The first ever City Roots festival, an expansion of Cambridge Folk Festival taking place in venues across the city, is set for the first two weeks of February. Featuring a host of names from these shores and beyond, it will culminate in an appearance by Salif Keita – known as the Golden Voice of Africa – at the Cambridge Corn Exchange. Before this there will be gigs by the likes of Mary Chapin Carter, Steven James Adams Band, Jim Moray, Mad Dog McRea and others.
There’s also a showcase of talent at one of the fabled Transatlantic Sessions, also to be held at the Corn Exchange, which will bring together musicians from the Celtic and Americana traditions for a unique evening of musical camaraderie. Shetland fiddle legend Aly Bain and dobro star Jerry Douglas share the musical direction, and are joined by such Americana notables John Paul White, Tift Merritt, Eddi Reader, Dirk Powell and Jim Lauderdale. The house band for the gig featuring, among others, John Doyle, Danny Thompson, Michael McGoldrick and John McCusker is stellar enough to be the main attraction at most other folk concerts.
Will the well out of the main festival season City Roots become the Celtic Connections of the South? Only time will tell – but it’d be nice to think that the obvious answer would be “yes”.