Sunday, 6 May 2012


And on the back of all this…
Was Cropredy.
Three days of peace and music in an Oxfordshire field…
It actually felt like we were escaping to a more reasonable parallel universe.
The car is packed and we are actually ready to go at seven in the morning, which, believe me is a minor miracle, and off we went.
Way out in front of the rest of the gang.
We even stopped for breakfast at Bicester, and that has to be a
first !
Just a little further and…
I don’t believe it (Uttered in best Richard Wilson (he’s an actor) voice)
We are actually the first car at the Hare and Hounds, our regular meeting place.
Shakey, Annie, Andrew's back & Liz

Closely followed by Jim and Vicki, Annie and Shakey, Liz, James and Mickey Windows.
Within an hour we’re all here.

It’s amazing !
Not that it does us any good because we still have to drive through the village and hang a left to go round the back to field seven.
Oh well, at least we’re nearer the showers !

Me, trying to get the airbed pump to work...

Tents up and break out the beer.
Sounds like a good idea to me ?
Weather wise, it’s overcast and threatening rain but that’s Cropredy for you.
You can count the really good weather ones on the fingers of one hand and that’s after you’ve had an industrial injury !!!
I dunno what it is about this place, but by Christ it attracts
the rain ?
Right, half of us are going to the pub, and the other half are going to queue for our wristbands before hitting the field to grab a spot for the first day’s acts.

Fairport are starting everything off with an acoustic set, and U.B.40 are finishing the night, but inbetween them somewhere, are Hayseed Dixie, and they are definitely a ‘once seen and heard, never forgotten’ experience.

Annie & me
Fairport acoustic are ok and typically Fairport acoustic.
Fairport were followed by Katriona Gilmore and Jamie Roberts who had been one of the nominees for the Radio 2 best folkies, and they were fine and instrumentally very good for a couple of youngsters.
Third act…
A kid by the name of Blair Dunlop and he’s Ashley Hutchings lad…
I’m impressed, so ‘phone out and text Steve…
Let’s see if we can get him for ‘Rhythms’ next
year ?

Home Service (who I’ve always resisted before) actually entertain. 

John Tams of Home Service on the big screen
Nice one.

I enjoyed the set which was a definite plus because I get so tired of some band’s ‘socialist working man’ wankoff, and Home Service could certainly be accused of that in their past.
This time they seem to judge it right.
Difficult to praise socialists I suppose in this current climate, bearing in mind they were the ones who got us in this mess in the first place, but anyway, good set, impressive even.

And they were followed by Hayseed Dixie…
Oh dear…
Brilliant set.
Very coarse, very vulgar and very, very, musically brilliant which, thinking about it, is what you might expect from Don Reno’s children (The musically brilliant bit)
A bluegrass band who play heavy metal covers ?     
Oh go on... Click on it and add some music to your day (It's Motorhead's 'Ace Of Spades')
What’s not to like ?

Haddy is in absolute hysterics watching and listening, so a quick trip to the cd tent might be in order when they’ve finished ?
                   If you want to know why Haddy was in hysterics, just click on the link and play it.

It was… and we bought the live dvd, but one look at the queue decided us against
re-queueing for autographs.
Oh well, back to the drizzle.
Vicki & Jim in 'drizzle' mode...
U.B.40 were disappointing.
I was hoping that the loss of Ali Campbell wouldn’t have hurt them so much, but they sound a pale shadow of their former selves with the result that even Haddy, who has wanted to see them for so long, suggests we leave the field early and go back to the tent.
Sad, sad, sad…
Blair Dunlop: Good, and can get better.
Hayseed Dixie: Absolutely brilliant.

On reflection it was a good first night.
So a bit of tequila (me) and brandy (Haddy) to warm us up, and then hit the sleeping bags.

Oh God… It’s morning…
Breakfast coming up, which will be a nice vegetarian fry up.
Fake bacon, fake sausage, fried egg and fried tomato on a couple of slices of bread and washed down with a couple of cups of ‘rosie’, followed by a shower if the queue isn’t more than twenty people long, otherwise it can wait ?
Sod that !
It can wait.
By the time everybody has woken up, eaten, or had the first ‘hair of the dog’ it’s about half ten anyway, so decide what to do ?
The usual suspects, that’s me, Haddy and Annie are going to the field.
Everybody else is either pubbing it, or buying a breakfast from the school (Recommended… Well, if I didn’t bring ours I’d recommend it)
So that’s sorted then.
It’s a typical type Cropredy bill today.
Moore, Moss and Rutter, the youngsters who won the folk awards are starting and they’re not bad at all.
The rain is pissing down and then stopping for half an hour before starting again.
Middle row: Annie (far left) Haddy, Andrew & James on mum Liz's lap. Front left: Mickey Windows

The Travelling Band are a bit more rocky than folkie but it’s a nice enough noise.
Steve Tilston and The Durbevilles sound like Steve Tilston with a band, in that the songs are pretty good but the arrangements have a bit of weight on them, which is not necessarily a bad thing.
At last, the rain is stopping…

Charlie Dore, who people haven’t really heard of for years, is entertaining and enjoyable, but halfway through her set the rain starts again.
The Dylan Project is always enjoyable, more so, because the rain stops again.
The Urban Folk Quartet are astounding because I’d never heard them before, which I have to say was my loss as opposed to theirs.

I still cannot believe some of the things they did on that stage ?
Definitely a band to see again.

 The Coral seemed to be all flash and little substance.
You recognised the singles from their chart hits but it was a bit too ‘Jefferson Airplane’y sixties instrumental jam sounding for me.
Shame, because I’d been looking forward to them, but not the rain which had started lashing it down now.

And finally Seasick Steve, who seems to be one of the critic’s darlings at the moment…
I mean I like the blues, and I mean I REALLY like the blues, but he just does not do it for me.
He didn’t do it for Haddy either.
I think we left the field about three songs in ?
This pleased Annie, who isn’t the greatest blues aficionado in Christendom because it meant she couldn’t be accused of being a killjoy.
Not that she has ever given much of a damn about that.
The rain however, could prove to be a problem later when we cross the river, so an early night was in order…

Which turned into a drunken revel in Karen’s smoke and food tent in which Vlad the vodka bottle proved the strongest man at last…       

Drunk again ?  Well, some of us were...

Oh well, at least we tried for an early night...

It’s morning…
Try it the other way round today and shower first because the queue is only twenty deep, and after the rain last night it’s going to get a lot longer.
At least it’s a bright morning…
Maybe we’ll have a better day weather wise ?
I know we all take the piss out of poor old Richard Thompson about him being the ‘Raingod’ because it rains every time he plays there, but I personally think we’ve all been getting it wrong for years.
It’s FAIRPORT who attract the rain !!!
How many times has Richard turned up in the last few years and how many times has it rained ?
The actual answers are ‘not many’ and ‘a lot’ in that order.
So I believe a foul calumny is being committed against the poor bloke and it’s Fairport who should be blamed.
Let’s face it… They are always here, and when they are here it always rains…
The plan was to hit the boot fair in the village this morning, but the queue for the shower and that lovely feeling of real warm water hitting your body with a bit of velocity, got in the way.

By the time everybody in front of us had felt that and we’d finally got in, there was just time for a quick brekkie before a ‘mudtrudge’ to the festival field.

Plonk the chairs down in the usual spot (give or take a couple of rows) and relax to wait for Richard
Haddy & me

Who, when he finally came on at midday, blew one of the best sets I’ve ever seen him do.

Do yourselves a favour and click on the track.  It doesn't matter what country you are reading this in, if you have any troops in a 'warzone' (and we certainly do) you might find that one folky type has just encapsulated your views... And bearing in mind how shite the England team was in the last world cup, he certainly encapsulated mine...   

Funny, witty, caustic, barbed, and just downright perfect.
A lot of people were pissed off because of what had happened the previous week around the country, but
he managed to put it all into perspective and entertain as well…

You can’t really do better
than that.                                

Oh, and presided over the biggest collective Morris dance in England, which I think he must have got sewn up by now ?

Great set… And no rain.
Things were definitely looking up.
The Shee, an all female group were next and they were ok, and they were followed by Lau, who include Kris Drever in their ranks and he’s an ok performer, closely followed by the now Ian Dury-less Blockheads.
It still seems to be the same band except for the singer who does an alright job on the vocals and I guess it was a crowd pleaser in it’s way, but it was a bit predictable.
Ok, I’ve been looking forward to the next lot since the bill was announced because I haven’t seen Horslips since the nineteen seventies and back then they were bloody good…

Which they definitely still are, although I felt the set flagged a bit after an hour before they got to the last couple of numbers.
A shorter, punchier set would definitely have suited them better, I think ?
But what the hell !
They are still brilliant musicians and they still make a most enjoyable ‘folk-rock’ noise.

Horslips were followed by Badly Drawn Boy, or Damon Gough, whatever ?
He’d won an Industry Mercury prize back in 2000 and seemed to have done little ever since ?
Apparently he’s working with Martin Scorsese on the soundtrack of his next film, but as a performer he definitely lacks any charm or interest whatsoever, and comes across as a typical Northern twat with a bloody great chip on his shoulder.
After a moan about his parents moving south and him being born in ‘Fookin’ Dunstable’ I figure it’s time for a bit of heckling…
‘Could have been worse mate, could have been fucking Luton, now stop whingeing and get on with it…’
The trouble is, being back by the soundtower, he isn’t likely to hear it, but the crowd in the vicinity cheered it, so fucked if I care ?
If Harry Enfield ever gets round to doing ‘Kevin: The Musical’ Then Damon Gough has to be a contender for the starring role.
He managed to redeem himself on his last number, which was Bruce Springsteen’s Thunder Road as a tribute to the recently departed and very lamented Clarence Clemons, but in general terms…
What a prat !

Ok, it's time to get ready for finale time…

Fairport are doing the complete ‘Babbacombe Lee’ to start with, so that’s the first hour of their set before they go into the rest of it.
Now I’m one of those people who really like the Babbacombe Lee album and always have done.
I bought the original vinyl with booklets and stuff two days after it was released and have played it for enjoyment a few times every year ever since.
                       The opening of the 'Babbacombe Lee' portion of the show. Just click on the link...

Back in the seventies it was regarded as a ‘Concept Album’, like The Who’s Tommy and Quadrophenia, or The Kinks Arthur, The Pretty Things S.F. Sorrow or Horslips The Tain, but the thing about Babbacombe Lee is that because it’s quite folky in musical terms, it hasn’t sounded that dated over the previous forty years.
In general terms it’s not the music that makes a sound dated, but the actual production.
Some people felt that Simon Nicol’s work as producer was a bit low par, but to be honest I’m not one of them.
It did the job, and the fact that I’m still listening after all these years is testament to that.
Plus, Dave Swarbrick did a masterful job of transforming those old newspapers that he bought from an antique shop, into a set of lyrics that you could get into.
So to me, it works.
Not everybody will agree, but that’s musical taste for you.
Of course when Fairport start up, so does the rain…
(Proof, if proof  be needed, guys…)
But it stops again after about twenty minutes, thank God, and we enjoy the rest of the set.
                            Ok, I found the video on youtube and I couldn't resist it... Matty Groves

Because of my phoning Haddy when she’s been in The Gambia at five to midnight, she’s now well versed in the whole ‘Meet On The Ledge’ thing, and we finally leave the field in a nice upbeat mood.

It’s been a good one in general terms apart from the rain, but at least that held off for most of the last day.
Back to reality tomorrow.
Damn it !
But at least I’ve got Monday off, probably to do the washing and cleaning up the camping gear…
Let’s just hope it doesn’t rain again when we’re dismantling the tent tomorrow ?

Well, we got home a couple of hours after we left the site, unpacked the car and got everything inside, and then guess what ?
It bloody well pissed it down…
Typical !

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