Cambridge Folk Festival

Cherry Hinton Hall, Cambridge

Cherry Hinton Hall, Cambridge

Where else could it possibly happen? An international superstar makes an impromptu entrance to boogie alongside a Romanian gipsy wedding band, and a day later a dinner-suited ukulele orchestra plays the Sex Pistols' Anarchy in the UK.

The answer is nowhere else but the Cambridge Folk Festival, gloriously revelling these last four days in the mud (not much blood) but certainly the beer of Cherry Hinton Hall.

Undoubted star of the show was the serene Joan Baez, clearly given a new constituency as a result of the Iraq war. The woman who made her name in the Vietnam protest days of the Sixties almost felt it her duty to reprise the peace mantra, including Dylan's With God on Our Side: “Because I have to” she told a receptive audience.


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Earlier, Baez had given the regal stamp of approval to the unlikely discoveries of the festival, the aforementioned Romanian outfit Fanfare Ciocarlia.

“How do you pronounce their name” she asked “Bloody brilliant”, said the wag in the crowd. And so the name stuck.

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It was the grandiosely named Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain that proved the unexpected fun set of the festival.

On Friday night, the experience and quality of the Water Boys shone through a great opening evening that included the excellent Steve Earle.

And in her own way Barnsley's own Kate Rusby rivalled the incomparable Ms Baez. Finally, the whole Cambridge experience ignited again for the tender Nanci Griffith.

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