Preparations for Fairport Convention’s 37th Cropredy Convention music festival are well underway for 2017 which also sees the band celebrating their Golden Anniversary – the first-ever Fairport gig having taken place on 27 May 1967 in North London. The band have announced a number of acts due to appear at the three-day event which takes place on Thursday 10, Friday 11 and Saturday 12 August 2017.
Petula Clark will headline on Friday 11 August. With three Grammy Awardsand millions of record sales to her name Petula’s stellar career stretches back to 1949 yet Cropredy will be her first-ever UK music festival appearance.
Petula Clark’s string of Top 40 hits in the UK and around the world includes Downtown, I Know A Place, My Love, and This Is My Song.
“We’re really proud to be the first British festival that Petula has played,” says Fairport bassist and Cropredy co-organiser Dave Pegg. “I saw her show in Birmingham recently and it blew me away – she is a wonderful live performer. I was surprised how many of her hits I knew and her contemporary songs are really great too. Our audience will love her, I’m sure.”
The festival will see the return of past acts such as last year’s The Pierce Brothers as well as Show of Hands, who last appeared at the festival ten years ago and neo-prog pioneers Marillion. It comes as no real surprise that The Pierce Brothers are back, a read of Johnny’s 2016 festival review here predicted it: “Their inevitable encore was the last song they’d get to perform on this European tour and the message from the crowd was loud and clear, they’re wanted back next year.” The organisers listened and delivered!
Also returning are Feast of Fiddles who I believe last performed at the festival in 2009. Johnny caught them last year at Brewery Arts Centre (read his review here) and was quick to place the band’s inventiveness in context:
Ok, having 11 musicians on stage isn’t too unusual in these days of Bellowhead, but Feast of Fiddles has been doing this for 22 years with the twist that at least 6 of the 11 take solo spots and, oh yes, at least 6 of them play fiddles. As for the remaining 5, adding electric guitar, keyboards, bass and drums to the lineup makes the clear statement that this is a folk rock outfit. Member #11, Hugh Crabtree on melodeon, provides the keystone that holds the entire structure in place.
There are some big festival firsts including one of Scotlands most accomplished and admired singer-songwriters, Dougie MacLean, who celebrated 40 years as a professional musician in 2014 with the release of Till Tomorrow, a celebratory collaboration between Dougie and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. Read Neil’s interview with here.
Another first is former Steeleye Span fiddler Peter Knight’s Gigspanner Big Band who take music rooted in the British Isles and with the flick of a bow, a finely chosen chord or slip of a beat, produce hypnotic arrangements layered in Eastern European, French, Cajun, African and even Aboriginal influences, touching on baroque, classical and gypsy jazz along the way.
The Divine Comedy are to headline the opening night who earlier this year released their new album Foreverland – a byzantine patchwork of love, longing and imperial ambition which reasserted Neil Hannon’s reputation one of the UKs best and most original songwriters.
The Trevor Horn Band also plays on Thursday 10 August. Considered to be one of the most influential record producers in popular music, Trevor Horn started his career as a bass guitarist. A co-founder of The Buggles (Video Killed The Radio Star), he has gone on to work with – among many others – Paul McCartney, Tom Jones, Rod Stewart, Seal, Frankie Goes To Hollywood, and Genesis.
For Cropredy, Trevor will front a 14-piece all-star band featuring fellow producers Steve Lipson and Lol Creme. The setlist will be packed with songs the trio have produced – between them they’ve had over 200 hit singles – and there may be guest appearances from some of the musicians they have worked with.
Quill take the stage on Friday 11 August. A six-piece fronted by the charismatic Joy Strachan-Brain, the Birmingham-based band embraces many influences in its energetic brand of Celtic-hued rock.
Also appearing on Friday, CC Smugglers play good times music inspired by American and world folk. This exciting young six-piece of talented multi-instrumentalists perform with infectious enthusiasm.
Golden Anniversary Performances
Saturday’s afternoon programme will start with a triple bill of performances from ‘early years’ former members of Fairport – Ashley Hutchings, Judy Dyble and Iain Matthews – as part of the anniversary celebration.
Ashley Hutchings founded Fairport Convention, and at Cropredy 2017 he will present Morris On, a spectacular of traditional music and dance. Fairport’s original female vocalist Judy Dyble will be performing with Band of Perfect Strangers, her regular musical collaborators. Iain Matthews, Fairport’s first male lead singer, will be joined by Andy Roberts and Mark Griffiths to present Plainsong who, last year, released Reinventing Richard: The Songs of Richard Fariña which we reviewed here. Their harmonic blend of English folk-rock and American alt-country is sure to go down well with the Cropredy audience.
There will be two chances to see Fairport Convention co-founder, Richard Thompson. He will play a full set in his own right on Friday then join Fairport on Saturday evening.
Fairport Convention will celebrate their fifty years with a marathon performance to close the festival on Saturday. Joined on stage by former members and guests, their set will feature the very best from half a century of music making. Fairport will also play on Thursday when the festival will open with a short welcoming set by the band’s semi-acoustic line-up.
Also appearing are:
– Cats in Space, a power-pop seven-piece playing “1970s ‘commercial rock’ with a contemporary twist.”
– Gerry Colvin, maybe best known by many as co-founder and frontman of John Peel favourite ‘Terry & Gerry’, the skiffle-cowpunk indie outfit.
As with previous years, Cropredy will also present a set by the winner(s) of the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award.
Fairport Convention is putting three-day festival tickets on sale in time for Christmas. The online box office will open on Sunday 11 December 2016 and tickets will remain on sale for one week. UK orders will be mailed Special Delivery at no extra cost to ensure delivery in time for Christmas.
The box office will re-open on Wednesday 1 February 2017 when all concert tickets and camping tickets will be available.
Pre-Christmas three-day concert tickets cost £125 and are exclusively available from Fairport Convention’s website fairportconvention.com. Camping tickets cost £45 for three nights.