Live Reviews

Published on July 26th, 2017 | by Gareth Allen

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Cambridge Folk Festival Preview

The Cambridge Folk Festival debuted in 1965, with a young Paul,Simon being one of the notable performers. It has developed to take on the widest and most eclectic sense of what folk music can encompass.

Just to list some of the artists that have played the festival is a striking illustration of this. Artists including Joan Baez, John Martyn, Mavis Staples, Jimmy Cliff, Janis Ian and Chumbawamba. My own first introduction to the Cambridge Folk Festival was a BBC Radio One broadcast of a blistering set by John Martyn with full electric band, with his acoustic guitar only making an appearance on a couple of a numbers.

Sonic Bandwagon will be covering the 2017 festival, which excels again with a truly diverse and inspirational line up. Some of the highlights we are looking forward too include:

On Friday on Stage 1, Shirley Collins, who played at the very first Cambridge Folk Festival. A remarkable vocalist, banjo player, and folk song collector, she returns to the festival for a much anticipated performance. Her 2016 album Lodestar, her first in 38 years is stunning, with her wonderful voice inhabiting every nuance of each song. It’s a really edgy album too, with Alexis Petridis of the Guardian, noting that ‘Lodestar’s songs’ body count would startle a Norwegian death metal band‘. We can’t wait! 

Wildwood Kin on Stage 2, are a female three piece band, combining acoustic instruments and soaring harmonies to wonderful effect. Just check out their Warrior Daughter single. There is a very striking classic pop sensibility, they bring to their work. Their set is one not to be missed.

On Saturday, on Stage 2, Roxanne De Bastion, a singer songwriter of exceptional talents, who writes captivating and empathic songs, with a voice and musical arrangements that have real emotional impact. Her new album Heirlooms and Hearsay is a must listen.

Also on Stage 2, the incomparable Lau, a band Sonic has reviewed and rate very highly. They are pushing the boundaries of modern folk music, mixing traditional instruments and electronic beats and sounds; and with a song like The Bell That Never Rang, the title track of their last album, showing they can play extended and ambitious pieces of music.

On Sunday, the final day of the festival, on Stage 2, Edinburgh’s Blue Rose Code with a sublime mix of soul, jazz and folk, and some of the most well crafted songs you will hear at the festival. Ross Wilson quotes the Blue Nile and John Coltrane amongst his influences, which should be enough to get you to prioritise their set as one to see. If that’s not enough, listen too Favourite Boy from the And Lo! The Bird is on the Wing album, you will be completely smitten!

So to our final recommendation, with devil horns in the air, it’s Hayseed Dixie on Stage 1. Combining bluegrass and rock and metal, in their own unique Rockgrass style. One listen to their version of Aerosmith’s Walk this Way, and you know this is going to be masses of fun!

See you there!


About the Author

A committed metal head with a love of jazz, soul, and folk. Living in Central Scotland and attending gigs in Edinburgh and Glasgow, with it's really amazing venues. My iconic moment... being invited on stage at the Glasgow Garage, by DevilDriver's Dez Fafara!



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