Time no barrier as Cropredy Fest rocks on and on

Mon Aug 17, 2009 11:04am EDT
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By Jeremy Gaunt

CROPREDY, England (Reuters) - Simon Nicol, the last original member of folk rock band Fairport Convention, admits he's not into numbers, which may be why no one is quite sure what milestone just passed in this rural English village.

Billed as Britain's friendliest music festival, Fairport's Cropredy Convention ended its annual show on Saturday night in typical style, with a rollicking set by Fairport and friends, this year including the former Cat Stevens, now known as Yusuf.

But was it the 29th such event or the 30th, or even a bit more than that?

The problem -- if it is one -- is that Fairport have been performing at Cropredy (pronounced crop-ur-dee) in one form or another for so long that it is all suitably blurred into the folk rock mists of time.

Formed in the 1960s, the band started playing at the southern English village fete in the 1970s because some members lived there. In 1977, they moved to farmland for the concerts. Then in 1979 they had a farewell concert, but liked it so much they had a reunion in 1980 and have done it every year since.

So somewhere in there began the tradition.

"It has just grown despite ourselves," Nicol told Reuters backstage, accompanied by his splendidly patient dog Leonard. "I'm not big on numbers, myself."

What is clear is that the village fete jam has now turned into a cult event bringing 20,000 people from across Britain and beyond to hear everything from traditional folk to hard rock.   Continued...

<p>Concertgoers chat at Fairport's Cropredy Convention near Banbury in southern England, August 13, 2009. REUTERS/Jeremy Gaunt</p>