Check Out Wales-based Celtic-Classical Crossover band, The Meadows!

Check Out Wales-based Celtic-Classical Crossover band, The Meadows!

I said several hours ago, that I am excited to check the inbox of The Celtic Music Fan Facebook page. You just don’t know what’s coming in (although you have a control of what’s going out). So this is what I got. A group of young musicians from Wales. They are already accomplishing their civic/charitable activities at a young age. I think this is amazing in an time where a lot of teens would demand for the latest iPhone or Go Pro camera. These artists are attuned to a higher calling and I wish them well and looking forward to their growth as artists and individuals. I posted the message below:

“Happy greetings from Wales-based Celtic-Classical Crossover band, The Meadows! 🙂 Here’s our version of the Traditional Irish piece, Toss the Feathers: –https://youtu.be/7N7AAtErl9w It was filmed on November 2014 at St. Teilo’s Church, Llandeilo during our Wales Air Ambulance fundraising tour. Come and ‘like’ us on our Facebook page: –www.facebook.com/TheMeadowsMusic We welcome subscribers to our Youtube channel: –https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCeiZOSVzBTYY_YyKDOLiVbQ (Or search Youtube for ‘The Meadows Cymru’ or ’The Meadows Wales’) Cheery wishes, The Meadows

Advertisements
Serundal:Channeling Celtic Myths on the Coil of New Age

Serundal:Channeling Celtic Myths on the Coil of New Age

Hypnotic, soothing and beautiful. It is always a blessing when musicians reach out to CMF to let me hear what they are doing. Wales is the homeland of Serundal, a duo composed of David king and Maxie. Maxie reminds me a bit of the lead vocalist of another Welsh duo Ceredwen. But Serundal’s songs are less wispy and more organic.

Like their New Age peers, Serundal relies heavily on atmospheric tunes and steady beats. These aspects give each songs room to breath on the part of the listeners. Whither you want something soft to play on the background while doing something else or you really want to dissect the mythical inspirations behind the tracks, Serundal has them.

Stone of Destiny, The Hag of Winter, White Stag and The Water Dance are among the best examples of their captivating sound. Their music can be described as electronic/New Age with songwriting structure heavily influenced by folk music. You can sample more of their tracks if you go to their CD baby page http://www.cdbaby.com/Artist/Serundal.

Band bio(from their facebook page)

Biography
UK Songwriting Contest 2010 four tracks submitted- Three from ‘Land of the     Sixth  Moon’  one from ‘Yule’ all voted semi-finalists 2010. 2009 Semi-finalists in the UK songwriters Contest for ‘Lady of the isles’
Members … David: producer/arranger/multi-instrumentalist/lyrics / vocals Maxie: research/ lyrics/lead vocal
Hailed by one reviewer as ‘the new Clannad’ since 2006  Serundal has produced eight full albums and two E.Ps have been released.       Maxie has been a published poet since the age of  fifteen, and Serundal was first born through a    combination of her ideas set in poetry and David’s musical  creativity.      Together, born of Scottish, English and Welsh ancestry they have managed to weave together what has been described as ‘a truly magical mix of  Celtic and Anglo-Saxon storytelling traditions with the energy of 21st century arrangements.’      Their music has been described as ‘timeless’ ‘cinematic’ and ‘visual’ and since 2007, they have been a featured artist on www.ubl.com      Their track  ‘Lady of the Isles’ (Waiting Rooms) has reached number 20 in the world chart of 521 artistes in  www.iacmusic.com      Through listeners votes their songs have scored highly in charts like www.songvault.fm where Serundal was the first artiste in the folk genre to have  fifteen tracks on the songvault directory and to receive permanent airplay
‘The Elven Robe’  featured on Gene Godfrey’s Classic f.m  www.angelfire.com      ‘The Storm’ featured on Andrew John’s station on www.celticaradio.com       ‘The Elven Robe’ played on Bill Everatt’s Underground www.celticaradio.com       ‘Lady of the Isles’ played on Highlander radio (Live 365) www.celticradio.net       ‘Snowy Owl’ on Deep Cuts radio    http://www.live365.com/stations/4music2       ‘Incantation’ reached number 2 in the folk charts on www.somojo.net
Both Ab Initi (2006) and ‘Leylines’ (2007) have received excellent reviews.
Christmas 2008 saw the release of ‘Dark Days White Knights’ an album based on medieval Celtic and Arthurian legend, which has taken their musical journey into the world of progressive folk.
In the summer of 2009  ‘Lady of the Isles’  (Waiting Rooms 2006) was voted one of the songs to make it to the semi-finals of the prestigious UK Songwriter’s Contest, a remarkable achievement since this was Serundal’s first submission and there were over 6,500 entries of a very high standard.
Christmas 2009 sees the release of ‘Yule’ a special edition Christmas E.P  a magical mystical blend of the Winter Solstice and the Christmas story.
Follow Serundal on twitter www.last.fm/serundal www.myspace.com/serundalmusic www.serundal.com www.cdbaby.com
members of:  http://www.songwriters-guild.co.uk/

***

To those who are trying to get in touched with me, I took a one month off from facebook. Please use my email joseromel.labatos@gmail.com. To current contacts all my fb messages go directly to my windows mobile but I would not be able to see your posts.

Jamie Smith’s Mabon: Dedicated Tour of Wales!(Plus free song download)

Jamie Smith’s Mabon: Dedicated Tour of Wales!(Plus free song download)

http://jamiesmithsmabon.com/taith-adre/

 

Good news and good song!

The great lads of Welsh Celtic band Jamie Smith’s Mabon is finally doing a dedicated tour all over their own county of Wales. After countless touring all over Europe the gang feels that it is time to reunite with Welsh fans and also with their own place. According to drummer Iolo Whelan:

I guess the most exciting aspect for us is that as well as being a tour *of* our home country, it also feels a bit like a homecoming – four out of the five of us live here in Wales, but we work away so often and our fans are so widely spread, that it feels a bit like we’re bringing the music home. I don’t know if that sounds pretentious, but it is making me very excited for this tour!-Iolo

And guess what. They are giving away a FREE  SONG DOWNLOAD  through their band newsletter. Please subscribe if you haven’t yet and feel free to download their haunting and enchanting track ‘Caru Pum Merch.’ I personally enjoyed this beautiful song which is the last track off their CD Windblown released last 2012. I also got an autographed copy of the album from all of them and I sometimes like to show it off hahaha.

The free track is a good one to point out to people too – the Welsh-language lyrics make it the most relevant to the Welsh tour, and it gives people who are new to the band a good idea of what we do, since it captures some of both the emotional and the more strident aspects of our playing.-Iolo

The band also said that  in the Spring of 2014, they’ve got a joint tour of England playing about 15 venues with the young singer Maz O’Connor so watch out for that one too.Awesome update from the band through Iolo and also goodluck to the tour of your homeland!   Here is the link to their newsletter where you can download the track ‘Caru Pum Merch.’ http://gmtiny.com/DSQJT/

The Universal Welshman: Interview with Ceri Rhys Matthews

Also in this edition: Gaitafolia and Featured performance:Gillian Boucher (fiddle), Seph Peters(banjo), Anna Ludlow(fiddle) and Mary Beth Carty(guitar)

Ceri Rhys Matthews taken with Instagram

Ceri Rhys Matthews talks about what it means to be a musician bridging tradition and innovation to the fore.

The prose of Ceri Rhys Matthews flows like music. He answers questions as honestly as he can. There is a wealth of wisdom in his opinions and he does them with the ease of someone who has conversed and played music with people of varied cultural backgrounds.

My meeting with him started after hearing the music of fernhill. I was also doing research about the top pipers of Wales and his name not only came up frequently, I also got recommendations from his peers.

I am sure you will enjoy reading this informative conversation the way I enjoyed formulating my questions and reading his answers.

 You are very well known in the Welsh trad scene. How did you master the art of piping (and also the wooden flute) and who/what really influenced you  to take up piping?

A long time ago, I moved back to Wales from studying Art in Maidstone, Kent, in the east of England. This was in 1981, when I was 20 years old. There was a sound in my head that I wanted to hear but I didn’t know what it was. One night a friend said, “Are you coming to the session tonight? There’s a man coming who plays pibgorn”. And I knew instantly that that was the sound I could hear in my head, even though until then I’d never even seen a pibgorn, nor knew what that instrument was. I played mandolin at the time.

Later that summer I was playing some tunes on my mandolin, with a cittern player in a session in pub in Pontardawe, and the pibgorn player came and sat about a yard from us staring and listening intently. “Where do you get your tunes from?”, he asked, and I told him. “Hmm”, he says “Owain Alaw, check out Owain Alaw”. I already knew that repertoire I told him, and we got talking. I asked him if he’s make me a pibgorn, and so he did. Jonathan Shorland is his name and he’d been making and playing the instrument in Aberystwyth for a couple of years before we met. Anyway, we struck up a friendship and I’d visit him at his workshop and play tunes at his house and at sessions. I watched how he played, and listened and copied. He played flute too, and that’s when the flute began to seduce me.

Some years later I was more in love with the flute than the pipes, and so

Ceri Rhys Matthews playing a Welsh Bag-Hornpipe or Pibe Cyrn

tentatively moved over to that instrument more.

What I play on both instruments is driven by two disparate things. The first is the desire to copy things that I hear and like. I’m pretty bad at this. I pick up all the wrong habits, and I’m very, very slow at learning other people’s tunes. The second is a desire to realise sounds that I hear distantly in my head. Then there is the process of focusing these nebulous sounds to make them more concrete and memorable – but still retaining a freedom each time they’re played. These two thing correspond roughly to what people would term traditional in the first instance, and creative in the second. But I see them as pretty close activities.

What can we expect from fernhill this year?

We have now enough new songs and tunes to make a new album. But money is very tight and we can’t afford to record another album in the foreseeable future. We are gigging, and playing the songs to people, and this is very important to us; to keep the flow of the music moving, and so I guess that some of these pieces won’t get recorded, as new songs take their place in our performances. Songs seem to have their time, and then move on. Sometimes, parts of old songs will find their place in new combinations, so it’s not altogether a bad thing that some don’t get recorded. But we like recording too, and so maybe next summer or autumn we’ll have another think.

I consider Yscolan as one of the best trad albums. It really represents Welsh music. When will you do a follow up to this kind of style?

Thank you. Again, I think the answer to this is pretty much like the last question. I could make many such recordings, but playing live to people seems to have taken over, and this is not such a bad thing. I have learned so much, and continue to learn from playing music to people. If an offer came from someone to make a follow up recording, I could do it next week, but I don’t expect an offer, and so I get on with playing. The playing changes and flows because of this, which pleases me.

Apart from your gigs with fernhill are there other collaborations you do?

Out of the solo work, and the fernhill work, has grown my work with Christine

Photo by Christopher Levy

Cooper, who plays fiddle for fernhill. (She’s also a storyteller in her own right).

I am coming to think that duet playing is the pinnacle of what I am working towards in my music, and Christine is helping make this more apparent to me. It helps that she is such a talented and also an understanding musician. Her musicianship is subtler than mine, and enables a very workable collaboration. In it, I tend to be a starting point; and idea or melody, and Christine helps embody or realise the idea or vision.

When two melody lines play almost in unison, something more concrete manifests to the listener, and the players. They create a triangle, but a fluid moving narrative of three points. A solo performer can create a hierarchy between himself and the audience, which is not always bad but is something I’m less interested in. The relationship between two independent but related performers, on the one hand, and the listeners on the other seems to me to be a sort of artistic democracy that is central to folk music, and that gives it wings to fly. The players can respond to each other and the listener, who in turn can influence what is being played.

Christine and I have begun to develop this recently in a thing I call “Rambles through Tunes”, which is described pretty well by Kate Pawsey here:
http://yscolan.tumblr.com/new_work

and here:
http://www.folkradio.co.uk/2012/10/ceri-rhys-matthews-rambles-through-tunes/

It’s not a new idea, of course. Or my idea. But an idea that has gripped me.

What is the state of the Welsh trad scene right now in your opinion?

It’s a complicated question. One could begin by asking, like the historian Gwyn Alf Williams asked, “When was Wales?”, and by extension, “What is Wales?”

I see the tradition(s) and the creative urge here in this place as part of a continuum of musical activity throughout these islands and beyond – to the continent, and further afield still. Much of what I have learned personally as a musician, for example, has been abroad. Surely the experience of musicians throughout the ages. I learned about the guitar in Uganda, in Africa, even though I started to play in Swansea. I learned about the pipes in the Atlas Mountains, and the mountains of Sa Pa in northern Vietnam. I learned about how you make music long instead of short from Hungarian musicians in Pontardawe (the same time as I met Jonathan Shorland).

So I feel uncomfortable when music is defined by geography, let alone nationhood. But so as not to duck the question, I feel that at the moment the music is being politicised to serve a national identity, which will ultimately strangle the music. This is not the first place this has happened in, and not the worst, and it won’t be the last. If I have a role, it’s to make sure that space and freedom are found for individuals and small groups of people to continue their personal musical narrative, and simultaneously for them to be able to breath creatively within their society, and consequently to contribute their music back.

But it’s handy to have a name for the place, otherwise people end up somewhere else if they come and visit! And so it’s possible to say that where I live has many many exciting and interesting things happening musically and culturally.

Fernhill live at Theatre Moliere, Brussels, January 2010. Fi Wela, “I See”
Julie Murphy – voice
Ceri Rhys Matthews – guitar
Christine Cooper – fiddle
Tomos Williams – trumpet

Ceri Owen-Jones on the harp and the well-known Ceri Matthews on the Welsh pipes.

Additional sources:

http://yscolan.tumblr.com/

https://twitter.com/yscolan

***

Featured video:Portuguese bagpipers Gaitafolia- Passeado Valsado

These musicians are amazing!

***

Featured performance:Gillian Boucher (fiddle), Seph Peters(banjo),Anna Ludlow(fiddle) and Mary Beth Carty(guitar)

Intense performance! More here: http://www.thecelticumbrella.com/

Buzzing Harps: Bray Harps (Popular in the 14th to 18th Century Wales)

Mike Parker 16thC. style gothic harp with bray pins on some notes. Bass ronde misattributed to Beatrix of Dia, 

I heard Bill Taylor perform music using his bray harp (also known as gothic harp) and it was something. These harps sound like they are buzzing when you play them. So totally different from the harp sound we came to know. According to the BBC 3, these harps were popular among the Scots of the lowlands and this was commonly played in Welsh society. Along with the Clarsach, these two became popular from the 14th up to the 18 century. I can’t find any video of Bill Taylor playing the bray harp for my example so I am using this video by Mike Parker. Just check this info I got from Ardival Harps:

Bray harps, also referred to as “gothic harps”, are characterised by their long, slender shapes, which resemble the wings of angels.  But the real difference is in their sound:  they buzz.

Said to “bray like donkeys”, these harps are fitted with tiny L-shaped wooden pegs called bray pins. These bray pins hold the strings in the soundbox and also lightly touch them. This light point of contact causes the buzzing sound as the string vibrates.

Although it may be a strange sound to us today, this was the familiar sound of the gut-strung harp across Europe for several hundred years, played between the 14th and 18th centuries, and heard in Wales into the early 19th century.  They were the classic harps during the Renaissance, and described by Michael Praetorius in his 1619 publication as “the ordinary harp” (illustrated right).

With the wire-strung clarsach being the choice instrument of the Highland Gaels, the gut-strung bray harp appears to have been the harp preferred by the Lowland Scots.  Bray harps have long strings, with often narrow spacing, and over time tend to develop a slightly arched back due to tension of the strings.  Evidence from the Welsh manuscript of Robert ap Huw points to their use with fingernails; otherwise, classical fingerpad technique is also appropriate. http://www.ardival.com/index.asp?pageid=200766

 

Also, check out the website of Bill Taylor: http://www.billtaylor.eu

Harp Music: Tradition of Music Making pre-1700 in Wales

For those who aren’t part of The Celtic Music Fan via facebook, this is a good link. If you think you know all there is to know about Welsh music, wait until you listen to this radio show. The hosts  gave informative materials and also played samples of the music throughout the show. Composer Robert ap Huw chronicled the music of his time and made his own odd tablature which became a source of debate and amazement among musicologists. I am attaching the link here. Facebook makes music blogging so easy..and yeah this neat screenshot app helps a lot.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01kntn7

Jamie Smith’s MABON in South of Wales this Summer! Thursday, 19 July 2012

Bout this pic: Adam and Matt modelling the new tour bus. A slight upgrade from the last one!
— with Matthew Emyr Downer, Jamie Smith, Adam Rhodes, Oliver Wilson-Dickson and Iolo Whelan.

Welsh readers, get ready for J S Mabon @ The Muni!Thursday, 19 July 2012.

Apart from the much anticipated new album from this amazing Welsh band, fans in their homeland will be thrilled to see them perform live.  Here is the news event posted by Iolo Whelan, the band’s  drummer:

Our only ‘home turf’ gig this summer – come out, South Walians!
Ein unig gig lleol haf yma – dewch yn llu!

Jamie Smith’s MABON emerge from the recording studio, blinking in the daylight, and champing at the bit to play for real live people again! Tucked in amongst a list of UK and European festivals, our only local gig this summer will be at THE MUNI CENTRE, PONTYPRIDD on Thursday 19th July.
We’d be delighted if you could spread the word, and join us at this great venue for a intimate evening of music. (:

Wele Mabon yn ymddangos o’r stiwdio recordio i chwarae ein unig gig lleol yr haf yma, yng NGHANOLFAN Y MUNI, PONTYPRIDD, nos Iau 19eg o Fehefin.
Fasech chi gystal a lledaenu’r gair? Basai’n hyfryd eich gweld chi yno! (:

Be part of the event here: https://www.facebook.com/events/362339267168366/

This is an aside but that bus looks inviting! That band’s poster is also amazing. They surely hired a great photographer.

Jamie Smiths Mabon perform The Tale of Nikolai, The Dancing Bear at Priddy Folk Festival 2012

Yn Chruinnaght’s CD ‘The Gathering’

Yn Chruinnaght’s CD ‘The Gathering’ is an exciting collection of Celtic music featuring twelve tracks donated by artists who have played at the festival over the years. The Gathering CD will raise vital funds for future events.

Those involved in the Manx music festival Yn Chruinnaght took a bold step with The Gathering. It is a compilation CD with 12 songs. These tracks were carefully selected and they all represent what is good, new and beautiful about the Yn Chruinnaght festival in the Isle of Man. Yn Chruinnaght (which also stands for the English word The Gathering)  was made up of tracks kindly donated by various artists who joined the festival throughout the years.

I have to be honest, it is hard to choose which is the best track. The Gathering is a CD that boasts wonderful tracks from bands that have been part of the festival through the years. From the enchanting hammer dulcimer of Cornish band Leski, to the perky accordion of Jamie Smith’s Mabon; everything in this album shines and enriches the soul.

The tracks and artists are:

Three spires/Tregajorran furry – Leski (Cornwall) Hammer dulcimer along with irresistible rhythm makes this the best choice as an opening track. Everything about Leski celebrates the beauty of Cornish music.

*
Ah, que les femmes y sont betes d’obeir a leur mari – Trio Froger (Brittany) The tempo represents Breton dances. A trio of accordion, fiddle and lead vocals.

*
Our ship did sail/If young men could swim – Sheear (Isle of Man) Meaning ‘West’, Sheear is an all girl band made up of musicians and singers who come together in between playing in other bands. Whistles, fiddles, piano, flute and vocals make this track a magical listening experience.

*
Mae gen i fuwch – Never Mind The Bocs (Wales) The great thing about the Celtic language is that you don’t have to understand it, to appreciate the sound it makes. Such is the case of this Welsh track from this five-piece band. From Cajun to ceilidhs, via Blues and folk-rock, the contemporary approach of Never Mind The Bocs will charm lovers of Dougie McLean and Planxty.

*
Just for Sean – Leo McCann (Scotland) What he can do with button box and tin whistle will find you tapping your feet and rocking your body. Leo has recorded over twenty albums. This track is an example of his fine musicianship distilled through years of playing in his own solo albums as well as other bands. Hands down! This is one of the great trad music I heard in ages.

*
In with the bricks – Pipedown (Scotland) I wrote about them in my previous article and hearing this track proves my point that they are a force in the Scottish folk scene. In With the Bricks applies the skillful ease of poly-rhythms and the mellifluous sound of the small pipes.

*
Kishtey ny yindyssyn – Staa (Isle of Man) A little bit on the groovy side with the infusion of reggae, bossa and vocal harmonies reminiscent of The Beach Boys, Staa will warm you to their music right away.

*
Sumach – Scoot (Cornwall) Trad driven with hints of jazz and funk this Cornish band will enchant lovers of traditional Irish and Scottish music. The undeniable command of skill and technique are displayed in this wonderful track which is a duet between acoustic guitar and flute.

*
Bonny broom – Imrama (Ireland) After thirteen years of playing, this track shows the refinement of this band. Influences of Planxty, Sweeney’s Men, The Bothy Band, and Steeleye Span are evident in their recordings.

*
Kilmartin sky – Rachel Hair (Scotland) I became a fan of her music and I wrote about her band in my previous post. Rachel is the best Scotland has to offer in terms of harp playing. Delicate and haunting, this track celebrates the power of Celtic music through nuance and grace. A truly enriching and perky listening experience that made me tap my foot as the track gathers rhythm when it reaches the middle part.

*
Derriere chez moi, ‘y a un etang – Chal ha Dichal, with vocals by Lors Landat (Brittany); The reason why I am crazy about Breton music is because of the energy and passion all Breton performers give when they sing or record albums. This track shines with so much positive energy that I end up smiling after.

*
Fiddler’s despair – Jamie Smith’s Mabon (Wales) Well, introduction is not needed when you talk about this band. Energy and skill are consistent with their every track. Despite the title, Fiddler’s despair is a joy to listen to.

I think everyone who loves Celtic music should get this album. It only features the best and the brightest from the Celtic nations. The album features a beautiful photo by Dimitar Pentchev with a nice album artwork by Adam Rhodes. It also boasts an informative liner notes. I think liner notes are very important. Dave Rowles made a great arrangement in this compilation CD.

Special thanks to Laura Rowles for this wonderful treat.

You can buy the CD here: http://www.ynchruinnaght.com/cd/

Yn Chruinnaght Inter-Celtic Festival – 14-21 July 2012

2012 marks the 25th anniversary of the death of Mona Douglas, the founder of Yn Chruinnaght Inter-Celtic Festival. Throughout her life Douglas was passionate about promoting and supporting Celtic culture, and she was respected throughout the Celtic world for this. Douglas had a vision of a Manx national festival, and this resulted in Yn Chruinnaght being started in 1977. However, unfortunately she did not live long enough to appreciate the huge success of her legacy.
Yn Chruinnaght aims to foster cultural relations between the Celtic nations, whilst also working to promote Manx culture, both on the Island and further abroad. The festival features performers from all of the Celtic countries in various venues throughout the Island. As well as music and dance performances, the festival also includes language events, lectures, workshops, art exhibitions, and fantastic sessions.
This year promises to be a particularly exciting festival, with the line-up so far including Scottish fiddle supergroup, Blazin’ Fiddles, mighty Breton band, Forzh Penaos, progressive Cornish group, Pentorr, and the extremely talented Rua Macmillan Trio. Manx bands that will be appearing include new Manx trio, Barrule, Strengyn, and Nish as Rish, who had the honour of winning the Trophée Loïc Raison at Lorient festival last year.
The festival offers much to keep visitors occupied throughout the week; however, there is still plenty of time to explore the beautiful Island. The Isle of Man boasts fantastic beaches, striking mountains, and picturesque glens, and has attractions to suit everyone.
For more information on the festival, see www.ynchruinnaght.com or email ynchruinnaght@manx.net
For more information about the Isle of Man, see www.visitisleofman.com

Chat with Iolo Whelan of Jamie Smith’s MABON

Jamie Smith’s MABON:  Concerts, changes and the new album.

I posted my first article about Jamie Smith’s MABON in May 5,  2010. Back then the band were known as Mabon. They  appeared in  posts as it is hard not to notice them. Everyone  was either tweeting about them or just posting status updates with youtube videos of the band.

The music is a mix of all the influences from the seven Celtic nations. That is why apart from being a Welsh band , they officially label themselves as playing  original, Interceltic, world music. To quote from the band: ” it draws inspiration directly from the traditional folk music of the Celtic countries. This is not Welsh music, nor Scottish or Irish; this is Interceltic music, a true exploration of forms and styles found in Celtic music and their forging into something bold and new.”

It is interesting to observe how this band continue to grow in their sound. After three albums(one is  alive concert)  they are working on the latest album. It is an honor to catch up with Iolo Whelan the drummer and official spokes person for the band to gather thoughts that very few know about yet. I am glad to know one thing and that is(sound of trumpets)……the name of the new album!

Band members

Jamie Smith – Accordion, Oliver Wilson-Dickson – Fiddle, Adam Rhodes – Bouzouki, Matt Downer – Electric & Upright Basses, Iolo Whelan – Drums and Percussion: Calum Stewart (special guest) – Flute & Pipes


Iolo interview answers for The Celtic Music Fan, May 2012.

 

Website: www.jamiesmithsmabon.com   FB: www.facebook.com/jsmabon

 

What’s the best part about touring with the band?

We are very fortunate in this band that we get to travel: as well as touring in the UK, which I love, we’ve also traveled in Europe, Canada, Australia and Mexico.  When we travel, we meet so many wonderful people, and see so many amazing things.  I always feel when you visit another country as a working musician, you see a very different picture than if you were a tourist.

As a brilliant example, I remember the first time we went to Poland: we were in the country for less than 24 hours, but by the time we left, I felt as though I had had an amazing insight into Polish life, Polish culture, Polish people’s lives, which will stay with me for ever.  It’s the same everywhere we go.

And apart from the travel of course, there are two obvious but very important things which I love about working in this band – the friendship and the music!  Playing with great musicians who are also your friends makes any performance a joy.

Tell us about the new project you are working on at the moment.

 

For us, this year is all about our new album, Windblown.  We were preparing  new material in the winter, and we’re recording it over spring and summer ready for an album release tour in the autumn.  Our last album was recorded live, so it’s a while since we were in the studio, and it’s interesting to see how things have changed.

The biggest change is the inclusion of songs in our repertoire now as well as the established instrumental aspect.  I was interested to see how the two things would sit side by side on the new album: and I think because we treat our songs the same way we treat our instrumental material, they form one unified collection very well.

We’re very excited about the way it sounds so far and can’t wait to get it out there for our friends and fans!

Has there been a change in the traditional Welsh music scene recently and what are they?

 

I think if there is a change in the traditional music scene in Wales today, it is a new confidence amongst musicians and bands.  I feel that more bands are happy to do their own thing and chart their own course.

Some are returning to the roots of the music and further exploring that material at its oldest sources; some are still mixing traditional material with rock and pop influences; others are exploring new realms of fusion with a broader palette of genres.  Our approach is to work without a specific niche or brief, and to make music as we fancy, taking in different influences from all the great music we hear, and seeking whatever sound we enjoy in our own original music.

Maybe that confidence in the Welsh folk scene is reflected in the appearance of more Welsh roots bands on the world music stage: Jamie Smith’s MABON, 9Bach, Calan, Burum, Catrin Finch and others are appearing more often on international stages now.  Indeed, I think some of these bands receive more attention on roots and world music platforms internationally than they do in Wales – maybe with time that will change too!

How do you define the music of Jamie Smith’s MABON and what are the things we will be expecting from the band this year in terms of concerts and collaborations, if there are any?

 

We describe our music as original, Interceltic, world music.  Original because, even though we work in a roots field and with trad music influences, our music is mostly composed by our accordionist and lead vocalist Jamie Smith; Interceltic because our primary influences are the cultures of all the Celtic nations; and world music because we do not feel we need to restrict ourselves to that field, and because our brand of original roots music sits so well on a world music stage.

Our main focus for this year is our new album, as I mentioned, and while that keeps us looking inward for a while, we will also be featuring several new and established collaborators on the recording.  Old friends Calum Stewart and Will Lang will contribute on wooden flute and on bodhran respectively, but our friend and recent collaborator Tom Callister will be guesting on the album too, as well as some other very special musicians yet to be revealed.

We’re hoping, after some festival appearances this summer and our album launch tour in the autumn, to be taking plenty of bookings for 2013’s festival season.  Hit our ‘Like’ button on Facebook or bookmark the concerts page of our website, and you can you can keep an eye out for a gig or a festival near you this year, next year and beyond!

You are the skins man and what can you tell us about the drums that we don’t know yet?

 

I often say that mine is the best seat in the house for any concert, but a Jamie Smith’s MABON concert in particular provides really interesting challenges.  For me, I feel my task is to support the melodies and the songs without getting in the way.  The sound of the accordion, fiddle and bouzouki is so full that it can be easy for the bass and drums to distract from that fullness, without adding anything special in its place.

So I tread a fine line between lifting the music and spoiling it, and I enjoy having to make those decisions from one moment to the next: I hope I get it right enough of the time!  There are many challenging roles out there for a drummer, but I’ve been doing this gig for twelve years now, and it’s still constantly stimulating, and fresh and somehow different every time.

One of our most faithful long-term fans told me last year that he can listen to us play a piece of music which he’s heard countless times before, but will hear something new or different in it each time he sees us perform – that gives me great inspiration for every concert we play.

You can buy albums of the band here: http://www.jamiesmithsmabon.com/shop/

Today in the Celtic world….

New album from an American harpist!

Congratulations to harpist friend Scott Hoye for releasing the album called Black Rose today! Listen and buy the album here: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/scotthoye

Tylwyth Teg’s Lively Welsh Fusion

 

Cardiff  based band make a leap into the national Welsh folk scene.

Foot stumping music from a band that started in 2009,  an album and now gigs all over the country.  Tylwyth Teg(which is also the Welsh term for “Fair folk‘ or fairies) have joined the ranks of  Celtic bands that represent the “Welsh sound”. Sleepless Streets off their self title album grabs you with is fusion of musical styles and male vocal that calls Larry Kirwan of Black 47.

They maintained a balance between  eclecticism and  their folk roots. The  influences make the music exciting  but they maintained that cohesive aspect of songwriting that agrees with everyone’s background and respects it. There’s that developed  sound that will tell you right away it is Tylwyth Teg.

http://www.tylwythteg.co.uk

http://www.myspace.com/tylwythtegcardiff

email: tylwythtegcardiff@gmail.com

facebook :https://www.facebook.com/tylwythteg

Band members:

Sally Wooldridge, Jo Marriott – Flutey-Tooties
Katie Marriott, Heulwen Williams – Fiddlers
Andy Taylor – Guitar
Dave Francis – Bass Boi
Anna Fonge – Cello
Ed Millington – Drums

You can buy the new album here: http://www.tylwythteg.co.uk/Tylwyth_Teg/Shop.html
In a small lecture theatre in Cardiff UniversityHere is a helpful blurd from their website:

music department, a session of about 30 people
started playing what can only be described as
a shambles of folk tunes! From there the numbers
dwindled to 8 members that became collectively
known as Tylwyth Teg.

With members ranging from welsh dance group band
members to classically trained to heavy metal headbangers,
these musicians began taking traditional folk tunes, combining them with all these influences into a unique sound.

Since this rabble meeting in October 2009, Tylwyth Teg have played at the International Pan-Celtic folk festival in Ireland and Lowender Perran folk festival, along with gigs dotted all over Wales. With instruments varying from fiddles, Irish flute, Cajon and various saxophones this is a group with unrelenting enthusiasm, which guarantees dancing by the end of the night!