Page last updated at 10:38 GMT, Monday, 30 July 2007 11:38 UK

Youngsters woo Cambridge crowds

By Nic Rigby
BBC News, Cherry Hinton Hall, Cambridge

Lisa Knapp
Lisa Knapp's voice has been compared with folk legend Sandy Denny

This year's Cambridge Folk Festival showed that the folk scene in the UK is as vibrant and fresh as ever.

And you did not need to spend much time in the sun-baked festival to see more and more young performers are giving new energy to traditional music.

Young performers like Lisa Knapp, whose debut album came out in March, and young bands such as No ID and Last Orders delighted the crowds.

No ID - whose average age is 17 - appeared at the festival four times.

The band, whose members come from Cambridgeshire and Suffolk, play music firmly rooted in the Irish and Scottish tradition.

Their infectious reworkings of traditional reels and songs, such as Donkey Riding, charmed the crowd in the Club Tent with guitar, fiddle, accordion and bodhran.

The band - made up of Alan MacLeod, brother and sister Adam and Erin Brown and Sean Clery - told me that since the band was formed in 2002 they have become a much tighter unit.

"We've been playing for so long we know what each of us is going to do," said accordionist Alan MacLeod.

Martha Tilston
Martha Tilston got the crowd swaying, dancing and singing along

Another teenage band causing a stir on Saturday was Last Orders.

The band, made up of Joe O'Connor, David Jones, Matthew Jones and Kevin Lees, come from the north east of England.

Fusing traditional English, Irish and Scandinavian jigs, reels and polkas they played with an assurance beyond their years on two fiddles, a guitar and melodeon.

There is also a lot of excitement about Lisa Knapp, who has developed a strong reputation for her modern re-workings of folk songs, as well as her own songwriting.

The London-based singer also expertly played auto-harp, fiddle and banjo in her set on Saturday night.

The Club Tent was packed to bursting for her debut performance at the festival and the crowd loved every moment of it.

The choosing of No ID's name has more to do with pubs than politics

Her beautiful voice, which has been compared to Sandy Denny, lingers powerfully in the memory.

She told me that she loved the Cambridge festival experience.

"I really like it. Everyone is really friendly," she said. She is planning a small tour in the autumn and looking to start recording a new album in the early part of next year.

Another singer who charmed audiences in Cambridge was Martha Tilston, playing with the Woods.

On Stage Two on Saturday she got the crowd swaying, dancing and singing along.

And her songwriting was second-to-none with witty reflections on working in an office and a reworked traditional song about the courting of a surfer.

Martha, who told me she had honed her song writing and playing in "underground squat parties", has given a political edge to some of her songs, but they are also blessed with a real sense of humour.

The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain
The Ukulele Orchestra performed Anarchy in the UK or was it UKE?

"Sometimes I just write about what makes me cringe," she said.

On Sunday the crowds were entertained by the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain.

The five men and two woman are all fine players of the ukulele, giving the audience songs not normally associated with that instrument.

Any band that can turn the Sex Pistols' Anarchy in the UK into to family sing-a-long song has to be applauded. And the crowd sang along and the crowd applauded.

The band also did superb versions of Smells Like Teen Spirit and Teenage Dirtbag.

After the set, the band - whose albums already include great original compositions - said they were looking at doing a new CD with only their own material on it.

Two members of Last Orders on stage at Cambridge Folk Festival
Last Orders are holders of the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award

But they also enjoy entertaining people with cover versions.

"We like the music we play. We don't play it for cheap laughs, but sometimes we are silly," said band member George Hinchcliffe.

Were any other pop tracks set for the uke treatment?

The Orchestra's Dave Suich suggested he was thinking about covering tracks by The Strokes.

George suggested the Pussycat Dolls' Don't Cha. He added: "But I would have to sing it."

We await with anticipation.


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