Anyone who’s had the merest of perfunctory visits to At The Barrier will realise that we’re BIG fans here of Fairport Convention and, particularly, of their annual bash – Fairport’s Cropredy Convention. This year’s event takes place at the usual venue, Home Farm, Cropredy, on 11th-14th August and the At The Barrier team will be out in force to bring news, views and pictures of the show to these pages.
As always, this year’s bill includes a host of impressive names – Fairport threaten to be amazing with a set that will include not only a selection from their most recent album, the excellent Shuffle and Go, but which will also celebrate the 50th anniversary of the band’s seminal Full House album, with former members Richard Thompson and Dave Mattacks back for the duration. The Matthews Baartmans Experience will, no doubt, delight all with selections from their wonderful [distant chatter] album, Steve Hackett will be revisiting his Genesis back catalogue, Trevor Horn will reprise his “human jukebox” role, Turin Brakes make their Cropredy debut, and Richard Thompson will do what he always does…leave us all astounded and breathless.
But there’s more. Much, much, more to a Cropredy weekend than the headline acts and, in this article, we look at some of the other acts on the bill that will wow the crowd (away from more well known names)!
THE THUMPING TOMMYS
Cropredy 2022 is going to set off at a blistering pace! The Thumping Tommys follow Fairport Acooustic’s short opening set and, by golly, we’re in for a treat. A London-based trio, The Thumping Tommys are: Alex Hunter on banjo and guitar, Ben Scrivener on guitar and banjo (note the subtle change in emphasis there…) and Giles Casswell on mandolin, washboard and spoons. The trio are often supplemented by Georgina Leach, who plays wonderful violin, Tim Fairhall on bass and additional vocalist Cherise Adams-Burnett and the sound they make covers a wide range of good-time bases, including traditional British and Irish folk, blues, country, swing and Dixieland jazz. They’ll make the beers slip down delightfully; I can guarantee that you’ll be spellbound and, after their show, you’ll be beating your first of many paths to the record stall to pick up a copy of the band’s eponymous first album or their epic 2016 live album, Live in Bergen. (JB)
We love our reggae at Cropredy and this year’s serving will be dished up by none other than Edward II, Cropredy favourites who have appeared individually or collectively at regular intervals since their debut appearance in 1996. Always notable for their delightful fusion of traditional folk songs with reggae, Edward II have recently turned their attention to the traditional music of Jamaica and their 2020 album, Dancing Tunes, adds a modern reggae flavour to well-known songs like Banana Boat Song, Linstead Market, Yellow Bird, Shake My Papaya Down and Island in the Sun. It’s absolutely marvelous, and I can’t wait to feel the Cropredy ground vibrating beneath my feet to those pulsating rhythms. (JB)
Maddie combines her expert knowledge of traditional folk music (gleaned from her studies to achieve a first-class honours degree in folk and traditional music) and captivating, strong vocals to write thought-provoking and evocative music.
Maddie Morris, winner of the BBC Radio 2 young folk award 2019 and rightfully gains her place on the Cropredy stage. Her insightful observations of social issues will enthral the discerning audience with poetical and enthralling songs and her modern outlook on folk music will be refreshing. (HK)
Ah yes – very much looking forward to seeing Emily Barker again. It’s been a while since a first encounter in what I think could have been St Phillips church in Salford with The Red Clay Halo (the venue may be lost in the mists of the memory but the RCH is 100%). Dear River was the lovely album of the time then she sidetracked with Vena Portae and went solo.
Sweet Kind Of Blue was my last encounter in 2017 where she started to diversify. A catch-up is well overdue as she’s not been ideal; it’s just that the paths have never crossed. She may even have Lukas Drinkwater in tow to do some songs from their 2022 album, Room 822. Recorded in fourteen days quarantine in one room with no fresh air in Perth, WA. The sort of dedication you’d expect from Emily & Lukas. (MA)
My heart did a huge leap and a somersault when I saw that Home Service had been included on the bill for the 2020 Cropredy Festival. To my mind, they’re a band that can do no wrong and their unique brand of brass-infused folk/rock has never failed to set my spine a-tingling, ever since they first took up the baton from Ashley Hutchings and The Albion Band in the early 1980s. And the REALLY good news is that, in October 2019, the one and only John Tams rejoined their ranks. With, as some might feel, a lying, deceitful Prime Minister on his way out and a dodgy, incompetent government preparing to elect a successor from their sordid ranks, a Brexit that doesn’t work, a pandemic that killed far more people than science should have allowed in addition to an unjustified, immoral war being fought, God knows that we need the great man’s wisdom! Home Service will be a familiar name to most Cropredy veterans – they played a stormer when they last appeared here at the 2011 festival – but, if they’re new to you, expect to have your socks blown off by Messrs Tams, Gregory, Taylor, Findon, Kirkpatrick et al. (JB)
THE SLAMBOVIAN CIRCUS OF DREAMS
Fresh off releasing their latest album, A Very Unusual Head, The Slambovian Circus of Dreams will bring an air of lush to proceedings. Lovely musical harmonies, a mix of guitars, brass, folk, Americana and subtle psychedelia will all coalesce to create a sunshine (fingers crossed) laden set. Musicianship and quality will certainly be at the top of this list when it comes to describing this band; one that has been around for a few decades. They are seasoned pro’s and will be ready to wow the crowd at Cropredy. (DW)
THE SHARON SHANNON QUARTET
Sharon’s musical associations with a plethora of world-class musicians from a variety of genres ( Waterboys, John Prine, Bono, Nigel Kennedy, Jackson Browne) as well as her 10 album discography of varying styles is testament to her rich talent and high reputation. Equally at home with Hip hop, classical, country and rap but better known for her arrangement of traditional Irish folk tunes her set as the Sharon Shannon Quartet promises to enthral the ever open- minded Cropredy crowd. (HK)
HOLY MOLY AND THE CRACKERS
A party band, a festival band, a band you’d want to see in a small and sweaty club. Done all those and can’t wait to see Holy Moly & The Crackers again. It really has been too long. Yes, another one of those bands who need to be out and playing and inciting crowds to get up and dance and even swing a bit too, especially when they kick up a riot of rock and soul with Mary from the Salem album. If you haven’t seen them play before, then you’ll come away from Crop ’22 with a note to catch them the next time they’re in your neck of the woods. Amongst a Saturday bill where everyone could be a headliner, watch out for The Crackers…. (MA)
THE BAR STEWARD SONS OF VAL DOONICAN
If you have seen The Bar Steward Sons Of Val Doonican before, chances are you’re a ‘Doonifan!’ Hailing from Barnsley Rock City…the Bar Stewards are a band that brings laughter aplenty, as well as a plethora of stage antics…and tank tops…don’t forget the tank tops. In 2018, this band had the crowd in raptures at Cropredy with such hits as Walking In Manpiss, How Deep Is Your Glove?, Since You’ve Been Ron and The Lady In Greggs. On top of the smash hits, the band has a new record to promote; coincidentally featuring a nod to Fairport in its Liege & Leif inspired cover art. The new one is called Rugh & Ryf; perhaps we’ll get to hear new smash hits like Binful Of Bottles, Dead Right Hand, Where The Sheets Have No Stains or Goat Yoga! (DW)
Seth, Holy Moly, Bar Stewards and Rosalie Cunningham. A pant-wettingly rambunctious Saturday line-up. Rosalie’s new album is Two Piece Puzzle (we inevitably raved) and with her band having to miss a several times rearranged Manchester show on her return to gigging, catching the high priestess of psychedelia (quote that one!!!) is essential at Crop. Dare we say it’s been too long? Likely to be sporting the most fashionable outfit of the weekend, expect a set of psychedelic fire, quirky Englishness and some fizzing guitar playing from Rosalie and Rosco. (MA)
So there we have it – the At The Barrier recommendation of the ten acts that shouldn’t be missed at this year’s Fairport’s Cropredy Convention. You may have noticed that, in compiling this list, we’ve steered away from mentioning some of the more well-known names on the bill.
A special mention, though, is perhaps due to Clannad. They’ll be appearing on Thursday night, immediately before that evening’s bill-toppers, the Trevor Horn Band. Clannad have been with us for a very long time – since 1970, in fact, when the Brennan family siblings, Ciarán, Pól and Moya got together in County Donegal with their uncles Noel and Pádraig Duggan to form Clann as Dobhar (which means Family from Dore in the family’s native Gaelic). The band shortened their name to Clannad in 1973. Sister/niece Enya Brennan – later to achieve huge solo success – joined, then left their ranks before Clannad entered their most successful period with the 1983 album Magical Ring, which included their big hit single, Theme From Harry’s Game. Further success followed in 1984, when Clannad provided the music for the HTV television series Robin of Sherwood. Clannad’s unique, mystical and versatile blend of folk, Celtic music and mystical jazz has never aged and the band remain hugely popular throughout Europe, America and, particularly, in their native Ireland. Sadly, their Cropredy appearance will mark the band’s final show on UK soil; thereafter, they’ll be heading to the USA and Canada for a run of concerts before returning to Dublin for their farewell appearance at the 3 Arena on 9th December. Clannad is, indeed, an act that isn’t to be missed.
Watch the Official video to Clannad’s Theme From Harry’s Game here:
Fairport have done a magnificent job in holding the 2020 bill together in its entirety and this year’s festival – Thursday 11th-Saturday 13th August – promises to be one of the best ever. Cropredy has been a long time gone and now, at last it’s about to all come round again.
Tickets for Fairport’s Cropredy Convention can be purchased here.
Some scenes from Cropredy through the years – sit back and imagine yourself back in THAT field…