Sunday, 18 July 2010

The More We Walk Together Love, The Better We'll Agree (Cropredy 2009 Part Two)

The Buzzcocks were playing before Steve Winwood on the Thursday night.
Haddy and I had leisurely unpacked everything and sorted out the tent's innards, stuck some food on and eaten it and then hit the festival with Annie, whose other half Shakey, had opted for the pub along with the vast majority of our lot.

The three of us finally get in to the site for the act before The Buzzcocks and head for our usual spot, which is already occupied so we re-site a little further back than normal but it’s no problem really.

The whole crowd are wondering about The Buzzcocks as this is the first time ever that anything remotely resembling a punk band excepting maybe 3 Daft Monkeys who are more punk folk and who were on last year, and who I’ve actually put on myself and supported, have ever played Cropredy, so everybody is looking forward to it…
Some with expectations of brilliance (They have been getting good reviews for their gigs recently) and some with total trepidation as punk is and was definitely not their scene, but I’m here to say that Messrs Diggle and Co blew a storming set which was definitely just what the doctor ordered.
I will freely admit that they were never my favourite band back then, but bloody hell ! Did they go for it or what ?
Haddy’s out of her chair and bouncing up and down with the rest of the fifteen thousand odd bodies…
Definitely a bracing start to our festival and midway through the set we get ‘phone calls to say the majority of the rest of our gang are at the top of the crowd and in deference to James who is only five, will stay there and meet us back at the tents when the night is over.

The Buzzcocks finally hit their last number and they are off and gone to resounding applause from the crowd.
Definitely a left field booking success for the predominantly folkie bunch from Fairport.
I’m seriously impressed.
Annie quite liked them anyway, but it’s my first time seeing them live.
They came, they played and they conquered and they definitely made a few friends that night.
Good on ‘em.
Now it’s time for Steve Winwood…
Now this is no secret but I’m actually old enough to remember him from the days of The Spencer Davis Group, let alone Traffic, Blind Faith and the solo years.
He’s always been someone that as a musician I’ve admired, but more from a distance.
I own a couple of Spencer Davis albums, about six Traffic albums, Blind Faith and a couple of solo’s and even an oddball outfit named ‘Go’ with Japanese percussion maestro Stomu Yamash’ta is in the old vinyl collection somewhere, and I have the distinct feeling that he’s going to do a form of Winwood’s hits from here, there and everywhere tonight ?
He’s finishing the night so there’s no point in doing all new stuff as most of the crowd would just walk as it’s getting distinctly chilly round about now.

Hey !
What can you say ?
He’s bloody majestic !
All the well known tracks are included, but not ‘Hole In My Shoe’ and thank the Lord for that.
Forty Thousand Headmen, Can’t Find My Way Home, Keep On Running and a great cover of the Blues Brothers Gimme Some Lovin’
(Only joking… I know it’s a Spencer Davis Track sung by Stevie… But everybody seems to know The Blues Brothers version… Is there anybody who hasn’t seen that film ?)
A couple of tracks from his solo years and a couple of new ones and as he hits his encore we decide to move to avoid the crush when he finishes…
Annie thinks he’s a bit jazzy, but it’s just that basic Hammond sound that he gets from his organ and so it’s me and Haddy for Winwood, and Annie for the Buzzcocks as far as favourites from Thursday night are concerned.
We’re on field seven at the back of the stage and it’s a bit of a trek over the canal and round the bend to the field, but we’re all buzzing from the Buzzcocks and Steve Winwood so it’s not a problem.
Get back, have a snack and a warm drink and get your head down for the following day…
Hmmm… The look on Haddy’s face as she crawls into the tent for her first night under canvas is a right picture…

It’s cold and it’s damp (well it would be, we’re in the middle of a field in Oxfordshire) and we’re both awake and she’s freezing and it’s three o’clock in the morning…
Snuggle up closer, change positions, get up and make a cup of tea, leg it to the loo’s and back, snuggle down again…
I’m going to get her a ‘hoodie’ of some description tomorrow, as warm ears and head usually equals warmer body.
It worked for me a couple of years ago when I forgot my leather jacket.
When I wake it’s morning and past eight o’clock which is unusual for me as I usually wake there at about six when the church bells chime, but at least I feel I’ve had a rest so I crawl out and attempt to start breakfast…
Cook tomatoes, veggie bacon rashers and fried egg on two doorsteps with steaming cup of tea…
That’ll set us up.
Miss Grumpy sticks her head out of the tent…

The smell of fried food has got to her and she’s definitely happier with that in her stomach, and the sky is looking good, too…
It could be warming up ?
I bloody hope so.
It was quite damp and chilly last night.
First things first after breakfast…
Hit the queue (and I mean queue) for the showers…
She’s nicked my t-shirt that my brother sent me from the U.S.A. but I don’t mind because she looks better in it than I do.

The only two acts I’m really interested in today are John Jorgenson who used to be in The Hellecasters with Jerry Donahue and obviously Richard Thompson who’s topping the bill and ending the night, so as soon as we can, we dump our stuff on site in our usual spot and leave Annie to guard them as she’s happy doing her knitting (Totally Rock’n’Roll is our Annie) and listening to all the folkie acts.
Seeing as it’s Haddy’s first time here, we are going walkabout around the village so that she can get some photographs of the places that she’s seen on some of the cd sleeves.
We’ll be back for John Jorgenson though… I definitely want to catch him.

We had a lovely walk round without any pressure or rush, taking pictures left, right and centre.
The weather held quite well, and it seems to be getting warmer by the hour so that’s a bonus.
We bought the hoodie so now she should be ok for tonight, and a couple more bits and bobs besides, and then it was time to make our way back for another pit stop before we hit the site for Jorgenson.
It’s definitely getting warmer.
Because he’s predominantly instrumental I think I was the only one out of our bunch who appreciated J.J. ?

He was a bit ‘jazzy’ for everybody else, but then as Haddy pointed out, he is definitely a master of his instrument.
Sod it ! Lets go shopping on site.
I want that Richard Thompson box set and let’s see what other music there is going cheap ?
A couple of Tim Buckley’s, a Beach Boys and a Box set ain’t a bad add to the collection, and Haddy hit the t-shirt tent for a Fairport Cropredy 2009 top and a child’s size Cropredy 2009 sleeveless for Mariama back in The Gambia…
Yep… We are definitely doing ok.
Now I’m going to enjoy a Guinness… Or maybe two or three ?
I rarely drink these days because I always need the car, so being safe on site is a definite bonus and I can have a couple of beers.
Haddy doesn’t drink anything stronger than brandy ??????
In fact apart from the occasional brandy, I’ve never known her to drink alcohol, although she did taste a drop of my Bushmills when I took a bottle to The Gambia and pronounced it ‘alright’, so she’s on the tonic water which she enjoys anyway and although I couldn’t find it last night, I know I’ve a flask full of tequila somewhere in the boot of the car just in case it gets chilly tonight ?
I’ll find it when I nip back to make up some rolls for later.

Right. Flask found and rolls made and back to the site to stuff them and then wait for Mr Thompson.
We’re all looking forward to his set and he certainly doesn’t disappoint.

He’s playing acoustic and solo and his very dry humoured introductions and songs completely captivate Haddy who pronounces him the best thing she’s ever heard…
That’s a bonus.

Then he brings on his daughter Kami, and they duet for a while before he storms the final few numbers.
If Stevie Winwood was majestic what’s the adjective to describe Richard Thompson ?
Absolutely fucking brilliant might come close but it’s not close enough ?
Knockout !
Maybe ?
The best I’ve seen him in years and how can anything top that ?
Right… Let’s get back to the tent and warm up with those bowls of chilli that I’d prepared earlier before settling down for the night…

It’s Saturday… Fairport day… and it didn’t rain in Richard’s set as it traditionally does…
Showers or boot fair ?
Showers win out so it’s back to queueing I’m afraid, but we’re closer to the front this time…

Hit the site as soon as they open it at half past ten and get comfortable…
It’s Richard Digance time and now we’ve got a whole bunch of nutters doing the Digance Bog-Roll Morris…

You have to see it to believe it !
Haddy is in absolute hysterics at this point.

Well… She’s never been to an English Folk Music Festival before, so what do you expect ?

We’re all wondering what Nik Kershaw is going to be like as he’s on soon but the next highlight is definitely Dreadzone.
Reggae and rap and a bit political and definitely danceable to the max…
Nice one guys, and perfect for the middle of the afternoon.
Nik Kershaw is a surprise… Albeit a pleasant one.

I wasn’t looking forward to him but a couple of our younger members were, and he’s got a nice line in self-deprecating humour.
I actually enjoyed him, so that was a bonus.

Fairport Convention hit the stage at nine and they’re going to play us out to the end and they hit the stage running.
This isn’t a band that’s feeling tired, this is a band that’s still got something relevant to say.

Haddy’s finally seeing a band that has given her and her family out in The Gambia a lot of pleasure musically, and they don’t disappoint her (or anyone else for that matter) but at round about ten after they’ve been on an hour, they wind down their set and make an introduction…
Now I did say at the beginning of this piece that I’m writing, that there was a special guest and we, and by that I mean pretty much the whole crowd, are on tenterhooks, because we just don’t know what is going to happen ?
The guy is virtually coming out of a self-imposed musical exile that he sent himself into and while it is fair to say that pretty much everybody here is on his side, world events have a nasty habit of informing opinion and world events have definitely interfered with this guy’s life, but they introduce him anyway…
Ladies and gentlemen please give a warm Cropredy welcome to Mr Yusuf Islam…
And the first thing he gets is a five minute standing ovation.
The former Cat Stevens, now Yusuf Islam is playing his first festival date in thirty odd, years.
They’ve got Pat Donaldson back too, so the usual suspects are all on stage from the time of his classic hits.
Everybody is screaming for the hits but he has no intention of playing them as that part of his life is over. Two new numbers, one from his first Islamic release and one from his new one and two oldie album tracks.
He ended with Peace Train.

It was a perfect mini-set and the crowd rises as one to cheer him…
Amazing !
You just had to be there, I guess ?
Haddy, although not a Muslim herself but coming from a Muslim country is virtually moved to tears, but I have to say the majority of the crowd, even this old cynic, felt it too…
Amazing !
And then we’re back with Fairport who storm into the next portion of the set finally hitting Matty Groves and then encoring with Meet On The Ledge and Haddy is singing along with all the rest, but then she knows these songs…
Now she’s seen them performed and she wants more.

Fairport have a habit of doing that.
It’s disarming, but you always want to come back.
We’ve bounced and danced our socks off…
We’re all going to sleep well tonight, before the journey home tomorrow.
In Haddy’s opinion Richard Thompson is a musician who obviously sits at God’s right hand…
You can tell she was reasonably impressed, can’t you ?
And Fairport ?
Well, they were Fairport and she wants to come back next year to see them again.
As for Mr Islam ?
Well she’s got something to tell ‘Lamin the Drum’ when she finally returns, as Lamin is the Cat Stevens fan back in Fagikunda, and the fact that she’s seen him perform and the obvious love from the crowd toward a Muslim performer is something that Lamin is going to relish.
He’s always said that musicians are different to ordinary people and a different set of rules apply, so that this Muslim vs Christian (Or America) war that seems to have erupted around the world would never have occurred if people learned that music is more important and can inform politics and not the other way round.
I like Lamin, he’s a cool dude… smart too (and an absolutely amazing drummer).

When we return home we’ve got things to do…
The house needs new carpets throughout, and a lot of stuff needs throwing out that has accumulated over the years because things are going to change in November…
Unfortunately while we are waiting for the carpets to be delivered, Haddy trips while going upstairs and manages to twist her ankle and scald her leg at the same time…
Her break is going to have to be cut short, but it can’t be helped…
I’ll be seeing her again in November when we’re finally tying the knot and getting married…

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