The past weekend was not only notable as the 40th anniversary of Woodstock. It was also the weekend that one of my favorite bands, Fairport Convention, held its annual Fairport’s Cropredy Convention festival, in Britain. The long-running event regularly draws around 20,000 people. Besides the band itself – which has had countless members over the years — it attracts an eclectic lineup of performers, including former members of Fairport, especially Richard Thompson. For more background, see this Reuters blog posting. I’ve never been to the festival, but I’d love to attend one day. Fairport traditionally does a three hour closing set on the final evening, and this year their special guest during the set was Yusuf [Islam], formerly Cat Stevens. He is an old friend, and former Island Records label-mate of the band’s. See the account of the final set, including his quotes, in the local paper, the Oxford Mail.  Richard Thompson also did a solo set, and other performers included Steve Winwood, punk pioneers The Buzzcocks and a number of acts that are probably well-known to British audiences but not to most American fans. It sounds like a good-natured, sweet-spirited event. I have seen Fairport a number of times over the years, though not recently. I’ve written about them in my music days, though never interviewed them. Ditto for Thompson, whom I have seen perform in various incarnations (with Fairport, solo, with his own band, as part of Richard and Linda Thompson and even as a trio, with Andy Roberts, backing ex-Fairport singer Ian Matthews, in 1971). I interviewed Matthews a couple of times, in the ’70s. Thompson’s second four-CD career retrospective box set, Walking on a Wire, is released this week.  Saul Austerlitz of the Boston Globe has an interesting August 16 Q&A with Thompson about it, A troubadour of timeless songs. And to learn more about Fairport’s festival, consult virtualfestivals.com.

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