The summer of 1991 was a bit of a turning point in my musical journey. I was asked to shoot some pictures of the Cambridge Folk Festival, an annual four-day event held at the end of July in Cherry Hinton, a suburb of Cambridge, 45 minutes north-east of London by train.

I wasn't enthused--to the average Joe in the street, British folk is characterised by bearded men with flagons of ale sticking their fingers into their (own) ears and singing songs whose chorus always seems to consist of "hey nonny-nonny." I also imagined the average "folkie" doing a fair amount of slapping of (again, their own) thighs, but then I am half-German, a race proud of their tradition of wearing leather shorts and slapping thighs. But I digress...

I went along to the Festival filled with trepidation (which I always thought would be a good name for a real ale). The first day seemed to confirm my fears when I bumped into one of the geekiest guys I knew and he said he was playing trumpet for one of the bands. Trumpet? Not exactly rock & roll, I thought. The main reason I was there was to take photos of Ruby Blue, a folk band who were in the modern mould. They would later split and the lead singer, Rebecca Pidgeon, would move back to her native USA, marry David Mamet, and produce several records of searing beauty.

As I was there for the whole weekend, I wandered from venue to venue marvelling at the bands and easing into a love affair with the festival that I've had ever since. Here's just a taste of who I saw that first year: Suzanne Vega, Butch Hancock & Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Janis Ian, Clannad, Roddy Frame (he of Aztec Camera), Charlie Musselwhite, The Happy End (a wonderful swing band), and Roaring Lion (84 year-old Jamaican calypso singer) along with Young Pretender (so-called as he was only 76).

Since that first time, I've tried to go every year, only missing for the relatively poor reason of living for a couple years in Akron, Ohio. The festival is my regular summer holiday, an oasis of fine music, lovely people, and...well, an indefinable "vibe" that nothing need be hurried, no decision requires painful deliberation. It's a special little world where, though we each have our own festival, we become, for these few days, a community.   continue