Interview with folk band Flook: ‘Cambridge is like one of the hallowed ground gigs’
Taking inspiration from their Irish and English roots, Flook have an enviable sound, weaving and spinning traditionally rooted tunes over infectious acoustic grooves.
There is no shortage of virtuosity among the Anglo-Irish quartet – who are no strangers to performing in Cambridge – but the unique impact of this band stems from the intuitive exchange between the various flutes, frets and skins.
With the flutes and whistles of Brian Finnegan and Sarah Allen, the guitar of Ed Boyd and the bodhran of John Joe Kelly, this long-standing collective last released an album, Ancora, in 2019 and it was their first for nearly a decade and a half.
They will be performing at the Junction on May 11, as part of a two-month UK tour, and will then follow that up with an appearance at the Cambridge Folk Festival, as part of another series of concerts, in July.
Speaking from his home in Armagh, Northern Ireland, Brian Finnegan says: “We’re just getting ready now with Flook for these two fairly sizeable tours – or if you combine them it’s one big whopper of a tour.
“I have been doing lots of different musical projects; I recorded an album of my own during the lockdown so then I subsequently formed a band to gig it live. So I’ve been doing that and some producing... I was really busy for a few years. The band did a tour in Denmark and a couple of gigs in Ireland last year but this is going to be our first foray out into the big world in ’22 so we’re really excited.”
And the band always gets a warm welcome in the city. “It’s like one of the hallowed ground gigs for us,” says Brian. “With the festival it kind of ripples out into the wider community around Cambridge. I’ve been teaching at this musical summer camp in Burwell [Burwell Bash, see burwellbash.info] – it’s my 27th year now, so I kind of know the musical community.
“When you do gig in Cambridge, it’s like if you’re an Indian musician doing a gig in Calcutta, there’s a knowledge coming back off the room and off the people listening that you don’t get in quite a lot of other places, just because they’ve been exposed to so much really great folk music over the years.
“The knowledge is high, their understanding of the music and where it can take them is quite high as well, and that just feeds into a great gig because the band need that exchange with the audience. We always have that in Cambridge.”
Brian, 52, believes he’s played the Cambridge Folk Festival four times with Flook and earlier with other acts. “It’s one of those gigs you don’t get it every year, which makes it extra special,” he suggests. “It’s a rare one... because there are so many bands who are all vying to get that festival slot, you need an album that’s relevant and you need to be on a hot streak to get Cambridge.”
Brian also reveals that his friend and one of the ‘founding fathers’ of Russian rock music, Boris Grebenshchikov, appears on Hunger of the Skin, the self-penned solo work he recorded remotely during lockdown, which features about 23 different musicians from around the world “and quite a few poets”.