Attending the annual Convention at Cropredy hosted by Fairport Convention has become a tradition for us now. This is the 5th year (in a row!) that I have attended and Dave has been going for much longer than that.
Every year a host of music fans turn up at the sleepy little village of Cropredy in Oxfordshire to attend what is called the world’s friendliest music festival. It is attended by 20,000 people from a wide variety of ages, backgrounds and nationalities. The music is equally varied although folk predominates, there is also rock, rap, reggae, country and a lot of bands which mix many different genres into their own unique styles.
I’ve had my ticket for quite a while now and was very excited about going.
This year, we all arrived at Dave’s boat, which was moored in its usual, spot on the Oxford Canal, on Wednesday evening so we could be relaxed on Thursday getting ready for the start of the festival. Dave wasn’t in when Lizzie and I arrived but we were able to break in to the boat and put the kettle on in time for Dave, John and Ellie to arrive.
We all got up early in the morning, Lizzie to head into the camping field to set up her tent and the rest of us to take the boat down to the water station and fill up (and also empty out!) so that we didn’t have to worry about running out of water during the weekend. On the way back we got breakfast going and had a great fry up.
Spent some time watching Bill Bailey after one of us mentioned that all spiders were traitors and would probably side with the insects. The performance of Human Slaves in an Insect Nation with the BBC Concert Orchestra in the Albert Hall is absolutely amazing. We all agreed that Bill should be invited to play Cropredy.
The rest of the morning was spent getting ready to go in to the field, importantly assembling deck chairs and attaching this year’s flag (which is a pair of high-vis y-fronts) to the top of our traditional bamboo flag pole. Day one doesn’t start until 4pm and, having had an early start, the early afternoon seemed to drag on and on for me and I was impatient to get on to the field. We got in pretty early and got a really good spot with a good view of the stage in our more or less traditional spot stage right of the sound booth and about 2 thirds of the distance from the stage to the booth.
Here are some pictures of the first day. More info about the acts etc after the gallery…
Line-up for day one was:
Only played a few songs (maybe 3) to warm up the crowd before the next act.
Katriona Gilmore & Jamie Roberts
An excellent traditional folk duo playing traditional songs and original work. Katriona plays some great fiddle while Jamie plays lap guitar which he also puts to excellent use as a percussion instrument. John bought both their albums at the CD tent and I will probably buy them soon too!
Is a singer/songwriter who performed mainly solo with his guitar. The only thing that sticks in my mind about him is his odd clothing: red track suit trousers tucked in to bright white wellies that looked as if they had just been taken out of the packet before he went on stage. (We saw him in the field later in the weekend and he was wearing identical trousers in a different colour and the same wellies!)
With the legendary John Tams on vocals (and he was also compère for today) this band from the mid eighties have recently reformed to promote an album of previously lost material. They play electric folk music and did a few anti Thatcher songs from the 80s. Not really my cup of tea but quite good.
For me Hayseed Dixie were probably the highlight of the entire festival. Having invented their own genre called rockgrass which appears to have come out of a desire to pay tribute to AC/DC using traditional hillbilly instruments, they now rock up the stage with high energy guitar and banjo covers of all manner of rock hits. Highlights included Motorhead’s Ace of Spades, The Beatles’ Strawberry Fields and a version of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody played so fast that it probably would have been short enough not to cause controversy when it was originally released. An original song about relationship breakdown called “Keeping Your Poop in a Jar” was also very well received.
In order to prove that 2 of the band members were related they had a banjo playing competition with only one banjo. One player picking and the other on the fret. Apparently the very fact that they can keep up with each other playing increasingly fast banjo proves they must be related! They also played a song in Norwegian (allegedly, how the hell would I tell!) about how expensive drinking is over there. According to their advertising blurb, their latest studio album is entirely in Norwegian but then the same blurb also lists their past times as drinking, cheating, killing and earning their place in hell.
Watching them was great fun and listening to them evangelising about banjo music was just as good as listening to them play. They are definitely on my CD wish list but which of their 9 albums should I go for?!
I found UB40 to be pretty dull, especially following for the high-octane Hayseed Dixie. It was really cold in the field by the time they came on and so most of their act was spent huddled in our chairs waiting for them to finish so we could go home.
After everyone was done we headed back to the boat for a drink and a snack before heading to bed.