FolkWales Online Magazine

News – Jan 2014 Issue

Catrin & Seckou’s album nominated for major awards
Catrin and Seckou

Nominated: Catrin and Seckou

Welsh harpist Catrin Finch and Senegalese kora player Seckou Keita have been nominated for two BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards: Best Duo and Best Traditional Track for ‘Les Bras de Mer’, taken from their debut album Clychau Dibon, which was released on October 14 on the Astar Artes/Mwldan Label. The Folk Awards winners will be announced at the Royal Albert Hall, London on February 19.

Mark Radcliffe made the nominations announcement on BBC Radio 2’s The Folk Show just before the duo played to a sell-out crowd at Lakeside Arts Centre,in Seckou’s home town of Nottingham. Catrin comes from the village of Pentyrch, near Cardiff, where she lives with her husband Hywel Wigley, owner of Acapela Studios.

It quickly follows two other major music industry nominations. The album was recently selected as one of Songlines Magazine’s Top Ten Albums of 2013, chosen by editors Simon Broughton and Jo Frost and drawn from all the new albums reviewed in the past year – the first time an album featuring a Welsh artist has been included in this award. Clychau Dibon is also one of ten albums nominated for the fRoots Critics Poll Album of the Year 2013.

The past year was terrific for Catrin and Seckou, particularly since their showcase in October at the global music conference, WOMEX 2013 in Cardiff, impressed a crowd of international music industry delegates. Catrin and Seckou embarked on an 18-date UK tour, and dates for their next May 2014 tour are due in the coming weeks. The pair have also been invited to play at the 35th anniversary celebrations of fRoots Magazine in March this year at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in South Bank, London.

The project and album is a co-production between Cardigan-based Theatr Mwldan and Astar Artes. Clychau Dibon is produced by John Hollis.

‘We are absolutely delighted to have received these nominations,” said Dilwyn Davies, Theatr Mwldan’s chief executive officer. “The album really seems to have widespread appeal across many genres – from classical and world music to traditional and folk. It’s also a huge achievement for Wales, especially following the successful hosting of WOMEX this autumn.”



Star signing for Calan

Rip-roaring young band Calan have signed to prestigious agents Alan Bearman Music, another step up from the time when they used to busk in the streets in Cardiff. Now Europe’s favourite Welsh band, they will fly to America to play at the International Folk Alliance in Kansas in 2014. The three musicians who have been at the start of the band are Patrick Rymes (pibgorn, fiddle and bagpipes), Bethan Rhiannon (accordion, vocals and clog-stepping) and Angharad Jenkins (fiddle; she also plays fiddle for DnA, with her fabulous harper mother, Delyth Jenkins.)



Barrule lead glittering list for Fishguard

Fest Fishguard Folk Festival is already displaying a mouth-watering line-up for May Bank Holiday weekend, and on the bill are exciting Manx trioBarrule; Jamie Smith joins with his Mabon members Adam Rhodes (on bouzouki) and 20-year-old fiddle ace Tomás Callister (who deps for Oli Wilson-Dickson) in the band, whose debut CD garnered a four-star review in FolkWales Online Magazine. Adam played for Manx band King Chiaullee and Tom plays for another Manx group, The Reeling Stones. Jamie is married to Manxwoman Gráinne Joughin, and Jamie’s father-in-law, Greg Joughin, often contributes to the band with his harsh and beautiful voice. Top artists are Miranda Sykes and Rex Preston, The Young’Uns (Sean Cooney, David Eagle and Michael Hughes) and female-dominated leading Celtic group The Outside Track



Dan’s the man in Llantrisant line-up

Llantrisant Folk Club, based at The Windsor pub in Llantrisant Road, Pontyclun, welcomes marvellous Canadian songwriter Dan McKinnon(January 22), the fantastic DRB trio comprising guitarist Kevin Dempsey, Northumbrian traditional singer extraordinaire Carolyn Robson and breathtaking accordionist Harriet Bartlett (February 5) and Wirral guitaristPhil Hare (February 26) – but all eyes will be focussed on March 5, when wonderful Glasgow traditional singer and cellist Fiona Hunter, accompanied by fiddler, guitarist and prolific composer Mike Vass, take the stage. Fiona and Mike did a brilliant set in the Autumn WOMEX conference in Cardiff; Jon Loomes (March 19) and Colum Sands (March 26) complete the first quarter.




Mabon head Cwlwm Celtaidd programme

And another Jamie Smith’s Mabon headliner… Cwlwm Celtaidd, the interceltic festival at Porthcawl’s Grand Pavilion on March 7 to 9, 2014, has secured JSM, Carreg Lafar, Dros Dro, Gij, Calum Stewart/Heikki Bourgault (Brittany), plus dancers Cwmni Caerdydd, Dawnswyr Pen-y-Fai, Perree Bane and Kemysk.


The festival’s website was compromised by Japanese hacker; Cwlwm Celtaidd’s amended website is



Folk artists wanted for (almost) free holidays

Are you passionate about folk music, dance or singing? Would you love to share your skills with others? Folk Camps Society is offering young folk artists the chance to attend one of its Folk Camps holidays, just for the cost of a £20 deposit – part of their Ambassador Bursary Scheme, which is open to people aged between 18 and 29. Holidays range from workshop weekends to fully catered week-long camps.

Folk Camps Society is a charity that has been running for more than 50 years, whose aim is to preserve and pass on the folk traditions of the British Isles. Sally Clayden, of Parkmill, Gower, is Ambassador Bursary co-ordinator, and wonderful caller Mic Spenceley, of Tonyrefail in Rhondda Cynon Tâf, is administration manager.

Sally said: “With an emphasis on participation and creating a community, we offer a variety of camping holidays across Britain, where volunteer staff help to organise and lead musical activities, with daily workshops, singarounds and ceilidhs. As well as offering a virtually free holiday, this could be a chance for people to expand their repertoire, increase their mentoring skills and network with others involved in the folk world.”

Folk Camps try to find sites in attractive locations, where there are also lots of places to visit and things to do. There will be a field to camp on and either a hall or a marquee for eating, dancing, playing, singing and any number of other activities. Camps will have flush toilets, pump-up showers, big ovens, cooking ranges and some volunteer staff to keep things running as smoothly as possible. Please bring plates, cutlery, a tent, a sleeping bag, a torch, wellies and probably some clothes. If you prefer, you can usually bring a camper van or a caravan, but Folk Camp’s fields do not have caravan park style “hook ups”.

For those who don’t like camping, The Paddocks Hotel on the Welsh/English border at the spectacular Symond’s Yat in the Wye Valley is the venue for Folk Camp’s Winter Warmer weekend (January 24 – 26) and the five-day Craft Break (February 17 – 21).

Details from



St David’s Hall pipped at the post for live awards

St David’s Hall, Cardiff, was runner-up to the whole of the UK for Best Venue Teamwork Live Music Business Awards. Now in their fourth year, the Live Music Awards recognise excellence and talent among promoters, venues and festivals. St David’s Hall, which plays host to the Roots Unearthed series of concerts, was the only Welsh venue to be shortlisted in 2013. The Hall was also put up for public vote this year for the Most Welcoming Theatre Award.

Situated in The Hayes in Cardiff city centre, St. David’s Hall is a hub for visitors and locals with a wide range of live entertainment, free exhibitions, conferences, participation workshops as well as two bars and a café. The Hall has been bringing top quality entertainment to the capital for over 30 years – The Steve Tilston Trio are at Roots Unearthed on January 28, followed by Martin Carthy and Dave Swarbrick (February 11), Martyn Joseph (February 25), Cara Dillon (March 4), Amy Wadge and Pete Riley (March 18), US-based Diana Jones (March 26), Mary Black and Clannad (March 27) and Songchain/ Cylch Canu (April 1).


Lowri is BBC Wales’ Artist Of The Week

Lowri Evans was the Welsh Artist Of The Week on BBC Radio Wales recently, with her new single ‘Corner Of My Eye’ playing all week long. She was in the BBC studios in October, performing on Louise Elliott’s show. Lowri said: “We have had great feedback and reviews so far. ‘Corner Of My Eye’ has been played on BBC Radio 2, so onwards and upwards!”



9bach sign deal for Gabriel’s Real World Records

Bethesda-based 9bach have signed a deal with Peter Gabriel’s Real World Records – and their second album, Tincian, will come out this Spring. The deal comes four years after 9bach’s drummer Ali Byworth picked up the rock star in his London taxi cab and swiftly played him one of their early demos – and Peter told him that he really the sound.

9bach’s singer, actress Lisa Jen Brown, said that the band played a booking at the Womex event in Copenhagen two years ago and Real World had expressed an interest in them. “At that point, though, we didn’t really have much to promote, so they said they’d stay in touch. But when we were recording our new album, we sent them off a couple of tracks and heard back almost straight away.

“They said they loved the music and definitely wanted to work with us – However, they had to run the final decision past Peter, and he was away on tour at the time. But he clearly liked our songs, too, and eventually we got the ‘thumbs up’ from him. Now we can’t wait to meet him in person to ask if he remembers first hearing us in the back of Ali’s cab all those years ago.”

9bach’s success with Real World is an all-Welsh triumph – the band produced the album in Wales with support from the Arts Council Wales Music Industry Development Fund, set up to support Welsh  musicians in developing business skills. 8bach are anticipating their second album to pay for their third, and so on – creating a sustainable future for both the band and the Welsh  music industry as a whole.

But 9Bach are not the only ones to have benefitted from Welsh arts funding. The MIDF fund has supported the further development of 53 artists and music companies in Wales since it was set up as a pilot project to boost business skills within the music industry 15 months ago. Altogether, £30,000 of MIDF funding  has enabled the band, who also contributed  £12,000 to the project privately, to not only fulfil its own economic objectives over the past 12 months, but also those set out by other music professionals in Wales too.

Bryn Derwen Recording Studio in  Bethesda, Wild End Studios in Llanrwst  and a variety of locally-based music professionals were employed by 9Bach to bring their songs to fruition after the band secured the grant, which has been core-funded by the Welsh Government as part of its strategy for  developing the creative industries in Wales. The idea is to ensure that musical talent not only emerges from Wales, but also has the professional services available locally to help it prosper.

Fronted by Lisa and her guitarist husband Martin Hoyland, 9Bach consists of drummer Ali, bass guitarist Dan Swain (based in London) and Dan’s sister, harper Esyllt Glyn Jones, who lives in Llantrisant.



Flook, Alaw, Vin at Tredegar House

The amazing Flook (the flutes of Brian Finnegan and Sarah Allen, the guitar of Ed Boyd and A N Other) work their magic at Tredegar House Folk Festival in the city of Newport on the weekend of May 9 to 11. John Joe Kelly’s incredible bodhran, unfortunately, is missing; he’s been offered a whole raft of work in Ireland for next May, but Sarah promises a substitute who is just as good. The band, hailed in the world’s press as “Head and shoulders above the rest” (The Irish Times) and “Four brilliant musicians; four times as much brilliant music” (Time Out) decided to call it a day in 2008, but popular demand saw them reform to play a few select gigs in France, Italy and Britain – and Tredegar House! The promising line-up includes those stellar Welsh musicians Alaw (spectacular fiddler Oli Wilson-Dickson, accordionist extraordinaire Jamie Smith and master jazz guitarist Dylan Fowler), Vin Garbutt, Steve Turner and Welsh-English musicians The Foxglove Trio. Tredegar House is primarily a dance festival, and teams from all over Wales, Britain and Europe have been invited – including two Eastern European teams, Folklore Ensemble Gramnitsy (Belarus) and Matenik (Czech Republic).



John booked for Cuffern Manor

The performing space at Cuffern Manor, near Roch, Pembrokeshire, has only 40 seats, but it’s a glorious start to your folk holiday. Squeezebox master John Kirkpatrick is tutor for A Musical Weekend in Pembrokeshire, which starts at 4pm on Friday, March 21 and finishes on Sunday March 21. Thursday events include West Wales residentsFiddlebox (accordionist and Pressgang musician George Whitfield and fiddler Helen Adam, January 9), DRB (Dempsey Robson Bartlett, February 6) and Bwlchgwyn resident Les Barker (March 9).



Phil, Tom for South Wales

Newport Folk Club, based in the Newport Fugitives Athletic Club, High Cross Road, welcome Phil Beer (February 20), while The Valley Folk Club, in The Ivy Bush, Pontardawe, showcase The Gower Mummers’ Play by The Men Of Sweyn’s Ey (January 3), Captain Cat And The Sailors(January 17), Tom McConville (February 21) and Jon Loomes (March 21).



Top professionals in Cardiff for trac course

Trac, the all-Wales agency aimed at advancing folk arts, is organising a series of one-day courses for performing musicians in the new year. Aimed at part-time and full-time professionals, the three days will cover stagecraft, the technical aspects of performance and brand/image/identity.

The days will be led by top industry professionals. The experienced multi-instrumentalist Brian McNeill will be coming down from Scotland to polish up stage skills, with Jaqueline France McNeill, media trainer. Tim Hand, tour manager with the Penguin Cafe Orchestra, will demystify tech specs and performance logistics. Angharad Wynne will reach inside musicians’ creative souls and pull out gems to help them market their music. All of these tutors taught on trac’s recent Artist Development Programme and were acclaimed by the musicians who took part. The Artist Development Programme helped eight acts from Wales do great business at WOMEX in Cardiff last October, and now trac officers want to make that expertise more widely available.

The first one-day course, stage skills with Brian McNeill and Media skills with Jaqueline France McNeill, will be on January 19. Tim Hand’s day on technical know-how will be on February 16, and Angharad Wynne’s day on branding and identity will be on March 16. The courses will be held at Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff; the cost will be £25 for each day, and musicians will need to book in advance.



Calling all morris ladies

The Women Of Sweyn’s Ey? Several of the fairer sex in the Swansea area have expressed an interest in dancing and forming a ladies’ morris side. Women who are keen to dance, or who are interested in being musicians, are welcome to come along to The Men Of Sweyn’s Ey practices. If you are interested, contact Keith Lascelles on 01792 843210 for further information.

The Men of Sweyn’s Ey morris team now have a new They have resumed winter practices on Thursday evenings at the Sacred Heart Community Centre in Pentrepoeth School Road, Morriston, from 7.30pm – new musicians and dancers are always welcome.


Rees bows out of The Grapes session

After six years, Rees Wesson has decided to call a halt to the music session held on the last Thursday of the month at The Grapes pub in Welshpool. Rees says that new horizons are beckoning – his zydeco band, Joe Le Taxi, will be marking 25 years on the road in 2014 and are planning some major gigging to celebrate.



Fire In The Mountain: this year’s dates

London folk organisation Two For Joy have announced that the fourth Fire In The Mountain festival will be taking place near Aberystwyth from May 30  to June 1, 2014. The website link  is:



Frankie Armstrong, Robin and Bina lead benefit for Arctic 30

Special guests Robin and Bina Williamson top the bill at St Catherine’s Church Hall, Canton, Cardiff on Friday, January 31 as revered singer Frankie Armstrong joins First Tuesday Acoustic Club residents Bragod, Domestic Violins, Mikey Price, Darien Pritchard and Pwngk in the “Winter Warmer” benefit for the Greenpeace 30.

The 30 made their ‘Save The Arctic’ direct action protest against the Russian Gazprom oil rig late last year, but Russian soldiers illegally arrested them, consfiscated the Greenpeace ship put them in jail in the Northern Russian port of Murmansk. Thousands of protests were directed at the Russian Government from all over the world, and after 100 days’ confinement, the Arctic 30 were set free from the Russian city of St Petersburg, just in time for Christmas – and they may have been set free, but they will still have to meet enormous costs incurred in their incarceration.

Frankie and Darien, her husband, said: “Now that Russia have released the Arctic 30 from their 100-day illegal imprisonment, the First Tuesday Acoustic artists and musicians are vociferous; We feel it is very important that we continue to give both moral and financial support. Though they have been released, they still have massive costs and to meet – and the struggle to save the Arctic will need to go on if we are to stop more hideous exploitation of the crucial area.”

The Church Hall postcode is CF11 9DE and the concert starts at 7.30pm.


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