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Cambridge Folk Festival

The Cambridge Folk Festival is an annual music festival held on the site of Cherry Hinton Hall in Cherry Hinton, one of the villages subsumed by the city of Cambridge, England. The festival is renowned for its eclectic mix of music and a wide definition of what might be considered folk.[citation needed] It occurs over a long weekend (3½ days) in summer at Cherry Hinton Hall. Until 2008 it was sponsored by BBC Radio 2, who broadcast it live and highlights were recorded and shown later and occasionally live on digital television channel BBC Four from 2002-2009 and from 2010-2012 on Sky Arts.


In autumn 1964 Cambridge City Council, decided to hold a music festival the next summer and asked Ken Woollard, a local firefighter and socialist political activist,[1] to help organise it.[1] Woollard had been inspired by a documentary, Jazz On A Summer's Day, about the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival. The first Festival sold 1400 tickets and almost broke even.[citation needed] Squeezed in as a late addition to the bill was a young Paul Simon who had just released I Am A Rock. The festival's popularity quickly grew. Woollard continued as Festival organiser and artistic director up until his death in 1993. In 2014 the festival celebrated its 50th event, including artists such as Van Morrison and Sinead O'Connor.[2] It is now run by Cambridge City Council Arts & Recreation's Eddie Barcan, together with over two hundred event staff.[1]

Current structure

Most artists perform more than once over the weekend on the different stages: Stage 1, within a large marquee in front of the main Festival arena, the Stage 2, a smaller marquee, a Floor Singers stage at the Coldham's Common camp site and the Club Tent, hosted on the Festival’s behalf by five local folk clubs. There, in addition to invited artists, members of the audience including some well known names get up and perform.[citation needed] There is a small tent called The Hub targeted where young people can practise together or attend workshop sessions.[3]


As well as the more obvious folk singers, recent festivals have seen performances from Chumbawamba, Joe Strummer and The Mescaleros and The Levellers. 2006's line up included Emmylou Harris, Cara Dillon and Seth Lakeman. In 2007 a double album was released "Cool As Folk: Cambridge Folk Festival", with live recordings by Altan, Kate Rusby, Beth Orton, Martin Simpson, Eliza Carthy, Joan Baez and many others. Artists such as Frank Turner, Mumford & Sons, Laura Marling, Old Crow Medicine Show, and Idlewild, Jake Bugg have also all played at Cambridge in recent years. In celebration of the 50th festival Delphonic Music released a digital audio album featuring tracks from 50 different artists, including Joan Baez, The Proclaimers, Fairport Convention and Loudon Wainwright III.[4]


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