Cambridge Folk Festival // The 405 Preview
So the time of the Cambridge Folk Festival is upon us! Soon beardy men and willowy women will descend upon Cherry Hinton Hall in vast, unprecedented numbers. The following guide and brief preview will attempt to show you, a mere confused wanderer how to find the best excellently folky nuggets amongst the chaos. There are a cornucopia of great folk acts to see, so grab yourself some cider, conveniently forget to shave and prepare your tolerance to ukeleles.
On the festivals first day, Thursday, there are a some of the strongest acts of the whole festival playing, so be sure to get their early. Firstly, we have the bright and cheerful Ahab. Their melodic folk is nothing innovative, but has a infectious enthusiasm and is played with a youthful pleasure that will have you happily wafting through what better be a lovely summer day. Next we have the current 'buzz-band' of folk Dry The River. The tattooed East-London group provide a pleasing fusion or indie-rock and folk. A surprisingly bracing live experience the group have to be seen now before they become too massive to see again so easily. Perhaps a little Mumford and Sons for some people's tastes but the group do have an endearing quality to them. Finally, on Thursday the legendary Billy Bragg is celebrating Woody Guthrie's 100th Birthday. I am unsure exactly what this will involve but it can hardly go too wrong can it? Bragg is a veteran of the scene and to not go and see him would be a regrettable mistake.
Friday is host to possibly my favourite band of all time, the hectic, insane and wonderful The Destroyers. The Destroyers are a 16 piece gothic Oom-Pah band from Birmingham, think Tom Waits backed by a whole load of gypsys who are going mental on the stage. If everybody at the entire festival does not go and see them I will be deeply disappointed, this should be essential viewing! Later on we have the intricate Spiro treating us to their beautiful harmonies and lovely violin playing. The complex and musically epic Treacherous Orchestra are also worth a look for fans of groups like The Decemberists. Finally on Friday we have the lovely James Vincent McMorrow gracing us with his beautiful voice. His soft folk melodies should happily guide us through what may well be a lovely summer evening.
On Saturday we have the very exciting King Charles playing in the emerging talent tent. A superb songwriter with a great voice, King Charles is very much one to watch and is certainly worth a listen. Later on The Unthanks are playing with the Brighouse & Rastrick Brass Band, a collaboration that is certainly worth checking out. JuJu will also provide something a bit different to listen to, if you have begun to tire of pure folk music. You also have the frenzied violin playing of Lau to looking forward to to tide you over to the much anticipated arrival of The Proclaimers. While they aren't exactly the most fashionable, or good band to go and watch, they might be quite fun so you may as well.
On our final day at the festival we will be hopefully spending most of the time in pure wonder that the weather has managed to be quite so amazing all weekend. However, there are still a number of top folky acts to go and see. Firstly we have the pleasing melodies of Kan to enjoy to their fullest. The Joanna Newsom-esque (at least in the vocal department) Anais Mitchell is providing musical entertainment later in the day. While we have mercury prize nominated Seth Lekman even later on. He is a great talent within the genre and is probably one of the top singer-songwriters playing over the weekend, so should be witnessed. To finish off the festival we have Joan Armatrading who's experienced bluesy folk-pop will provide a steady end to what should be an excellent festival.
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Everyone knows festivals are the most unpredictable beasts—all your best laid plans can go awry within minutes of setting foot in a new city. Whether it be because of an unexpected secret show, unfamiliarity with public transit or just taking one shot too many, most of us struggle to stick to a set regimen when it comes to an event as massive as SXSW. [read more]