Time Tunnel

Fairport’s Cropredy Convention Memories – Ric Sanders – Time Tunnel

Ric Sanders returns to the site to share his memories of Fairport’s Cropredy Convention’s past! Another fascinating read about one of THE best festivals.

Scuppered due to COVID and lockdowns, Fairport’s Cropredy Convention is back, and with a bill that is, as expected, varied and plentiful.

Traditionally, Fairport Convention close out the festival on the Saturday night of the festival. More recently, they have taken to opening the festival on the Thursday too; usually as Fairport Acoustic.

What usually makes the show so unique is the special guests that augment the set the band play. It has, over the years, seen many different and varying people play with the band.

In previous weeks we have welcomed Chris Leslie, Dave Pegg and Gerry Conway back on the pages. This week, we welcome Ric Sanders back to the site. We’ve welcomed Ric onto the site before when he wrote of his affection for Percy Grainger in our Why I Love column (read here). For this piece, Ric Sanders tells us of his early Cropredy performances and ones that he is looking forward to. So, over to Ric for his memories…or if you will, Ric’s Random Cropredy Recollections!


Now, shall I try to remember things chronologically? I could start at the very beginning, a very good place to start. When you read you begin with A-B-C, when you sing you begin with Do-Re-Me – that’s it, it was the year that Julie Andrews headlined!

No, that’s not right, it was Petula Clarke, no, it was Alice Cooper! I’m confused already, all the memories merge into one, or possibly less. I’ve lost track of how many Cropredy Festivals I’ve done, so heaven knows how Simon and Peggy must feel. So many years have passed, and who knows where the – well, you know! So I won’t try to write down these memories chronologically. I’ve always had a problem with grammatical tenses, but not yet! To prove this, I’m going to begin by recalling my first two Cropredy festivals as a player rather than as an audient.

In 1986 I must have been pretty nervous stepping out onto the Cropredy stage I’d seen Dave Swarbrick be so brilliant on. How would the crowd react to me stepping into those huge shoes? My memories of that day are a bit of a blur, but I needn’t have worried, because from the very start the Fairport fans and the band were very welcoming, and Swarb, who I’d known for years, couldn’t have been more encouraging. So I had a blast. Robert Plant was a surprise guest that year, and we played some blues. Fab! Robert has been such a good friend to Fairport over the years, and it’s always a joy when he takes to the stage with us. His current band, ‘Saving Grace’, is wonderful  – check them out if you haven’t already!

1987 was an exciting year. I got to play a duo set on the Friday with my dear pal the brilliant Gordon Giltrap, which was a delight! Also Fairport, with guests Richard Thompson and June Tabor, performed ‘A Sailor’s Life’  – which was right up my street, me being a modal jazz rocker! Great to jam with Richard! Plus I got to play ‘Fiddlestix’ with Swarb and Jerry Donahue! And as if all that wasn’t enough, Ian Anderson and Martin Barre joined us for some Jethro Tull classics. Happy days!

Sometime around 2011 I remember saying to the chaps “Can we have Nik Kershaw to play at Cropredy please – can we, can we?” And he did, with his band, and I got to meet him, which led to me playing on his album ‘EI8HT’, on the beautiful ‘Red Strand’. He’s an amazing song writer and a great bloke! We played that song along with stuff like ‘The Riddle’ in 2012 when he guested with us, and that’s a special memory for me.

My most recent memory is from 2019, the last time the festival went ahead, and is of playing  ‘Picture Of You’ with the great Joe Brown, and with the one and only Tom Leary on fiddle. This year, all being well, I’ll be guesting with Rosalie Cunningham. Can’t wait – that’s a future memory!

See you there!        

Love, Ric

Our thanks go to Ric Sanders for these recollections. It will be a treat to see Ric guesting with Rosalie Cunningham…something definitely to look forward to!

Fairport’s Cropredy Convention takes place on 11th, 12th and 13th August. You can buy tickets online here.

Have a look at some footage of Cropredy in 1986 with Ric Sanders playing violin alongside Robert Plant, amongst others!

Fairport Convention: Official Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

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