Tag Archives: Cropredy

Fairport’s Cropredy Convention – music festival

Blackbeard’s Tea Party at the New Cross Inn 11/10/15

Raucous sounds, catchy tunes, dark lyrics and a whole lot of fun, Blackbeard’s Tea Party have been making a splash on the folk scene for some time now.

As well as loud electric guitar from Martin Coumbe and pumping electric bass from Tim Yates, what really makes this folk act rock is the presence of powerful duel percussionists, Liam “Yom” Hardy and Dave Boston, making Blackbeards’s Tea Party kind of the folk world’s answer to the Glitter Band. Laura Boston-Barber provides spiky, tuneful fiddle playing throughout. Stuart Giddens on lead vocals and melodeon was not the original singer but he’s been with the band several years now and his vocal delivery and hyperactive stage presence have meant he’s truly made the role his own, such that it would be difficult imagining anyone else filling it.

They’ve got a new album to promote “Reprobates” – featuring songs about a range of characters who are all engaged in activities that are either “illegal, immoral or ungodly” explains Giddens with a fair degree of relish. It’s literally just out in time for this gig so we get to hear a a selection of new song, like album opener The Steam Arm Man – about a soldier who loses an arm at Waterloo, builds himself a replacement which unfortunately turns haunted and takes him on a murderous rampage.

We do get a few old crowd favourites as well, such as the sing-along-and-do-the-actions-Agadoo-style Chicken On a Raft (it’s based on an old saying about sailors’ rations I understand and not “Chicken in a Wrap” as numerous of my friends have innocently sung while watching the band.)

I was lucky enough to see Blackbeard’s Tea Party at Cropredy festival in 2014 where they absolutely stormed the place. But they are just as enjoyable up the road in my local, The New Cross Inn, where they also stormed the place. They gig extensively and are well worth catching.

http://www.blackbeardsteaparty.com/

2015-10-13 18.38.44

Previous review: Blackbeard’s Tea Party at Cropredy

ahab at Cropredy 14/8/15

On my first visit to Fairport’s Cropredy festival in 2010 one of the upcoming bands that, for me, proved to be one of the highlights of that weekend was ahab. And it appears that many others that weekend felt the same way about this newly-formed alt-country band back then, too.

ahab went on to travel the world, make several albums, work with Stone Roses producer John Leckie, jiggle their line-up around a bit; and then, to the disappointment of many fans, promptly called it a day (at least temporarily as members each began to work on other musical projects). However, ahab acknowledge that Cropredy 2010 provided them with their big break. So five years later they are back, in their original line-up, to say thank you to the festival crowd that helped them on their way.

It’s a great performance. A classic slice Americana. Lovely harmonies. Upbeat melodies. Beautiful musicianship. And some great songs they’ve written, too, like Lightnin’ Bug and She’s Wearing Red as well as a brilliant cover of Wagon Wheel. Who’d have thought that they originated from Hackney not Tennessee?

The band were clearly very emotional to be back at the place where it all took off for them and seem genuinely moved by the warm  response they get from the Cropredy crowd. After a million thankyous to the crowd they then ask us the one question they perhaps shouldn’t have asked: “Do we look any older since we were last here?” “Yes!” we all shout back. “I love them,” whispered my friend, “but it looks like they’ve done a fair bit of partying over the last five years.”

A great sound, a great festival band and some great songs. It really would be a great shame if this really is the last we hear of ahab. Given the response the band get from the crowd and given how much they clearly enjoyed doing this gig, I doubt it will be. Let’s hope that’s the case.

Setlist:
Lightnin’ Bug
Lucy
Wish You
Run Me Down
Mischievous Side
Call a Waiter
Wearing Red
Uptight
I’ve Been Raining
Fathers Eyes
Rosalie
Million Reasons
Joanna
Rosebud

http://ahabofficial.com/

2015-08-13 16.10.31

Cara Dillon at Cropredy 9/8/14

“This soul-restoring festival” is how one of our number described his experience of Cropredy 2014. And soul-restoring is certainly a description that can be applied to Cara Dillon’s performance.

Irish folk singer, Dillon, has been scooping up music awards for over a decade now and it’s not difficult to see why. Her elegant, crystal clear vocals are backed by a talented band of musicians, including husband Sam Lakeman on piano. Her new album, A Thousand Hearts, has been attracting rave reviews and songs from it featured prominently in the set.

She and the band perform a mixture of traditional and contemporary material, with Child ballads like Bright Morning Star being performed alongside songs like River Run, a song from a ’90s indie band that Dillon performs a stunning version of, accompanied only by Lakeman on piano. Even with folk standards as familiar as “As I Roved Out” she applies calm beauty of the Cara treatment and makes the songs truly her own.

This was indeed a soul-restoring performance and one of the highlights of Cropredy 2014.

http://www.caradillon.co.uk/

Cara Dillon-02 (2)

Photo credit: Shoot the Living

Treetop Flyers at Cropredy 9/8/14

Treetop Flyers have been a popular fixture on the festival circuit for several years now and I was looking forward to seeing them again.  Singer, Reid Morrison, a regular attender at Cropredy in recent years as a punter, told the crowd he’d promised himself he’d get to sing on that big stage one day. And so he did…

Formed in London in 2009, the band’s influences are not The Kinks or The Small Faces or the Clash but rather the laid-back West Coast rock of bands like Crosby Stills Nash & Young. They are a young original band for the 21st century but one who carry that influence and musical heritage so well. And for sixty minutes or so those of us at the front were no longer in rural Oxfordshire in 2014 but transported back to Woodstock in ‘69.

Treetop Flyers (named after a Stephen Stills song) have perfected their sound and they do it beautifully. From Morrison’s expressive vocals, to the laid back harmonies, the countrified electric guitar licks, the melodic strumming of the acoustic guitar and the infectious boogie, they do sound good. And they’ve got a great collection of self-written songs, too. Rose is in the Yard, Things Will Change and Is it All Worth It are especially worth hearing and lapped up by the crowd, as was there cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Proud Mary which fitted the mood of the set perfectly.

Still only one album in, 2013’s The Mountain Moves, I’m expecting to hear some truly classic material from this band over the coming years. In the meantime they are a great live band – catch them at a festival or venue near you.

http://treetopflyers.co.uk/

Treetop Flyers (2)

Photo Credit: Shoot the Living

Blackbeard’s Tea Party at Cropredy 9/8/14

Blackbeard’s Tea Party, a young band from York, play a fantastically lively kind of folk. Fun, loud and with bags of energy I’ve seen them go down particularly well as a late night attraction in far smaller venues. But how would they fare on a Saturday lunchtime playing to an audience of 20,000, which as lead vocalist, Stuart Giddens, told the crowd is at least ten times the size of anything they’ve played to before? Well, the Cropredy audience responded brilliantly and they went down a storm. Proof of that was the massive queue for the band’s CD signing session after their set, which snaked around the festival. And when the Tea Partiers over-ran their scheduled signing slot they, along with their queue of newly-enraptured fans, decamped to a spot by the bins where they carried on meeting, greeting and signing throughout the afternoon. Although they are now seasoned festival performers and this year played one of the small stages at Glastonbury, I hope that reaching this many people is the start of something bigger for them.

The combination of loud electric guitar and pumping bass lines, together with manic but beautiful fiddle sounds from Laura Boston-Barber, creates a hugely energetic brand of modern folk-rock. Stuart Giddens, who jumps up and down like the campest boy-band wannabe but has a commanding and powerful voice, is a perfect fit for the band. His vocals and his infectiously enthusiastic stage presence have really brought something to the band. They played a number of songs from their latest album, 2013’s “Whip Jamboree” as well as material from their two previous albums, recorded before Giddens joined. A particular favourite of mine was the traditional song, Landlord, an epic tale of drinking drunkenness, which for some bizarre reason I remember being taught at primary school and still remember all the words. Mid-70s education was so much fun at times.

A talented and hugely fun band with a great sound, Blackbeard’s Tea Party deserve to go far.

http://www.blackbeardsteaparty.com/index.php

2014-08-11 16.42.12

Fairport Convention at Cropredy 9/8/14

In the late ‘60s Fairport pretty much invented English folk-rock and since the late ‘70s the band’s Cropredy festival has been an annual fixture for anyone with a love of this type of music. While the festival as a whole tends to offer an eclectic mixture of folk and heritage rock acts, Fairport Convention themselves always headline on the Saturday night. While previous years have offered a marathon three-hour session from Fairport, tonight we have a slightly truncated two-hour set. But we are still given a great selection of songs and tunes in that time. The band are about to release a new studio album so brand new material is introduced alongside old favourites. The first of the new songs is Myths and Heroes. F or anyone concerned that the “rock” element of Fairport’s genetic composition has been downplayed in recent years, they will not be at all disappointed with this, a ferocious and brilliantly played slice of folk-rock.

For me the two strongest tracks on their last studio album of new material, Festival Bell, are undoubtedly Around the Wild Cape Horn and Mercy Bay. I was delighted to see that these two have remained in the set. Both magnificently sung by Simon Nicol, they are now bona fide Fairport classics that comfortably sit alongside older Fairport classics. We do hear plenty of the older classics, too, however. Walk awhile, Crazy Man Michael, Now Be Thankful and Farewell Farewell are all in there, alongside a great version of The Lark in the Morning medley, which set the template for fast and furious electric folk instrumentals on the genre-defining Liege and Lief album back in 1969.

The only thing that really didn’t work for me tonight was the guest spot from vocalist Sally Barker, who sang Sandy Denny’s Who Knows Where the Time Goes. Barker is a star of TV’s The Voice, and while her heavily-pronounced, overly-dramatic vocal delivery may be just what is needed for TV talent shows, it was the exact opposite of the calm, understated, crystal-clear beauty of Sandy Denny’s original.

Traditional show closer Meet on the Ledge, written by the band’s original lead guitarist, Richard Thompson at the crazily young age of 17, always provides the collected Cropredy masses with a rousing and emotional final sing-along. But another defining moment of every Cropredy festival is the penultimate number, Matty Groves. The exact origins of the song (an adulterous tale of a Lady and a servant who both meet a tragic end at the hands of her jealous husband) are lost in the mists of time. But whoever originally wrote it must surely never have imagined that several hundred years after it was written, 20,000 people would stand together in a field in Oxfordshire every year and sing along to all nineteen verses at the top of their voices. We wouldn’t have it any other way.

Setlist:
Walk Awhile
Crazy Man Michael
Portmeirion
Myths & Heroes
Home
The Happy Man
Theodore’s Song
Around the Wild Cape Horn
The Hiring Fair
The Lark in the Morning Medley
Who Knows Where the Time Goes?
Now Be Thankful
Bring me Back my Feathers
Mercy Bay
Love at First Sight
Farewell, Farewell
John Gaudie
Matty Groves
Meet on the Ledge

http://www.fairportconvention.com/

2014-08-09 22.26.36

Previous review: Fairport Convention at Union Chapel

Fairport Convention at Union Chapel 9/3/14

“Don’t worry, if you are not enjoying it and can’t wait for me to finish – I’m only on for twenty minutes.” So explained support act Edwina Hayes. The singer-songwriter turned out to be very much more than bearable and was later welcomed back on to the stage by Fairport Convention towards the end of the night to join them in a performance of the Sandy Denny-era classic “Who Knows Where the Time Goes.” I’ve seen Fairport fifteen times now. Although they have always been adamant that they could not and should not attempt to replace the late Sandy Denny; for me, what turns a good Fairport performance into something very special  indeed is when they are able to enlist the assistance of a talented female guest vocalist to sing one or two of Sandy’s songs.

This wasn’t the only noteworthy thing about the performance, tonight either. The setlist, which has possibly been getting a bit samey these past few years,  has been spruced up for this tour with some new songs as well as some old favourites that had not been heard for a while being brought back. Also notable, on this tour has been the addition of a stand-in bass player. Dave Pegg, who has played with the band since 1970, managed to damage the tendons in his hand and has been unable to play. Although he came on stage to introduce the band and hung around for some occasional backing vocals and on-stage banter, it was his son Matt Pegg on the bass. An excellent replacement who was warmly applauded.

The audience were far more reserved than at Fairport’s Cropredy Convention, their Summer festival which takes place each August and which got constant plugs throughout the night. Nevertheless, it was a fitting performance for the final night of their winter tour in what is one of London’s most beautiful venues. To absolutely no-one’s surprise and everyone’s delight the band finished with their usual sing-along encore “Meet on the Ledge.”

Setlist:
Jewel in the Crown
Doctor of Physick
Already There/Sailing into Walpole’s Marsh
Home
Theodore’s Song
Dirty Linen
Cell Song
Mercy Bay
– Interval –
Festival Bell
Wassail Song
Farewell Farewell
Happy Man
Myths and Heroes
Close to the Wind
Grace and Favour
Who Knows Where The Time Goes
Danny Jack’s Reward
Matty Groves
Meet on the Ledge

http://www.fairportconvention.com/