Cambridge Folk Festival 2022 – For the love of the people
It’s no secret that it’s been a tough two years for the music industry. Cambridge Folk Festival organizer Rebecca Stewart acknowledges this challenging context in the front lines of this year’s Festival programme, the first since 2019. It is against this backdrop that the FFS team enters the arena in disbelief and a growing sense of elation that yes, really, here we are all back, and here awaits a weekend filled to the brim with all of our favorite new artists, waiting to be discovered, enjoyed and discussed in the months to come.
Thursday evening opened the Festival with vigor. With thousands of people already present, the public exceeded the limits of the walls of the marquee to enjoy a reference show of Samantha Crain and her band on Stage 2. Part of the Choctaw Native Tribe in Oklahoma, she uses her musical gifts to write new folk songs for her community to sing—and one example, “When We Remain,” is how she closed a sparkling good Positioner.
There, in the club tent, it was impossible to see Beans on toast halfway through his punchless and politically tempered game. After a sweet song about the mundane beauty of spending a day with his daughter, he sought to free the public from climate anxiety by explaining that it was BP who coined the phrase “carbon footprint”. Urging us to look around with gratitude at this time and be thankful for the sunshine, the music, and being together, he understood the mission of opening night.
The star of Friday’s lineup was a showcase of this year’s English Folk Expo mentees. A program facilitating mutual support and opportunities like playing at the Festival, the EFEx showcase first graced the club tent in 2019, but after two glorious hours of fresh and diverse talent from Georgia Buchanan, Ben and Dom, Amelie Coburn and Izzie Walshwe hope it will become a permanent feature. Amelie CoburnThe set of particularly stood out, with a smooth, confident voice and personal narration accompanied by a dulcimer, ukulele and guitar, she left the audience feeling like we had just witnessed to a future star.
Continuing in the Club Tent, Conchúr White (pronounced ‘Connor’) played an engrossing, silent set including ‘Daisies’ which, to his surprise, was part of the soundtrack to one of the last episodes of Neighbors. The set closer to ‘On Raglan Road’ on electric guitar was stylish and assured.
Saturday’s Stage 1 sets were the soundtrack to that particular nostalgia caused by watching the finale of the beloved Australian soap opera that morning. It wouldn’t be fair to feel pure happiness while listening to folk music, would it?
After a jam-packed set the day before on stage 2, the northern trio Young people gave another searing performance of their three-part harmonies to an even larger audience in Stage 1. We laughed and cried and felt all things alive as we were swept away between the sea shanties, traditional folk songs and their individual musical takes. stories behind events such as the Lockerbie bombing and the 2019 London Bridge terrorist attack. The latter inspired ‘Jack Merritt’s Boots’, a testament to the life and impact of one of the victims, a local man who had grown up only a few miles from the festival and whose parents were present to hear the song performed. for the first time.
Later in the night, PassengerThe headliner of saw the solo artist humbly declare that it was like a big stage for one man, one guitar and one hit single (2014’s ‘Let Her Go’ won an Ivor Novello award and fame international for Mike Rosenberg, the man behind the nickname). Deftly charming audiences with effusive gratitude between performances of “Table For One,” Bryan Adams’ “Heaven” and Simon & Garfunkel’s “Sound of Silence” before, yes, playing what he called his “song to success,” resulted in the audience continuing to sing along long after they left the stage.
Sunday saw impressive performances by daisy fall in the Den, whose Scottish/American heritage and beautiful voice were perfect for perfect Sunday listening, and in the Club Tent, Flo Perlin of Belarusian/Iraqi origin made her 14-year-old daughter’s dream come true by performing on the stage on which she had already seen Johnny Flynn and Laura Marling perform.
From two emerging artists to two performers at the top of their game, Stage 2 illustrated the perfect line-up for this closing night. The first standing Sam Lee and his band played through an engrossing and fascinating set – a mini-tour through Lee’s work as a song collector across the British Isles. Drawing in the audience to participate and providing the right context for each song’s exquisite delivery, it could have served as a tutorial on how to woo an overflowing tent on the last night of a festival.
And for something completely different, Grammy Award-winning Christone ‘Kingfish’ Ingram brought electrifying Mississippi blues, playing the kind of soaring guitar solos that seep into every inch of your soul. With completely blown minds we pretty much managed to remember how to walk and did so to hear the returnees from the Festival St Paul and the Broken Bones close the weekend on stage 1. It was a strong comeback after two summers without the Cambridge Folk Festival. Two summers during which it was impossible to predict what the future of music festivals would be. If but if this weekend is something to spend, the future is bright.
Words: Angeline Lis