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Ten Questions with...

DAVE PEGG (Fairport Convention)

Dave Pegg has been a pivotal member of Fairport Convention and a driving force behind the band's annual Cropredy Festival (one of the best festivals I have ever attended - well worth a visit). Coupled with this he was a member of Jethro Tull from 1979 until the early 90's. With great pleasure here are Dave Pegg's answers...
1. What are you currently up to?

Well, over the last 6 weeks we did one month's USA tour and we did 7,00 miles driving up and down the I95 on the east coast. We came home, had a day off and went to Norway where we did a festival. Came home had two days off and went to Italy for 7 nights doing festivals. Now we are back and I am spending most of the time sitting in my office helping to organise the up coming Cropredy Festival.

2. What has been the highlight(s) and lowpoints(s) of your career to date?

Highlight is the fact that we are still out there treading the boards, performing and making CD's after, in my cases since I was seventeen and I am now 55. I'm still bashing it out and enjoying it.

The lowpoints of my career would be death of my former colleagues from Fairport Convention, Sandy Denny and Trevor Lucas. Very sad for all of us and something you never really get over.

3. How did you get into the music business and who has been your main influences.

After I left school I worked at the Royal Exchange Insurance in Birmingham and after a year realised that I was much happier going out playing with bands, which I was doing most nights, than sitting in an office. So I became a professional musician and the first band I joined was the Roy Everett's Blues Hounds in Birmingham. I was guitar player but later changed to bass guitar when I joined a group called the Uglies featuring Steve Gibbons on lead vocals.

My main influences when I was a youngster in Birmingham. One of my first would have been Bert Weedon and then the Hank Marvin. I have had the pleasure of meeting both of them and they are charming men. Also Steve Winwood and I am still a great fan. I was, as were all of Fairport Convention, a great fan of The Band. Favourite bass players. I reckon Maccer is up there and I love Jacko. I love listening to people like James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan. .

4. How did the idea first come up to hold Cropredy? What artists have you enjoyed having on the bill most and who else would you still like to get onto the bill in the future?

The idea to hold the first Cropredy came when Dave Swarbrick and I used to live in the village and used to rehearse in the village hall. We were asked to do a benefit concert to raise money for the village hall but we thought the village hall was much to small so we did a barn dance. It was a great success. We then played at the village fete for 3 consecutive years. We swelled the village fete from 600 to 1800 3 years later. So the festival grew up very endemically. My wife Christine and I took it over some 22 years ago and it has gone from strength to strength ever since.

We have had some fantastic people on the bill and its hard to choose who we have enjoyed most. We have surprise guests and we get to play music that no one would associate with Fairport. Luckily we are pretty adaptable. One of the greatest joys for me at Cropredy have been backing people like Robert Plant and doing Led Zeppelin material, Garrry Brooker and doing Procol Harum material, Roy Wood and doing Wizard and Roy Wood stuff and Richard Thompson. We have had some really great musicians. There are loads of people I would still like to get on the bill in future. Steve Winwood and James Taylor we would love to have.

5. How has the latest Fairport Convention album, XXXV been received? How do the band keep coming up with song ideas and managing to release such high quality albums on such a regular basis?

'XXXV' album has been received really well although its 18 months old now. We still enjoy coming up with new songs and now we have Chris Leslie in the band who is developing as a very strong song writer. We release albums about every 18 months/2 years and we hope to have one out for Cropredy 2004. We are very lucky because I have my own studio here in Oxfordshire, Woodworm Studio and a fantastic engineer called Mark Tucker and he also works as an independent and also works for my colleague Martin Barre of Jethro Tull in his studio.

Recording is something we still enjoy although we much prefer going out treading the boards. Song ideas are currently down to Chris Leslie although there are several songs we would love to attempt. We get sent many songs through the post from people who think they may have suitable songs. So we don't have a problem finding material.

6. Which songs do you like performing live most and why? Which songwriters do you most admire and why?

My personal songwriters are Richard Thompson, James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, love some of Ian Anderson's work as I used to play with Jethro Tull.

Everybody in the band has their own favourites. I enjoy playing 'Meet on the Ledge' because its the last one of the night and if we can get it in before the bar closes then I can get a drink.

7. How did you manage to keep yourself a member of two major bands …quot; Fairport and Tull for so long?

I played with Fairport Convention from 1969 and I'm the only person who never left the band. The band did split up in 1979 and we had 5 years off for good behaviour and at that point I joined Jethro Tull and stayed with them for 16 years. When Fairport re convened I did get to play with the two bands which was very difficult as when one stopped the other would start up so I was always on the road or in the studio.

At one point Ian Anderson asked Fairport to support Tull on an American tour so I was playing with both bands during the same concert. Very hard work and something time had to crack and I didn't want it to be me so I decided to spend more time at home and so I left Jethro Tull. I was really sorry as I loved Jethro Tull and the guys were very good to me.

8. What were the highlights of your time with Jethro Tull?

Highlights of my time with Jethro Tull. The first gig in Toronto was a highlight for me as I had never played in that state of fear to that many people before in my life. The first tour I did we played some huge places and had some great times.

9. What do you do in your spare time outside of music?

If I'm not working in the office I like to go sailing. We have a boat in Brighton which my son Matt is the skipper of as he is much better than me. He is also a much better bass player, playing with Procol Harum and Frances Dunnery. I like water skiing and walking our dog Bruno. I like to play tennis when I can.

10. Message for your fans...

Thanks for supporting us all these years and come to our Cropredy Festival this year on 7th, 8th and 9th August. See the Fairport website for details.

Interview © 2003 Jason Ritchie/
Format and edit: The Music Index.

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