Page last updated at 07:48 GMT, Monday, 31 July 2006 08:48 UK

Young acts shine at folk festival

By Nic Rigby
BBC News, Cambridge

Cerys Matthews
Cerys Matthews rose to fame as the lead singer of Catatonia

The 2006 Cambridge Folk Festival has proved as exciting and eclectic as ever with many of the high points for me featuring less well-known bands.

The festival was sure to be a success with headline acts such as country legend Emmylou Harris.

Each year the newer acts, including this year Gaelic singer Julie Fowlis and young Scottish folk band Bodega, show a real passion for the music.

It is one of the joys of Cambridge to come away with new musical loves.

There were also great musical surprises like young American folk band Nickel Creek's inventive rendition of Britney Spears' Toxic.

Julie Fowlis
Julie Fowlis has a passion about singing Gaelic songs

Another of the joys of the four-day festival, which ended on Sunday, is that it does not keep strictly to folk.

There was a great performance of new material from Cerys Matthews and her band.

Pop tradition

Matthews rose to fame as the lead singer of Welsh indie chart-toppers Catatonia who had chart success with their single Mulder and Scully.

Since the band split in 2001, she has worked with country producers, but her set of songs at the festival were very much in the pop tradition.

Cambridge Folk Festival

There were some mumblings by the bearded fraternity waiting to see the following act The Chieftains, but most people just lapped it up.

The audience also loved Gaelic singer Julie Fowlis and her band.

Scottish singer Julie, from the Gaelic-speaking community on North Uist in the Hebrides, grew up dancing piping and singing.

Her fine voice has helped her win a whole clutch of traditional singing awards.

She is also a fine instrumentalist and played a penny whistle, finely supported by the band.

Fowlis told me she found the Cambridge Folk Festival "absolutely amazing. I think all musicians love it".

Powerful songs

June Naylor who plays the clarsach, a type of harp
June Naylor, of Bodega, has been playing clarsach for five years
She is looking forward to her first solo tour later this year.

Five-piece teenage Scottish folk band Bodega formed in 2004 and won the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Awards for 2005/2006.

They comprise Gillian Chalmers (pipes and whistles), Ross Couper (fiddle), Tia Files (guitar and occasionally very funky bass), Norrie MacIver (guitar and vocals) and June Naylor (clarsach - which is a type of Celtic harp).

Together they impressed the Cambridge punters with their fascinating musical mix of traditional Celtic tunes with powerful songs.


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