Here’s my weather forecast for the postcode OX17 1AE over the weekend of August 9-11: it will be sunny, even if the rain pours down, because that’s the weekend of the Fairport Cropredy Convention. It has rained – very occasionally – over the weekend of this prime folk-rock event, but so seldom that it’s statistically insignificant. But even when it has rained, the vibes – as they say – are sunny.
As usual, the festival attracts some star names – Squeeze (Thursday), Fairport founder and all-round guitar genius and songwriter Richard Thompson (Friday), Joan Armatrading (Friday), and Big Country (Saturday) – but this is truly an event which is much, much more than the just sum of its parts.
And Fairport bassist Dave Pegg has an incredible talent for packing the stage with lesser-known names that are more than just support acts. My personal “must see” guests will be Legend, led by Michael Anton Phillips (aka Cheesy) in a Thursday night programme of Bob Marley tunes, followed by the foot-stomping 11-piece folk big band, Bellowhead, the Friday-night openers Ioscaid (pronounced Iss-Kidge), a group of young lads from counties Down, Armagh, and Derry, Dead Flamingoes, featuring Richard Thompson’s daughter, Kami Thompson, and James Walbourne, also on Friday, and of course the latest reincarnation of Morris ON on Saturday, in which Ashley Hutchings leads us through contemporary and traditional performances of ritual dance.
Then the weekend winds up with Fairport and friends, which unites Fairporters past and present in a musical knees up.
As someone once said, “Fairport did for real ale what the Grateful Dead did for LSD”. Though for me, it’s much, much more than just another excuse for a piss-up.
This preview appeared in the Morning Star.