April 24, 2015 by Robb Powell
Even though my dream of getting to experience a whole summer full of festivals cannot be realised (yet), it doesn’t mean I cannot share previews and snapshots of some of those I have always dearly wanted to get myself to. With line-ups to die for being announced it would sure make a monumentally awesome musical summer to cover one every weekend from say, June through to September.
Up first in my ‘at a glance’ feature is the internationally renowned Cambridge Folk Festival. As far as folk festivals go this is the one against which all others should be measured and ever since a friend of mine described at length the amazing time he had at this particular event in 2007 I have wanted that experience all for myself. As busy and financially challenged as I tend to be, that sadly hasn’t happened yet but I have nevertheless always made it my business to keep a close eye on the regular stonking line-ups the organisers continue to offer up year after year. The fact the event enjoys the kind of international reputation it does comes as no surprise. I would go as far as to say its status is legendary. Indeed, with legends like Joan Armatrading and Nashville’s Gretchen Peters bringing their outstanding music and grace to the stages this summer, 2015 promises to be the best one yet. Even topping last year’s 50th anniversary celebrations.
One thing I love about this festival is how it offers up single day tickets to festival goers as well as the full weekend experience. So, if your bank balance is feeling the pinch (aren’t they all these days?) then perhaps you can still afford a good day/night out of live music for just one of the days over the weekend. Camping is separate too so if you live nearby you needn’t even risk the Great British elements and pay out for the camping element. Think I’d personally still camp though because for me it is a big part of the whole festival adventure. I will admit if the heavens opened up and let out an ocean of rain I may have to run home to dry off for the night but I’d still risk a soaking before ever missing out on any of the stunning live music. I must report that Saturday ONLY tickets are completely sold out already. In fact, I would advise you to get this weekend jotted down in your diary and snap up your tickets fast. Even pack up the kids and take them along. With so much to see, do and experience it will be a different kind of holiday you won’t forget in a hurry.
Here’s a brief gloss over just ten of the many musicians and bands appearing at the festival this summer.
I am yet to see Mr Turner live myself yet. Sadly missed his last gig in Northampton for which I should be charged with crimes against music. So, it goes without saying to see him at such an iconic event as Cambridge Folk Fest would be a very welcome experience.
A remarkable songwriter, outstanding musician and captivating performer. His set should definitely be at the top of any ‘must see’ list this year.
After you’ve become acclimatised to all things the best folk festival has to offer I cannot begin to articulate the kind of magical otherworldly experience seeing The Unthanks live will be for you. All I will say is that if you miss out on this mesmerising moment of wonder then you deserve to be locked up for crimes against marvellous music too.
A glance over my review of a gig on the recent tour for their new album Mount The Air might help in your preparation. Click >>here<<.
SHOW OF HANDS
I was fortunate to catch Show of Hands at my first Beautiful Days festival but I don’t even need to mention their longstanding successes as musicians and folk performers of the highest pedigree. Their very name speaks volumes so again these should be at the top of your ‘must see’ list.
One very real unfortunate risk at most, if not all, festivals is the dreaded clash. But in the case of Show of Hands if you did happen to miss them on Saturday, you still have the chance to absorb their wonderful sounds on the Sunday as they are appearing on both days.
Described as a folk singer, songmaker and activist with an instrumental virtuosity that is legendary, Peggy Seeger belongs to the folk royalty element of the overall scene, in my opinion. And in the opinion of countless others too. Okay, all others.
With a highly prolific output drenched in quality, Cambridge is lucky to have her gracing the stage this summer.
I regret that time constraints being what they are, it has meant Bella Hardy has passed by me, personally up until now. Fear not. I have given myself a good talking to and will rectify this utter folly immediately! As you can appreciate I get planet-sized amounts of music hurtling at me from all directions and so sometimes diamond gems get missed. That isn’t to say I’ve not heard all the amazing comments, words and feedback about her most recent album so getting to see her live would be a dream to be honest.
Her seventh album no less and first since being named BBC Radio 2 Folk Singer of the Year last year is a corker! While I spend the little break I have getting myself more acquainted with With The Dawn you should check out her music too. It will further cement in your mind why you need to be snapping up your festival tickets pronto!
Another of the astounding legends belonging to that folk royalty club, Joan Armatrading is currently out on what is billed to be her final major tour. Again, another reason enough for you to make sure you do not miss, under any circumstance, the monumentally magic atmosphere she will create as she headlines the Sunday night.
I personally have my first Beautiful Days adventure to thank for bringing Stornoway‘s music into my life. That is another thing you get from attending festivals like this. An introduction to so much amazing new music you may well never have come across if you hadn’t gone.
Stornoway have a wonderful unique sound and vibe that seriously wows and live this is amplified ten fold. NOT TO BE MISSED!
I saw this total Nashville legend live on her recent Blackbirds tour and cannot express just how much of a spinetingling goosebump-inducing time her live performances are. This will no doubt be amplified even more with a performance at such a prestigious live event as this.
If not necessarily a legend just yet (I would beg to differ, however), then most certainly one in the making is BBC Radio 2 Horizon Folk Award 2015 nominee Ange Hardy. The music I’ve heard so far from this incredible musician, singer and songwriter is nothing short of outstanding. Amazing. Spectacular! Thoughtful and engaging. Layered with harmonious splendour.
She may be relatively new to the wider scene itself but it is clear her roots run deep and it is no surprise she is becoming increasingly more well-known as each day passes. Well done Cambridge Folk Fest for selecting Ange as one of the Club Tent Showcase artists whose alumni include the Seth Lakeman, The Staves, Cara Dillon, Karine Polwart and Newton Faulkner.
Naturally my first memory of Scottish brothers The Proclaimers is hearing Letters From America repeatedly as a child. Unlike a lot of the other stuff around in the mainstream media at that time though I never got bored of this song. But then they seemed to disappear into the abyss for a long time.
Returning to music never garnered them the kind of mass-attention that their earlier work did but the output nevertheless remained consistently strong material showcasing abilities worthy of the headline slots they have indeed secured. So, it is no surprise this will not be their first time headlining Cambridge Folk Festival.
One thing is for sure, this event respects artists and bands who possess the qualities it takes to make the live music at their event the best there is on offer. From the lifelong legends with decades of experience performing to festival-sized masses to the up and coming virtuosos who have just as much of that ability but just happen to be a little lighter on the experience.
You best be quick though and secure your tickets for what will arguably be the best Cambridge Folk Festival yet! An event that has been going for half a century is the perfect place to be this summer. Go on, click on the website and get your tickets now, before they sell out! Trust me, you will be weeping and sobbing the whole summer long if you don’t get to go. Think of the flood risks you will create! Technically by going you will be doing good for the environment. https://www.cambridgelivetrust.co.uk