Fairport’s Cropredy Convention 2012

Only Fairport Convention would expect people to hand over £22 a head for tickets to a “warm-up gig” for their festival without any info about who might be playing the gig.

And only Fairport Convention would succeed in getting people to hand over £22 a head for tickets to a “warm-up gig” for their festival without any info about who might be playing the gig.

But just as Fairport isn’t just any old folk-rock band – despite having defined the genre back in 1969 – their annual Cropredy event isn’t just any old folkish-rockish eclectic festival.

Like many long-term successes, Cropready began with a goodbye, when, ten years after Liege and Lief had set the benchmark for everyone to follow – and that included themselves, since L&L was something they never really equalled – they decided to knock the whole Fairport project on the head with a farewell gig in Cropredy, home to Dave and Christine Pegg. Of course, as with many long-term musical projects, the band had already had its ups and downs, and in Fairport’s case that meant more downs than ups: personnel comings and goings, no record deal, Swarbrick’s increasing deafness, and of course the car crash in May 1969 which robbed them of their drummer, Martin Lamble.

The year after that farewell gig, however, they decided to do it again – and they’re still doing it, 32 years later. They have proved music can be made without the grubby fingers of the music biz interfering all the while, taking the lion’s share of the proceeds out of the till, demonstrating that they have no more idea what sells and what doesn’t than the proprietor of the sweet shop on the corner.

So, here we are, back in Spittals Farm, waiting for Fairport’s acoustic set to open the Thursday night, with the following line-up:

Thursday August 9

  • Fairport Acoustic Convention

  • Irish singer-songwriter Kieran Goss: http://www.kierangoss.com

  • Legend, a 7-piece band led by Michael Anton Phillips (Cheesy), presenting the music of Bob Marley:
    http://www.legendlive.co.uk

  • Bellowhead, the foot-stomping 11-piece, led by Jon Boden (vocals, fiddle, tambourine), whose 2010 solo project, A Folk Song A Day, got the whole folk world talking, and John Spiers (melodeon, concertina): http://www.bellowhead.co.uk

  • Squeeze, 1970s “new wave” band, still going strong, with Squeeze veterans Chris Diffor, Glenn Tilbrook,  John Bentley, plus Simon Hanson and Stephen Large: http://www.squeezeofficial.com.

Friday August 10

  • YFA Winners Ioscaid (pronounced Iss-Kidge), a group of Irish lads from Down, Armagh, and Derry counties who came together in late 2009 as a band to enter the Siansa Gael Linn competition: http://www.ioscaid.com

  • Ellen & The Escapades from Leeds, with a widely-praised debut album, All the Crooked Scenes:
    http://www.ellenandtheescapades.com

  • Dead Flamingoes,featuring Kami, Richard Thompson’s daughter, and James Walbourne: http://www.deadflamingoes.com

  • Larkin Poe, a folk rock band fronted by sisters Rebecca and Megan Lovell, formed following the disbanding of bluegrass trio The Lovell Sisters after their elder sister, Jessica, left, taking their name from that of their great-great-great-grandfather: http://www.larkinpoe.com/

  • Ireland’s Saw Doctors, formed in 1986 by Leo Moran (formerly a member of defunct Tuam reggae band, Too Much for the White Man), and Davy Carton (formerly a songwriter and guitarist with short-lived Tuam punk band Blaze X): http://www.sawdoctors.com/

  • Richard Thompson (need we say more?): http://www.richardthompson-music.com

  •  Joan Armatrading, a three-time Grammy Award-nominee who has been nominated twice for BRIT Awards as Best Female Artist. She also received an Ivor Novello Award for Outstanding Contemporary Songs Collection in 1996. In a recording career spanning 40 years she has released a total of 17 studio albums, as well as several live albums and compilations: http://www.joanarmatrading.com/

Saturday August 11

  • Traditional Saturday afternoon opener and compere, Richard Digance: http://www.richarddigance.com/

  • The latest generation of Morris On, the fifth (is it?), originally put together by Ashley Hutchings for the first time in 1972, then featuring Richard Thompson, Dave Mattacks, John Kirkpatrick and Barry Dransfield, playing English Morris dance tunes and songs, on traditional instruments (button accordion, concertina, fiddle, etc) with electric guitar, bass, drums. Further “Son of”,  “Grandson of”, and “Great Grandson”  albums came out between 1976 and 2004: http://www.folkicons.co.uk/ashnews.htm.

  • Brother & Bones: http://www.brotherandbones.co.uk/

  • Calan(meaning “Calend”, or the start of a month, or year in Welsh) are a young, traditional Welsh band, who formed in early 2006, featuring Angharad Jenkins (fiddle, mandolin, vocals), Bethan Williams-Jones (accordion, piano, vocals, clogs), Chris Ab Alun (guitar), Llinos Eleri Jones (harp), and Patrick Rimes (fiddle, pibgorn, whistle, pibgwd)

  • Special Guests – Big Country, internationally-renowned Scottish rock band formed in Dunfermline, Fife in 1981: http://www.bigcountry.co.uk/

  • Dennis Locorriere, who was the lead vocalist and guitarist of Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show: http://www.dennislocorriere.com/

  • At 9pm the whole thing winds up with Fairport Convention & Friends – perm as many as will from all of the above, and more.

Oh, and what about the warm-ups? Well, they’re taking place at Woodford Halse Social Club (www.woodfordclub.co.uk) on Monday and Tuesday,  August 6 and 7 , tickets £22. Will they be worth it? You betcha, but more than that we cannot (will not?) say. But get there by 7.30pm or you’ll miss the fun.

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