A GOLDEN YEAR AS THE CAMBRIDGE FOLK FESTIVAL CELEBRATES IN STYLE

The Cambridge Folk Festival celebrated in style this weekend with a line-up and atmosphere that truly befitted its 50th anniversary year.

The event, which had sold out in advance for several months, saw headline sets from Van Morrison, Sinead O’ Connor, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Richard Thompson, Rosanne Cash and Newton Faulkner.

From the minute the gates opened on Thursday lunchtime, to the closing strains of Sunday’s final acts, the event had a celebratory atmosphere from performers and audience alike.

Among the celebrations was a secret guest performance on Sunday afternoon on Stage 2 from singer/songwriter and Festival-favourite Kate Rusby, who also appeared later the same day on Stage 1 immediately after Van Morrison’s headline set, to lead an emotional Festival crowd sing-a-long of the folk classic Wild Mountain Thyme.

The Festival’s birthday was also celebrated through a series of onstage talks with the likes of folk legends Richard Thompson and Martin Carthy. Festival organiser Eddie Barcan also reminisced on memorable moments from the event’s long history and Festival illustrator John Holder chatted to broadcaster and musician Nick Barraclough, about Festival memories and his classic designs. The talk was accompanied by a Den exhibition of old Festival artwork stretching back across five decades. John’s 2014 limited-edition commemorative poster was also a Festival sell-out!

With many musical highlights of the weekend, notable sets included: a historic Festival set from legend Van Morrison; a powerful and moving performance from Sinead O’Connor; members of the Festival’s singing workshop joining Ladysmith Black Mambazo on stage for a song; Newton Faulkner mesmerising the audience with his percussive guitar virtuosity; folk-collective The Full English, hot on the heels of their double Folk Awards win, rediscovering English folk classics for a new generation and an emotional Festival return for the much-loved Fisherman’s Friends.

Other memorable highlights of the packed weekend included: The Mariachis (as seen on the Doritos advert) wandering into the thick of the audience to perform cover versions that included I Can’t Get No Satisfaction and Don’t You Want Me Baby, leaving an amused Thursday night crowd chanting for more; Newton Faulkner playing an impromptu set in the Cherry Hinton campsite Cider Bar and folk-punk band Skinny Lister finding their double-bass player crowd surfing (complete with double-bass) to an amazed Club Tent crowd during their Thursday set.

With the celebratory atmosphere at its height on Saturday night the Festival’s smallest stage, The Den, which showcases up and coming young acts, had its first ever onstage marriage proposal – a Festival attender romantically asked for his girlfriend’s hand in marriage in front of a cheering crowd – thankfully she said yes!

Friday afternoon saw an emotional moment with the unveiling of a memorial bench to remember Ken Woollard who developed the Festival from its beginnings in 1965 until his death in 1993, with Ken’s widow Joan Woollard present to say a few words.

The Festival also announced that tickets for the 51st Cambridge Folk Festival will go on sale on 1 December 2014. The Festival will run from 30 July to 2 August 2015.

Cllr Richard Johnson, Executive Councillor for Community, Arts & Recreation, Cambridge City Council said “The 50th Cambridge Folk Festival has been a true celebration and everything we could have wished for in our anniversary year. We would like to thank all the festival goers who made it the success it is and we look forward to welcoming everyone back next year.”

The Cambridge Folk Festival is organised by Cambridge City Council.

 

Capercaillie’s 30th anniversary album At the Heart of It All

Capercaillie - At the Heart of It AllAt the Heart of It All, Capercaillie’s brand-new 30th anniversary album, revisits and reinvigorates songs sourced from a wealth of centuries old Hebridean folk songs. The material has been enriched further by compelling contemporary arrangements, with contributions from many special guests who represent the pinnacle of today’s flourishing Scottish music scene.

“We’d never really done much in the way of collaboration on previous albums, but this time it seemed like a nice way to go,” says band member Donald Shaw, “We didn’t want Capercaillie’s 30th anniversary being all about us and our record, but more about celebrating how Scottish and Gaelic music as a whole has expanded and progressed in that time with so many younger musicians coming through.” Continue reading Capercaillie’s 30th anniversary album At the Heart of It All

SOLD OUT 49th CAMBRIDGE FOLK FESTIVAL HAILED AS HUGE SUCCESS

Cam Stage FoxThe 49th Cambridge Folk Festival ended in rousing style on Sunday night in what organisers Cambridge City Council have hailed as a ‘bumper year’.

The Festival was a complete sell out (14,000 total attendees) and included performances from The Mavericks, KT Tunstall, Levellers, The Waterboys, Amadou and Mariam, Steeleye Span, Martin Simpson and Capercaillie plus a range of folk, americana, blues and world music performances across the Festival’s four stages.

Performance highlights included: Bellowhead joining Levellers on stage for a run through the “Levs” The Recruiting Sgt; KT Tunstall performing versions of The White Stripe’s Seven Nation Army performed on a kazoo and a stirring version of Don Henley’s Boys of Summer; the eccentric and electric Bombay Royale performing on stage with a large inflatable elephant; a hilarious kids concert from UK comedic-poet John Hegley; landmark sets from Hertfordshire sisters The Staves who graduated to Stage 1 on their third appearance at the Festival; singer/songwriter Lucy Rose who headlined Thursday’s Stage 2 and US sisters Larkin Poe who’s two sets wowed the Festival audience over the weekend.

Continue reading SOLD OUT 49th CAMBRIDGE FOLK FESTIVAL HAILED AS HUGE SUCCESS

Folking at Cambridge Folk Festival 2013 – Day 3

wb3_300Those following this blog will know that it would not be complete without an early morning campsite folking shower report – although those on-site would have had a deluge of their own later in the day when KT “rain goddess” Tunstall took to the stage and opened the heavens – but more on that later. My first shower was at 5.00am, an hour earlier than the day before! Perhaps it was the excitement of the previous 2 days, or perhaps it was just the the showers but Cambridge was not awarding me much sleep.

Breabach danceAs I was finishing the day 2 blog We Banjo 3 took to the main stage, a quintet from Galway playing Irish, bluegrass and American old time music. From what I saw on the #CFF13 @CamFolkFest twitter feed they were definitely making many instant fans and got Saturday stage 1 off to a rousing start. Next up were the mighty Breabach, a tour de force in the Scottish music scene. They had a great array of weaponry on hand including: highland bagpipes, fiddle, guitar, double bass, mandolin, bazouki and even included a set dance by fiddle payer, Megan Henderson.

Saturday Cambs FF CrowdBoth SOC (Son of Clicker – the folking photographer) and I knew that getting to see everything today was going to be tough with all 3 stages in full swing. In fact panic set in and we ran around like headless chickens for a bit until coming to our senses and catching the end of the Festival Session, hosted by Battlefield Band and Feast of Fiddles academic legend Brian McNeil. This was a one off line-up featuring: The Chair, Frigg, The Rambling Boys of Pleasure, Radio 2 young folk award winners Greg Russell & Ciaran Algar, Martin Simpson, Le Vent du Nord and We Banjo 3 again.

Hop and a skip back to the Stage 1 to see Martin Simpson performing a guitar master class wrapped up in his usual exemplary solo set kind of way which included favourites like the you were never any good with money gem Prodigal Son and Jackie and Murphy, a story song of an epic true tale of bravery, donkeys and Gallipoli.

Thea Gilmore CFFManaged to then catch the end of the talented and velvet voiced Heidi Talbot on stage 2 as she left us all going up and down her music tree, Korrontzi from Northern Spain were next up and made you feel part of a Basque hill town knees up for a short while (it was great to see Thea Gilmore dancing along to them back stage). It wasn’t long until Thea took center stage with her full band line up which included producer, husband and multi-instrumentalist Nigel Stonier. Thea definitely showed off her folk credentials by giving us a faultless performance of Pity the Poor Immigrant. Thea then belted out the Radio 2 A listed song Start As We Mean To Go On, before ending with what for me was the highlight of the day, a perfect rendition to the stunning London with her little lad taking center stage on the fiddle. Sandy Denny who wrote the lyrics to this song is my folk heroine and Thea is equally addictive.

There was only one way to come down and that was to head over to the club tent and catch State Of The Union, aka Boo Hewerdine and Brooks Williams. In the grand tradition of ‘The Special Relationship’, State Of The Union combines the talents of America and England, producing an end result that delighted the club tent crowd with hook-laden songs, fiery and emotional guitar playing and soulful vocals. By this time I had a few jars of Ringwood’s finest Boon Doggle ale and was amusing myself by keeping the girls at the bar on their toes and coming up with different names for it. The firm favourite was Moon Poodle!

Fully Protected & The Moon PoodleThe Moon Poodle was listening as the heavens opened and the poodle piddled down on us as KT Tunstall hit the stage. A great set followed, my favourite being Other Side of the World or dark side of the poodle moon by the Black horse and a cherry tree, no that one actually came later… but don’t blame it on the Sunshine, don’t blame it on the moonlight, blame it on the Boggle. I was past caring as I was now focused on keeping the umbrella in the right place for KT’s Mexican “brella” wave!

I caught a bit of the Mavericks but it was definitely time to head back to Coldham’s before I did myself mischief…

The folkmaster

Folking at Cambridge Folk Festival 2013 – Day 2

Foxy Fri 300x400Blimey, its 6.00am and I’m in the shower… what the folking heck is going on. It’s not what your thinking… unless you are talking about it being “probably the best festival shower block in the world“… hot water at daybreak – on a campsite – who’d have though it, but after all, this is the 49th Cambridge Folk Festival, so they have had plenty of practice getting it right.

Due to the time it takes putting these things together, I didn’t actually get to see yesterdays opening act on the main stage as I was working on the folking day 1 review, but could hear, from the press office that it was lively set by a band called Korrontzi.

So my first visual act of the day was Finland’s frigging brilliant Frigg. A blend of Nordic folk and American bluegrass dubbed “Nordgrass”. See them in action below.

I then needed to head off and sort out the accommodation arrangements for the folking new resident photographer, who had finally turned up… the son of Clicker… for those old enough to remember the intensely focused original, he has got a lot to live up to.

LAPD 300x224Got back just in time to see the final number from Patty Griffin and then rushed down the front to wait in anticipation for one of the highlights of my weekend, LAPD, which for those of you in the know, are three quarters of Planxty (Liam O’Flynn, Andy Irvine & Donal Lunny) and the original Bothy Band fiddler (Paddy Glackin). We were treated to the Sweeney’s Men’s classic, My Heart’s Tonight In Ireland  and the Planxty standard, The Blacksmith. What a set, from one of the original Irish boy bands!

Now with son of clicker joining the folking team we raced round for the next hour or so and managed to catch Amadou & Mariam, for a bit African electric blues and then SOC (Son of Clicker) made it over to see Darrell Scott, of Robert Plant’s Band of Joy fame doing his own improvisational set. SOC thought it was brilliant and I was folking pissed I missed it!

Ross Couper & Tom OakesSOC headed for the club tent and shot some great footage of Ross Couper and Tom Oakes, a dynamic young, fiddle player and guitarist duo, adding a modern touch to the Scottish and Irish tradition.

Then we plunged into the double whammy of the Levellers followed by Bellowhead, two headliners in one night!

Levs1 300x225The Levellers played a storming set of old favorites and newer numbers, finishing with the unique experience of a stage full of Levs and Bellowhead for ‘The Recruiting Sergeant‘. How they get them all on the stage I don’t know!

Bellowhead followed with their own set with tracks from their latest ‘Broadside‘ release and Jon Boden’s ever natty suit jacket!

Emily Barker 300x225 Cams FFWe also managed to get over to Stage 2 to see the angelic Emily Barker , a compelling singer-songwriter and mesmerising live artist, who along with her band The Red Clay Halo blend classical, rock, country and folk influences to stunning effect. Emily’s appearance recently on the BBC Radio 2 Dermot O’leary show and performance with Frank Turner at the London 2012 Olympics in front of a global televised audience is certainly moving her and the band up the musical genre food chain.

Roving Crows 300x224Then over to the Club Tent to see the Roving Crows, we covered the last album Bacchanalia back in May last year and I had been itching to see them ever since.

Here is the link If you missed NANCY DUNHAM’s review: http://folking.com/the-roving-crows-bacchanalia/

They gave a great closing performance to the Friday night in the club tent and any festival organiser reading this, I urge you to book them as soon as possible as they are a folking brilliant live act!

The queue to the bus back to Coldham’s Common campsite was huge so we decided to reenact the Richard Thompson song and walk those long miles home. The temptation of bed was calling but the lure of another beer and the campsite stage was too strong and as we watched the current act finish, we found a seat and a beautiful young girl took to the stage, with a solitary guitar and opened her mouth, and wow, what came out made my night, a sound somewhere between Janis Joplin and Sandy Denny. Sue Marchant, from BBC Radio Cambridge had arranged the last minute slot and boy am I glad she did! We’ll feature one of her own compositions called “Fall across the sea” as a later feature, but to wet your appetite now, here is her version of Robert Johnson’s “Me and the devil blues”… Ladies and gentlemen and general reprobates, I give you Leila Jane… The end to what Lou Reed would describe as “a perfect day”.

The folkmaster

Folking at Cambridge Folk Festival 2013 – Day 1

CamFF_FoxyA folking brilliant start to a truly stellar line-up at this year’s Cambridge Folk Festival.

Now in its 49th Year, it remains a cornerstone event in the folk diary.

After finally getting the tent up, losing half my body weight in liquid from my newly erected sauna, I headed from Coldham’s Common campsite and caught the well organised and frequent bus to the main festival site.

The picture on the left really sums up the atmosphere of the place, a gathering of people of all ages who share a love of life, music and community.

I was really looking forward to seeing Jamie Smith’s Mabon opening the main event on the stage 2 and you will see from the video below that it was the perfect way to set the standard for the weekend.

Kat&SeanHusband-and-wife team, Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman followed with performances from their superbly crafted album Hidden People. Kathryn’s sublime voice and effortless delivery and Sean’s masterly guitar arrangements wooed the Cambridge crowd as the sun beat down on folk town. The Ballard of Andy Jacobs was a particular highlight, made memorable by the solitary figure of Kathryn sitting on stage at her piano.

Rusty ShackleI then headed over to the club tent to catch Rusty Shackle. We’d featured them on folking last year so I was keen to see them in action.

Formed back in 2010 and with an infectious pulse and style, they are difficult to pigeon hole. That said, elements of folk, rock, bluegrass, Celtic rhythms and Delta blues are clearly present.

They are the sort of band that have even more fun than the audience and their rough and ready style grows on you, as you are left pondering, how a band can have the balls to bring two genuine Welsh lamps with them on stage.

Larkin Poe then brought the Thursday night club tent to a rocking climax. I was very much looking forward to seeing The Lovell Sisters in action as we had featured their album Thick as Thieves back in 2012 and this was the first chance I’d had to catch them since. A great end to a brilliant day.

The folkmaster