To everything there is a season

We finally came to the end of the wonderful Street Voices era on 4th March 2015, when we held our very last Street Voices session at 82 Akeman Street.

We decided to make that morning a celebration of everything we had achieved and experienced during the past 7 years – a real roller coaster ride of performances and outings, plus the quieter times working on songs and enjoying each others’ company. We thought of absent friends, of course. And we enjoyed a final celebratory lunch together, our favourite meal of fish and chips. Members each received one of the trademark red bandannas as a keepsake and a reminder of the fun times we have enjoyed together.

We hope this website will continue to be an inspiration to anyone, anywhere,  starting a music group for homeless and vulnerably housed people, or indeed any group of people looking for the  joy and empowerment which making music together can bring.

We will continue to post details of upcoming musical events for the homeless community in Cambridge, so do keep an eye on this site.

Also, if you visited this site hoping to join a music group, there is good news! Friends and neighbours of the 82 Akeman Street Community Centre are invited to join a new music group called ‘Good Sounds’ which will meet on Friday mornings, 10.30 – 12.30. Anyone over 18 is welcome. There is a small charge of £1 per session to help cover costs. You can find out more by contacting the Community Centre on 01223 508150.

The photo below shows the ‘tree’ we made at the end of January, with the leaves and flowers each representing some of the gifts and qualities we have received from the group over the years. We hope we have sowed seeds which will continue to bear fruit in other places and other ways. Thank you everyone who has taken part in Street Voices or supported us in any way, and may the gift of music continue to nourish you on your life’s journey.



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Events coming up!

Cambridge Link Up Concert – 18th January

Sunday 18th January: Don’t miss the Cambridge Link Up concert for Homeless Sunday, at Zion Baptist Church (next door to Jimmy’s). The Concert starts at 2.00 and will end around 4.00, with tea and biscuits afterwards. Street Voices will be playing and there will be music and readings from lots of other talented folk. Look out for photos here afterwards!

Soup and Song – 25th January

Sunday 25th January: 6pm at St Andrews Church Hall, Chesterton. “Soup and Song”. Another opportunity to hear Street Voices play – and join in with the singing. Afterwards enjoy delicious soup and a roll provided by Wintercomfort’s Food4Food social enterprise project. Suggested donation £5 – more info available from Helen Orr at St Andrews Chesterton (see their website, - Soup & Song Homeless Event on Sunday 25th January 2015

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A bright, bright sunshiny day

It was third time lucky with the weather for this year’s Grantchester Ramble! After the torrential rain of 2012 and 2013, on June 6th the skies cleared for our annual pilgrimage in honour of the brave souls who campaigned for the ‘right to roam’ at the Mass Trespass of 1932. No matter that it wasn’t Kinder Scout – the gentle footpath from Newnham through the meadows to Grantchester was a lovely reminder that we are never far from green fields and open skies. We were able to linger longer by the river this year, enjoying the sunshine and singing ‘The Manchester Rambler’ and our own ‘Song for the Mass Trespass’ along with other favourites. Afterwards we joined with friends old and new at Grantchester Village Hall for a wonderful picnic lunch with delicious tea and cake provided by our lovely volunteers.

Here are a few photos to give a flavour of the day. Why not join us next year?

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Street Voices Gather in Newnham

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Setting off

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Onward goes the pilgrim band…

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Carl and Robin pause for conversation

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Reaching the wide open spaces…

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Past the famous red poll cattle…

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Down to the river…

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tuning up…

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‘Oh to hear the skylark sing’

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‘I hear music everywhere…’

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Onward to Grantchester…

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Arriving at Grantchester Village Hall

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Volunteers Elaine and Frances

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Pianist Yvonne takes to the stage!

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A smile from Kay as our singing picnic draws to a close

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‘What was that about?’ Life returns to normal in the meadows…

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Street Voices – A Sanctuary – A short film by Toby Peters

An old friend of Street Voices, Toby Peters, has made this wonderful short film for us, with video of this year’s Irish Session and interviews with some of our members, volunteers, and project leader Kay Barrett.

We think Toby is an exceptionally gifted film maker and we love what he has done with the film footage and music. Do take a few minutes to watch and let us know what you think! If you are in Cambridge on a Friday morning do come and see us, and don’t forget to keep an eye on our ‘events’ page.

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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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