From the Margins : News from Somewhere
Last mentioned only a few posts down the page, Liverpool singer-songwriter Nick Ellis is taking the urban folk hymns of his last album Speakers' Corner, on a UK spring tour.
There are three local dates, including a stop at Wrexham's Tŷ Pawb and a final, climactic show at St Brides, Liverpool. The Wrexham date is part of Gŵyl Twm Sbaen - a festival to celebrate the life of a miner from Rhos, Tom Jones, who went to fight fascism in the Spanish Civil War. [Tour details & tickets]
Supported by impressive Liverpool based singer-songwriter Tom Blackwell, Cedric Burnside performed to a full house at St. Mary's, Chester - and offered the audience an extraordinary set of the blues he was born, not least from his family's rich musical heritage, to play. [Short review & images]
Last year saw the first Liverpool Feis - a celebration of Irish culture and music held at the city's historic Pier Head. Blazing sunshine brought huge crowds to the inaugural event, with its seemingly unsurpassable three stage line up. This year The Chieftains, Paul Brady, Mary Black, Mary Coughlan, Shane MacGowan and The Eskies already feature on a strong bill; no doubt more acts, especially from the more contemporary end of the Irish music scene, will be added soon - but the festival is already shaping up to match last year's on stage enchantment.
[Details & Tickets]
If you haven't got tickets for Lleuwen's chapel tour, then the electric blues of Cedric Burnside offer an alternative delight this weekend. Burnside plays for Roman Candle at St Mary's Church, Chester on Sunday 17th February (7.30pm / Tickets £12.50 Adv.) - he is supported by Tom Blackwell, whose understated Americana has been described by Bob Harris as 'Wonderful, heartfelt music'. Blackwell would justify the ticket price on his own (as this review attests); Burnside effortlessly brings the blues alive.
North West Wales' poet and author Alys Conran has a second novel, Dignity, due for publication in 2019.
Although fiction and from the opposite side of Wales, Conran's 2016 debut, Pigeon, displayed the same detailed sense of place and emotional texture as Lorna Sage's autobiographical lament for her Hanmer childhood, Bad Blood.A brilliant, later award winning book, Pigeon was the subject of one of the first few interviews uploaded to the From the Margins three years ago, and that conversation is worth revisiting for an insight into how Conran's connection to where she is from informs her writing. [Full interview]
News : FOCUS Wales takes 'strongest ever' Welsh line-up to SXSW 2019To continue this week's theme, FOCUS Wales has announced a new partnership with Wales Arts International, Arts Council of Wales, and BBC Horizons : Gorwelion, to showcase a selection of the best new Welsh artists in Austin, Texas this March for SXSW 2019, including Boy Azooga, Gallops, Kidsmoke, Art School Girlfriend, Cardiff's Darren Eedens & The Slim Pickin's and Wrexham lo-fi indie popsters, Seazoo. [More]
Meilir : February European DatesIn the decade since his impressive debut EP, Bydd Wych, Flintshire's Meilir Tomos has released a sporadic sequence of fragile, melodic songs often using experimental instrumentation - never failing to create soundscapes that are as emotionally articulate as they are distinct.
A couple of EPs (Bydd Wych was followed up by Cellar Songs in 2014), a three track single (Arabella), and a song, Glasshouse, on a recent compilation album may seem a scant return over ten years, but there should be no rush when a wizard is at work. Meilir's live performances are as remarkable as the recorded compositions, which explains a European tour later this month supporting The Joy Formidable; any chance to see him play, abroad, or hopefully on home ground later in the year, should be taken - and won't be forgotten if it is.
MEILIR I Glasshouse[13.02.2019]
News : FOCUS Wales 2019 Adds Swedish ActsFOCUS Wales has announced a new partnership with Westside Music Sweden for the 2019 edition of the Wrexham-based festival this May - with a showcase of three of the most exciting new acts coming out of Sweden added to the event's stages: The Bongo Club, Agent Blå and Telos Vision. They will join Mellowtone Records' Anwar Ali and Dave Owen (below) and 196 or so other acts on this year's bill. Early bird tickets are still available.
ANWAR ALI & DAVE OWEN I Malaika (Live)[11.02.2019]
From the Margins is being rebooted with a renewed emphasis on live music and interviews. There are a few hundred words here, taking in the real value of art, the deeply held beliefs of Liverpool sculptor Arthur Dooley, Nick Ellis' sublime last album Speakers' Corner and how high the pile of Irish history books should be in any home after seeing Damien Dempsey perform Colony, to explain why.
NICK ELLIS I Blue Summer
The cover of One Thousand Birds is an image of an art installation inspired by the story of Sadoko Sasaki, an innocent child victim of Hiroshima, who died from the effects of radiation ten years after the first atomic bomb was dropped on the city. Two tracks on the album deal with her tragic life - the rest mirror their slow-burning emotional intensity, and confirm Grice, who has worked with Richard Barbieri (Japan) on this, his third album, as a unique art-rock talent. Full review.
Out on 15th March on Cambrian Records, David Ian Robert's Travelling Bright has intelligence, grace and a definite poetry; an hour long, cinematic double LP that allows you the time to fully immerse in the music's pastoral flow. Full review.
From the Archive : Crawia & Casi : BradwrIt's a year today since Crawia, a recording/band project coalescing around the talent of Sling based singer-songwriter Siôn Richards, released their second single, Bradwr, featuring guest vocals from Casi.
The song's title means simply 'traitor' in Welsh - fitting as the lyric pays tribute to the bitterly fought Great Penrhyn Quarry strike of 1900-1903. The anniversary of the single is worth marking, not least as 2019 should see the release of Crawia's debut album, building on the promise of the subtle, distinctive Americana of Bradwr and its predecessor Perlau. [More : Crawia Facebook I Twitter I FtM Profile]
CRAWIA & CASI I Bradwr[09.02.2018]
It's the fourth annual Dydd Miwsig Cymru (Welsh Language Music Day) today (Friday 8th February); it seems an appropriate time to highlight three recent Welsh language acoustic/folk albums, all previously covered on this site, that should be part of any collection.
First, and probably just foremost, on the list is Bendith's eponymous 2016 debut. A collaboration between Carwyn Ellis of Colorama and North West Wales alt. folk band Plu, Bendith released this album and a follow up EP in short order - both of which offer entrancing folk with orchestral depth. There's an interview about how the project came about here.
Next on the honour roll, and co-incidentally found not far from Plu's Bethel home, is an automatic choice, 9Bach. Again a 2016 release, their third album Anian is mesmerizing post-folk - a record that manages to be challenging, experimental and a graceful triumph all at the same time.
Finally, Lleuwen's Gwn Glân Beibl Budr is raw and rooted, genre bending music, with an intensity and drama that transcends any language barrier. The album came out late last year and the songs can be seen live soon, as Lleuwen is set for an imminent Welsh chapel tour.All three of these albums have their lyrics entirely in Welsh. Each still offers rapture if you don't speak a word, and is yet a memorable cultural encounter. There's a list of the gigs that will be held on Dydd Miwsig Cymru here; enjoy the day.
LLEUWEN I Caerdydd[08.02.2019]
Irish folksinger Daoirí Farrell's 'The Lifetime of Happiness Tour' breezes into Wales in late March for four dates worth noting - especially as his show at Caernarfon's Galeri last year was such a rare privilege to watch. Farrell is joined in an expanded gig list by new dates for Cowbois Rhos Botwnnog, Gwyneth Glyn, Jack Lukeman & The Goat Roper Rodeo Band - more details here.
Totnes based duo
Harbottle & Jonas are due to release a new collection of folk songs, The Sea is My Brother, on February 22nd. Chock full of maritime connections, it is 'a great, enthralling album' and there is a wide-ranging two month tour booked to promote it. Read more here.
FOCUS Wales Releases Details of Novia Scotia ActsNova Scotia Music Week will be showcasing three of the most exciting new acts coming out of maritime Canada during the FOCUS Wales 2019 festival in Wrexham this May. The selected acts are: Gabrielle Papillon, Rich Aucoin and T. Thomason (whose last single deserves four minutes of anyone's time). With 140 bands so far announced, this year's FOCUS Wales is shaping to be the finest and most diverse edition yet; don't resist the nagging urge to buy an early bird ticket. [permanent link]
GABRIELLE PAPILLON I What to Keep[04.02.2019]
Douglas MacGregor : Songs of Loss & Healing : The Well & The FloodMusic profoundly informed by loss and healing - The Well & The Flood are two compelling new instrumental compositions from innovative guitarist Douglas MacGregor. Read more.
DOUGLAS MacGREGOR I The Well & The Flood
The fourth annual Dydd Miwsig Cymru (Welsh Language Music Day) takes place on Friday 8th February; it has solid foundations to build on - last year the event reached a total 73 million people. This year sees a slew of gigs and releases that demonstrate more than ever the creative depth of the Welsh language music scene. Read more.
- Beth Celyn : Troi
Beth Celyn is a young singer-songwriter from Denbigh, who has recently returned to North Wales after three years in London. In that context her enchanting debut EP, Troi, sounds like a definitive statement of intent.
- Fiona & Gorwel Owen : Releasing Birds
These songs were written and recorded one each month through 2014, with slow metronomic discipline despite what life turned up in the year. The album in its entirety features a consummate mix of acoustic folk and electronic instrumentation, threaded through sinuously by Fiona's rich, warm vocals. Each song is a distinct delight.
- Goat Roper Rodeo Band Live : Blue Sky 2016
There is an irresistible sport, the luge, in the Winter Olympics where athletes slide down an iced toboggan track with unstoppable momentum on what looks like a spray painted silver service tray. Watching The Goat Roper Rodeo Band in full flight is something akin to that headlong rush. With the animated stage show, bodies and instruments jolting incurably with the music, it's probably just as dangerous in close proximity.
- Findlay Napier : Glasgow
Findlay Napier's brilliant second solo album, Glasgow, has eleven songs - five covers, three co-written with producer Boo Hewerdine, three solely self-written. Each track essentially takes the lyrical form of a vivid short story with a film-maker's eye for detail, focusing on his home town for subject matter.
- VRï : Tŷ Ein Tadau
VRï are a folk trio that formed in 2016, intent on combining "..the energy of a rowdy pub session with the style and finesse of the Viennese string quartet." With Tŷ Ein Tadau, their debut album, they have realised this singular aim emphatically.
- Blodau Gwylltion : Llifo Fel Oed
An exquisite, muted mix of folk and country influences, this debut album from duo Manon Steffan Ros and Elwyn Williams will be one of the first chiselled into 2018 end of year lists.
- Bob Delyn a'r Ebillion : Dal i 'Redig Dipyn Bach
Fourteen years after Dore, Bob Delyn a'r Ebillion have released a new album, Dal i 'Redig Dipyn Bach (Still ploughing on a little bit). From a band credited with putting fire into the 90's Welsh folk revival, the new album does their heritage full justice.
- Daoiri Farrell / Elidyr Glyn : Galeri : 15.05.18
Award winning Irish folk musician Daoirí Farrell and support, singer-songwriter Elidyr Glyn, offered remarkable performances at Caernarfon's Galeri
- 9Bach : Anian
'... challenging, experimental and a graceful triumph'.
- Bendith : Bendith
A collaborative project between Carwyn Ellis of Colorama and Snowdonia's Plu has produced a beautiful collection of songs.