prior to moving back to Scotland, Michael supported himself by playing gigs across London where he caught the attention of Rod Stewart. Laying down his own interpretation of the classic Kriss Kristofersson track ‘For The Good Times’, Stewart tapped his shoulder and said ‘Bloody good job son!’ dropping him a £50 note. His songwriting skill is akin to the greats like Jackson Browne and Bruce Springsteen but harmoniously blends with the sounds of contemporaries like Damien Rice and Paolo Nutini.

While recording ‘Wolves’ from 2010 till 2011 and playing gigs all over Scotland and through out Edinburgh, Michael worked with many rising producers in the area, including Craig Ross and Garry Boyle. Together the trio found something unique, and their genuine collaboration is apparent in the finished work.Wolves’ is a timelessly brilliant album that could have been plucked from a California recording studio in the 70’s. Mesmerizingly talented beyond his years, MacLennan’s lyricism and instrumentation coalesce wonderfully. The first single on the album ‘To the Fire‘ is catchy, evocative, and relatable and is featured in the video below. Perhaps it is because the piano tracks were recorded amid heavy storms and fear of being snowed in but, ‘Wolves’ is the perfect album to drink a nice stout by the fireplace to on a cold winter night.

Tracks from his EP ‘History’ and recent single ‘To The Fire‘ have gained radio play on BBC Radio Gloucestershire BBC Radio Scotland, BBC Radio Nottingham, Blast 1386, Moray Firth Radio, Leith FM and Q Radio network. With many songs in his backlog and much more music to create yet, Michael MacLennan is a rising star and ‘Wolves’, set to release in February 2012, is a must listen for music fans of all backgrounds!

We at folking.com believe that this could be one of the most important debut release of 2012!

“Michael MacLennan’s songs are as timeless as they are heartfelt, an old school piano-fighter who allies true craft to infectious passion in his music. I often stick one or two of his tracks on my compilation CD’s so I can kid on I’m sophisticated.” – Christopher BrookmyreScottish best-selling author.

“Jaw-droppingly good on the show. I had to stop what I was doing and turn the radio up. Stunning!” –Pennie LatinSenior Producer and Presenter, BBC Radio Scotland.

If you would like to order a copy of an album (CD or Vinyl format), download a copy or just listen to snippets of selected tracks then click below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website (use the left and right arrows below to scroll along or back to see the full selection).

Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.