Bethlehem Village Band's traditional Christmas

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In the run-up to Christmas many festive albums will be released, but one from Wales contains a more unusual set of songs than most.

The Bethlehem Band

The Bethlehem Village Band, based in the west Wales village that shares its name of with Jesus' birthplace, have released a new album entitled Bethlehem Christmas.

Martin Leamon of the band told us:

"The album is released independently and is available online and at selected shops in Llandeilo, Llandovery, Gower, Swansea, Ystradgynlais, Cowbridge and Hay on Wye.

"Four of us are multi-instrumentalists and between us use (in no particular order) fiddle, harp, bagpipes, guitar, hurdy gurdy, trombone, flute, one-row melodeon, bouzouki and archaic bowed lyre. Four out of the five of us also sing on the record.

"We are traditional musicians and all the tracks are traditional songs. Without having a conscious manifesto we play songs we like in our natural style. Christmas songs don't have to be sung by classically trained singers at dirge tempo or played by brass bands.

"The fact that carol tunes were once danced to, or that certain well known tunes were almost certainly composed with (for example) a hurdy gurdy in mind adds fuel to the fire. Festive is the right word to use: there are specifically religious Christmas songs; some songs are of a seasonal nature and deal with the turning of the year.

"There are songs in Welsh, English and Latin and some are performed as instrumentals. Songs of cider, beer and merriment sit beside reflective songs and hymns."

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