Festival-goers attending Fairport’s Cropredy Convention in Oxfordshire enjoyed three days of diverse music in fine weather when the event took place on 10-12 August.
“We had a really great three days,” said Festival Director Gareth Williams. “The music was terrific and our crowd loved the variety of the line-up.”
“During the run-up we were a bit worried about the weather,” Mr Williams continues. But luckily the rain held off for the festival and the ground had dried out by the time we opened. Everybody was in great spirits, everything ran smoothly and there were no incidents to report. We heard a lot of great comments from people telling us how much they were enjoying themselves.”
‘Suzanne’ – Fairport Convention live at Cropredy:
Fairport is celebrating its golden anniversary this year and their marathon three-hour-plus show on the Saturday night reflected this landmark. Their Cropredy finale featured the current five-piece line-up, six former band members and four other guests from Fairport’s musical family.
This year’s festival completely sold out; in fact, it reached its capacity of 20,000 back in June. “Quite a few of people turned up on spec but, sadly, we had to turn them away,” said Mr Williams.
‘Reno Nevada’ – Fairport Convention live at Cropredy:
Next year, Fairport’s Cropredy Convention takes place on Thursday 9, Friday 10, and Saturday 11 August 2018.
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.
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.
Please support us and order via our UK or US Storefront
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.
Paul also gets a rightly deserved finger wagging from Simon when he is corrected on the fact that Peggy (aka Dave Pegg) was not in the band at the time of the hit single “Si tu dois partir”.
This week’s homework, “Johno” is to go back to class, brush up on your Fairport history, list the all the names of band members shown in the video below and write out 100 times “My favourite song in the whole word is Si tu dois partir”. The deadline to have it done by is Wednesday the 7th August!
It would have been more appropriate, if the song playing in the background during the interview was “Poor Old Paul”. Joking aside through, I thought the lad did a pretty good job but if you are going to interview Simon, its research, research and research or go into it at your peril.
Click the “play button” below to listen to the interview…
Please support us and order via our UK or US Storefront
Having toured internationally as The Lovell Sisters between 2005 and 2010, including performances at the Grand Ole Opry, Telluride and numerous other top venues and festivals, Rebecca and Megan relaunched themselves as Larkin Poe in January 2010, following the departure of eldest sister Jessica.
Still only in their early twenties, in just a little over two years as Larkin Poe, Rebecca and Megan have released five EPs and a live DVD and have performed with such luminaries as Elvis Costello, Fairport Convention and The Indigo Girls. During 2012 alone they have played headline shows at festivals across Europe including Beautiful Days, Celtic Connections, the Hebridean Celtic Festival and Fairport’s Cropredy Convention where they broke the festival record for CD sales.
During a particularly productive and rewarding year in 2012, they have also made guest appearances on new albums by Blair Dunlop and Gilmore & Roberts, rising stars of the UK folk scene, who were both recently nominated for prestigious BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, which take place on the 30th of January 2013.
Now Rebecca & Megan present a first full-length album, The Sound Of The Ocean Sound, a collaboration with multiple Norwegian ‘Spellemann’ (Grammy) winner Thom Hell, and special guest Sola Akingbola (Jamiroquai). Luck brought them together when Thom attended one of the band’s concerts, and two visits to the studio later the 10 songs of The Sound Of The Ocean Sound were complete. The album was recorded in two periods over the last two years at Ocean Sound Recordings studio in Giske, Norway, where Travis recently completed their forthcoming album.
Sola Akingbola, long-standing percussionist with Jamiroquai heard a rough mix of the record after playing at the Nobel Peace Prize concert in Norway, and was so eager to play on the album he spent his only 2 days off during a 2 month long Jamiroquai tour, to lay down some exemplary percussion work.
The distinctive voices and harmonies of Larkin Poe and Thom Hell, combined with Rebecca and Megan’s signature mandolin and dobro sound, result in ten masterpieces of roots-inflected pop.
The album also features Daniel Kimbro on bass, Chad Melton on drums and Mike Seal on guitar, all musicians who’ve played with Larkin Poe until recently. Norwegian producer Audun Borrmann recorded and produced the album in close collaboration with Larkin Poe and Thom Hell.
It will be available on CD, Vinyl and Digital download at the folking store below (RELEASE DATE MARCH 4 2013). The Sound Of The Ocean Sound features 10 tracks, six written by Rebecca & Megan Lovell, three by Thom Hell, and one co-written by Rebecca Lovell and Thom Hell in the studio.
“Though never quite abandoning the duo’s bluegrass roots the mandolin/dobro combination has clearly been harnessed to newly ambitious songwriting that’s taken a joyful, ultra-confident left-field swerve.” Acoustic
“Every exposure to Larkin Poe brings increasing evidence of emerging greatness.” The Herald
“. . . the 20-year-old sisters’ dynamic story-songs open up new realms of cream-fresh Americana” The Independent
“. . . rootsy, melodic, and reflective, not to mention highly irresistible.” Maverick
“With the Dixie Chicks on sabbatical, this could be Larkin Poe’s season in the sun.” The Observer
“What makes it all special is the pair’s ability to push the envelope, especially in the use of vocal arrangements . . . just when you think you know where you are, you’re taken someplace further. That’s a genuine gift.” R2
Please support us and order via our UK or US Storefront
Whisper this, but I hadn’t been to for twenty years. I had felt it was getting too big for my personal comfort – when I first went there was one campsite, now there are seven – but an insistent invitation drew me back this year. In fact what are bigger are the camper vans, the folding chairs and, dare I say, the waistlines. We older and …er…more substantial punters do like our comforts. Some aspects of the festival are more technological and sophisticated. The bar is a marvel of mobile opulence although initially no more efficient than in the days when there was one Wadsworth’s lorry, lots of barrels and one choice of beer. That’s no reflection on the brilliant bar-staff, by the way, but logistics do sometimes let the side down.
An innovation during my absence is the big screen which, in between displaying safety information, “televises” the show. It can be a boon for those at the top of the field although it’s often obscured by a forest of flagpoles. The interesting thing is that even down the hill at the front, unless you’re actually leaning on the pit barrier, you find yourself watching the screen, not the performers. Sure, you get 10 foot high images of John Tams’ face and Graeme Taylor’s plectrum technique but it feels wrong. If they could just pipe it into the cable TV network we wouldn’t actually have to go there. Er…maybe not.
Everything else is pretty much the same. The stewards are unobtrusive, laid-back and helpful and with road closures around the site their help was invaluable. The familiar spirit of the festival remains. Two examples that I heard about: one couple left their car keys in the door when they went to bed and woke to find the car locked and the keys safely guarded and a purse containing credit cards and a good deal of money was lost overnight and returned intact the following day. I’m not sure where else that would happen. T-shirts remain the badges of identification and mutual recognition although in general clothes are less outré – that goes with the Aldi and Tesco carrier bags. There are still more food concessions than can you eat from without the aid of a tapeworm, lots of silly hats to buy and, increasingly important as one gets older, civilised toilets. Don’t laugh, it’s important. And despite promising myself that I wouldn’t visit the CD store, I failed to keep my promise.
The rain loitered with intent on Thursday afternoon but stayed away as Fairport Convention opened the proceedings with a short and none too serious acoustic set followed by Katriona Gilmore & Jamie Roberts and Blair Dunlop. Hearing ‘Walk Awhile’ as the second song really sets you up for the weekend. Bob Harris introduced Home Service as the evening’s compère, John Tams, was too modest to introduce himself. It is so good to have the band back together although it has to be said that their failure to invite Bill Caddick to return raises awkward questions. Their set was familiar material – new boy Paul Archibald had to learn another back catalogue after all – and, in the current climate, it was impossible to listen to ‘Alright Jack’ and ‘Sorrow’ without reflecting on how little things have changed.
Hayseed Dixie might be considered a one trick pony but they perform the trick very well, although I have my reservations about their interpretations of ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ and ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’. A couple of serious moments were hidden in the rockgrass but I’m not sure if anybody noticed. They had a lot of fans at the festival, particularly among those who found Home Service too intellectually challenging to actually bother listening to. UB40 closed the day – slick, professional and, I have to admit, not my thing at all.
Before it actually opens to the public the arena is rather eerie. I watched Seasick Steve sound-checking with his pounding drums reverberating around the empty site. Steve was Friday’s headliner and I still can’t make up my mind whether he’s the great original everyone reckons he is or a charming old fraud. Don’t get me wrong, I love his music, but I don’t buy into his story. If I’m right he’s only following in the tradition of Bob Dylan who, in his early days, fed interviewers the most outrageous lies and watched them lap up everything he said. Listen to Folksinger’s Choice for prima facie evidence.
Moore Moss Rutter provided a suitably relaxed start to Friday, another day when the weather couldn’t make its mind up. The Travelling Band began with a Blind Lemon Jefferson tune which felt like a smart move. They moved on to their own material variously augmented by viola, cello and brass and played an exciting set which was also VERY loud. I rather liked them despite that but the contrast in approach was hard on Steve Tilston who had to follow them. I also like Steve and his partnership with The Durbevilles feels like a very natural match on a song like ‘Jackaranda’. This was a good set and The Oxenhope EP was one of my purchases. Charlie Dore provided yet more country-style music – the theme of the day, it seems. I found her set rather relaxing which was good for the late afternoon slot but I confess that I was waiting for The Dylan Project.
Like his hero, Steve Gibbons is seventy this year. How did that happen? Everything about him is unique from his look to his guitar style and the way he used to make Keith Richards appear the picture of robust good health. They played a tight set with none of Steve’s extemporising as they mixed the downbeat – ‘Dark Eyes’, ‘Sweetheart Like You’ and ‘Cold Irons Bound’ – with the simpler sentiments of ‘Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You’ and ‘Rainy Day Women #12 & 35’. ‘Gotta Serve Somebody’ seemed a most appropriate choice given the events of the preceding week.
The Urban Folk Quartet was another band who benefited from my visit to the record stall but they had released a live album at a special Cropredy price and I wasn’t about to pass that up. UFQ are another band who have found a new approach to traditional music. Frank Moon’s oud features heavily, Joe Broughton seems to play more guitar than fiddle but who’s counting, Paloma Trigas is a bundle of energy and Tom Chapman joins a small roster of singing percussionists. If you haven’t heard them yet, you really should.
The Coral: ahead of their time or brilliantly retro? They included ‘Ticket To Ride’ in a spectacular show of their 21st century rock and would have made a better final act. It was unfortunate that there was a delay before Seasick Steve took to the stage. There was none of the redneck southerner schtick you get on TV and he seemed rather low key. I chose to watch him from the top of the field to see how he would work with such a big crowd and sad to say people around me were drifting away into the cold night long before the end of his set. I’d like to see him live in a smaller, more intimate, venue but so meteoric has been his rise to fame that he doesn’t play small gigs any more.
Richard Digance is a fixture as Saturday’s opener. Part comic, part social commentator and all warm-up man he did a superb job, getting the crowd on its feet doing silly things and listening to some serious songs – ‘Jobs’ is absolutely brilliant. It’s a combination that pulled the audience together and pointed it in the right direction. Next up, it was lovely finally to see The Shee on stage: fiddles, flute, mandolin, accordion, harp and voices performing their mixture of Scottish and American music and songs. I like the way they wear their posh frocks on stage, too.
Blockheads without Ian Dury: does it work? Well, the sun came out and England won a test match while they were on stage so I guess it does. The band isn’t exactly the same, inevitably, but in Derek “The Draw” Hussey they have a suitably eccentric lead vocalist who doesn’t attempt to imitate Dury but manages to channel his attitude. Songs like ‘Inbetweenies’ and ‘What A Waste!’ have been part of the band’s DNA for so long that they can’t fail to sound good.
My live experience of Lau suggested that they could be even louder than The Blockheads but the festival sound crew just about kept them in check. Martin Green seems to have more equipment every time I see the band – now he has a keyboard to go with his accordion and pedals adding new textures to Lau’s sound palette. The accordion was frequently used as a bass instrument with Martin playing a melody on the keyboard.
A decade ago Jim Lockhart introduced me to the art of ligging Dublin-style. This involved more pints of stout than I care to remember, being invited to a couple’s engagement party and being told by a lady with the reddest hair I’ve ever seen that my destiny was linked with the sea. As the ferry back from Rosslare didn’t sink I haven’t taken her too seriously. At the time Jim was head of production at RTÉ 2fm but in his previous life he played keyboards and flute with Horslips. Sadly they broke up before I had chance to hear them live which made their performance at Cropredy something of a milestone for me. Yes, Horslips are back, although Johnny Fean’s brother Ray now sits in for drummer Eamonn Carr. The outrageous stage clothes are gone and the band is rather more soberly dressed now but can still play those hits: ‘Dearg Doom’, ‘Trouble With A Capital T’, ‘Charolais’ and ‘Mad Pat’ as well as the soaring instrumentals from The Book Of Invasions. It was a moment of magic.
I’ve tried listening to Badly Drawn Boy several times and it hasn’t worked. He has one great song, ‘Born In The UK’, but that’s not enough to hold my interest. My opinion was not helped by the fact that Horslips were cut short while Bad milked a smattering of applause for two encores. Look, this is personal recollection and I’ll be as partisan as I like, OK?
A typical Saturday set by Fairport Convention consists of some compulsory songs, explorations of the byways of their back catalogue and a succession of alumni and friends doing their thing. This wasn’t typical. Its centrepiece was a complete “Babbacombe” Lee which occupied a third of the programme and, of course, there’s a new album to promote which doesn’t leave a lot of time. They opened with ‘Walk Awhile’ and closed with ‘Who Knows Where The Time Goes’, ‘Matty Groves’ and ‘Meet On The Ledge’. ‘Crazy Man Michael’, ‘Honour And Praise’, ‘Mr Lacey’ and ‘The Hiring Fair’ were the other oldies. Ralph McTell dropped in for a couple of songs and PJ Wright and Phil Bond augmented Fairport when lead guitar and keyboards were required but otherwise the band stood up to be counted. I’m glad I heard “Babbacombe” Lee having managed to miss it on the spring tour and the use of films on the big screen added an extra something to the show. ‘Matty Groves’ was illustrated by a video featuring Barbie and Ken and what appeared to be a meerkat in a submarine – it was late, I’d had a beer or two: who knows what I saw?
So, has Cropredy grown too big? Yes, I think it has but I’ll qualify that by saying that the infrastructure is quite capable of coping with the 20,000 people who turn up each year. But on Saturday afternoon it was almost impossible to move around the field without kicking, jostling or stepping on someone and it was impossible to sit quietly and mind one’s own business without being kicked, jostled or stepped on. Thursday has now grown into an official day and the fringe occupies two pubs in the village. It may be time to consider a second stage. I would have been more than happy to see some of the acts play a second set in a smaller venue or some of the fringe artists accommodated there. It would take the pressure off the main area and restore the relaxed atmosphere that existed back in the eighties. I missed that.
Please support us and order via our UK or US Storefront