at a very wet Cropredy on Friday night, ably supported for most of the set by Danny. The set contained more unreleased material than any I have ever seen him do; the list (with apologies for those new songs for which I don't know the correct title) was as follows:
Dry My Tears and Move On
Ghosts in the Wind
My Daddy is a Mummy
Destiny (?) (with an extra long intro as Richard struggled to remember the first line)
Message on the Wind (?) (Described as a "Taliban's eye view of western civilisation")
Turning of the Tide
Waltzing's for Dreamers
Madonna's Wedding (I haven't seen any discussion of this gem on the list - a
potentially libellous piece of satire to the tune of the Scottish folk
song - which if memory serves me right crops up elsewhere in the Thompon
canon - Marie's Wedding, with a snatch of a Jimmy Shand polka at the end.
Sadly, I can't see this making it onto the new album!)
(Danny leaves "to empty his urinary tract" and Richard explains about the
recent Getty show, promising us a thousand years of music in 8 minutes)
Passing over Godric and your 50 favourite Black Death ditties, we got the
rennaissance Italian thing (attr Vecchi?) which sounded like something from
Professor Pickett's song book, Shenandoah and Britney Spears' Oops! I Did It
(Danny returns for:)
I Feel So Good
Wall of Death
Word Unspoken, Sight Unseen
Auld Lang's Syne (?)
It even stopped raining by the end of the set but the weather did put something of a dampener on things earlier in the day, with only the wonderful Oysterband managing to get the crowd going (and healing the long rift with Fairport). Straight after his solo set, Richard was back on stage for Scratchley's potted history of Fairport - the Early Years, in which Swarb brought the house down (if that is not an inappropriate phrase for an outdoor concert) by playing as brilliantly as ever. Perhaps the oddest moment was an appearance by Marc Ellington (who apparently has not done Cropredy before because it "clashes with the sailing" - Cowes Week, presumably. Doesn't this guy own a castle somewhere or something?)
Greetings to all the list members I met at the pavilion, whose names I've regrettably forgotten already.
Sat 8/10/2002 6:54 PM
Well, it was great! Weather: sunshine and showers (often simultaneously), music: frequently outstanding, Pizza Hut: just fine, thanks, even if it has moved to a new site at the top of Banbury.
Thursday highlight for me was the Dubliners. No, seriously! It was great to be in the crowd for the final singalong of 'Dirty Old Town', 'The Wild Rover' and 'Whisky In The Jar'. The day's lowpoint was being told that the record stall didn't have Semi-Detatched Mock Tudor because 'I left it on the van'. Never mind, I picked it up on Friday. I didn't bother with RT's signing session on Saturday though - the queue stretched out of siging tent and along the entire length of the bar. I estimate it was about 80metres long!
After the ritual hike along the canal to Pizza Hut on Friday morning we made it back to Croppers mid afternoon. Enjoyed a lot of the music but nothing really stood out until the Oysterband came on (it may just be that we moved down the front then). By 8 o'clock it was time for RT and crivvens he was good! His singing was great and he seemed to be having a ball up there. Danny played most of the set and a couple of songs seemed to be included to let him shine - 'Mingus Eyes', 'Ghosts In The Wind'. We got the 4 new-album songs which I'd never heard before and a couple of comedy numbers too (Daddy is A Mummy and Madonna's Wedding). Add a trio from the Getty set, a few choice numbers from Mock Tudor ('Crawl Back' was particularly good, but RT seemed to lose track a bit during the solo) and a couple of old favourites and you have a great set. By this time it had even stopped raining, despite the presence of RT , who was called 'the Rainmaster' from the stage by both Ashley Hutchings and Simon Nicol. After his own set RT was straight back to play the headline set of Fairport: the early years. great to see the entire original recording line-up (with the obvious exception of Martin Lamble) on stage together. There were huge cheers and great affection for Swarb too. Despite being confined to a wheelchair and using an oxygen mask he played wonderfully, and the whole band took the 'Lark In The Morning ' medley at 1.5 tiomes usual pace! RT in fine, plugged in form and couldn't seem to stop grinning. Can't blame the bloke, neither could I. Rare treats included 'Nottamun Town' and a sublime 'I'll Keep It With Mine' with Vikki Clayton shining in the Sandy role.
I've rambled long enough, and I'll leave the Saturday sets and more detailed setlists to others. These are jotted impressions while their still fresh in my mind and my ears a still ringing from Saturday night's sets
Sun 8/11/2002 7:25 AM
There were so many listees at Cropredy that I won't try to list them for fear of missing anyone. I felt RT's reception throughout the crowd was even stronger than usual during the weekend. The Friday set with Danny to a boisterously rabid front audience went down well in spite of the usual downpour at the start. I have not heard him perform the Taliban song with so much venom and power before.
On Saturday the queue for signing was a staggering sight. Unbelievable. Yes, a drunk did join the queue thinking it was for the bar and was somewhat disappointed on reaching the front. Funniest greeting comment I heard (no names) was "I've come all the way from Australia to see you. You and the pork pies drew me here." RT didn't quite know what to make of that one.
The musical highlights for me were Eddie Reader's voice, and hearing RT play a strat on the early Fairport stuff. Tale in Hard Time with Iain Matthews singing was a rarity to say the least, and I'll Keep It With Mine was marvellous.
Those who stayed for the Sunday cricket found it cold and wet. Danny opened the bowling, and it was good to see how agile and mobile he is, getting right down to field one in the slips. RT tweaked a thigh muscle setting off to chase one to the boundary, and he didn't bowl.
A few listees were on extended holiday, or will be making the long journey home, so normal service will take a while to resume.
Mon 8/12/2002 4:18 AM
Thanks to Ian, Ken, mrasmith, Flip and Derrick for their informative reports from the Cropredy front. But enquiring minds are always thirsty for more details of the festival, including the following:
1) More of the setlist from the Early Fairport lineup. (I like to think that they did "It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry" as a tribute to Dylan's electric set at Newport in 1965. And "Nottamun Town" provided the tune for "Masters of War.")
2) Eddi Reader's set (former lead vocalist of Fairground Attraction). She's one of my favorite singers, and this was apparently her Cropredy debut (she was there in 1999, when I last attended, but she only appeared as a backup singer for Amos Garrett, which was a huge waste).
3) The main Saturday Fairport show---any particular surprises?
Sorry that the Cropredy weather in 2002 was comparable to that of 1999. We actually walked out on OH's Friday night appearance that year because the rain was hard, it was hard, it was hard, it was hard....a hard rain was clearly gonna fall for quite some time.
Scott N. Miller
"Take the sun from my heart
Let me learn to despise
I'll show you another who cannot tell lies.
The blind man can see
Put a match to his eyes
I'll show you another who sings as he cries.
I cannot be whole
As the beggar who sighs
But I'll show you another who knows as he dies."
---Richard Thompson, "Tale in Hard Time" (performed this year at Cropredy)
Mon 8/12/2002 12:06 PM
Well here's my thoughts after a short holiday in England. Can you imagine seeing RT 3 days in a row, have him sign a copy of Semi Detached, exchanging a few words with him twice, talking to SimonT and meeting all these wonderful list people in the space of 72 hours. I for sure couldn't but id it anyway.
The Worcester show was in a beautiful churchlike place. I was a little early and waited in the bar with a cup of coffee (coffee in a bar, yeah just fancied that at that moment) I knew I was gonna sit next to Sarah during the show. While sipping from my coffee I suddenly saw a familiar face. One of the 2 listmembers I already knew by face came in (with half of his family). Had a nice chat with Arie (it was he) before the show and then the show started. Christine Collister did a nice support solo set ending with How will I ever be simple again. During the break i had a chance to meet Sarah + Derrick Leigh as well (they were late arrivals) and then the real stuff started. RT was in fine shape, playing a similar set to the one I saw two weeks earlier in Deurne but was in a much better voice this time. Rt was introducing how he came about playing the 1000 years of music set when in 99 a certain magazine asked him to name his top 10 songs of the millenium. This time no joke about his subscription but instead he pointed towards a member in the audience and asked "your friend asked me, what's his name again?" As his fingers were at me I just wondered how he knew! (Hugh's the answer offcourse). When OH came back for the 1st encore someone sasked for King of Bohemia. RT asked what key it was in and the answer was 'B, a guess'. He played a great version of it (not sure it was in B though!)
For the second encore Cc came back on and together they performed 3 songs.After the show I went back to the bar to ponder the show and drink a beer. When I wanted to leave the building I saw OH was still in the hall door chatting to Arie and signing his Semi detached copy. After that i thanked him for a great show and he humbly mumbled thanks. Soon after that he left.
The next day it was up to Cropredy. didn't make the 11.00 list meet but when i arrived at around 1.00 i saw the familiar figure of Arie talking to a Sarah and another (big) chap. The big guy appeared to be Flip who I had never met. But through him I met a lot of other List members: Willy, Martin, David, Irene+Bill, Brendan, Tony, and all other i forget to mention (sorry chaps / girls).
RT's set is already discussed on the list but it was great (again). Nice to hear the new songs in a bit different setting with Danny doing his usual excellent bass playing. Can't wait for the new album to arrive. After that the early Fairport played a nice set with OH playing the electric in the centre. I do not know Fairport as well as RT solo so i'll leave exact setlists to experts like Willy or Arie. But the set included It takes a lot to laugh, come all ye, the deserter, a great Tam lin, jack of diamonds (Rt lead vocal) one sure thing, million dollar bash (all off the top of my head).
Saturday followed a similar pattern as friday. chatting with several list members and then up to mojo's signing tent for RT's autograph session. I had positioned myself at the back of the stall, not sure if i wanted to join the amzing queue. While there i had a short nice little chat with Simon. I asked him if the band tour would co0me to Europe as well next year. He smiled and asked depending on what part of europe i meant. Poland had little chance (sorry for al Polish listmembers) and I said i would settle for Holland or Belgium. He said he would like to come over for a couple of shows there very much so here's to hoping. After i told him i was really looking forward to the new album, he smiled again (he really is a nice bloke) and said it was very good and that he didn't know how OH does it all the time. Shortly after Simon took charge of the signing session. It was not organized very well (if at all) and RT had to work the stall from left to right so Simon let everybody that was besides or behind OH line up at his side and made sure RT signed that group first (including me). I sudeenly found myself holding a copy of Semi Detached and had it signed . Meanwhile Flip was making photo #173 of a 600-shot set so there could be evidence out there of me being fairly close to the man himself!
After about an hour the autograph session had to stop because Rt had to get himself ready for the evening show. He appeared fairly early on in the set. simon was introducing Doctor of Physics but RT wanted to do Walk awhile first. After Doctor I think they played 2 more beofre the highlight of the weekend (for me anyway): Poor Will and the jolly hangman with an unbelievable solo from OH. A great version of sloth ended Rt's participation (except for the finale of Meet on the Ledge) for the evening. After that my interest in the show faded a little (might have something to do with tiredness as well) and i enjoyed most of it hanging back in a chair).
I had a truely wonderful time with great music and great friends.
(now off to bed to catch up on some sleep)
Ian West wrote, re Cropredy:
[[ Destiny (?) (with an extra long intro as Richard struggled to remember the first line)]]
No, this wasn't a forgotten line. Just as he began the song, the fog machines above the stage, which were probably affected by the moist weather, belched out a tandem blast of white smoke, as if a pair of bilious dragons were announcing a new pope. The one on stage left was particularly percussive, making a sort of blat! as it activated. Richard was apparently taken aback--really or mock-ly--and reacted to it for a few moments before sweeping right back into the intro.
Sorry if I'm repeating someone else's observation; I'm just slogging my way through all this lovely e-mail that came when I was away for two weeks (just got off the plane from Heathrow a couple hours ago).
Banbury has developed its inner city a lot since the last time we were there (1999). If you like modern shopping centers (I do, I cannot get enough of Marks & Spencer, they provide my underwear for ages but all their shops on The Continent seem to close down so I was in need cause I'm not too fond of too much commando outside the bedroom).
The Arts Center - locally known as The Mill - was used for the Cropredy warm-up gigs on Monday & Tuesday last week. I think I already ordered tickets for both nights last February after omnipresent Chris Bates' first announcement that they were on sale. While the mrs & child went shopping (they have even more interests than British quality underwear - though made in China, Korea or wherever) I had time to spend some hours around the center. Simon Nicol was the first to welcome, thanking for bringing along some European weather. Well, it was sunny and the founder member of Fairport Convention didn't seem to think the UK is part of Europe, like several other Brits I've met recently (and unlike the ruling opinion on The Continent).
Vikki Clayton was sitting outside reading a book, Gary Conway came out for a smoke and from the inside sounds of guitars, mandolins came out through the open side door. People came parking their cars on the site and went to the shopping center or the swimming pool in the sports center next to The Mill. The locals weren't aware of the things to come. I saw and heard Iain Matthews, Anna Ryder, Chris Leslie, Ric Sanders rehearsing a little later. Ralph McTell even, Dave Pegg and the great Jerry Donahue from California.
The evening concert was wonderful. I cannot remember what they played, but when Iain Matthews came up I knew this would be the end. And yes: "Meet On The Ledge" began. The theater was packed and there were lots of familiar FC songs to be heard. Chris Leslie had been recovering from surgery and looked younger than ever. Peggy was wearing a blue T-shirt with a medical message: "The Liver Is Evil And Must Be Punished". After the concert at about 11 PM - The Bar at The Mill closed at 22.45 PM - he swapped his shirt with a home made one by one of my funnier fellow countrymen, romantically spelling: "Who The F**k Is Dave Pegg?"
There were lots of good laughs as you all can understand.
RT content: he was not in sight, as expected (though not in February yet).
(To be continued, maybe)
PS The Mill can easily be reached by small boats now too, so if you fancy a pure English floating house vacation, take this into consideration as well.
PS 2 One of my funnier fellow countrymen - who was part of an unofficial but loud Dutch contingent who ever made acquaintance with Peggy's boys in Groningen and which mainly came to drink & dance - told my daughter they didn't have tickets for Tuesday's Warm-Up "because Richard Thompson's wife Linda had made reservations for more than half of the available seats".
My little girl made the necessary correction, in Dutch and ran off to her daddy. Slightly surprised.
Mon 8/12/2002 6:02 PM
Hey gang - for those of you who couldn't go here is a few observations about this year's Cropredy...meeting up with fine listees like Willy, Pam, Bill and Irene, Anil, Judy, Debbie, Jeff, Richard, Koen, Arthur, George - and others - was a particular pleasure and surprise ...
*beware non-anorak- train-spotters ... there is much minutiae contained herein *
RT Highlights @ Cropredy 2002
1) RT losing that damn Ferrington and playing a Fender Strat again ( not the Fender Strat of yore mind you - but one of his 'back up" ones). yay !! I consider the Ferrington with it's Pedal Steel Guitar pick-up cheating....
2) Rt's valiant attempts to initiate a sing-a-long during his Friday night set. a) Crawl Back - pretty good - was clearly delighted that people "knew what to do" b) Oops I did it again - hmmmm... Cropredy folk received this generously but obviously didn't know the words - but a real festival highlight for me and my date c) Wall of Death - this was a full on singalong down in front but RT didn't seem to notice ... too bad ... it would have been great to do a verse or two.
3) RT dusting off Doctor of Physick ( Full House ) *and* Poor Will during Saturday's Fairport set. Both thunderous versions. Needed a lyric sheet ( I think ) on tuesday night's warm-up for Doctor but revealed that the song may indeed be "suggestive" after Simon Nicol introduced the song as " one we never really did - even back then " ..Lacking a singing Swarb ( but he played fiddle with real verve all night ) RT basically ended up with a lead vocal on Doctor of Physick and it sounded very much like it belonged on Henry the HumanFly ( this is a good thing ). Awesome vocal delivery of Poor Will on Saturday ... sadly one of the rare moments where Gerry Conway didn't have the edge Mattacks usually brings to bear on the song.
4) RT's electric guitar approach to Nottamun Town was jaw dropping during Fridays " Early Fairport" set. Raga *rock* indeed ...
5) RT delivering a deeply felt vocal ( no guitar ) on Flowers of the Forest with Peggy,Simon and Chris Leslie. Bad sound messed this up a bit on Saturday but was devastating at the Tuesday warm up in a more intimate setting.
6) One of RT's finest solos every on a very intricate and surprisingly fresh sounding Tale in Hard Time. I think my heart stopped during the solo ... hope this makes the inevitable Fairport 35th Anniversary Box Set.
7) Actual RT blues playing on a rare " It takes a Lot to laugh" with Ian Matthews on Friday. Very Bloomfield-esque and nifty to hear.
8) Another stunning take on Jack of Diamonds with RT on lead vocal - *and* this time Judy's recorder solo was replaced by a very authentic 60's guitar solo. Whew... ( truth be told Judy Dyble was *fab* vocally particularly at the warm-up's - she delivered an ace One Sure Thing... )
9) RT lead guitar on the perennial Who Knows Where the Time Goes - it was lovely to hear.
10) Dynamite Cooksferry Queen on Friday - first time I had heard it acoustic
11) Cropredy was a very appreciative crowd for Madonna's Wedding. Somehow it's much funnier in England...
12) I think it was pretty cool for RT do a signing of SDMockTUDOr Live in the field on Saturday. That was a heck of a line-up. Bravo Richard, Bravo Simon
13) RT actually singing his verse in Walk Awhile ( "three miles down the road" ) - that hasn't happened for some time ...
RT Lowlights @ Cropredy 2002
1) When RT plays anywhere in Oxfordshire - it rains. Even when it's my birthday....
2) FC doing Journeyman's Grace sans RT -(drat - that would have been swell eh? )
3) RT letting Jerry Donahue walk away with the best solo in Sloth
4) Oddly paced Friday set with Danny - all the best stuff of late but too many new songs ( as good as some of them are ) - RT seemed much more fired up about the new stuff and some of the older numbers ( Turning of the Tide, Wall of Death, Waltzing's ) seemed a bit perfunctory.
Most Valuable Player award for Cropredy 2002
although both Dave Swarbrick and Judy Dyble sounded exceptional, and Gerry Conway did a stellar job of learning 35 years of Fairport drumming special dispensation must be made for Simon Nicol who played with fire and drive both Friday and Saturday - rocking the house on electric guitar on several occasions Saturday and being a brilliant foil to RT both nights.
Mon 8/12/2002 10:55 PM
Bill wrote, re "Oops":
[[I think OH gives the "What, you don't know the words" look to EVERY audience.At least, both times Ive seen him do it & I believe its been mentioned beforeby others. He seems to be quite amused by some audiences inabilty to sing the current pop hits when they frequently know the lyrics to century-old tunes.]]
OTOH, Rob and I have learned it from RT. Rob was whistling it in the Virgin check-in line (insert Britney joke here) at Heathrow yesterday. I kept trying to seed him with other songs on the mental jukebox ("Ironman") but ultimately succumbed as well.
I was in the photo pit (working for Dirty Linen--too bad I had only 200-speed film that night!) for half of RT's Friday set. Now there's an unusual experience--singing "Oooh baby baby" while crouching right at his feet, aiming that big lens up there. When I caught myself in the beginnings of a booty-wiggle, I realized my journalistic responsibility to tone it down a bit. But all y'all in the front were singing--I saw and heard you! What a kick! We in the pit were singing too. I was down there for "Who Knows Where the Time Goes" at the end of Friday's set...that was a pretty heady experience.
Jeez, it's amazing to be in a field full of people who treat "Poor Will" with screams of joy...it's like Cropredy is some alternate universe where RT gets to see what it'd be like if he had Springsteenian stardom. What must it be like to be center stage and have some 20,000 people singing one of your songs (MoTL) like it's a hymn, with impassioned belief?
Granted, John Barleycorn had a hand in people's responses. (We had a hilarious drunk next to us in Saturday's crowd, a man with a beautiful and earnest speaking voice, who was proclaiming that "Poor Will" "by rights should be like 'Smoke on the Water.'" He also gave a critical assessment of RT, the bulk of which I didn't hear, but which ended with "But he's just a bloody brilliant guitar player.") They ran out of 6X on Saturday, which was just as well for me; I'd limited my imbibing over the weekend and might have succumbed too deeply to the allure of those little brown jugs by the Fairport set, as usual. I made up for it, alas, on Sunday at the cricket...damn that Scrumpy Jack, whoever he is!
Of the five Cropredys (-ies?) I've attended, this may well have been my favorite. Some of the others were close to as satisfying, but the deciding factor would come down to friendship: the lovely sense of affection and comfort I felt this year, among new chums and old, close friends and acquaintances. I wish I'd met the folks I missed and spent more time with a few I saw only for a few minutes. I'm grateful to Chris Bates for scaring up some late-in-the-game Worcester tickets for me and Rob, and also to Martin Jonas and the impossibly beautiful and kind Nicola for hosting us in atmospheric (OK, wet) North Wales and taking us to the Beaumaris gig (no one has mentioned that someone in the crowd called out to RT that he should move to Wales, to which the California transplant replied, "What, with this weather?"). Also to Simon Tassano, if he's reading this, for continued personal kindnesses, ever-diligent RT-related work, and the patience to not just throw something at me when we kept running into each other again and again and again--I sure hope he doesn't think I'm stalking him.
Oh, yeah, I guess the weather really sucked, come to think of it. I've never gotten sunburned and drenched to the skin on the same day before. But what the hell. Those nice Cropredy stewards pushed our rental car out of the mud, and we didn't totally collapse from sunstroke, and a little trip through the car wash made us (I mean, our car) presentable for the Avis people, and we didn't get pneumonia as far as I can tell (cough cough)...and now I'm rambling enough to scare away even listmembers not named Gus....
Pam (really must try to sleep some more)
Tue 8/13/2002 2:17 AM
Tales from the queue continued ...
Young chap presents an acoustic guitar, minus a couple of strings for some reason, to RT to sign. Rt does the needful and then says something like "I'll give you a tip, you need to put a few more strings on that guitar"!
Tue 8/13/2002 5:43 AM
On Warm-Up Day II we travelled to Banbury early (from our hotel in Brackley, some 12 miles outside Banbury). We arrived at The Mill at about 11 AM and parked our car. On the carpark we saw RT & ST, who had also just arrived. "Aren't you a bit too early?" RT said and we felt pretty much taken in the act.
After some new shopping, cafe latte with a scone and narrow boats-watching I went back to The Mill to hang around a bit. There I met listmember Arie Euwijk with son & son-in- law and some other people I'd already met the night before, like Willy Keats from Mountain View CA in the company again of his teddybear (yes, people, listmembers can have conspicuous habits in real life). We talked in details about RT and RT-related stuff like the new Ashley Hutchings biography, that Arie had already been reading. The book (which is full of pictures) had two pics that Arie hadn't seen before and it also had come up with three or four new facts for him, being one of the real RT-completists I know. (One new fact was about some Fairport concerts before the May 27 1967 appearance as described by Kingsley Abbott. Hear! Hear!). Arie also had already spotted one or two mistakes in the book. After he's back in the Lowlands I'd be glad to see his detailed review on this List.
Arie didn't yet have a ticket for the evening, but thanks to a good relation we managed to get his name on the guestlist.
We went back to the side of The Mill where the door was open and we could easily hear quite some of the rehearsels. Ashley Hutchings arrived by car so Cropredy organiser Dave Pegg was ready to go where he wanted. He came up to us and we chatted about the weather forecast (sunny and scattered showers), the amount of tickets already sold (9000) and strange times for pubs to close. Peggy went for a swim, but came back in five minutes, inviting us for a drink in a Banbury pub that wasn't closed to the best of his knowledge. In the next minutes we saw ourselves (four Dutch guys) walking with Cropredy's main man to the nearest freehouse.
In the garden of this pub we provided Peggy with cigarettes and we talked about if it ever crossed his mind to stop with FC and/or Cropredy (yes, but the meadows have been reserved for 2003 already), about the raising costs for toilets, the great job done by the Banbury/Cropredy boy scouts, the special people who must be hired to check if the toilets are cleaned according to contract ("You know, we're in England..."), new regulations, the risk of foot and mouth disease, insurance, fees, and about RT who is never sure what he'll do at Cropredy, months before the festival is on. DP: "RT is an artist with a capital A, you know". He also said that he never found RT more serious on a subject than cricket: "The only time he gets back to me with information is when I ask him about cricket - he's a real trainspotter as it comes to this sport". And of course we heard the three jokes that were actual in the Fairport camp.
After a couple of pints we decided to break up and find our way back to the restaurant where the mrs and child were already waiting for us. There we were joined by John Penhallow from Australia (earliest FC manager), his friend David (who promised me some nice RT pics of the rehearsals for the web site) and around us we saw Gary Conway and Jerry Donahue having their meals. I told Gary we'd just had a drink downtown with Peggy and he looked up to me in profound disbelief saying: "One drink?" Well, eh....
In the evening The Mill was packed. Lots of US citizens too from Nancy's tour who already had an enjoyable boat trip on The Thames - where one Patrick Humphries was present and where Kamila Thompson played a few of her own songs. Several people came to tell mr Humphries is missing a leg (they asked me if I knew, but I didn't and I don't think it's making a change) and someone promised me a pic of Kamila's performance for the web site.
Lots of people came out, asking me if I was Flip and how they liked The Completists web site. Which of course was flattering.
RT came out with his Fender and played an awesome set with Simon, Chris, Vikki, Ashley, Peggy, Iain, Gary and - of course - Dave Swarbrick who was playing wonderfully on his wheelchair that was surrounded by the same oxygen providing equipment that he must have been carrying for more than three years now.
RT's lead vocals on "Poor Will And The Jolly Hangman" and "Jack O' Diamonds" plus his guitarwork brought a shiver to my spine and tears in my eyes. Gladly is was dark. The songs seemed to have been very well rehearsed. I was wondering when I heard these songs for the first time. Must be some 35 years ago today.
At the end of the evening - one week ago today - we invited ourselves to the informal Wednesday afternoon at The George, the pub next to Peggy's house and the Woodworm studio in one of the Bradfords, I think some miles south of Banbury to have a closer look at Nancy's US-Festtours contingent that included Bill and Irene Henry from Michigan, Jo Woods from Connecticut and Dave Orbison from Pittsburg. They played an old English pub game (I can't remember the name of the game, it was something with Auntie .... - who can fill me up?). After the game we made an excursion to "Woodworm's Hilton", led by Simon Nicol and Dave Pegg.
We were having real fun.
Thanks to all involved. Thanks to Nancy Covey and Dave Pegg for letting us in. Thanks to Nancy for introducing me to the US-bunch who all seemed to be regular visitors of the Completists site.
And Cropredy hadn't even begun.
Tue 8/13/2002 7:33 AM
I was really looking forward to Cropredy and I have to say I smiled to myself as I walked along the road from the car park heading for the pavilion - it was great to just be in Cropredy.
Some (but only some) highlights:
Meeting so many fellow listers, including Pam and Rob, Arie, Flip, Tom Neligan, Tony, Martin Jonas, Jesse, Sarah, Olivier, Derrick, Louisa (like the new glasses!), Irene - sorry if I missed out anyone;
the quiet of Cropredy church despite the drinking and chat outside in the graveyard;
the Real Meat Sausage company!
RT and Danny sublime on Friday night - those new songs are already fixed in my head;
the early FC lineup with RT singing Doctor of Physick and Poor Will - only Crazy Man Michael could have improved things;
The early lineup doing Time Will Show;
The Dylan covers on both nights - fun was had by all;
Getting SDMD signed (eventually) by RT - well spotted Sarah - that is me in the queue photo;
The Oysterband's set - really liked their music;
Most of FC's set on Saturday;
Seeing and hearing Swarb in such good form;
Chris Leslie singing Rosie;
The general all-round organisation of the festival.
Getting stung by a wasp for the first time in 30 years as I walked onto the field;
The rain on Friday (but we were lucky - just look at Prague!);
Broderick - if I want to sit in the pouring rain listening to traditional Irish music I don't need to got to Cropredy!
The very poor cider at the bar in the field;
The officious git (in the checked shirt in photo 2) who made a mess of organizing the signing, and then distracted RT while he was trying to talk to those who presented items for signing, including me;
The Oysterband's 'attitude' - particularly the lead singer's;
The middle part of FC's Saturday set - I missed the Maart years as they happened and having heard some of the stuff on Saturday I've no desire to visit them;
Ralph McTell - nice bloke but boring performer;
All-in-all it was an excellent weekend - I've been listening to the boxed set since I got back, interspersed by SDMD of course.
Wed 8/14/2002 4:59 AM
A bit late posting my musings on this years festival, but I like to 'stew in the juice' of it all first. I even kept the very fetching pink bracelet on for a couple of days after, just to keep me in the mood. (How sad am I? Don't answer that!!)
I didn't arrive until the Friday, apart from The Dubliners, there wasn't anything to float my boat. I have a very rough rule of thumb about attending Cropredy. First and foremost, is RT on the bill? If he is then I am there. Although I may just change that as I thought Fairport were particularly strong in their own right this year. Ric seems to have calmed down a little and isn't rushing around so much, consequently his playing seems to have improved. Chris Leslie is a very good addition to the group, a fine player with a good voice. Gerry Conway too, he's played with various Fairporters over the years so that he slips into the roll very easily. I didn't think that DM would be easy to replace but GC has filled the role brilliantly. Particular note must be made of Simon's rhythm guitar playing. He was absolutely excellent all through the various sets.
Anyhow I digress. I met up with my old mate Tony from my London Despatch Riding days and we proceeded on to the Cropredy site. Tents were duly set up and we had the compulsory 'brew up' before heading off to the arena. We hit the food stalls and they were, as usual, excellent. Living in a rural area as I do I don't get to eat Vegetable tempura apart from at Cropredy. Anyone got a good recipe??
Purchased the obligatory half gallon flagon of 6X and proceeded to find a decent spot for viewing. Tony said to me "Not much of a line up this year is it?" and I had to agree, but then it wasn't about the other acts this year really. It was a celebration of 35 years of FC so it was about THEM, and they more than made up for the others.
I only managed to catch Oysterband, Broderick, RT & DT and Fairport (Early Years) on the Friday. Oysterband have never been my cup of tea, but they were appreciated by those who like them so I assume they played well. They did seem genuinely chuffed that FC had invited them and fair play to them they went down well. Broderick were a very young 'trad arr' instrumental band. I'm sure they will improve with age, but I personally found them very dull and predictable. Then came the main reason for me being in a, by now, wet and muddy North Oxfordshire field. RT & DT. I'm not a 'setlister' but I can tell you they were just great. They have the kind of empathy that only comes with great players who just know what the other is going to do. It just gets better each time I see them. As an aside I'd like to thank my wife for buying me a 'full length' Barbour' for Christmas. I was only wearing shorts and T shirt underneath, but with the wide brimmed 'Barbour' hat as well, I got back to my tent as dry as a bone after the evening was up.
Next up was FC (The Early Years). Oh joy of joys RT had a Strat!! I'm sure his Ferrington is a fab guitar, but the tone of the Strat is just sublime. What struck me about the set was how much fun RT seemed to be having. He was laughing and joking with Simon all evening. Again Simons playing deserves mantion, it must be a bugger being a really good player in a band where you have one of the very best players in the world standing next to you. SN is a much underrated player and he can really rock when he puts the electric guitar on. I've seen RT play with FC on quite a few occasions now and there has been the odd time when I felt he was just doing his duty. But he was really up for it this time. he really seemed to be enjoying being a 'band member'. The setlist has been discussed at length already so you don't need me to remind. Let's just say it was the 'Mutts Nuts'. When Swarb was wheeled on the stage I was quite upset to see how he had deteriorated, it's sad when your heroes appear to be mear mortals after all. But then he started playing! He may not have the breath to sing any more, but he can still play up a storm. So off to bed with a smile and a sway.
Early rise the next morning to avoid the queue for the bogs. The bogs were excellent again this year, in the two days I was there they were pumped out and cleaned no less then three times, ebven the heavily used ones in the main arena stayed fairly 'fragrant'. I made my way, with mate, to the Pavillion, mainly to ogle the bikers camp. Some lovely machines there this year. We were going to hang on to see if there was a reapeat 'List Meet' but there was a Car Boot Sale just up the road, so off we went to peruse the wares. Those nice guys from HTD had an excellent CD stall there, most things were only a 'tenner' each and with a far better selection than the Woodworm stall. A small criticism here. The Woodworm stal only stocked music from the artists that were appearing! There were no browse bins that you could look through, you had to queue and order from a list. There was a guy selling 'footwear' too. I managed to pick up a copy of Raffertys Folly for a fiver. It was a CDR copy but who cares. The cover artwork had been scanned to a good quality. Anyone who bootlegs the booteggers has the right idea. Also picked up a genuine Tilley lamp for a fiver too, in excellent nick to boot. Lots of vinyl for sale as well, some of it rubbish, with the odd gem mixed in. There was also a very good vinyl stall near the bridge and I found out that some of my old LP's are now worth a hell of a lot of money. Hey is that The Brasenose over there?? By Golly, it appears to be open. It was nice to try a different brew from the arena fayre, so we had a couple of pints then off back to the campsite for a leak and a short lie down.
Deliberately missed Richard Digance, I'm sorry I just don't find him funny any more (Not sure I ever did to tell the truth). Heard Deborah Bonham from the tent and she sounded VERY LOUD INDEED! Strolled back to the arena just in time to catch the end of Little Johnny England. They were a very pleasant surprise. I did a Victor Kayam. I liked them so much I bought the CD. Then Alison Brown came on,a fine player, but a bit too jazzy for me. Eddi Reader was lovely, she has such a pure voice and can reach notes you wouldn't think possible. She did all her old faves plus other material too.
Then came, for me, the highlight of the faestival. I was turned on to FC by Full House playing over the speakers in the record department of the store where i started work after leaving school. So the Full House line up holds a very special place in my heart. I thought they were awesome! They played all the faves and then some. I too am somewhat upset by the 'poaching' of Sloth by Gerry Donahue. He's a fine player for sure but it was RT's solo on the original album and I was disappointed he didn't take the main solo. Swarb was wheeled out and showed again what a great player he is. Marc Ellington was a laugh, he seemed to spend his time telling everyone to 'Shut Up', but he was good fun. I gather his albums are collectors items these days. One slightly strange moment was when a guy form 'Coronation Street' (a famous Brit Soap) wandered on playing a Bodran (I can't spell it!). It was slightly surreal after a gallon of ale. So afterwards it was back to the tent and a very good nights sleep.
All in all I think it was one of the best Cropredys I've been to. Certainly from an RT/FC angle.
Wed 8/14/2002 5:50 PM
I've just gotten back on the list after Cropredy. We only attended on Friday and Saturday. Two days is enough for me, especially when a chilly, extended period of rain is part of the experience, as it was on Friday. My husband, Jeff, overheard someone coming out of a loo into the rain saying sarcastically, "Thanks, Richard!" Another one of my friends lost 5 pounds when he unwisely bet that it would *not* rain during RT's set. What *was* my friend thinking?
Performance-wise, highlights were (of course) RT's contributions, both his solo set and his appearances with Fairport. I was delighted that he did a lot of the newer material in his solo set -- I've been reading about it on the list for a while. In general, what we got was a cross between the "Live At Crawley" material (which makes sense, since he was playing with Danny Thompson), his "1000 Years of Music" show, and material from his newest (forthcoming) album, with a few other tunes tossed in for good measure.
The early Fairport material was excellent too, especially the live "Full House" selections.
I also *really* enjoyed the Oysterband (a long-time favorite of mine, but my first time seeing them live)and Little Johnny England.
Of the performers I hadn't heard before, Mundy-Turner perked up my ears. Alison Brown's group reminded me of Bela Fleck (jazz/bluegrass), and I enjoyed the technical proficiency of the group. Deborah Bonham's blues-rock material was OK, as was some of Sarah Jory's performance. I enjoyed her steel guitar playing.
Those who left me cold: Magna Carta and Eddi Reader.
Anyone I didn't name didn't make enough of an impression on me, positive or negative.
It was good to renew acquaintance with many people from this list, as well as to meet a few I've not met before.
Thu 8/15/2002 6:59 AM
I got back from England on Saturday evening, and it's taken a couple of days to catch up on e-mail and get back into the swing of things. Now that I have, I thought I'd share a few late impressions of Cropredy (it'll be long, so I'm breaking it into several posts).
First, it was nice to meet up with so many members of the RT list, both ones I knew before and those I was meeting for the first time. Among the many were Pam and Rob Winters, Tom Nelligan, Martin Jonas (and his girlfriend Nicola), Martin Smith (and his friend Dave), Tony Swift, Brendan Teeling, Doreen Mastandrea, David Orbison (both of the latter two were on Nancy Covey's tour), Louisa Mallett, Sarah Durrant, Chris Bates, Derrick Leigh, and, rather briefly, Chris Woods, Irene Henry, and Flip Feij - who, for those who haven't met him, is a much taller man than I'd thought from his picture! (Chris Bates is no slouch in the height department either.) I know I met some other members of our Dutch contingent - Gosse? Arie? - but I forget who. Apologies to anyone I've missed. Special thanks to Pam and Rob for letting me rest my wet and weary bones occasionally on their three-seat outdoor "couch."
Overall, the musical lineup this year (other than RT and Fairport) was weaker than the last time I went, in 1999. (It's not a good sign when you're spending more time thinking about which food stand you want to try next than you are paying attention to the music - I second whoever praised the sausage stand!) On Thursday night - I was unable to get Worcester tickets - I felt Freeway Jam were not bad at all for a covers act; I enjoyed their modest effort more than most of the non-RT/FC acts to come. But the Joyce Gang made no major impression, and the Dubliners really represent a now rather quaint and outmoded style of presenting folk music. Among other things, they simply don't have the level of instrumental virtuosity and intricacy that's become relatively commonplace. Their banjo player was highlighted for a short set, after being introduced as being able to do things on banjo that no one else can. All I can say is, Allison Brown's got nothing to worry about. e2K wrapped up the evening with an inoffensive mish-mosh of the kind it's easy to get when you bring together musicians from too many "world music" traditions at once; the rain was still vexing enough that I retreated to my tent midway through their set.
I missed Mundy-Turner - too busy chatting with list members. I was looking forward to seeing Sarah Jory, who was bruited in the program as among the world's best slide/steel guitar players. But I found her all too show-bizzy, reminding me of a number of past English acts (names elude me at the moment) who've taken American music and homogenized it for Continental consumption* by stripping it of soul and heart. She certainly has chops, but anyone who's heard Robert Randolph (or Bonnie Raitt, for that matter) knows what you can do with steel or slide guitar when chops are put to emotional use. Magna Carta I barely recall, they were so uncaptivating - folk music at its cliched dullest, it seemed to me. I was also looking forward to Oysterband's increasing the energy level of the day. Which they did, and they were generally fine, but their music stayed too much in the rousing Big Country vein for my tastes. (Only time I've seen a cello player continue playing while carrying his instrument around the stage, though.) Broderick were pretty good: their detailed arrangements exemplified what I felt was missing in the Dubliners.
Actually, one of the musical highlights of the day for me was compere Bob Fox's rendition of a tune in some regional dialect about a girl the protagonist would like to be with, but now "she's gan with Mr. Black" and they're likely to marry.
* Maybe Britain doesn't count as Continental - but hey, the alliteration works.
The rain was out in fairly full force, naturally, when RT and DT took the stage. For some reason, this year's stage, unlike 1999's, didn't have a large "lip" shielding the audience closest to the stage, where I was standing with Doreen and David. Fortunately I was well prepared, with a big poncho and a baseball-type cap whose brim kept my glasses dry and prevented the poncho's hood from falling over my face. (I remarked to Doreen that maybe it would rain less when RT played if he would do happier songs. Sure enough, it let up when he played "My Daddy Is a Mummy" - which I still get a kick out of, by the way - and I didn't buy Doreen's argument that that's still a sad song because, well, everyone's dead.) It was very cool to hear the new songs that I had yet to hear; the chorus of "Destiny" has been running through my head ever since. It struck me that there's something musically different about these songs from RT's past work, as if he's using a different chordal vocabulary. Overall, they seem "poppier" (certainly this is true of "Destiny"); someone to whom I mentioned this (Tony? Martin? Brendan?) thought that perhaps the "1000 Years of Popular Music" experience had influenced RT's musical direction, or maybe it just reflected it. Contrary to another opinion expressed on the list, I thought RT's solo on "Crawl Back" was some of his most exciting playing of the night; Doreen thought it was the best version of the song she'd heard yet. Another highlight was finally hearing "Oops I Did It Again." After hearing "Madonna's Wedding," I can see why some people find it too lightweight (and perhaps meanspirited) to deserve much more time in his repertoire. (I must that I wonder if it's possible that RT actually knows Madonna in person, given that RT worked on Teddy's album, which was produced by Joe Henry, who's Madonna's brother-in-law.) The new arrangement of "Wall of Death" was very strange: it appeared that RT was largely strumming the guitar rather than picking. Although I've sometimes wished he'd do more strumming a la Small Town Romance to contrast with his astonishing picking technique, this just sounded weird to me. As usual, "Ghosts in the Wind" was a tour de force for Danny.
But the biggest thrill of the evening was the "Fairport: The Early Years" set. I never thought I'd hear those songs performed live, let alone by those people. I remarked to someone that Iain Matthews seems to have "the Graham Nash tenor anti-aging gene. "Come All Ye" was a rousing opener; other particular favorites included "Nottamun Town" and "Tale in Hard Time" - but it was all a blast. ("Tam Lin" never quite attained the rhythmic punchiness of the original, however.)
I took a particular shine to Marc Ellington, who dominated the stage with his white suit, panama hat, and humorously posh attitude. I forget if it was on Friday or Saturday night, but at one point he wondered aloud to the audience about just what it was they _did_ in all those tents. RT, who was hanging back somewhat like a shy child in awe of a bigger sibling, half-whispered, "Shagging" - prompting Ellington to admonish him with a parental "Why, Richard Thompson, you go wash your mouth out with soap!" At another point, when RT was idly playing runs as Ellington was speaking, the latter turned to him and said, "You know, if you keep fooling around with that thing, you'll grow hair on your palms" (or something like that). In general, despite being front and center - either in recognition of his stature or just because the set followed RT's own - RT was a rather self-effacing stage presence during the Fairport set.
Then there was the point when Simon introduced an old friend of the band, who used to play harmonica with them sometimes in the early days. When he came on stage, Doreen and David excitedly said, "It's George!" George, it turned out, was on Nancy's tour with them and had just been jamming with the other folks on the tour the night before. He's now, if I remember correctly, a mechanic somewhere in the Midwest, with five kids. But he still played a mean harp.
Before moving on to Saturday, I must defend myself against Martin's vicious libel of the other day ( 8^)=, if that's really necessary):
[[Jesse Hochstadt made me laugh yesterday when he told me in all seriousness that he had got confused over Vikky Clayton and thought she was going to be Merry Clayton (for younger readers, a black session singer who worked with The Stones, Joe Cocker Circus, all that type of stuff; she sings the gospelly bits on Way over yonder on Carole King's Tapestry, and her brother>Sam was the percussionist in Little Feat) The mind boggles!]]
It wasn't exactly that I expected to see a black soul belter on stage in the role of Sandy Denny, Martin. It was more that I'd forgotten Merry Clayton _was_ a black soul belter, and it didn't seem _entirely_ inconceivable that the woman who wailed "War, children, is just a shot away" with the Rolling Stones might know the Fairporters and be sufficiently flexible (as session singers often are) to take the Sandy role. (I fear that what I just wrote boils down to "I'd forgotten Merry Clayton was black, and we couldn't expect a black woman to do Sandy's parts." Oh well. Incidentally, I bought the latest Mojo while in England, and among the obits was a notice for a horn player - the name eludes me - who was Merry Clayton's husband.)
Besides, that was nothing compared to another embarrassing lapse of knowledge that I thank Martin and Rob for keeping secret.
Oh, alright, I'll fink on myself: I think the two of them were rather taken aback when I asked when Trevor Lucas was going to be showing up on stage. I didn't know that he was dead. (I just thought he was in Australia.)
After a morning walk round Cropredy, where I (along with a host of beer-and-breakfast consumers contentedly munching in the cemetery) witnessed the heinous spectacle of Morris dancing outside the Red Lion and saw canal boats called "Sloth" and "Meet on the Ledge," I headed for the field. I paid fairly little attention to Richard Digance as I downed a delicious banana-and-chocolate crepe for breakfast; a less-than-thrilling dining experience at the Cropredy Canoe club the previous morning had erased whatever romance the traditional English breakfast had held for my somewhat Anglophilic soul. Digance's shtick seemed to be nostalgia for the toys and foods of childhood, which only takes you so far. Little Johnny England were recommended to me, and they were pretty good, but didn't quite hold my interest. Eddi Reader I liked somewhat better; of course she has the advantage of being an attractive woman with a good, often self-deprecating sense of humor besides. Her fluttery arm movements while singing were a little odd, though; they contrasted in my mind with the motions made by Judith Owen at Joe's Pub, which seemed more tightly tied in with her singing. Martin and Nicola decided to take a break from things when Deborah Bonham (John's little sister) was up; I took it that crunchy rock'n'roll wasn't their cup of tea. It often is mine, and Bonham was good for a little while, but her band were no Led Zeppelin, and I found myself talking with RT listers at the bar rather than attending to her. When she launched into "The Battle of Evermore," in dual homage to Sandy and Bonzo, however, I found myself thinking, "What is this - the Revive-the-Dead Festival?" None of the harder rockers this year compared with my memories of the Robbie MacKintosh Band in '99. Alison Brown was technically stellar during her set, but I'm afraid that bluegrass-jazz hybrid stuff just leaves me cold.
So, just as on Friday, I found the earlier musical offerings on Saturday rather meager pickings. More substantial fare came in the form of dinner from the highly recommended Leon's - a delicious and filling vegetarian feast, well worth the 7 pounds. (By this point I had expanded my distracting thoughts from thinking about food to wondering when that cute female member of the technical crew would show up again. There's something about a woman neatly coiling cable....) Danny Thompson was of course a swell compere all day.
Which leaves us with Fairport. First up: The Early Years, part 2, with Dave Pegg now taking the stage. (This seems as good a time as any to mention that Gerry Conway struck me as a bit too heavy-handed a drummer on a lot of numbers, especially compared with Dave Mattacks. Something about Conway reminded me of Animal from the Muppets.) Combined with the Vikki Clayton-sung "Sandy version" of "Sir Patrick Spens" the night before, the bulk of "Full House" got played. "Doctor of Physick" was a particularly delightful surprise. As previously mentioned, technical problems with Jerry Donahue's guitar broke the flow of "Sloth"; I personally found it hard to keep my attention on what was being played because I was too busy wondering if we were going to have a Derek-Smalls-trapped-in-the-space-pod moment. Once Donahue finally got around to soloing, RT took the occasion to chat and share a laugh with Simon - which I thought was a little rude. An odd moment occurred when Peggy introduced two very short-lived members of the band, a drummer and guitarist (whose names I can't recall) who had been rapidly recruited for an American tour when Simon and DM (I think it was them) abruptly quit the band. Fair enough, I thought; they _were_ members of Fairport. But then Peggy left the stage and the two short-timers were joined by Ashley Hutchings and Marc Ellington (and some others, I think) - who they'd presumably never played with! - to do a Dylan tune, "Billion Dollar Bash" I think.
The RT-less parts of the Fairport set found me moving away from the stage front and back into the crowd. None of that stuff excites me much, though "Matty Groves" is always enjoyable and Chris Leslie has a nice singing voice. (I don't think anyone's mentioned that Simon played "End of a Holiday" just before "Matty Groves.") Ric Sanders annoys me with his hammy stage antics (though as already mentioned, they were a little toned down this time); one RT list member, who shall remain nameless, told me his definition of target practice was Ric Sanders running across the stage. For one song Maart Allcock played such incredibly deep, boomy notes on synthesizer that they distorted (or at least seemed to) on the big concert speakers.
And then it was time for the big "Meet on the Ledge" singalong, which is sweet. It _is_ rather astonishing, as Pam(?) remarked, to be out in a field with thousands of people who actually know what you're talking about when you talk about Fairport and rave about RT - almost an alternate universe of mud, mead, and music. As the crowd dispersed, I skulked around the field in search of my last comestible of the festival (hey, that almost rhymes!). And with farm-fresh donuts, dusted with cinnamon sugar, warming me, I made my muddy way back to my tent.
P.S. I _like_ Anna Ryder! At least I think I do. The image of her playing trumpet and accordion simultaneously is one of my fondest memories of Cropredy 1999. I'll have to check out her music more closely sometime.
Cropredy has one large covered stage, facing on to a field with a gentle slope up to the back. A very large stage actually, at various times on Saturday it comfortably accomodated a full band + 8 Irish dancers (albeit juvenile ones) and about 20 musicians for the big hands-in-the-air finale of Meet On The Ledge. The sound felt quite 'boomy' to me. I know there are people on this list much better acquainted than I am with the correct terminology and they may be able to be more precise. The speakers looked enormous but on closer inspection, when able to see behind the gauze screens covering them, they were only about a metre wide and 15ish metres high. The sound filled the arena and, with the right wind direction, carried very well to the Red Lion pub abaout 1.5km away where I spent the start of Thursday evening. We spent Friday and Saturday evenings to the side of the stage about 10m from the speakers. Even with sodden ground the bass notes were powerful enough to vibrate the roof of our mouths. Overall the technical side of things was handled remarkably well in difficult conditions. Wish I could say the same for the traffic management on Thursday afternoon.
Sun, 11 Aug 2002
Thanks, everyone, for your European concert reports. Everyone seems to be having such a grand time it's a pleasure reading about it all. In addition to hearing about the music, I'm also enjoying the details about RT's mood, the list member meetings/sightings, bits about Pizza Hut and walking along the canal, the description of different venues, and especially news of the weather... So at Croperdy RT and other performers were on a covered stage and everyone in the audience was under umbrellas or just standing there getting rained on, or enveloped in mist? Did that affect the sound of the music, you think?
There are no Croperdy pictures yet on RT's site so I'm doing some imagining here, guided by your reports. Please keep 'em comin'.
Sun, 11 Aug 2002
As well as the RT Listees I've already mentioned in my Cropredy report I spotted a lady in a Doom & Gloom Dee-shirt enjoying a brief spell of sunshine on Saturday afternoon. She told me her name was Elaine, she's from Wolverhampton in the UK, and a major RT fan. I saw her later just about to reach the head of the queue when RT did a signing session. There was a collossal queue, and someone told me that a large number of people were turned away after lining up to meet RT, which seems unfortunate
Elaine also said she has never posted, partly because she only has email access at work, but mainly because she thought there were some bad attitudes around on the List and she didn't fell like sticking her head above the parapet
Well Elaine, if you read this, go ahead and post whatever you like, if you think it would be of interest to fellow RT fans. As far as I know, this List is intended to be a democratic organisation. We may not agree with your opinions, but I'm sure the overwhelming majority would be pleased to hear them.
Sun, 11 Aug 2002
Huntingdon Hall is another converted Methodist chapel, but in sharp contrast to the Union Chapel in London is small in scale with superb accoustics. Those in the gallery rear of stage were the butt of RT's humour. "Did you pay less for those seats? No?" (To stage front - "suckers!").
Christine Collister opened with a superb vocal performance, and later joined RT for a second encore of 3 numbers. In this hall the quality of sound for RT was outstanding (thanks Simon). There was no sign of the frogs in the throat that were at Antwerp, and with a warm and attentive audience his now standard solo set was a very relaxed affair. Possibly it was too comfortable, with no great emotional edge.
Some of the older numbers have a different feel. Wall of Death has already been mentioned, and VBL52 was played with fewer notes and a slightly slower tempo, giving the song room to breathe, with more subtle vocal expression. For me the greatest surprise was Shoot Out the Lights, which seemed much less dark, almost lyrical and sadly peaceful. Strange. King of Bohemia was played on request.
It rained of course, as if in ominous practice for the following night at Cropredy.
Sun, 11 Aug 2002
I'm just back from an enjoyable Cropredy spent in the company of my close friend Dave Hadden. We set off from his house early-ish on Friday, driving though exactly the sort of weather that I'd assured any enquirers that "If the weather is like it was on my last Cropredy in 1999 I'm NOT going"
I met lots of RT listees, some for the first time, and several renewed acquaintances. The Dutch contingent were there in force, Flip, Arie, Gosse and Ronnie (a top bunch of blokes, and I'm sorry if I've spelled any names wrongly). Australia was represented by Sarah Durant and also by Jon Penhallow. I chatted with the venerable Pam, met Bill & Irene Henry who were on the Festival Tour, and also spent a pleasant afternoon yesterday watching music alongside Jesse Hochstadt. And of course there were plenty of UK listees, like Tony Swift, Derek Lee, Louisa Mallett. I saw but didn't get a chance to talk to Chris Bates, Martin Jonas, Chris Woods. Apologies to anyone I met and have forgotten to mention
It rained hard during both days, particularly during Richard & Danny's set. Dave and I had a great vantage spot, three rows back and dead centre. The set's already been comprehensively reviewed by Ian West. (Did you have waterproof pen & paper Ian, or just a much better memory than me? My memory, and Wadsworth 6X don't mix very well) I enjoyed it all, particularly Waltzing's for dreamers which I don't think I've seen him do live before. But it was as Tony Swift sagely observed a standard "Danny" set with the new album stuff, and the mini 1000 years solo interlude. Comparing it with Sheffield 7 days earlier, its obvious that a small intimate venue, and a big Festival stage require a different approach, and are markedly different experiences. For instance there was a young-ish couple near us, extremely relaxed (over relaxed to the tune of several pints and jazz cigarettes I suspect), and clearly fans who knew all the words. They whooped and hollered the whole time, whether appropriate or not, and the bloke shouted out regularly for Hard on me, and Put it there pal, and other numbers which were clearly (to the rest of us anyway!) not going to happen
There was a young girl (I'd estimate late teens) beside me who watched avidly throughout, without seemingly knowing the material, but who lit up when he played Ooops! and smiled and sang along (unlike me who didn't know the words, or wouldn't admit it anyway) OK, I reckon, he's found a new fan. Then stone me Vicar, she sang along with all the rest of the show, Feel so good, VBL, Cooksferry Queen and all that stuff. So it looks like the battle to win over the young is already working
There was one lovely bit where just as they started an intro the smoke machines puffed (I think the idea is they push out smoke so the coloured lights can catch it) and a big cloud of smoke engulfed Danny's head. They stopped and regained their composure
The Early Fairport set was wonderful; Considering that most Cropredy attendees are of similar age to me, I'm sure I'm not the only one who'd take the early line up over the current one any day of the week. As predicted on the List they played some very obscure material like Tale in hard time, or It takes a lot to laugh, it takes a train to cry, or Nottamun Town. I liked Cajun Woman (where I'd always assumed RT played slide, but he doesn't, and in fact he doesn't even seem to do anything particularly special to make it sound like a slide guitar) and Million Dollar Bash sung by Marc Ellington, but I particularly enjoyed the Iain Matthews led version of I'll keep it with mine which was just gorgeous
Jesse Hochstadt made me laugh yesterday when he told me in all seriousness that he had got confused over Vikky Clayton and thought she was going to be Merry Clayton (for younger readers, a black session singer who worked with The Stones, Joe Cocker Circus, all that type of stuff; she sings the gospelly bits on Way over yonder on Carole King's Tapestry, and her brother Sam was the percussionist in Little Feat) The mind boggles!
So that's my suggestion for Cropredy next year; guest musicians whose names are quite like the regular ones. I feel a thread coming on. I'll start; Early Fairport featuring Dave Matthews
When I got home, in the Rossendale Valley north of Manchester it was 14 degrees C, pissing down with rain and the whole Valley was engulfed by mist. Summertime in England, eh? Marvellous
Sun, 11 Aug 2002
Driving from Cropredy to where I live just took me 8 hrs. Saw 5 RT appearances during the last couple of weeks and they were all different but great. Many new faces have been added to names and e-mailaddresses (all different but great). Wow! I met some listpeople from America and Australia even...
A couple of things before I'm off to my bedroom: In the pastures of Oxfordshire I ran into my go between for the List questions to Linda and he explained she was willing to answer the (45-ish) questions, but she'd prefer to start with 10. My go between picked out 10, but obviously she hasn't found the time to handle them yet. Now she ran off to the US again where her album release really seems to take all the time she posesses.
RT was the absolute star of the show at Cropredy.
I heard (from good sources) Dirty Linen is to publish a full review by Tom Nelligan & Pam Winters in their October 2002 issue, so we must have some patience there.
Saturday afternoon there was a massive RT signing session at the Mojo stand. I think I counted 397 copies of Semi Detached Mock Tudor, 43 shirts and 27 vinyl sleeves to be signed (Simon Tassano shouting: "One item each! Look behind you, nobody wants to be disappointed!")
During the signing event I managed to approach Our Man so close that I could have touched his leather jacket or Adidas cap. But I needed my hands to operate my newly obtained digital Nikon and I filled up my two 256 mb flash cards with his portraits. Some of them could appear on the Completists site within days.
I've witnessed how a great lover of cider was attracted to the queue and after he finally reached the counter where RT was standing he put down his empty jar in front of the artist, obviously expecting an adequate refill. Strange, because less than 100 yards from where we were they built the longest bar I have ever seen during my long life. And the people there showed a great willingness to serve.
Showbusiness doesn't seem to be about singing & playing guitar alone.
Richard Thompson For Completists
Mon, 12 Aug 2002