This weekend on the blog I'm delighted that singer and songwriter from Cork Maria Byrne will be reviewing the Cambridge Folk Festival directlky from the festival for 2UIBestow. Maria has released an excellent EP this year which resulted in Jo Whiley describing it as 'Sweet Sweet Music'. http://www.myspace.com/MariaByrne
So Friday opened with a Scottish ceilidh band complete with piper called Breabach. A good turnout blew away the cobwebs of last night's festivities dancing to their footstomping reels.
Next up on the main stage was The Quebe Sisters. Consisting of three sisters (Grace, Sophie and Hulda Quebe), a guitarist and a double bassist, their choice and interpretation of covers was simply excellent. The sisters, all accomplished fiddlers, sing in close harmony which brings to mind 1940s big band classics. Their cover of Les Paul's 'How High The Moon' was superb, putting to use the three fiddles in place of Les Paul's electric guitar layers on the record. Their version of 'Georgia on my Mind' is certainly one to check out.
Sharon Shannon took to the stage with her band. I've seen Sharon many times before, and Imelda May once or twice but never together so I was intrigued to see how this was going to work. Sharon played a couple of the old favourites including Blackbird before asking Imelda to join her for a song they recorded together, Go Tell the Devil, on Sharon's latest Album Saints and Scoundrels. Before the song even started I'm impressed as Imelda told the audience it had been recorded in Sharon's kitchen with the double bassist in the toilet! Their collaboration worked really really well, each musician in the band having a turn at a solo. What I really love about Sharon is that she looks at the band as she plays always smiling you just think there is a band really enjoying themselves. Joined by Imelda who has enough charisma to charm even the weariest of hearts these two ladies exceeded already high expectations.
The early evening slot saw a typically rousing set from now veteran Cambridge hero Seth Lakeman. Much of the set was made up of tracks from his latest album 'Hearts and Minds' before he finished with the ever-popular Kitty Jay.
So the debate began whether to watch Seasick Steve or a band none of us had seen before called Mama Rosin. In the end the rain forced our hand over to stage 2 for the lesser known folksters. The cajun/blues trio from Switzerland took arrived with banjo, melodeon and guitar, we even got a dose of washboard later on in the set! Upbeat and energetic, within the first three songs any thoughts of the torrential rain outside the tent were forgotten. Musically, their mix of rock and roll with traditional instruments made for a different exciting set - a definite festival highlight.
To close out the second stage was The Wonder Stuff. Not what you would class as a 'folk' band, but they offered a violinist in the form of the dainty Erica Nockalls which would have satisfied the die hards. It also worked really well when Miles took to the stool for some acoustic tracks from his back catalogue. The high point of their set would have to be the popular 'size of a cow', but the inclusion of a dedication to the late Kirsty McCall was a really lovely way to end day two.