Monday, August 15, 2005

Fairport's Cropredy Convention 2005

Below are some photos from Fairport's Cropredy Convention 2005. Tom and I wanted to see Uiscedwr perform, so we decided to take in all three days of this festival, which neither of us had previously heard of.

Apparently it has been going for 25 years on the second weekend of August in the small village of Cropredy, just north of Banbury. It's previous claim to fame was to be the site of the Battle of Cropredy Bridge in 1644, during the Civil War. The festival now attracts considerably more people than would have been present for that battle.

Our campsite was actually in the field adjoining the River Cherwell where the battle took place. Along with seven other fields, it was temporarily home to a gathering of 20,000 (yes, twenty thousand) people, young and old, and all intent on having a good musical time.

For those of you interested, the line-up included a whole range of diverse musical styles, from the traditional mandolin and guitar music of Hilary James and Simon Mayor, through Jah Wobble's bass and drum reinterpretation of traditional folk tunes, to Country Joe McDonald and his band (of Woodstock and the "Fish Cheer" fame). There were new solo singers like Edwina Hayes, old ones like Bob Fox, musically talented yet amusing sets by the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain and Richard Digance, old hippy rock from the Muffin Men (performing music by Frank Zappa, and featuring the vocalist from the Mothers of Invention), Beth Nielsen Chapman, Richard Thompson, and of course Fairport Convention themselves. But Tom and my personal favourites were, of course, Uiscedwr.

The weather wasn't brilliant on the final day, but nevertheless we enjoyed it. And three nights under canvas, showers in the local sports pavillion, and communal temporary toilets couldn't put a dampener on proceedings.

All in all a great long weekend, in John and Coral's congenial company, and a very friendly and relaxed atmosphere. Who knew such a large but little-known festival was going on year after year in the middle of rural Oxfordshire? Apart from the other 19,996 people who all seemed to be long-standing regulars, if their singing of Fairport's finale, "Meet on the Ledge" is anything to go by!


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