43rd Cambridge Folk Festival


Saturday starts off with a visit to The Unicorn and the full English. I meet Phil one of the Fatea photographers and over lunch we discuss the loss of Alan Forshaw who died just before this year’s festival.
Alan was a great character, one of the Guinness Tent crowd. His picture even sits behind the bar.
In the days when people were less concerned about copyright and image, Alan filmed the festival on his old cine camera, capturing the atmosphere of the early days. He will be missed by all that knew him.
Fuelled up for the day, it's time to head to the site in glorious sunshine.
I slap on the factor forty before venturing off into the site, proudly wearing the t-shirt has designed for the Fatea crew shirt to celebrate 12 years of our festival website, to catch up with old friends and chew over the years.
The various clean up crews are just finishing giving the site its daily make over and it's looking the better for it. Loo roll is replaced, toilets spruced, the previous night's detritus shipped off site. A couple of buskers are entertaining the site crews and early risers.
I bump into a few of the guys from Proper Records, including one from my home town of Poole. Proper as well as being a cd distributor and label also run the onsite concession.
A short chat over it's time to see Le Vent Du Nord in the Club Tent doing a workshop on the music of Quebec. They explain how it varies from tradition French music and why it has a more Celtic sound, largely to the way the Canadian Province was settled.
Quebec music was built up around a dancing tradition and it features extensive footboard to provide the rhythm. Whilst the crowd is sparse at the start of the set, the sound of the music draws more people in and it builds the atmosphere. Everyone, band and audience enjoy what is more of a concert than a workshop even when the hurdy gurdy comes out :-)
I come away both entertained and enlightened. Le Vent Du Nord have increased my understanding of a genre and I feel enriched for the experience.
The Co-op who did the dog tags last year last year are doing stick on tattoos this year. More importantly they are trying to raise awareness of the environment and offset the carbon footprint of the event, worthy indeed.
The juggling workshop is in full flow with a mixed selection of children and adults that should know better, trying to get to grips with clubs and balls.
Should you be of that bent, you can also try learning diabalo and those swinging ball on string things. My pathological hatred of all things juggling kicks in and I move on before I'm tempted put a price on the head of the juggling workshop.
The sound of the stages coming to life starts to permeate the site and I briefly wonder if the Club Tent got its vacuum cleaner back.
You get a sense of anticipation starting to build as the hands on the clock tick around towards twelve. Rachel Unthank & The Winterset kicks off on Mainstage and the Brian McNeill Session dominates the proceedings on the Radio Two Stage.
The Brian McNeill Session features a whole host of the festival performers playing as part of their usual acts, often with guests and ad-hoc combinations. I'll be dropping in at various parts of the afternoon. Belinda O'Hooley, of The Winterset, can be heard doing her "Eye Of The Tiger" soundcheck so it can't be long before the camera comes out for the first performance of the day proper.
Twelve O'clock and the music starts Belinda is facing away from the audience and apologises for her builder’s cleavage in advance. She continues to crack jokes during the gig. Does this make the Winterset Ernie Wise to her Eric Morecombe?
Rachel and The Winterset are launching a new album at the festival,"The Bairnes", but they start with one of the old ones "Monday Morning" from the debut. It provides all of the band a chance to open up what must be one of the best collective sets of vocals chords amonst English folk bands. It's probably the most anticipated event from the region since Roy Keane became Sunderland's manager.
The Winterset are joined on stage by the strings of the Rose Quartet which gives their sound extra dimension. They are passionate about their home region, the North East. It's an area that doesn't get a lot of exposure nationally so everything sounds very fresh.
Vocal duties, both singing and talking to the crowd are shared between Rachel and her sister Becky, occasionally extending to Belinda and Niopha.