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Emerging young talent joins headliners on Cambridge's City Roots bill

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Ferris and Sylvester will perform at City Roots 2018
Ferris and Sylvester will perform at City Roots 2018

The City Roots Festival returns to Cambridge this February and March after the success of last year's inaugural event.

The city-wide inter folk and roots festival, supported by the Cambridge Independent, opens for an extended two weeks of exceptional music and events on Thursday, February 22.

Neil Jones, from Cambridge Live, said: “We’re really pleased with this year’s City Roots line-up which sees some of the finest local talent sitting alongside key names from the worlds of folk, roots and acoustic music.

“We would encourage everyone to check out the full line-up and to enjoy a taste of the Cambridge Folk Festival in one of the city’s many venues.”

Following the first announcement of headline acts, including Cambridge Folk Festival summer headliner Ward Thomas; Cambridge-born Tom Robinson, who will perform his 2-4-6-8 Motorway 40th Anniversary

show; and Gambian Kora virtuoso Sona Jobarteh, now come exciting details of the final names and attractions planned for the city’s newest festival.

The folk festival’s legendary talent spotting stage, The Den, has put together two gigs, each featuring three acts.

On the bill at The Boathouse on Friday, February 23 are Ferris & Sylvester, with clear references in their catchy folk setup to the mid-60s sounds of such musicians as Bob Dylan and Simon & Garfunkel, the duo also sit among contemporaries like Laura Marling and Ray Lamontagne.

They will perform alongside August and After – an indie-folk trio who weave rich three-part harmonies along with classically-inspired layers of instrumentation.

Songwriters Ned and Vedantha were inspired by the likes of Bon Iver and Kings of Convenience

and after countless nights honing their vocal harmonies and intricate guitar playing, the trio was formed when they came upon Jordan, a classical violist, on London’s South Bank.

Completing the line-up is LOZST – pronounced ‘lost’. The soulful Americana duo have a country edge and are drawn together from either side of the Atlantic.

Lauren Scudder (USA) and Tom Ryder (UK) came together to create songs influenced by acapella, soul, folk and pop to tell stories with sharp-witted lyrics and soaring harmonies.

Then, at Storey’s Field Centre, Eddington on Thursday, March 1 Ben Smith and Jimmy Brewer take to the stage. The close harmony singing and guitar playing duo are fast gaining a reputation not only as great songwriters but also superb musicians.

Also on the bill is Cambridge-born Ethan Ash, with his ‘soul-infused folk pop (with a dash of country)’. He’s supported many artists including Ed Sheeran on one of his sell-out UK tours, has written with Grammy award-winning songwriter Amy Wadge, and has played many high-profile festivals and gigs. Completing the line-up is Sarah Munro – a singer-songwriter and guitarist whose music combines elements of folk, jazz and easy-listening with a strong emphasis on lyrics and storytelling.

Another event will feature a local award-winner. Cambridge’s NMG Awards is a music awards initiative, celebrating the achievements and potential of artists based in East Anglia, and plays a key role in developing and encouraging young talent on their initial steps towards a career in music. A special gig will take place at The Portland Arms on Thursday, March 1, featuring three bands: Cavetown, Matt Hammond and Fred’s House, winners of 2017’s Special Achievement Award – The Syd Barrett Pride of Cambridge Award – at the NMG Awards.

Finally, other events to look out for include a mystery ‘Venue to be confirmed Secret Session’, music workshops with Cameroon’s blues and jazz artist Muntu Valdo and a masterclass at Millers Music with folk heroes CC Smugglers.

Already announced for the winter festival are the soaring, Gambian sun-drenched chords of stunning festival headliner, Sona Jobarteh, who will perform alongside Cameroon’s blues and jazz artist Muntu Valdo; the Americana-tinged sound of Wildwood Kin – crowned this year as legendary broadcaster Bob Harris’ Emerging Artist of the Year – supporting Cambridge Folk Festival summer headliner Ward Thomas; award-winning comic Rich Hall performing Hoedown – a withering dissection of Trump’s America which finishes as a celebration of Americana with stand-up and improvised ballads; and Cambridge born Tom Robinson with the 2-4-6-8 Motorway 40th Anniversary show.

Tom is one of the founding team of BBC Radio 6, where he hosts three shows a week and has become known as a champion of new emerging artists via BBC Introducing.

The City Roots Festival is at venues across the city, February 22-March 6. Box office: 01223 357851 or Cambridge Live online.

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