Cambridge Folk Festival – Saturday Preview

Previews Mercury Prize nominees, Prog Folk, Legends and Irish African fused music - Our take on Saturday at CFF 2016

With a late night finish, the Saturday of the Folk Festival is always fun. Here are our picks of who to catch on the Saturday of CFF 2016…

Afro Celt Sound System – Stage 1, 8.50pm
With sales now topping one and a half million albums and two Grammy nominations to date, Afro Celt Sound System celebrated their 20th anniversary earlier this year with a stunning new album, ‘The Source’.

This European and African based collective have been a ground-breaking force in music ever since they started, along the way finding kindred spirits across international talent and forging a reputation for exhilarating shows. The new album’s characteristic energy has already translated brilliantly to Afro Celt Sound System’s latest live sets, which kicked off 2016 in style with sell-out shows at Glasgow’s Celtic Connections festival and Islington’s Assembly Halls in North London.

Kate Rusby – Stage 1, 5.50pm
Legend on the folk scene, with her surprise gig on Stage 2 in 2014 being one of the highlights of that year’s CFF. Sometimes known as “The Barnsley Nightingale”, she has headlined various British national folk festivals, and is one of the most noted contemporary English folk singers. A superstar of the British acoustic scene, she is one of the few folk singers to gain a Mercury Prize nomination.

Kila – Stage 2, 10.40pm
Kíla are bringing their hip-shaking, smile-making, funky, groovy brand of trad out to Cambridge this year, their brand of prog-folk is the perfect preamble to the Silent Ceilidh.
(How do I describe them… prog-folk I guess)

Darlingside – Stage 2, 5.05pm
Indie-folk quartet Darlingside, Artist of the Year at 2016’s Folk Alliance International, release their critically acclaimed album ‘Birds Say’ (Thirty Tigers) in the UK on July 15 and play their first UK tour in July and August. Frequently compared to The Byrds, Fleet Foxes, Simon and Garfunkel and CSN&Y, Darlingside’s adventurous sonic landscape, group vocals and wry intelligent lyrics defy easy categorisation.

John McCusker Band – Stage 1, 1.40pm
In celebration of his 25th Anniversary as a professional musician, John McCusker released ‘Hello, Goodbye’ back in April. A wonderfully evocative set of compositions, ‘Hello, Goodbye’ is John’s first solo album in thirteen years, the first on his new record label Under One Sky Records and the first recorded in his state of the art studio, built over the last 2 years in a bothy dating from 1779, which neighbours his Scottish Borders home. Designed by legendary record producer and studio designer Calum Malcolm, the new studio is a winning combination of the traditional and the new, much like John’s music itself!

Born in Bellshill, near Glasgow, John began playing whistle and fiddle as a child and joined the legendary folk outfit Battlefield Band aged 17. During his 11 years with the band, he also released his first two solo recordings, 1995’s self-titled debut and 2000’s Yella Hoose. His most recent albums include Under One Sky and the reissues of Yella Hoose and Goodnight Ginger re-mastered deluxe.

John has long been renowned for his skill at transcending musical boundaries: striving to keep his music fresh and exciting, never leaving the past behind but always embracing new sonic adventures. As a live and studio guest he has shared stages with Paul Weller, Paolo Nutini, Teenage Fanclub, Graham Coxon and Eddi Reader. Since 2008, he has been a member of Mark Knopfler’s band, playing arenas around the world including a double bill with Bob Dylan at The Hollywood Bowl and 20 nights at the Royal Albert Hall. 

Stick In The Wheel – Stage 2, 3.55pm
Stick In The Wheel’s are a raw, fresh take on English Folk music. Their now-trademark abrasive delivery of both original and traditional tracks, is not bland retroism, or empty nostalgia, but a voice linking now to then. Addressing issues that still have relevance today, re-visiting traditions long-lost, as well as those disappearing right before us, in a way that has more in common with Sleaford Mods than with Bellowhead. A thousand miles away from waistcoats and wistful ladies, the songs are roughed up down dark alleys with lyrics that are direct, honest, and caustic, but also eloquently poetic. The band is spearheaded by Nicola Kearey’s fierce uncompromising vocal delivery, accompanied by Fran Foote’s harmony vocal and underpinned by sparse taut arrangements.

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