This year saw John McCusker celebrate 25 years as a professional folk musician. What better way to mark that landmark year than with the release of Hello, Goodbye; his first solo album in 12 years. The album, released in April, was a Featured Album of the Month on Folk Radio UK (read the review here).
At this year’s Cambridge Folk Festival (July 28-31) the John McCusker Band plays Cambridge Folk Festival’s Stage1 on Saturday 30th July. To mark the event John has put together a special Spotify Guest Playlist for FRUK which highlights some of his favourites from this year’s Cambridge lineup. Listen and read about John’s selections below:
John McCusker : Cambridge Folk Festival Playlist
1. Michael McGoldrick – James Brown’s March
When I think about a festival audience jumping up and down and going nuts for tunes this is the musician and tune set I think of! I’ve seen Mike loads of times with his big band play this set at festivals all over the world – everytime without fail the audience goes totally wild!
2. Mary Chapin Carpenter – The Moon & St. Christopher
I remember buying the record ‘Shooting Straight In The Dark’ with this song on it when it came out in 1990 and I loved everything about it. There are songs from my childhood that have had a big effect on me and they never really leave you – this is one of those songs. I had the pleasure of playing with Mary Chapin as part of The Transatlantic Sessions – she is an incredible artist.
3. Baaba Maal, Mumford & Sons & Beatenberg – Wona*
I love this collaboration. I really enjoy watching and hearing bands stepping out of their comfort zones and trying new musical adventures. All of us musicians are striving to keep what we’re doing as fresh and exciting as possible, not just for the audience but to try and keep ourselves musically happy and energised, this collaboration and track feels like a perfect example of that.
4. Heidi Talbot – Here We Go 1, 2, 3
I’m delighted Heidi will be singing with my band on the main stage on Saturday. I’ve recently just finished producing Heidi’s new album ‘Here We Go 1, 2, 3’. We tried to make a beautiful album where it sounds like a bunch of friends having a brilliant time playing music together in the same room. It’s the record I’m most proud of being a part of (Read more about this release here).
5. Duncan Chisolm – The Gentle Light That Wakes Me
Duncan is a brilliant fiddle player and composer and also a strong contender for the nicest man in the universe! When Duncan plays a slow air, to me it’s one of the most beautiful sounds in the world. Here is Duncan playing a beautiful Phil Cunningham tune.
6. Glen Hansard, Marketa Irglova – Falling Slowly
I’ve never met Glen but I find him a really inspring fella. It’s that thing again when you see singers and musicians keeping themselves on fire for the music they are making and Glen seems like he’s bursting at the seams with passion and enthusiasm for music. Myself & Heidi loved the film Once and in particualr this song – it’s another example of a song that has a big effect on people and I’m never quite sure how that happens but it’s a wonderful thing when it does.
7. Hot 8 Brass Band – Rastafunk
This is totally brilliant – what a band and what an amazing noise they make! One of the great things about festivals is that you get to hear new groups and musicians. When I’m playing at a festival I try to look at the list and listen to artists who are playing that I’m not aware off – I listened to Hot 8 Brass Band for the 1st time and they have blown my socks right off! I can’t wait to see them live.
8. Sam Lee – Lovely Molly
Sam is another incredible artist. I watched him perform Lovely Molly on Later with Jools Holland and I thought it was such an inspired performance. I think for any singer or musician to perform on tv shows or to sing at BBC Folk Awards at The Royal Albert Hall and completely be yourself and get lost in the song is a beautiful thing to see – for me Sam is a great example of this.
9. Christy Moore – Cliffs Of Dooneen
Planxty without a doubt helped inspire a whole generation of musicians, myself included. I’ve said this many times but when you see a band like planxty firing on all cylinders I think the energy and excitement would give any rock band a run for their money! Christy has that gift of it doesn’t matter if he’s playing the rock venue Barrowland in Glasgow to 2000 rowdy folk or a festival to 10,000 quiet people he never fails to have the audience in the palm of his hand – it’s a magical thing to witness.
10. Solas – The Flowing Bowl Set
There is an amazing energy & excitement that sometimes happens with a bands first record. It’s hard to explain why this happens, it’s like everybody involved is putting every ounce of musical energy they have into their playing and making the album. When it does happen like the first Solas record it’s like musical fireworks and incredibly exciting!
*Baaba Maal plays Cambridge Folk Festival
Find out more about Cambridge Folk Festival here: www.cambridgelivetrust.co.uk/folk-festival