Irish Session and Lunch Friday 14th March

You are warmly invited to join us at our annual Irish Session and Lunch on Friday 14th March, 11.00 – 1.45 at 82 Akeman Street. Wear something green and bring an Irish song or poem!

We will sing all our favourite Irish songs and hear Irish poems and stories. You can join in or just sit back and listen… Dodie Carter will once again be bringing her Celtic harp, and Tom Sherin will recite WB Yeats poetry. Afterwards we’ll enjoy a buffet lunch together.

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Events springing up! West Road Concert and Annual Irish Session

Well, the sun is shining, the birds are singing and the crocuses and daffodils are blooming. It seems like the long wet winter will soon be behind us.

Here at Street Voices we are looking forward to taking part in a special community concert on Friday 7th March, organised by the Friends of Whitworth House. There are more details, including how to book, on the ‘Events’ page here on this site.

ALSO our annual IRISH SESSION AND LUNCH will take place just one week later, at 82 Akeman Street on Friday 14th March, 11.00 – 1.45. We do hope you will come and join us! We will dig out all of our favourite Irish songs, and we will be joined once again by Dodie Carter, playing the wonderful Celtic harp, and Tom Sherin, playing guitar and reciting WB Yeats poetry. If you know an Irish song, story or poem, please bring it along. Wear something green and join in the fun.

Meanwhile here are some pictures from past Irish Sessions to whet your appetite!

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Why the red bandana?

Rob in red bandana at Cambridge Folk Festival 2010

You can always recognize Street Voices by their red bandanas. But why do we wear them?

When we first started in 2007, we thought it would be good to have a special ‘Street Voices’ look, which people would immediately recognize.  But it wasn’t really practical to ask people to turn up wearing some particular colour or type of outfit. Then one day Kay saw the iconic photo of Willie Nelson wearing a red bandana. The rest, as they say, is history.

Over the years we have incorporated the trademark red bandana pattern into the artwork on this website, and the paisley swirls also feature on our business cards and the ‘Akeman Street’ CD.

Where does the pattern come from? The traditional Persian or Indian pattern of teardrop shaped swirls is variously thought to represent the mango seed, the cypress tree or the growing shoot of the date palm. The date palm itself is symbolic of the Tree of Life.  It is said that the fig tree produces everything needed to sustain life: food, shade, building materials and fuel.

In the nineteenth century, soldiers returning home from the colonies brought home expensive wool and silk Kashmir shawls with the swirly design. To meet popular demand, cloth workers in the Scottish town of Paisley began making fabric with a similar pattern. Today there is a museum in Paisley which houses an exhibition telling the story of the famous paisley cloth.

Fast forward to the 1960’s. When the Beatles made their pilgrimage to India in 1968, Indian culture and spirituality became hugely popular. Paisley was everywhere in the ‘Summer of Love’! Fender guitars made a pink paisley version of their telecaster guitar, and John Lennon even had a paisley Rolls Royce.

So the Street Voices bandana has a long and auspicious rock and roll history. Plus, the swirly patterns, originally inspired by the date palm, speak to us of needs being met, life, and growth.

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So, what have we been up to lately?

We kicked off the Autumn term with an excellent fish and chip lunch – plus some favourite songs from our back catalogue and a beautiful new one suggested by Elaine – ‘Only Love’ by John Prine.

FIsh and Chip Feast at Akeman Street, 6 September 2013


Next, Friday 20th September was CELEBRATION TIME as we visited St Martin’s Day Centre to help mark the 100th Birthday of one of their regular visitors, Beth.

Yvonne congratulates Beth on her 100th birthday

After a lovely sandwich lunch, we served up some of our most upbeat songs and also listened to the St Martin’s singers performing some of their favourites. We especially enjoyed ‘Moon River’.

Pre-Performance interlude at St Martin’s

We had learned a couple of  new songs especially for the occasion, including the birthday girl’s favourite, 70’s hit ‘Tie A Yellow Ribbon’.  We all commented that Centenarian Beth was an inspiration to us all, she gave the impression of someone of much younger years. She seemed to be hugely enjoying herself and thanked us for our musical efforts.

Street Voices gather to congratulate Beth on her 100th Birthday

If September seemed busy, October has definitely been busier!

On Friday 4th we were ON THE ROAD AGAIN… this time travelling by mini bus to Little Downham Village Hall for the St Leonards Church Harvest Supper.

Yvonne, Elaine, Linda, Kay and Mally – with a fenland winter sunset stage backdrop

Our evening in Little Downham had all the key ingredients for success – fantastic home made food – bangers and mash, and desserts to die for – followed by a heartfelt musical set from Street Voices, only surpassed by the participation of the lovely, enthusiastic audience.  St Martin’s, your singing and percussion skills are truly impressive! It also has to be said that the musical quality of our set was very much enhanced by the skilful sound engineering of Calvin Monk. Thanks Calvin! You’re a star.

AND FINALLY – we have one more BIG EVENT to look forward to this month. It’s an open concert, so DO COME AND JOIN US!

We are going to be performing at Our Lady and the English Martyrs Church on Hills Road (The big Roman Catholic Church) on Friday 25th October at 7.30 pm. We’ll be in the Hall (known as the Parish Centre) at the back of the church, rather than the church itself.

The idea is to have an inspirational concert to help launch OLEM’s involvement in the Cambridge Churches’ initiative to help accommodate rough sleepers over the winter months. The Friday after our concert, the church will open it’s doors to the homeless for the first time. The project is being supported by other homeless service providers. Five churches are taking people in, and other churches are helping with funding, laundry, meals etc.

The Concert is FREE, but donations are invited, to be divided between the Churches Winter Homeless Project and Street Voices. Do come and join us. The evening will be informal, fun – and very worthwhile. For more information, contact Kay on 07871 529348 or Richard (The Centre Manager) on 01223 224865.

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A look back at the summer season…

September has finally arrived, and it’s time to look back over a golden summer of  sunshine and wonderful gigs.

First off was the Therfield Chapel Garden Supper, held at Therfield, near Royston, on Saturday 13th July.

Supper in the chapel garden

Supper in the Chapel Garden

The beautiful warm evening was only matched by the warm welcome of the all-age congregation who gathered to share a meal and listen to us play. As Cate commented, it was the sort of summer evening you wished you could put in a bottle, to take out and look at again on the long winter evenings.

Relaxing in the garden at Therfield

After a delicious shared supper in the Therfield Chapel garden, we made our way into the chapel building for our musical contribution to the evening. Thanks to Dave the sound engineer and to everyone for joining in, especially all the youngsters (and the not-so-young) who did a grand job on percussion. Thanks too to the Therfield Chapel folk for their generous donation, which helped to cover our expenses, plus a little more.

Andrew introduces the band

Next in the summer line up of gigs was an afternoon performance at Saint Martin’s Day Centre in Suez Road. This was a grand occasion with a very enthusiastic audience of day centre users and volunteers. Special thanks are due for the very high quality refreshments of tea, sandwiches and cake. We are very much looking forward to returning to play at a 100th birthday party later this month.

Saint Martin’s – our audience awaits

Our third gig of the summer season was for the very wonderful ‘Phil’s People’ at Saint Philips Church in Mill Road. Phil’s People meet every second Wednesday of the month for a hot meal (not forgetting a proper pudding!) followed by participative musical entertainment. So it was that we made our debut there on  14th August. Fun was had by all and Phil’s People enjoyed our music so much that they have asked us to go back for a festive evening in December. Thanks to friend of Street Voices Chris McDermott for setting this up and to Chris Fuller (aka Elvis) for doing the sound and looking after us on the night.

We were so busy enjoying ourselves that we forgot to take any pictures… were you there? Did you take any? Please send them in!




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Shall we gather at the river? Grantchester ramble and picnic

The birds are singing and Spring is springing – it’s April again, and time for our annual celebration of the Mass Trespass of 1932. In April of that year working class folk from Manchester and Sheffield banded together to walk on to the moors to protest that they had no legal right to roam. This action, which led to some of the protesters being imprisoned, caused a wave of public sympathy, and ultimately led to the founding of the National Parks and the right to roam we enjoy today.

On Friday 12th April we’ll be gathering by the river to sing a few songs, such as ‘The Manchester Rambler’ and then we’ll go on to Grantchester Village Hall for our picnic and some very welcome tea and cake.

Do join us if you can (bring a picnic lunch, tea and cake provided) If you’d like to help set up the hall, please go directly there at 12.00.

Down by the riverside – April 2012


11.30 Assemble at the car park at the start of the Grantchester Meadows footpath in Newnham (dress for the weather!)

11.45 Walk to Grantchester

12.00 Singing by the river

12.30 Assemble at Grantchester Village Hall for picnic, tea and cake – and more music

2.00 Finish

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Leper Chapel Concert 2013

On Sunday 27th January the sun shone brightly and the weather was unusually mild for the annual Homelessness Sunday Concert at the Leper Chapel.

Friends and participants around the entrance to the Leper Chapel


Sunlight streamed in to the Chapel and our photographer,  Richard, was able to take some lovely shots of the performers, poets and readers. We hope you will enjoy looking at some of them here. There are more pictures on the Jimmy’s  and Link-Up websites, so do have a look there too! Go to and

Robert on blues harmonica

A big thank you to everyone who came, sang along, and gave support in any way. Also thanks to Judy for helping with the labyrinth side of things – it looked wonderful (despite the gusty wind which seemed determined to blow out the candles). It was good to see people walking the labyrinth paths together. Thanks too to Calvin for doing an expert job on the sound, which was much appreciated.

Holly on vocals and guitar

We are grateful to Cambridge Link-Up and Alison Blair Underwood for once again making the event happen; to Food4Food for their excellent fairy cakes; and to Reverend Roger Williams for his closing thoughts and blessing.

Banjo Nick added an extra dimension to our old favourite ‘He was a friend of mine’

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Concert of Words and Song for Homelessness Sunday

The Leper Chapel gathering for Homelessness Sunday 2012

Freezing weather and snow on the ground… it is that time of year again! On Sunday 27th January, do wrap up warm, bring a blanket, and come to the Concert of Words and Song at the amazing medieval Leper Chapel on Newmarket Road ( just before the football ground, on the left). The concert starts at 2.30 pm. If coming by car, please park round the corner in Ditton Walk. Nearest toilet facilities are over the road at the Football Ground.
This year Kay’s friend Judy will be making a wonderful candlelit labyrinth on the grass in front of the Chapel, which you are invited to walk at the end of the concert. The weather may be cold but there will be heartwarming songs and readings and you are sure to find the afternoon thought provoking and inspiring.

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Festive Fish and Chips 2012

Yvonne deals out the Christmas fish and chips.

Yes it’s that time of year again – time for parties and celebrations, time for singing Christmas songs (as Shakin’ Stevens once said).

For Street Voices that means a celebration meal of fish and chips, with the whole ordering and collection side of things expertly organised by Yvonne.

We welcomed visitors Rowena Whitehead and Ben Bridgen, also volunteers Neil, Dick, and Mary. Ben was able to fill us in on his work making music with the homeless folk who attend the Choeur du Coeur in the French city of Nantes. It was Ben’s first visit to Akeman Street, we had a great time and were particularly impressed by his keyboard skills.

During the morning we sang songs from our Christmas repertoire (of course) and also worked on ‘Worried Man Blues’ by Woodie Guthrie, which we hope to have ready for the annual Leper Chapel concert – which will be on Sunday 27th January at 2.30pm. This song will be an audience participation number, so if you’d like to learn it, do come and join us.

Street Voices will next meet on 11th January. Don’t forget to keep an eye on our ‘Events’ page for details of our upcoming performances!


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World Homeless Day October 10 2012

Outside Food4Food ‘World Homeless Day’ October 2012

World Homeless Day, October 10th –  we had a wonderful time performing for local folk who were lunching at the Food4Food social enterprise café at Saint Andrew’s Church Hall Chesterton.

A special thank you to the dedicated Street Voices fans who came and supported us!

Also a big thank you to Richard Wright from Cambridge Link-Up for taking some lovely photos, including this group photo taken outside in the crisp Autumn sunshine.

Richard also brought an information board and leaflets on the excellent work of Cambridge Link-Up. Link-Up is an initiative run by former homeless people and, amongst other things, provides small grants for things like new boots or shoes, which can make all the difference to a homeless person. Link-Up are starting a new initiative, ‘Link-Up & Feedback’ a forum which gathers information from service-users which will be used to assist local policy-makers in making decisions. Cambridge Link-Up also aims to raise awareness of homelessness issues in the wider community. You can find out more about the Link-Up group on their website,

As for Street Voices, we plan to return to Food4Food very soon – please keep an eye on our ‘events’ page for details of future Street Voices performances at the Café.

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