just a roll, just a roll…

I am doing this isolation thing wrong.


I have not binged the tiger show, I have not learned a new language, I didn’t get around to the mandolin lessons and we have not begun to scream at each other.

We did start working on getting the veggie garden ready, we have super clay soil so IMG_3334
much of this has involved trying to rototill the damn hard ground, I have also been stealing the good dirt from other areas of the property. So why am I not building the garden there? Because it is a long way from the water thats why. This is why the previous owner had a wacky irrigation system that drew water from the creek, it is compromised though and a lot of work to repair, it was for his marijuana grow we found the remnants of in the woods. I am however as I was reminded when I  complained about our lack of industry to Michelle still working pretty much full time from home.

This is the creek:


I have started watching less TV, the great baboon in charge makes me too angry so I stopped except for very small doses in the morning.

IMG_3341 2.JPGI have for some reason been working my way alphabetically through the record collection, this started out as one album from each letter, I got stuck in H for awhile though and J is proving to be as difficult, made it to Japan. Then I got distracted and landed on the Greasy Truckers Live at Dingwalls Dance Hall. The lesser of the two Greasy Truckers albums but still anarchic enough and weird enough to elevate any social distancing, mainly by keeping those wanting to be social away.

So you get one enticingly head scratching musical array from Henry Cow, Camel the Global Truckers and Gong all wrapped up in a jolly gatefold sleeve. It complements the other more enticing Greasy Truckers with Man, Hawkwind and the Schwartzes, there is a whole thing to be written about the legendary nature of these albums in IMG_3350 2my sixth form common room, yes I went to the type of school that had a common room. I did not however come here for that or even to complain about the Covid situation, the truth is we are doing well, the sourdough starter is finally producing it’s first loaf this weekend. It went through some shocking smells, cheese, feet and locker room jock strap aromas until the last two days its been delightfully yeasty and frothy. We will see how the bread turns out, it is cooling as I write on the kitchen counter.

So now to the real reason for this long preamble. The other day I got in my email the notice that Cropredy was cancelled this year. This is not entirely shocking but the first time since 1979 that there will be no gathering centered around Fairport Convention, and even though I was probably not going to go I am still saddened, especially as the Full House lineup minus Swarb obviously, were going to play the Full House album live. This is firmly entrenched as my favorite Fairport Convention album. I am also a fan of the other two albums the band made in 1980, namely Swarbrick’s albums Smiddyburn and Flittin’.

There is something incredible about the lineup of Swarbrick, Thompson, Nicol, PeggIMG_3354 2.JPG and Mattacks. Following Liege and Lief that defined a genre, Sandy Denny and Ashley Hutchings left and the band were in a quandary, due to lack of ideas they recruited a new bass player in Dave Pegg and decided to reinvent themselves as a boy band, of course nobody wanted to sing due to fragile egos and lack of confidence. They still made a great album in Full House, with it’s manic instrumentals, plaintive songs and rock god workouts in Sloth and Poor Will and the Jolly Hangman, then they removed the best song from the album and went on tour, recording a live album and then Thompson left the band but not the house and retreated to navel gazing and songwriting.

Full House is not as refined as Liege and Lief, it still ploughs the same furrow of folk-rock, it does however lean into the rock and elevates the fiddle to a status not many bands have managed before or since, even Fairport Convention. This was a band having fun and on the road, legendary bar tabs, jam sessions with Zeppelin and ready to conquer the world, it just never happened.

Fast forward ten years and in 1980 Swarbrick released two albums Smiddyburn and Flittin’ that feature the Full House lineup on many of the tracks. I guess he released them as two albums as there was not much chance of a double album selling real well for him at the time, he had already done the rock opera with Fairport so maybe this could have been his attempt at the overindulgent double album. Fairport Convention for all intents and purposes didn’t exist as a band and Swarb was struggling with his hearing after all the heavy days on the road. Smiddyburn and Flittin’ are exactly what you would hope from the fiddlemeister, furious fiddle tunes along side contemplative melodic passages, all underpinned by the greatest folk-rock rhythm section and probably the greatest English rhythm  guitarist and a passable lead player in Richard Thompson.

IMG_3353 2.JPG

This summer Chris Leslie will not get to stand in for Swarbrick with the Full House lineup. The Oxfordshire countryside will not resound to Sloth and Sir Patrick Spens and nobody will hear if they managed to slip Poor Will and the Jolly Hangman back into it’s rightful place on the album.

All we can hope is that there has been enough hand washing going on and we all make it to next year, hell maybe if I can afford the flight I can go again, seems the righteous way to celebrate the re-emergenc.



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