New Cambridge festival hopes to strengthen ties between folk and roots music

John MacKinnon: Transatlantic Sessions will play at the City Roots festival next year.

John MacKinnon: Transatlantic Sessions will play at the City Roots festival next year. - Credit: Archant

One of Cambridge’s biggest events is set to get even bigger, with the first-ever City Roots festival taking place next February – and the line-up has just been announced.

An expansion of the Cambridge Folk Festival, City Roots hopes to build on the success of its parent event, encouraging collaboration within the arts and strengthening the relationship between folk and root music.

Taking part in its debut will be internationally-renowned singer-songwriter Salif Keita, who has been confirmed as the closing headliner, playing at the Corn Exchange on February 11.

Known as the ‘golden voice of Africa’, Salif has created a distinctive sound, combining West African griot traditions with rock, jazz, and even funk.

Joining him on the line-up will be Transatlantic Sessions – a group of musicians bringing an eclectic mix of Celtic and Americana traditions to the stage.

Shetland fiddle legend Aly Bain and dobro star Jerry Douglas share the musical direction for this performance, also accompanied by a spectacular house band.

Cambridge Junction is embracing City Roots too – which starts on February 3 - with four gigs set to play at the venue.

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In J2, Jim Moray, an English folk singer, Paolo Angelli and Derek Gripper in a double solo guitar performance, and performers Amy Wadge and Luke Jackson will share their talents, while J1 hosts Mad Dog McRae for a mix of folk rock, gypsy jazz, and bluegrass

Other venues include the Portland Arms, Cambridge Guildhalls, Anglia Ruskin University and Cambridge Union.

Steve Bagnall, managing director of Cambridge Live, said: “We are delighted to launch this extension of Cambridge Folk Festival, working with venues and groups across the city.

“In its first year, we hope that City Roots proves to be a successful model, helping us to forge new, long-lasting partnerships enabling us to continue to deliver what we hope will become an annual event.”

For more information, and to see the full line-up, visit