The T-shirts tell their own story: Frank Zappa, Judas Priest, Bauhaus Brewery, South Australia Keg Demolition Team, plus the festival's own Cool as Folk merchandise. Cambridge seems relaxed about everything, including the meaning of folk, as long as there's plenty of beer. A bit like Womad, but on a smaller scale, and with more newspapers and Panama hats.
On its final day, traditional music is served by artists such as Tim Van Eyken and Mozaik, whose grizzled veterans explore pan-European roots with commitment and fire. Hebridean newcomer Julie Fowlis alternates sweet, nervous laments with jigs and reels. Her bodhran player, Martin O'Neill, enthrals the audience with a melodic, talking drum-style solo.
Nickel Creek's distinctive sound is undermined by less-distinguished, indie-rock vocals. Rapid, asymmetric jigs evolve into Short People, which in turn segues into Bach courtesy of mandolin virtuoso Chris Thile. Fortunately, there's no shortage of good singing elsewhere. Cara Dillon's assured performance includes the moving There Were Roses, based on the true story of forbidden love that ended in death. Eddi Reader keeps the crowd happy with some nicely judged Scots favourites, and dedicates Perfect (from her Fairground Attraction heyday), to her late father. Capercaillie's Karen Matheson joins her for Burns's Ae Fond Kiss.
Emmylou Harris, accompanied by Pam Rose and Mary Ann Kennedy, looks and sounds as amazing as ever. Highlights include an a cappella version of Ain't Nobody But the Baby and a sentimental reading of the Teddy Bears' To Know Him Is to Love Him. What Emmylou announces as "another girly harmony thing" turns out to be a modified After the Gold Rush: "Look at mother nature on the run /In the 21st century."
Two guitar-based acts bring the house down: the explosive, jam-band-like John Butler Trio (from Australia) and Mexican duo Rodrigo y Gabriela, who quickly have the audience eating out of their very dexterous hands.