Cropredy 1997, Fairport Convention's 30th Anniversary

From: John Penhallow, 22 Aug 97

Hello Everyone, Well it's two weeks now since the big event and I've just got my photos back from photoshop and I'm living it all over again. Firstly you just have to wonder at the scale of the organisation of the festival - Christine Pegg is amazing - I am just full of admiration for her ability to keep a firm grip on it all considering everything that was going on - I reckon she spent 2 days solid in her caravan! 20,000 people came through the gates and all the emergency services were in attendance and little used, but they had their compounds all set up and ready and I'm sure the ambulance and fire service truck patrols around the perimeter of the site were just practice runs unless someone got sunstroke from the unusually hot British weather that Peggy's mate upstairs turned on for us (shame about Sidmouth!).

The loos were great, the variety of food stalls was wonderful and the bar didn't run out of beer - at one stage I'm sure they were filling up the 4 pint plastic jugs directly from the huge 6X tanker on the site! I had a problem with the beer though, it gave me incredible stomach cramps and a build up of gas that I wasn't always able to let loose due to my working in the confined space of the CD tent! So if you saw me in there with a tortured look on my face - now you know! I think Peggy once said that Cropredy was becoming less of a band reunion and more of a fan reunion! And it's true, I was reunited with my sister-in-law Viv whose ex was Keith Roberts, my co-manager of Fairport back in 1967 for the first 9 months, I was also reunited with Judy Dyble and Kingsley Abbott and his wife Elaine, Kingsley was signing copies of his Fairport book Fairportfolio and was the best man at my wedding in 1969!

So we had a patch of ground for ourselves we called the Durnsford Road Gang named after the swimming pool that used to be opposite Ashley's house where we all used to go swimming during the summer school holidays back in the early 60's. Other groups I found on my wanderings around the field were the Friends of Fairport with Steve Sheldon and Mark Fuller holding court, I also came across a group sitting underneath an Australian and Aborigine flags so I introduced myself and found out to my surprise that he was a local Cropredy regular from Banbury and that nobody talked to him when he flew a British flag but someone gave him the Aussie flags and people dropped in to say hi! and it's true while I was there a lady from Alice Springs called by to say hello too!

The PA and Lights were great although I think the Saw Doctors tested the PA out to the max and maybe took out an amp or a mid-range cabinet as there was an occasional crackle the next day which was a shame but not too drastic. Fairport's sets were well thought out and while they didn't dwell too long on the groups tragic events in their history, what I found touching was DM's announcement that "Percy's Song" was a tribute to Martin Lamble on Friday night; the Full House Lineup singing Now Be Thankful; Ashleys role as the narrator linking the lineup changes to the groups history; the CD track of Sandy's singing of "The Quiet Joys" was a nice touch; Simon singing "Polly on the Shore" for Liz, Clancy and Georgia; and the return of the GPs was the in-house "extra special" treat, not Roy Wood or Robert Plant who were both there enjoying the festival from the audience perspective, Vikki and Cathy paid homage to the songs that Sandy used to sing with the band, culminating in the final "Meet on the Ledge" choruses from just the audience. DM was brilliant of course, with only one song off the stage in Woodworm Swing!

Peggy took us on a rollercoaster of emotion from tears to laughter, from the familiar to the surprises and it was fabulous!

Thanks Peggy!

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