40th Cambridge Folk Festival


Friday starts off with a yomp down to the Unicorn for the traditional all you can eat for a fiver breakfast. Despite the temptation to take the sign at face value, I manage to leave feeling comfortably full, rather than absolutely bloated. It makes the walk back easier.

It's Friday, which means that the trademark panama is joined by the notorious Fatea Pink, almost immediately I'm approached by someone that recognised the look.

It's warm so I down a banana milkshake to keep the fluids up and then head to the Club Tent for the first event of the day, a Tom Robinson songwriter’s workshop.

It starts well; Tom has a good rapport with his audience. He asks a few questions of them to see if he's going to cover all they want to learn. It's an encouraging workshop as it's more about self belief then technique.

Tom holds up Victoria Beckham as a good example of what can be achieved if you really want something badly enough. Look at some of the world's most popular singers. Are they the best at what they do or did they achieve it on belief?

The conversation is intermingled with Tom's own songs. Some accompanied with guitar others sung unaccompanied. The important thing was he showed how the song evolved. Jot ideas down and come back to them. Nothing is wasted. Sometimes you have to write eight bad songs to get to a good one. You listen to some people's albums and you get the feeling some people record them all anyway.

There's a bit of a break which gives me the chance to get some scran down. The heat is really rising so its best not to risk alcohol, another pint of real lemonade follows the food down.

There's a rumour that Joan Wollard, widow of festival founder Ken, is going to make some sort of commemorative presentation, during the Loudon Wainwright III Mojo interview.

As is often the case at Cambridge the rumour turns out to be true. Loudon is presented with a drawing of his performance here a few years back.

The interview is a mixture of questions from Mojo's Phil, the audience and Loudon performing songs from his extensive catalogue, Needless to say it was the audience that asked the really strange questions.

One punter wanting to know the location of the dead skunk from the song of the same name. The questioning takes an even more bizarre twist when the follow up question asks if it got eaten as road kill.

Songs both serious and humorous draw audience response, but the one that draws the most applause is 'President's Day' which got clapping every time it mentioned getting rid of George Bush. It was followed by an important point about the right in the US vilifying artists that are speaking out about the war and George Bush. So much for home of the free.

Loudon's interview concludes with the start of Stage One. Last Night's Fun are the openers this year. Stage Two isn't starting until later so it's pretty much a straight run in.

It's a good start a cross section of Celtic styles with a good mix of tempo and texture. Had it not been so hot, I'm sure there would have been more people up and dancing.

Jigs and reels mix with slower numbers, the band put a lot of passion into their music and it's rewarded by the response they gain.

All too soon they've come to an end and the stage crew get to work setting up for The Broken Family Band. The announcer mentions that there will be a change in the bill. Ezio and Amparanoia are being switched as the latter band is caught in traffic.

Iberian acts seem to have bad luck with transport to the festival. A few years ago Kepa Junkera managed to miss his flight so Edie Reader and Boo Hewerdine stepped in.