Cambridge Folk Festival Invades 2UIBestow [Thursday Review]

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'.

Hello to the lot of ye!

We are at Cambridge folk festival 2010 so myself (Maria Byrne) and Dave (of the Daves) will be here on Peter's blog every day for the next four to keep you up to date.

So it's early on Thursday, my first impression is that Cambridge is very much a family friendly intimate festival, with two main stages and a capacity of 10.000. In its 46th year it's definitely grown from the 1,400 that came here in 1964. I've heard the festival is busier this year than any other which reflects the thriving folk scene at the moment.

The first band to open the festival are a duo from Cambridge called Ezio. Ezio are a good example of Cambridge's choice to book not only 'folk' acts but more alternative stuff too. Their sound is bluesy/rock and with one electric and one acoustic they also manage to produce a big percussive sound. The second stage is the smaller of the two, and already packed above and beyond capacity. Maybe they could be accused of starting a bit slow, or maybe it was our salivating over excitement to see some music but they soon upped the tempo to kick off Cambridge 2010.

The next band were a 10 piece Cornish sea-shanty band from Port Isaac called Fisherman's Friends. This band were high on my expectation list and definitely did not disappoint. Imagine a welsh male voice choir meets sea shanty's meets folk music and you're there. Ranging from sing along foot-stompy tunes to slower hit you right in the heart numbers, they had the crowd absolutely in the palm of their hands. Unaccompanied, these 10 lads sang some of the most amazing harmonies I have ever heard (and I love a good harmony). In between songs John Cleave (who I guess might be the nominated story teller of the group) kept the crowd entertained with tales of the sea, and a few inuendo's thrown in for good measure. Standing in line, each member takes the lead across a range of songs, one of which was 'Pay me my Money down' which went down like a house on fire. A rendition of 'Sloop John B' was recieved with an almighty roar and to finish 'South Australia' left the bass notes echoing in my rib cage right to the end. You could tell immediately that the impact of this band on a hungry folk audience was huge, and I honestly felt like I could go home from the festival now happy. I had a little chat to the band afterwards about Ireland and the music scene at home, my draw dropped slightly when they told me they have never played there before. They then asked me 'Do you think they'd like us?' to which my reply was ' get on the plane, now'.

Next up was Lissie, who has been climbing her way to the front of the ticker tape with the rest of lady singers slowly and steadily this year. Having been joined on stage at sxsw with Ellie Goulding, and praised on Jools Holland by none other than Courtney Love, she's definitely on the right path to the spotlight. Lissie has a Fleetwood Mac/Katie Tunstall type sound which stands her out against the rest but her voice is immediately engaging - like instant soul, is there such thing as instant soul? Each song was met to rapturous applause, finishing with 'When I'm Alone' (my personal fave) her single from earlier this year.

Last up we have Stornoway. If I heard 'hotly tipped to follow Mumford & Sons' once, I heard it a million times. Having seen Stornoway a few times I'm already a big fan, but I have a bit of a problem with the M & S's comparison because they are nothing like them, except that they are both young english folk bands. The essence of the band's songs are folk, but there are definitely a few Buddy Holly-esque pop tinges in there. They started off the set slowly picking up as they went on - 'Fuel Up' is a great track live as is the earlier single from this year 'Zorbing' which they ended with and had the whole tent dancing.

So that was the music for day one, but other than the stages at Cambridge there is a lot of spontaneous breaking into song, weird and wonderful people abound playing various instruments (we had our breakfast this morning to the tune of a hurdy gurdy (!!) from the neighbouring tent) and I've never seen the likes of the get up as my mother would say.

Today we'll see our irish favourites Sharon Shannon and Imelda May along with Seth Lakeman, Seasick Steve and The Unusual Suspects. See you tomorrow!

Maria & Dave