Fliss Evans reports on Chris Wood - Cambridge Folk Festival, 2 Aug 2008

chris wood
44th Cambridge Folk Festival

With ‘folk music' translating simply as Irish or Scottish, with plenty of
pipes, to the average person in the street, it's always a treat to come to
the Cambridge Folk Festival and get reacquainted with proper English folk
music. And what makes Chris Wood so special is that not only does he perform
this music so beautifully and with such integrity, he also allows it to
live, breathe and grow: not for Chris the purist mothballing we sometimes
see at such gatherings. His rapport with the audience is also crucial to his
interpretation of English folk - it's all about communicating and tapping
into shared experiences, meaning that perhaps his most effective songs are
the ones which describe his daughter as she valiantly fights off a
playground bully (this one, sentimental old thing that I am, almost had me
in tears) or satirise the slow crumbling of country living in the 21st
century. 'They'll use the last drop of water to mix cement,' he quips, only
half jocular, as he describes the onslaught of building and infrastructure
on his native Kent ('the garden of England? More like the car park of
England') and its dwindling water supplies.

On top of his superb song writing abilities and his natural understanding
and love of English folk, he also has an absolutely beautiful voice - pure
and true, like the working balladeers in whose footsteps he so ably treads.
If the future of English folk lies with artists such as Chris Wood, then
it's certainly in safe hands.

Writer: Fliss Evans

Photo: Paul Rule