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Natalie Merchant, Carolina Chocolate Drops, Rokia Traoré Perform at Cambridge Folk Festival

Natalie Merchant, Carolina Chocolate Drops, Rokia Traoré: Cambridge Folk Festival 2010

The 45th annual Cambridge Folk Festival gets under way tonight at Cherry Hinton Hall in Cambridge, England, and three Nonesuch artists are set to take the stage there this weekend: Natalie Merchant headlines Saturday night, Carolina Chocolate Drops perform both Saturday and Sunday, and Rokia Traoré performs on Sunday. While single-day tickets are sold out, BBC Radio 2 will be broadcasting highlights from the four-day festival for all to hear next Wednesday, August 4, starting at 7 PM GMT. Tune in online at

Natalie Merchant's Cambridge appearance comes in the middle of her US tour with music from her Nonesuch debut album, Leave Your Sleep. After headlining Saturday’s portion of the festival, she returns to the States to kick off the West Coast leg of her tour. On the topic of the Anglo-American connection, Merchant and Leave Your Sleep—which features poems by American and British writers set to her music—are the subject of an extensive piece in the Huffington Post. In the article, writer David Shasha praises Merchant for delving into the fertile ground of our often overlooked past, a daring feat in age that often rewards the superficial. The songs of Leave Your Sleep "contain a vigor and freshness that recapture the magic of the tradition in ways that are completely modern and relevant," Shasha suggests. On the album, Merchant has taken "what might have been a bunch of dead letters," he writes, "and has turned them into a profoundly gripping meditation on who we are as human beings today and how we must absorb the profound lessons of those writers whose work has given us such brilliant life lessons." Read the article at

Earlier this week, Merchant released an iTunes Session featuring reimagined original and cover songs. To preview the tracks and order the Session now, head to iTunes.


Carolina Chocolate Drops recently concluded their own US tour behind the release of their Nonesuch debut, Genuine Negro Jig. Their Cambridge appearances, on Saturday and Sunday, are preceded by a spot in the Opening Concert of the Southern Fried Festival in Perth, Scotland, on Friday. The Drops then make two more European festival appearances next week, at Norway's Notodden Blues Festival and Belgium's Dranouter Folk Festival. They return to tour the US again in late August.


Rokia Traoré stops at the Cambridge Folk Festival toward the end of a European tour. She performs on the festival's closing day, Sunday. The Cambridge News, previewing the set, describes Traoré as "one of the true stars of modern African music" and recognizes her latest Nonesuch release, Tchamantché, as an album that "sees her intimate vocal style complimenting her inventive guitar playing." Read more at


The Cambridge Folk Festival, one of the longest-running folk festivals in the world, has been taking place annually since 1965, when it was started by a local firefighter with the help of the Cambridge City Council. For more information, visit

For more Nonesuch tour information, head to


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