With Cambridge almost upon us it would see to fall to magazine hacks to reach into their acquired knowledge and make recommendations of acts to recommend you spend your time with across Cambridge's four mainstages. If you're not at Cambridge fear not as all of our recommendations, well except one here and possibly one in our second feature, are available to you all year around.
In a few short paragraphs and going to bring you some hints and tips about who and what to see on at the Den and the Club Tent, but first my recommendation that you can't see anywhere else apart from at Cambridge Folk Festival and the only thing I can be certain of seeing from start to finish, The Brian McNeill Session.
The Brian McNeill Session is Cambridge Folk Festival distilled down to 40% proof and one of the finest blends you will find anywhere on the planet. During the time that it runs across the Saturday afternoon, you will see a massive turnover of artists and styles, all amicably hosted by Brian McNeill who is celebrating 50 years in the music community this year.
You will get to see the festival in microcosm with many acts playing the festival at other times delivering short sets, often with guest artists that you may not see them performing with again to experience breadth as well as depth, time spent at the Brian McNeill Session is time spent with musical imagination.
Down at the Den, West Country duo Jacob & Drinkwater are an absolute must, you can also catch them in the Club Tent so there's a chance of double bubble. With a multitude of recordings behind them with other musicians, the duo released the debut studio album "This Old River" last year, but have been performing as a duo for four years. Lucas Drinkwater has been described as one of the busiest musicians in the UK, the chance are you've already seen him somewhere, whilst Tobias Ben Jacob is a man that gets himself across in a few words, with little fuss, but massive impact.
Birmingham born of Irish decent Emily Mae Winters has just released her second album, "High Romance" She queued up to play the Club Tent a couple of years back and gained an opportunity to play as part of the Brian McNeill session off that. Following on the back of her debut, "Siren Serenade", "High Romance" has already been album of the week on the influential Along The Tracks radio show with airplays coming to her think and fast. Emily Mae Winters thrives in the live environment, definitely one to enjoy.
Chris Fox is a local lad making good and now creating waves beyond East Anglia. I booked him to play the Busk Love Folk Festival up in Southport, where he went down a storm, despite the stage having to be moved to accommodate an X-Wing Fighter, but that's a different story. Chris is an old school singer-songwriter, but with a very contemporary edge. By that I mean he's inspired by the world around him and it's a very different world to some of his contemporaries. New album in the pipeline so new songs to enjoy.
I was lucky enough to have Odette Michelle perform at The Fatea 30th Birthday Bash first as a guest of Phil Beer, who also appears on her debut album "The Wildest Rose" then at the open mic. I was subsequently at her album launch as well as her appearance at Wimborne Folk Festival. She is getting comparisons to the likes of Sandy Denny and June Tabor and they are not off the mark. She's a great writer of song and as importantly a great interpreter as well. Her sets are lively and emotional and she is definitely an artist to watch and listen to. It's not a surprise that "The Wildest Rose" made several album of the week lists.
Elizabeth & Jameson bring together former Said The Maiden, Hannah Elizabeth, with former Fred's House, Griff Jameson into a duo that brings out the best of both blended into something new, something with more indie folk vibe. This is a duo that have just pushed off from the side of folk's great pool of songs but are already making waves. If you really want to have one of those, I was there moments, this one could easily be it.