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Fairport Convention has been plying the folk-rock trade since 1967. The group’s only remaining original member, Simon Nicol, says, “In middle age, whatever my profession, I’d be doing it better now than when I started out.” Well, maybe not better, but different. The late-’60s Fairporters were innovators in melding English ballad and dance music with Byrdsian rock, but even faithful fans like myself acknowledge that those days are gone. But what the group now lacks in invention it makes up for in presence and prowess. Nicol’s a steady guitarist and vocalist; Dave Pegg’s a bass whiz and has a lovely bald head; Gerry Conway left fellow travelers Jethro Tull, Pentangle, and Fotheringay to provide the drums; Chris Leslie writes many of the trad-inspired songs and fiddles like a madman; and Ric Sanders fiddles like a bigger madman and has a groovy ponytail. So go, you youngsters and hipsters and folk-rock novices, and soak up the intoxicating rhythms of the Midlands. But avoid these five phrases, lest you be exiled to a press gang: (1) “Gosh, I dig that Irish music!” (2) “When do Peter, Paul & Mary come on?” (3) “Didn’t Michael McKean play Simon Nicol in A Mighty Wind?” (4) “If I have to hear another song about a maidenhead, I’m throwing your 1969 Island gatefold-cover Liege & Lief into the recycle bin, you stringy-haired Anglophilic twit.” (5) “No thank you, I’m on the wagon.” Fairport Convention plays at 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 30, at the Birchmere, 3701 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria. $19.50. (202) 432-7328. (Pamela Murray Winters)