This is what we were dreaming about for the last two years – to come out and play Cambridge Folk Festival”, said Suzanne Vega during her headline set on Friday.  Indeed – how great it was to be back at Cherry Hinton Hall for four days of simply the best music. 

An excellent one-day festival in indoor venues in Hackney. We managed to secure our tickets at £25 each so excellent for money in terms of sampling current music, both up-and-coming and established. The five venues are within a 10 minute walk, with biggest acts at Hackney Church. Formerly known at St John’s Church, it has a had a significant facelift with widespread reparations to the interior décor and is clearly now principally a venue rather than a place of worship. Sadly they haven’t got the acoustics right yet. Headline act Black Country, New Road had a morning sound-check which allowed the balance to be ok for their set, but there were consistent comments about poor sound quality for most acts during the day.

Because I was volunteering, I didn't get to see as many acts as I normally would, but still managed to catch quite a lot. And a surprise appearance by Bruce!! Who would have thought...... I spent all of last week at Glastonbury Festival and have not quite come down yet. My 19th time at the festival, and the first time volunteering. This had many plusses. The downside is missing stuff. I was particularly sorry to miss Primal Scream and Jack White. Still, I got to see loads, including The Boss himself!

How exciting, finally going to a festival again. And a bit scary! After several postponements and a revised UK based lineup, its Friday and I’m here; negative test results shown to friendly security, I walk in to lovely Moseley Park, and everything looks the same! Well, perhaps a bit quieter, less stalls, but everyone is very considerate, plenty of space for social distancing, lots of hand gel, and it feels safe enough. Many artists express the feelings I guess we all have, of how special it is to be back. And, spoiler alert, I test negative each day since. I was pretty careful though, no late night partying this time.

Despite a reduced size and a last minute change to one of the venues Visions still delivered an incredibly diverse set of bands across a wide range of genres. Most of the punters still look like they could be in Black Midi or BCNR (some of them probably are), Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club is a suitably shabby chic new venue (despite the ten minute walk in the pouring rain to get there) and, while the spectre of Covid still lingered (temperature being taken before entry, some mask wearing in the more crowded areas) generally the vibe was as good as always.

“The best weekend Ever”. It’s not often you start a review with a quote like that, but Latitude delivered that and more and showed the way forward after the last 16 months. 40,000 were in attendance and it was exhilarating and liberating. There were a few adjustments around the site with wider walkways and access and the tents opened up to allow for more circulation of air otherwise not too different.

For the past two and a half weeks I have been in Glasgow, virtually, at Celtic Connections: A festival the line up of which I have always admired from afar, and now because of the pandemic I was able to join in. I made full use of my online festival pass and watched every concert - some more than once. It was a fantastic experience.

The shows were all filmed beautifully; mostly in Glasgow venues; some in other locations. The sound quality was superb and the musicianship phenomenal. Full marks to the entire organization for bringing this to us.

Tradfest 2020 proved that you do not need eye-catching big names to put on a quality festival program and attract an audience. The event, which has outgrown the Temple Bar area, gets many visitors from overseas, and quite a few shows were sold out in advance.

Eight venues across Nottingham hosted the third Beat The Streets festival. All the profits from the festival merch, bars and donations go to the charity Framework which provides housing, health improvements, employment, care and support services to people in need across Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire, Derbyshire and South Yorkshire.

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