Tag Archives: City Roots

Cambridge City Roots Festival 2018 – overview

2018 was the second year of the City Roots festival, a winter event brought to the city by the organisers of its partner, the renowned Cambridge Folk Festival. Once again, the promoters were kind enough to invite me along, representing folking.com. Given the breadth of the festival, I ended up choosing a cross-section of events that appealed and went along. Only slightly side-tracked by bad weather, here’s my overview of the two-weeks.


Sam Kelly & The Lost Boys – Live

Having had the privilege of interviewing Sam last year for folking.com and found him incredibly generous with his time (we chatted for an hour and he’d literally just arrived home after a tour), I still had yet to see him live. Eventually, as part of the 2018 Cambridge City Roots festival, I managed to get along to his band’s gig at the Junction. And what a gig! Definitely a band to go and see – real crowd-pleasers and full of energy. Here’s my review, also for folking.com.


Knight & Spiers – Live

Legendary Steeleye Span / Gigspanner fiddle player Peter Knight and ex-Bellowhead melodeon supremo John Spiers were first paired up by the organisers at Folk East in 2016. This inspired collaboration proved durable, leading to a 2018 album, Well Met, and promotional tour. As part of the 2018 Cambridge City Roots festival, I was lucky enough to go along and have a listen. Here’s the review written for folking.com.


McGoldrick, McCusker & Doyle – Live

As part of the 2018 Cambridge City Roots festival, I went along to see Mike McGoldrick, John McCusker & John Doyle perform live at Cambridge Junction and reviewed it for folking.com.


Mad Dog McRea – Live

As part of the Cambridge City Roots festival in February, I went along to Cambridge Junction to see Mad Dog McRea. I’d reviewed their Almost Home album when I was writing for Bright Young Folk and loved it, so I was really keen to see them in action. A band with a reputation for being an instant party – what’s not to like?

And all due respect to their support act on the night, Noble Jacks, who got things off to a rollicking good start, warming up the audience like a furnace. (And they were also really lovely lads, too).

How did it go? Read my review, for folking.com, to find out.

MAD DOG McREA – Live at Cambridge Junction (Cambridge City Roots Festival)

Amy Wadge / Luke Jackson – Live

Another day, another gig as part of the Cambridge City Roots festival in February 2017. This time it was off to Cambridge Junction to see Grammy-award winning singer-songwriter Amy Wadge doing a double-headliner with Luke Jackson.

Jackson was the real draw for me, since I’ve got his albums but hadn’t yet managed to see him live. To be honest, I wasn’t really too sure who Amy Wadge was (sorry, and I know now – she co-wrote the bestselling ‘Right Where We Are’ with Ed Sheeran!), but quickly got to like her down-to-earth presence. The dynamic between Jackson & Wadge was lovely, with lots of mutual affection (she seems like the kind of aunt who might have slipped him a sneaky Babycham at Christmas when when he was young).

It’s not the first time these two have done the double-header tour and they plan to do it again in future. To find out whether you should book your tickets (spoiler – yes, you should), read the review I wrote for folking.com.

AMY WADGE AND LUKE JACKSON live at Cambridge Junction

Cambridge City Roots Festival

The Cambridge City Roots Festival took place in February 2017. Over a week (or so) there were lots of different events on at a range of venues around the city. I went to some of them, picking the ones I was most interested in – not necessarily the biggest name events.

A bitterly cold Saturday saw some local bands out busking around town, many of whom also played in the Cambridge Union building during the day, affording them the chance to thaw out with a warming cup of tea. The Cambridge Folk Club who ran this event, proved to be friendly and welcoming.

Now, it might be my memory playing tricks, but I thought I’d remembered seeing some of these gigs (Mad Dog McRea, Luke Jackson/Amy Wadge) scheduled quite some time before I became aware of the City Roots Festival label being stuck onto them. I had pencilled them in as gigs I’d like to attend, even before I was asked to review the festival for folking.com. Also, there were other folk artists playing locally at around that same period, who weren’t included in the festival itinerary, so I’m not sure what the selection criteria might have been.

So, what’s the point of yet another festival? Why go so off-season? Well, there’s a wealth of talent out there and it provides another focal point for collecting some of these artists together under an umbrella (though hat, scarf and gloves might have been better!) of a festival. Aiming to promote folk music in the local community, it’s a welcome wintry counterpoint to the main Cambridge Folk Festival in the summertime.

Was it worth it? Well, some of the signage was a bit inconsistent and scheduling updates were made online only, making the posters around town rather out-of-date when one headliner had to pull out at the last minute. Still these are teething troubles and this was only the first of these festivals. It will be interesting to see whether they manage to iron out these issues if they decide to repeat the festival next year.

Read my overview in folking.com (who kindly asked me to review the festival for them) here. Thanks also to Jay at Prescription PR for sorting out access to the various venues.

CAMBRIDGE CITY ROOTS FESTIVAL – Various artists and venues, 3-11 February 2017

Steven James Adams and The French Drops – Live

A review of Steven James Adams and The French Drops. This was the opening gig as part of the first Cambridge City Roots festival 2017 (an extension of the Cambridge Folk Festival). I’m covering the festival for folking.com.