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Bands To Watch

Mark Radcliffe, Stuart Maconie and Mike Harding Recommendations

See Mark Radcliffe, Stuart Maconie and Mike Harding's tips of the best bands or artists performing at the festival.

Then read a selection of your comments on the event.

Mike Harding recommends

Martin Simpson

"Martin Simpson is a world class guitarist, singer and banjo player who is launching his new album Prodigal Son at the festival this year. Originally from Scunthorpe but having spent many years living in New Orleans, his eclectic mix of Anglo and American traditions has brought him widespread fame and respect on the acoustic scene and led to musical collaborations with great figures such as Jackson Browne, June Tabor, Martin Carthy, Roy Bailey and Kelly Joe Phelps."

Four Men & A Dog

"Four Men & a Dog have been at the forefront of Irish traditional music for nearly two decades with their eclectic and vivacious blend of traditional Irish music with a wide spectrum of other genres, including jazz, blues, bluegrass, polka, country swing, and even salsa. Gaining their name from the band’s original quintet featuring former member Mick "Black Dog" Daly, Four Men & A Dog have been earning their international reputation since they burst on to the folk scene back in 1990."

Last Orders

"Last Orders are the current holders of the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award and are performing at the festival this year as part of their prize. They met and started playing together when they were members of Kathryn Tickell’s 17 piece youth folk band Folkestra, based at The Sage, Gateshead. Their average age is 18 and since winning the Young Folk Award they have gone on to secure a record deal with the label Fellside and have just released their debut album Last Orders."

Find out more about Mike Harding's show on Radio 2

Mark Radcliffe recommends

Seasick Steve

"My favourite one man blues band American boxcar riding hobo now resident in Scandinavia, bar none!"

Kris Drever

"Great singer/songwriter and all round good egg whose recent single Harvest Gypsies is one of my tunes of the year so far."

James Hunter

"Would probably be revered and cherished if he came from Austin, Texas but as he hails from Colchester, remains a bit of a secret. A blues/soul voice to die for. And pretty nifty on the guitar too."

Steve Earle

"Probably the greatest living exponent of the protest song - and with a life story like that, the biopic surely can't be far away."


"Back on absolutely top form with the recent album Book of Lightning, and never less than majestic live. A welcome return."

Find out more about Mark Radcliffe's show on Radio 2

Stuart Maconie recommends


"I've been a bit slow off the mark about these but saw them at the Radio 2 Folk Awards and was, as they say, blown away. An intoxicating combination of great musicianship, quirky joie de vivre and great tunes."

Joan Baez

"Simply a legend. She's doomed to be forever seen as Bob Dylan's muse but as a musician and cultural force she taught him a thing or two. In person too, she's a fantastic combination of firebrand and elegance."

Under One Sky

"It's just a great idea and a great vehicle for some disparate musicians and talents united in their love of a certain way of doing things and a certain attitude that Cambridge embodies."

Find out more about Stuart Maconie's show on Radio 2


Kate rusby-the Barnsley nightingale...what a gal,beautiful voice and a brilliant personality.Show of hands-blew me away...2007,what a year,so many good performers and not enough time.

Me and my family LOVED The ukelele orchestra of gb-v.funny and fantastic music, Kate rusby-amazing voice and gutair player and Breabach-fun! the most!

I have waited a long time to see Solas live. I was not dissappointed. They blew me away, especially Winnie Horan's fiddle!

Lee Johnson
Ruthie Foster - possibly the best voice I have heard live, and one hell of a nifty guitar player with her. Best by a mile....

The Ukelele Orchestra are very funny, very talented and perfect for Sunday afternoon.

Bellowhead were superb, Kris Drever is so talented and Lau just blew me away. As nobody else has mentioned I feel I have to - caught a fantastic Jim Moray set and also saw him with the amazing Jackie Oates. Watch out for more of her!!

Katie H
The festival was an amazing experience and I really enjoyed watching the 'open floor spots' available through the local folk clubs. The family atmosphere was great. The downside was the chairs, chairs and more chairs that cramped the site. Why can't people be real folkies and get dirty with the rest of us?!

Ian- Cambridge
Haugaard & Høirup seem to have hardly received a mention anywhere- which is a shame as they were the most enjoyable thing I saw all weekend. Their great musicianship, great tunes and funny, easy going charm cheered everybody up during their midday slot on the mainstage on Sunday.

Martha Tilston was amazing. Newton Faulkner was wonderful, charasmatic and very talented. Highlight of the weekend was the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain doing a fantastic cover of Isaac Heyes Shaft. Brilliant!

Kevin - Oxted
Newton Faulkner was my favourite.The kids loved the Ukelele Orchestra.The whole family enjoyed Kate Rusby and Breabach.On the downside, at times the venue was pretty cramped, too many people with chairs and rugs.

steve nicholl
rachak unthank and the wintersets were absolutley fab !!! great band, so different but what a bunch of great gals !!! x

Ed - Brighton
Nothing bad at all at this festival but Ruthie Foster and Newton Faulkner superb.

Ian Bryant
Seasick Steve was perfect for thursday evening after a few guinnesses! Lau on Sunday afternoon were a revelation and with the comedy of The ukelele orchestra of graet britain on Sunday afternoon another wonderful festival well done Cambridge!

Mike Carter, Bristol
Le vent du nord: proving that the folk tradition is alive and well (and very dancable|) in Quebec and now the UK as well.. Martin Simpson because hes the best ever. Bellowhead because theres nothing quite like them anywhere.

simon davies
Ruthie Foster, I'd not heard of Ruthie Foster on Saturday morning, by Sunday night I'd seen her play 3 times, a wonderful performer, won the crowd over and accompanied by a great guitarist.

paul from tarn
seasick steve, alabama 3, steve earle, kate rusby, ruthie foster, james hunter, martin simpson, newton faulkner and the ukulele orchestra of great britain were the highlights for us. i know it's a 'folk' festival but i think it was a bit 'woolly jumper'-ish a lot this year. folk isn't just british folk, it's whatever is the peoples music from everywhere in the world and i'm not sure this years festival really reflected that... just my opinion...

Kellie Thompson
My highlight was the Waterboys, just fantastic! My 'find' of the festival was the young scottish quartet Breabach...they blew the club tent apart on thursday with their bagpipes! amazing!

Ruthie Foster and Joan Baez did it for me: stage personality and vocal confidence made for excellent sets from both!

Mike Loughnane
Find of the festival; Show of Hands -perfect anthems for the big stage and lead voice to die for. Musical perfection; Solas. The best craic; Four Men and a Dog. Newcomers; No I D and what finish by the BellowHeads

Seasick simply AWSOME!!! Jaune Toujours a fantastic surprise what a treat!

Mike Edie
Bellowhead, I've never seen anything like them. Stunning.

Alison King
Ruthie Foster is one in a million, amazing voice and fantastic guitar playing from herself and Pat. It was worth going to the festival just to see her..................

Pete Beech, Cambridge
The Waterboys were magnificent on Friday, 'Red Army Blues' was an absolute tour-de-force, and 'The Stolen Child' haunting and majestic. Beautiful.

Le vent du nord were my highlight closely followed by the ukelee lot brillaint cover of life on mars get that on the website!!!

Mike Frame
I saw Last Orders here in Ulverston a few weeks ago. I think they have an outstanding future, their talent and style is masked by their natural deference but enhanced by their love of their music. Their guest singer, Marie-Louise, has a voice to die for whether she sings jolly or sad songs.

brilliant line up, especially Show of hands and Waterboys, and Bellowhead are so cool. cant wait til I go!

Daniel the 15 year old
if Seasick Steve is as good as he is on his album, that would be a treat!

Lau have to be heard. A fresh sound from the new Scottish trio, you will stamp your feet off!

Andy Barnes
There are some several great acts worth seeing this year, and I would agree with most of the choices above. My personal recommendation however, is to get to see Show of Hands, who are wonderful live. Also worth checking out is Martha Tilston (& her band), who is maybe not so well known, but deserves to be.

Bellowhead - a great bunch of musicians with an exciting sound. The Oysterband still sounding good after all these years and loads of good stuff from their new CD.

Mike - Oxford
Martha Tilston. beautifull voice, beautifull songs. Criminally underappreciated

If the Oysters can repeat past triumphs at Cambridge they must not be missed. (And Keith might shin up the tent pole again!)

Neil - Worcester
Stuart is dead right about Bellowhead - they're one of the best live bands I've ever seen in any genre and their album doesn't disappoint either. I wish I could be there to see them.

david wheeler
Don't miss any chance to see Show of Hands - brilliant band and genuine nice guys too.

Steve Preston
All great acts, but Roddy Woomble must get some air time after a great debut solo album. and Kate Rusby ...........of course !!

Martin Hanrahan
Such a wealth of talent in the line-up of the Festival but 'Show of Hands' have to be some of the most gifted writers and performers - unbelievably brilliant!

martin robinson
Seasick Steve is a must see, don't miss out on this awesome live act

Robert - Cannock
You can't miss Kate Rusby, the most perfect vioce and a personality you just have to cuddle. Kate is the very best folk music can deliver.

Heidi Tidow
I'm going to see Rachel Unthank & the Winterset, they are great - especially the charismatic piano player...

Going on the Sunday this year. Looking forward to seeing Last Orders and Nancy G, as ever. Last saw Bellowhead at Bury Met and they are fantastic. Beware the Prickleyed Bush!

Nicky & Richard, Suffolk
Don't forget the stunning talent of Shooglenifty!! The line-up has stayed the same for 10 years plus and is guaranteed to ensure everyone is dancing - brilliant. First saw then at Sidmouth 10 years ago, couldn't get a Cambridge ticket this year - gutted.

Nick Latheron
Oysterband were cracking at their own Big Session festival and their new CD Meet You There is full of good tracks (Here Comes the Flood ;-) Bob Fox and Billy Mitchell should be asked to perform at more festivals too!

I agree with Kris Drever, he has a great sound!

Jimmy - Norwich
No meantion of the brilliant Newton Faulkner, who was my highlight last year. May not be trad folk, but no guy with just an acoustic guitar does it better.

Bellowhead have to be seen to be believed! Looking forward to a proper old knees-up on Sat.

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