It has often been said before, but bears repeating, that the strength of the Cambridge Folk Festival is its diversity of line-up. As well as folk in all its forms from all around the British Isles, there is always a strong showing from the other side of the pond, especially in the multi stranded genre that is Americana.
If the current listings are correct then the festivals first dash from one stage is likely to happen on Thursday. As ahab close their set in the club tent Billy Bragg should just be starting to celebrate Woody Guthrie's 100th birthday proving two of the rules of American: 1. you don't have to be American and 2. if you have the spirit of traditional American folk, blues or country we'll claim you as one of our own.
Friday sees, ten years on from his last performance, one of the great singer songwriters, John Prine. Gretchen Peters is a more recent visitor to the festival appearing in 2010 and again she is playing two days. Cajun/Creole music always gets a look in and Louisianans The Pine Leaf Boys will be providing this years non celtic fiddle and accordion led dance music. Like Gretchen Peters they will be playing both Friday and Saturday.
If you like soul with a twang, Bristol based band (yes, trust me, Bristol) Phantom Limb are playing the Saturday. I'm hoping that they'll be able to sneak in their cover of Little Feat's classic Willin' that was put up on you tube recently but they could sing the telephone directory (if such things still exist) and I'll be happy. Also making a welcome return is Nanci Griffith. Griffith is the reason why (20 years ago) I first visited Cambridge when she was on the same day as John Prine (I think they dueted on Prine's 'Speed Of The Sound Of Loneliness' but my memory my well be playing me tricks. Also playing on Saturday is Lazy Lester and Friends - a man that truly encompasses traditional folk, blues and country and wraps them up in a Marine Band.
Both Ruthie Foster and Lera Lynn are only playing on the final day and if they clash I will probably cry, or say something that probably shouldn't be said on a Sunday. If I have to make a choice, it will be on the flip of a coin for this one, but that's the thing with Cambridge; it's always a long weekend of choices.
John 'The Jacket' Hawes Photocredit:Mark Winpenny
This article also appears on our Cambridge Folk Festival Website
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