Cambridge Folk Festival – first names announced

Cambridge Folk Festival

Cambridge Folk Festival is thrilled to announce the first artists for its 2020 line-up:

Making his Cambridge debut in an exclusive English festival appearance, iconic singer-songwriter and humanitarian Yusuf / Cat Stevens. From his early career in the 1960s when his timeless blend of pop, folk and blues propelled him to the top of the charts, to his extensive humanitarian work and full return to music in the 2000s, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Songwriters Hall of Fame inductee Yusuf / Cat Stevens is a hugely influential figure whose appearance will be one of the most eagerly awaited in the Festival’s history.

Returning to headline in 2020, international chart-topper Passenger, who progressed from his 2011 debut on emerging talent stage The Den to headlining Stage 1 in 2015 – when he also drew record crowds with an impromptu busking session!  His number one single ‘Let Her Go’ scooped an Ivor Novello Award and a Brit Award nomination for single of the year.

Appearing for the first time since 2010, Seasick Steve, who became an overnight success in his sixties for his unique take on blues, roots and country music. Renowned for his personalised instruments and explosive, rocking live performances, his headline set is guaranteed to bring the house down.

One of the finest and most prolific singer-songwriters of her generation, Suzanne Vega celebrates her catalogue of hits with a new live album this Spring, An Evening of New York Songs and Stories. Perfect timing then to take to the stage at Cherry Hinton Hall to perform ground-breaking songs such as ‘Tom’s Diner’, ‘Luka’, ‘Marlene On The Wall’, and many other gems from across her 35 year career.

Regarded as one of the leading forces in British folk, Show of Hands remain at the top of their game after more than two decades on the road. For the Festival, kings of the folk, roots and acoustic scene Steve Knightley and Phil Beer are joined by long-time collaborator Miranda Sykes and master percussionist Cormac Byrne, who together create a sound nothing short of magical.

Dublin four-piece Lankum have an alchemical ability to combine traditional folk roots with contemporary undercurrents to forge music that is dark, mysterious and transcendental. They have gained worldwide acclaim for their captivating, often euphoric live performances, showcasing their close vocal harmonies, instrumental interplay and dramatic storytelling.

With an undeniable voice and an arsenal of powerful songs Martha Wainwright, who will be joining the Festival for the weekend, is a beguiling performer and a refreshingly different force in music. Part of the famous Wainwright dynasty, Martha is the daughter of folk legends Loudon Wainwright III and Kate McGarrigle, and sister to Rufus Wainwright and Lucy Wainwright Roche with whom she has collaborated live and on record.

Malian singer-songwriter, actor and multiple Grammy Award nominee Fatoumata Diawara is hailed as one of the most vital standard-bearers of modern African music. Her sound is boldly experimental yet respectful of her roots and she carries its universal message to stages across the world.

Cambridge Folk Festival takes place 30 July – 2 August 2020 in the picturesque grounds of Cherry Hinton Hall, Cambridge. Early booking advisable. Purchase tickets from:


Award Winning Underneath the Stars Festival announces first acts for 2020

Underneath The Stars

  • Paul Carrack (Friday), Kate Rusby (Saturday) and Suzanne Vega (Sunday) are the first names to the be announced for the seventh Underneath the Stars festival.
  • Run by the production team behind folk artist Kate Rusby, award-winning Underneath the Stars features music, performance arts, crafts and more for the whole family plus food, drink and shopping, sourced from independent vendors, brought together in the stunning rural setting of Cinderhill Farm, Barnsley.
  • Underneath the Stars won Small Festival of the Year and took home the prestigious Judge’s Award at the sought-after National Outdoor Events Association (NOEA) Awards 2019. The festival has also gained an Attitude is Everything Silver Charter Award.

The award-winning, independent family festival Underneath the Stars is set to return for its seventh year on Friday 31st July – Sunday 2nd August 2020, bringing live music, performance arts and delicious dishes from Yorkshire and beyond to its cosy corner of rural South Yorkshire.

Kicking off the star-studded line-up on Friday is Grammy nominated, singer songwriter Paul Carrack. Celebrating 20 years of phenomenal output as an independent artist, the Sheffield born artist has carved a niche for himself where blue-eyed soul and pop rock collide, promising a formidable live experience. His voice is instantly recognisable on numerous hits including ‘How Long’, Squeeze’s ‘Tempted’, Mike + The Mechanics ‘Living Years’ and ‘Over My Shoulder’.

To honour Yorkshire Day on Saturday 1st August, Barnsley’s own nightingale, Kate Rusby will take to the stage, performing traditional folk and stunning self-penned songs. Yorkshire born and bred, Kate is known for her wistfully pure singing voice, good humour and the down-to-earth warmth of her live performances. In recognition of her outstanding contributions to folk music, dance or song, Kate is the latest recipient of an English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS) Gold Badge.

Widely regarded as one of the most brilliant songwriters of her generation and an iconic female artist, Suzanne Vega will appear on Sunday. Her work, including hits such as ‘Luka’, ‘Marlene on the Wall’ and ‘Tom’s Diner’, is as utterly distinct and poignant today as when she first made a name for herself. She is a masterful storyteller who observes the world with a clinically poetic eye.

Festival director Emma Holling says: “Building on our sell-out festival this year, we are delighted to announce our first names for Underneath the Stars 2020. To see the festival become an established event on the UK festival scene is just amazing – our recent awards and successes are testament to the hard work of all the team. We look forward to announcing more acts and other exciting plans soon!”

Alongside a musical line-up, festival-goers can expect captivating storytellers, circus pursuits, lively street-performers and a whole host of workshops to take part in. Last year saw everything from ukulele, swingdance and Tai Chi, to singing, songwriting and instrumentation workshops.

Underneath the Stars handpicks food traders and prioritises quality ingredients and value for money. In addition to boutique street food vendors, and hustling bar areas – promising fantastic flavours and worldly wines; the Makers Market showcasing local independent traders returns for 2020. Committed to fair and ethical trading and environmental sustainability, Artisan Makers promise unique, handmade products and stunning one-off pieces.

Continuing developments on reducing waste and plastic use, the team at Underneath the Stars have put new initiatives in place for 2020, from reviewing waste management systems and drinking vessels, to working closely with Zero Yorkshire, a zero-waste shop based in Huddersfield offering earth friendly alternatives to everyday items.

Underneath the Stars festival is a community interest venture with inclusivity and community at its heart. The team recently enjoyed a week of celebrations as they won Small Festival of the Year and took home the prestigious Judge’s Award at the National Outdoor Events Association’s (NOEA) Awards ceremony on Wednesday 27th November 2019.

They also gained an Attitude is Everything Silver Charter Award. AIE is a disability-led charity supporting non-profit and commercial organisations to make what they do more accessible and inclusive for Deaf and disabled people. Its Charter improves Deaf and disabled people’s access to live music by working in partnership with audiences, artists and the music industry.

Tickets are available from


A Tribute To Jack Hardy – available now

Jack Hardy

In honor of the fifth anniversary of his death, Smithsonian Folkways presents A Tribute to Jack Hardy, featuring 26 previously unreleased recordings of Hardy’s songs by an illustrious group of performers, all of whom cited him as a key influence and a personal friend.

Performers include album producers Mark Dann and David Massengill, joined by contemporary folk standouts including Nanci Griffith, Suzanne Vega, Jonathan Byrd, Red Molly, Lucy Kaplansky, Brian Rose and many more. Jack Hardy himself, known as a welcoming host for weekly songwriting workshops who also founded the Fast Folk magazine/label, is also included via two unreleased tracks recorded shortly before he died.

The 105-page liner notes include Hardy’s “Songwriter’s Manifesto,” complete lyrics, photos, and personal tributes, anecdotes, and essays from the participating singer-songwriters.

The Jack Hardy Band – ‘Ponderosa’:


114-mark-radcliffeBBC Radio 2 Folk Show presenter, Mark Radcliffe, has announced that the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards are to return on Wednesday 19 February 2014. Mark also announced that the awards will be returning to London and taking place at the Royal Albert Hall. Tickets for the event are available now from

The awards, which celebrate their 15th anniversary in 2014, will see some of the biggest names in folk music come together under one roof to celebrate the UK’s thriving folk music scene.

The event will welcome a whole host of star guests, with Bellowhead, Suzanne Vega, Clannad and The Fisherman’s Friends confirmed to perform live on the night. Other acts on the line-up will be announced at a later date.

This year’s awards will see the addition of a new element – the Radio 2 Folk Awards Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame will recognise the special contribution of an individual to the world of folk music; someone whose impact and influence has had a lasting impression.

The first entrant to be inducted into the Hall of Fame is Cecil Sharp – widely regarded as being a key figure in having helped lay the foundations for the modern folk revival in the early 20th century.

Al Booth, Editor Specialist Music at Radio 2 said:

“As the country’s most prolific collector of folk music and dance, Cecil Sharp amassed a collection which includes songs and tunes that have been part of the fabric of English life for hundreds of years. Without his work the careers of Martin Carthy, Fairport Convention, Nic Jones and Kate Rusby might have been very different. It is fitting that he should be the first inductee into the Radio 2 Folk Awards Hall of Fame.”

Nominees for the Folk Award categories were announced by Mark Radcliffe in the Folk Show on Wednesday November 20. The categories include: Folk Singer of the Year, Best Duo, Best Group, Best Album, Horizon Award, Musician of the Year, Best Original Song, Best Traditional Track and BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award. The awards show will also include the presentation of Lifetime Achievement and Good Tradition Awards.

Bob Shennan, Controller BBC Radio 2 and 6 Music, said: “Folk Music is an integral part of the BBC Radio 2 schedule. It is a much loved genre by our audience and we remain committed to bringing our listeners the widest possible range and choice of music. This year The Radio 2 Folk Awards reach an important milestone in their history. And what better way to celebrate their 15th anniversary than them taking place in the very special location that is the Royal Albert Hall. I’m sure it will be a night to remember.”

Mark Radcliffe, presenter of the Radio 2 Folk Show, said:

“I’m absolutely thrilled to be hosting the Folk Awards again this year, particularly on the event’s 15th anniversary and in the very grand Royal Albert Hall. Folk music is in rude health, and we’re all relishing the chance to make a big fuss about the genre’s vibrancy, diversity and sheer quality.”

Drivetime presenter Simon Mayo will be broadcasting a special programme live from the Albert Hall (5pm). The interval will feature performances from the nominees for the Young Folk Award 2014.

The BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards will be broadcast live on Radio 2 from 8pm, and in vision via the Red Button and online at, with video highlights to follow the next day. The audience can also follow the event and get involved via the Radio 2 website.

LITHA – Dancing Of The Light (ARCD 3045)

A few years ago I had the pleasure of reviewing the 2Duos outstanding debut CD. Since then they’ve changed their name to Litha but whatever title they choose, this certainly is a 4-piece more than capable of carving out their own unique slice of Celtic ‘folk’ history given half a chance. Diving straight in with a powerful set-up of guitar ‘chops’ and a swooping riff on the fiddle it opens the album with a bang on Tim O’Leary’s song “Blind George”. The vocals are delivered with passion by Aaron Jones but minus the heavy Scottish bur (think Dougie MacLean rather than Dick Gaughan) often associated with a majority of bands of this genre and, in my opinion are all the better for it. The captivating tonal qualities of Germany’s Gudrun Walther provides a wonderful juxtaposition within the band in much the same way that brother and sister Micheal & Triona O’Domhnaill did in the Bothy Band and like ‘The Bothys’ debut album this really is an exciting prospect. As if to cement the deal check out “Rosie’s Reels” where all four members including Claire Mann’s driving fiddle and Jurgen Treyz rhythmical guitar accompaniment really prove their mettle as inspired instrumentalists. The group’s choice of songs by Suzanne Vega and Karine Polwart’s Radio 2 friendly “Waterlily” will be forever immortalised like a stamp through a stick of Brighton rock and all members are to be complimented for their ‘arty’ but consumer friendly approach to their music. By the way trivia fans…for those wondering where they’ve heard the tune ‘New Claret’ at the end of the ‘Flying Dairymaids’ it’s the elusive title of the tune Fairport couldn’t find in their “Flatback Caper” set on the Full House album.


Artist Web link:

CHLOE & SILAS – Spring Hill (One Tree Hill Records OTHRCDSI – 01)

Every now and then I receive an album of which I have no expectations but pleasantly surprises and “Spring Hill” by Chloe Hall (vocal and guitar) and Silas Palmer (fiddle/percussion/voice and presumably piano and keyboards?) proves the point nicely. Funnily enough I had just been playing some tracks by Suzanne Vega (thank God for iTunes!) and in a way this recording wouldn’t seem out of place in my female singer/songwriter collection from the mid 80’s. Opening with the technically nuanced “Call Somebody” where the phrasing is all important brings a knowledge of dramatic effect vividly to the fore showing a thought process clearly aimed at entering the consciousness of those willing to ‘listen’ carefully to lyrics. Also, the arrangements prove the old adage that less is more with only a hint of colour instrumentally expertly placed to bolster Hall’s impressive guitar accompaniment. Having captured my imagination I just couldn’t stop playing the album until the end with the proof (for me at least) that there’s not a duff track here. Trust me…this is a rare thing in my position as a reviewer who enjoys the luxury of the fast forward button if I’m not sure about certain songs. On another track, the beguiling “Tax Office Love Song” Ms Hall has a way with words that makes you feel she wouldn’t be a good candidate for the Jeremy Kyle Show (she’d be far too clever for his ‘probing’ questions) or is that just my snobbish view rising to the surface? If you haven’t guessed it already I‘m totally smitten and if there was a star rating high enough I’d say it had gone inter-galactic! Now, if you’ll excuse me I’m just off to play the whole recording again.


Artist Web link: