A look ahead to Cropredy 2023 and a few acts who’ll be making their debut on that stage in that special field in Oxfordshire.
As the sign says, Fairport’s Cropredy Convention is a home from home for many, both on and off stage. There are many who deserve the title of repeat offenders/serial Cropredy-ites in both audience and onstage. However, we’re taking the opportunity to highlight a half dozen artists on this year’s bill who are making their Cropredy debuts.
(We know Nile Rogers is making his debut…but he needs no introduction!)
We should really start with Merry Hell. With a notable exception, they’re the first band on the bill on Thursday afternoon when the sun will be beating down (!) Regulars on our pages and in Cropredy village during the festival and in recent times, even seen leaving the relative comfort and safety of the Brasenose stage to join the crowd during a torrential downpour. They’ve paid their dues and fully deserved their first time onstage in the field. With Fairport Acoustic as their warm-up act (!) things will surely get a bit hotter and livelier during a set from the Wigan Folk Rock charabanc that’s guaranteed to set the bar high right from the get-go. Expect a big queue at the merch tent to pick up their Let The Music Speak For Itself compilation CD.
BEANS ON TOAST
Beans On Toast is the performance nom-de-plume of prolific Essex-based folk troubadour Jay McAllister. Formerly the frontman of alt-rock outfit Jellicoe, he hit the solo road back in 2005 and has since released 14 albums of original material. An impressive record of an album a year since 2009, always released on the 1st of December of each year to coincide with his birthday! He’s toured consistently and extensively in both the UK and US, often with Cropredy fave Frank Turner, who has appeared on or produced several of Beans’ albums. The 2021 album, Survival Of The Friendliest, was a revelation in a time of unprecedented international turmoil – in a world consumed by COVID, government incompetence and international one-upmanship, he delivered a set of songs that focused upon hope, optimism, peace, opportunity and the beauty and power of nature. He’s just the man for Cropredy then…
Along with Beans On Toast, a guarantee that there may be a chuckle or two on Saturday afternoon. David Eagle will likely be on top form, playing to the biggest comedy club he’s encountered on his diversions from the day job. The triple Folk Award winners (Group x2 and album for Strangers) are another band with a new album.
Their Tiny Notes is pretty fresh and with one launch tour already in the bag, new songs will be well primed for the Cropredy set. Our bet is that the challenge of singing unaccompanied to thousands in the field will be met with aplomb and a set that will have us rivetted to the man whose Twitter is ‘Storyteller Sean’. We’re just wondering if he’ll be wearing his ‘Mick Jagger’ bomber jacket…
The “Singer-songwriter, storyteller and Hammond organ donor“, last seen by us at the 2022 Manchester Folk Festival. His “folk-fused baroque” (our words indeed) has come some way since he launched his recording career on Into The Green and The Road To Horn Fair with its medieval graphics and image. Rather than togged in full jester outfit, he’s more likely to be decked out these days in a swish suit and sporting a top knot. Add a crack band bringing to life music from the contemporary folk of Flowers Where The Horses Sleep rather than his ‘folk song a week for a year’ project that resulted in the expansive Seasons set. Cropredy finds him doing a handful of festivals that should tempt a few more fans into his November tour.
He also has a new album released on 11th August so maybe there’ll be a number or two from Glass Knight to help sales and set up a queue at the signing tent…
PEAT & DIESEL
The Scots trio from Stornoway – 2019’s ‘Best Live Act’ in the Scots Trad Music Awards – might find the Cropredy crowd a little bigger than the dog and cat they performed to when first gathering together for a bit of the craic. Or maybe not, as they won’t be intimidated by a field of expectation as they’ve become a phenomenon (sort of) and should be right at home n the festival stage – and anyone who’s toured with The Levellers is alright by us. A band with a penchant for some bizarre/original and tongue-in-cheek album art. Could Cropredy ’23 be the year of ‘Peatlemania‘?
KIKI DEE & CARMELO LUGGERI
In a career that has, so far, spanned 60 years, Kiki Dee has just about done it all. The first female UK artist to sign to Tamla Motown, her discography includes 12 albums of original material, four ‘Greatest Hits’ compilations and over 40 singles. She’s performed at the Royal Albert Hall, Hyde Park and Live Aid. She’s even beaten cancer. And, of course, there was THAT duet with Elton John that became an immovable fixture in the Number One slot in the singles chart during the summer of 1976 which, contrary to instruction in the song’s lyrics, melted all our hearts.
Kiki and guitarist Carmelo Luggeri first teamed up 25 years ago and they’ve earned an awesome reputation, attracting admirers as influential as Cropredy regular Bob Harris.
But, until now, she’s never graced our favourite stage in our favourite field. They’ll be hitting the Cropredy stage on Friday afternoon. Expect a healthy serving of familiar songs – Kiki’s hits, for sure, plus a dollop of surprises from an eclectic range of sources – Kate Bush, Lowell George, Depeche Mode and Frank Sinatra amongst them. All given special revitalising treatment from Camelo’s mesmerising acoustic guitar and his masterful application of effects. And watch out for the stuff from the pair’s recent album – 2022’s The Long Ride Home.
Another band for whom 2023 saw a new album release – Back To Zero, Morganway have a genuine cross-genre appeal – they’ve even been reviewed in Powerplay (Rock & Metal) magazine, if you’ll excuse the shameless self-interested promotion. Oft given the Alt-Country tag, we might go so far as to say they’re the next best thing to having Fleetwood Mac (Buckingham / Nicks version) on the bill. Some may even be drooling at the prospect of having a Flying V and a Rickenbacker onstage…at the same time! Along with Solstice, they’ll be tipping the gender balance back a little too. Very much looking forward to Morganway – could be the surprise packet…you heard it here first!
Yes – the very same Roger Dean who most of us will know for his Yes album art. He’s done a special Cropredy piece which will feature on posters and a commemorative T-shirt.
As mentioned on the Cropredy website pages back in May, Trading Boundaries will be exhibiting Roger’s work at stall number 6 on the Jonah’s Oak side of the arena. There will be new works available plus many of the more famous prints you’ve known and loved for many years. Roger is really looking forward to Cropredy and will be happy to sign autographs… Having seen his pop up exhibition on a recent Yes tour, it will be well worth the diversion to take in the work of a landmark artist with musical connections.