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Cambridge Festival 29th July - 1st August 2004
Friday Festival Diary

Hats, ducks and antics in the sun... we bring you our insiders' guide to the Cambridge Folk Festival 2004

Cambridge Festival Diary
Loudon Wainwright III Break out the Factor 30 - the first big day of the festival is a scorcher! People are sprawled all over the field at Cherry Hinton, seeking shade under the obligatory pointy hats and garish brollies and quaffing copious quantities of cool Pimms.

By 1pm, anybody with any sense is hiding in the Club Tent where Loudon Wainwright III is giving an onstage interview to Mojo magazine. He's wonderfully hilarious, leaping into the audience to talk to Joan, wife of late Cambridge founder Ken Woollard, who booked his first acts 40 years ago from the payphone at the Fire Station. Loudon and Cambridge Festival have a long history together and Joan takes the opportunity to present him with a photo and framed drawing. It's hard to say what's best listening - his candidly funny anecdotes of getting lucky in a sleeping bag with someone called Maggie at Cambridge 1973 or the trawl through his back catalogue, all appositely linked to audience questions. A true entertainer and thoroughly nice chap.
Tom Robinson As organiser Eddie Barcan confided to Mark Radcliffe last night during Mark's live radio programme, the booking policy at Cambridge interprets the term 'folk' in its widest sense. The guests dropping in to the outside broadcast van certainly bore that out - Tom Robinson and Thea Gilmore dropped by for a chat and rising Irish band Míse played a great set of tunes, with button accordion player Liam squashed into the driver's cab!

Tom from Dublin Back to today, and our roving reporter is out on the field checking out happy festival-goers. The prospect of experiencing Cambridge's fortieth year has tempted both Cambridge veterans and neophytes. Mike from Chichester pauses briefly on his way to a session in the bar with his mates to tell us he's been doing this for 35 years, while 14-year old Joe Perkins from Penistone (really!) has already celebrated his first visit to Cambridge by learning how to juggle. He's really looking forward to seeing the fabulous Chipolatas around the site, with their brilliant street theatre - and so are we! Winning our first Hat Of The Day award - now an annual institution - is Tom from Dublin with a fetching conical spiral-and-red-spikes confection. He's a long-term visitor along with friends Caroline and Nora from Norwich and Melbourne respectively: Nora visits her sister Caroline every year and makes sure her visit coincides with the festival.

Amparanoia On Stage 1, Last Night's Fun kick off the afternoon concert with their great mix of traditional tunes and songs, not to mention concertina genius Chris Sherburn's infamously surreal introductions. Throughout the afternoon the varied sounds of local acts The Broken Family Band and Ezio further warm up the already gently-sizzling crowd and pave the way for Spanish mestizo outfit Amparanoia, whose high octane blend of salsa, reggae, hip-hop and world beats raises the temperature to blistering proportions. Frontwoman Amparo Sanchez's incredible voice is a show-stopper.

The Divine Comedy Meanwhile, back at Radio 2 HQ, new country sensation Mindy Smith has dropped in for a session and charmed the socks off everyone with her ready smile and gorgeous voice. Country show presenters Nick Barraclough and Bob Harris have to be gently fanned with kippers until a semblance of normality can be resumed.

By evening the field is jam packed; lamps, candles and tea lights in Moroccan star-shaped holders are lit and Loudon Wainwight III and Kepa Junkera waft over the speakers (vocally, not physically!) as the light fades and the crowd settles in for tonight's main act. An earsplitting cheer rings out as Neil Hannon steps onstage, looking pale and interesting in his trademark sharp suit, and The Divine Comedy perform their orchestral, retro songs to a crowd of bouncing, happy people and also the nation, as the show goes out live on BBC Four television. The more energetic (or hot cider-fuelled) members of the crowd have been over at Stage 2, being whipped into a frenzy by the funky Oyster Ceilidh Band and the global beats of Horace X, and the first day of the festival has been better than ever. One down, two to go …

  Cambridge 2004
  2004 Gallery
  2004 Diary
  Cambridge 2005
  Radio 2 Folk
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