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Putting down roots: Cambridge-wide City Roots Festival reveals its growing line up

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Wildwood Kin, sourced by Cambridge Live
Wildwood Kin, sourced by Cambridge Live

Organisers behind the City Roots Festival have been working hard to bring a host of talent to the city next year.

The world-famous Cambridge Folk Festival is one of the highlights of the city’s jam-packed musical calendar. And after the success of the inaugural event last year, Cambridge Live is again extending the festival’s reach by putting on a series of concerts in February and March under the banner of City Roots.

The highlight of next year’s roots festival, which is held between Thursday, February 22 and Tuesday, March 6, will be a fascinating live interview, in association with the Cambridge Union Society, with charismatic Canvey Island rocker Wilko Johnson.

The all-encompassing line-up includes the soaring Gambian sun-drenched chords of stunning Kora virtuoso and opening festival headliner, Sona Jobarteh, who will perform alongside blues and jazz artist Muntu Valdo and the Americana-tinged sound of Wildwood Kin – crowned this year as broadcaster Bob Harris’s emerging artist of the year – supporting folk festival summer headliner, Ward Thomas.

Award-winning comic Rich Hall will be performing Hoedown – a withering dissection of Donald Trump’s America which finishes as a celebration of Americana with stand-up, improvised ballads, and amazing musicianship from Cambridge-born Tom Robinson with the 2-4-6-8 Motorway 40th Anniversary show.

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

At Cambridge Junction, an array of City Roots music is on offer: Chouk Bwa Libète brings drums, poetry and trance from Haiti; BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards winners Sam Kelly & The Lost Boys rediscover and renew the music of Sam’s Gaelic heritage; Cambridge Folk Festival favourites and three of the world’s finest folk musicians, Michael McGoldrick, John McCusker and John Doyle set the stage alight playing material from their latest album, The Wishing Tree, and legendary ex-Steeleye Span fiddle player, Peter Knight joins forces with John Spiers, one of the leading melodeon players of his generation for another unmissable gig.

Cambridge Junction also presents a very special evening at St Barnabas Church featuring BBC Radio 2 Folk Award nominees Megson.

Appearing at The Portland Arms will be folk festival Club Tent sensation, Darren Eedens & The Slim Pickin’s – whether they’re held spellbound by a poignant ballad or jumping up and down as one to a stomping groove, Darren’s command of an audience is absolute.

Following the success of last year’s Creative Roots, the festival’s professional development day, the event will be back at The Portland Arms. Music industry professionals will once again gather to offer a career development day of workshops, talks and sessions, offering gems of advice and a wealth of experience.

Drop-in music sessions will also be taking place around the city with a special City Roots Family Day with free attractions, including craft workshops, face-painting and storytelling. A ‘Come and Try’ ukulele workshop is planned and be sure to look out for the walkabout characters around Cambridge.

The inaugural 2017 City Roots festival reached audiences of nearly 4,000 people, with 130 participants and 121 artists across six venues.

Neil Jones, Cambridge Live operations director, said: “The first City Roots Festival earlier this year was a huge success and we’re really pleased to be building on it for the 2018 event. It’s great to be able to work with so many venues across the city to showcase the rich talent of folk and roots music locally, nationally and internationally and to extend the Cambridge Folk Festival’s reach beyond the traditional four days in the summer.”

Tickets for City Roots are on sale now. Box office: 01223 357851 or cambridgelivetrust.co.uk

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