47th Cambridge Folk Festival


Thursday starts with the usual sleck cross country. It's the last Thursday in July and anyone that knows me, knows that for the next four days I'm going to be in a field in Cherry Hinton enjoying the Cambridge Folk Festival.

It's the 21st year straight that we've covered the event and naturally there's one or two traditions that the Fatea team have established. One of these is the pre-festival pub lunch. Unfortunately in the intervening year, the usual venue has stopped serving food so it's a case of a quick venue switch to the Robin Hood.

It's also a reminder that not everything stays the same. I was already aware that Bob and Alan weren't going to be doing the stage dj work this year, but I also discovered that the usual festival breakfast venue, The Unicorn, has closed.

As it is that's not as bad as it could have been, for the first time in years, I'm staying in a B&B so I'm sorted, but there are a lot of regulars that are going to be disappointed. Increased rents from breweries and cheap supermarket beer has got a lot to answer for. Rumour has it The Red Lion is tottering on the brink.

Fortunately for the festival regulars, the Robin Hood has stepped into the breach as far as breakfasts are concerned. Pub lunch goes well if you exclude being stung by a wasp and then it's time to head off and check in. The rest of the team scatter, we'll meet up again later.

Having checked in, it's time to head to the site and start preparation for the festival proper. A bit of luck, one of the drivers sees me heading towards the site burdened with a whole load of bags and boxes and gives me a lift, result.

The mercury is definitely rising, high factor sun cream the order of the day. The site is already coming to life. I catch up with the media liaison team and seek sanctuary from the twenty five degree heat. One of the great thing about the festival is catching up with everybody.

It's difficult to believe that it's been a year. The pit ponies(festival photographers and media) chat like it was all just yesterday rather than a years ago. As the faces roll in, it feels more and more like being back home.

One of my sub-tasks this year is to prove the Cambridge Festival Diet. I've always suspected that all the running around I do more than takes care of the calorie count consumed. For the record, 13st 1.6lbs at the start and yes I know it's too much, I'm just a few inches too short.

The thing about Cambridge is that it's not long before you bump into people that you know, so a lot of the afternoon is spent catching up with the world, watching the site coming into life and making sure I drink plenty of liquids. The factor 50 also makes an appearance.

The Fatea Magazine banner is tied to a fence and the first postcard distribution of the festival is carried out. The team is keen to make sure our 21st festival goes with a swing.

There a bit of a breeze that's just taking the worst off the heat. Looking at the bill, I make the decision that I'm going to base myself at the Club Tent for the evening. There's already a buzz bubbling away, I've got a feeling this is going to be good one.

Opening the ClubTent are The Willows. The band have recent released an ep that impressed the Fatea office. They start off the festival in mellow mode which is absolutely right, gradually cranking it up as the set progressed, moving almost to country rock at one point.

There's real banter within the band, plenty of stories to share with the crowd as they moved majestically through their set. They sounded out the audience for lumberjacks and people called John, The Willows have a song about an unlucky lumberjack called John, it was always going to be a long stretch.

Subsequently they called out for farmers, they've got a song about farmers. It was the last call out.

The Willows haven't been together that long, but you couldn't tell, they were really tight. There was real humour in the introductions, especially when they went into the husband murdering thrash song, "Bella's Funeral".

This was a great start to the festival and if it's a sign of things to come, it's going to be a real classic.

So far most of the band's gigs have been in East Anglia, but hopefully we'll find them further afield real soon.

The crew begin their first change of the festival whilst I make my way out back. The Thursday seems busier than usual with a queue forming to go around to the Club Tent. I can't ever recall seeing a queue to get into the Club Tent on the Thursday night, which shows how popular it's getting.