It’s the final day of one of the greatest musical festivals in the world: Fairport’s Cropredy Convention. Dr. A and I attended the event’s 40th anniversary in 2007. We actually took a tour, which gave us insider access including a chance to hang out with the super-nice members of Fairport Convention: Dave Pegg, Simon Nicol, Ric Sanders, Chris Leslie, and Gerry Conway. Nancy Covey’s Festival Tours organizes tours for people who don’t like tours. It was the trip of a lifetime and we formed many friendships that still endure. End of travelogue.
This week’s theme song was written by Richard Thompson in 1968 for Fairport’s What We Did On Our Holidays album. Meet On The Ledge is a song about death that is somehow life-affirming. It’s often played at funerals and is typically the last song played at every Fairport Convention show. At Cropredy, a cast of thousands joins the band onstage for an epic sing-along.
We have three versions for your listening pleasure: the Fairport original with Sandy Denny on lead vocals; a solo acoustic version by Richard Thompson, and Fairport and friends closing Cropredy in 2017 with Simon Nicol and Iain Matthews on lead vocals
Now that we’ve met on the ledge and seen all of our friends, let’s jump to the break.
One more Fairport Convention tune before we raise the curtain on our second act. The band took possession of the traditional murder ballad, Matty Groves, more than 50 years ago. They’re not about to let it go:
Matty Groves was one of many British folk songs to migrate across the pond. In America, it’s called Shady Grove: the melody is the same but the lyrics are less sinister. Here’s Tom Petty and Mudcrutch’s take on it:
I’m keeping it local and on the cronyistic side in our second act with two pieces by and about people I know. The poor bastards.
Thalassic Isn’t A Dirty Word, It Just Sounds Like One: Troy Gilbert was one of the original NOLA bloggers, which is how I came to know him. He’s something of a Renaissance Man: writer, chef, sailor, smart ass. He’s written a fascinating piece for the Bayou Brief that fuses history and horseradish: A Thalassic Classic About Foodways, Immigration, and the Ingredients That Converged in Louisiana.
I have a fairly extensive vocabulary but I had to look up the word thalassic. It’s defined by Merriam-Webster as”of, relating to, or situated or developed about inland seas.”
Initially, I thought thalassic had something to do with the late Ethiopian Emperor and Rastafarian demigod, Halie Thalassic…
Let’s beat a hasty retreat from that groaner and give Bob Marley and the Wailers the last word of the segment:
We stay in the Gret Stet of Louisiana with our next segment.
Geauxjira: Longtime readers of First Draft and my eponymous original blog might recall the epic feud between Michael Homan and myself. It was always in jest even though I used to have him listed in my iPhone contacts as Malaka. As Bob Marley would surely say at this point, “who the cap fit, let them wear it.”
Like Troy Gilbert, Homan is something of a minor league Renaissance Man: theologian, writer, teacher, musician, and filmmaker. Big Easy Magazine’s Bill Arcenaux has resurrected one of Homan’s short films, Geauxjira, and expanded his hat size by interviewing him about it.
Geauxjira was made in the wake of the BP Oil Spill and brings the Godzilla myth to the Gulf South. That’s right: it’s an oily thalassic classic. Did I just call something associated with Homan a classic? I will pay dearly for that slip. Oh well, it’s so easy to slip, it’s so easy to fall..
Homan’s film is available on YouTube so I’m posting the whole damn thing. It features another OG NOLA blogger, Editor B, as the monster. That’s right, Bart Everson is Homan’s tall, lanky Nordic Karloff. I thought Bart had more dignity than that…
I make a weird cameo appearance at the 1:24 mark on the front page of the Picayune before it was zombified, then reanimated. Homan used to be fixated on the size of my head. He’s a funny little man. Repeat after me: “who the cap fit, let them wear it.”
Since I made a Lowell George reference, I might as well slip it in as the segment closer:
We begin our third act with our newest regular feature.
The Weekly DC: I haven’t written about the great Mel Brooks in this space for quite some time. What the hell is wrong with me? That was a rhetorical question: please do not answer.
In this Dick Cavett Show segment, the inimitable Mel does some zany impressions:
I’m uncowed by Mel’s Sinatra impression but I shan’t linger.
It’s time for our favorite stolen feature but first a musical interlude:
Separated At Birth: One of my guiltiest trash teevee pleasures was Gene Simmons Family Jewels. I feel unclean just typing that. This week Simmons’ onstage character, the Demon, is paired with a calf.
Holy Cow, I’m glad I didn’t make any moo jokes. Here’s a Kiss-free musical joke:
Are you ready for more Melvian (Brooksian) content? You have no choice.
Saturday GIF Horse: Who among us can forget Gene Wilder and Peter Boyle performing Irving Berlin’s Puttin’ On The Ritz in Young Frankenstein? If you’ve forgotten, I don’t want to know you.
YouTubers often have difficulty getting titles right. This dude seems to have confused the Berlin tune with the cracker:
Speaking of puns, here’s a bonus GIF Horse featuring the Insult Comedian’s boss:
Putin on the Ritz, get it?
I don’t know about you but, I’d rather have cheese or peanut butter than a dictator on my Ritz cracker.
It’s time for some lagniappe throwback catblogging:
I still really miss Della Street. What can I tell ya? I miss my daily dirty look.
Weekly Vintage Music Video: This video predated MTV but it was the first to be played on the fledgling cable channel.
Since Buggles Trevor Horn and Geoff Downes replaced the irreplaceable Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman in Yes, here’s a Drama era vintage video:
Let’s close things out with some more music.
Saturday Classic: Fotheringay was a short-lived folk rock band with serious connections to Fairport Convention including past, future, and present Fairporters Sandy Denny, Jerry Donahue, Trevor Lucas, and Gerry Conway. Fotheringay 2 was a lost album for many years. I’ll let the Wikipedia entry explain:
Fotheringay 2 is the second album by the group formed by Sandy Denny after she left Fairport Convention in 1969. The band was short-lived, and broke up in 1971 after only a small number of tracks for this album had been completed, some of which then subsequently appeared on other compilations. The remainder were assembled (posthumously in the cases of Denny and Trevor Lucas), with additional studio recording as needed, from masters in various states of completeness by Jerry Donahue and finally released in 2008.
Here’s the resurrected album:
That’s it for this week. I mentioned that we hung out with the Fairport fellas in 2007. This picture of me and bassist Dave Pegg was taken by Dr. A. Prog rock fans will be familiar with Peggy from his 16 year stint with Jethro Tull.