If the pairing of Christmas and music fills you with dread at the thoughts of carols, Noddy Holder or ‘Walking in the Air’ then relax, there is plenty of escape on offer in the Cambridge live music scene this month.
Christmas is a time for giving. A time for raising a few glasses, dancing like an idiot and letting your hair down. Beans on Toast arrives at the Cambridge Junction on the 1st and is guaranteed to kick off the festive season with generous lashings of all of those elements, and then some. This tour will also act as the UK album tour for Beans on Toast’s 9th album, released slap bang in the middle of the tour on 1st December. He’ll be bringing a full live band with him with fiddle, accordion and honky-tonk piano playing a mix of brand new tunes from the forthcoming album and old classics from his huge back catalogue.
Beans’ birthday falls in December and for each year he gets older, a new album and a nationwide tour arrives with it. This time he’ll be joined by Folk Festival favorites Skinny Lister. Label mates, touring buddies and drinking companions they make a perfect match. Both bands are hardworking, fun Loving, heavy touring acts that bring a unique and modern take on the age-old tradition of English folk music. For Skinny Lister, this tour will wrap up the worldwide campaign of their third and critically acclaimed album ‘The Devil, The Heart & The Fight’.
There is some Math Rock-cum-Pop on offer at The Blue Moon on the 2nd courtesy of FES. Described somewhere as “Tubelord meets Biffy Clyro meets Regina Spektor” we reckon this is well worth your time, especially with melodic punk outfit O’Holy Ghost also on the bill. The same promoter is throwing an Xmas do on the 20th at the Corner House. The night sees Ducking Punches return to Cambridge as a full band for the first time in a couple of years and the first time with their new line up and going fully electric. Support comes from the rad Grieving and Sam Russo playing with his band.
Lau have made such a mark in the last 10 years; winning Best Group four times at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, seamlessly blending the worlds of acoustic folk tradition and electronica, as well as the individual acclaim that Kris Drever, Martin Green and Aidan O’Rourke on fiddle have garnered. Having released their first retrospective album earlier this year they bring their hypnotic musicianship to the Junction on the 3rd.
Our top pick for December goes down on the 4th at The Portland Arms when the exceptional Sweet Baboo returns to Cambridge. This Summer saw Stephen Black (aka Sweet Baboo) release his sixth record ‘Wild Imagination’, an album designed as something of an antidote to our turbulent, sometimes dark times. The record is a bright, wry, melodically buoyant and sweetly melancholy tonic from the North Wales singer. Support on the night comes from the lovely Model Village, we love them.
The same evening sees one of hip hop’s biggest selling exports, Nelly, play the Corn Exchange. The rapper penned some of the most memorable r’n’b jams of the 2000’s and will be a pure nostalgia trip.
There is Celtic Punk Rock courtesy of Chicago’s Flatfoot 56 at The Portland on the 6th. Then on the 10th there is Jordan Allen, an artist who is drawing comparisons with the blues influenced Indie of Jake Bugg.
Wooden Arms are a self-diagnosed “genre-fluid” quintet from Norwich. Whether it is their classical, trip hop or alternative sounds that grabs you, rest assured no one does melancholy better than this Chamber Pop outfit who released their sophomore record in October. They play The Portland on the 13th. Elsewhere at the same venue this month you have Goldblume on the 2nd, then the yearly appearance from Punk legends UK Subs on the 14th and then Cambridge’s mightiest classic rock outfit The Treatment returning for an end of year knees up on the 18th.
Our final tip this month is back at The Blue Moon on the 14th and is the triple bill of Dean McPhee, Sam McLoughlin & David Chatton-Barker and Rachel Watkins. Dean McPhee is a solo electric guitarist who combines fluid, chiming melodic lines with shimmering drones and layers of decaying delay and echo. He has a unique style of playing which draws together influences from British Folk, Dub, Kosmische and Mali Blues and his music is hypnotic with a deep sense of space.