"SO Ric, Fairport’s Cropredy Convention is up for a Prog Rock gong in the best live event category for 2014."

“Oh, is it,” exclaims the band’s violin, mandolin and ukulele player in surprise. “That’s brilliant. I really didn’t know, thanks for telling me… it was a great festival last year though.”

Warming to the theme Ric Sanders, whose CV includes working with Robert Plant, Soft Machine, Jethro Tull and Rick Wakeman, goes on: “I’m an old progger myself – a massive King Crimson fan.

“We’ve got Fish this year, too,” he adds, continuing the prog theme. That’s right, along with - and how’s this for outrageous diversity - silver haired, golden throated country star Emmylou Harris, the Everly Brother’s raucous Scottish cousins The Proclaimers, deep’n’funky Level 42 and high energy dub-reggae-dance merchants Dreadzone.

It unquestionably hasn’t, for many years, been a folk festival despite an ongoing perception along with a leaning towards traditional styled music from the festival’s supporting cast.

“It’s a music festival,” proclaims Ric. “We don’t think of ourselves as a folk festival, not unless you count Alice Cooper as a folk singer…although you could say all music is folk music.”

Recalling Alice scowling, stalking and swaggering malevolently around the Cropredy stage a couple of years ago, Ric says: “That was a most brilliant performance. He really ‘got’ Cropredy – he understood the festival.”

It is unlikely that Emmylou Harris, for many of us still The First Lady of Contemporary Country, will appear on-stage with a boa wrapped around her neck, a la Alice.

She will top Thursday night’s bill with Rodney Crowell, a doyen of the country/bluegrass scene and together they will journey through an expansive back catalogue of Americana.

Summing-up the feelings of many chaps of a certain age, Ric says: “I’ve been in love with Emmylou Harris for about 30 years. Emmylou will be very special at Cropredy.”

He’s also keen to experience British jazz funksters Level 42, led by singular bassist Mark King. “He’s one of the greatest bass players, such a rhythmic player,” says Ric.

The three day festival, from Thursday to Saturday, August 13-15 near Banbury - about 90 minutes from Swindon - was packed to its brim of around 20,000 last year, having sold out several weeks in advance. It’s tiny compared to say Glastonbury…which is all part of its charm.

The ethos of Cropredy is nicely summed-up by a bar policy which stipulates that any performer who fancies a bevy before or after their appearance has to get in line with the punters at the real ale bar which, it has to be said, is manned with military precision.

“We don’t have backstage hospitality,” says Ric. “You’ll find performers like our friend Robert Plant at the end of the bar. People will say ‘high man, how you doing,” but they don’t hassle anyone.

“No-one gets mobbed at the bar at Cropredy….not that anyone mobs Fairport Convention.”

The vibe at Cropredy, he feels, is similar to that of the Levellers’ annual Devon bash Beautiful Days – although Fairport’s show has been in action since a gig in a back garden for villagers in 1976.

“We nicked an idea from The Levellers,” Ric reveals. “They began their festival with a short acoustic set, and now we do four acoustic numbers on the Thursday afternoon to set things off. Good idea.”

Ric has now been a member of Fairport Convention – the rock group who once controversially turned folk music on its head by performing traditional numbers with electric instrumentation – for exactly 30 years.

Which means the “rock jazz violinist with an enthusiasm for folk” has played 30 consecutive Cropredies.

“That’s amazing,” he says, as if only half believing it, before summing up the festival: “Cropredy really is like a meeting of friends - a bunch of people getting together every year with their pals.”

And with some cracking music, too!