It’s a national yearly celebration; Gŵyl Dydd Dewi Sant, Wednesday, March 1, and impressive Aberystwyth trio Three Legg’d Mare absolutely delighted and amazed the Llantrisant Folk Club audience with their no-punches-pulled winning show. The band consists of powerful-voiced singer Kate Saunders, who plays Appalachian mountain dulcimer, guitar and Shruti, Rhondda-born singer Jon Davies (concertina, bouzouki, fiddle and mandolin), and North Wales vocalist Dafydd Eto (whistles, harmonica and bodhrán); together, they summon up a completely joyous package of Welsh traditional songs and tunes, plus well-loved English oldies that take on a new life with the musicians’ dazzling arrangements.
Three Legg’d Mare’s unique sound is tuneful, beautiful dexterity, with a dash of wild Celtic open-throated harmony that puts the shivers up the spine. Kate, Jon and Dafydd kicked off the evening with the gay ‘Y March Glas’, following up with a Kate Rusby gem and J. D. Davies’ wistful sea-song, ‘Llongau Caernarfon’, and the salty shanty ‘Paddy West’. The band was so very, very tight; Jon displayed his lovely fiddle to a brace of maggots – 17th-century dance tunes, and one that he had composed himself – and the band rounded off the first half with a rousing ‘Benjamin Bowmaneer’ (Castors Away!), a stunning version of the chapel hymn ‘Gwêl yr Adeilad’ and the storming finisher ‘Cân Crwtyn y Gwartheg’.
Kate, Jon and Dafydd could do no wrong. The opener, ‘Henry My Son’, was a belter, and the familiar ‘Dacw Cariad’ was collected in Whitchurch, Cardiff in 1908 from Mrs Mary Davies. ‘The Black Shawl’ was a serene uplifter, with those voices really knitting together, and the audience hollered out the refrain of the well-loved ‘Hen Ferchetan’. The trio told the story-song of the Devil and the farmer’s cursed wife, and broke into the ‘Dyfyrwch Gwyr Dyfnaint’ dance tune; ‘Dŷ Bach Twt’ was the icing on the cake.
‘Bachgen Bach o Dincar’ brought the house down, and the crowd uproariously clapped and shouted for more. Everyone left with smiles on their faces and a song in their hearts, and I must admit that I grabbed their new album. Three Legg’d Mare are on the brink of breaking through to recognition, not for Wales but further beyond – and this triumphant gig certainly proved that.