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At the heart of English folk

EFDSS adventures at Cambridge Folk Festival 2014

Neil Pearson, Artist Development and Programming Manager for the English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS) reports back after a weekend at Cambridge Folk Festival.


As a proud partner of Cambridge Folk Festival’s 50th anniversary, the opportunity to attend on behalf of EFDSS and give a little back to festival-goers was part of our role for the weekend.

With five members of staff and volunteers on site (easy to spot in red our EFDSS t-shirts) we gave away tote bags filled with the Cecil Sharp House autumn season brochure on Saturday. Once that task was complete, we got into the swing of enjoying the stellar line-up the festival had to offer.

Team EFDSS, post tote bag giveaways!

With a packed programme of artists, and four stages there were many opportunities to see both the familiar, new artists and also a few heroes!

The Yves Lambert Trio, Martin & Eliza Carthy, David Bromberg & Larry Campbell were performing while we were giving out tote bags, but they all were high on my ‘listen to’ list and would have graced any festival around the world.

A busy afternoon saw me running around between Megson (in a very full club tent), The Dovetail Trio (full audience in the Den).

After packing away the EFDSS flags and a torrential and extended period of rain it was back to Stage One for The Full English band. A superb performance inspired by The Full English digital archive collections!

No time to rest on any laurels though as I rushed to Stage Two, to the sound of The Full English’s final song, to catch as much of the Moulettes’ set as I could. I was really impressed with the togetherness and energy on stage from the band, and the reception from the audience was amazing. I look forward to seeing them at Cecil Sharp House on 6 December!

The evening was then drifting between various stages and catching a mixture of Loudon Wainwright, Pip Mountjoy, Rosanne Cash and others.

I was back on site early on Sunday to catch some of Martin Simpson’s guitar masterclass. I also had a couple of meetings, before a busy sequence of shows!

I caught all of The Young‘Uns brilliantly received set, and then went to Stage Two to watch the New Rope String Band’s family show – always one of the best festival shows you could wish to see, and guaranteed to get an audience smiling.

I then had the opportunity to settle down in the club tent for an hour and half to see two of the best young artists around; Luke Jackson’s set was very well received and a brilliant showcase of his vocal and guitar skills, the audience grew and grew as he performed a varied and powerful set.

EFDSS has worked closely with Maz O’Connor with over the past 12 months, with her BBC Performing Arts Fellowship, and this my first opportunity to see her perform since that ended. She performed a really excellent and confident set to a full tent before rushing off to the MoJo signing tent.

The unannounced special guest Kate Rusby performed to a huge audience later in the afternoon, and the evening ran into concerts from O’Hooley & Tidow, Lucy Ward, Ladysmith Black Mambazo & Van Morrison and more, but sadly the call of home and a full week of work starting on Monday meant I missed the chance of a New Rope String Band repeat show at 10pm, but drove home with great memories of a fantastic weekend!

National Youth Folk Ensemble

National Youth Folk Ensemble


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