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The cherished Cambridge Folk Festival, now over 50 years old, is ever-evolving and is continually widening its scope to broaden the musical landscape it showcases, with the aim to make each year that much more unique than the one before.

2023 was no different  – and was something very special. Although there were so many truly talented artists across the entire weekend, we were dazzled by a particular few across the four days.  

Friday night, a still summer’s evening, then Lady Blackbird on the main stage brought the drama and surprised everyone! It was like following a spectacular, beguiling figure, as she led us into a dark, cool atmosphere of smoky, effectual soul. The control and subtle nuances of her voice evoke a long-since gone era of exquisite jazz and it was nothing short of a masterclass. And visually – stunning doesn’t come close to capturing it. This was a very unique set and one to be savoured, moment by moment.

Lady Blackbird at Cambridge Folk Festival 2023. Photo Credit: Peter Miller, Roses and Light Photography.

She was followed by the rousing, brightly colourful and legendary band, Arrested Development, who pretty much razed the roof, getting the crowd ignited and dancing, as they absorbed song after song.

Arrested Development at Cambridge Folk Festival 2023. Photo Credit: Peter Miller, Roses and Light Photography.

The night was then closed by The Proclaimers, a folk favourite, which sent the evening off perfectly!

On Saturday, the star standout for us was Gangstagrass (checkout the interview with the band here). They’ve expertly melded and fused musical styles that you would think are at a juxtaposition, but in the capable hands of Gangstagrass, it all comes together brilliantly. This band has cleverly merged two deeply engrained American music cultures – Hip Hop and Bluegrass – and the result completely works on every level. You could see the audience felt exactly the same, singing and dancing their way through the entire set!

With the variety of artists this year, it felt like there was something for everyone to get stuck into and a festival we’ve been privileged to enjoy year after year. We can’t wait to see what treasures 2024 will hold!

Dana Miller