James McLaren

Blog posts in total 519

Posts

  1. Only Boys Aloud launched as part of The Valleys Heart and Soul campaign, a three year campaign which aims to raise awareness of the region as a tourist destination and bring long-term economic benefit to the area.

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  2. You might know Steve Balsamo from The Storys, or from his solo work, or you might know him from his turn as the titular character of Jesus Christ Superstar in the 1990s, but the Swansea man has turned his hand to another interesting role.    

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  3. Dr Rhys Jones, co-presenter of Royal Welsh Show highlights on BBC Two Wales, blogs specially for BBC Wales Nature this week. Well that's it for another year! We just got the nod to say filming for the Royal Welsh Show 2012 is complete. Sara and I are catching a taxi as I type! Rachael Garside, Rhys Jones and Sara Edwards We've had a marvellous time but happy to be on the way for dinner as once again we didn't have time to stop for lunch! Many thanks for tuning on and don't forget the highlights programme on Monday night. It's goodbye for another year from Sara, Rachael and me. Looking back over the week it's hard to pinpoint single highlights as the whole show has been the most amazing experience. For me the kindness of the Davies family allowing me to help prepare their champion dairy cows during an incredibly stressful time must top my highlight of my show. I am just about to record the end link with Sara and Rachel, and we will then be ready to step down from presenter duty for the Royal Welsh show 2012. We have all had an amazing time and I hope you have enjoyed watching.

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  4. Merthyr Rock details are finalised today, with day splits confirmed. Razorlight Friday 31 August Main stage: Razorlight Saves The Day Futures Second stage: Dirty Goods The People The Poet The Lash The Undivided Skindred Saturday 1 September Main stage: Skindred Lo...

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  5. Dr Rhys Jones, co-presenter of Royal Welsh Show highlights on BBC Two Wales, blogs specially for BBC Wales Nature this week. It's simply been the hottest Royal Welsh Show I can ever remember! Standing up to two hours at a time in a show ring can really take its toll on your energy. Main ...

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  6. Dr Rhys Jones, co-presenter of Royal Welsh Show highlights on BBC Two Wales, blogs specially for BBC Wales Nature this week. I am having an amazing time at the Royal Welsh Show show this year. I have to give a massive shout out to the Davies family from Whitland for allowing me to help prepa...

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  7. You might know Steve Balsamo from The Storys, or from his solo work, or you might know him from his turn as the titular character of Jesus Christ Superstar in the 1990s, but the Swansea man has turned his hand to another interesting role. This time, he's been writing with sometime Storys memb...

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  8. Details of the 2012 Swansea Festival of Music and the Arts have announced details of its programme of events. Held throughout the city from 4-20 October, the annual celebration of arts culture brings a range of genres and themes. At Brangwyn Hall there are three high-profile events: On ...

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  9. Tomorrow writer and broadcaster Paul Morley takes us on a journey to Monmouthshire's famed Rockfield Studios. Making Tracks (BBC Radio 4, 11.30am) examines the history and legacy of Wales' best-known recording facility. Queen Beginning a series on recording studios, Morley starts at a farm that gave birth to some of rock music's finest recordings - everything from Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody to the Stone Roses' eponymous debut album, from Dr. Feelgood's Down By The Jetty to Oasis' (What's The Story) Morning Glory, and even Adam Ant's Kings Of The Wild Frontier. Those trying to explain what part the studio played in creating such musical magic include performers (the veteran Dave Edmunds and the newcomers Iko), technicians (John Leckie and Sean Genockey) and the people who (in some cases, quite literally) built the studio and the business (father and daughter, Kingsley and Lisa Ward). As the money flowing through the music industry continues to dry up - Paul also asks what future there may be for the historic recording studios that helped build the industry in the first place? If you want to find out more about the history of Rockfield, I heartily recommend Jeff Collins' Rock Legends At Rockfield (UWP, 2007). Quoted in the book, Queen's producer Roy Thomas Baker said of the recording in 1975: "I remember Freddie playing me Bohemian Rhapsody for the first time on his piano at his place in London. Then later at Rockfield, with the basics mapped out, he focused on pinning down what was right. He played me the beginning part and said, 'Right, now this is where the opera section comes in' and he'd leave a gap and I'd have to imagine this dramatic opera style segment. "And it just kept changing all the time at Rockfield. It took three weeks to record on a 16-track tape machine and we used 180 overdubs, which was very, very unusual for back then." While not much of the song was actually recorded at Rockfield, it was largely honed and polished there. And a lot of its parent album, A Night At The Opera, was put to tape at the Monmouthshire facility. Feel free to comment! If you want to have your say, on this or any other BBC blog, you will need to sign in to your BBC iD account. If you don't have a BBC iD account, you can register here - it'll allow you to contribute to a range of BBC sites and services using a single login. Need some assistance? Read about BBC iD, or get some help with registering.

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  10. Stereophonics have parted company with their drummer Javier Weyler, a short statement posted yesterday on the group's official website confirms. Stereophonics with Javier Weyler (right) Hi folks. We wanted to let you know Javier and the band will no longer be working together. The...

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  11. Sŵn festival organisers have announced the first tranche of acts to play the annual Cardiff-wide event. A Called Called Ruth. Photo: Shaun James Cox Sŵn, now in its sixth year, runs from 18 to 21 October 2012. The acts announced today are: A Girl Called Ruth Afro Cluster Al L...

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  12. This week I invited my old friend and colleague Jane Oriel, a face on the south Wales grime and hip hop scene, to pen some words about Urban Edge at The Big Splash, a great event happening this Saturday, 14 July, in Newport. Here are her thoughts about the scene and the event: South Wales has an underground rap and grime scene full of raw unsculpted talent, and for artists who want to get noticed at the next level, being in Newport this Saturday is compulsory. Last year BBC Radio 1Xtra and Radio 1's Charlie Sloth went round the likes of Liverpool, Newcastle and Manchester to check out Northern undiscovered rap talent for a 1Xtra TV documentary called It's Grime Up North. This weekend he'll make a programme all about Wales' grime and hip hop. There are no guarantees you'll get your face on TV, but if you 'spit', and you believe in yourself, you need to show yourself. There's a live outdoor show in the afternoon, and the club aftershow in the night is a must too. Since Charlie's last visit here, it's true to say that the Midlands have been encroaching on London's monopoly. Nottingham's Beatgeeks, with two Brum crews - Stay Fresh and Invasion - have released a near-unbroken sequence of beats, tracks and features. And Birmingham's Lady Leshurr shines ever brighter by the week, while continuing to maintain her grime credentials. Lady Leshurr I invited Leshurr and producer Z Dot to a recording session in Newport last year to work with some local artists, and she'll maintain the ongoing relationship with Wales by joining Charlie Sloth on stage at the Big Splash on Saturday. The Urban Edge Stage outside by the Leisure Centre (but with wet weather contingency plans in place) will showcase Welsh talent, too, with live performances from Dee Shae, Antizzle and the rest of his Flow Dem crew, as well as Tiny Skitz and Eaton. On the DJ front, the legendary taste maker and prize winning Radio Cardiff DJ Cluedo, will keep the afternoon's vibes edgy alongside DJs Matt Kirke and newcomer DJ Thirst. Five as-yet-unannounced artists will hit the stage too as competition finalists with the eventual winner carrying off prizes including two full days in the Riverfront's Pentalk Lab recording studio. The cities of south Wales have a disproportionately high number of homespun street poets. My own life and career were turned on their axes as a result of a big bag of their demos given to me by Newport DJ and producer Jamie Winchester. My new-found enthusiasm for this mostly rough, highly rhythmic Welsh flavour set me on a path of waxing gobby to any national or pirate DJ (including a highly receptive and enthusiastic Adam Walton), any promoter, manager, or even established producer or artist who I managed to corner for five minutes. Some healthy working relationships and artist talent swaps have come about, and continue to do so, through not only my rantings but Jamie Winchester's too. He's brought Charlie Sloth back to Newport this weekend to check out this year's crop of upcoming skills and bars. Astroid Boys with Charlie Sloth (centre) When Charlie was here a year ago, a showcase for local performers staged at the Riverfront in Newport catapulted the city's Tiny Skitz to London with Cardiff's Astroid Boys to deliver freestyles for Fire In The Booth, the highly sought-after exposure platform on the DJ's 1Xtra hip hop show. Neither act has broken into the mainstream yet (although Astroid Boys seem to be getting ever closer) but continuing the agenda laid out in It's Grime Up North, the question remains: why, 10 full years after grime first emerged, do London rappers such as Wretch 32, Dizzee Rascal, Skepta, JME, Bashy, Giggs, Tinchy Stryder and so on still run the UK show? With encouragement and practical support such as Urban Edge, as well as other regularly available sources, plus raw talent in scary amounts, if Wales hasn't produced a genuine breakthrough artist in the next couple of years, forget Charlie Sloth and his big questions - I'm going to want to know why!

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  13. As rock fans celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Rolling Stones playing their first live concert, we want your memories of the veteran band playing in Wales. The Rolling Stones They first played at the Royal Lido Ballroom in Prestatyn, on 31 August 1963, with subsequent performances...

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  14. While Ponty's Big Weekend gets its big pop on with Jessie J, Alfie Boe, Olly Murs and Cover Drive, it's the newly-announced Fringe that brings a more downhome appeal to the 19 July event. Straight Lines Held at two venues in Pontypridd - Clwb Y Bont and the YMCA - the free event boast...

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  15. Mold trio The Joy Formidable have found their work going into the most unforeseen of locations, courtesy of refugee workers in Kenya. The Joy Formidable Fresh from recording their second album in America and touring with Foo Fighters, the band were contacted by Paola Mendoza and Topaz...

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  16. A Welsh-language musician, part of some of the scene's most well-known bands of the last decade, has released an album bringing Bible stories to life through rap. Ed Holden. Photo: Helen McAteer Ed Holden, who has performed as part of Pep Le Pew and Genod Droog, recorded six tracks wit...

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  17. Speaking before the start of Brynfest at the London South Bank, bass baritone opera star Bryn Terfel has talked of his desire to stage his Faenol Festival in Gwynedd once again. Bryn Terfel Two years after cancelling the 2010 festival because of poor ticket sales, Terfel said to the N...

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  18. Lostprophets, the sole Welsh participants in this weekend's Radio 1 Big Weekend in Hackney, played their usual energetic, anthemic set on Saturday night. Lostprophets The sixpiece, touring their fifth album Weapons, played Can't Catch Tomorrow (Good Shoes Won't Save You This Time), Bring 'Em Down, A Town Called Hypocrisy, Sweet Child Of Mine, Where We Belong, Last Summer, Rooftops (A Liberation Broadcast), Last Train Home, Earthquake (featuring Labrinth) and We Bring An Arsenal. Watch their performance of We Bring An Arsenal: And catch the full set here: Feel free to comment! If you want to have your say, on this or any other BBC blog, you will need to sign in to your BBC iD account. If you don't have a BBC iD account, you can register here - it'll allow you to contribute to a range of BBC sites and services using a single login. Need some assistance? Read about BBC iD, or get some help with registering.

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  19. A few months ago a brand new Welsh singer - A Girl Called Ruth - started following BBC Wales Music on Twitter. I try to listen to the music made by our followers, especially if I've not yet heard of them. Very occasionally, the music I encounter on those listens make me sit up and pay attenti...

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  20. News is coming in this morning that, just a couple of years since the demise of TJ's, another great Newport venue could be in danger of falling out of live music usage. Le Pub, on the city's Caxton Place, has been put up for sale. The tiny two storey venue has gained a very special place in t...

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