Blair shines at festival

Blair Dunlop
Blair Dunlop

19-year-old Blair Dunlop took the stage at Fairport’s Cropredy Festival, wearing a cardigan, bright red tracksuit bottoms and white wellies.

The Chesterfield teenager impressed the crowd with a confident set showcasing his superb guitar playing and delightful vocal delivery. Standout songs included Young Billy in the Low Ground, Bags Outside the Door and Fallout. He even played Richard Thompson’s famously complex 1952 Vincent Black Lightning which emphasised what an incredible guitar player he is.

This year’s Festival, the 44th was blessed with fine weather throughout the weekend. Highlights included an opening acoustic set from Fairport Convention. A superb set of traditional tunes from Home Service led by local Derbyshire Folk hero John Tams.

ayseed Dixie hailing from the American Appalachian Mountains playing their unique mixture of bluegrass and rock which really got the crowd revved up with versions of AC/DC’s She Shook Me All Night Long, Motorhead’s The Ace of Spades and even Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody played in a Blue grass stylee. They finished their set with a stormin’ version of Duelling Banjos from the film Deliverance.

UB40 rounded off Thursday Night with a mellow sounding set of their laid back reggae tunes including Cherry O Baby, Rat in the Kitchen and Red, Red Wine.

Friday’s highlights included superb sets from the Travelling Band, Steve Tilston and the Durbervilles,The Urban Folk Quartet and The Coral who’s songs included, Butterfly House, Love Parade and a cracking version of The Beatles’ Ticket to Ride.

Headlining Friday night was the loveable Seasick Steve who produced an outstanding set of blues and rock numbers played on a selection of battered guitars, broomsticks and hubcaps? He was joined on stage by the legend that is John Paul Jones formerly of Led Zeppelin who demonstrated his prowess on mandolin and bass guitar with unassuming grace.

Saturday’s opening spot was once again taken by Richard Digance who every year manages to attract an eager crowd who love him to bits and hang on his every word. His Morris Dance version of Superman with 15,000 people joining in and waving white handkerchiefs has to be seen to be believed.

Other outstanding performances on Saturday came from the late Ian Dury’s backing band The Blockheads who got the party started with hits including Sex, Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll, Clever Trevor, Reasons To Be Cheerful and Hit Me With Your Rhythmn Stick. The highlight of the weekend was when Irish rockers Horslips played an absolutely rousing set of songs from their albums including, The Book of Invasions, The Tain and Aliens. Eamon Carr on drums goes down as the happiest drummer I’ve ever seen who played throughout with a huge grin on his face. It was a truly joyous performance which was rounded off with an astounding version of Johnny Kid and The Pirates’ Shakin All Over. The crowd loved them and begged for more but sadly we weren’t allowed an encore.

The last three hours of Saturday night belonged to Simon, Peggy, Ric, Gerry and Chris, Fairport Convention who kicked off with Walk Awhile.

Ralph McTell joined them for a couple of songs which included Hard Times Come Again No More. Then they played several tracks from their latest album Festival Bell. Later they treated us to the entire version of their concept album Babbacombe Lee. The atmospheric Hiring Fair, lively tunes Albert and Ted, Wouldn’t Say No and Rocky Road were followed by Ric Sander’s tune Danny Jacks Reward dedicated to Jack Daniels!

Perennial favourites Sandy Denny’s Who Knows Where The Time Goes was followed by Matty Groves brought us once again to the grand finale of Meet On the Ledge and the end of another great festival in the field’s of Oxfordshire.

John Dennis