Cropredy Convention: Dave Pegg’s Picks

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Fairport Convention’s lovingly curated event starts today. Here Fairport bassist and co-booker Dave Pegg picks his acts of the weekend.

“The way I book bands, a lot of it’s word-of-mouth. Bands tell us about other bands and our audience know us well enough to suggest things to us as well.

It’s difficult to get an idea if you’ve not seen a band but with Blackbeard’s Tea Party, people have always said to us when we’re out doing the rounds that we should check ‘em out. I found them online and they look great, they’ve got some singalongs like Chicken On A Raft that’ll work really well.

A band that I’m excited about is Churchfitters. They live in St Malo in Brittany, and my partner and myself spend a lot of time in Brittany. I’ve seen them play a lot of festivals. And they played Cropredy about five years ago. Being a bass player myself I’m a big admirer of their bassist, Boris Lebret. Boris builds his own instruments out of used car parts. He’s got a five-string electric double bass built out of kitchen utensils, the body is a huge cooking pot. His bass bouzouki is built from a Mercedes hub cap. I’ve had a go on some of his contraptions — I’m the owner of the only other Bing-Bong machine in the world, which Boris made, and it’s a pick-up made of four jigsaw blades set at different lengths. You flip the saw blades and you get this incredible bass sound. Churchfitters also do their own mixes onstage. They all wear in-ear headphones and Boris mixes the onstage monitor levels and the outfront sound. He does it all while he’s playing. And they say that men can’t multi-task!

We’re really looking forward to Joe Broughton’s Conservertoire Folk Ensemble. Joe created the Urban Jazz Quartet and he’s a very talented musician. The Conservertoire are based in Birmingham and it’s a bunch of young people – there’s 45 of them - playing a really bizarre selection of instruments on original and traditional songs. They’ve got a setlist that’ll tear the place apart.

On Friday morning there are two excellent girl singers, Edwina Hayes and Debra Rose, both doing half-hour spots. Edwina came out on Fairport’s winter tour, sang a few of her own songs and did fantastically well. Debra’s making her Cropredy debut. She’s from the Welsh borders and goes down a very old world folk route. I think the two of them will do some songs together, and Debra has also invited Anna Ryder to join her – Anna’s another person who has supported Fairport, and we’ve written a couple of songs for her.

Last year we had such a great success with Alice Cooper – a huge show, incredible music and probably a lot of people wondered why he was on the bill. But come the night when everyone was on their feet, it was absolutely clear. Then I thought ‘how are we going to follow that?’. Anyway, I was in Brittany and The Australian Pink Floyd Show were playing. It was great; the minute the show started I thought ‘This would be perfect for Cropredy.’ We’re all Pink Floyd fans but because Floyd don’t exist, so they’re not like a covers band to me.

A couple of weeks later I went to a festival in Campere and Steve Hackett was on, and I was blown away by him. I missed out on a lot of early Genesis stuff so this was an education to me. The songs were fabulous and the band was absolutely brill, especially the singer Nad Sylvan. I thought the bass player looked familiar so I went to say hello, and it was Lee Pomeroy, who played with Rick Wakeman at Cropredy a few years ago. I was their saviour that night cos they’d run out of Euros and I was able to get them into the festival bar and have drinks on me, ha ha.

As the bill was coming together and we added Al Stewart, who people have been asking for him for a long time, I was thinking it’s a bit proggy and Marillion had wanted to play a couple of years running so we thought we’d ask them. Cropredy’s music policy is very eclectic and we put on what we think our audience would like. With Marillion, I thought ‘This has slotted in well’. It’s gonna be great.”

Prog Magazine will be giving away 1000 copies of the latest issue featuring the top 100 prog albums in a free Prog tote bag at their gazebo by the main stage every day til 5pm. Keep up with all the Cropredy action at www.twitter.com/progmagazineuk.