Calan manager Huw Williams has filed a report to the Musicians’ Union over the treatment handed out by US immigration authorities when two musicians of the award-winning band were refused entry over a passport breakdown at the US embassy in London, were jailed for one night and deported. The passports belonging to piper, pibgorn player and fiddler Patrick Rimes and guitarist Sam Humphries were confiscated and were only returned as the plane returned to London.
The three female musicians, who were admitted to the US, were forced to cancel their debut appearance at the prestigious venue The Ark in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Nevertheless, they carried on touring – thanks to their friend Hayes Griffin of the April Verch Trio, standing in on guitar and learning some sets of tunes with them.
Sam said: “We have no criminal record and the correct working visa. It just wasn’t printed in the passports because of the printing system at the US embassy in London going down on July 9. We had all the paperwork, but it just wasn’t good enough – and it wasn’t our fault in the first place.”
A statement on the band’s Facebook site from singer, accordionist the spectacular clog dancer Bethan Williams-Jones said: “Due to unfortunate circumstances, Patrick and Sam were denied entry in to the USA. Our manager, Huw Williams, Elen at Sain Records and our agent Robyn Boyd are all working tirelessly to get them back out here with Angharad and myself.”
“We played tonight’s gig nonetheless, thanks to our great friend Hayes Griffin of the April Verch Trio, standing in on guitar and learning some sets of tunes with us this afternoon. We have unfortunately had to cancel our gig at The Ark in Ann Arbor and we do apologise for the inconvenience this has caused promoters and venues.”
The US immigration authority’s arbitrary actions directed against Welsh musicians are long-standing. In February, Merthyr Tydfil singer Kizzy Crawford was barred from entering the United States to play the Folk Alliance International Festival in Kansas City. This was despite the fact that the US London embassy assured Kizzy that a visa waiver would be sufficient for her, as she received no fee.