Blog posts by year and month September 2010

Posts (115)

  1. Welsh stars including Ioan Gruffudd, The One Show's Alex Jones and mezzo-soprano Katherine Jenkins have sent a letter to the Culture Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, opposing the possibility of government funding cuts at S4C. Ioan Gruffudd Since S4C was set up it has been directly funded by the government, and there are fears that the broadcaster may face cuts of 24% over the next four years when the government's comprehensive spending review is announced on 20 October. A host of Welsh celebrities, which also includes former Blue Peter presenter Gethin Jones and Welsh actors Matthew Rhys, Nia Roberts, Daniel Evans and Mark Lewis Jones, have put their names behind the letter that stresses how important the broadcaster is, and how each of their "careers all began, or were given a substantial boost by, involvement in productions commissioned by S4C". Read the stars' letter to Hunt on the Guardian website.

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  2. Many people travelling to watch this year's Ryder Cup golf matches between the USA and Europe will be coming to Wales for the very first time. Many will be arriving by train and for many that journey will begin at Bristol Temple Meads railway station. Statue of Isambard Kingdom Brunel. ...

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  3. You may have recently read or heard about the new Claude Monet exhibition at the Grand Palais, in which over 180 paintings, nearly 10% of his life's work, will be on show. Much as I'd like a trip across the channel to Paris, there's an exciting new gallery space a little closer to home in Wale...

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  4. Contemporary art and design gallery project/ten are set to launch their third exhibition this week in one of Cardiff's celebrated arcades. Vladimir Rachev's art work, Phone project/ten are Cardiff's newest and first design-focused gallery who champion the most contemporary and progressiv...

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  5. This autumn, the National Library of Wales is heading to Wrexham. Throughout October and November, a series of films, lectures and debates have been arranged in locations throughout the town. Highlights include: Thursday 7 October: The Proud Valley, a 1940 film featuring Paul Robeso...

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  6. I'm always writing about rock bands, so I thought for a change let's celebrate one of Wales' newest pop sensations, aka Bright Light Bright Light (also celebrated in this week's NME which is pure coincidence!). Bright Light Bright Light We've supported Rod Thomas - who is Bright Light - for a while on my radio show BBC Introducing in Wales, but he's definitely heading for the big time right now, so I thought we'd have a little catch up as he prepares to head off on a university tour with Ellie Goulding. How did your university tour with Ellie come about? Luck and timing really. I was put forward, like lots of bands are, as a support option, and everyone thought it would be a good idea. I did a remix of Under The Sheets months ago, and her team liked it, and her booking agent had seen BLBL play, and then Ellie okayed it, so I ended up as support. Which is very exciting! Let's remind everyone who you are, and what you've done. What's the Bright Light Bright Light history so far? Between 2006 and 2009 I released a few singles and mini album as Rod Thomas (cunningly, my own name) and gigged pretty much constantly. Then in 2009 I worked with Boom Bip as I wanted to make a more electronic, pop album. We did two tracks together, then in 2009 I spent a few months writing and demoing - by myself and with Andy Chatterley (who wrote and produced for Kylie and Diana Vickers, Kanye West and Unkle) - and came up with my album. I recorded solidly in the early part of 2010 and in March released a free download of A New Word To Say, which sparked off a meeting with PopJustice and then signing to the label, which brings us up to date! Tell us about the deal you have with Popjustice. Popjustice is one of my favourite websites, and luckily Peter who runs it likes my music! We met up and talked about my songs and his label, and I signed to Popjustice HiFi who have this week put out my first single as Bright Light Bright Light, Love Part II. The album, Make Me Believe In Hope, is pretty much there apart from some songs I've just written, and should be out early 2011. What inspires your songs? Lots of very different things. I write mostly about things I observe rather than about myself, so if I overhear something, or have a connection with a place or person, then that sparks ideas. The album is all about connections - how places you go and people you meet chance your outlook, so I guess how I see people interacting is what inspires me. Oh, and Ace Of Base. You've come a long way from busking on the London underground - it's taken a lot of determination too. What advice would you give to people struggling to get ahead in the music biz? Work out what your strengths are, and what you want to achieve. It's easy to try and do bits of everything at the start, so you need to think quite hard about what you want to focus on and make sure you work as hard as you can to be the best you can at it. What's been the most fun thing you've ever done as a musician? Maybe going to SXSW. It was an amazing feeling to be going to Texas - and New York on the way - as a musician, surrounded by other great bands, in the sun, for a week. Such a great atmosphere and such a blast. You've got a bigger line up of musicians now for this tour, how's the dynamic changing you as a performer, or the music you write? I don't know if that particularly has changed the way I write, but the move to pop rather than folk-pop has. I'm much more focused on melody and harmonies, I want to make something that really connects, so I'm working hard on pushing myself to write in ways I maybe haven't before - like work really hard at production, and to think of new ways to phrase things. It's definitely changing me as a performer though. Having more people around me on stage is really making me think about how I hold myself or project myself on stage. Gives me a bit more confidence too - it's really amazing having someone to bounce off and share the experience with. What's on the cards for next year? Album, tour and hopefully festivals. I'm doing lots of writing and co-writing, so hopefully something exciting will come of that. Basically, lots of hard work, but hard work that generates fun. How can people find you online? I have free downloads on my website at brightlightx2.com, I'm on Twitter at twitter.com/brightlightx2, my MySpace is myspace.com/brightlightx2 and lastly there are lots of bits and bobs and remixes on brightlightx2.blogspot.com. 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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  7. This week's show previews and celebrates next month's Sŵn Festival. Sŵn celebrates a wide variety of predominantly new, mostly leftfield, music across a multitude of Cardiff's venues from 21-23 October. It's one of the key events on the Welsh music calendar, right up there with the Green Man Festival, and it provides a great platform and music-hungry audience for the most interesting new Welsh artists. As well its patronage of indigenous talent, Sŵn brings amazing new bands into Cardiff from outside Wales, frequently for their first appearances in the UK. Last year the now ubiquitous Marina And The Diamonds and The Drums made key appearances at the festival. It's a great opportunity to catch the key sounds of tomorrow in intimate venues. Swn was co-founded by Radio 1 and C2's Huw Stephens and Cardiff promoter and label owner, John Rostron. Huw's authoritative knowledge and passion for new music shapes much of Sŵn, as does John's insatiable hunger for the best new sounds - an appetite that drags him to Europe and the States in his search for great music to share every autumn at the festival. John is my special guest throughout the programme. We play a broad selection of the artists - both from Wales and beyond - and talk about many of the aspects of staging an event like this. In a year of incredible musical occurences, last year's Sŵn was the absolute highlight for me. Three days of gawping wonder, ear thrills, smiling faces and good beer. I couldn't recommend it any more highly. And - judging by this year's line-up (http://swnfest.com), 2010 is going to be even better! Elsewhere on the show, Strange News From Another Star, whose phenomenally fierce debut EP, Full Frontal, was released in all its 10" vinyl glory on Monday, share their musical DNA with us. You're advised to listen to the EP wearing a welding mask. It has been described - admittedly by themselves - as 'face-melting'. It's a warning worth ignoring. Otherwise those of us without adequate facial protection would miss out on a brilliant EP of uninhibited spirit and propulsive fuzz. Please send Welsh demos/new releases as high quality .mp3s/download links to: themysterytour@gmail.com And if you have any release / event info for the Welsh Music Calendar, please mail that to the same address too. You can follow the playlist for the show, and keep up to date with any programme-related announcements, via: www.twitter.com/welshmusic. This coming Sunday night, Bastions share a mixtape of their favourite noises with us. It's going to be greatness cubed to the power of ace. BRANDYMAN (Cardiff) Heavy Metal Uncle [session Version] THE VACCINES If You Wanna NEDRY A42 ISLET (Cardiff) Ringerz JOE WORRICKER We Hug In Bed SWEET BABOO (Bangor) Wish I Was Made Out Of Steel EGYPTIAN HIP HOP Moon Crooner STRANGE NEWS FROM ANOTHER STAR (Cardiff) Oh My God They've Given Me The Suburbs DAVID BOWIE Big Brother DAVID BOWIE Chant Of The Ever Circling Skeletal Family MUNCH MUNCH Squirrel GOODTIME BOYS (Cardiff) Deaner's Last Weekend THE SCHOOL (Cardiff) Hoping And Praying BEACH FOSSILS Daydream Y NIWL (Llanrwst) Undegpedwar CYRION (Llangefni) Bail Out BASTIONS (Anglesey) Soar PEGGY SUE Careless Talk Costs Lives Y BANDANA (Caernarfon) Dal Dy Drwyn STAGECOACH We Got Tazers THE HOUSEMARTINS Flag Day [single Version] PAUL HEATON Ladder's Bottom Rung CRASH DISCO (Bangor) Gtfo H. HAWKLINE (West Wales / Cardiff) Gelly LED ZEPPELIN Immigrant Song STRANGE NEWS FROM ANOTHER STAR (Cardiff) A Distance I Can't Bear SPECTRALS Peppermint THE BLACKOUT (Merthyr Tydfil) Children Of The Night THROATS Something Low This Way Comes TREMBLING BELLS Love Made An Outlaw Of My Heart/p> PERFUME GENIUS Mr Peterson STRANGE NEWS FROM ANOTHER STAR (Cardiff) There Goes My Ghost WILL SMITH The Fresh Prince Of Bel Air CLINIC I'm Aware

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  8. We're in for a bit of a soaking shortly as low pressure winds up in the Atlantic. It's great news for all the surfers in Wales though as we're in for some big waves and offshore winds over the next few days, with more unsettled weather arriving next week. Apologies if you don't surf. My advice - invest in a large umbrella or stay indoors ;) Hopefully we'll have a bit of sunshine in between though and the winds are expected to lighten for Saturday. One man's pain is another man's pleasure I guess...which leads me nicely on to golf. I really hope the Ryder Cup gets under way before the stormy weather arrives as it would be a real shame if the event was a wash out, so fingers crossed it all goes smoothly. Take a look at our Ryder Cup website for some alternative perspectives on the tournament. One species however that is enjoying the milder, wetter weather is fungi - and they are absolutely everywhere at the moment! Mike Warburton sent in this lovely shot of a fly agaric mushroom to our Flickr group: I've put together a fungi gallery featuring some of the more amazing looking mushrooms and fungi that have been submitted to our Flickr group. I'll add more soon, so don't despair if yours hasn't been featured yet. I've had to be quite picky as there are so many fungi images to choose from so keep them coming and remember - I can only use landscape style shots in the gallery (horizontal rather than vertical). Thanks Gull

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  9. Whenever I write about my hometown - Mold, Flintshire - I preface the piece with a lot of out of date reminiscences detailing how rubbish a place it was to grow up in in the 80s. "Move on, Walton!" Okay, will do. But forgive me that initial mention of its prehistoric awfulness to a BMX pedalling 80s indie kid (well, it was a Raleigh Striker and the rumours about my owning a couple of U2 albums are unfavourably accurate)... but banging on about Mold's past throws into some necessary contrast the amazingness of what is about to happen there in the first week of November. We need to plunge into the past again, for a couple more paragraphs. I wasn't just a passive whinger in the Flintshire wastelands. Frustrated by the lack of gig opportunities in Mold, my bandmates and I persuaded Theatr Clwyd to let us hire their prestigious Clwyd Rooms in 1991 for our own baggy 'happening'. Theatre Clwyd might have been one of the finest arts complexes in Wales, but they rarely muddied their hands with 'young people's music'. The annual showing of the Rocky Horror Picture Show would have the managerial staff in palpitations. And although I saw gigs at the Theatr that were key to me (Lonnie Donegan and, er, Disciples of Spess) the Theatr on its anointed mount might as well have been a universe away from the scummy noise we made in our garages. The gig was a success. Simple photocopied tickets that meant anyone could buy one ticket and then go out and simply photocopy a fistful to sell on meant that 400 people turned up instead of the allocated 200-ish. The crap PA meant that it sounded like one long-drawn out guitar solo. Although this might have been more to do with our singer's atonal larynx and a discerning sound engineer. Under age kids roamed the galleries, theatres and studios spilling plazzy bottles of cheap cider everywhere. Someone got caught doing something unmentionable on an HTV newsdesk. The police came, but - despite my best efforts - didn't try to shut us down. God, how I wish they had. Of course, we lost our desposit. And, of course, Theatr Clwyd laughed in my face when I asked if we could use the room again. "Over my dead body," said the manager, and he meant it. But 19 years later, I'll be back as part of an excellent bill for the inaugural Absurd Festival. I've written about theAbsurd before, a couple of times. In a city like Cardiff where there is a multitude of promoters running frequent nights with multiple bands and DJs on the bill, you may be wondering why I'm making such a big fuss over a little festival. Well, for us in Mold (although I don't live there any more, I'm still allowed to claim it's my hometown because every notable first in my life happened in an alley behind Water Street) this is a massively big deal. It's exciting to the power of jawdrop. What's happening?Well, inspirational local leftfield chroniclers, promoters and enthusiasts, theAbsurd, have hired the Clwyd Rooms for the day on Saturday 6 November, and they're going to fill the room with incredible noise and expression. The area's second-as-likely-to band (the first being the town's Joy Formidable who recently signed to Atlantic and will redraw Flintshire's rock n roll history) Gallops will play; the sonically peripatetic and infinitely entertaining Spencer McGarry and the Season will play; Cyrion will bless our ears with shimmering electrical noises... and there is much more besides. Check out the festival website. I was in Switzerland interviewing physicists when the festival was announced 'properly' last week. But that didn't prevent me from emailing the organisers, Andy and Sophie, a few questions to find out what catalysed this notable day for the area. First and foremost, theAbsurd had stopped doing its regular nights at local pubs a few months ago. Sophie explained the change of emphasis: "The monthly nights were great, we learned an awful lot in those two years but when you're doing something every month there's a certain commercial aspect that hangs over your head in order to keep the audience coming back - we did manage to empty the pub on a couple of occasions - they were the acts that we liked the best but not necessarily what the venue wanted to see. People might not want to come every month to see this less commercial type of music but they'll hopefully come to a 'one off event'. "These one-off events enable us to book a variety of artists. For example, I organised the Bailey Hill Festival in Mold and that had a strong community aspect to it that worked brilliantly for that particular event. It's also good that we have moved over to give other people chance to establish their own nights without us having a monopoly on things - it's the only way a real art scene can flourish." What are your ambitions for the first Absurd Festival? "Well we'd really like a decent audience to turn up. The response so far has been fantastic and we've been limited by the Theatre to just 250 tickets as they're worried about us being over-run! Our main focus has always been about promoting the arts, music and culture of Wales. We're not being insular about this, but a lot of the bands that we book don't get as much exposure as they should. "We don't do tokenism; we book people because we love what they do and because we want to see them play live. This festival is basically our wish list that's concentrating on the less commercial side to Welsh art (there's still others we would add but we've only got eight hours!). "Basically we want to create an event that will grow and grow as the years roll on... and we want people to remember that we started this with a Welsh line-up." You have an eclectic ethos at a time when many clubs and venues are becoming more narrowly defined. Why is eclecticism important to theAbsurd? To us, the whole point of having a more defined or specific night would be for commercial purposes - people know what they're getting so they'll come back each week/month. theAbsurd has always been about challenging people's ideas; we'd feel too restricted to just stick to one genre. Also we'd get bored very easily and we'd have to ignore stuff that we loved. We both have very eclectic tastes in music, poetry and art and theAbsurd reflects that." "We were never about commercialism, we've never made any money from theAbsurd. We're both freelancers in other capacities and make our money that way. As soon as cash get involved compromises set in so we give it to the performers, and this way we're happy that theAbsurd stays 'pure' in a sense." What can people expect on the day? "They can expect to be challenged. They can expect to see 25 artists who all excel in their fields and who are creating something really interesting and different right now. There's a good dose of visual arts and experimental sound, there'll also be dancing. Well, we will be anyway!" Theatr Clwyd hasn't traditionally been a forum for leftfield music, how did you persuade them? "Well they came to us. The theatre has quite a specific audience but they're looking to bring a new and younger demographic to the place. They approached us as they like what we're doing and have seen how we've succeeded over the past two and a half years. It was a huge compliment for us that they'd noticed us and wanted to bring our events to the theatre. "This is why we're also running quarterly 'spoken word' events in the theatre, the first one was in July, the next one is 26 October - we've got Patrick Jones, Dizraeli and Stephanie Finegan." And finally, where can people get tickets? "Tickets are exclusively from the Theatre Clwyd's box office. The first act starts at 4pm. We can't run late as the license is only up until 12pm midnight and we have to finish at that time." The tickets are a piffling £15, and all to support a new festival that delights in supporting new Welsh talent. Oh, and me. Just don't photocopy the tickets.

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  10. Tonight's Ryder Cup gig at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium, featuring Shirley Bassey, Lostprophets, Shaheen Jafargholi, Only Men Aloud and Katherine Jenkins, will have a special guest: Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales. BBC Wales News understands that the Welcome2Wales gig is almost sold out. ...

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