This is the interview that I have always wanted to do with Ralph.
The conversation started earlier this year, when I was at the Radio 2 Folk Awards.
I had managed to catch Ralph for a moment at the after show party and became locked into a fascinating conversation about songwriting. You know the type, where everyone else in the room fades out of focus around you.
It was a really special night, as Sandy Denny was inducted into the Radio 2Folk Awards Hall of Fame and Rufus sang that version of ‘Who Knows Where The Time Goes‘. I then noticed a third person come into focus as Ralph introduced me to Georgia, Sandy Denny’s daughter, which was the icing on the evenings cake for me.
The room was again busy with life, colour and movement and the sea of people in the bar shifted and I found myself in a different place to where I was before thinking, now that would have been a great conversation to have recorded…
So, when Paul Johnson and I caught up with Ralph at the St George’s Festival for Beckenham in June we hatched a plan to try and recreate the essence of that conversation backstage at Cropredy 2016.
Paul Johnson was also champing at the bit to speak Ralph again, as it had been ten years or so since he was last a guest on his Kent based radio show which some might remember as included a live version of ‘The Hiring Fair’.
So, here it is, the Ralph McTell 2016 Cropredy Interview from folking.com. Click on the play button below to start listening to it…
We’ll leave you with this memory from Saturday evening…
With a career that has taken in an astounding six decades, Steeleye Span is not just a legendary name in British music but also a link to the classic days of rock and folk music. Contemporaries of the likes of Led Zeppelin and Fairport Convention, they have gone on to change the face of folk music forever, taking it from small clubs and festivals into the world of chart topping albums and international tours.
Part of that incredible story has been the individuals that have contributed to the band’s history. Steeleye Span has provided a home for a long list of some of the world’s finest musicians. The current line up of Maddy Prior, Rick Kemp, Liam Genockey, Julian Littman, Pete Zorn and Jessie May Smart along with older names such as Martin Carthy, John Kirkpatrick, Tim Harries, Bob Johnson and most recently Peter Knight have all woven their heraldry into the historical fabric of the folk-rock tapestry.
Paul Johnson and I recently caught up with current band members Maddy Prior, Julian Littman, Peter Zorn and Jessie May Smart during the 45th Anniversary Tour at G-Live in Guildford to celebrate this 45 year landmark. Click the play button below to listen to the interview.
The video below celebrates the bands most recent album Wintersmith which was recorded in collaboration with Sir Terry Pratchett at the end of 2013. The album is based on Pratchett’s Wintersmith novel, which subject matter is completely appropriate for Steeleye, in its tales of ancient rituals and secret folk dances that perfectly complement their previous work whilst taking the band off again in a new and exciting prog-rock direction.
Darren Beech – firstname.lastname@example.org
If you would like to order a copy of the Wintersmith, download it or just listen to snippets of selected tracks (track previews are usually on the download page) then click on the banner link below to be taken to our associated partner Amazon’s website.
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.
However, 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.
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.
Unfortunately, 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.
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 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.
Many of our readers will know Chris as; the key songwriter in the current line-up of Fairport Convention, a top notch multi-instrumentalist, vocalist and all round good egg. What you may not know, is that he has a gem of a solo career going on the side as well.
When Nancy Dunham reviewed Chris Leslie’s last solo album, “Origins” for folking, in February 2014, there was a reference made to the Cropredy 2008 interview that Paul Johnson and I did, when Chris joked that the festival site was the center of the universe.
So, it will most likely not surprise any of our folking space cadets that Johno and I set our guidance controls to the center of the Cropredy festival star constellation again this year on a mission critical objective for a 2014 Galactic Commander Leslie debrief!
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. NANCY DUNHAM
In this new interview Paul Johnson finally attempts to say “Downloadable Interview”, and we talk to Mr. Leslie about his last solo album “Origins” , where it was recorded, the intimacy of the recording itself and peoples reaction to it.
Chris also explains how the solo project took shape, how the solo tour was received last year and his love of his favourite tenor guitar.
Chris Leslie’s latest solo tour dates in October are also discussed (detailed below) and we get a little bit more detail about the plans for the forthcoming new Fairport album and the Leslie contribution to it. Click the play button below to listen to the interview. Continue reading The Chris Leslie Interview Cropredy 2014
When 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.
Excitement is building to fever pitch as Fairport gear up to celebrate their 46 anniversary at this years “Cropredy Convention”. With this in mind, we thought it was the right time to re-run the interview that Paul Johnson did with Simon Nicol at Cropredy, back in 2011.
Paul’s schmoozing at the beginning of the interview leads him into a false sense of security and at times his interview technique morphs into Alan Partridge. Subjects include; the weather, Fairport opening the Thursday night for the first time, increasing Cropredy media coverage and the inspiration behind the Festival Bell album. Continue reading Folking Interview with Simon Nicol