This image: Salif Keita
The team behind Cambridge Folk Festival have created a fab new bijou version for the winter
Taking place at Cherry Hinton Hall each July, Cambridge Folk Festival has been delighting music lovers for more than 50 years, becoming one of the most famous events of its kind in the world.
A huge celebration of folk music as a genre, it’s known for its great atmosphere and consistently excellent line-ups, featuring both established and up-and-coming artists. Emerging from this rich musical heritage is City Roots, a brand new festival for Cambridge which comes our way from 3 to 11 February.
Presented by Cambridge Folk Festival and Cambridge Live, this event takes place at venues across the city and features an exciting selection of talent, ranging from internationally acclaimed stars to newer acts on the cusp of greatness.
Kicking things off on 3 February at The Portland is a gig from Steven James Adams, former singer-songwriter with Cambridge cult heroes The Broken Family Band and a man who’s debut solo effort The Guardian described as “outstanding” back in 2014. In the wake of his second solo release, last year’s critically acclaimed Old Magick, he’s back on the road with his new band.
Next up, on 5 February, it’s the turn of folk festival regular and multiple Grammy Award winner Mary Chapin Carpenter (above). Over the course of her acclaimed career, this leading light of the folk and country scene has amassed 14 albums and more than 14 million record sales, thanks to hits including Passionate Kisses and He Thinks He’ll Keep Her. Bella Hardy will be making a special guest appearance too.
Another highlight of the programme is sure to be Transatlantic Sessions, taking place at the Corn Exchange on 7 February. Bringing together the finest Celtic musicians and their counterparts from across the pond, this show sees performers revisiting their shared roots and forging new common ground in a captivating transatlantic melting pot of music. Special guests include the inimitable Eddi Reader, plus John Paul White, Tift Merritt and Dirk Powell. Elsewhere on the 7th, catch The Folk Club Session at the Anglia Ruskin Union Bar, and Amy Wadge and Luke Jackson over at Cambridge Junction.
The next day, go wild to the folky, gypsy, jazzy, bluegrass stylings of Mad Dog McCrea (below), whose self-penned paeans to pirates, fairies, love, drinking and adventure never fail to capture audiences’ imaginations – join the fun at the Junction.
Next up, on the 9th, treat your ears to an evening in the company of Paolo Angelli & Derek Gripper. Hailing from Sardinia and South Africa respectively, this pair of guitar virtuosos deftly absorb varied styles and influences to create a spellbinding show.
In addition to city-wide buskers and crafts workshops at the Guildhall, the 11th of the month also brings a visit from Salif Keita, the ‘golden voice of Africa’. Fusing rock, funk and jazz with powerful West African griot traditions, his headline performance at the Corn Exchange will close City Roots.
The Den @ CB2
A much-loved fixture at Cambridge Folk Festival, the Den stage showcases up-and-coming talent each year and has played host to the likes of Jake Bugg and Passenger when their stars were ascendant. During City Roots, The Den makes a temporary home in the basement at CB2 café, a cosy and intimate venue known for hosting excellent live music. On 8 February, catch Janet Devlin, SJ Mortimer and Honey & The Bear, or swing by on the 9th for Mortal Tides, Ben Smith & Jimmy Brewer and Kerry Devine.
This image: Transatlantic Sessions