Monday, August 04, 2014

Review: Cambridge Folk Festival 2014. Part 1

It had rained heavily on Saturday at Cambridge Folk Festival but on Sunday morning when Dail, her friend Evonne and I set off from Dail's house in the pretty town of Stamford it was a beautiful day without a cloud in the sky so I was relieved I didn't have to pack my emergency poncho. It only took about an hour to get to the festival site in Cherry Hinton on the outskirts of Cambridge. This was the 50th annual festival and I had never been before but this year I thought I would make the effort especially as Van Morrison was on. When we entered the arena where all the stages were I noticed  how crowded it was compared to the Village Pump Festival the week before. The arena was hardly any bigger than at the Village Pump but there was about ten times the amount of people which meant that it was packed. What made it worse was that everybody seemed to have brought fold up chairs.It said in the programme not to bring chairs unless you were elderly,disabled or injured but people had ignored that and placed chairs to claim their spot. It was just a sea of chairs. At the Village Pump there was room to breathe but not here.

                                                                  Anyway, that was the only thing I didn't like about this festival. Everything else was great. We took a walk up to the front and  watched a bit of Sarah Jarosz who is a young American singer-songwriter who was accompanied by a fiddle player and a cellist. She was quite good I thought. Then we went to the Club Tent where they showcase new young musicians and there was a really good young English singer-guitarist on. I think his name was Luke Jackson . Dail wanted to secure her position right at the front so we went back to the main stage and got a place right on the barrier and Dail and Evonne took turns keeping this place for the next eight hours. Evonne and I went for a stroll and got a drink and we listened to The High King's.
They are a traditional Irish folk band and their set was mainly well known Irish songs but performed brilliantly. This is just the sort of lively music festival audiences love on a sunny day and they went down a storm. After that we got some food and rejoined Dail. Jason Isbell was on next. I hadn't heard him before but I had heard great reports of him and I must say I thought he was great. Some of the songs were really sad and touched a nerve but it was a great performance. He was accompanied on vocals and violin by his wife Amanda Shires who I think you will agree is gorgeous (See photo).The Oysterband were on after Jason and Dail and Evonne were blown away by them and afterwards couldn't stop talking about them but I didn't see them. I had gone for a walk.
   Strolling past Stage 2 I heard a fair maiden singing a plaintive ballad. "I know that voice", I thought to myself and had a look. Just as I thought it was the one and only Kate Rusby making a surprise appearance. I think Kate is wonderful and I'm going to see her in Bath in December so I stopped and listened to the rest of her set. She brought on Sarah Jarosz as her guest and it was really nice.

 After Kate's surprise appearance I walked on and I met Someone I recognised. It was none other than Chris White who is one of Van Morrison's horn players. I shook hands with him and told him that we had met before. It was in the pub after a Van concert at the Albert Hall. He said that he remembered me but he might have just been polite. I said I was looking forward to seeing Van later. He was friendly. I think all of Van's band are really nice people. I should have asked for a photo but I didn't think. Never-mind. Then strolling through the market area I found a tattoo parlour doing Henna tattoo's which last about 14 days. "I know, I'll get a Van tattoo", I thought. " Can I have a tattoo saying Van The Man in Celtic lettering please?", I said to the girl. "We don't do Celtic lettering", she replied, "This is your choices". "Ok, do what you think is best".I felt obliged to have one once I had sat down. Anyway, it turned out rubbish and a waste of money. I took a photo of it but I'm not showing you it. It will be gone in two weeks and good riddence.
                                                               After that waste of time I saw The Rails on stage 2. I had seen them in Bath less than two weeks ago. In Bath they were a two piece acoustic act but at Cambridge they were a five piece electric outfit and were great. I must get The Rails album because I really like them. Kami looked really cool in her shades and I filmed Bonnie Portmore which is my favourite of their songs (See video below) . Back at the main stage I tried to rejoin Dail and Evonne but it had become impossible so I listened to Julie Fowlis from a distance. Julie is a traditional singer from the Outer Hebrides. An internet friend Jez has often mentioned her so I had a good listen.She has an exquisite voice singing in the Gaelic. Very nice indeed.

 I needed another drink and a cigarette and sat at a table outside the main bar. Who should I meet but Brendan from Dublin who I last met up with in Brighton back in February. It was great to see another die-hard Van fan. We watched Ladysmith Black Mambazo from a distance. I don't think Brendan liked them much and I wasn't all that bothered. I got a passer by to take our photo and we passed the time chatting about Van. Eventually Ladysmith ended and as thousands of people moved out we knew it was time to make our move. It was time for the legend they call Van The Man.

To be continued in Part 2, Van Morrison At Cambridge 2014.

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