Cambridge Prescribes Medicine Music

American bluesman Eric Bibb said it was "a holy event" that delivered "medicine music," in what seems to be another attempt to try to explain why a 10,000-capacity folk festival in East Anglia has achieved worldwide fame.

Being in Cambridge – globally known as a university city – may be part of the reason the brand has stuck. Another factor could be 44 years of lineups that have wowed successive generations of music reviewers from the serious papers and Sunday supplements.

Eddie Barcan from festival organiser Cambridge City Council, who has worked on the event for 19 years and booked the acts for the last 16, said the success is all about creating the right environment.

The event at Cherry Hinton Hall is often described as being more like a garden party than a modern music festival.

"It’s about having no hype, no overbearing sponsorship, not being corporate or overtly commercial, but putting on acts that are as serious and passionate about music as the audience is," Barcan explained. "I wouldn’t book anybody who fell short of that standard, however famous or happening they are or however much pressure I was getting from the agent."

This year it was the female acts including k.d. lang, Martha Wainwright, Joan Armatrading and Judy Collins that stole the headlines, while Barcan – and all the reviewers – were in raptures over what was described as a blistering set of New Orleans piano work from Allen Toussaint.

Barcan also singled out the pop-folk of Noah & The Whale, saying it was a great act to have, as he expects the next single will see the group achieve big chart success.

The other acts who played in the shadows of the glittering spires of Cambridge July 31 to August 3 included The Levellers, Billy Bragg, John Hiatt, Cherryholmes and Findlay Napier & the Bar Room Mountaineers.