Blog posts by year and month March 2012

Posts (103)

  1. There can be fewer more tranquil places to visit on a warm spring day than a graveyard. Too much of my time researching is spent indoors hunched in front of a computer and so whenever the opportunity arises I escape and head for the peace and quiet of a local churchyard where I can get lost in time among the bees and butterflies. Memorials made from stone are of particular interest to geologists and environmental scientists but obviously also to family historians. By starting with the inscription on the gravestone there are a vast number of resources that can be accessed for further information about the person who lies beneath the memorial. Death certificates The date of death on the gravestone can be confirmed by purchasing the death certificate at a cost of £9.25 from the local register office or via www.gro.gov.uk. This document will confirm cause of death and age, but more importantly it will also provide the last address of the deceased, an informant (usually a close blood relative) and occupation. Once date of death has been established the burial registers can be checked to see whether there are other persons buried in the same grave (who may not be mentioned on the gravestone). Local newspaper archives Archives of the local newspapers can be also be searched in the library to obtain copies of obituaries and these often provide a whole outline of the person's life, or at the very least a funeral notice will have been posted which lists family members. Probate indexes By searching the probate indexes held at the respective probate registry it is simple to determine whether the deceased left a will, which can be ordered at a cost of £6. Wills provide a wealth of information relating to the deceased's family, sometimes including illegitimate children and details of any property owned. Once the basic details of the deceased are gathered then the family tree can be built using the census returns, indexes of birth, death and marriages and electoral registers. Gallantry awards and honours It is also possible to check for gallantry awards and honours received following military or civilian acts. Other military records can be researched at The National Archives in Kew (www.tna.gov.uk) and if located these can provide further details of their next-of-kin and add extra details, such as vaccinations, tattoos, and information about their experiences during training. Criminal records If the deceased was linked to a crime in any way then an examination of the coroners' records, court assizes and websites such as www.oldbaileyonline.co.uk will provide all the intimate details that will help to ensure that the story is complete and the programme a success. All this from one just headstone! When I was researching for the BBC One Wales programme 'Dead Interesting People' several years ago, I spent some time in churchyards all over Wales and there are several which stick in my mind even though eventually their stories were rejected for being too sad. Louisa Maud Evans In Cathays cemetery in Cardiff there is a memorial to Louisa Maud Evans, which forms part of their heritage trail (another clever idea to attract more people). Louisa Maude Evans Louisa was a young domestic servant with Hancock's circus who fell to her death during a freak ballooning accident during the Cardiff Exhibition of 1896. The inscription on the memorial describes the accident and offers a fitting epitaph for a young life tragically lost. Eye-catching inscriptions When I was at St Mary's Church in Mold there is an inscription which caught my eye, stopping me in my tracks and made me think about about this young man's incredible journey through life. "In memory of Isaac Hughes formerly of Pwllmelyn. He was an adventurer at the gold mines in California where by an accident he lost both his eyes. He then returned home and resided at 22 New Street Mold. He died July 15th aged 39 years" And in the same part of the churchyard is the headstone for John Corbett. "Here lieth the body of John Corbett who was led by his pretended friends in Stockport near Manchester to a strange and dangerous place and thrown into the deep to be no more but in his life was honest and sincere. God's word was his guide and rule who departed this life Feb 22nd 1822 aged 25 years" Gravestone of John Corbett The inscription above tells just part of an incredible story and one which deserves to be fully researched. I really hope that anyone researching John Corbett's family history takes time to locate his grave and his headstone and doesn't simply rely on the indexes of deaths available on the internet which cannot possibly tell his sad story.

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  2. Hertfordshire rock festival Sonisphere has been cancelled, organisers have confirmed this morning. Skindred The Knebworth event was meant to have taken place on 6-8 July, featuring Welsh bands The Blackout and Skindred alongside the likes of Kiss, Faith No More and Queen. It was th...

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  3. On Friday, we were off to the Pritchard-Jones Hall, Bangor for the turn of our Tchaikovsky/Bruch/Dvořák programme. Rehearsal was a bit stop/start, as these things sometimes have a tendency to be. For starters, there was a small issue with the heating, meaning that the hall was sweltering. I b...

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  4. Day two started off with a breakfast that would kill an elephant at Carnegie Deli. That particular destination was recommended by Bern from MusicBox studios in Cardiff. He wasn't wrong, but my arteries and waistband would like to have a word with him. Today is the day that I get to meet The Joy Formidable. Of course, I've met them many times before - but this feels different. I'm working for them this time round. So I make sure I arrive early so as not to disappoint them. The Joy Formidable Unbeknownst to me, I arrive three hours early - having traipsed half way across the city. I don't do cabs, see: 1) They're expensive and 2) If I only have two days in New York, I'm going to see as much of it as is humanly possible. I walk from my hotel off Times Square most of the way down 8th Avenue. This is the New York I was expecting. Busy, vibrant, a little seedy in places (Gotham), grand (Madison Square Garden) and alive with a multitude of aromas I can't identify. It's a thrilling, exhausting and surreal traipse, but one of the best traipses I ever did have. I stand outside a slab of a building at the end of my journey and wait. And wait. And wait a bit more. The security aren't keen to let me in: "I'm here with The Joy Formidable. They're doing a session for YouTube." "Do you have a contact name?" "Er, no." "Then we can't let you in sir." I feel like a very old, very disappointing (from the band's point of view) groupie. So I stand outside in the sun. It's freezing but I manage to get sunburn. Long story cut short, the band eventually arrive. Seeing Ritzy, Rhydian and Matt over here is almost more than my brain can cope with. Fortunately, they're seasoned travellers and their calmness and professionalism - and friendliness - carry me through. They may only be a three-piece, but their tour retinue is sizeable. Seems like a massive family has descended on New York: an array of techs, tour managers, engineers... their dedication and expertise is clear the moment the band start to soundcheck. It sounds pristine and powerful: like being hit in the ears by one of the 'proper' limousines that sails down Broadway. (No hen nights in there, for sure.) They're due to do a live session for YouTube in front of millions at 5pm EST. The soundcheck is finicky, but it's understandable. And the band's attention to detail - making sure everything is right for them - is impressive and laudable. They're not throwing this together, not by any means. Soundcheck finished, there is some hanging round. And introduction (for me) to the type of humour I can expect on the tour bus from Matt (drummer) and his creative ways with a whiteboard and marker. Let's put it this way, it's unlikely that Google will adopt his design as their logo. More's the pity! The band don't seem nervous at all, considering what they're about to do. They fall into a routine of limbering vocal chords and playing fingers up. Pizza is ignored in case they end up vomiting on stage. So, I eat the pizza. The Joy Formidable on stage And they're on stage. They begin with a sinuous and massive sounding The Greatest Light Is The Greatest Shade and it sounds phenomenal. A sizeable and appreciative audience of Google employees and staff from the band's US record label nod their heads, whoop and holler: "We love you Ritzy!" And, they do! Not bad for a lass from Rhydymwyn. I feel so, so proud. I can't explain it. I shan't describe every element of the set. We'll have plenty of time for such post-mortems over the next few nights. Suffice to say, the band are great and occasionally sweary. It strikes me how much this band are rated over here. I think it's a lot to do with their openness and desire to give people a "bloody good time". Ritzy doesn't use the word "bloody". She does like the odd, strategically-placed f-word! They come back for a Q&A from the stage. I learn that Ritzy was an au pair in Washington. Not a very good one, by all accounts: "well, do I look bloody maternal?"... again, she doesn't use the word "bloody". They go gather themselves in the green room - it's a Google conference room and it has the longest table in it you have ever seen. Matt rides round it on a Google scooter. We're taken out for sushi in a fancy restaurant. I'm wearing walking boots and three day old jeans. It's the most amazing meal I've ever eaten. I get to bed with the band's songs echoing around my head and make a mental note that their success is as simple as that. No need to over intellectualise it. They write good tunes an increasing amount of Americans want to listen to. Worlds and oysters are queuing up at their feet. 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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  5. The weather today is the same as yesterday and the day before and it's not often you can say that in this country! The weather pattern is stuck in a rut at the moment with a slow moving area of high pressure over Britain. However, over the next couple of days, the high will gradually move aw...

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  6. This last week, the orchestra have been on tour in North Wales. Our role as Wales' national orchestra means that we are committed to bringing music to mid and north Wales, not just Cardiff and its surrounding areas. With principal guest conductor, Jac van Steen, and soloist, Vilde Frang, we took two programmes on tour. Our programmes were two very different plays. The Tchaikovsky/Bruch/Dvořák programme, was quite heavy on the arms - a lot of red blooded, forte playing mixed with intense piano. The Schumann/Tchaikovsky/Prokofiev/Haydn programme, on the other hand, required a much more stylised manner of playing. Both have their challenges, there's a bit of passage work in each that could trip you up if you weren't entirely on the ball! As is now our tradition, my friends and I had booked a little cottage in Llandudno and so were driving rather than taking the orchestra coach. On Thursday morning, looking like the line up of a bad Englishwoman (Claire), Scotswoman (Amy), Welshwoman (Gwen), Irishwoman (Me) joke, we got the car packed and headed off. All was going swimmingly until we were about 10 minutes from the venue and hit a terrible traffic jam. We started to panic that the best laid plans regarding being in time for a wee cuppa before rehearsal were descending into being catastrophically late for rehearsal. After what felt like an age we were on our way again. The only other excitement was when the sat-nav took us a slightly funny route and we confronted the biggest incline to be seen outside of Alton Towers. Even Claire's tank of a car balked slightly at being forced up the hill as Amy, Gwen and I unhelpfully squealed in fear that we were going to roll backwards. After a car or coach journey, I always feel the need to have an extra long warm up. I hate that feeling when your fingers feel swollen and unresponsive, and your body feels cramped from having sat in a confined space for a prolonged period of time. As we were playing Prokofiev's Classical Symphony in the first programme, it felt doubly important to me to be well warmed up. Rehearsal started promptly and it was good to get a good play. I had been slightly concerned about this programme. The Prokofiev is brilliant, but a bit scary, and I had never played the Tchaikovsky concerto before - it has a few entries that could really catch you out. Thankfully, the Schumann was straight forward and I think I could almost play the Haydn in my sleep now! There was an enthusiastic audience for the concert and I felt that things went well (especially the Schumann). I felt that I could now relax more in the Prokofiev too. Tired, we began our long drive to Llandudno to check into our lovely little home for the next few days!

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  7. When you think of Welsh poets, English language Welsh poets that is, your mind invariably turns to Dylan Thomas and RS Thomas. Possibly you might consider Alun Lewis, W H Davies or even Dannie Abse. But rarely do people think of Edward Thomas, a man who was born in London but who was, all his li...

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  8. BBC Radio Wales are gearing up for the third annual Wales Music Day this Friday (30 March). All day we here at BBC Wales Music will be keeping you abreast of the highlights and will be putting up some of the interviews to listen again. Radio Wales editor Steve Austins said: "BBC Radio Wales Music Day has rapidly established itself as a highlight in the musical calendar in Wales, and there's a real buzz surrounding this year's Music Day. We want to showcase Welsh music, across all genres, through the events we're organising and broadcasting." Line-up for the day: 9am: Jamie and Louise From the Barnabas Arts House in Newport, Jamie and Louise kick off Wales Music Day with The Boy Royals (formerly Town), playing and in conversation. Georgia Ruth Joining them will be Greta Isaac, Joshua Caole, Cuba Cuba and Georgia Ruth. 2pm: Roy Noble From Theatr Brycheiniog in Brecon, Roy has a very special performance from BBC National Orchestra of Wales and Rhondda's Sophie Evans. Jodie Marie Also performing for Roy will be Jodie Marie, while Frank Hennessy will be in conversation. Cut Ribbons 8pm: Amy Wadge Coming from The Parrot in Carmarthen, Amy is joined by Cut Ribbons, Trwbador and The Last Republic. 10pm: Chris Needs Wrapping up the day, Chris is in Maesteg Town Hall with Only Men Aloud and Lucie Jones. 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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  9. Penarth artist Martyn Joseph has been nominated in the global Independent Music Awards (IMAs), becoming the first Welsh person in the 11 years of the competition to be recognised. Edit (12noon, Thursday 29 March): We are happy to correct this story. In 2009 the IMAs awarded the prize of Best World Album to Various Artists - Blodeugerdd Song Of The Flowers: An Anthology Of Welsh Music And Song produced by Ceri Rhys Matthews. Martyn Joseph Martyn's song There's Always Maybe, from his current Under Lemonade Skies album, is up for the Best Song in the folk/singer songwriter category. The awards are chosen by a panel of 77 industry personalities and musicians, including Keith Richards, Tom Waits, Suzanne Vega, Tori Amos, Michael Franti and Ozzy Osbourne. The judges' choices will be announced next month. There is also a public vote in the awards, which closes in July. A spokesperson for the IMAs said: "Celebrating the democracy of creativity and meritocracy of talent, The Independent Music Awards honour exceptional independent artists traditionally ignored by mass media and 'big box' retailers. Winners of The 11th IMAs will receive active promotions, distribution and performance opportunities that will place them in front of nearly 1billion music fans, they say. 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. A couple of months ago, I got into work on a Saturday evening to find the following e-mail in my inbox: Hey Adam I manage The Joy Formidable. The band will be touring the East Coast of the US at the end of March and would like you to join them to do some work for a tour DVD. This is the intinerary: March 26 Arrive in New York City 27 (day off) spend time with band 28 (T5) NYC show / interview 29 (Philly) show / interview 30 (Boston) Welsh day 31 Leave Would this be agreeable to you? Agreeable! AGREEABLE! It's easily the most 'agreeable' correspondence that has ever landed through my letterbox / in my inbox. So, here I am. Sat in a hotel just off Times Square, two hours from going over to meet the band for a YouTube session - more excited than I have been since my daughter was born. That's some exponential level above 'agreeable', is that! The only hiccup was that Radio Wales Music Day was scheduled to happen whilst I was away: an annual event that I'm proud to have (verbally, at least) been the instigator of, and an event that has become so, so important at sharing Welsh music to a broader audience. Fortunately, our editor and senior producers saw the worth in my being over in the United States with one of Wales' finest bands. I don't say that loosely. The Joy Formidable are right up there in my estimation with Super Furry Animals and Future Of The Left. My musical love doesn't get any deeper than that. The fact that the Joy Formidable are from my hometown of Mold just makes the whole thing that much sweeter. Mold, a humble market town in Flintshire, exporting a band whose hard work and inspirational music has brought them to the brink of full-on, international success, would have been unimaginable when I started out in a band there in the early 90s. So, over the course of my visit - and to coincide with Radio Wales Music Day - I'm going to bring you backstage, front-of-stage and tour bus access to a Welsh band making a real name for themselves and their music on a much wider stage. I'll do my best to keep a daily diary of events on the road with the band here on the BBC Wales Music blogs. And we'll have interviews and live tracks on BBC Radio Wales as part of Radio Wales Music Day itself. My show on Saturday 31 March will come live from Boston. And not the one in Lincolnshire. It should be something of an inspiration and an education. It will be for me. That is, if the band haven't kicked me off the tourbus after one night of vegetarian(ish) flatulence and occasional, baritone snoring. New York Here's a picture out of my hotel room window just to prove that I'm here and not typing this in from the studios in Wrexham. Watch - and listen - to this space... 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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