16 AUGUST 2010 For immediate release
Damp but undaunted deluge defied at
Fairports Cropredy Convention
Umbrellas and smiling faces dominated Fairport’s Cropredy Convention this year as 20,000 fans defied the weather. The near-capacity crowd braved the rain to pack the concert arena on all three days.
Celebrating its thirtieth anniversary, the Oxfordshire music festival took place from Thursday 12 to Saturday 14 August at Cropredy, five miles north of Banbury. Despite intermittent rain on all three days and a torrential downpour on the Saturday, a bumper crowd thronged the 175-acre farmland site.
This year’s event was filmed for Sky Arts HD as part of the television channel’s festival season. The programme, due to be screened in September, will be fronted by well-loved music broadcaster Bob Harris who opened the festival and introduced several of the acts. “I was knocked out by the whole thing,” said Mr Harris, “but then I always love Cropredy. My family and I have been coming for years and we’re always blown away by the variety and quality of the music and the wonderfully friendly atmosphere.”
BBC and ITV regional television news reported from the event and BBC Radio Oxford attended on all three days. Radio Oxford’s coverage culminated in a six-hour festival special on the Saturday which included a live broadcast of the entire Fairport Convention set.
“The festival was a huge success and we had a bumper crowd,” says Festival Director Gareth Williams. “But for the very wet weather on Saturday we would have sold out: as it was, the rain meant we still had a few tickets left at the end of the day. But the thunderstorms did nothing to dampen the audience’s spirited enthusiasm and very nearly everyone stayed until the music finished at midnight.”
“I’m always amazed at how enthusiastic our crowd is – I take my hat off to their fortitude. But Cropredy is all about the music and our festival-goers enjoy the performances come rain or shine.”
Musical highlights on the first day included Oxfordshire’s rising star Thea Gilmore, singer Pauline Black (formerly of Selecter) and a rip- roaring crowd-pleaser from Status Quo.
On Friday, 3 Daft Monkeys went down a storm and folkrock orchestra Bellowhead provided a tumultuous finale that sent the crowd home in high spirits.
American country rock ensemble Little Feat were the undoubted hit of the day on Friday. Their performance had particular poignance because the band had just heard that Richie Hayward, founder member and original drummer, had died. Little Feat took the stage regardless, dedicating part of their set to Hayward which won the crowd’s hearts.
On Saturday, the Martin Taylor ‘Spirit of Django’ brought a taste of jazz to Cropredy (including a masterful guitar performance by Taylor himself) and a far-from-grumpy Rick Wakeman delighted the audience. Young London-based band Ahab’s alt-country groove and close harmonies made them surprise stars of the day, especially as they had stepped in at the last minute following a cancellation.
Fairport’s customary three hour performance closed the festival. The band’s set included a selection of songs from the Arthurian-themed folkrock opera Excalibur which featured soaring virtuoso vocals from Johnny Logan, the triple Eurovision winner (as singer in 1980 and 1987 and as composer in 1992) and Jethro Tull guitarist Martin Barre.
“This was among the best musical line-ups we’ve ever had,” says Fairport bassist and festival co-organiser Dave Pegg. “We always try to get a wide variety of acts and we only put on people whose music we love. My personal highlights were Little Feat, Bellowhead and Martin Taylor. I was also very impressed by the solo set from Martyn Joseph just before we went on. Musically, Cropredy somehow gets better and better with every year.”
The festival’s peaceful and safe reputation was reinforced this year. The security team worked closely with Thames Valley Police and there were virtually no incidents reported. In fact, the police were delighted with the outcome says Gareth Williams. “There’ll always be a few disturbances and a bit of rowdiness here and there but in the main we’ve enjoyed yet another trouble-free year.”
New festival features this year included enhanced campsite security checks, a secure lock-up for valuables and a mobile phone battery charging point.
Ends (670 words) Notes follow
CROPREDY PRESS OFFICE
Phone: 01926 632946 Mobile: 07879 844397
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“Cropredy is as much a British summer institution as Wimbledon”
“A great way to while away an August weekend”
The Sunday Times
“One of the best festivals in the world”
Mike Harding, BBC Radio 2
“What Fairport organise at Cropredy is absolutely fantastic”