Since its birth in 1965, Cambridge Folk Festival has earned a reputation for bringing together some of the biggest names in folk – as well as championing some of its up-and-coming stars.
Set in beautiful parkland by Cherry Hinton Hall, is has a unique atmosphere and feels intimate, despite its 14,000 capacity. Whether it’s local ales, tie dyed skirts or a ukulele that you’re after, the festival is well catered without succumbing to the dreaded corporate sponsorship. Put short, it’s an old school festival for fans of folk-leaning music across the generations.
This year’s line-up includes Joan Baez, Frank Turner, Joan Armatrading, The Proclaimers, John Butler Trio, The Unthanks, Show Of Hands and Peggy Seeger.
Our Top Five Picks…
1. Nick Mulvey
A founding member of jazz collective Portico Quartet, Mulvey has twice been nominated for the prestigious Mercury Prize; once with his previous band’s Knee Deep In The North Sea, and most recently for his debut solo record, First Mind. But that’s about the only similarities between his two musical projects – as a solo act, he’s 100% troubadour, with a warm, poetic voice that recalls tales with a wisdom beyond his years.
The past few years have been rather turbulent for Wilko Johnson. After revealing he had terminal cancer – and 10 months to live – in 2013, he embarked on a farewell tour. Just under 18 months later, the former Dr Feelgood guitarist confirmed he was cancer-free, after undergoing surgery. Seemingly the first thing he did when after receiving the all-clear was get stuck back into gigging. Expect his to one of the festival’s more raucous sets.
Norwegians Katzenjammer – which translates as ‘Music by Cats’, naturally – blend country, cabaret, bluegrass and pop to create something quite bonkers. They were born to play at Cambridge and will be adored by both hyperactive toddlers and those encouraged out of their deckchairs by warm prosecco.
Punch Brothers describe themselves as “American country-classical chamber music”. They flit between bluegrass and classical, with structured harmonies that make for an eclectic and fascinating listen.
5. Peggy Seeger
For an authentic folk fest experience, check out Peggy Seeger, who played at its very first outing, back in 1965. Her set will be both an opportunity to hark back to the festival’s roots (and trust us, there will be plenty of people who will be able to tell you all about her show in ’65) and a chance to see the now 80-year-old folk legend in the flesh.
The 2015 Cambridge Folk Festival takes place from 30 July to 1 August. Venue information and tickets can be found at the official site.