Oh what a night! Cambridge Folk Festival Club tent, Friday 28th July 2017
What a great time we had last night as guests of the Cambridge Folk Club, performing as one of a number of representative bands at the Club Tent on the Cambridge Folk Festival site at Cherry Hinton Lane.
Despite the best efforts of the predictable Friday-night-in-the-school-holidays road chaos, we managed to make it to the artists' car park and then onto the festival site in plenty of time for our performance.
Once on site we immediately ran into friends, seeing, first, Patti and then Roger Pitt, organisers of the great St Neot’s Folk Club.
Once through security, the first sounds to reach our ears were the dulcet tones of Jon Boden and we lingered a while to watch the end of his excellent solo set on Stage 2 before moving round to the Club Tent area.
The organisers of the Cambridge Folk Club have always been so kind and welcoming to us and it was lovely to see so many friendly faces backstage when we arrived at the Club Tent. There were lots of hugs and handshakes on arrival, warming tea was brought to combat the chilliness of the evening and we were able to spend a very pleasant half an hour catching up on the club’s news, both the happy and, with the recent passing of club stalwart Joan Woollard, the deeply sad. It was also very nice, later, to catch up with Les Ray from trio Red Velvet.
Rob and I then went for a stroll around the festival stages to soak up some of the atmosphere. Despite the coolness of the evening air and the impending threat of rain, the site was - as it is every year - absolutely buzzing, with a ceilidh in the Stage 2 area and British country and western sisters, Ward Thomas, on the main stage.
By the time we returned to the Club Tent, the first of Cambridge Folk Club’s special guests had started their set. I took the opportunity to slip around to the tent itself to see and hear what was going on and was very pleasantly surprised to see the entire Club Tent area completely full with people enjoying the truly excellent Boxwood Chessmen. Indeed, the tent was so packed that those sitting at the front were asked by the compere if they could please stand up so that more people could come into the shelter of the tent rather than watching from outside in the worsening rain.
I stayed watching until the Boxwood Chessmen had finished their excellent set and the very talented Emily Mae Winters and her band had sound checked and set up, before returning backstage to listen further and to begin tuning up.
While Rob and I were tuning up, the truly lovely Hannah Sanders, whom we had first met a few years earlier at the St. Neots Folk Festival, spotted us backstage and came over to have a chat. It was nice to be able to tell her how thrilled we were by her and Ben Savage’s current successes together and she, in turn, was very generous to us.
As we chatted, the sound techs arrived to marshal us towards the side of the stage in readiness for Emily Mae Winters finishing her set. Like us, the Club Tent audience were clearly loving what she was doing and she and her fellow musicians left the stage to loud and justified applause...We were on.
Given that the legend that is Shirley Collins was on the Main Stage and the phenomenally talented Cara Dillon was starting shortly on Stage 2, we were delighted that the Club Tent remained as packed for our performance as it had for the previous acts. We had decided to go for a lively set and ripped into Three Bony Ships and The Black Widows as immediate starters. We then slowed the pace temporarily with Time Wears Awa', before playing a couple of fast and furious muineiras, our new song Sisters and Brothers, two more tunes, and then out with our 'folk rock' standard, Navajo & Pirates.
The sound engineer was on great form and when that happens it just makes you want to push your performance that bit further. Through the stage lights, we could make out people singing and dancing, we could hear people clapping along (and maybe even a tambourine in there somewhere). Anyhow, we ended our half hour set to resounding applause and plenty of whoops and hollers.
As we left the stage, it was really nice to receive the thumbs up from the Cambridge Folk Club organisers and, then, to have a few enquiries about CDs for purchase.
As we packed away, it was great to hear five-piece Morganway get into their stride. We hadn't come across their music before but they certainly sound like they’ve got a great future ahead of them.
We were still buzzing by the time we got back to the car and the now continual rain couldn't dampen our spirits. The holiday traffic had mercifully dissipated by now and the journey home was uneventful. In truth, we were still buzzing by the time we got home. Speaking personally, I knew I was going to need that beer to rock me off to sleep.
Many thanks to Marion, Andy, Jim, Robin and all the members of the Cambridge Folk Club committee for inviting us to represent them in the Cambridge Folk Festival Club Tent and for their continuing encouragement and support for us and our music.