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Cambridge Folk Festival: Bright colours in dark times

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Cambridge Folk Festival Sunday August 5th 2019 (14758251)
Cambridge Folk Festival Sunday August 5th 2019 (14758251)

This year's Cambridge Folk Festival concluded with a dazzling array of musical gifts. After Talisk's storming Saturday night tour de force, Sunday started to get properly going mid-afternoon with The Unthanks' feast of harmonies followed by Richard Thompson, whose mesmerising guitar virtuosity and sardonic wit captivated the main stage crowd.

Over on stage one Siobhan Miller's dulcet tones were followed by Texan Jarrod Dickenson, who brought a bit of drawl and swagger to proceedings. Dickenson was followed by a different sort of swagger - the musical swagger of the blues with Lil' Jimmy Red and the A Team. Jimmy Reed occupies the territory that Muddy Waters used to prowl. There was more blues on the main stage with the Blind Boys of Alabama and then - an inspired piece of programming - the Blind Boys were joined by Amadou & Miriam for an African/American crossover which was big-hearted and uplifting.

The Club tent has its own centre of gravity and PicaPica's set has to be one of the event's triumphs. The vocal interplay of Josienne Clarke and Samantha Whates is matched by the duo's self-deprecating humour and impeccable accompanying musicianship from Adam Beattie - if they had "best-of" awards every year, Adam Beattie would surely be a strong contender for the guitar win. PicaPica were followed by another festival highlight - the Bar-Steward Sons of Val Doonican, an irreverent, madcap trio whose unlikely choices of songs to reinvent in a bawdy theatrical style included the Stones' 'Paint It Black', the Bee Gees' 'How Deep Is Your Love' and Kraftwork's 'The Model'.

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