Fathers of folk-rock mark 45 years with family bash

Wed Aug 15, 2012 8:38am EDT
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By Nigel Stephenson

CROPREDY, England (Reuters) - What better way for the founding fathers of British folk-rock to celebrate 45 years as a band than with an intimate gathering of 20,000 friends and family?

Fairport Convention's annual festival, held in the Oxfordshire village of Cropredy over three days last week, has been a fixture for fans of Britain's unique brand of electric folk music since their "final" outdoor concert there in 1979.

By tradition, the current five-strong line-up is supplemented at Cropredy by guest appearances from the band's numerous former members, who continue to exert a strong influence on the folk scene. But anniversary years are special.

"In a year with a 5 or a 0 on the end we tend to try to reflect on previous incarnations of the band without slavishly trying to become younger versions of ourselves," said Simon Nicol, a founding member of Fairport and festival co-organizer.

On stage for Saturday night's 3-1/2-hour closing set were some of the most feted musicians in folk-rock, including demon fiddler Dave Swarbrick and virtuoso guitarist Richard Thompson.

But playing alongside them was the new generation - including children of some of the Fairport legends, who are forging careers of their own - showing the folk music tradition of constant reinterpretation is alive and well.

Kami Thompson joined her father on stage, singing "Come all Ye," the opening track of Fairport's landmark 1969 "Liege and Lief" album, while Blair Dunlop, son of another of the band's founders, Ashley Hutchings, appeared alongside his dad. Singer Kristina Donohue and her father, guitarist Jerry Donohue, were both among the string of guests.

"One of the best things about the festival is when we bring our sons and daughters on," Hutchings told the crowd as he brought on Blair for a guest spot with Hutchings senior's band, Morris On, who play thumping electric versions of the songs that accompany the ancient reels of Morris dancing.   Continued...