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September Edition


The September edition of the Northern Sky Vaults radio show/podcast - I'm still uncertain what to call it - centres around last month's 52nd Cambridge Folk Festival, featuring music by some of the artists who performed over the weekend. I've been delivering reports from the festival for a good few years now and each year it gets more and more difficult to cover it all, not that it has ever been possible to do that. I often say that if you were to pitch your blanket and picnic hamper, together with the weekend's supply of newspapers, just beside the Den, you wouldn't have to move for the entire weekend and you would still get your money's worth. This could be said of all four main stage marquees, but nevertheless, there's still this insatiable urge to keep moving and to experience as much as you possibly can.

This year I saw so many interview microphones in front of so many faces that I felt it necessary to stand back and let the media world get on with it. There were one or two performers who were only too happy to have a catch up, yet we just seemed to run out of time, Hattie Briggs for instance, who I saw several times over the weekend and signalled semaphore-style over the crowds that we'd meet up shortly. We never did. Over the years I've spoken to lots of people at the festival, members of bands such as Pentangle, Bellowhead, Carolina Chocolate Drops and The Stray Birds; a handful of siblings, the Unthank sisters, the Quebe Sisters, the Secret Sisters and the Webb Sisters as well as quite a few soloists, Joan Armatrading, Paul Brady, Gretchen Peters, Olivia Chaney, Diana Jones, Abigail Washburn and Fay Hield, to name but a few, but I find it increasingly difficult to fulfil the schedule I set out for myself.

This year, having put away my recorder, I suddenly felt the urge get it out again and speak to the two acts that I was most looking forward to seeing at the festival, Mike Merenda and Ruth Ungar of the Mike + Ruthy Band, whose reputation preceded them and the Senegal singer Baaba Maal, all three of whom were a delight to speak to. On the Friday I met up with Mike and Ruthy at the duck pond as Michael McGoldrick took to the main stage and strangely enough, as the BBC's Mark Radcliffe spoke to Glen Hansard in the shade of a nearby tree, and then on Sunday, Baaba Maal invited me into his cabin for a chat, whilst one of his bandmates did some pre-gig ironing. Both of those interviews can now be found under the media drop-down box here on the Northern Sky website and are also featured on this month's Northern Sky Vaults. A full review of the festival can also be found in the Live Reviews section.

I purposely allowed August to slow down after a busy July in order to re-charge my Northern Sky batteries, both metaphorical and physical, but I really couldn't resist an invitation from True North Music's Maria Wallace to pop along to the Greystones to see the outstanding San Francisco-based Bluegrass band Front Country, who delivered a stunning performance at the popular Sheffield venue. A full review of that concert, complete with a handful of photos can now be found in the Live Reviews section. 

With an ever-growing pile of review CDs coming into the Northern Sky office, I thought it necessary to introduce a new section to the website under the Reviews drop-down box. The new 'Releases' section does precisely what it says on the tin, it features all the new submissions, complete with a release date. However, I confess that it's impossible to review every single submission that comes into the office, but at least both the physical CDs and downloads will now be given a brief mention and I - or one of the Northern Sky team - will endeavour to get around to them as and when we can.

Thanks for stopping by and I hope you find something of interest within these pages. You might want to listen to the Northern Sky Vaults as you flick through and don't hesitate to get in touch via the usual channels (see below). 

Allan Wilkinson
Northern Sky