Tuesday, 20 August 2013


Just over one week later we were off…
I honestly don’t know what it is that keeps drawing me back there ?
Is it the music, some of which seems to be just mates being put on to give them a paycheck, or is it something else ?
What I do know is that out of all the festivals I’ve been to, and there have been a few, this is the one I actually like going back to, so maybe it’s a comfort thing ?
Who knows ?
It’s nice to see the next generation of folkie types before they get big, bitter and well known, and it’s a reasonably friendly place because the same people keep coming back and I’m not just talking about the artists, so why do we do it ?
Beats me ?
Sitting or lying in a field, usually on damp grass and listening to predominantly acoustic folkie music is definitely not to everybody’s taste but for some reason I seem born to it ?
Thankfully, my wife seems to have fitted in quite happily with all the goings on and is just another Cropredy regular which makes it even more amazing when she’s accosted by a tourist whilst in The Gambia because she’s wearing the latest t-shirt and asked if she goes ?
One day we’ll actually meet up at Cropredy with someone who’s asked her whilst in The Gambia, and if that occurs I might even put my hand in my pocket and buy them a drink ?
I said MIGHT so don’t all jump at once will you ?

Anyway, the car was packed on Wednesday night and only needs us and a bit of food for the journey and so at 6.30am we were out of our cul-de-sac and heading for the A1.
I don’t know about the others, but as far as I’m concerned we do A1, M25, A41, M41, A361 and that’s it.
Basically it’s Stevenage to Aylesbury to Bicester to Banbury to Cropredy.
So simple that even I can do it, and besides, the car seems to know its own way there without any help from me.
Ok, I’m driving it, but rarely conscious of doing so.
Once we’re on the A41 it’s usually plain sailing all the way.
The weather however, is a bit of a problem…
It’s windy, and we keep driving through squally showers followed by a bit of sunlight.
Christ ! 
I wish it would make it’s bloody mind up ?
Apart from the weather the drive is reasonably uneventful and at about eight thirty we text Vicki, Annie and Liz and tell them we’re having breakfast at Bicester.
It would seem we’re about half an hour in front of Jim and Vicki and about forty five minutes in front of the rest ?
I’ll enjoy my breakfast then.
About thirty minutes later we’re on the M41, just under twenty miles from Banbury and the weather has become grey and overcast which is par for the course for Cropredy.
No real traffic on the 361 and so we just cruise to the pub where we are all to meet as usual.
Wahay !  We’re the first to turn up
(Blimey !!!  That’s rare)
But we are, and as soon as I’ve turned the car around so it’s facing outward, the landlady comes out and asks us if we want breakfast ?
Errr… No thanks, but if there’s a cup of tea going ?
Apparently there is.
Tea and a pee…

Which is when Liz, Mickey and James turn up, 

closely followed by Jim and Vicki

and Annie and Shakey in quick succession.

Not bad…
It’s half past ten and now everyone else has arrived.
Rob and Karen, Colin, Chris, Candy, Phil, Mandy and Rosie...
The gang’s all here.
Mind you, it takes about another half an hour for those with drinks to finish them, so forget any chance of getting on site earlier than usual.

Finally, we’re off.
Straight through the village and around the corner to field seven as usual…
Oh well…
It’s been home to us now for about the last six or seven years ?
Now to get the tents up.
It’s the second year for the one we use so it’s not quite as difficult as it was last year, AND, it only took us three quarters of an hour…

It’s obviously time for the first alcoholic drink of the day, which in my case is a can of Guinness poured into my tankard…

‘You can’t drink Guinness out of a tankard…’ says Vicki, absolutely horrified at my doing so.
‘Don’t be silly, I could even drink Guinness out of your Wellington boot…’ was my reply.
Honestly… I ask you ?
If you want a drink then you can drink out of whatever receptacle is available, surely ?
This snobbery over drinking has even permeated Cropredy and must be nipped in the bud as soon as…
I think Vicki’s going to get a few wind-ups over the weekend ?
No, I’ll re-phrase that.
I KNOW Vicki’s going to get a few wind-ups over the weekend !!!

First queue is to get arm-banded up, second queue was to get in.
We’re in approximately the usual place, slightly back from the sound tower and on the right facing the stage.
As usual it’s me, Haddy and Annie.
Everybody else is off to the pub or the Cricket pavilion.
I’m more interested in seeing if the poncho I bought last year is going to fit over me AND the chair ?
Thank Christ for that…

It’s started spitting with rain and just as Fairport Acoustic hit the stage it starts raining heavily.

I definitely think it’s going to be a wet one ?
Nice set by Fairport, tho’, just a shame about the weather.
Kieran Goss is up next and he’s good enough, trouble is, he comes across as just another folkie singer-songwriter.

It’s a shame because he’s worth a bit more than that.
Hopefully the rain will stop when they hit it with some cool reggae sounds ?
Well, it does and it doesn’t.

Ok, the rain stopped for a little while, enabling me to do the charity stalls at the top of the field and to hit the cd stall, but by the time Bellowhead hit the stage it had started up again.
I still have a blind spot for Bellowhead.
I know they’re very popular as a live act and I know they sell loads of albums
(cd’s & mp3’s to you, I’m old school)
But there’s something lacking for me and I can happily leave them alone.

It seems I’m in the minority, but hey, that’s taste for you.
Squeeze were quite good as headliners.

It’s surprising how many tracks you’ve forgotten when they start playing them ?
By the time Squeeze are about to finish we’ve all made a run for the camping field to get there ahead of the finishing rush and avoid the bottlenecks.
It’s cold and damp in the tent.
Hopefully we might get some sun tomorrow ?

Fuck me !
That was COLD…
At least it’s not raining at six in the morning so drag some clothes on and queue for showers with the other early birds.
When the water runs hot it certainly sets you up for the rest of the day.
If the weather holds we might have a reasonable day, today ?
There’s a few acts that I want to see, and Haddy’s looking forward to Richard Thompson and Joan Armatrading but it’s the younger ones today that I’m interested in.
I’ve heard nothing but good stuff about Larkin Poe and Ellen & The Escapades so let’s see how they do ?
And Dead Flamingoes is Richard Thompson’s daughter Kami, and she can sing.

Breakfast is made and eaten.

(veggie sausage, fake bacon, fried egg and baked beans on two chunks of bread with two cups of tea each if you’re interested ?)
Wash up the cutlery and plates and we’re ready for the off, now all we have to do is wait for Annie who’s reasonably sorted and we’re off again to our usual spot.

As soon as we reach the arena and drop our chairs and bags I’m off to the cd tent where I spend a few quid doing up my Leonard Cohen collection and getting the Dave Swarbrick box set because it’s finally on special offer.

The lass behind the counter reckons I have good taste for what I bought and I’d like to think so but
it’s more a question of making hay while the sun shines.
If you get a chance to buy cheap then do so.

Never leave it until the next day because sod’s law says it won’t be there and you’ll have lost your chance.
Anyway, I’m happy with what I’ve got and the next trip will be for t-shirts from the Fairport merch’ tent with Haddy.
Ioscaid were quite good.
Not as stodgy as I’d feared.
The problem with the youngsters is usually one of ‘presence’.
Obviously it will come but whoever it is, they always come over as very earnest and always very technically proficient.

Just once I’d love the young folkies to be a balls to the wall folk freakout with the emphasis on enjoyment and dancing rather than just being musically excellent.
Don’t get me wrong.
I think what Fairport are doing by giving a spot to the winners of the ‘Young Folk Musicians of the Year’ is admirable and it obviously gives them massive exposure to a live audience but you can see why most of them are going to be playing folk clubs.

Ellen & the Escapades rock.
That’s the best way of describing them.
Yes, they have folk leanings but they would be equally at home in a rock club.
Apart from Fairport, my favourite band so far…
Dead Flamingoes features Kami Thompson, Richard’s daughter, and James Walbourne on guitar and they don’t disappoint.
Well, they don’t disappoint me anyway.


The link isn't from Cropredy, it's from a gig they did at The Slaughtered Lamb, I can't find them on Youtube from Cropredy but it gives a fair indication of what they're about..
It’s neither folk nor rock but it’s definitely been worked on and they sound good.
Yes, I like this pair…
There is a sense of humour at work on that stage and it makes the set much more appealing.
Good one.

Tarras were quite good but it strikes me as more of the same, and then we had Larkin Poe…

Now I’d heard good things about this lot and besides which, if you’re going to have two pretty sisters, Rebecca and Megan Lovell fronting the band on vocals, guitar and mandolin AND vocals and various dobros then you’re half way there if your chops are up to it.

I loved ‘em and even Haddy was heard to say that she liked them.
Rocky folky country bluesy songs that you couldn’t really categorise into genre, and definitely a band to watch out for, and shit hot picking and playing.
A cracking set, which is what you’d expect given that the pair of them used to be two thirds of the bluegrass outfit The Lovell Sisters.
Their sister had called it quits when she wanted to get married and go to college so they took the name of their great, great great (or thereabouts) Grandfather.
(And yes, he was related to the other more famous Poe…)
And just carried on, changing the bluegrass into something a little more rock-ish.
Whatever it is that they play, they do it bloody well.
Excellent stuff.
Best band on so far, bar none.
Now it’s time for the Saw Doctors…
All the way from Tuam and all that.
They’d played here previously a few years ago and were really good but today wasn’t one of their better gigs.

Everything was ‘right’ but there just seemed to be something lacking, even with Anthony Thistlethwaite of ‘World Party’ (remember them ?) in the band, it just seemed like forced exuberance.
The crowd seemed to like them so maybe I’m just getting old and grumpy and too critical ?
Richard Thompson is on next and so at least half the crowd are looking upwards for the dark clouds…

Haddy’s guitar hero takes to the stage and basically gives a masterclass in sheer entertainment.
It’s not just the fact that he is probably one of the most technically proficient guitarists playing and neither is it the fact that he can string a few words together into a better than fair song.
It’s those wry introductions along with a shed load of talent that makes the bloke so watchable.

I’m sure all the guitarists in the audience are checking out his left hand on the big screen just to get some sort of inkling as to how to do what he seems to do effortlessly, but not being a guitarist I don’t care.
This guy is England’s secret weapon.
Yes, we have a few technically proficient guitarists like Clapton, Beck and Page, all of whom can do things with a guitar that most can only dream about, but Richard Thompson has a style of his own.
He has said it’s because he went from Hank Marvin to folk music rather than rock and while that may be a possibility there is no doubt that whatever style he wishes to play, whether folky or rocky, it’s only going to come out sounding like Richard Thompson... Or Richard and Kami Thompson doing Richard and Linda (Kami's Mother) Thompson as in this clip of one of their early well known ones...


And… I’ve managed to leave the minidisk recorder back at the tent.
Bugger !
Oh well, you can’t win them all.

While Richard has been on we’ve had a few drips of rain and it’s getting colder by the minute.
Sometimes this festival business can feel a bit like too much masochism…
Still, it’s Joan Armatrading next and we’ve been looking forward to her.
Unfortunately Haddy is flagging and starting to shiver and so we manage the first four numbers before heading back to the tent for a warming cup of tea and a kip before it falls down.
Too late.
We’re half way back to the tent when the heavens decide to open and we get soaked…
Bummer !
Still, it has been a good day for music.
Ellen’s lot, the Flamingoes and Larkin Poe have all been recommended to Rhythms of the World for next year…
It’s at times like these when that small flask of tequila comes in handy just to warm you up inside after the cup of tea.

Saturday at about six in the morning is pretty abysmal…
It’s raining, but it looks like it’s about to stop ?
Leg it to the showers before a quick breakfast because I actually want to hit the boot fair down the road and see if there’s anything else on the music side that I might want ?
Plus, we haven’t been down to the shops yet and there’s a cd stall down there too…
Dump the chairs on site as soon as they open and then really start moving.
The boot fair is reasonable and I finally find a couple of stalls where I can spend some money and Haddy finds the ‘hippy’ dress stall where everything is priced like an antique…
How do I dissuade her from blowing all her money on one dress when there’s a cheaper stall further on ?
Difficult, but not impossible…
Ok, bashing her over the head with a big club and throwing her over my shoulder might have been the easier option, but finally I get her away from the overpriced antiques to something a little more ‘her’.
I’m off to get that Emmylou Harris live dvd and Bob Dylan live from Stockholm cd…
Time is getting on and we still have to get to the shops by the bridge…
Come on…
And another one.
Finally I get the Rolling Stones ‘Satanic Majesties’ cd.
Dunno why it never turns up cheap around our way, but it never seems to ?
Right, come on… We’re done… Gonna miss Richard Digance if we don’t move ?

We actually managed to miss most of him which is a shame because the more I see him, the more I seem to appreciate what he does.
Oh well, never mind…
It’s been a bit of a rush, but I’m well happy with the music haul.

It’s Ashley Hutchings and the the ‘Morris On’ lot next so we can sort of calm down and chill from all the rushing about and just listen to the music.

We’ve been joined by Jim and Vicki,

 Liz, James and Mickey, Shakey and Phil and Mandy with Rosie and apparently there are more coming ?

Nice one, because we usually don’t seem to see anybody else until early evening ?
‘Oi Vicki, give us one of your wellies, I’m gonna get a Guinness…’
‘Fuck off !’
‘Ok, whatever…’

Just in time for Brother and Bones.
Ok, but nothing special on the day.
Calan are quite impressive with Huw Williams daughter fronting them.
Huw’s a pretty good singer-songwriter on his own account and talent seems to run in the family.
The ‘clog dance’ duel is quite amusing…
And then it’s Big Country…
Earlier I wrote in this piece about ‘mates’ being given a paycheck’
Since Stuart Adamson’s death not much had occurred with Big Country, but here they were, older, wiser, still good musicians, but it just came over as a band who’d reformed for the paycheck…
Back in the 1980’s I quite liked Big Country’s sound and even have an old vinyl album or two somewhere at home, but I honestly thought they were a pale shadow of their former selves and certainly doing it for all the wrong reasons. 
If they had new material then maybe, but this was all re-treads of the hits and well known album stuff.
Disappointing and sad.

Ok, we’re going down the front for Dennis Locorriere…

So why are you going down the front for a ‘has been’ front man for an American ‘rock’ band when you’ve just dissed Big Country ?
Because Dennis is bloody funny, very expressive and I’ve seen him on and off over the years since he called it a day from being one of the two front men for Dr Hook & The Medicine Show and also because Dennis plays new songs in with the old songs.
There is an element of showmanship but it’s always tempered by that absurd sense of humour and a bawdy streak which cuts through any seriousness which might inadvertently creep in to his set.
Plus, back in the 1970’s when Dr Hook first came over to Britain I got invited back to the band’s London hotel with a few record company bods after the gig and they got me totally smashed on the best grass I’d ever had at that point in my life… AND… I met Shel Silverstein who had come over with them.
And to me, just that fact alone demands a little bit of respect.
The set is the usual mixture of old Dr Hook numbers and new songs which to my mind are just as good as the stuff they were doing at the time of ‘Little Bit More’.
There’s something about Dennis, he entertains while he’s doing the set.
He’s always had that vaguely lunatic side to him but the songs always carry him through.
Probably because most of them are about losers, and however amusing they may end up, most of us can see ourselves in them somewhere ?
Who knows, I’m only guessing anyway, but if you get a chance then go and see him live.
Just don’t take your maiden Aunt because you might have to explain ‘Freakin’ at the Freaker’s Ball’ to her and that might just prove embarrassing…

It’s Fairport time.
And so it starts to rain…
Typical !
It doesn’t last long however, and so it makes the set even more enjoyable.
I’m not sure what’s happened to Fairport, they seem to have got a bit of ‘bounce’ to them tonight ?
‘Fotheringay’ in the first five numbers, what’s going on ?
And then they bring on Blair Dunlop and the two girls from Larkin Poe for a couple of tracks…


We get ‘I’ll Keep It With Mine’ and ‘Percy’s Song…’
Shit !!!
Can it ever get better than this ?
(Ashley Hutchings, Richard Thompson, Jerry Donahue AND Dave Swarbrick)
Not for me, anyway…
And when Haddy starts harmonising on Percy’s Song like her daughters out in The Gambia do when I play it, then it makes it even more poignant for the pair of us.
Blimey !
The old boys are quite animated tonight.
What with their guests and ex-members flitting in and out of the band, Fairport blow one of the best sets since…
Since they reprised ‘Babbacombe Lee’ anyway.
They played an absolute blinder.
Obviously asking the fans what they thought they could play as they had been doing, has galvanised them as far as the really old back catalogue is concerned because the fans had returned to the older material with a vengeance.
A lot of Full House got an airing which was definitely fine by me and Annie, and when the finale was about to occur I don’t think we’d sat for more than twenty minutes for the whole two and a half hours so far ?

Then it was Matty Groves, and finally Meet on the Ledge.
They started it and my eyes welled up.
Talk about emotional…
But I guess losing your Father does that to you ?


‘If you really need it, it all comes round again…’
There’s something about that song and loss.
I haven’t a clue what it is, and Richard has never explained the lyrics, but it does make you wonder how such a simple song written while he was in his teens can have such an effect on people ?
Meeting, greeting, losing, it’s all in there and it means different things to different folks but I KNOW what it means to me and that’s all that matters.
I can't really explain it but it's a lot more than just the words of the song.
Haddy knows what it means to her and it’s pretty much the same, so there’s two cultures thinking along the same lines, but again, it’s never actually been explained, so who really knows ?
When the band have finished we walk back to the tent feeling slightly elated and enervated.
The weather was horrible in places but the bands were mostly excellent.
It has definitely been a Cropredy to remember.
Right, let’s all congregate in the ‘lounge tent’ and drink up the remainder of the alcohol…

Sunday dawns nice and blue.
Trouble is, it’s time to tear the tent down and go.

Sods law strikes again but then it wouldn’t be Cropredy without it, would it ?
We have a reasonably easy drive home, and literally as I start to unload the car the rain starts pissing down.
You’ve got to laugh…

The cd haul...

While searching through Youtube for the clips, I came upon the Sky Arts programme which was aired on Sky tv. 
It's an hour long and worth a watch and also features other artists that I haven't, in that all the above is just one person's opinion and recollections anyway.
So if you want another slant on it then you can watch Sky's highlights.
(I do however take issue with the remarks about the weather... Yes, it was sunny... Sometimes...)

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