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Ten to watch at the 2019 Cambridge Folk Festival

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With so many great acts to choose from at this year's event – which kicks off later today – we recommend a few.

Calexico and Iron & Wine (14569239)
Calexico and Iron & Wine (14569239)

Calexico and Iron & Wine

Headlining stage one tomorrow (Friday, August 2) will be the tantalising paring of Calexico and Iron & Wine, who are coming together for the first time in 14 years to perform songs from their 2005 EP, In the Reins, along with new collaborative music and selections from their respective repertoires.

Seasoned performers, Calexico released their first album back in 1996. Their music encompasses a variety of genres, including indie rock, folk, alternative country and Tejano, while Iron & Wine is the stage name of Sam Beam, whose music is a mix of folk, Americana and folk rock.

He gained popularity with younger fans in 2008 when his song, Flightless Bird, American Mouth, featured on the Twilight soundtrack.

Lucinda Williams

Headlining on stage one on Saturday will be award-winning American singer/songwriter Lucinda Williams, who will release This Sweet Old World, a complete re-recording of her 1992 album Sweet Old World, on September 29.

A major name in alternative country, Lucinda broke through commercially in 1998 with Car Wheels on a Gravel Road, an outstanding and critically acclaimed 13-track collection of songs which deservedly won her a Grammy Award in 1999 for Best Contemporary Folk Album.

Cambridge Folk Festival 2019 headliner Lucinda Williams. (14569246)
Cambridge Folk Festival 2019 headliner Lucinda Williams. (14569246)

Richard Thompson

Appearing on Sunday on stage one will be Richard Thompson OBE, who embarked on his journey as a professional musician as a member of Fairport Convention in the late 1960s.

Performing solo and acoustic, the 2017 Ivor Novello Award-winner will be demonstrating his deft fretwork, poetic songwriting and impassioned picking.

Expect to hear songs from his lengthy back catalogue, including tracks from his nineteenth solo album, 2018’s 13 Rivers.

Jack Rutter

Young Yorkshireman Jack Rutter is to release a new album of traditional folk songs in October.

Before then, he will be doing his thing at the Folk Festival’s Den tomorrow as part of the English Folk Expo showcase, in association with the English Folk Dance & Song Society and their artist mentoring scheme.

Produced by Joe Rusby, the new record, Gold of Scar & Shale, continues the stripped-back approach of its critically acclaimed predecessor, Jack’s debut solo outing Hills (2017).

The songs are unearthed gems from the folk canon – almost all of them rare and many previously unrecorded – gathered from old songbooks and source singers.

Jack Rutter (14569280)
Jack Rutter (14569280)

Sarah Darling

Though based in Nashville, country singer/songwriter Sarah Darling spends a great deal of time in the UK – her ‘home from home’ – and appeared at this year’s C2C Festival at the O2 in London. She will be gracing stage two at the Folk Festival on Sunday.

Nominated for International Artist of the Year at the 2017 British Country Music Awards, Sarah tours regularly in both the US and the UK. Her latest album, Wonderland, was released in June.

Chartwell Dutiro

Appearing in the Club Tent also on Sunday is Chartwell Dutiro, a Zimbabwean musician, singer, songwriter, composer, author and teacher.

He is a master of the mbira – an ancient instrument, consisting of at least 22 metal keys mounted on a wooden soundboard – and, since 1994, a resident of the UK, where he performs, records, teaches and builds bridges between cultures through his music.

A versatile talent, he works as a solo artist, band leader and collaborative musician.

Chartwell Dutiro. Picture: Larrie Tiernan
Chartwell Dutiro. Picture: Larrie Tiernan

Ralph McTell

Visitors to the festival today (Thursday, August 1) will be able to witness this stalwart of the British acoustic music scene on stage two.

In a more than 50-year career that has spanned street busking across Europe to sold out shows at the Royal Albert Hall, Carnegie Hall and The Sydney Opera House, the gifted musician and songwriter will be performing songs from his impressive back catalogue, which began with his debut album, Eight Frames a Second, in 1968.

McTell’s best-known song is undoubtedly Streets of London, which earned him an Ivor Novello Award. In 2002, he was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards.

Ralph McTell
Ralph McTell

Maz O'Connor

Singer-songwriter Maz O’Connor is a rising star on the UK folk scene.

Now living in London, the artist’s Irish roots strongly influence her lyrical story-songs, as well as her pure, clear singing style.

Having already released two albums and been nominated for a BBC Radio 2 Folk Award twice, Maz’s latest album, Chosen Daughter – recorded in Scotland and due to be released in the autumn – tells the stories of what she calls her foremothers, exploring the ways in which their experiences can be felt reverberating through the female generations.

The 28-year-old will be appearing on Saturday in the Club Tent and will be joined by John Parker on bass and Patsy Reid on strings.

Maz O'Connor. Picture: Elly Lucas
Maz O'Connor. Picture: Elly Lucas

José González

A Swedish-born artist of Argentinian descent, González grew up listening to Latin folk and pop music and cites Cuban singer/songwriter Silvio Rodriguez as one of his musical icons.

Catch one of the most important artists of his generation – an indie folk troubadour whose well-crafted music encompasses a number of different styles – tomorrow on stage one.

Catrin Finch & Seckou Keita

Senegalese musician Seckou Keita, a master of the kora – a 21-string lute-bridge-harp used extensively in West Africa – will be appearing alongside classically-trained Welsh harpist Catrin Finch on Saturday on stage one, continuing an intriguing musical partnership which began with their acclaimed 2013 collaboration LP, Clychau Dibon.

The pair delivered an impressive second album, SOAR, in 2018 and their live performances of it in spring 2018 garnered five-star reviews from both The Guardian and the Evening Standard.

Catrin Finch and Seckou Keita
Catrin Finch and Seckou Keita

For more information about tickets, visit cambridgelive.org.uk/ folk-festival.

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Calexico and Iron & Wine to perform at the Cambridge Folk Festival for the first time

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