The annual Cropredy Festival near Banbury, Oxfordshire, is a celebration of all things Fairport Convention – the iconic British folk-rock group founded nearly 45 years ago, reports David Davies.
More than 20,000 people attended this year’s event, which was graced by acts including The Coral, Seasick Steve, The Blockheads, The Dylan Project, Badly Drawn Boy – and of course, Fairport Convention. Always a prime mover in the folk-rock scene, Fairport has yielded some of the music world’s most enduring talents – notably guitarist Richard Thompson and the late, much-missed singer Sandy Denny – and remains an active touring and recording entity today.
Also making an appearance at Cropredy 2011 – on the second day of the festival – was The Travelling Band. Hailing from Manchester, the group’s line-up includes guitarist/keyboardist/vocalist Jo Dudderidge – youngest son of Focusrite MD Phil Dudderidge.
Now six years into its career, The Travelling Band offers a compelling fusion of folk, rock and psychedelia. The group recently travelled to the Isle of Mull to record its second album, Screaming Is Something, which is now available on Cooking Vinyl.
Following its enthusiastically-received set, the band had the opportunity to catch up backstage with Seasick Steve – the 70-year-old American blues singer/guitarist finally enjoying the limelight after five decades of relative obscurity – and Jo’s father, Phil. Also in attendance was John Paul Jones, the Led Zeppelin and Them Crooked Vultures co-founder who dropped in to Cropredy to accompany Seasick on bass and mandolin.
Fortunately, someone had a camera to hand and caught the happy gathering for posterity. So, if not quite meeting on the ledge, at least gathering adjacent to some beverage-providing facilities are (L to R): Chris Spencer (bass and vocals), Seasick Steve, John Paul Jones, Phil Dudderidge, Adam Gorman (vocals, acoustic guitar, keyboards, mandolin); Jo Dudderidge, Nick Vaal (drums), Steve Mullen (lead guitar, vocals).
The occasion prompted Phil Dudderidge to reflect on his own long association with the Fairport family. “It was great to see the Travelling Band at Cropredy,” he said. “I’ve been lobbying for this for years and once I stopped, they booked them! Simon Nichol [Fairport guitarist and sole original member] was incredibly impressed and very surprised by the band, their performance, songs and arrangements. I think it was he or possibly Dave Pegg who wrote on the Cropredy website the following day that they were like opening an oyster and finding a pearl. It was good to meet John Paul and Seasick Steve backstage as well as some of my old Fairport friends, Simon, and Judy Dyble [the group’s singer prior to Sandy Denny]. Simon always reminisces about the old Commer 15 cwt. van I used to drive them in, back in 1967. Those were the days!”