51st Cambridge Folk Festival


Sunday morning tee selected, The Folking Evolved shirt and breakfast looking forward to providing the energy for the walk to the site, time to head off to day four of Cambridge Folk Festival.

Head to the Club Tent for the start of the day and fiddle workshop shop, this year delivered by Adam Sutherland and Innes Watson.

Catriona McDonald taught me to play air fiddle many years back and I always take the opportunity to top up my skills whenever there is a fiddle workshop. They really are designed for all skills and ages, but I have to say you will probably benefit most as a beginner-intermediate but either way you'll walk away with a great tune and wonderful experience. I'd also suggest they are actually easier if you have a fiddle with you.

Got my annual fix of the Archers walking between Club and Stage One. There had been trouble with the pa sound earlier on and grumblings. Sound issues with The Archers at a music festival, definitely a first world problem.

If you had any cobwebs left over from the night before and were anywhere near Stage One, they were definitely about to be blown away by Quebec band, De Temps Antan, well providing they could find their instruments.

I caught them as part of The Session yesterday, but had a suspicion that they weren't aware that 11:30 exists on a Sunday morning, a suspicion confirmed by the band during their set. For a trio they make a heck of a racket and just what you need to drive an entire site out of the metaphorical fog of a night before and a genuine warm sunny start to the day.

Driving tunes, songs, sung in French, people up and dancing to the at times frantic pace, I'm definitely awake and taking notice.

The weather is more chilled lemonade and icecream than beer, but the day is still young and there's a good few around me that are obviously of a differing opinion, ideal time for some Americana and The Lone Below. Every one who saw them on Club Two has told me they are a must see. Time to find out.

The word is good. For the first three songs, its straight overpowered country rock with more than a little gospel infusion. High octane pedal to the metal stuff. The band are a five piece, guitars, mandolin, keyboard, percussion all played with total spirit. The set started off with what looked like a prayer meeting before kicking in with fire and brimstone fury.

The band are sweating up like a racehorse so I think they're as glad as their exhausted crowd to go to a slower number and we're only into song four. They recover quicker than us. A few jokes about personal hygiene and away it all goes again for one of, if not the, set of the weekend.

Time for a complete change of style and pace. Bella Hardy delivered a singing workshop on Friday to a crowded Club Tent and now time to deliver her set to a packed Stage One. She had a great new album, "Before The Dawn" out earlier this year, which forms the bulk of the set and it really is a fine collection of songs, both written and interpreted.

She's got a good band around her, including longtime sideswoman Anna Massey and they playing the sort of songs that render the heart to shreds. It's dark, it's cathartic and yet still empowering.

A short pop across to Talisk on Stage Two to find the crowd being divided into two halves for some competitive singing, whooping and crouching, you had to be there, oh the power musicians hold in their hand if only for a short stint. It really is only a pop in, but I wanted to see a bit more of them, but a prolonged visit to The Club Tent beckons, first of all for Matt Woosey, to be followed by Ange Hardy.

I've not caught a lot of blues at Cambridge this year and I'm definitely in the mood and Matt Woosey is definitely the man to quench that thirst, that and an unexpected but welcome can of lager thrust into my hand..

I can never quite work out why Matt isn't a bigger name than he is. His take on Freight Train, did I mention this seemed to be the song of the festival, is the best I've heard all weekend and that includes versions from both Peggy Seeger and Joan Baez, top stuff. Matt is one of those artists that seems to be able to command a stage sat down on his chair. Whilst he engages the audience well enough during his songs he's in a world that just consists of him and his guitar.