AS I listen to yet another Christmas compilation CD to fulfil my cheap desire to feel festive, I look back on the year s entertainment generated from the Cambridgeshire music scene with many great moments springing to mind and with much to look forward to

Opaque

AS I listen to yet another Christmas compilation CD to fulfil my cheap desire to feel festive, I look back on the year's entertainment generated from the Cambridgeshire music scene with many great moments springing to mind and with much to look forward to next year.

As ever, the local music scene has been highly active, with key events and unexpected treasures highlighting the diversity of the talent we have on our doorstep.

While regular stalwarts 9foldpunch, After4 and Solvent continue their strides to greater things, newcomers The Winter Kings, The MoonJets and Under The Streetlamp have added new depth to the already exciting live scene.

Misty's Big Adventure's visit to Cambridge in October will long be remembered, as will this year's Rockinbeerfest festival where a succession of fine bands played in front of a delighted audience in Godmanchester.

2006 has seen fabulous releases from Badwell Ash, The Deadlines and Wolves Stole My Childhood - another great batch of younger talent brought to our attention courtesy of the ever excellent Rocktech summer school.

The continued expansion of The Studio Rooms in Wyton has given bands the perfect space to perfect their act before going public.

Local promoters Hope Street Music and Green Mind have been continually responsible for bringing the best in local (and sometimes, not-so local) talent to our attention. Hope Street's acoustic showcase evening, The Living Room, has become the hottest ticket in town.

This year's Cambridge Band Competition became a tense, much debated four weeks of musical activity (in short, everything a band competition should be), deservedly won by the much praised Alex Harris and his band, while introducing us to the talents of bands such as The Beards and The Stray Embers.

As ever, with every great new band it seems that we lose a few as well, and this year has seen the music public wave triumphant goodbyes to The Visions, Dear Old Blighty, Saint Zoe and Wiseacre. And special mention must go to those Cambridge acts who have moved on to bigger things but continue to delight the local audience at regular intervals, notably The Broken Family Band (outstanding at this year's Strawberry Fair festival), Ezio and understated legend Boo Hewerdine.

Local hero Frank Hamilton has been touring throughout the UK this year, while fellow acoustic talents Emma York, Ross Martyn and Alighting have continued their charge for mainstream exposure.

Band of the year? Unfair to pick just one as there has been so much quality at our disposal, but at a push I'd have to go for Opaque who constantly strive for excellence with their quirky, highly-inventive live performances and flawless debut album, The Last Moustache . All in all 2006 has been another wonderful year for the local music scene, and the signs are already indicating that we can look forward to 2007 with much optimism. Happy Christmas!

RICHARD PAUL