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Mike Harding at Cambridge Folk Festival - Part 1

Mike Harding | 14:36 UK time, Saturday, 2 August 2008

It was 1976 when I first appeared at Cambridge Folk Festival sharing the bill with Steve Goodman and John Hartford, amongst others.

Steve wrote City Of New Orleans and I liked him from the first time we met, mainly because he was a good egg, but also because he was the same size as me. John was a laid back rangy bloke who played brilliant old timey fiddle while dancing one an amplified plank of wood. He also wrote one of the funniest songs ever, Don't Leave Your Records In The Sun, a song which doesn't have quite the same kind of resonance now that we no longer use vinyl for recording (well not like we used to anyway).


I also remember the festival for the sessions. They don't seem to happen so much now, but in them there days people like Diz Disley, Johnny Silvo, Dave Moses, Barney McKenna and Paddy Moloney would all be backstage playing and drinking away like lunatics. It's all a little quieter and better behaved now and folk comics seem to be an endangered species. It's still one of my favourite festivals though, and I still get a tingle in my gut when I walk through the field, smell the Guinness and the frying onion and the warm Cambridge earth and the patchouli oil. And when I see all those families and groups of mates sitting in the sun lapping up the old Sol and the music it makes me feel glad to be still on the planet, because sadly, John and Steve have both shuffled off this mortal coil and are now picking and singing in Folksingers' Heaven. Folksingers' Hell is full of countless bodhrán players and only one guitarist all singing The Wild Rover and KilgaryMountain out of tune. 



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