Ask anyone who's been to the Festival before, and they'll tell you that the Club Tent provides some of its best moments. Smaller and more intimate than the main stages, it has an atmosphere all of its own, inspiring artists to ferociously intense performances and allowing audiences to make endless new musical discoveries. But how did it come into being, and why is it called the Club Tent?
The first Cambridge Folk Festival was held in 1965, at the height of the 'folk revival'. Revival leaders such as Ewan MacColl and Bert Lloyd placed great emphasis on the idea that folk music was the music of the people. It was seen as a democratic, universal activity that could unite and inspire local communities - and the revival soon spawned communities of its own. By the mid-Sixties, virtually every town and city in Britain had a folk club, and Cambridge was no exception.
The Club Tent brings the welcoming, participatory ethos of the folk club to the great outdoors. Though some performers are programmed by the Festival organisers, five of the biggest clubs from Cambridge and nearby also get the opportunity to showcase some of their favourite local acts. And, in true folk-club spirit, festivalgoers can also sign up to play open spots.
Asked what's special about the Club Tent, Marion Treby of Cambridge Folk Club replies:
"At the Club Tent, the Folk Festival audience, who may have been attracted by the ‘big name’ artists, get a chance to hear local talent, and experience a range of styles and a wealth of talent that they may not have been expecting. In the more intimate surroundings of the Club Tent, artists may feel that they can share their more intricate, complex or unusual musical arrangements or instrumentation. In return, local artists have a chance to be ‘spotted’ by agents, or even by professional acts who may be ’talentspotting’ or looking for support acts."
Because they're hearing new artists week in, week out, folk club organisers often discover rising stars before they make it onto the radar of professional agents and promoters. A booking for the Club Tent can sometimes be the making of these new acts.
If you want the full experience of the Cambridge Folk Festival, some time in the Club Tent is a must. You're sure to encounter something that's weird and plenty that's wonderful. And once the Festival is over, why not seek out the folk clubs in your area?
Partly an open stage, the Club Tent invites musicians attending the Festival to appear alongside established acts from other stages, the best up-and-coming
acts, and regular guests and floor singers from nearby folk clubs who help host the tent. There are a limited number of 15-minute slots for members of the audience, allocated on a first-come, first-served basis at the times indicated below. You may only sign up for one slot over the weekend. You don’t need to be a folk club member or a musician to come in, and everyone is welcome.
Sign up times:
CAMBRIDGE FOLK CLUB: FRIDAY 4pm
THE BRIDGE: FRIDAY 8pm
ACOUSTIC ROUTES: SATURDAY 8pm
NEW ROUTES: SATURDAY 12 Noon
BLACK FEN: Join in the Black Fen singarounds to book a sign-up place
Cambridge Folk Club
Cambridge Folk Club offers intimate roots and acoustic music by local and national artists in a friendly and welcoming atmosphere. We meet every Friday at The Golden Hind, Milton Road, Cambridge, CB4 1SP. www.cambridgefolkclub.co.uk
Friday, Club Tent, 5:10pm-8:25pm featuring:
Kelly and Woolley
The Bridge is a network organisation set up in 2017 to represent music providers in Cambridge and the surrounding area and provide a single point of contact on behalf of its member clubs for performers, venues, festivals and large organisations. The Bridge is particularly committed to providing opportunities for young and upcoming musicians to perform. Artists performing this year are Kelvin Davies + Gary Jones, Roswell, Luke James Williams, Odette Michell and Jez Hellard + The Djukella Orchestra. www.cambridgebridge.co.uk
Saturday, Club Tent, 12 noon - 2:55pm featuring:
Kelvin Davies + Gary Jones
Luke James Williams
Jez Hellard and the Djukella Orchestra
Now in its third year, New Routes is a regular night at Cambridge Junction presenting Acoustic, Folk and Roots artists. Held in J3 (80 capacity room) and set out cabaret style with candles on tables, it’s a comfortable and intimate space to listen to the best emerging and established artists from the area. Each gig presents two booked acts plus two floor spots, with artists often introducing themselves to the local scene by playing a floor spot and going on to be booked for a main slot. New Routes gigs are renowned for their top-quality venue sound and attentive audiences.
Saturday, Club Tent, 6pm-8:30pm featuring:
Christina Alden and Alex Patterson,
The Acoustic Routes concerts were started by singer/songwriter Bernard Hoskin in 2001. This year’s guests will include five-piece folk rock band The Salts, performing original material alongside their own interpretations of traditional songs, plus virtuoso guitarist Steve Hicks with singer/ guitarist Lynn Goulbourn.
Sunday, Club Tent, 12 noon - 3:15pm featuring:
Steve Hicks + Lynn Goulbourn
Black Fen Folk Club
All our guests have played to full houses at the club during the past year or so. They are great favourites with us and we hope you enjoy them too. Together they reflect the club’s traditional values and very high standards, both for our monthly concerts and our weekly open stage evenings; 7:30pm every Sunday at the NCI Centre, Holland St, Cambridge.
The Often Herd play bluegrass complete with driving energy, tight harmonies and dazzling instrumental interplay but coloured by their home surroundings, the striking natural and industrial landscapes of the North East. Their unique approach won them the title of Best European Bluegrass band of 2018 at the La Roche Festival. Robin Gillan draws his music from the traditions of the British Isles and the USA. Equally adept on guitar, five-string banjo, fiddle and harmonica, his singing and playing has a power, intensity and technical quality which is equally at home with an English ballad, square-dance medley or an Appalachian country song. In addition to his dazzling solo sets, Robin also performs with the New Deal String Band and Jumping Beans Ceilidh Band.
The Wilderness Yet combines the acclaimed talents of folksinger Rosie Hodgson, fiddler Rowan Pigott and guitarist Philippe Barnes. They weave a tapestry of traditional and original songs and tunes, from acapella three-part harmonies to luscious instrumental arrangements.
Sunday, Club Tent, 5:35pm-9pm featuring:
The Often Herd
The Wilderness Yet