IN a field in Oxfordshire folk rock giants Fairport Convention invited a few pals along to perform, and gradually the Cropredy Music Festival grew into the legendary status it holds today.

The laid back festival began as an impromtu gig at the village fete when Dave Pegg and Dave Swarbrick were staying there. They were asked to play at the end of the local fete held in a back garden. “We could not have created the festival without the goodwill of the villagers and I am so happy it came into being,’’said Simon Nicol, one of the founder members of Fairport and organiser of this year’s Cropredy, which welcomes Brian Wilson from the Beach Boys, The Levellers and Al Stewart as headliners. Pet Sounds, Brian’s masterpiece album, will be performed live by the music legend tonight. “Cropredy will take on a California, West Coast accent when Brian performs Pet Sounds,’’ said Simon. “He was one of those people that was always on my wish list. We develop a wish list every year but some get away but finally all the planets aligned for Brian.’’

Cropredy always opens with the boys from Fairport and this year the line-up continues with Smith & Brewer, an Americana guitar duo, Police Dog Hogan playing country-tinged rock and then Oysterband making their first appearance with Brian Wilson closing.

Tomorrow, Cropredy has a mixed bag of music including Midnight Skyracer playing girl-power Bluegrass, The Travelling Band with their blend of Mancunian Americana, Cregan & Co featuring Jim Cregan, best known for his associations with Family, Cockney Rebel and Rod Stewart, Le Vent du Nord performing traditional Québécois, former frontman of Marillion, Fish, making his second appearance at Cropredy and Mercury-nominee Kate Rusby. Headlining will be The Levellers who celebrate their thirtieth anniversary.

Saturday sees BAFTA nominee Richard Digance launch the festival field followed by Eric Sedge and The Bar-Steward Sons of Val Doonican, singer-songwriter Will Varley, Sam Kelly & The Lost Boys, Afro Celt Sound System who fuse traditional Irish and West African music, and a solo set from Scottish singer-songwriter Al Stewart, before Fairport Convention and guests take the stage for their traditional two-hour-plus headline show.

“We have invited Al Stewart back regularly over the last 20 years because, like us, he is not preferred on radio but has a deep outreach into the hearts of people,’’ said Simon.

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