Bliss is about the best way to sum up Simon Nicol’s feeling as Fairport Convention celebrates his 40th anniversary this year.
“It’s strangely gratifying that we’ve managed to create a career out of a job which started as a hobby,” says Nicol, 56, who co-founded the British folk-rock group in 1967 and is the sole original member left in its lineup. “I don’t think any of us in the early days thought it would become something of this sort of longevity.
“Certainly to have achieved it without any notable commercial success is quite unusual. We built a reputation by just sheer hard works, getting out and trading the boards and quietly doing what we do.”
Fairport Convention did have a minor hit in 1969’s “Meet on the Ledge,” while that year’s “Liege & Lief ” album is considered a folkrock landmark. The group’s frequently shifting lineup has also included the likes of
Richard Thompson, Iain Matthews, Jethro Tull bassist Dave Pegg and the late Sandy Denny.
Nicol and company still hold their annual Cropredy Festival in England, and Fairport released a new album this year — “Sense of Occasion,” whose title acknowledges the 40th anniversary observance.
“We’ve got strong roots in our own past,” Nicol notes, “but we’re never going to become our own tribute band or be a slavish representation of music that’s come and gone. But we’d be churlish in the extreme if we didn’t recognize the value of some of those pieces of repertoire, those songs people associate us with.
“So we try to get the balance right with the new material that’s emerging now and represented on the new album and the older stuff. You disappoint people if you don’t show a blend, I think.”
Fairport Convention performs at 7:30 p.m. Sunday (May 20th) at The Ark, 316 S. Main St., Ann Arbor. Tickets are $20. Call (734) 761-1451 or visit www.theark.org.