Folk rock to shine at unconventional Midlands festival
FOLK music: mysterious lyrics, arcane instruments and songs about the changing of the seasons; Morris dancing is normal, and even brightly coloured waistcoats are acceptable - but virgin sacrifices?
Those, it seems, are the lengths some people will go to to ensure good weather for their celebrations. With months of rain and only a week to go before this year’s Cropredy festival, the site had not been mown and parts were under water.
But the show - which this year takes place from Thursday August 9 to Saturday August 11 - has been a fixture in folk-rock group Fairport Convention’s calendar since 1979, when much of the band lived in the village, and singer and founder member Simon Nicol speaks with the relaxed air of somebody used to organising open-air events.
He said: “The hot weather started at the right time. Obviously, Fairport’s practice of selecting the Midlands’ finest virgins and sacrifing them at the right time has paid off.”
Perhaps such Wicker Man practices are not such a surprise when some of the high priests of folk music will be attending. Founding Fairport Convention guitarist Richard Thompson will return to play a solo set, with his daughter Kami performing in her band Dead Flamingoes.
Irish folk rockers the Saw Doctors will also be playing, as well as Bob Marley tribute act Legend and favourites Bellowhead on the Thursday; Birmingham singer-songwriter Joan Armatrading headlining on the Friday night and Scots veterans Big Country making an appearance on the Saturday.
Fresh blood has been invited in the shape of Radio 2 Folk Award winners losciad, opening the bill on Friday, as well as indie-folk act Brother and Bones and Welsh five-piece Calan, both performing on the Saturday.
Simon says American sisters Larkin Poe, formerly the Lavelle Sisiters, are the “secret weapon” in this year’s bill, and he is looking forward to seeing Squeeze onstage together on Thursday, as well as former Dr Hook frontman Dennis Locorriere, who will be last before Fairport’s set on the Saturday.
The festival grew out of appearances at the village fete and proceeds go to good causes. There is still the one stage, and Simon is reluctant to complicate matters.
He said: “Ever since the festival went to two days people have been talking about a club tent or a second stage. My feeling is that people want to talk and eat between acts. There’s none of this dashing from one stage to another because you have two bands who interest you and inevitably they’re on at the same time.”
A ‘fringe’ has grown up, with bands performing in local pubs. The singer now lives in Chipping Norton on the far side of Banbury, but says staying on site suits him best. Many performers come for the weekend, and Robert Plant has been spotted queueing at the bar.
Simon said: “Everybody’s used to seeing the artists in the fields, that’s just one of the things about it.
“It’s a completely immersive experience for me, a three-day long party. I have to be careful to keep some energy back for our set at the end.”
This year will be Fairport’s 45th anniversary, so they are looking forward to inviting back some former members and delving into early material.
Simon added: “Every year we try to write a set that’s relevant to where the band is at that moment. This year being an anniversary year we have some tunes planned which will take us back.”
Three-day tickets cost £110, two-day tickets £100 and Saturday tickets £60. Children under 12 years are admitted free if accompanied. Camping costs £35 for three days or £30 for two days. Call 0900 637 1644, email firstname.lastname@example.org or book online.
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Kenilworth
Thursday 20 June 2013
Temperature: 13 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 12 mph
Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 12 C to 19 C
Wind Speed: 12 mph
Wind direction: West