Just like the proverbial buses, that all come along at the same time so, folk festivals also seem to have this annoying habit as we have witnessed three of the biggest, at Cambridge, Sidmouth and Festival Inter Celtique De L'Orient (Brittany) packing in the punters over the last week or so.

If your holiday travels have taken you to either Sidmouth or Brittany, you may even catch the last rites this weekend.

Of course, those faithful followers of folk-rock legends, Fairport Convention would contest that their own Fairport's Cropredy Convention (August 8-10) is still the best and they would certainly be in with a shout. Over the years this small Oxfordshire village has played host to 20,000 visitors every August over three/four days before going back to its normal sleepy existence beside the slowly flowing River Cherwell and the even slower flowing Oxford Canal. The loudest sound usually is the Cropredy Church bell during campanology practices or while summoning the faithful to prayer. However, the decibel level does rather increase during the festival, although the villagers seem to take it in their stride with amazingly good humour, and, as some of Fairport's festival proceeds provided the latest church bell, it is not as "smash and grab" as you might expect. As usual there are big 'names' and more less well-known ones in the eclectic line-up.

This Friday (August 9) Frank Turner & the Sleepy Sounds and the legendary Richard Thompson (backed by Dave Mattacks, Simon Nicol and Dave Pegg) will, no doubt, revisit some early Fairport favourites. The support acts are also no slouches, with Seth Lakeman, Caravan, Wilson & Wakeman and others on the bill.

Saturday (August 10) is always Fairport's Day when the band and friends finish the Festival in style with a two-hour plus final spot, usually rising to a crescendo at the finish. Yes, these old guys can still rock and without the use of the old 'porch' chairs too!!! Before the finale that brilliant guitar player, Martin Simpson, will do a spot. His version of the 1970's hit, Blues Run the Game is one of my favourites. The Martin Barre Band will play 50 Years of Jethro Tull and Daphne's Flight, Tide Lines and Richard Digance also add their none too shabby talents to the day and evening. Fairport always like to spring a last-minute surprise and this year is no exception. In July they announced that Joining them on stage for the finale will be a certain Mr Joe Brow, who also happens to be a Cropredy resident! Joe, of course, is a virtuoso on guitar, mandolin, ukulele and banjo. His instrumental talents often overshadowed by his 'cheeky cockney' pop days with 'the Bruvvers' will be given full reign at Cropredy.

The man who had three top 10 hits in the early 1960s and who knew and played with stars like Gene Vincent, Eddie Cochran and Johnny Cash in his time is a real coup for the festival. Legends don't come along very often and to have so many on the Cropredy stage at the same time must be a record.

Finally, comparing the whole weekend, as he has several times before, is my old mate, the brilliant Irish singer songwriter, Anthony John Clarke.

As for Cropredy it too will weave its own magic and sense of history into the proceedings. When you walk its leafy lanes and view its thatched cottages, clustering around the weathered church with its square tower pointing to heaven it is hard to realise that they all stood mute witnesses to one of the bloody battles of the Civil War, the Battle of Cropredy Bridge. Roundhead fought Cavalier, some 16,000 souls in all and, in some cases, brother killed brother - all in God's name of course. All is quiet now though Ralph McTell's brilliant song, Red and Gold, recorded by Fairport on their CD of the same name, recalls vividly the happenings of that faraway day. The festival has been a sell out for many years, so phone 0900 637 1644 before travelling or just Google the band website.

On the live and local scene, this coming week, we have one of our own local 'celebrities' featuring at The Raven Folk Club, The Bear & Billet, Watergate Street, Chester on Sunday (August 11). The guest is singer songwriter, Bill Malkin with his keyboard player, John Sylvester and Chester bass player, Chris Lee, who also happens to be a long-time member of The Raven resident band, Full House. Bill has several albums of original songs to his credit and a loose collection of musicians known as, The Bandwagon, often accompany him on gigs. He has also hosted a regular folk/acoustic night at The Blue Bell, Halkyn for many years. Admission for this one is payable on the door and the music starts at 8.30pm.

As mentioned in last week's column, the Summer of Music & Song continues at the picturesque and historic castle of Beaumaris on Anglesey (Mona). It is one of the finest examples of a concentric castle in Wales, only surpassed by Caerphilly in South Wales, still considered, by many historians. to be the greatest in Europe.

Cadw, the Welsh equivalent of The National Trust in England, are staging several events at Beaumaris Castle in July and August under the name, Beaumaris Castle's Summer of Music and Song. This weekend (August 10-11) the castle plays host to Deuair, a duo who will be resident throughout the summer at this handsome but, ultimately, unfinished fortress on the shores of the Menai Straits in Anglesey, or Mona in Welsh. Deuair are Ceri and Elsa and though they originated in Canada, they learnt the Welsh Language when they moved to Wales and have immersed themselves in the history, culture and music of these ancient lands.

The castle is open from 10am-5pm every day and, to hear the walls of the recently refurbished Chapel Tower ringing to the music of the Bards and the minstrels is a truly magical experience that can be enjoyed by all the family.

Finally, great news that our very own supergroup, Trials of Cato, have been nominated for The Horizon Award at this year's BBC 2 Folk Awards in Manchester in October. Their debut album, Hide and Hair, is also one of four nominations for Best Album of the year. We can all do our bit by going into the BBC 2 Folk Awards website and voting Hide and Hair to the top. This incredibly hard working trio are doing us all proud so please support them and vote today at



Whatever you do and wherever you go, don't forget to vote and, enjoy your music.

By D.C.M.