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 it's day 3, and the day started with some rain and a bit of a hangover but both cleared up before the first band. Up on the main stage we had a look at Carolina Chocolate Drops, a bluegrass/roots old stringband from North Carolina. I've been listening to a really catchy song of theirs called 'Cornbread and Butterbeans' which has had some radio play here (worth a listen). They had lots of fun (and instruments) on stage, towards the end of the set one of the singers did a bit of a dance passing through the guitar under his legs, knocking his hat off, that kind of thing.
Something told me I wasn't quite close enough to the stage, so I shuffled my way towards the front to watch Irish trad folk troubadours Dervish. 21 years on the road and 11 albums in they are pretty much regulars to Cambridge Folk Festival, this being their fifth time here. Lead singer Cathy Jordan isn't short of a few stories to tell in between the songs and her ability to keep the audience engaged is pretty special. Later on I asked her if she enjoyed her set and her thoughts on Cambridge, to which she said 'No one has a bad gig at Cambridge, it's one of the nicest festivals to play at.'
Over to stage 2 now for Johnny Flynn & The Sussex Wit, another favourite of mine since first album A Larum. Now two albums in, Johnny has established himself over the last few years as a firm member of the Laura Marling/Noah and the Whale/Mumford and Sons folk community in the UK regularly joining them on stage and collaborating in the studio. He has been described as the 'next poster boy of the nu-folk scene', but aside from his looks and swooning female teenagers in the audience his musical maturity is way beyond his 21 years. Not only a multi-instrumentalist (in this set alone he played banjo, trumpet, violin, guitar) his lyrics are what really grabs me. He writes pure poetry successfully set to haunting melodies ranging from a whisper to a mighty roar. He is about to head off on a solo tour in September to Ireland, if you haven't seen him before you should definitely check him out. With a name like Johnny Flynn he can't really go wrong in Ireland!
Saturday's line up here was very trad heavy which pleased the folk purists, but by early evening the rest of us were feeling a little jigged and reeled out of it. So off we went to catch some blues in the form of the American trio The Holmes Brothers. Their bend of blues/rock and roll their musical journey took the classic route through the churches of Virginia. With a strong back beat, grooving bass lines and Wendell's slick, soulful guitar solos it was a great way to end the day dancing.
When the music is finished on the stages here, lots of little music sessions pop up all over the place each with their own audience huddled around keen for more. It's a bit like heading off to a party for a session after the pub but you don't have to go very far. The age range here is also something that strikes me, as I was probably expecting it to be an older festival but there are lots of young eager folkers in amongst the old folkers.