‘The Space Between’ is Jamie Smith’s Mabon’s upcoming album.

‘The Space Between’ is Jamie Smith’s Mabon’s upcoming album.

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The Welsh Celtic supergroup Jaime Smith’s Mabon are releasing a new album called The Space Between through crowdfunder UK. Crowdfunding is the trend these days as more and more artists are finding that their fans can make it possible. And why not? Jamie Smith’s Mabon released a highly acclaimed Windblown 2012 and I LOVE my autographed copy of the CD. Their debut single is ‘Yr Ennyd’ which you can hear today if you go to http://www.bbc.co.uk/radiocymru

I think this single will be as fantastic as their fan favorite Caru Pum Merch. They have proven that the Welsh language holds a mystical magnetism that attracts people in all parts of the globe.

They have excellent musical style! You’ll know right away it’s them.

You can learn more about their album by visiting this link: http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/TheSpaceBetween

This is their latest video recorded during the latest Lowender Peran 2015. 

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

The Ashokan Farewell and McIlroy Guitars.

The Ashokan Farewell and McIlroy Guitars.

His arrangement of The Ashokan Farewell for acoustic guitar. Played on a McIlroy AJ16

Dermot McIlroy is a versatile artist. Apart from playing in his project bands, he is also a guitar builder. Have you tried visiting McIlroy Guitars? The video will give you an idea what one of them sounds like(the McIlroy AJ16). And he plays really good! He executes that depth and craft in the video Ashokan Farewell which has a rather interesting background.

Dermot McIlroy in Antrim, Antrim, United Kingdom.

Dermot McIlroy in Antrim, Antrim, United Kingdom. Photo by Daniel Burne.

I love instrumental music. They don’t have resistance or aggression. They are compatible with almost anything. The Ashokan Farewell plays like a peaceful river. Everything flows without bumps and uncertainty. And the notes are clear like golden silver. Can you hear it? That certain feel to it?

I think there should be a solo instrumental album from McIlroy don’t you think? I think, for that to be realized one day will be a truly wonderful experience. Solo guitar music is timeless. I love collecting them. I can play them anytime and anywhere. I hope this post(and most importantly the accompanying music lights up your week) inspires you as you start your day or recline to sleep.

http://mcilroyguitars.co.uk

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I will be posting a blog about Derek Smith of this Welsh trio, Glasnant. According to him:

“Glasnant means Blue Stream in English. Our music will be like a stream flowing through the Celtic countries.” They will go to Ireland on March 12th-16th to take their interceltic music to the Aran Isles. Sounds exciting!

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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/

Jamie Smith:”I have been singing for many years.” (Interview)

Jamie Smith:”I have been singing for many years.” (Interview)

Check out our column Huzzah! Featuring: Sue Aston, Leza Mesiah,  Carlos Nuñez and Solas.

Jamie Smith side view

Jamie Smith

The phenomenal Welsh singer/songwriter/instrumentalist Jamie Smith talks to The Celtic Music Fan about recording, performing and singing for the first time in an album.

Jamie Smith remained a mystery for years to the Celtic music circle. His accordion playing is electrifying. He possesses great showmanship when onstage. He is charismatic. With his band, they fill out venues as live performers. Late last year was the release of their much anticipated third album called Windblown. I noticed that they  are exploring new avenues of musicality.They also seem to posses that relaxed attitude in playing live and building their online presence to their listeners.

As a band, Jamie Smith’s Mabon captivated the imagination of everybody. They also brought with them the mystical sound of Wales. At the same time, they worked in fusing that sound with other styles from any Celtic nations.

As an individual performer, Jamie Smith brings something special to the music culture. I think it  is his passion and also the way he abandons himself to the music that he plays. This in turn gets into the audience and the sincerity of it all is the core of his artistry. He has a strong presence in the recording and live performance. It is hard to explain and you have to own one of their albums to understand.

 Before the end of 2012, we talked about creating this interview. At that time, his band was on tour so it was a busy month. But true to his word, he made it here.  So here he is, Jamie Smith!

Hi Jamie, your band formed in 1999 with your father Derek, Iolo Whelan and his brother Gareth. You must have learned a lot after being exposed to many live performance at a young age.What are the things you have observed in the Celtic music scene, in terms of releasing albums and performing the songs live?

One thing I have learned is you can always improve on what you are doing. It’s amazing to look back down the years since the early days of the band and see how we’ve gradually transformed over time. I think it’s important to keep moving or else you can stagnate and lose interest. Another thing I have observed is that the tracks the band likes best and are most proud of often aren’t the ones the audience likes the most! 

 The new album is a pleasant departure from the previous ones. You did vocals for the first time! And you made a great job singing. Your voice is such a fantastic instrument that can move between haunting deliveries to a more pop rock kind of style. Who encouraged you to finally take the mic? 

I’d been thinking about it for a while and my wife, Gráinne, gave me the extra push to actually go for it. It’s good to have new challenges and we’re looking forward to working on more new songs this year. I have been singing for many years, just never in Mabon. I have become more interested in songs within the Celtic/folk genre over the last few years, which is partly what led me to want to try writing songs for the band. 

How’s the whole experience making Windblown? Anything to share about your own experiences and also the quirks that happened during the whole songwriting and recording process?

Making an album is a strange and often obsessive process: you spend a long time working on it and constantly thinking about it, then when it’s done you quickly put it to one side and look forward to the next challenge. I’ve hardly listened to the album since we got the final copies back! We had some great moments in the studio and a lot of fun experimenting with overdub ideas, some of which made the final mix.

What’s your favorite track off this new album and why?

I don’t think I can pick out one track sorry! Something that has pleased me since releasing the album is that everyone seems to have a different favourite track. It’s fair to say Caru Pum Merch has got a lot of fans, because it sounds so different, but quite a few of the others have been singled out as favourites by listeners too.

If a young person asks you for an advice about the best way to maintain a creative working relationship with a band, what would you tell him/her?

Enjoy playing together and try to do it often! If you are all enjoying playing music together then it should be easy to be creative.

What do you like about being a musician and also being in a band?

I like entertaining people by playing music and being in a band is more sociable than touring on your own! Apart from the making and performing of music, the next best thing is getting to travel to so many different places both home and abroad.

 You are also part of Barrule which is an amazing band based in the Isle of Man. How do you maintain a balance between working with the Barrule project and JSM?

Barrule’s in its infancy still so it’s not too bad at the moment, although recording albums with both bands back to back was a mammoth undertaking. If it does become more difficult, at least that means we are all doing well!

What are the other talents you have apart from those we already observed?

I play guitar, but not in Mabon. I’m pretty good at whistling actually. Drives my wife up the wall though!

For more updates visit: http://www.jamiesmithsmabon.com/

Music:

Jamie and the gang will kick off their March tour and here’s the list: http://www.jamiesmithsmabon.com/concerts/

Video:

 Gallery:

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Huzzah!

Welcome to the second part of this blog which is the chatty part. Yes it’s called Huzzah! Which is also one of the track titles in Windblown by Jamie Smith’s Mabon whose lead singer is our featured artist this week.  Yes yes I will talk about anything and be natural as much as I can. Now those of you who are following my facebook page have already seen this video by Cornish violinist Sue Aston. For those who are new to her music, she is actually based in Penzance Cornwall. She is both influenced by Classical and the folk music. What’s fascinating about her is that she writes and plays everything. She also runs her own record and media company. To quote American singer/songwriter Jim Wearne regarding this video: “Wonderful tune, and beautiful Cornish scenery, not to mention a Cornish fiddler who’s easy on the eyes. Celtic festivals? Are you listening?” Yes like Jim said are you listening festivals?

About the video: Dedicated to everyone who has lost someone special to them. Taken from my album ‘Inspirational Journey’ written for my Dad and Nan who I miss everyday. Sue

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Four days ago I launched a discussion thread via Linkedin. I’ve been with linkedin for heaven knows how long and it became so boring I stopped visiting. Then, while perusing through the links four days ago, I found a group called Irish Music. Bam! Things just started taking off.  I now have a reason to go there everyday. I met wonderful people from that group includingvocalist Leza Mesiah. Here’s a link to her songs: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/lezamesiah “The back story on my Ren ‘Character’ is your generic African Musician Princess living in Scotland, having fallen in love with a Scot.”She said.

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Great news about the amazing Galician piper Carlos Nuñez

I stumbled upon this through his site: http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2013/feb/03/carlos-nunez-philip-pickett-globe My fascination with his music went back to early 90s when Windham Hill started releasing albums worldwide. Celtic albumswere hard to find at that time. But compilations made it possible. So my big thank you to Windham Hill and The Chieftains for introducing this amazing artist to me!

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With Celtic band Solas making it on the same page as Beyonce just goes to prove that Celtic music is BIG in the United States  http://soc.li/CXRcSvD

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So do you have any Celtic music buzz to share? Feel free to comment on the thread and post your own. Yes this is open for all and ideas are welcomed.  This is what I learned lately: When you are in the world of marketing(that includes independent musicians and writers) playing nice really helps. We don’t live in a vacuum. And we create things not for our self but for the audience. Being ‘accessible’ and ‘community minded’ do help. Good luck everyone 🙂

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

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Featured video:Portuguese bagpipers Gaitafolia- Passeado Valsado

These musicians are amazing!

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

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

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

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

Abagail Grey;Visually Explosive

Celtsmith is a Welsh band led by Derek Smith . Looks familiar? Well that’s because he is directly related to Jamie Smith of Jamie Smith’s Mabon. He is also the  Festival Director and chair person  of Cwlwm Celtaidd, the voluntary organisation that organises the festival under the Porthcawl Interceltic Festival since 2002. Celtsmith is a band to watch out for.

Highly emotive and explosive as icicles in March Abagail Grey, a project by Scottish singer Claire Campbell takes a daring direction in terms of style and interpretation. Her music is very visual and listening to her is like looking at shifting scenes of landscapes when you ride a train long distance. She has perfected the command of atmosphere. Incorporating beats in her music creates a balance that teeters between introspective mood and popish excitement. Elegant as chandeliers on castles yet powerful in an arena rock glamour kind of intensity, Abagail Grey has capture my ears…and heart.

 

Get more info here: http://abagailgrey.com/  and oh might want to check her interesting blog: http://abagailgrey.typepad.com/abagailgrey/

Calan is out with Jonah

These days I feel I am a bit behind my usual posts. You know why? It is because I am getting updates from left to right. There are amazing artists and the scene is flowering like never before. The support for young acts is tremendous if you think of all the forums and facebook groups sprouting in hordes.  I met amazing people in The Celtic Link forum lately and it is really a fun experience when you get info from the musicians themselves rather than just getting your news material from writings and other reviews.

Yesterday I featured Welsh band Fernhill. Now I am going to present Calan, which I mentioned came from the same source. This band is not only slick in their interpretation of traditional music but also they have  a knack for representing themselves in a way that leaves an impression to first time listeners. It is remarkable how bands these days not only take advantage of technology but also the way they represent themselves image wise.

Calan released their debut album “Bing ” in 2008 and since then they attracted warm responses from critics. Tours, rave reviews and enthusiastic audience are around always  looking for more music that these guys can take out like pancakes. The new album is called Jonah. Listen to sound samples here: http://www.calan-band.com/english/music.html

Band members:
Patrick Rimes – fiddle, bagpipes, pibgorn, whistle, trombone

Angharad Siân Jenkins – fiddle

Bethan Rhiannon – main vocal, accordion and step dancing

Alaw Ebrill Jones – harps

Llinos Eleri Jones – harp, triple harp

Sam Humphries – guitar

Alex Moller – percussion, drums

canu rhydd by Fernhill

Heavenly Welsh Band Fernhill

I heard about Calan and Fernhill from Idris Morris Jones of BBCRadio5 Radio Cymru which is focused on Welsh music. I was trying to come up with a project about pipe music and he was my target reference. But he told me that he is not the right person to talk about it so instead gave me the names of Ceri Rhys Matthews of Fernhill and Patrick Rimes of Calan plus their contact infos.

I am familiar with Ferhill because I wrote about them years ago and now they are making a comeback in my consciousness.  Now let us take a closer look at Fernhill.

Their latest album is called “canu rhydd” and I am attaching their bandcamp site so you will be able to enjoy their brand of Welsh Celtic music. The sound is distinctive and have that perky kind of delicacy.

There are 8 tracks in the album and I am listening to them right now.

julie murphy-voice, sruti 
christine cooper-fiddle, voice 
tomos williams-trumpet, flugelhorn 
ceri rhys matthews-guitar, flute, voice 

canu rhydd… literally ‘free poetry’, is written according to the free will of the poet. it is unconstrained by patronage or by the twenty four accredited meters of the secret craft of bardic poetry as laid out by einion offeiriad. from its sixteenth century flowering, came tumbling the multitude of unattached verses kept safe on the tongues of unselfconscious singers over the centuries. with these we start our songs… 

this album was recorded at dartington college of arts in july 2010, shortly before the college left its devon home for good. the album is one of many thousands of sparks of dartington’s creative legacy which are scattered throughout the country. 

recorded and mixed by nick marshall at dartington college, devon 
mastered by jens schroeder at dreamworld studio, pembrokeshire 
cover by noel hefele 

1. adar(Free) The carefree chord combinations and soft guitar strumming reminds me of lazy afternoons and the visions of being at sea.

2.when i was in my prime- I already heard several versions of this song and this one is a different arrangement. Fernhill added their fresh twist to this traditional track. With the simplicity of the guitar, it adds wings to Julie Murphy’s beautiful singing with a voice that reminds me of Mary Hopkins.

3.diddan-Beautiful tune in Welsh. It has that toe tapping appeal and the instruments just wash over. The strumming and  fiddling are superb.

4.forest-Sang in the form of a hymn, it has that soothing trumpet sound in the middle.

5.glyn cynon-The track opens with a flugelhorn. Now this kind of instrument is seldom  being used by World/Celtic acts. Having that in the album is a plus. The soft guitar plucking follows. Then there’s that lark singing of Julie. Something Jazzy, something soothing. Good for your nightcap. It ends with a step dancing tune. Now who needs coffee?

6.glyn tawe-A lilting voice and guitar in Welsh. The flugel horn occasionally embellish the lines. A beautiful poetry in English cuts through the singing..images in full color.

7. y fwynlan o serch- Guitar strumming and Ceri Rhys Matthews contributing in the vocals . The guy has a remarkable voice!  This makes you declare that Welsh is the language of the elves.

8. like the snow-This track closes the album. A haunting enveloping lament with vocal harmonies and lyrics about loss. Then, it builds up tempo in the middle with that typical Welsh dancing tune.It leaves its footprints long after you finished listening.

canu rhydd is  a beautiful transporting experience into the lush Welsh country side. You don’t have to be there to feel it all. Just listen to the music and it will bring you there. Away from all cares. Away from life’s hardships, and for just a moment…just a moment you feel this is heaven.

 

National Eisteddfod of Wales Discovery:Esyllt Tudur

National Eisteddfod of Wales attracts up to 160,000 visitors.

The National Eisteddfod has been attracting foreign visitors annually and numbers increased up to 160,000 attendees. It  costs around £2.8m to stage. It is traditionally held in the first week of August and the competitions are all held in the Welsh language. According to Wiki:

The festival has a heavy druidic flavour, with the crowning and chairing ceremonies for the victorious poets being attended by bards in flowing white costumes, dancing maidens, trumpet fanfares and a symbolic horn of plenty. However, the heritage of this ceremony is of dubious provenance and owes its existence within the Eisteddfod structure to Iolo Morganwg, whose Gorsedd ceremonies were adopted by the Eisteddfod from 1819. Nevertheless, it is taken very seriously, and an award of a crown or a chair for poetry is a great honour. The Chairing and Crowning ceremonies are the highlight of the week, and are presided over by the Archdruid.

Pic courtesy of : thenewportship.com

Pic courtesy of : thenewportship.com

The musical aspect of this event is huge and as a result a lot of musicians flock into the annual gathering . This is like a Loollapalooza of Celtic music. Only that we will be expecting poets and other members of the ‘learned’ crowd to be there.

I have been attracted to the singing of Esyllt Tudur . She been a familiar face and voice in this event. I heard her singing Ar Lan y Mor and it stuck with me. The mystical voice coupled with right instrumental arrangement creates an atmosphere of being transported into the age of Merlin. Her debut CD contains some of the music that Esyllt has enjoyed performing over the years, as well as some classical favourites.
1. Ar Lan y Mor
2. Breuddwydio Wnes
3. Gwydr Glas
4. Dyrchefir Fi (You Raise Me Up)
(Gyda Cor Creuddyn)
5. Gobaith yn y Tir
6  Gwn Dafydd Ifan
7. Suo Gan
8. Myfanwy
9. Adre’n Ol
10. Pererin Wyf Mewn Anial Dir
11. Un Dydd ar y Tro
12. Chwarae’n Troi’n Chwerw

http://www.myspace.com/esyllttudur


Life After Catatonia,Cerys Matthews Goes Celtic

Ex-Catatonia singer Cerys Matthews performing Welsh traditional ‘ Ar Lan Y Mor’ in front of a small audience in Rhosygilwen, Pembrokeshire.

Catatonia were a highly melodic alternative band in the late 90s which produced a lot of international hits . Years later, they just disappeared. Unlike fellow Welsh singer Donna Lewis who has no plans of giving up the pop sound, the band’s lead vocalist Cerys  Matthews moved over to the left of the field-Celtic music. Matthews was born in Cardiff and brought up in Swansea and Pembrokeshire, and is a fluent Welsh speaker and multi-instrumentalist.

She has always been noted to posses the light almost ethereal voice of true sopranos but I never realized that she is going to let those pipes sing traditional Welsh songs. And this looks like a good start for a musical reformation.

Ar Lan y Môr

Ar lan y môr mae rhosys cochion
Ar lan y môr mae lilis gwynion
Ar lan y môr mae ‘nghariad inne
Yn cysgu’r nos a chodi’r bore.

Ar lan y môr mae carreg wastad
Lle bum yn siarad gair â’m cariad
O amgylch hon fe dyf y lili
Ac ambell sbrigyn o rosmari.

Llawn iawn yw’r môr o swnd a chregyn,
Llawn yw’r wy o wyn a melyn,
Llawn yw’r coed o ddail a blode,
Llawn iawn o gariad ydwyf inne.

Ar lan y môr mae cerrig gleision,
Ar lan y môr mae blodau’r meibion,
Ar lan y môr mae pob rhinweddau,
Ar lan y môr mae nghariad inne.

Translation:

By the seaside there are red roses
By the seaside there are white lilies
By the seaside is my sweetheart
Sleeping at night and rising in the morning.

By the seaside is a level stone
Where I spoke a word with my love
Around it grows the lily
And an occasional sprig of rosemary.

The sea is full of sand and shells
The egg is full of white and yellow
The wood is full of leaves and flowers
And I am full of love

By the seaside are blue stones
By the seaside are the sons’ flowers
By the seaside is every virtue
By the seaside is my sweetheart.

More about the song here.

Performing Ei Di’r Deryn Du on the London Eye. Taken from her album “TIR”

A ei di’r deryn du
To my dearest love?
O cais fy nghangen gu
For I’m so deep in love.

Ni welaf yn un man
Such a damsel in my sight
Â’r ferch mor lân o liw
She is a beauty bright.

Mae’i gwallt yn felyn aur
Just like a ring of gold
A’i phryd fel eira gwyn
The truth it must be told.

“Tir” (Rainbow City Recordings – 2010) is her new album.

Tir
“Tir is fabulous. It’s a considerable and thoughtful collection, but more than that, it’s beautiful. Her voice, both frail and innocent, mature and world-weary – as required by such history-rich songs. She asks us to revisit these songs, to engage in their purpose or meaning in a way I never have…”Taplas

Welsh Celtic Music:Carreg Lafar

carregflagNow that we have explored the traditional music of Wales, let me introduce you to another band.Carreg Lafar was formed in Cardiff Wales. In Welsh the name means ‘speaking stone’. The band is considered as the forefront of Welsh traditional music revival. So if you are curious as to how traditional Celtic music sounds like in Wales then you better hear Carreg Lafar.

They have an official site which you can listen to samples before getting the album.You can do this by clicking on the music section. Band members are: Linda Owen Jones (Voice) Antwn Owen Hicks (pipes, pibgorn, voice) Rhian Evan Jones (fiddle) James Rourke (flute, whistle) Danny KilBride (guitar) with guest piper Gafin Morgan. They want to reach wider audience through their MySpace page. I’m getting the hang of their music. What do you think?

Ceredwen:Getting to know Welsh Celtic music

Ceredwen Ceredwen Our telescope moves to Wales.If you don’t know how Welsh Celtic music sounds like, then you have to check out Ceredwen.The name comes from the Celtic goddess of inspiration and legendary mother of Taliesin, King Arthur’s bard, and “Keeper of the Cauldron.”

  

Composed of dou Renée Gray and Andrew Fryer,each Ceredwen release promises to enchant and captivate.Steeped in atmoshere,heavenly vocals ( Renée) and Welsh mythology, new ears will be converted.I saw three Ceredwen releases available in Glorieta Makati a couple of years ago.Check out the band’s official music page:

also :Wiki

and:Here

Ceredwen is something that Enigma,Delerium and Clannad fans would listen to.Groovy,atmospheric and transporting.