There are few things more perfect than an afternoon spent, pint of real ale in hand, listening to live folk music in the sunshine with a crowd of appreciative others.
KC tweeted me: ‘I’ve got press entry to Cambridge Folk Festival. Do you want to come?’
Unlike gardening, quilting, hill walking and other pursuits it suddenly becomes at least okay (if not vaguely cool) to do in your thirties, admitting you like folk music let alone going to a folk festival is something you probably wouldn’t tell everybody you know.
To lots of people folk music is about wierdy beardies and Morris dancing, old odd people with hats, rats tails hair dos, dreadlocks and homemade skirts. There were plenty of all those things. There were home knitted rainbow striped woolly jumpers, girls with flowers in their hair, legs clad in waterproof trousers and people wandering around barefoot. There was hot apple cider and a hog roast.
All the stereotypes of course exist for good reason.
But folk music, nasal sounding and obsessed with faraway and probably dead sailors as it is, is one of the few kinds of music that is truly community music.
If you’d heard of the artists singing at this year’s folk festival all good. If you hadn’t it wouldn’t have mattered. You go for the music not the performer. You go to revisit old old songs and to add your voice in. Singing along is encouraged and at times required. By joining in you’re picking up a thread of musical storytelling that’s been spun for hundreds of years, and adding your voice and your tale to it.
The grounds of Cherry Hinton Hall were rammed full of people all ages, the kind of cross-generational mix you only really see at large family gatherings with the same convivial spirit.
People unselfconsciously danced and sang, stroked their long grey beards, swished their patchwork skirts, and drank their ale from the tankard they’d brought with them from home. We sat in the July sunset soaking the whole thing in, the perfect afternoon spent, pint of real ale in hand, listening to live folk music in the sunshine with a crowd of appreciative others.