FolkWales Online Magazine

News: Calan members refused US entry (September 2015)

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.

3 comments for “News: Calan members refused US entry (September 2015)

  1. Gareth Westacott
    28th September 2015 at 6:04 pm

    It goes back further than the disgraceful treatment of Izzy Crawford. Back in the summer of 2009 the singer Arfon Gwilym, having been invited to take part in a festival organised at Smithsonian Instite, Washington D.C., went to the US Embassy in London to progress his application for a visa. After a seven-hour wait at the embassy his visa was refused because of his involvement in the (strictly non-violent) civil disobedience campaigns for Welsh language rights of Cymdeithas yr Iaith (The Welsh Language Society)back in the 60’s and 70’s (over 40 yrs ago!!) On that basis a sizeable number of Welsh people (myself included) are effectively barred entry to the U.S., and had best not go to the trouble of even applying.

    • Micktems
      28th September 2015 at 8:38 pm

      The US Immigration Service are literally a law unto themselves. Why pick Arfon out, when Mered Evans (who was leading Cymdeithas Yr Iaith and committed criminal offences for his beliefs), is allowed through American borders?

  2. Gareth Westacott
    29th September 2015 at 11:38 am

    Indeed! That’s a glaring inconsistency.

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