Archives for July 2012

Adam Walton playlist and show info: Saturday 28 July 2012

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Adam Walton Adam Walton | 14:12 UK time, Monday, 30 July 2012

This week's show is now available via the BBC iPlayer. Please visit the link any time between now and the start of the next programme.

As part of the Cultural Olympiad, coinciding with London 2012, Bangor's 9bach and Australia's Black Arm Band have forged a cross cultural collaboration that celebrates the common ground of human experience between two communities as geographically polarised as it's possible to get.

The culmination of this, following 9bach's visit to Australia last year, was the Black Arm Band coming over to the UK to perform with 9bach in London and at Y Galeri in Caernarfon.

The collaboration "explores musical connections and the preservation of language and culture through music and song."

"Since working together we have discovered a massive connection between Welsh and Aboriginal people," they say, "from the love we have for families to the belly laughs and same sense of humour.

"The love for our languages, and the fight to preserve them or even retrieve them. Our cultures are strong and connected in many ways, and who we are, and where our families are from are so important!"

It is my honour - and pleasure - to be able to broadcast half an hour of the concert recorded in Caernarfon as a joint exercise between BBC Radio Wales and C2.

Lisa Gwilym's C2 show will also celebrate the concert this Friday night (3 August) - and will feature an exclusive interview with Lisa Jen from 9bach.

Elsewhere in the show, Alan Holmes reminds us of Krystalnacht. Lara Catrin gets dewy-eyed translating Y Blew and Ben Hayes explores The Liverpool Scene.

p>First time plays this week come for The Wild Eyes, F. O. E., Bodhi and Yoko Temple.

I play the best cover version in my memory (Sex Hands' version of Gorky's Zygotic Mynci's Mae Merched Yn Neud Gwallt Eu Gilydd) and there is peerless sonic creativity from a whole host of other Welsh artists.

Please send demos/new releases/gig info etc to themysterytour@gmail.com as a high quality mp3/download link.

F**K BUTTONS - 'Olympians ( High Contrast Remix )'
Bristol / Cardiff

SEX HANDS - 'Merched Yn Neud Gwallt Eu Gilydd'
Dwygfylchi / Llanfairfechan / Conwy

EUROS CHILDS - 'Be Be High'
Pembrokeshire

WILD EYES, THE - 'I Look Good On You'
Wrexham / Liverpool

H. HAWKLINE - 'Black Domino Box'
Cardiff

EXIT INTERNATIONAL - 'Chainsaw Song ( Single Version )'
Cardiff

RALPH RIP SH*T - 'Spanish Ass [ Radio Edit ] Featuring Lemonface'
Cardiff

M C SAIZMUNDO - 'Bara Brith'
Caernarfon / Bangor

F. O. E. - 'Constant Pressure'
Wrexham / Liverpool

ALAN HOLMES - 'Spoken Contribution'
Bangor

KRYSTALNACHT - 'Black Train'
Holyhead

BODHI - 'Emanation'
Cardiff

YOKO TEMPLE - 'I Got Chills'
Cardiff

HELEN LOVE - 'Long Hot Summer Pt. 1'
Swansea

RACE HORSES - 'My Year Abroad'
Aberystwyth

GWENNO - 'Ymbelydredd [ Them & Us Remix ]'
Cardiff

ECTOGRAM - 'April Breaming'
Bangor / Ynys Môn

ANNA ROSE CARTER - 'Memory [ Raithe Reworking ]'
Swansea

CAVES - 'Arrow Hits The Ground'
Swansea

Y BANDANA - 'Heno Yn Yr Anglesey'
Caernarfon

MAMIAITH - 'Big Law ( Live )'
Bangor / Australia

MAMIAITH - 'Plentyn ( Live )'
Bangor / Australia

MAMIAITH - 'Nana's Song ( Live )'
Bangor / Australia

MAMIAITH - 'Gildang ( Live )'
Bangor / Australia

MAMIAITH - 'Cariad Mam ( Live )'
Bangor / Australia

KLAUS KINSKI - 'Riffy'
Llanfairfechan

CIAN CIARAN - 'Till I Die'
Bangor

DAVID NEWINGTON - 'Walking In My Dream'
Cardiff

LARA CATRIN - 'Spoken Contribution'
Bangor / Cardiff

BLEW, Y - 'Maes B'
?

FUTURE OF THE LEFT -'A Failed Olympic Bid'
Cardiff

WITCHES DRUM, THE - 'Climb Aboard The Bus Of Devotion'
Cardiff / London

CONFORMIST - 'Savages Go Modern!'
Dale / Cardiff

ESOTERRA - 'Undertakers Of The Sky'
Cardiff

CASTOR - 'Sirene'
Prestatyn

KAYLA PAINTER - 'Gaaga'
Newport / Bristol / Southampton

BEN HAYES - 'Spoken Contribution'
Ruthin

LIVERPOOL SCENE, THE - 'Universes'
Liverpool

QUIET MARAUDER - 'Shearer, Predator'
Cardiff

REPEATER 64 - 'Guilty 1000 Crimes'
Bridgend / Sweden

Merthyr Rock stages announced

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James McLaren James McLaren | 15:50 UK time, Thursday, 26 July 2012

Merthyr Rock details are finalised today, with day splits confirmed.

Razorlight

Razorlight

Friday 31 August

Main stage:
Razorlight
Saves The Day
Futures

Second stage:
Dirty Goods
The People The Poet
The Lash
The Undivided

Skindred

Skindred

Saturday 1 September

Main stage:
Skindred
Lower Than Atlantis
Yashin
Exit Ten
The Dirty Youth
Dopamine
Prosperina
The Dead Wretched

Second stage (Lostprophets takeover):
Pulled Apart By Horses
Save Your Breath
Neil Starr And Gavin Butler
Exit_International
Black And Reds
Bastions
Astroid Boys
The Dead Formats

Sunday 2 September

Main stage:
Kids In Glass Houses
Deaf Havana
We Are The Ocean
Future Of The Left
Don Broco
Straight Lines
The James Cleaver Quintet
Shadows Chasing Ghosts
Reaper In Sicily

Second stage (The Blackout takeover):
A (exclusive set)
Canterbury
Marmozets
Proxies
Page 44
Blowgoat
Verses
Buried In Alaska

In light of the new details, I talked to festival director Rhodri Jones to find out how he's looking at this year's event.

Lostprophets and The Blackout are each curating a stage, as Kids In Glass Houses did last year. How do you convince them to get on board?

"Luckily they didn't take much persuading! Both bands were really keen to get involved.

"Lostprophets have always been a band keen to support emerging Welsh talent and The Blackout have been big supporters of the festival since day one. It's turned out to be a great programme.

"Both bands put a lot of thought into their selections and have picked some amazing acts."

So who are you most looking forward to catching?

"It sounds like a cop out, but pretty much everything! We picked all the acts because they have that certain special something.

"The fact that A have reformed to play the festival [as part of The Blackout's stage takeover] is particuairly exciting though, and there isn't a better live band on the planet than Skindred right now."

Last year I praised the festival, and there was a great response generally, I think, so was there any pressure following up the success of 2011?

"It's incredible to see how passionate people are about an event that's only a year old! The pressure has definitely been there to replicate the quality and feel of the festival from last year, but it's good pressure because it shows that people loved the festival and feel like it belongs to them."

How has the festival reacted to any positive or negative feedback?

"We were overwhelmed by the amount of positive feedback we got from last year, which was great. Where people have suggested ways that things could be improved, we've done our best to accommodate them this year - things like improved camping, a seated chill-out area, increased publicity of our bus service back to Cardiff and other little site tweaks that will make the weekend even better this year."

What's the message to music fans across the country when it comes to Merthyr Rock?

"That an incredible weekend of music shouldn't have to cost a few hundred pounds, that 'boutique' festivals are more fun and get you closer to the bands you love, and that Wales is still a breeding ground for incredible talent."

To keep abreast of details, follow Merthyr Rock on Twitter or use the #mrock hashtag.

Interview: Steve Balsamo on Balsamo And Deighton

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James McLaren James McLaren | 10:12 UK time, Wednesday, 25 July 2012

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 member and solo artist Rosalie Deighton for a forthcoming album of "folk/country/Americana" songs.

Balsamo And Deighton

Balsamo And Deighton

Balsamo And Deighton have their début single out this week (29 July) on his own Ghost Horse Records, with the album following in 2013.

"Rosalie and I met over 10 years ago at Swedish producer Martin Terefe's studio in Kensal Road in London," says Steve. "Martin went on to work with Jason Mraz and James Morrison and won a Grammy with Train. He co-produced Rosie's début album Truth Drug and co-produced my solo album All I Am.

"I loved her voice and she mine, and we said we'd make an album down the line. When The Storys were touring a lot, we asked Rosalie to come support us, and when Dai Smith decided to leave, we asked her to join the band.

"Dai is such a great player, writer and personality we thought a woman who is all those things would bring a different angle to the band. Rosalie joined us writing and recording Luck, The Storys' third album."

Rosalie's folk background took her into a career with her own family, aptly named The Deighton Family. They toured worldwide and, solo, had a deal with Independiente Records around a decade ago for Truth Drug. Her second set, 21 Days, came out in 2007.

She is also a member of Danny And The Champions Of The World.

How do Steve and Rosalie regard their duets project? "We're both very excited with the project! Our voices blend beautifully and we've been quietly writing for a couple of years.

"We started writing and making demos with Julian Wilson of Grand Drive and have started the album with John Reynolds (Sinead O'Connor, Indigo Girls, U2). We have a few co-writes with some tasty people, inculding Boo Hewedine, Andy Collins (ex-Storys) and hit songwriter Steve Booker who wrote Mercy with Duffy.

"We have a bunch of great songs that we're working through for the album and are both loving the results so far."

The pair's long careers have meant they can call on some respected musicians. For example, there's a guitarist working with them called Robbie McIntosh. "He's played with Paul McCartney, John Mayer and Norah Jones," says Steve. "He has played some stunning guitar... and Steve White - ex of Paul Weller's band - came played on the single. I met Steve while touring with the late, very great Jon Lord."

Steve believes Balsamo And Deighton's sound won't come as a surprise to fans of their previous work, and sees it as a development rather than a revolution:

"I think the sound is a lovely complement to The Storys' sound," he says. "We both adore country and folk and the 'West Coast' sound that we were making with The Storys. But this time we're (soul) mining and taking cues from Emmylou Harris, Robert Plant and Alison Krauss' Raising Sand and other songwriters we love like Jackson Browne and Ron Sexsmith.

"We have, in fact, tried out a few covers by them that sound beautiful. It's similar territory to before but also looking at bluegrass dude Ricky Skaggs and the new bluegrass dudes on the block/prairie/porch The Punch Brothers.

"All of this, however, is through the filter of Barnsley and Swansea! I think there's an interesting story to tell of both these cities, both steeped in music albeit one rock and the other folk... but that's for later."

There is even talk of ex-Led Zeppelin man Robert Plant joining the duo on a track, plus his Band Of Joy partner Patty Griffin too.

I Don't Know Why, originally by Shawn Colvin, "has been haunting both of us for years" says Steve. "We've both encountered her and the tune on many occasions. The video - filmed by brilliant director/film writer Kamma Pastoll - has been in the works for 10 years and seemed that now was the time to realise it.

"It has turned out better that we all could have imagined and really has focused us to finish the album and get out and tour."

Watch the video here:

"Making a video first may seem like a backward way of doing things, but I really think these days songs/films have a life of their own online and we wanted to test if that theory is right.

"Social networking provides the modern artist with a way of getting to a large audience, as long as what you make is good!"

Concluding our chat, he says: "The album will, I think, be beautiful, sad (for the most part) with some reflective songs. We have been trying to write a little faster, but at the moment what's occurring is something between Emmylou's Wrecking Ball album, Plant/Krauss' Raising Sand with a little Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty thrown in. Big shoes then!"

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Chinese tour diary, part four

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Laura Sinnerton Laura Sinnerton | 08:55 UK time, Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Shenzhen would be our final base of the tour with one concert in Shenzhen itself, and one in Guangzhou, China's third largest city.

Stepping out of the airport in Shenzhen, it felt as though both the heat and humidity had upped a notch. However, the sky seemed much clearer than it had done in Beijing or Shanghai. I found the overcast sky of Beijing quite oppressive, and it was nice to actually see blue above you.

Despite having almost bathed in DEET, I had somehow picked up an irritatingly large number of insect bites somewhere between the Shanghai hotel and the coach from Shenzhen airport (Irish blood would appear to be a rare delicacy for mozzies and every other biting thing), and so it was that I spent the journey trying not to scratch my legs like a crazy person. On arrival at the hotel I was rather consoled by the outdoor pool.

Outside the Shenzhen concert hall, a group of us girls were stopped by a young girl and her mother who were attending the concert. It transpired that she was studying bass at a local music school and she was very excited to meet Claire from our bass section. We even had our photos taken - it was a bit like being papped, but nicer.

The journey from Shenzhen to Guangzhou was an arduous one. On the route to Tianjin, the countryside was notable for the seemingly unending urban expansion evident on the outskirts of cities, with miles of new build high rise flats stretching as far as the eye could see.

Each night, we played two encore pieces. The first was one of Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance marches, and the second a traditional Chinese song called My Motherland, arranged by Qigang Chen. The delighted reaction of the audiences each night to this piece was quite overwhelming - shouting and cheering, clapping and squealing.

It had been a really wonderful tour. Although the immigration queue crossing over to Hong Kong, which was in excess of an hour, was a definite low, and threw into sharp relief the difference in attitude between the British and every other nationality when it comes to queuing, the humour and camaraderie of one's colleagues make the high points of touring much more memorable.

Arriving in Heathrow at 5am, it was pleasant to walk outside (after an anxious few moments when it seemed my luggage had disappeared), and to feel a gentle coolness on the skin. There may be no pork dumplings for breakfast today, but at least I won't break into a profuse glow of perspiration with the slightest movement!

However, all that heat and humidity has been good training - this week we begin preparations to face the microclimate of the Royal Albert Hall, in our first Prom on Thursday!

The orchestra will be performing at the Royal Albert Hall on Thursday 26 July as part of the BBC Proms 2012; you can hear them live on BBC Radio 3 from 7pm.

Swansea Festival of Music and the Arts 2012

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James McLaren James McLaren | 09:00 UK time, Monday, 23 July 2012

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 6 October you can catch BBC National Orchestra of Wales, conducted by Owain Arwel Hughes, with works by Vaughan Williams and Daniel Jones, with Elgar's Cello Concerto performed by Julian Lloyd Webber.

Julian Lloyd Webber

Julian Lloyd Webber

Celebrating their 80th anniversary this year, the London Philharmonic Orchestra is conducted by Vassily Sinaisky with young violinist Chloe Hanslip in a programme of Prokofiev, Mendelssohn and Sibelius on 13 October.

Lastly, bringing an end to the festival on 20 October, the St Petersburg Symphony Orchestra with their conductor Vladimir Altschiler, and featuring much-admired pianist Freddy Kempf, will perform works by Stravinsky, Rachmaninov and Tchaikovsky.

Chloe Hanslip

Chloe Hanslip

Brangwyn Hall is also the venue for the festival's four recitals:

Both a pianist and composer - and winner of eight Gramophone Awards - Stephen Hough is widely regarded as one of the most important and distinctive pianists of his generation. His recital on 9 October will include the world première of his own work Sonata No 2 (Notturno Luminoso), which is a commission from the Swansea Festival and Lakeside Arts Centre, University of Nottingham.

On 15 October the talented Wayne Marshall gives an organ recital. As well as being an internationally-admired organist Wayne has a multi-faceted career as a conductor and concert pianist and is recognised for his work in music-theatre and his gift of improvisation.

Bass-baritone Neal Davies, accompanied by pianist James Southall, will perform songs by John Ireland, Ibert, Finzi, Schumann and Wolf on 16 October. Past winner of the Cardiff Singer of the World Lieder Prize, Newport born Neal is much In demand on both the concert and opera stage where he excels in a wide-ranging repertoire. As well as the song recital on 16 October, Neal performs with Welsh National Opera (WNO) as Don Alfonso in Cosi fan tutte on 12 October.

On 19 October, the BBC Singers, with their conductor David Hill and organist Iain Farrington, perform Power and Glory: Music for the Royal Court, a compilation of choral music, written for key royal occasions throughout five centuries, which they present in celebration of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. Formed in 1924, the BBC Singers perform all over the UK and abroad.

WNO perform three operas between 10 and 13 October:

Handel's Jephtha features Robert Murray in the title role of the distraught father caught in a terrible trap. Diana Montague is his wife Storge and Welsh soprano Fflur Wyn is their daughter Iphis. Fflur appeared at the opening ceremony of the National Eisteddfod last year before going to Mexico City Opera to sing the Governess in The Turn of the Screw, and then performing with Côrdydd at last year's festival.

Puccini's La Bohème is a new production by Annabel Arden which is set in the elegance of Edwardian Paris and features Giselle Allen as the tragic Mimi, Alex Vicens as her lover Rodolfo and popular Welsh baritone David Kempster as Marcello.

Mozart's Così Fan Tutte - a story of fickle young love - features Elizabeth Watts as Fiordiligi and Cora Burggraff as Dorabella, the two girls whose loyalty is tested by their sailor fiancées.

Jazz is provided by the Darius Brubeck Quartet in A Kind of Brubeck (14 October). Darius Brubeck is the eldest of jazz pianist Dave Brubeck's sons.

Festival organisers have announced that there will be no festival next year. "With Swansea's own jewel in the crown of the city - the Brangwyn Hall - undergoing extensive refurbishment and restoration during 2013, the main venue for the festival's orchestral and recital concerts will be unavailable," they say.

Adam Walton playlist and show info: Saturday 21 July 2012

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Adam Walton Adam Walton | 08:47 UK time, Monday, 23 July 2012

This week's show is now available via the iPlayer. Please visit the link any time between now and the start of the next programme.

Soft-Hearted Scientists' music has been an enduring source of wonder for my ears over the last eight years. They've eschewed every bandwagon that has passed through town, and - like the finest artists - focused solely on their own vision: songs of innocence in spite of the world raging around them.

This three song session was recorded at home - as many of their greatest songs have been over the years. There are few people who know how to wield a 12 string, a Bontempi rhythm section and the most evocative analogue synth sounds with as much skill as Nathan Scientist. A real treat and sanctuary.

Huw Williams comes in to remind us of Sandy -- any facts / memories or recollections of the band would be gratefully received.

Lara Catrin translates some Ty Gwydyr for us.

Ben 'Soundhog' Hayes mourns the passing of Deep Purple's Jon Lord - rock's undisputed king of the Hammond organ.

And in between all of the talking bits, there is excellent music from all over Wales. We have début plays for: Pulse Atlantica, Fflur Dafydd, The Dukes, The Knox, Jack Barnett, Hannah Amy and Memory Clinic.

Please send demos / new releases / all correspondence to: themysterytour@gmail.com (download link or high quality .mp3 preferred, please), or via the BBC Introducing Uploader.

Retweets of the iPlayer link earn you off chance booze tokens (or dandelion and burdock tokens, if you're underage). These can be redeemed if you see me in your local / convenience store.

Next week, an amazing live set and multicultural collaboration between 9Bach & the Black Arm Band recorded at Y Galeri in Caernarfon last week.

Show stats:

  • 867 different songs
  • 1113 total
  • 539 Artists in 30 shows since 1 January 2012
  • Songs per show: 37
  • Unique artists per show:18
  • Welsh: 95%
  • Cymraeg: 10%

Many thanks / diolch o galon, Adam Walton.

HARRY KEYWORTH - 'Above The Head'
Hebron, Pembrokeshire

WE'RE NO HEROES - 'Ghost Coast'
Cardiff

SŵNAMI - 'Eira'
Dolgellau

COLORAMA - 'Delaware'
Benllech

EUROS CHILDS - 'I'm Seeing Her Tonight'
Pembrokeshire

DEAF CLUB - 'Moving Still'
Wrexham

HUW WILLIAMS - 'Spoken Contribution'
Swansea

SANDY - 'Bright Lights'
?

SOFT-HEARTED SCIENTISTS - 'Unholy Ghost'
Cardiff

PULSE ATLANTICA - 'Blows My Mind'
Cardiff

JOE BLOW - 'Iguarna Spitz [ Radio Edit ]'
Barry

HALF AVIAN - 'Future Proof'
Mold

HUW M - 'Dyma Lythyr [ Remics Y Pencadlys ]'
Pontypridd

BOY ROYALS, THE - 'Summer's Playground'
Newport

FAMILY OF THE YEAR - 'Diversity'
Wrexham / L.a.

FFLUR DAFYDD - 'Y Ferch Sy'n Licio'r Gaeaf'
Camaerthen

BRIGHT YOUNG PEOPLE, THE - 'Hang Up ( Radio Edit )'
Rhyl

FUTURE OF THE LEFT - 'Beneath The Waves An Ocean'
Cardiff

BASTIONS - 'Grief Beggar [ Radio 1 Session Version ]'
Anglesey

SOFT-HEARTED SCIENTISTS - 'We'll Go Walking'
Cardiff

DUKES, THE - 'Shifting Sands'
Caldicot

KNOX, THE - 'In My Head'
Cardiff

JACK BARNETT - 'Counting On You'
Cardiff

HANNAH AMY - 'Deer'
Newport

FATHER PUMPKIN - 'Sounds Like...'
Wales

MALCOLM GALES - '1001001'
Swansea

SKINFLICK - 'Becoming Geology'
Bangor

CIAN CIARAN - 'Martina Franca'
Bangor

SUE DENIM - 'Bicycle'
Bangor

WE ARE ANIMAL - 'Indus Seal'
Bethel / Caernarfon

LARA CATRIN - 'Spoken Contribution'
Bangor / Cardiff

TY GWYDYR - 'Cariad Yn Cryfhau'
Bangor

DAN AMOR - 'Mehefin'
Penmachno

STAGGA - 'Timewarp'
Cardiff

GOLDEN FABLE - 'Sugarloaf'
Ewloe

FJORDS - 'Shinjuku'
Cardiff

MEMORY CLINIC - 'Why Did She Run Far Away?'
Anglesey

BEDFORD FALLS - 'Prick'
Cardiff

SOFT-HEARTED SCIENTISTS - 'Fly Into The Sun'
Cardiff

BEN HAYES - 'Spoken Contribution'
Ruthin

DEEP PURPLE - 'No One Came'
Hertford

Making Tracks: The story of Rockfield

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James McLaren James McLaren | 08:11 UK time, Monday, 23 July 2012

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

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.

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Stereophonics lose another drummer

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James McLaren James McLaren | 10:07 UK time, Friday, 20 July 2012

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 band enjoyed playing with Javier over the last eight years and his company was enjoyed by everyone in the Stereophonics family.

We wish Javier every success going forward in his new creative endeavours and personal life. (Filling in temporarily for Javier on these next shows will be our friend Sam). We look forward to seeing you at the shows.

The Argentinian drummer took up the position following the departure in 2004 of Stuart Cable.

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A long weekend of music (parts seven to 10)

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Adam Walton Adam Walton | 14:46 UK time, Thursday, 19 July 2012

Part seven: Earthquake! Earthquake! Ah, It's OK... It's Only Pete 2 Snoring.

Adam, Matt, Pete 1 and Pete 2 (left to right)

Adam, Matt, Pete 1 and Pete 2 (left to right)

I can't believe how much of little consequence I've already written about my long weekend of music. 'Music' should really have been in inverted commas. I haven't talked much about the bands I've seen, have I? This has mostly been about the lengths certain of us are prepared to go to to enjoy our favourite sounds.

As Future Of The Left's Andrew Falkous says upon arrival, surveying the vistas of mud and the bedraggled clusters of people trying to have fun in it: "I think you're all insane."

I have rarely felt less sane than I did on the Saturday morning at 2000 Trees. I hadn't slept a wink. Pete 2 snores like a freight train with a broken silencer. I suspect we all have soft palates that reverberate with a sonic boom.

God help the Hen Party who were camping next to us. I'm ashamed every time I think of the pigtailed girl, 'L' plate still stuck to her back, standing outside their tent, talking desperately into her mobile phone that morning: "You won't snore like that, will you Snuggle? If you do, it's all over. I'll either divorce you or stab you."

She finishes the call and her panda-eyed friend puts a consoling arm around her: "They don't all snore like that, Sam."

They both cast the filthiest look in our direction.

Read the rest of this entry

Adam Walton playlist and show info: Saturday 14 July 2012

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Adam Walton Adam Walton | 14:44 UK time, Wednesday, 18 July 2012

This week's show is now available on the BBC iPlayer. Please visit the link any time between now and the start of the next programme>

I hate recording programmes.

Late night music radio is, first and foremost, about the sounds. Second, it's about we sound dweebs having somewhere to hang out where people aren't going to demand we stick Example on, or ask us where 'the tune' is. And we get to talk to each other.

Admittedly, 90% of that dialogue comes from me... but I have the microphone fader and in all honesty, even if we were in a real, physical room together it'd probably pan out similarly.

But I had to record this week's show - and forego the Twitter banter - to camp in a field full of mud in Cheltenham.

Those experiences are detailed - at great length - elsewhere.

So, I thought I'd make this show as special as I could in the restrictive circumstances and I have cobbled together... I mean 'fashioned'... a Best of Welsh Music 2012 SO FAR. A half term report, if you like.

It's entirely my point of view. I haven't tried to be democratic. Sod that for a game of soldiers. These are my favourite sounds of 2012 so far. Feel free to tell me what you would like to have heard.

My major omission - there's always one - is Soundhog's Whole Lotta Helter Skelter bootleg. Just plain forgot it.

You should hear plenty of gems and other stuff that'll annoy the hell out of you.

Many thanks / diolch o galon, Adam Walton.

GULP - 'Game Love'
Cardiff

RACE HORSES - 'Mates'
Aberystwyth

P L O AND RALPH RIP SHIT - 'Hold That [ Clean Edit ]'
Cardiff

DOC DANEEKA & BENJAMIN DAMAGE - 'Battleships Feat. Abigail Wyles'
Swansea

HEAVY PETTING ZOO - 'Deathproof'
Swansea

Y NIWL - 'Undegnaw [ E P Version ]'
Gwynedd

CATE LE BON - 'Fold The Cloth'
Penboyr

GEORGIA RUTH - 'Bones'
Aberystwyth / Cardiff

SHY AND THE FIGHT - 'Breaks'
Chester / Llangollen

CUT RIBBONS - 'Paper Shields'
Llanelli

WOLVES - 'Divide'
Deeside

SEX HANDS - 'Gay Marriage'
Dwygfylchi / Llanfairfechan / Conwy

COWBOIS RHOS BOTWNNOG - 'Deio Bach'
Llyn Peninsula

BEYOND THE WIZARD'S SLEEVE - 'Door To Tomorrow'
London / Pembrokeshire

COUSINS - 'Baby Baby Baby [ Give Me More ]'
Pembrokeshire / Aberystwyth

GOLDEN FABLE - 'Sugarloaf'
Ewloe

ISLET - 'This Fortune'
Cardiff

CODEX LEICESTER - 'Hey Hey Hot Legs'
Mold / Leicester

JOY FORMIDABLE, THE - 'Whirring (album Version)'
Mold

PERFUME GENIUS - 'Sister Song'
Seattle / Welsh Management

JEWELLERS - 'Sing Trees'
Newport

K T R L - 'Offen'
Cardiff

IRMA VEP - 'What's That In Your Mouth? ( Album Version )'
Llanfairfechan

SŵNAMI - 'Mynd A Dod'
Dolgellau

ZERVAS & PEPPER - 'One Man Show'
Cardiff

HUNDREDTH ANNIVERSARY, THE - 'Caroline'
Brighton / Welsh Label

VESTALS, THE - 'Perfect Pain'
Cardiff

COLORAMA - 'Hapus'
Benllech

DARKHOUSE FAMILY, THE - 'Take On The World Feat. Om'mas Keith'
Cardiff / Barry

MATT CHRISTENSEN - 'Someday I Won't Matter'
Chicago / Bridgend (label)

HARRY KEYWORTH - 'Flux'
Hebron, Pembrokeshire

KNICKERS - 'Les Cactus'
London / Cardiff Distribution

SCHOOL, THE - 'It's Not The Same'
Cardiff

IFAN DAFYDD - 'Treehouse ( E. P. Version )'
Llanrug

NO CEREMONY /// - 'Hold On Me'
Manchester / Wales

CHRISTIAAN WEBB - 'Kids In Love'
Cardiff Label

FAMILY OF THE YEAR - 'Stairs [ E P Version ]'
Wrexham / L.a.

MARTIN CARR - 'Sailor'
Cardiff

ELECTRIC WEDDING - 'My Universe ( System Mix )'
Llanfairfechan

FUTURE OF THE LEFT - 'Notes On Achieving Orbit [ Radio Edit ]'
Cardiff

CIAN CIARAN - 'You And Me [ Radio Edit ]'
Bangor

SUE DENIM - 'Brewster Mccloud'
Bangor

EUROS CHILDS - 'That's Better'
Pembrokeshire

GWENNO - 'Ymbelydredd'
Cardiff

JULIE MURPHY - 'Kathleen'
Pembrokeshire

RICHARD JAMES - 'Baby Blue'
Croes - Y - Ceiliog

MOWBIRD - 'Thank You, You Are Revolting'
Wrexham

SAM AIREY - 'The Unlocking'
Anglesey

WITCHES DRUM, THE - 'Watch The Freaks Lose It'
Cardiff / London

FIONA A GORWEL OWEN - 'Aderyn Du'
Llanfaelog, Ynys Môn

First 80 acts announced for Cardiff's Sŵn festival

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James McLaren James McLaren | 14:14 UK time, Wednesday, 18 July 2012

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

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 Lewis
  • Among Brothers
  • Arcane Roots
  • Bo Ningen
  • Brotherhood Of The Lake
  • Chain Of Flowers
  • Charlotte Church
  • Clock Opera
  • Death At Sea
  • Denuo
  • Django Django
  • Draw Me Stories
  • Dry The River
  • Errors
  • Eugene Francis Jnr
  • Exit International
  • Falls
  • Faye
  • Feed The Rhino
  • Fire Season
  • Fist Of The First Man
  • Gallops!
  • Gallows
  • Glass Pear
  • Golden Fable
  • Greta Isaac
  • Gulp
  • Hey Sholay
  • Hysterical Injury
  • Irma Vep
  • Islet
  • Jemma Roper
  • Jewellers
  • Joanna Gruesome
  • John Grant
  • Katell Keineg
  • Lanterns On The Lake
  • Laura J Martin
  • Liars
  • Manhattan Coast
  • Marc O'Reilly
  • Micachu & The Shapes
  • Milk Maid
  • Mowbird
  • Nebula
  • No Ceremony
  • No Thee No Ess
  • Out Of The Woods
  • Paper Aeroplanes
  • Peace
  • PINS
  • Prosperina
  • Quiet Marauder
  • Rangda
  • Rozi Plain
  • Rusty Shackle
  • Sam Airey
  • Scritti Politti
  • Sex Hands
  • Shy And The Fight
  • Sion Russell Jones
  • The Adelines
  • The Ash And The Oak
  • The Bright Young People
  • The Invisible
  • The Knox
  • The Lovely Eggs
  • The School
  • The Vestals
  • This Many Boyfriends
  • Tomos Lewis
  • Torches
  • Turbowolf
  • Urban Development Vocal Collective (UDVC)
  • Various Cruelties
  • Verity Susman
  • We're No Heroes
  • Zervas & Pepper

A long weekend of music (parts three to six)

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Adam Walton Adam Walton | 13:45 UK time, Wednesday, 18 July 2012

strong>Part three: Clockwork Forage. No matter what time my watch is telling me it is, I am already five minutes later. I was supposed to be at the 2000 Trees festival yesterday, so I'm a day late before I start adding today's obstacles, hinderances, missteps and Worcestershire wormholes to the equation.

Yesterday's feelings of dislocation have been supplanted by urgency. I need: a sleeping bag, batteries for my torch, a waterproof coat, beer, tobacco (to trade with the camp guards), a rucksack, cheap wellies (I'll only wear them once, what could possibly go wrong with a welly?)...

Muddy site at 2000 Trees

Muddy site at 2000 Trees

Here are the things I forget that eventually prove to be necessary: toilet roll, antibacterial gel, portable shower, canoe, waders, camping chair, Prozac, Tazer for fellow campers singing Queen's Don't Stop Me Now at 4:14am, waterproof trousers, waterproof underpants, waterproof world.

Read the rest of this entry

Chinese tour diary, part three

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Laura Sinnerton Laura Sinnerton | 08:54 UK time, Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Monday dawned another travel day, but there was time for a little last minute sightseeing. First violin Sam Wickramasinghe and I headed to the Temple of Heaven, and after the swarming crowds outside the Forbidden City and in Tian'anmen Square, this proved an oasis of tranquility.

At lunchtime, we were coached to Beijing South Railway Station for our journey to Shanghai on the new bullet train. It has halved the journey time and got up to 304km an hour!

It is inevitable that in a country as vast as China, you get tour days like this. Days where nothing really happens, just horrible amounts of time sitting in one place waiting to arrive somewhere. I find days like this more tiring than days involving full rehearsal and concert. I hate that grubby, sticky, stuck in an airless space that doesn't have enough legroom feeling, and so, after another hour in a coach, I was very glad to reach our next hotel. Especially as it was a very nice hotel indeed. My room had more rooms than my flat in Cardiff!

As it would take 24 hours for the instruments to travel from Beijing to Shanghai, Tuesday was by necessity a free day. This mostly involved shopping, with Claire Dibble (bass) proving an expert haggler. I am rubbish at it.

A great privilege of touring is the opportunity to explore places you might otherwise never have the opportunity to visit, and for me, one of the highlights of the day was a river boat cruise along the Bund at dusk. The Shanghai skyline is quite a sight, with traditional Chinese, and old European style buildings, nestling alongside the most modern structures imaginable (one of which was designed by second violin, Katie Littlemore's father!). The lights of the city are spectacular, making London's Piccadilly Circus seem a little dimly lit.

BBC National Orchestra of Wales performing in Shanghai

BBC National Orchestra of Wales performing in Shanghai

I really enjoyed our Shanghai concerts. The auditorium was, if not noisy, certainly restless by Western concert hall standards. People walk around taking photos, people don't turn their mobiles off (apparently it is a tradition for a mobile to ring during the horn solo in Firebird), and there is no concept of waiting for the final chords to die away before applause begins. And yet, despite this, and I am sure many of my colleagues would agree, the sincerity and genuine excitement of the audience was both humbling and inspiring.

Bolero is a work that is perhaps overly-familiar to Western ears. However, never before have I heard an audience clap along to it, sing along - genuinely get proper carried away with it. In a country where the people are marked by their reserve and demureness, it is quite something to watch a middle aged man throw his inhibitions to the wind, and dance in the balcony like no one is watching him!

I really loved Shanghai as a city, and would love to come back again. However, it was soon time for the orchestra to roll on to the next city - Shenzen!

A long weekend of music (parts one and two)

Post categories:

Adam Walton Adam Walton | 08:12 UK time, Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Part one is 'Context'. I've spent the last couple of months in an existential fug. I'm 41 years old but I still don't own a complete suit. Recently I've been checking out secondary schools for my daughter and I arrive looking like a Little Britain caricature: ageing Indie Kid... deputy headmistresses are greeted with a bro handshake.

Shirt-tucked-in parents are dismissed with a scowl from behind my imaginary John Cale sunglasses. They're asking about Ofsted scores - I want to know if anyone who has left the school got played on 6 Music or written about by Drowned In Sound.

I may not have added anything of worth to my CV in 20 years, but I do have a double professorship in Unsuitable Trousers and Dogmatic Refusal To Grow Up.

Read the rest of this entry

Urban Edge in Newport: the Welsh grime quest continues

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James McLaren James McLaren | 08:06 UK time, Friday, 13 July 2012

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.

Some of the members of the Newport grime scene

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

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)

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!

Chinese tour diary, part two

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Laura Sinnerton Laura Sinnerton | 11:00 UK time, Thursday, 12 July 2012

After a morning of haggling in the silk markets, finally finding a decent coffee, and negotiating the intricacies of the Beijing metro (remarkably like London Underground, though less creaky), our coaches departed for our next venue.

Our second and third concerts were held in the Opera House of the National Centre for the Performing Arts, Beijing. I'm not sure if I have the vocabulary to express quite how remarkable a building this is. The architecture is stunning, and the vast backstage areas are frankly labyrinthine. Along with the endless corridors of black marble front of house, the structure gives the impression that one could bump into a Minotaur, or some other mythical beast around any of the corners!

The exterior resembles some form of extra-terrestrial space hopper rising out of a lake of constantly moving water. Much of the theatre is subterranean, so in one of the (many) entrance halls, you look up to the sky lights, expecting to see the hazy Beijing firmament, but instead see the water of the lake flowing over the glass above your head.

As Saturday's programme was identical to the previous night's, rehearsal was a brief affair, giving us a nice long dinner break. Many of the orchestra are very committed to trying as much local cuisine as possible, and trips to McDonald's and Starbucks are met with a great deal of teasing! I had brought a packed dinner with me (or rather, I'd ended up with so much food at lunch time that I had to request a doggy bag) and so took the opportunity to have a little relax with a leisurely cup of jasmine tea and a crossword!

The auditorium of the opera house is cavernous, but again the audience turnout was remarkable, filling the tiers upon tiers of seats. It was quite exciting to know that we were live on Chinese television and radio, in addition to being streamed live on the internet!

p>Sunday's concert was the first outing of our second programme. It opened with the impossible not to sway along to overture to Strauss' Die Fledermaus (a real earworm for me), followed by Mozart's Clarinet Concerto. The soloist was our own Rob Plane, and his playing was as beautiful as it always is.

In this programme we also perform Wu Xing (The Five Elements) by Qigang Chen, one of China's foremost contemporary composers. Those who attended the 2012 Vale of Glamorgan Festival will already be familiar with his work. I really like his writing - it's exotic and suggestive music, subtly evocative of Eastern sounds whilst fully utilising the large Western symphonic orchestra.

For me the highlight of this concert was Mussorgsky's Pictures At An Exhibition. I've always loved this work and Ravel's orchestration renders the character of each movement in technicolour.

After that, it was back to the hotel to watch the Wimbledon final. There was a good bit of friendly banter between our Swiss principal conductor, Thierry and, well, everyone else regarding the match's outcome!

The Rolling Stones in Wales: were you there?

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James McLaren James McLaren | 09:47 UK time, Thursday, 12 July 2012

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

The Rolling Stones

They first played at the Royal Lido Ballroom in Prestatyn, on 31 August 1963, with subsequent performances at Kings Hall in Aberystwyth, Capitol Theatre in Cardiff, Sophia Gardens in Cardiff, Cardiff Arms Park and the Millennium Stadium.

Were you there? 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.

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Chinese tour diary, part one

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Laura Sinnerton Laura Sinnerton | 11:52 UK time, Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Packing for a two week tour is always a difficult thing, generally throwing up the obvious difficult choice between a hair brush and another pair of heels.

On Wednesday 4 July, the BBC National Orchestra of Wales made the journey from the cool, clear climate of Cardiff to the hot, humid and very unfamiliar bustle of Beijing. We arrived in the early afternoon and thankfully had the rest of the day to ourselves.

Some of National Orchestra of Wales at the Great Wall of China

Some of National Orchestra of Wales at the Great Wall of China

Determined not to waste any chances for sightseeing, a large intrepid band of us made our way to the Great Wall of China (many thanks to orchestra chairman, Ian Fisher, for organising us). Gradually throughout the day, our numbers dwindled and in the evening it was a small group who enjoyed a tea tasting at a local tea room. All highly enjoyable after having been coupled up on a long haul flight for too long!

The following day's programme included Prokofiev's Classical Symphony and so a fairly early night was in order. I love this work, but any string player will tell you, it's not really the sort of piece you want to play while battling crushing jet lag.

After a refreshing night's sleep (and a trip to the hotel spa, and a monstrous breakfast of fruit and pork dumplings - piggy viola), I was feeling at the very least human and quite ready to head off to our first venue.

One notable aspect of our tour so far has been the sheer scale and grandeur of the concert halls. We played first at the Tianjin Grand Theatre, a venue that had not yet been finished when Byron (orchestral manager) went on his recce! The theatre is part of a complex that includes a concert hall, an opera house, a museum, an art gallery and a library. You really wouldn't want to take a wrong turn back stage - I got the sense that you would never find your way back in time for the down beat.

Our first programme was a veritable feast of orchestral highlights - Bernstein's Candide, Fauré's Pavane and Debussy's L'Apres-Midi d'un Faune (with such beautiful solos from guest principal flute, Michael Cox), and the Infernal Dance, Berceuse and Finale from Stravinsky's Firebird. Principal horn Tim Thorpe's Mozart Horn Concerto proved very popular with the audience, and Ravel's Bolero caused a great deal of excitement.

Audiences here behave quite differently from European audiences. At home, there is a great deal of hushed silence in the concert hall. In China that is not the case. Although not unruly by any means, there is a gentle buzz of noise throughout the performance.

It's not that people aren't paying attention, their enthusiastic response suggests they certainly do, it's just that they are not bound by the conventions of etiquette that we in Europe so often are. It was very gratifying to play to such a full house, and it was satisfying to enjoy such a warm audience response.

Gruff Rhys on Cymdeithas Yr Iaith Gymraeg

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Adam Walton Adam Walton | 10:01 UK time, Wednesday, 11 July 2012

This weekend (13 and 14 July), Cymdeithas Yr Iaith Gymraeg (the Welsh Language Society) celebrates its 50th birthday with a massive festival in the historic pavilion at Pontrhydfendigaid in West Wales.

The festival features a broad swathe of Welsh-singing and thinking musical performers, from established names like Meic Stevens, Heather Jones and Gruff Rhys, through to much newer bands like Sŵnami and Creision Hud.

On this week's programme, I spoke to Gruff Rhys about the important contribution Cymdeithas Yr Iaith has made over the years in support of Welsh music.

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Adam Walton playlist and show info: Saturday 7 July 2012

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Adam Walton Adam Walton | 13:49 UK time, Monday, 9 July 2012

This week's show is now available on the BBC iPlayer. Please visit the link any time between now and the start of the next programme.

This coming weekend Cymdeithas Yr Iaith Gymraeg celebrate their 50th birthday - and, particularly, 50 years of their proactive support for Welsh language music - with a momentous festival in Pontrhydfendigaid.

Hanner Cant features a 'who's who' of the finest Welsh-thinking musical minds of the last half century, from legends like Meic Stevens, Gruff Rhys and Heather Jones through to new artists like Sen Segur and Y Bandana. Gruff Rhys talks to us about the important contribution Cymdeithas has made to Welsh culture.

We preview the Welsh artists who will be appearing at next weekend's 2000 Trees Festival in Cheltenham.

Sam Harries, manager of Newport's Le Pub, tells us about how this vitally important venue is under threat of closure, and what is being done to try and save it.

Alan Holmes peers back into producer David Wrench's intriguing past.

Lara Catrin translates some Trwbador for us.

Ben Hayes inspires us with homemade, Frankenstein synthesisers courtesy of Tonto's Expanding Head Band.

And there is mind-expanding music, lots of it, including début plays for Exclusivo, Indigo Sky, White Noise and Tsunami.

Demos/new releases/gig info etc to themysterytour@gmail.com, please.

WITCHES DRUM, THE - 'Watch The Freaks Lose It'
Cardiff / London

WOODEN SHJIPS - 'Black Smoke Rise'
San Francisco

CIAN CIARAN - 'You And Me [ Radio Edit ]'
Bangor

P L O AND RALPH RIP SH*T - 'Hold That [ Clean Edit ]'
Cardiff

HOWL GRIFF - 'Fragile Diamond'
Aberystwyth

CERI FROST - 'A Walk In The Park'
Cardiff

HUW M - 'Martha A Mair [ Remics Trwbador ]'
Pontypridd

EXCLUSIVO - 'Black And White'
Swansea

ALAN HOLMES - 'Spoken Contribution'
Bangor

NID MADAGASCAR - 'Psychotic'
Bangor

SUE DENIM - 'Bicycle'
Bangor

EUROS CHILDS - 'That's Better'
Pembrokeshire

VAN DYKE PARKS - 'Vine Street'
U S A

WOLVES - 'Divide'
Deeside

BASTIONS - 'Augury'
Anglesey

AMONG BROTHERS - 'Keep'
Cardiff / Aberdare

STRAIGHT LINES - 'Empty Chest'
Pontypridd / Pyle

GALLOPS - 'G Is For Jaile'
Wrexham

FUTURE OF THE LEFT - 'I Am The Least Of Your Problems ( Album Version )'
Cardiff

Y NIWL - 'Dauddegtri'
Gwynedd

OLIVIA TREMOR CONTROL - 'Jumping Fences'
U S A

GRUFF RHYS - 'Interview About Hanner Cant'
Bethesda

MEIC STEVENS - 'Dau Rhosyn Coch'
Solva

COLORAMA - 'V Moyn T'
Benllech

BWGAN, Y - 'Gwaelod Y Byd'
Porthmadog / Caernarfon

SWITCH FUSION - 'Anchor'
Llanberis

9BACH - 'Plentyn Galeri ( Featuring Black Arm Band )'
Bangor

LOVING CUP, THE - 'Nothing Lasts Forever'
Connah's Quay

OSIAN RHYS - 'Long Time Gone'
Llanystumdwy

FAMILY OF THE YEAR - 'Diversity'
Wrexham / L.a.

GWENNO - 'Astoria'
Cardiff

GWENNO - 'Despenser'
Cardiff

LARA CATRIN - 'Spoken Contribution'
Bangor / Cardiff

TRWBADOR - 'Deffro Ar Y Llawr'
Carmarthen / Cardiff

60FT DOLLS - 'New Loafers'
Newport

SAM HARRIES - LE PUB - 'Interview About Save Le Pub'
Newport

KITTY COWELL - 'Run Young Boy Featuring Jordan James'
Newport / Cardiff

INDIGO SKY - 'I Am Not Here'
Denbigh

WHITE NOISE - 'Propane'
Pontypool

TSUNAMI - 'Boy In A Skirt'
Mold

BEN HAYES - 'Spoken Contribution'
Ruthin

TONTO'S EXPANDING HEAD BAND - 'It's About Time'
?

Welsh bands a cut above at Ponty's Fringe

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James McLaren James McLaren | 09:30 UK time, Friday, 6 July 2012

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

Straight Lines

Held at two venues in Pontypridd - Clwb Y Bont and the YMCA - the free event boasts the town's Straight Lines, old-school punk scenesters Dopamine, Astroid Boys, Falling With Style and Continents.

Gavin Butler and Neil Starr

Gavin Butler and Neil Starr

Also playing at Ponty's Big Weekend Fringe are Neil Starr and Gavin Butler, who bring their acoustic show to the event. Starr, of Attack! Attack!, and Butler, of The Blackout, released Ghosts And Echoes this spring and have been touring the release around the UK.

Tickets are available from the Muni Arts Centre.

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.

The Welshman who brought us Seasick Steve

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Bethan Elfyn Bethan Elfyn | 08:27 UK time, Friday, 6 July 2012

Sometimes it's quite surprising where you'll meet a fellow Welshman in a distant part of the world.

I was in the heart of Texas at South By Southwest (SXSW) festival when I first met Andy Zammit from Bronzerat Records, a one man operation that managed to land a few punches when he signed and made a success of Seasick Steve in the UK.

His life and story need to be told, so I caught up with him a few weeks after SXSW.

Andy Zammit

Andy Zammit

Andy was born in Carmarthen and raised in Llanelli, in a musical environment. "I grew up with rock music around me," he says. "My father was and is a big fan of the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Steely Dan and Led Zeppelin.

"He had a big vinyl collection which I was allowed access to from the age of four. He took me to see Man when I was nine, and Pink Floyd when I was 11."

Merely listening to record wasn't enough, though: "I made my own drum kit out of bits and bobs, so my parents worked out that was where I was heading. I was gigging by the age of 13 in a variety of 'function' bands, and was sitting in with thrash metal bands and U2 cover bands: the usual local fare around that time."

After his grounding in what Carmarthenshire had to offer the budding musician, Andy moved to London, playing with musicians there, and developing a knowledge of the music business.

"I tour managed many national and international circuit acts as my main income," he explains. "I accidentally learned a lot about the industry side from this, as well as from a couple of years in the Performing Right Society (PRS), and from being a musician on the other side.

"I was accumulating this knowledge/understanding without realizing it. I always had this glimmer of an idea to have a label, but as a bit of fun rather than with some business model."

As with many label start-ups, it came from a desire to help artists he liked, but who seemed not to be having the luck that's essential in climbing the musical career ladder: "I was seeing so many of my favourite musicians and artists struggling to find an outlet. I was seeing all this faddy scenester/hipster music coming out from the UK with a lot of label support and marketing behind it.

"They were bands that had this public schoolboy-cum-London-street-urchin image and whose musical ability was, to be frank, offensive to me. I was angry and so the label was borne of that, in 2006 to be precise."

Seasick Steve

Seasick Steve

In those early days Andy had the type of break that's incredibly rare. "I got lucky. I'd become mates with Seasick Steve, and he was struggling to get anyone to give him an outlet, so we partnered up for his Dog House Music album. It was all chaos and determination, but people loved him, and next thing you know, I was in the deep end."

Having had that kind of success with his first venture, he has continued to link with some major and up-and-coming names: "I've just signed The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion for their comeback album, which is very exciting.

"My long time collaborator Gemma Ray has been on the label since day one. I also work with Dutch experimentalist Elisabeth Esselink aka Solex, London brother/sister duo Joe Gideon And The Shark and Jon Spencer's other band Heavy Trash.

"Alumni of the label include Congregation, Seasick Steve, Chicano and To Arms. On the label side, I keep it slim."

Running the label isn't easy, so what's been the most unexpected thing about running a record label? "It's so admin-heavy," he says. "The creative part, which is what I'm about, can easily get buried under the bureaucracy involved.

"I didn't have any expectations, but when things became legit, I had no business training. I had to really juggle new struggles, and I wasn't prepared to have to find staff, which is very hard to get right, at least the first time around. It took years off me!

"But you know, I've kept it small and flexible. I don't put out loads of records. It's a big responsibility so I just concentrate on a couple of things at a time, and for a long run. For better or worse.

"I was starting when lots of people were shutting down, so I don't feel that mourning that a lot of the industry is feeling. The label is not the be-all-and-end-all; I have different hats on at any given moment (musician, manager, booker, label, 'sync' agent), so it's all holistic and adaptable. I've never understood how such a gamble-based industry can prop up so many different job titles."

Despite his time working for the PRS, he professes to be confused by royalty collection societies and their ilk: "I still don't know how the industry really works. All these societies and associations and institutes we're supposed to be a part of. It mystifies me. I've been doing the outside dance the whole time.

And about social media: "These days, I'm dismayed by the way the world has become obsessed by Facebook and Twitter, and how everyone is consuming and spitting out so fast that it's hard to get anything to stick. I am a bit old-fashioned and I'm worried that we are paving the way for generations of cyborgs."

The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion

The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion

I've seen Andy out and about at festivals around the world, like SXSW, but he doesn't class his globetrotting as 'scouting' as such. "You know, I'm not really scouting. Anything and everything I've worked with has happened organically or serendipitously. When you see me there, it's usually to support my own.

"I've done a hell of a lot of traveling since 2006, and it's constant, by choice, otherwise I'd essentially be doing a desk job. I go to the US a lot; to Australia every year; SXSW most years; Canada... all European countries constantly. Even South Africa has entered into the equation. I spend a lot of the year in Berlin these days."

He's not solely working with Bronze Rat these days, either, as his business expands. "The label is the fall guy almost, or sometimes a shopfront for the holistic approach," he explains. "I manage Australian artist CW Stoneking, which kept me busy in 2011, and I'm back in Gemma Ray's band, having co-produced her new album.

"I have been working on this pseudo-'library music' idea for a while, called Series Aphonos. Not library music in the strict sense, but the presentation of it is gonna be that way. It's an outlet for extremely left of centre musical projects. I have the first and second lined up. The first is Solex, who travelled the Netherlands on a canal boat and made 30 minutes of spontaneous music with over 40 musicians from all different provinces. That will come out, with a DVD. It's lovely and called Solex Ahoy: The Sound Map of the Netherlands.

"The second is a mostly instrumental album by Gemma Ray, an album of fantasy soundtracks. It's really special and the drummer is Thomas Wydler of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, who is one of my favourite drummers of all time."

Astonishing passion for music marks out Andy Zammit as someone who's able to keep control of those disparate aspects of his work; he's one Welshman who's pushing a whole range of boundaries.

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Wyn Davies' second day at Llangollen International Eisteddfod

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BBC Wales Music BBC Wales Music | 14:44 UK time, Thursday, 5 July 2012

Only Men Aloud's Wyn Davies, presenter at this year's Llangollen International Eisteddfod, continues his reports from the festival.

Yesterday was the first day of competition here at Llangollen and I was rushed off my feet. The Eisteddfod truly started at a gallop. It was the day of the youth choirs, always one of my favourite competitions.

Wyn Davies with a choir competing at Llangollen

Wyn Davies with a choir competing at Llangollen

Ever since working with our own male youth choir, Only Boys Aloud, I've been passionate about giving young people the stage to display their talents. As you can see from the picture, I've been spending time with the choirs gauging their mood pre-performance and then grabbing them for a quick chat as soon as they come off stage, and all in all there were plenty of happy faces.

I even managed to pick up a few Irish dancing moves (I use the words 'pick up' very loosely) during the course of the day. I doubt I'll be heading over to the Emerald Isle to give a master class any time soon!

All in all, even though the heavens opened from time to time, it was a great day here on the maes and reminded me why I've always loved coming to Llangollen. Time to put the feet up now, wring out the socks and prepare for the rest of the week!

Dame Kiri Te Kanawa invites Cardiff Singer 2013 entrants

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Cardiff Singer Cardiff Singer | 17:08 UK time, Tuesday, 3 July 2012

In 2011 it was a great pleasure for me to follow in the footsteps of my friend and inspiration Dame Joan Sutherland by accepting the invitation to become Patron of BBC Cardiff Singer of the World.

Next year marks the 30th anniversary of this prestigious competition and we are now searching to find the next BBC Cardiff Singer of the World. The competition has a reputation as a hugely important showcase for young singers and the twenty who will be invited to Cardiff will follow in the footsteps of some distinguished predecessors, including Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Bryn Terfel and the first ever winner, Karita Mattila.

BBC Cardiff Singer of the World is open to classical singers of any nationality, resident anywhere in the world and is intended for those at the beginning of their professional careers. For those singers who make it through to the concerts in Cardiff, the competition provides valuable international exposure as well as extensive coverage on BBC television, radio and online. The Final attracts wide media attention as well as the opportunity to sing before a distinguished jury.

Each singer who performs in Cardiff will receive a bursary of £1,000. There is a £15,000 cash prize for the winner and each finalist will receive £2,000. As well as the main competition, singers can chose to enter for the Song Prize for which the winner receives £5,000.

First round audition is by DVD and singers who are shortlisted will be auditioned in person at venues across the world. Finalists will travel to Cardiff in June for rehearsals followed by performances with full orchestra in the National Concert Hall of Wales.

May I encourage you to audition for the next BBC Cardiff Singer of the World - a competition which, as Patron, is close to my heart.

"Good Luck and I look forward to hearing you in Cardiff next year.

Dame Kiri Te Kanawa

Wyn Davies on Llangollen International Eisteddfod

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BBC Wales Music BBC Wales Music | 14:15 UK time, Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Only Men Aloud's Wyn Davies, presenter at this year's Llangollen International Eisteddfod, reveals his memories of performing at Llangollen when he was a child.

I started competing in Llangollen when I was small, and luckily enough managed to win the junior folk song solo on two occasions - as a 10- and 11-year-old. I've got two Llangollen medals in pride of place in my mother's cabinet at home, so I've got a bit of an affinity with the place.

Wyn Davies

Wyn Davies

I used to look forward to it every year, and just enjoyed the whole experience, going to see the parade and being on the Maes. I always love the parade - I look forward to seeing all the people in traditional costumes celebrating their culture; it's very special.

As well as giving a general flavour of the Eisteddfod, I'll be hooking up with two choirs that I filmed with in South Africa. One is the Fezeta choir, started in the Guguletu township just outside Cape Town who will be taking part in the Karl Jenkins concert.

The other is the Pietermaritzburg Midlands Youth Choir, made up of pupils from 14 different schools with very different backgrounds, who will be competing. Given South Africa's recent past it's fantastic to see all these young people coming together just because they have this common interest in music.

It's a massive stage to perform on. Particularly when I was a 10-year-old, to go and stand on that stage and look out at that enormous auditorium, it's quite a feeling! When you're competing, it's not always full, but luckily enough, when I won the folk song solo I went on to perform at one of the concerts in the evening, when it's jam-packed.

And I was also there with Only Men Aloud a couple of years ago - it was much less daunting having the choir with me, than singing on my own as a boy, but equally enjoyable. The great thing about Llangollen is that you always have a very knowledgeable audience who love their music. It makes performing on stage even more rewarding.

All in all I've got good memories of Llangollen - it's a lovely place and more than that, it's a fantastic experience.

The festival takes place from 3-8 July. Llangollen 2012 is on BBC Two Wales on Friday, 6 July at 10pm. Share your photos of the festival on the BBC Summer in Wales Facebook page.

Adam Walton playlist and show info: Saturday 30 June 2012

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Adam Walton Adam Walton | 11:18 UK time, Tuesday, 3 July 2012

This week's show is now available via the BBC iPlayer. Please visit the link any time between now and the start of the next programme.

This week, Radio 1 and C2's Huw Stephens comes in to tell us about the Green Man Unsigned competition, an opportunity for an unsigned artist to open the internationally renowned Green Man Festival, this August in Glanusk.

I preview the forthcoming Hanner Cant festival - a momentous celebration of the Welsh Language Society's 50th birthday and the support they have given Welsh language thinking artists in that period.

Many of Wales' finest artists will congregate in the historic pavilion in Pontrhydfendigaid, west Wales on 13-14 July for Hanner Cant. And tickets are ridiculously cheap, considering the amazing line-up: Gruff Rhys/Heather Jones/Y Niwl/Tecwyn Ifan/Colorama/Meic Stevens/Llwybr Llaethog and many more.

The Pooh Sticks' Huw Williams comes along to tell us about one of the cheesiest, but nevertheless fascinating, records it's ever been my dubious pleasure to play.

Ben Hayes introduces us to The Norman Haines Band.

And there is a lot of new Welsh music, bristling with ideas and amazing sounds. We have new tracks from Euros Childs, Family Of The Year and Knickers and there are début plays for No Ceremony ///, Wolfchild, Tonfedd Oren, Soundwire, The Decoys, Crying Wolf Club and Gorilla Fight Mansion.

Please send demos/new releases/gig info/any correspondence to themysterytour@gmail.com (music as a high quality mp3 or download link, please).

COLORAMA - 'Do The Pump'
Benllech

FAMILY OF THE YEAR - 'Diversity'
Wrexham/LA

NO CEREMONY /// - 'Hold On Me'
Manchester/Wales

HEHFU - 'Flame'
Caerphilly

KNICKERS - 'Les Cactus'
London/Cardiff Distribution

LASH, THE - 'Shame'
Newport

EUROS CHILDS - 'That's Better'
Pembrokeshire

FALCON LAKE - 'All I Want'
Newport/Cardiff

WOLFCHILD - 'Mickey Mouse Clubbed'
Cwmbran

SHY AND THE FIGHT - 'Breaks'
Chester/Llangollen

HUW WILLIAMS - 'Spoken Contribution'
Swansea

PAUL DAMIAN - 'How To Say Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyndrobllantysiliogogogoch'
Wales

SUGAR - 'Tilted'
Minneapolis, U S A

FUTURE OF THE LEFT - 'Goals In Slow Motion'
Cardiff

PISSED JEANS - 'False Jesii, Pt. 2'
Allentown, U. S. A.

LLEUWEN - 'Cawell Fach Y Galon'
Bangor

GRUFF RHYS - 'Pwdin Wy'
Bethesda

Y NIWL - 'Dauddegpump'
Gwynedd

CRASH DISCO - 'Lemon Juice'
Bangor

9BACH - 'Cariad Cyntaf'
Bangor

LLWYBR LLAETHOG - 'Mera Desh ( Remix )'
Blaenau Ffestiniog/Cardiff

MARTIN CARR - 'I Will Build A Road'
Cardiff

PHIL DAVIES & THE NINJASMOKEBOMBS - 'Souls'
Llangefni

JOY FORMIDABLE, THE - 'A Heavy Abacus'
Mold

COLORAMA - 'Winner'
Benllech

TONFEDD OREN - 'Tonfedd Oren'
Wales

SOUNDWIRE - 'Set In Steel'
Swansea

OUT OF THE WOODS - 'Sitting By The Fire'
Swansea

ASH AND THE OAK, THE - 'Jigsaw'
Newport

INC . A - 'Adiran's Wall'
Cardiff

HUW STEPHENS - 'Interview About Green Man Unsigned'
Cardiff/London

ADELINES, THE - 'Little Games'
Swansea

TRWBADOR - 'Deffro Ar Y Llawr'
Camarthen/Cardiff

THREE PAIRS OF SHOES - 'From Wics To Burs'
Cardiff

DECOYS, THE - 'Wait'
Pontypool

APTA - 'Rise'
Wales

CRYING WOLF CLUB - 'I Am The Architect'
Pontypridd

GORILLA FIGHT MANSION - 'Pass The Bottle'
Llanelli

BEYOND THE WIZARD'S SLEEVE - 'Door To Tomorrow'
London/Pembrokeshire

BEN HAYES - 'Spoken Contribution'
Ruthin

NORMAN HAINES BAND, THE - 'Den Of Iniquity'
?

PANABRITE - 'Cirrus'
Seattle/Welsh Label

Future Of The Left interview

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Adam Walton Adam Walton | 11:14 UK time, Tuesday, 3 July 2012

At the start of June, I stumbled aboard a Eurostar train to Brussels at an insultingly early time of the morning, to go and see Cardiff's Future of the Left on their European tour.

My escapades are detailed elsewhere on this blog. On the old school ferry back, lightly frayed and subtly seasick, I interviewed the band about the tour and their new album, The Plot Against Common Sense.

It is one of the albums of the year. It's certainly my 'album of the year'. I went out there as a fan. Don't expect objectivity or Paxman-esque probing.

Here's the interview, minus musical interludes/tracks from the album. You're cordially invited to buy that yourself to fill in the blanks.

Part one:

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FilmAid charity uses The Joy Formidable for refugee video

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James McLaren James McLaren | 11:12 UK time, Monday, 2 July 2012

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

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 Adizes, two filmmakers working as volunteers at the Kakuma Refugee Camp in northern Kenya, which mostly houses Sudanese refugees.

The filmmakers had used a previous single, A Heavy Abacus, as the soundtrack music for a short film made as part of FilmAid, the organisation Mendoza and Adizes work for, and World Refugee Day on 20 June.

It features young residents of the camp lip-synching to the music. Watch the FilmAid video here:

The Joy Formidable, after seeing the film and the work of FilmAid, have been spreading the word about the project.

"There are a whole lot of problems to tackle in the area where they're working, but I think the way they're approaching it, through the power of images and art as a way of connecting with people is great," singer Ritzy Bryan told MTV.

"We hope the video helps them reach a wider audience. It challenges people to think for a second about how other people are living. Ultimately the idea of the video is to encourage people to donate to what is a great charity."

Mendoza has written a short piece for globalgrind.com in which she says: "My time spent in Kakuma Refugee Camp was life-changing. I lived both ends of the emotional spectrum. I felt inspired as I met people that had overcome the impossible, but I also felt heartbreak as I heard the atrocities they had lived through.

"In the sea of these emotions, my partner Topaz Adizes and I decided to make a music video. We grabbed our camera; two bounce boards and my iPhone and went into the camp. As soon as we got to Juba (a Sudanese community where we shot the video) we were greeted with open arms and lots of smiles.

"I am so proud of this music video because the people shine with beauty, joy and dignity. It's magical because their light is bright and it envelops everyone that sees it.

"As soon as the band The Joy Formidable saw it, they fell in love with it. They said we had made them a gift. I hope you feel the same when you watch it."

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