Archives for August 2010

Playlist for the 30 New Welsh Artists Challenge: 29 August 2010

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Adam Walton Adam Walton | 11:52 UK time, Tuesday, 31 August 2010

This week's show demonstrates how a rather absurd and ill-thought out idea can metamorphosise into something quite good, actually*.

This time last week, mindful that the playlist for that Sunday's programme - good though it was - contained hardly any new names, I set myself the task of finding 30 artists I'd never played before. And I made a song and dance about it in these here blogs. In retrospect, what I was really saying was this:

Hey, everyone! I haven't been doing my job properly recently... read all about it here, and help me dig myself out of the deep hole I dug with my spade wrought from complacency and my pick wielded by nepotistic laziness.

Yep, that's what I was really saying.

But the response to the blog was fantastic. Word spread quickly. I got to speak on proper morning radio with Lisa Rogers (who agreed with me, far too readily I thought, that I'm a bit pompous about these things). Tens of mates, colleagues, listeners, bands and savvy strangers, decorated my inbox with brilliant recommendations. The end result was a pile of .mp3s that would - if manifested as individual CDs and stacked in a teetering pile - have reached all the way to the moon. Well, okay, the top of a stunted fruit tree.

I tell you, there was a lot of listening.

Every meal was taken goggle-eared in front of the computer. I became a hermit devoted to fuzz and bedroom recordings.

My beard tickled the floor.

My daughter grew a whole new ponytail.

Thinking I'd finally got lost up my own bum, my wife cashed in a life insurance policy and treated herself to a Bounty with the proceeds.

And, on occasion, I whooped with joy during those long hours unaware of whether it was day or night. Mostly I growled in frustration. Or hammered a sanctimonious fist into the desk in front of me. Because there is far more rubbish music in the world than great music. And although I want to hear the best in everything that is sent to me, there are an inexplicable number of bands out there who are determined to make that impossible. Most of them have names that glory in deliberate misspellings. At least I hope they're deliberate. And none of them sound like they like music very much.

I sent some far-too-honest emails during those long, small hours. I'll definitely have to go in disguise if I ever visit Crickhowell.

But here it is, the end result of all that invigorating aural cross pollination. It's a show that is built entirely on a foundation of goodwill and great tips. Thank you, each and every one of you, for taking the trouble to bother my inbox. The rubbish stuff just threw into excellent stark contrast the brilliant music that also arrived.

And the quest continues... more music, please, to themysterytour@gmail.com - fresh innovation will receive much positive discrimination.

This show is my favourite of recent times, for what that's worth. Check it out, if you have time and the inclination. Greatness lurks within.

Thank you / diolch yn fawr!

* this is false modesty multiplied to the power of disingenuous self-deprecation. I think the show is brilliant.

PERRY WIMBLETON (Aberystwyth)
Lavalamp

MINOR CHARACTERS (Cardiff)
Through

ALTERNATIVE EXPRESSION (Mountain Ash)
9 In 10

H HAWKLINE (Cardiff)
Clown Catches Fly

COLOUR OF SOUND (Newport)
Open Room

THE JOY FORMIDABLE (Mold)
I Don't Want To See You Like This

RHODO4 (Pontypool)
Ookami

A THOUSAND ARROWS (Cardiff)
Man Vs. Horse

EMMY'S UNICORN (Swansea)
Call Out

WILLIAM GRAY (Monmouthshire)
Sparks Don't Fly

GUN SMOKE CITY (Newport)
Sit Tight

THE FAILED NASA EXPERIMENT (Cardiff)
Fata Morgana (excerpt)

ISLET (Cardiff)
Holly (tidal Barrage Remix)

THE SWEET SPOTS (Cardiff)
I'm Gone

EDITIONS (Newport)
Ready Set Go

JOHNNY FLYNN
Session Track For Beth Elfyn From Green Man

CONEK4 (Cardiff)
Autumn

BILLY PHONO (Ammanford)
Ten

THE MODERN FAREWELL (Cardiff)
In Hiding (demo)

MAX AND THE MARGINALIZED (Cardiff label)
Prison Driveway 159bpm

HAIL THE PLANES (Cardiff)
Brother

STRIBLO (Newport)
When She Hurt Me

FIELD COMMANDER SHORT SHORTS (Wrexham)
Looking Like A Fairytale

DOGBONES (Holyhead)
Mae Dy Ffrindiau (gyd Am Dy Ladd Di)

COLAK (Wrexham)
Morning Caergwrle

SWEET BABOO (Bangor)
Two Moles

CASS MEURIG/NIAL CAIN (Caernarfon)
Y Gog Lwydlas

ATHENA (Cardiff)
Into Ashes

QUINOLINE YELLOW (Cardiff)
Spion Kop

SNAKES (Cardiff)
Refrigerator Blues

HEADFALL (Cardiff)
Alicetone

JACK HADLEY (Valleys)
Grasshopper

MUTE LEO (Buckley label)
Creative Thinking

BLUE GILLESPIE (Newport)
Beat Oven

BADHAIR (Cardiff)
Advice For A Device

PAPER AEROPLANES (Milford Haven)
Not As Old

THE MISSIVE (Rhondda)
Shame On You

STARING AT SPORTS CARS CRYING
It's Raining

VANITY FAIR (Cardiff)
Love Lost To Melody

THE DIRECTION (Swansea)
Ignorance

TARA BUSCH (Cardiff)
You're So Good To Me

THE LOVES FEATURING DOUG YULE (Cardiff)
End Of The World

Russian journey for BBC National Orchestra of Wales' new season

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James McLaren James McLaren | 11:30 UK time, Tuesday, 31 August 2010

BBC National Orchestra of Wales (NOW) open their new season as orchestra in residence at Cardiff's St David's Hall with a "musical journey through Russia in all her moods and humours".

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The season kicks off on Friday 17 September with the Russian-themed concert conducted by the orchestra's principal conductor Thierry Fischer. The programme includes Mussorgsky's Night On A Bare Mountain, Tchaikovsky's Variations On A Rococo Theme, Rimsky-Korsakov's Overture, May Night and Shostakovich's Symphony No 6.

French-born cellist Gautier Capuçon will join the orchestra to perform Tchaikovsky's Rococo Variations and the concert will be broadcast live on BBC Radio 3's Performance on 3.

The new season of 12 concerts at St David's Hall has "a theme of myth and story-telling, using the power of music to bring legends to life with the thrill of a live performance". The season includes Ravel's Daphnis Et Chloe, Roussel's Bacchus Et Ariane, Mahler's Third Symphony and Roméo Et Juliette amongst many other works. A 'Christmas Celebrations' family concert with conductor Grant Llewellyn is also planned.

The season will see international and world-class conductors and soloists joining the orchestra including Gautier Capuçon, Katarina Karnéus, Peter Donohoe, Anthony Marwood, Lars Vogt, Viktoria Mullova, Llyr Williams, Grant Llewellyn, Olivier Charlier, Douglas Boyd, Andrew Litton and the Orchestra's conducting team of Thierry Fischer, Jac van Steen, Tadaaki Otaka and François-Xavier Roth.

In addition music lovers can hear the orchestra in Cardiff at BBC Hoddinott Hall, the orchestra's recording and rehearsal home at Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff Bay. The BBC Hoddinott Hall series will include a short series of concerts focusing on the music of contemporary composers, an evening concert featuring the BBC National Chorus of Wales and a series of afternoon concerts.

"Every time I open the score of Ravel's Daphnis et Chloé, with which we end our season, I marvel at the range of colours, inflections and power of which the symphony orchestra is capable," said Fischer.

"This season we open with the bright, vivid Russian colours of Mussorgsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, Tchaikovsky and Shostakovich, then, later in the season, we will be exploring the entirely different refined French palate of orchestral colours, from Berlioz to Henri Dutilleux.

"Today's composers also have found new colours in the symphony orchestra and amongst those contemporary works that we'll be playing are pieces by John Adams, Thomas Adès and our composer-in-association, Simon Holt - composers who have reinvented the symphony orchestra for the 21st century."

Further information on subscription tickets, single prices tickets, family tickets and discounts are available from the BBC National Orchestra of Wales Audience Line on 0800 052 1812.

Reading and Leeds reviewed by the acts on Twitter

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James McLaren James McLaren | 09:02 UK time, Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Did you go to Reading or Leeds this weekend? We'd love to hear what you thought of the festival, and especially if you caught any of the Welsh acts playing.

Please leave your comments below. In the meantime, I've scanned through Twitter this weekend for the acts' (and our Welsh DJs Bethan Elfyn's, Huw Stephens' and Jen Long's) own tweets. Backstage, hanging with the stars or looking out at enormous crowds, here are some of my favourites.

Lostprophets

Watch Lostprophets videos on the BBC Reading + Leeds site.

@MikeLewisLP
Amazing weekend. Great hang outs with friends at reading and Leeds. Met some very cool people and had a blast. Good times.

@leegazeprophets
Josh homme is a way cooler ginger than Axl Rose.

@ian_watkins
Thanks to everyone who made the show today so mind-blowing. You guys never fail to make me feel humbled and honoured. XXX

@jockojohnson
Got my guitar back, turns out the guy that stole it is in the band Casino Brawl, Ever heard of bands stealing from bands? Scumbag!

Marina and the Diamonds

@marinasdiamonds
Why are @NMEmagazine & co saying I got bottled at Leeds?! I didn't. "Hit on head and left FUMING". So much drama, little truth. Special gig.

Los Campesinos!

@loscampesinos
I'm struggling to think of many worse humans than Fred Durst.

Kids In Glass Houses

Browse Kids In Glass Houses photos on the BBC Reading + Leeds site.

@iainisrad
Leeds,I am so taken back by that..thank you so much..sunshine sing alongs were louder than my amp..means the world.

@aledsavedlatin
Umm. Speechless. I'm shaking a bit. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I'm blown away. That'll hurt tomorrow too. Sunshine made my life.

The Joy Formidable

@joyformidable
Oh weezer we love you xx.

Gallops
Watch Gallops videos on the BBC Reading + Leeds site.

@gallops
Thanks to Reading/Leeds and everyone who came to watch us. You bloody lovely buggers! <3

...and the DJs

@bethanelfyn
The R1 crowd are scaring me right now! So packed for Enter Shikari! Maaaan. Feel for those in the mosh!

@huwstephens
#limpbizkit rockin the main stage! saw them ten years ago at #readingfestival ! doesn't time fly.

@jenlong
Just DJ'd the Main and Radio 1 stages at Reading. Was SO much fun. Thanks to anyone who sang along to Blink 182. Awesome scenes.

Other videos

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Super Furry Animals call it a day?

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James McLaren James McLaren | 11:31 UK time, Friday, 27 August 2010

According to today's Guardian Cardiff, Super Furry Animals are calling a halt to their band activities to concentrate on other projects.

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Update: On his Twitter, Gruff Rhys has posted: "Slow news day. SFA have not split up. Love SFA."

Guardian Cardiff editor Hannah Waldram quoted an unnamed source: "It's been revealed to a close circle of friends.

"There were some revelations about the band's finances and they've decided not to get back together after the break.

"People understand why it's been decided to kick it on the head, but they are a group of such magnitude, it would be a poor end to a massive successful career."

Following on from Gruff Rhys' recent venture with Brazilian musician Tony Da Gatorra, his film Separado!, and the band's most-recent release last year, their ninth studio album Dark Days/Light Years, this possibly temporary split comes as little of a surprise.

Commercial returns for the Cardiff-based band have always been limited and, although they've always been critically acclaimed, their sales have never matched their public profile, especially in recent years.

I first encountered the band at the Phoenix Festival near Stratford-Upon-Avon 14 years ago this month, when they were rolling round the country in their techno-pumping bright blue tank. They were inventive and fascinating and their songs were late-90s indie disco favourites, but later tracks never replicated the appeal of Do Or Die, Hermann Loves Pauline or Something 4 The Weekend.

It has also been reported that there have been discussions within the band about the commercial use of their songs. Coca-Cola wanted to use the song Hello Sunshine in an advert, and were willing to pay handsomely for it.

On Redpepper.org.uk, Gruff Rhys said: "Last year the Super Furry Animals turned down a seven-figure offer by an advertising agency for the use of our song 'Hello Sunshine' in a Coca Cola commercial. We thought long and hard.

"We have never been a big selling band, but when it came to the crunch, we felt we couldn't justify endorsing a product that may have had a part in violently suppressing some of its workers. For a moment, sitting in the Sinaltrainal office, I thought that we could have done the advert and donated the money for their campaign for justice.

"Yet the thought of having to hear our song used to sell anything that exploits anyone for the worse turns my stomach."

It's difficult to be an inventive, principled band committed to safeguarding your artistic integrity and make decent money. Even if that is but a small part of the reason, I've spoken to enough bands to know that virtually none are without financial pressures.

Regarding the length of this split, and whether Gruff Rhys will ever return to the fold, Rhys' manager Alun Llwyd told Waldram: "No one is saying that's it. I'm afraid there's always going to be gossip and suspicion but it's not decided firmly.

"Dafydd and Gruff are working on other things but no future plans are being decided. I know Gruff has made no firm decision on what he wants to do."

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Stereophonics reissue first two albums

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James McLaren James McLaren | 10:26 UK time, Thursday, 26 August 2010

Stereophonics are to reissue their first two albums and celebrate the release with special gigs at London's Hammersmith Apollo.

stereophonics-01_446.jpg

According to their official website today, 1997's Word Gets Around and 1999's Performance And Cocktails will each be reissued in two-CD deluxe and three-CD super deluxe formats.

"It's over 10 years since the first two albums were released," says Kelly Jones. "Listening back to them and all the b-sides and live tracks brought back a lot of memories. It's taken over a year to find and compile all the tracks, pictures and notebooks, Stuart's passing in June has made the whole experience more poignant.

"To celebrate the albums we will playing two nights at Hammersmith Apollo playing every track and selection of b-sides, something we have never done in a live experience. There's a lot to learn but it's going to be rocking!"

Word Gets Around will be performed on Sunday 17 October at Hammersmith Apollo, while Performance And Cocktails gets its airing the following day.

The Joy Formidable sign American deal

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James McLaren James McLaren | 09:48 UK time, Thursday, 26 August 2010

London-based North Walians The Joy Formidable have signed a major record deal in the United States.

joy-formidable-05_446.jpg

Following in the footsteps of Kings Of Leon, the space rock trio have signed to the Warner group's Canvasback label in the US, and a prominent record exec has been enthusing about them to Music Week.

Canvasback's managing director Steve Ralbovsky (who signed acts such as The Strokes, Kings Of Leon and My Morning Jacket) told the industry magazine: "As soon as I saw them I knew it was game on for me. There was an amazing power coming from the three of them and such a great wall of sound there was not a soft moment in the whole set.

"It's not going to be a case where we will be developing the band in the UK before moving them to the US, it is more a case of developing both markets at the same time."

The Joy Formidable can look to a busy period of touring and promotion around the release of their début album in early 2011.

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John Lennon sample helps Welsh singer to the airwaves

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James McLaren James McLaren | 09:06 UK time, Wednesday, 25 August 2010

The Beatles are notorious for the difficulty people have in using their material. Try sampling A Day In The Life and see how far you get.

But Tyrone Marshall, a Welsh singer-songwriter, has been able to sample one of John Lennon's last ever interviews and it's gaining him some coverage including in Lennon's home city.

lovestance_front.jpg

Listen to a clip of Lovestance here:

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"It's not out of our control; I still believe in love, peace... I still believe in positive thinking. People have the power. While there's life there's hope," says Lennon, in an interview recorded just 12 hours before his death.

Talking to the Western Mail, Marshall explained: "The samples come from an interview disc called John Lennon - Testimony... I thought the sample might be suitable and fit the song.

"I was amazed when I managed to get permission to use a sample of the interview. I was thought it was going to be really difficult, but luckily for me the interview disc didn't belong to the Lennon estate or Yoko Ono."

Having originally written Lovestance 17 years ago, Marshall is now able to release the song complete with the sample. It's coming out on 8 September on his own Whirlygig Records.

He said: "It's 30 years ago this year that John Lennon was murdered in New York and it's hoped that this single will continue to raise the issue of much-needed peace in the world, something that John was very passionate about."

Driven by interest in the Lennon sample, radio stations are now playing the single and Liverpool's Radio City may be joining the city's legendary Cavern Club in supporting it on the occasion of Lennon's 70th birthday.

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The 30 New Welsh Artists Challenge

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Adam Walton Adam Walton | 14:00 UK time, Tuesday, 24 August 2010

TFI Friday was the TV equivalent of Loaded magazine: a mid to late '90s celebration of boozy, lad 'culture' fronted by Chris Evans when he was most in thrall to his own ego. At least his ego was entertaining. So despite wanting to not like it, I watched every Friday evening.

Well I did until the same bands and guests started showing up week-in-week-out. Evans was probably singularly responsible for the resurrection of Ocean Colour Scene. I hope he can sleep at night. I imagine he can. There's something very comforting, no doubt, about getting your head down in your own sprawling mansion.

But that ever decreasing circle of Evans' showbiz mates strutting the stage in a predictable loop - Kula Shaker, Black Grape, Ocean Colour Scene, Fun Lovin' Criminals - served as a salient lesson. TFI wasn't a music show, it was entertainment: but I learnt that it's important to do what you can to try and keep things fresh, to seek music from beyond your own comfort zone or circle of mates.

To that end, I've set myself the rather Herculean task of finding 30 new Welsh bands or artists (including elsewhere artists on Welsh labels) to play on this coming Sunday night's show who I have never played before. I'm looking for music bristling with fresh ideas and passion that will make radios (and their new world equivalents) spontaneously combust because of the sheer imaginative force of the sonics vibrating through them.

So, if you've recorded something ACE, or heard something ACE, or seen something ACE, or you have a friend who makes ACE or bangs on about such and such being an ACE band, then share the ACE with me and I'll share it with the show's audience, and together we will make Wales an ACER PLACE.

Which has nothing to do with insidiously promoting a particular brand of laptops.

I'm not desperate here. There's already a lot of great music about in Wales. But I want more. The audience wants more. So long as it's good and fresh. Think of your music as you would fish. If it has the whiff of yesterday about it, or it's been badly cooked, you wouldn't dream of offering it to someone else. But if it has clear eyes and bright scales, it's a great gift to share with the nation. Well, at least the small proportion of it who suffer insomnia on Sunday nights.

.mp3s and tips to themysterytour@gmail.com

I will share anything I hear that is good with my colleagues at BBC Introducing, Radio Wales and C2.

I'm very excited to hear what turns up. Thank you/diolch yn fawr iawn.

Adam Walton playlist and show info: Sunday 22 August 2010

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Adam Walton Adam Walton | 11:49 UK time, Tuesday, 24 August 2010

This week's celebration of (mostly) new, (almost entirely) Welsh music is embellished by a debut live session from Rhyl's Bright Young People.

Rhyl producing a Big Dipper of a raw ass, brimstone-fuelled blues band might seem oxymoronic, but if the blues were going to find a home anywhere in Wales, where better than Rhyl? It's Vegas on methadone incorporating some of the most deprived parts of the country. Like the Detroit that inspired The White Stripes' contemporary take on the blues, it's the more desperate parts of the town that drive Bright Young People's songs and give them a real emotional clout.

The Hepburns are equally informed by their hometown of Llanelli. Songwriter Matt brings humour and melodic nous to poetic vignettes of the humdrum. Their new album, How The Mighty Are Fallen (Radio Khartoum), is their seventh in a 25-year career. Yet far too few people in Wales have heard of them or had an opportunity to delight in their craft. Imagine Dylan Thomas writing lyrics for the Go-Betweens, with Tony Hatch at the recording console. Or, better still, get a copy of the album and make up your own hackneyed comparisons!

Huw Williams has a thing for Gene Latter. Gene recorded some storming singles for Parlophone during the 60's. Previously Huw had dug up one of Gene's blue-eyed Northern Soul floor-fillers. This time round we play his gloriously life-affirming paean to Tiger Bay. It's a great, unsung record.

Bethan Elfyn has been at the Green Man festival all weekend. Her show live from the festival on Saturday evening is available for a week on iPlayer. Beth was visited in her mobile studio by Resolven's psychedelically-enhanced El Goodo. Their campfire strum through Information Overload gives those of us who didn't get to don funky wellies this weekend an opportunity to sample some of the glories of what we missed.

A man called Ben inspires us with some Love. Well, technically some Arthur Lee from after the 'proper' Love line-up split, but "inspires us with some Love" has a better ring to it.

And I have tunes.

Most of them are new and Welsh.

They're all pretty good, depending on taste, of course.

I'd like more, please.

.mp3s high on ideas, with all the dull filtered out, should be mailed post haste to themysterytour@gmail.com

Or, Adam Walton, BBC Radio Wales, Library & Arts Centre, Rhosddu Rd., WREXHAM LL11 1AU

This coming Sunday night I'm setting myself the task of playing 30 new Welsh bands/artists I've never played before. EEK!

Spread the word, please.

Lots of love and fabulous sounds,

Adam

GALLOPS (Wrexham)
Sonderhof

I AM AUSTIN (Connah's Quay)
L.a.f.s

SWCI (Cardiff)
They Came From The North

BRIGHT YOUNG PEOPLE (Rhyl)
Smoke Without Fire (session Version)

GILDAS
Dal Fi Fyny

TRUCKERS OF HUSK (Cardiff/Ammanford)
Awesome Tapes From Africa

ISLET (Cardiff)
Holly

YOUNG MARBLE GIANTS (Cardiff)
Wurlitzer Jukebox

EL GOODO (Resolven)
Information Overload (live With Beth At Greenman)

YOUNG LEGIONNAIRE
Colossus

UNDERWORLD (Cardiff)
Scribble (high Contrast Remix)

LAND OF BINGO (Mold)
Bottle It In

BASTIONS (Holyhead)
Island Living

DUB WAR (Newport)
Black

THE SKINTS (London/Chepstow)
Up Against The Wall

BLAKTRIX (Cardiff)
Business Is Good (radio Edit)

DE LA SOUL
Change In Speak

LLWYBR LLAETHOG (Cardiff)
Dyddiau Braf (rap Cymraeg)

KLAUS KINSKI (Llanfairfechan)
Gwlad Ar Fy Nghefn

BRIGHT YOUNG PEOPLE (Rhyl)
Track 2 (session Track)

GENE LATTER (Cardiff)
Tiger Bay

DEAD KENNEDYS
Holidays In Cambodia

CUB CUB (St Asaph)
Cumulusstratuscirrus

P.L.O. (Cardiff)
Novachord

TRWBADOR (Camarthen/Caerleon)
Eira

MASTERS IN FRANCE (Caernarfon)
Little Girl

THE HEPBURNS (Llanelli)
Vanishing Act

THE HEPBURNS
Sad, Free, Excited And Empty

THE HEPBURNS
The Help

THE HEPBURNS
Ken Park: The Man, The Film

JACOB PLANT FEATURING JLD (Cardiff)
Basslines In (darkside Remix)

WHITE NOISE SOUND (Swansea)
Sunset

HOLY COVES (Holyhead)
What's Happened To You Has Happened To Me

KING POST KITSCH (Cardiff/London)
Walking On Eggshells

JAKOKOYAK (Mold)
Aerophlot

BRIGHT YOUNG PEOPLE (Rhyl)
Track 3 (session Track)

ARTHUR LEE AND LOVE
Everybody's Gotta Live

THE MICE ON THE MOUSE ORGAN (Mold)
Day Two (heights)

Green Man festival review

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Bethan Elfyn Bethan Elfyn | 08:15 UK time, Tuesday, 24 August 2010

A week of checking weather forecasts in the build up to the Green Man was rather heartbreaking. Yes, nothing but rain till Monday. Check again: same result. Check the following day: same picture. Dark clouds, heavy showers, and lots of wetness. Thursday night comes, and in the torrent of rain I end up stuck on the side of the road with the AA, rather than enjoying a lovely barbecue at the Green Man campsite.

Friday. I'm up with the dawn to head off again, and despite the weather and the wetness, everyone is still smiling at the site. I walk in past Plank, at the Far Out stage, who are a reminder of what's to come this weekend: some heavy psychedelic wig-out, hand-in-hand with the twee, folky, delicate and downright strange.

The real Green Man

The real Green Man

To get a sense of the lay of the land, on a quick wander round the festival I catch Cardiff band Hail! The Planes on the Pub Stage again wigging out on their last song, while over on the main stage Spencer McGarry Season are taking to the stage in bow ties, white suits and a grand piano!

Back at the nice and dry Far Out tent, the amazing The Hundred And The Hands are on stage with an ethereal quality to their new breed of magical shoegaze. The rest of Friday is a fun mixture of meeting friends, eating nice fish curries, and watching the utterly brilliant John Grant on the main stage, with an a capella version of Chicken Bones which had me weak at the knees. The other highlight on Friday is Sleepy Sun, with a scream of guitars and a holler of female vocals.

Saturday is all about a lot of running about with radio interviews and sessions, and being slightly taken aback by the sun coming out; not particularly a good thing when I'm wearing plastic trousers! I do a live show from the Green Man FM temporary studio, and broadcast all across Wales on BBC Radio Wales - listen here until the weekend.

The Green Man FM studio

The Green Man FM studio

On the show at we speak to the festival's co-founder Jo Bartlett, Meilir from Race Horses, Paul Noble from Green Man Radio, and Sophie Windsor Clive from the 'human fox hunt' - yes, you heard me. Next Saturday there will be more highlights from the Green Man with interviews gathered through the weekend with First Aid Kit, Johnny Flynn, Caitlin Rose, El Goodo, Wayne Coyne, and Laura Marling.

El Goodo in session

El Goodo in session

Saturday night, after short and pleasant stint at the Comedy tent with Trevor Lock, the evening speeds ahead with three incredible bands in quick succession: First Aid Kit, Wild Beasts, and the incredible Flaming Lips.

First Aid Kit, Swedish sisters from Stockholm, have written an album that keeps reducing me to an emotional wreck while Wild Beasts' Two Dancers is Mercury-nominated this year. They really announce their place as headliners of the second stage... then the biggie. Flaming Lips are considered by now one of the bands you should see before you die, and now I can go to my resting place a happier person.

The Flaming Lips

The Flaming Lips

Flaming Lips are a miracle of live music: an extravaganza and celebration of all things happy and positive. I love Wayne Coyne's Southern Preacher style of urgency and passion about everything, even the moon. The vibes are in full force on Saturday. They also throw everything at you in the first song, balloons, streamers, lasers, human zorbing ball, lights - it's dazzling, and the energy is sustained for the entire set.

The Flaming Lips' Wayne Coyne

The Flaming Lips' Wayne Coyne

Sunday and my tired and welly-weary legs carry me around seeing more wonders, eating more lovely food, laughing at even more sunshine, and the stunning sounds of Laura Marling, Field Music, Bear In Heaven, Efterklang, and Girls.

I co-host a totally crazy and chaotic radio show for Green Man FM with Jen Long (who works on BBC Introducing with me), which is thrown together, and great fun - it's nice sometimes doing a radio show without any preparation, no rules, but lots of silliness - and that's exactly what my last two hours of the festival become!

Jen Long, Darwin Deez and Bethan Elfyn

Jen Long, Darwin Deez and me

Goodbye Green Man for another year, but most people are agreed, it has been a vintage year this year, with a fantastic, eclectic, energetic and stunning line up. The music and the community really does make it something totally different on the festival circuit! Tell us what you enjoyed if you were there, or if not, you know what to put in the diary for next year!

Some more photos from the festival:

Green Man's Jo Bartlett

Green Man's Jo Bartlett

Laura Marling

Laura Marling

Rainbow over the Green Man festival site

Rainbow over the festival site

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Ben Myers on Richard, the novel

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James McLaren James McLaren | 14:58 UK time, Monday, 23 August 2010

Journalist and author Ben Myers has written a fictionalised account of the life of Manic Street Preachers' Richey Edwards, titled Richard.

Published by Picador in October, the book, as Myers explains in a recent NME blog post, is an account of the lyricist's (and sometime guitarist's) life from birth until his disappearance in 1995.

richard-ben-myers.jpg

BBC News: Why novelise the mystery of the Manic Street Preachers?

"Only distance could allow a book of this nature to be written - I never met Richey - and though I don't know what the Manics themselves think, I only hope they appreciate the purity of the intention in documenting a tragic modern mystery," he said in the blog.

Reaction to the book on fan forums and among my own friends on Facebook and the like has been mixed, to say the least. There's a level of protectiveness among music fans of a certain age - and old-school music journalists too - towards the band and Richey.

(NB: A seriously in-depth review of the book, complete with excerpts, is available from A Future In Noise.)

My initial reaction, as a fan of the band since Generation Terrorists, was one of a bad taste in the mouth. The idea that fiction can be used as a scaffold around a factual life - a passed life, or a current one, it doesn't matter - to add to those facts already known, or to explain them, sits uneasily with me, especially given the fact that this is recent, quite painful history.

But neither do I want to condemn something without reading it first. And also I wanted to hear Myers' side of the story. This morning I put a couple of questions to him:

The criticism mostly stems from the fact that, as you admit in your NME blog entry, you never met Richey. How can you square that circle and write something that does Richey justice, accurately reflecting his personality, or do you think that your separation from him enables you to be more objective?

"I think autobiographies can be notoriously one-sided and solipsistic, and biographies often favour hard facts over creative flair or a narrative of sorts, whereas fiction allows room to explore a subject on a different level. Not knowing Richey Edwards could certainly be seen as a drawback, though if I did know him I doubt I would ever have written such a book in the first place because, as you say, that distance allows me to be more objective.

"I should add at this point that many people who friends with Richey, toured with him, drank with him, have been really supportive of the book. Bear in mind if writers were only allowed to write books about people they personally knew there would be no history books in existence.

"I at least feel qualified to tackle the subject as I was an ardent follower of the band during all their early years, have all the early rare records, saw them play loads of times, devoured every interview etc. Part of being a writer is dedicating yourself to research, and unearthing new facts and anecdotes. The difference is, I filtered it all through fiction rather than biography in a way that would be comparable to, say, The Damned United about Brian Clough or I, Claudius by Robert Graves."

I suppose as a Manics fan myself from that era, the question that is most key is - why? You say that he's a modern-day Shakespearian tragic hero, falling on his own sword. But that point of view would explain a biography, not necessarily a work of fiction or semi-fiction. So why choose this direction particularly?

"Would anyone really want to read another biography of the Manic Street Preachers that rehashes the same second hand misinformation about Richey Edwards? As a fan I don't think I would. And you certainly couldn't explore such narrative devices as internal voices, conscience, indecision - by-products of depression, if you like - through a straight-forward, dry biography.

"Richey was a literate man and therefore I feel that literature is the medium through which to attempt to capture what he was about. I would hope that had he read the book he would at least appreciate the attempt to elevate him above the canon of doomed young rock stars. I think he was worth more than any lame Sid Vicious comparisons."

You must have known that by choosing this way of writing about Richey, you'd be opening yourself up to all sorts of criticism... is that something you're comfortable with?

"I'm not comfortable with it, no - who would be? - but I totally accept and understand the criticism, though the hardcore Manics fans who have read the book have been nothing but supportive. They've sent me some nice messages to say so.

"It's getting some good advance reviews too, from the likes of Mojo, The Times, NME, fan sites and so forth. The people who hate the book are the ones who have not yet read it. That seems a little reactionary but, again, understandable..."

Is highlighting the 'lighter' side of Richey's character a main reason for writing the book? Do you think that time has meant that the 3-dimensionality of his character has been lost?

"Really, I wanted to try and show all sides of Richey Edwards - the light, the shade, the playfulness, the academic, the joker, the rock star, the brother, the friend. History is rapidly depicting him as a doomed depressive - loads of people think he was a junkie, which was completely untrue and an unfair representation - and I think there was more to him than that."

And finally, why is this a 'tasteful' book? Many Manics fans on forums have described it as a step too far.

"It's hopefully tasteful because it is sensitively handled. Many Manics fans are rightfully protective of their image of Richey Edwards. But I'm a fan too. If they read it and still think it's step too far, that's fine. But I'd argue that is respectfully and carefully written. This is literature - it's a book about life and friendship and music and travel and Britain. It was two years of writing - it's not some awful tabloid tragedy that concentrates on the negative. All I can say is, it was written from the heart."

I'll certainly give Myers the benefit of the doubt; Richard is obviously a book born out of love. But - like any novel produced about the life of Kurt Cobain or the like - I won't be reading it myself. I think it's simply that such recent a life, with people around who know the man, seems a raw subject for fiction. But I applaud the bravery, certainly.

Many thanks to Scott Andrews for help in organising this interview.

We'd love to know what you think of the book and its subject matter. Will you be buying it? 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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Green Man in 140 characters

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James McLaren James McLaren | 08:27 UK time, Monday, 23 August 2010

Green Man is over for another year, leaving in its wake muzzy heads, furry mouths, discarded muddy wellies and a few thousand falafel wrappers.

No doubt DJ and blogger extraordinaire Bethan Elfyn will be reviewing the whole shebang later on, but here's a selection of tweets about the festival that we've found. That is, those tweets we've found that were lucky enough to escape the black hole of mobile/3G reception that is the Brecon Beacons.

@liambrazier - "There's not many festivals that could organise a mountain and a rainbows end directly behind main stage but #Greenman have several times."

@misszing - "@bbcwalesmusic Summer Camp: dreamy, wistful pop music, the kind played by lonely teens in American high school movies from the 90s. Ace."

@kathyjon - "Laura Marling is perfection personified so beautiful and talented #greenman."

@postgator - "Love Josie Long, LOVE Joanna Newsom, love #greenman. Surely the sun is now a certainty for 2011."

@BubblewrapWales - "Greenman was ace! Top 5 in no particular order: efterklang, dj yoda, y niwl, wild beasts and Laura marling. Girls were amazing too!"

@BethanElfyn - "Today's highlights https://tweetphoto.com/40780635 #Greenman fm and laura https://tweetphoto.com/40780755."

@thesvelteone - "Wonderful rendition of Morning Drift from @efterklang. They're soundin' lovely #greenman."

@hermonhermit - "harp song / a small boy strums / the crowd barrier - #greenman #haiku inspired by this pm's

@postgator - "#greenman you continue to slay all other fests. Felix, Je Suis Animal & Bear In Heaven all brilliant today, still JoNew to come!"

@corin_ja - "Megafaun best of the day so far at #greenman - uplifting choral melodies by wild men of the woods!"

@grumpymandj - "And while I'm at it I might as well rave about how good Wild Beasts were. Stunning. #greenman."

@imascientist - "Billy was awesome. The Flaming Lips are insane, in a good way. And I want to marry whoever was DJing at the #greenman pub last night."

@thewordofthewoo - "Dear Flaming Lips. You are just too preposterous. Love, Nadia #greenman."

But there's always a dissenting voice: @applesfordiscos - "All headliners at #greenman have had immensely disappointing setlists. Except doves, who of course I didn't see."

Suffice to say that Green Man - despite the best efforts of weather - hit the spot musically and its relentless growth continues.

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Shy And The Fight, Telford's Warehouse, Chester - Thursday 12 August 2010

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Adam Walton Adam Walton | 13:12 UK time, Friday, 20 August 2010

This city has no heart. None that you could find without pulling up gravestones, or ripping through the pages of history books. It's a boutique city. Nice shops, nice restaurants, nice people, nice buskers on nice streets filled with nice tourists from the nicer parts of the world. Nice, nice, all too bloody NICE! Great for bringing up kids, or for a day out shopping. A brilliant city to spend a weekend in. Pretty and safe. These are rare and precious qualities. But they're not great conditions for inspiring original and essential sounds.

It's a rock n roll vacuum. At least, that's what you'd think gazing at the faux Tudor façades, the criminally under-maintained city walls, the Blue Peter garden Roman ruins. It's Chester. Famous for Hollyoaks and Daniel Craig. But the moon has a more interesting musical history.

There's no theatre. No mid-sized music venue (although one is rumoured to be being developed). The incredible art deco cinema in the centre of town stands empty, boarded up; but not boarded up like brick edifices get boarded up in Liverpool, say. These are nice boards. No metal grilles. No signs promising sharp canine teeth for the soft fleshy bits of squatters and junkies. The boards used to have the phrase 'Chester Renaissance' stencilled onto them. Very funny.

But peer behind the moribund façade and things are happening. We'll get to some of them in due course.

First, though, you might - with some justification - be asking why I am writing about an English city on a Welsh music blog? Well, it's a border city whose existence was defined by the border it sits on, but it seems to have forgotten that the border exists. Many of the bands here have both Welsh and English members. The small number of venues it does have provide vital out-of-town gigs to many North Walean bands. And Chester - Cheshire as a whole - doesn't have a BBC local station to call its own. It's down to BBC Merseyside and Shropshire, maybe Wales too, to support its talent. But, honestly, it's at something of a disadvantage in that respect, I think.

And I live here. Have done since I couldn't find a house I could afford in the village I grew up in. I gaze wistfully over at the Clwydian Range on my daily walks around the walls.

Interesting things do happen in Chester, occasionally. The Sex Pistols played here and changed Mike Peters' life. My Bloody Valentine, Rapeman, Mudhoney, Dinosaur Jr, The Stone Roses, Mclusky and Coldplay all passed through at some point. Aimee Duffy was a student here and cut her singing chops at a local open mic night. Local promoters like Reprobate, funkdub and, before them, Cat in the Hat, have helped add a more cosmopolitan and urban dimension to this least urban of cities' musical experiences. But - to me - it's mostly about the musical talent a city provides rather than the talent that it brings in and hosts. And Chester's own musical contribution, rather like its current football team's, hasn't even been Conference standard.

OK, I loved Mansun. But one swallow in one summer out of the 60-ish that have passed since the dawn of rock 'n' roll is paltry and inexplicable.

This is why I am surprised to find a whole row of swallows perched on the telegraph line outside my local pub.

It's the second time I've come out for a drink in a fortnight to find my local, which is usually quite quiet on a Thursday night, besieged by hundreds of bright-eyed youngsters. A couple of weeks ago they'd come to hear SCAMS launch their début EP. I didn't see enough of their Vampire Weekend-straddles-Foals' set to review them (but saw enough to draw that asinine comparison). They were very good. As evidence of the no border pollination I mentioned earlier, they're half Chester/half Wrexham. Next time they play I'll write it up properly for you and nab a couple of CDs.

There was more to the energy and enthusiasm of the crowd than it just being mates supporting their mate's band. And that momentum has carried through to tonight.

Shy And The Fight were introduced to me by one of that crowd. A tip-off on Facebook. "Check these out. They're from Chester and they're good" - or words to that effect. In retrospect, I'm mortified at the cynicism with which I initially reacted to that message. 'Good' and 'from Chester' just haven't been synonymous phrases in my recent experience. But the MySpace page I was directed towards contained music that was better than good. And, importantly for my remit, extended far enough over the border (Llangollen) to warrant my 'professional' interest.

They're a multi-legged, multi-instrumented scramble up the precipitous slopes of 20-something hearts, driven along by melodies that'd tan your backside if you dared to flag. There's nothing to buck trends here. We have acoustic guitars, a banjo, a glockenspiel, a melodica. Someone is making interesting electronic sounds and there is percussion. I think. But reducing bands to their constituent parts is like sniffily suggesting Monet and Picasso are similar because their palette all comes from blends of the primary colours. It's how you arrange these sounds and the greater picture to which they are constituent parts that determines the quality.

So, after something of a misfiring start that sounds like an unfinished Tuung b-side, we're treated to some rather unforgettable songs. Chief songwriter, Thomas, looks a bit McCartney and just like that doe-eyed boy, he has a real melodic gift. Look, I'm not saying he's as good. That kind of praise doesn't help anyone. It's just something that crosses my mind as song after song latches onto me like a stickybob. I'm still humming them days later. How often, truly, does that happen?

The band also benefit from a real, easy charisma on stage. Many times in the past, bands from this city have come across as smug, bandwagon-jumping fakers. And there has been a tendency towards the big fish, teensy pond arrogance that distinguishes every crap band from the real deal. Not here. The self-deprecation is disarming and not a false air adopted to try and charm you. The second time Tom says, "we sounded really good in the rehearsal room, sorry about this," I want to run up on stage and shake him: "but you sound bloody great!"

And they do.

They sum up all of the contradictions of this city. They're nice middle class kids doing crappy jobs so that they can persist with their musical dream. They know they come from a rock n roll purgatory. As Tom sings in How To Stop An Imploding Man, "This town needs something catastrophic." Christ, if this place is stultifying for a man of my advanced years, how must it be for someone this young and this talented?

The sing-a-long melodies sweeten lyrics about frustration, death and loneliness - and I know that this apparent contradiction has been the coal that fired the whole rock n roll revolution, and that that seam appears to be running low, but when it's done with this amount of truth, and a welcome lack of irony, it's enrapturing.

They're brave, too.

Some of the songs start off slowly and quietly enough to hypnotise sloths. They don't patronise their audience with a monotonous series of rabble-rousers-by-numbers. It helps give the set a dynamic, emotional core. And now I sound like I'm describing a battery, or something.

There is joy in these songs, a hard fought joy, not the happy clappy, painted on smile type. The penultimate song sees Tom on stage by himself singing plaintively. It's a transcendent moment, despite the fluffed notes that make him grimace. As the song rather collapses, and he is buoyed aloft by the kind of applause you only get from people genuinely moved by what they're witnessing, the rest of the band return to the stage one-by-one and start up an elevating and excellent rendition of How To Stop An Imploding Man.

In many other bands' hands, this would have felt horribly staged. But Shy And The Fight do it with such affability and enthusiasm that it shoots straight to the top of my table of Live Music Experiences 2010.

In Yoda-speak: swept up, I was; excellent they will be if discovered they are.

Of course, the overriding advantage of a bust music industry is that no one's relying on A&R-types with atlases (OK, sat navs) that only feature the major UK cities. Shy And The Fight aren't at a disadvantage because of where they're from. They're as likely to be mentioned by a tour guide in this city as become one.

Chester renaissance? This time, for real.

Lostprophets headline eclectic Ryder Cup bill

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James McLaren James McLaren | 10:38 UK time, Friday, 20 August 2010

Lostprophets, Katherine Jenkins, Only Men Aloud and Shaheen Jafargholi are all part of an... 'eclectic' line-up to celebrate the coming of the Ryder Cup to Wales this year.

lostprophets_01_446.jpg

The Welcome to Wales event, staged at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium on 29 September, will also feature the two Ryder Cup teams, who will be introduced to the crowd.

I'm not exactly sure of the Venn diagram crossover between golf fans and Lostprophets fans, but as this appears to be celebration of Welshness, they're certainly appropriate.

Guitarist Mike Lewis told the Western Mail, "We're very excited to be a part of the Welcome to Wales concert. The tradition of sport is huge in Wales, and we know how important it is to the country that such a massive event like the Ryder Cup is being held here. We're very proud to be part of it."

His band will be sharing a stage not only with the American and European teams, but also the 13 year old Jafargholi (who became known for his appearance on Britain's Got Talent singing Michael Jackson's Who's Loving You), the male voice choir and the pop-opera star. If there's a stranger bill this year I have yet to hear it.

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GLC's alternative Ryder Cup

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James McLaren James McLaren | 10:54 UK time, Thursday, 19 August 2010

The cream of the world's golfers will be coming to Wales on 1-3 October this year, but the Ryder Cup doesn't do much for the people of Newport, believe Goldie Lookin' Chain.

The rap crew, fresh from the success of their big-up to the city in song, have announced their own golf tournament and gig. On Saturday 25 September the city's municipal golf course will be the venue for a typically-GLC shindig featuring an initial line-up of the band, Olympic athlete Jamie Baulch, Pritchard and Dainton of Dirty Sanchez and our own Bethan Elfyn.

The golf tournament is free for Newport residents to watch, while an evening gig on the same date, at Newport Centre, is £5. The gig will be headlined by the GLC, supported by 2Rude and Dirty Goods.

"Golf can be a bit stuffy, so we're going to do something golf-orientated that everyone in Newport can get involved in. We're going to put the 'olf' back into golf and give something back to the people of Newport," said GLC's P-Xain.

"This is going to be the golf event to end all golf events. They'll probably cancel the Ryder Cup after seeing this," added Emma Corten, organiser.

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Interview with Green Man's Jo Bartlett

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Bethan Elfyn Bethan Elfyn | 16:24 UK time, Wednesday, 18 August 2010

This weekend one of Wales' best festivals will open its gates at the Glanusk Estate in the Brecon Beacons, on the outskirts of Crickhowell.

I've been to every single Green Man since hosting a stage there in 2004, with 1,000 merry friends walking around the Baskerville Hall - the previous year just 300 friends gathered.

This year it'll be over 11,000 at the sold out site ready to party to headliners Doves, Flaming Lips, and Joanna Newsom, as well as dozens of stunning artists from all around the world from Efterklang to Laura Marling - Green Man is always a place for firsts and a family, community, musical environment.

As you can see I'm a huge fan, and I'll report back with photos from the weekend, but in preperation for a weekend in the Welsh mountains, I caught up on Radio One with Jo Bartlett, founder with partner Danny of the festival, to see where things are at this year.

Here's a clip of our chat:

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Jo also did a special Greenman mix for the show - head to our website to listen back from tomorrow: www.bbc.co.uk/radio1/bethanelfyn

This weekend I'll be broadcasting live from the site for BBC Radio Wales, hijacking the Greenman Radio studios from 6.30pm, tune in anywhere!

Adam Walton playlist and show info: Sunday 15 August 2010

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Adam Walton Adam Walton | 14:34 UK time, Tuesday, 17 August 2010

This week's three hour feast of new Welsh music is smugly proud of the following:

1) a peripatetic cascade of perfectly-formed bleeps courtesy of Crash Disco! carefully moulded into the form of a 16 minute 14 second mix. Crash Disco is 18. Crash Disco has amazing melodic instincts. Crash Disco makes celestially inspiring tunes that could get a drunk slug up on its foot and dancing. He's a phemone... phomneomo... phenomenam... he's, er, really great.

2) Rhys Jakokoyak strokes his electronic fur in a very different direction. His music is filled with wide, bleak spaces all the more effective as a backdrop for sublime minimal arrangements and achingly beautiful melodies. He comes in to talk about his long-awaited debut album 'Aerophlot', out this week on Recordiau Peski. an album with which to gild the heart in your ears.

3) Alan Holmes, founder member of Fflaps/Ectogram, acclaimed record sleeve designer, resident expert on the un-crap at Recordiau Cob in Bangor, blesses the programme with reminiscences on The Major.

4) A Man Called Ben - having shaken the loose capacitors out of the Soundhog pig pen - invites us to reappraise Ultravox v.2 before the hairspray took precedence over the music making.

and 5) Welsh music from all over the country and the stylistic map. It's the blood in the show's veins and I'm always looking for a transfusion.

Please send donations of red sound rich in original haemoglobin (or an .mp3, if you prefer) to themysterytour@gmail.com

We have a letter box, too:
Adam Walton, BBC Radio Wales, Library & Arts Centre, Rhosddu Rd., Wrexham, LL11 1AU

And I'm still keen for release / (key) gig info for the Welsh Music Calendar.

This coming Sunday night at 10pm, Rhyl's Bright Young People are in session and I will be talking to Matt from Wales' most unsung band, The Hepburns. Yes, he's the singer in an unsung band. That sounds like one of his lyrics. If he nicks it, remember where you read it first so I can sue.

I hope your week is filled with musical aceness. I'll certainly do my best to help.

Yours bleepily,
Adam

THE LONG INSIDERS (Flint)
Midnight Man

Y NIWL (Llanrwst)
Deg

BLAKTRIX (Cardiff)
Business Is Good

CRASH DISCO (Bangor)
Track 02

BRIGHT LIGHT BRIGHT LIGHT (Swansea)
Love Part II

SHY AND THE FIGHT (Llangollen)
How To Stop An Imploding Man [EP version]

TWISTED DAYDREAM (Porthcawl/Cardiff)
Three

PETE LAWRIE (Penarth)
All That We Keep [plo Remix]

TONY DA GATTORA VS GRUFF RHYS (Bethesda/Cardiff/Brazil!)
Oh! Warra Hoo!

THE HEPBURNS (Llanelli)
Nobody Loves Me

KLAUS KINSKI (Llanfairfechan)
Gwlad Ar Fy Nghefn

GALLOPS (Wrexham)
Miami Spider

THE PETH (Bangor/Ruthin/Cardiff)
Weev Got Our Own Thing Going On [stagga Remix]

THE MAJOR (Bangor)
Voodoo Man

HARBOUR (Cardiff)
The Clock

BAD FINGER (Swansea)
Baby Blue

FERNANDO REY (Swansea)
Strange Bird

GINDRINKER (Cardiff)
Bob Grainger: Sexual Pervert

AKA OSTRICH
Running Free

UNDERPASS VS KILLABEATZ (Cardiff)
Old Skool

CRASH DISCO (Bangor)
16 Minute Mixicle

THE TRANSPORTERS (Pontypool)
Fading Day

SIGRID MULLERS (Cardiff)
Poison River

THE FAG MACHINE (Wrexham)
Formaldehyde

JAKOKOYAK (Mold)
Recovery
Laika
Dada Love

DOGBONES (Holyhead)
Mae Dy Frindie (Gyd Am Dy Ladd Di)

Y NIWL (Llanrwst / Bangor)
Undegpedwar

TRWBADOR (Camarthenshire/Caerleon)
Eira

FRIVOLOUS LAURA (Cardiff)
The Pursuit

JOY OF SEX (Cardiff)
Red Rocket

ULTRAVOX
Mr. X

MEILIR (Caerwys)
Fingertips

Farmers urged to keep ravers at bay

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James McLaren James McLaren | 10:15 UK time, Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Dyfed-Powys Police are urging farmers to be vigilant, after an illegal rave was thwarted last weekend.

Following a tip-off, the force stepped in to prevent the rave taking place in the Newport area of Pembrokeshire. Read the full story.

Now the National Farmers Union (NFU) is targeting farmers and other landowners at the Pembrokeshire Show, warning of signs to look out for.

Supt Reg Bevan of Dyfed-Powys Police said the force's main concern with unlicensed raves was public safety.

"If the worst should happen we need to be able to get emergency services to the scene in many coastal locations this would prove difficult," he said.

Mike McNamara, chairman of NFU Cymru in Pembrokeshire, said landowners should "keep their eyes and ears open" in the run up to the bank holiday weekend.

"This could happen again in any area of rural Wales," he said.

"Each of these past events have involved a large number of people occupying land without piped water or toilet facilities and the use of very loud music equipment.

"Also, once the party is over the site has been left strewn with litter, broken glass, used needles and human waste."

But it is possible to organise dance events legally, as we blogged about earlier this year.

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Pete Lawrie's Long Welsh Weekend

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James McLaren James McLaren | 07:41 UK time, Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Pete Lawrie, the south Wales singer-songwriter newly signed to Universal Island, has given us an exclusive video, documenting a weekend of musical fun and frolics earlier this summer.

Watch as the Long Welsh Weekend takes him around the country in his yellow VW campervan, playing impromptu gigs with his bandmates. There's even a song with the Ystradgynlais Public Band.

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Filmed by Pete's housemate and professional filmmaker Tom Swindell, the video comes courtesy of Island Records.

Find out more about Pete Lawrie:

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James Dean Bradfield - interview and Personal Playlist

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James McLaren James McLaren | 09:24 UK time, Monday, 16 August 2010

This weekend on Bethan Elfyn's Radio Wales show, Manic Street Preachers' James Dean Bradfield played his Personal Playlist and talked for almost an hour about his band and their career.

James Dean Bradfield and Bethan Elfyn

In one of the most in-depth and illuminating interviews I've ever heard with the Manics frontman, he talks about what made him and his bandmates the people they are at the moment of their 10th album, and recalls growing up with Nicky, Sean and Richey.

You can listen to the whole interview here for one week, but we've got four clips from the interview here:

The lyrics and context of Postcards From A Young Man:

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"Can I borrow £10?" - The letters of Nicky and Richey:

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Albums as an art form:

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"Elvis is dead" - James' formative music experiences:

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James' Personal Playlist:

  • Russian Circles - Geneva
  • Band Of Horses - Compliments
  • John Cale - I Keep A Close Watch On My Heart
  • The Fall - Your Future Our Clutter
  • Roy Buchanan - Sweet Dreams

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Hendrix, Amen Corner and the Swinging Sixties

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James McLaren James McLaren | 11:06 UK time, Thursday, 12 August 2010

I've had a couple of weeks off from my regular spot on Bethan Elfyn's Radio Wales show, talking about moments from Welsh music history.

She's been busy filling her show with quality features - a session and chat with The Blackout and - this Saturday from 6pm - an in-depth, fascinating chat with James Dean Bradfield.

But next week I'll be back on the airwaves, all being well, talking about one of the greatest tours ever to career round the UK. Headlined by Jimi Hendrix and with an all-star line-up including Pink Floyd, The Move, The Nice, Amen Corner, this was a superb bill in anyone's estimation.

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You can read all about it here.

As part of the preparation for the piece, I went to interview Allan Jones, saxophonist of Amen Corner. He professed prior to the interview that he couldn't remember a lot of the 1960s, but he was a brilliant interviewee. The tales and the memories came thick and fast, including the time when Hendrix actually played bass for the band.

You can read Allan's interview here.

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Welsh music calendar

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Adam Walton Adam Walton | 12:19 UK time, Wednesday, 11 August 2010

In the olden days of the Music Industry (RIP) it was hard to miss anything of momentousness.

Record labels - even the littlest indie labels - would employ pluggers to cajole and remind the likes of me about upcoming releases and events. As the traditional industry has crumbled into ruin, most artists are releasing their music autonomously via download stores and they don't have the funds to employ pluggers. This means that it's far too easy for the likes of me - actually, probably just me; I shouldn't tar my colleagues with the same brush - to miss new releases, or forget about important musical occurrences in a general fug of confusion.

Which is why I've set up a Google Calendar that I hope will centralise information about forthcoming Welsh releases and key musical events, so that I don't forget what's forthcoming and so that I can better co-ordinate the support that my show offers to the finest and most interesting Welsh music releases and events.

This is very much a work in progress at the moment. I want to shape it to suit my show's audience and the needs of the Welsh musicians I try to best support. So, their feedback is absolutely key, here. Otherwise it's in danger of becoming another brainwave that dissipates quietly without doing any measure of good.

So, this is what I'm looking for:

1) Release date information for 'proper' Welsh releases. A 'proper' release is anything upwards of a track that is available via iTunes or other download stores to a fully distributed and released CD/LP. I won't include info about demos only available via webpages simply because the calendar would get swamped. That information is still important to me, but I want this calendar to be a useful resource for my colleagues at BBC Introducing and BBC Wales so that they can find out about key Welsh releases.

(A 'proper' Welsh release is anything released by a Welsh artist or an artist based in Wales, or on a Welsh label/music company. So, non-Welsh artists who are released or managed by a Welsh company are valid too.)

2) Information about key Welsh music-related events, whether they be gigs, seminars, workshops, support or exposure on other BBC/Introducing programmes. This calendar will not be a Welsh gig guide. Otherwise, as mentioned in point 1 above, the calendar would get swamped with too much information. My (or one of my BBC Introducing/Radio Wales colleagues') decision about what constitutes a key Welsh music-related event would have to be final.

The 'beta' of this Welsh music calendar is available to view here. If you have events/releases that you would like me to add, please e-mail as much information as possible to adam.walton@bbc.co.uk.

Please include any relevant weblinks, e-mail addresses and mobile phone numbers that you are happy to have included in a public document.

I'll add the information at my discretion as soon as I possibly can.

With your help this could become a useful tool for the Welsh media, Welsh artists and music-related businesses.

The Big Chill Festival 2010

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Bethan Elfyn Bethan Elfyn | 15:23 UK time, Tuesday, 10 August 2010

I'm just back from yet another ramble around the countryside at The Big Chill festival. It was my first visit to the event, and the offer of work, plus the undeniable lure of an airstream caravan for the weekend (next door to Lilly Allen) definitely helped.

Here's my caravan:

big-chill-caravan.jpg

I was hosting and DJing on the main stage, and the line up was eclectic and truly adventurous, mixing world music with current pop. Technically the acts were a feat of human and technological excellence from MIA's visual spectacular show to Mike Patton's 12-piece orchestra for his Mondo Cane project. Most of my time was spent adjusting my mouth from its 'dropped to the floor' position.

A few Welsh acts made it on the bill too from DJs High Contrast and Iain from Kids In Glass Houses, to Gallops and Race Horses - and as an event which is just over the border in Herefordshire, and snug in the Malvern Hills, it was excitingly close to get to. As one of many small boutique festivals around the UK, it's definitely got plenty of quirky ideas, really exciting DJs and late night dance parties, and plenty of beautifull green spaces for chilling!

Here's a few photos conveying the event from my side-of-stage weekend nest.

MIA:

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Paloma Faith

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Roots Manuva

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There was also a fun event on the Sunday morning for all those ready to brave the elements and get naked. Renowned photographer Spencer Tunick wanted some volunteers for his latest project. More about that in this news report.

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Newport State Of Mind: why has it been removed?

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James McLaren James McLaren | 12:10 UK time, Tuesday, 10 August 2010

YouTube has been forced to remove Newport (Ymerodraeth State Of Mind) from its servers due to a copyright claim by EMI Music Publishing Ltd.

For the time being, at least, Goldie Lookin' Chain's response, You're Not From Newport, is still available on the site, as is a performance at the Transporter Bridge (warning: links contain strong language).

I have thought since this video first came to light that there was a certain legal ambiguity to the song and its lyrics. While straight cover versions are entirely legal (as long as properly credited) and a staple of the music business from the very top to the very bottom, interpretations of existing songs are a different matter altogether.

'Substantial rewrite' is a pseudo-legal term in the music industry meaning that when you're covering a song or using an element of a song - whether lyrically or musically - it requires the permission of the original copyright holder.

This can be a complex process: you get in touch with the Performing Right Society, the organisation responsible for the administration of song copyrights (music and lyrics, but not recording) in the UK. The PRS works with their relevant partner organisations across the world (in the USA it's ASCAP and the BMI), who then find out from the relevant publisher whether the songwriter is amenable to the rewrite.

Obviously this laborious process means that the vast majority of rewrites, pastiches and spoofs are ignored or simply never heard about. There's a certain level of publish-and-be-damned to it; who cares when you're playing to 50 people in a club?

But the power of the internet means that something can blow up - go viral, if you prefer an awful expression - and suddenly who can turn a blind eye to it? Two and a half million YouTube hits meant that the publishers of the Jay-Z and Alicia Keys' original almost had no choice but to knock it on the head.

Jemima Kiss in The Guardian wrote, "OK, it's a rip-off of the Jay-Z and Alicia Keys song. But it has a significant amount of original work, video, rewritten lyrics and a good concept. Isn't that fair use?"

However, the fact that it does have original work and rewritten lyrics, plus the sheer volume of hits, means it's skating into the middle of a frozen lake wearing stilletoes. Sure it would be nice if we could all get along and things could be done on the nod-and-the-wink, but the music industry doesn't work like that.

Assuming that the video was taken down because of the 'substantial rewrite' regulations, it's a shame but not unexpected.

Update (11 August, 9am): A statement from EMI, quoted by Radio 1's Newsbeat, said, "When a song is created based wholly on any of our writers' works, those writers need to grant their permission.

"If that permission isn't granted, then we ask the service in question to remove the song."

The director of the video, MJ Delaney, said she was unable to comment at the moment.

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Holyhead charity shop raffles rare Gibson

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James McLaren James McLaren | 11:17 UK time, Tuesday, 10 August 2010

In my time I've picked up some cracking bargains at charity shops in the past - some 80s 7" singles, a shirt or two, that kind of thing. In one charity shop in north Wales however, one donation has been getting music fans in a lather.

A Gibson Les Paul Custom 1957 VOS Black Beauty - valued somewhere around £2,500 - was donated to the Anglesey A Team shop in Holyhead. Shop staff originally put a £10 price tag on the guitar, but soon discovered the true value.

Now the shop is selling raffle tickets for the rare instrument.

Speaking to the North Wales Daily Post, shop manager Rose Martin said, "Everybody seems to be interested in it. A lot of people have been in saying that it's worth quite a lot of money. My friend said 'Why don't you put it in the window for a raffle?'

"So far, we've sold 240 strips of raffle tickets, with five in a strip, costing £1 a strip. One musician came in and offered £800 but we'd already started the raffle. We'll leave it in the window for four weeks."

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Mike Peters rocks Rhuddlan

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James McLaren James McLaren | 14:21 UK time, Monday, 9 August 2010

Mike Peters pulled off a double coup at the weekend with a live extravaganza at Rhuddlan Castle and a rain-sodden acoustic set on the summit of Snowdon, both in aid of the Alarm singer's Love Hope Strength Foundation.

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Peters' wife Jules said: "It was an incredible weekend. The whole community came out and rocked the castle; it surpassed our wildest dreams."

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The Rhuddlan gig has generated a minimum of £20,000 for the charity, which raises money for cancer treatment centres.

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Peters was joined onstage by The Levellers and Ocean Colour Scene's Simon Fowler who performed a version of his band's The Day We Caught The Train.

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The veteran rock frontman and leukaemia survivor said: "In 1983 on my first ever Alarm tour of the USA, I performed with U2 at the legendary Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Denver Colorado which is one of the most atmospheric music venues in the world.

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"On 7 August 2010, as I looked out at the crowd at Rhuddlan Castle Rocks, I felt the same magical atmosphere. What an amazing place to play, on my doorstep and to be able to raise a huge amount of money for our local north Wales Hospitals."

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Interview: Bethan Elfyn meets The Blackout

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James McLaren James McLaren | 12:47 UK time, Monday, 9 August 2010

On Saturday's Bethan Elfyn show on Radio Wales she had Merthyr rockers The Blackout stripped down to the bare bones in session.

Listen to Sean and James talk to Bethan about their crazy fans and an ill-executed entrance to the Kerrang! awards last week.

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Gavin Butler, one of the singers of The Blackout, talked separately to Bethan (much to the mirth of his bandmates) about his solo work:

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Watch two session videos here.

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"You're not from Newport": Goldie Lookin' Chain's State Of Mind

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James McLaren James McLaren | 08:50 UK time, Monday, 9 August 2010

Having developed a life of its own, the Newport (Ymerodraeth State Of Mind) video has had a response from none other than Goldie Lookin' Chain.

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Newport State Of Mind (You're Not From Newport), uploaded to the video-sharing site yesterday, gently accuses the team behind the YouTube phenomenon of not being familiar with the town they chose as the inspiration for their Alicia Keys/Jay-Z take-off. In doing so, they're reflecting a fair-sized proportion of commentators on various message boards and discussion forums who have taken exception to the fact that the writers and performers have minimal connection with the city.

Watch the GLC's Newport State Of Mind video. Contains strong language.

GLC's version of the song makes specific mention of some of the original's lyrics, and bats them back. "Big up to Paul Flynn, Not the Welsh Assembly" raps P Xain / Rhys, as well as pointing out that some celebrities name-checked in the song aren't from the city.

I caught up with Rhys yesterday evening and asked him why he was inspired to write the song. "Well it seemed to me like they were parodying the GLC," he said. "We were writing songs about Newport 10 years ago. Of course it's quite flattering to us and the people of Newport that people from Swindon or wherever are showing us affection.

"It's nice to see that we are held dearly in people's thoughts. They parodied us and now we're parodying a parody back.

"To a certain extent I was annoyed when I heard they were at the reopening of the Newport Transporter Bridge, but it's all good. Anything that brings attention to the city is good for Newport and the people of Newport. Let's hope that people who enjoyed the first one can enjoy this one too. It's nice to be important but it's more important to be nice eh?"

At the time of writing GLC's song has 306 views to the 2,444,629 of the original Newport State Of Mind video. Give it time...

Don't forget, we're after your suggestions for other Welsh places to be given the spoof video treatment.

Bullet For My Valentine in the Live Lounge

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James McLaren James McLaren | 09:45 UK time, Friday, 6 August 2010

Bullet For My Valentine came into the Radio 1 Live Lounge with Jo Whiley last week, to perform a couple of tracks.

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Listen to their acoustic versions of their own track Your Betrayal, and their cover of Pendulum's Witchcraft here:

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You can see more photos from the Live Lounge here.

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The Blackout in session

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James McLaren James McLaren | 09:23 UK time, Friday, 6 August 2010

Fresh from their headlining slot at the Cardiff Big Weekend, The Blackout came into the studio to talk to Bethan Elfyn and play some acoustic tracks for her show (Saturday 7 August, 6pm, BBC Radio Wales).

The Merthyr band's pop rock is gathering momentum and this year they're touring Europe with none other than nu-metal survivors Limp Bizkit in support of their second album, The Best In Town. Watch an acoustic version of Save Our Selves (The Warning) from that album:

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Blackout singer Gavin Butler has been playing solo shows across Wales for a few months, and he performed his song Into The Sea:

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Find out more about the programme.

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Joy Formidable to headline NME Radar tour

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James McLaren James McLaren | 15:46 UK time, Thursday, 5 August 2010

London-based North Walians The Joy Formidable have been confirmed as headliners for this autumn's Emerge NME Radar Tour.

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Ritzy of the band told us: "After several months away in Australia and the USA we're excitedly anticipating being back in the UK this autumn to headline the NME Radar tour. We're itching to get back to... oh, no wait there, we're just itching. Damn. See you soon folks!"

Jaimie Hodgson, NME Radar editor, said: "I think they're really interesting, a prime example of a band steadily building an organic fanbase over a period of time. Good, hard touring amassing a really powerful, notable fanbase by good, old-fashioned avenues.

"They put their own stuff out, and they have the smarts and savvy to construct a fanbase in that really organic way you don't always get these days. There's no hype machine. They're just a really good band with a powerful, unique sound. No-one quite functions like them at the moment in the UK."

The Joy Formidable and Chapel Club dates:

  • Birmingham Academy 2 (27 September)
  • Norwich Waterfront (28 September)
  • Nottingham Rescue Rooms (30 September)
  • Glasgow King Tuts (1 October)
  • Aberdeen Tunnels (2 October)
  • Manchester Academy 3 (4 October)
  • O2 Academy Newcastle 2 (5 October)
  • Leeds Cockpit (6 October)
  • Stoke Sugarmill (7 October)
  • Cardiff Millennium Music Hall (8 October)
  • O2 Academy Oxford 2 (10 October)
  • Brighton Concorde 2 (11 October)
  • Portsmouth Wedgewood (13 October)
  • London Koko (14 October)

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Spoof Welsh song titles wanted!

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James McLaren James McLaren | 10:34 UK time, Thursday, 5 August 2010

In the aftermath of the Newport (Ymerodraeth State Of Mind) phenomenon, the town of Ruthin has got the pastiche treatment from a south Wales actor.

David Garland Jones has created Ain't Seen Ruthin Yet as a direct repsonse to the 2.2 million views of the Newport clip.

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"How many YouTube hits do you think I will collect? Maybe five thousand... No I ain't see Ruthin yet" he sings, to the tune of the Bachman Turner Overdrive classic.

Yesterday one of my BBC colleagues here suggested a song called Mold, sung to the tune of Spandau Ballet's Gold. So here's the challenge: we want you to comment with suggestions for your own Welsh town spoofs.

We've come up with a few (bad) suggestions to get you started: Crumlin Dice by The Rolling Stones; Menai Bridge Over Troubled Water and Don't Go Brecon My Heart. Or how about Laugharne Girl In The Ring, Wind Glynneath My Wings, or A Whiter Shade Of Pyle?

Over to you... Add your suggestions in the comment box below.

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A long-lost summer

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Bethan Elfyn Bethan Elfyn | 08:36 UK time, Thursday, 5 August 2010

A letter from the long lost summer, Ronan said it best, that life is indeed a rollercoaster. It's been such a mental month, I don't quite know where to begin. In fact I say month, but my feet haven't touched the ground properly since the beginning of the summer and for me the beginning of festival season was back in April!

Radio wise, the new BBC Radio Wales rock show on Saturday nights has been keeping me busy with incredible guests: Ian Lostprophets, Aled Kids In Glass Houses and, of course, Sir Tom Jones, plus James Dean Bradfield and The Blackout still to come.

The Blackout show this week, which we recorded with the band this Tuesday, was an absolute delight from start to finish, with exclusive tracks played solo by vocalist Gavin Butler. They came in after a triumphant performance at Cardiff's Big Weekend last Friday, it really felt like their moment to cross over from the hardcore of faithfuls to become household names here in Wales, aided by the fact that their songs are sounding more polished than ever.

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Outside BBC Wales' Cardiff studios with The Blackout

Each night this week I've been travelling up to Ebbw Vale to the National Eisteddfod, to judge a Battle of the Bands on Maes B. Two nights, loads of bands, excitable youngsters, and industrial buildings as cold as Siberia. The winner announced last night was the young talented 'bit producer' Crash.Disco! from North Wales, whose live dance act blew the competition out of the water. He was MEGA LOLZ!!! or something equally terrifyingly out of sync with da kidz.

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Crash.Disco!

Last weekend I was DJing at the brilliant Field Day festival in London where Gruff Rhys and Cate Le Bon were also performing. A largeish festival in East London, with the 'tongue in cheek' feel of a village fête (it comes with foolish fête competitions and races), it's a recipe for success and the wonderful friendly staff and brilliant line up made it quite a day out!

Gruff Rhys was a guest on my Radio One, BBC Introducing show last week to celebrate his gigs with the enigma that is Tony Da Gattora on their collaboration Terror of Cosmic Lonliness, a brilliant but challenging album. Their live shows have not been for the faint hearted, but I'm a convert. Gruff chose some Brazilian songs to celebrate.

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Gruff Rhys stands up for fish!

This week's session is from Brooklyn band Savoir Adore, who played in Cardiff recently and I had the pleasure of showing them the sights, so we had some ice cream down the bay! (Listen this week's session from today onwards).

And and and and and and and... I could go on. The summer adventures continue with so many brilliant things planned I can hardly contain myself. A live radio show for BBC Radio Wales from Green Man Festival, hosting the main stage at The Big Chill festival this weekend, with the monster rock of Reading too at the end of the month.

As our Welsh hero Matthew Pritchard from Dirty Sanchez would say: "Sleep when you're dead!"

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Faenol festival cancelled

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James McLaren James McLaren | 07:43 UK time, Thursday, 5 August 2010

Breaking news: Bryn Terfel's Faenol Festival has been cancelled this year because of poor ticket sales.

Read the full story here.

"I know many of you will be as disappointed as I am," Terfel said.

Faenol Festival Trust chairman Sir David Henshaw said it was too soon to say if the festival, which was also cancelled last year, would return. He went on to say ticket sales this year had been "dreadfully disappointing".

Westlife will now appear at Llandudno Venue Cymru on 27 August.

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Adam Walton playlist and show info: Sunday 1 August 2010

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Adam Walton Adam Walton | 15:02 UK time, Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Late, late, late, late... sorry! Keen as I am to give you all of the information about this week's multithreaded, luminously patchworked quilt of the most interesting Welsh music I have heard, sometimes life gets in the way. Yesterday it was a freezer having a nervous breakdown and a daughter who has had the bleeding temerity to have a summer holiday from primary school. Selfish doesn't even begin to describe it.

I mean: how the heck am I supposed to immerse myself in new Welsh music and write cobblers about it when all of that is going on?

bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00t87lb/Adam_Walton_01_08_2010/

This week I splash around in the Taff with Hunters. Actually, they're 'just' in session but I thought it'd sound more dramatic if you got the impression we'd had to have a slo mo, underwater scrap with each other to get the session out of them. It's a super smart session, somehow melding leftfield nouse with tic-like melodies that are very difficult to unhinge once they've attached themselves. So, it sounds like Slint backing Tears For Fears. Almost. A bit.

Sonic subverter par excellence, Ectogram's Alan Holmes, reminds us of the youthful majesty of Crisialau Plastic.

Lara Catrin translates some very early Catatonia for those of us dysgu y Gymraeg.

A man called Ben (Hayes) spotlights a very uncelebrated facet of Cat Stevens' back catalogue.

And there is Fascinating New Welsh Music from all over Wales.

Send your demos to: themysterytour@gmail.com with a short biog + contact number.

Make 'em good. That's always a good idea.

Right, best go: I have 14 very soft Magnums to eat and my daughter's probably getting bored playing with that box of matches on the hard shoulder of the A55.

Have an excellent, music-filled week!

Diolch,

Adam

BASTIONS (Bangor)
Island Living

JAKOKOYAK (Mold)
Aerophlot

FEEDER (Newport)
Renegades

THE SCHOOL (Cardiff)
Is He Really Going Home?

HELEN LOVE (Swansea)
Debbie Loves Joey

HUNTERS (Cardiff)
Permanent Ink (session Version)

CYRION (Llangefni)
Bail Out

EXIT INTERNATIONAL (Merthyr Tydfil / Cardiff)
Lights Out

ALEX MOUNTAINEER (Penyffordd)
Something Better

TIM AND SAM'S TIM AND THE SAM BAND WITH TIM AND SAM (Ewloe)
Finders Keepers

PETE LAWRIE FEATURING RALPH RIP SH*T (Penarth / Cardiff)
All That We Keep

TYSTION (Caernarfon)
Original Sgamster

CUT RIBBONS (Llanelli)
Knock Me Down

THE HEPBURNS (Llanelli)
Vanishing Act

THE HEPBURNS (Llanelli)
Sad, Free, Excited And Empty

JEN JENIRO (Llanrwst)
Hulusi (llwybr Llaethog Remix)

TACSI (Holyhead)
Cooking Fish

HARBOR (Cardiff)
Trempanation

GALLOPS (Wrexham)
Sonderhof

HUNTERS (Cardiff)
Loose Lipped (session Version)

CRISIALAU PLASTIC (Aberystwyth)
Pryfaid

RICHARD JAMES (Camarthenshire/Cardiff)
When You See Me (in The Pouring Rain) - Live Acoustic Version For Beth Elfyn

EFA THOMAS (Pwllheli)
Follow The Sun

SON CAPSON (Aberystwyth)
Fat Rabbit

JOE BLOW AND STAGGA (Barry)
Acidicts

NICK WARD (Port Talbot)
Just Look Around You

DERRERO (Newport / Cardiff)
Radar Intruder

BLACKBEARD (Cardiff)
My Glass Is Always Half Full

Y MORGRUG (Bangor)
Motowei

THE MOUSE ORGAN (Mold)
Morning Motorway

CATATONIA (Llanrwst / Cardiff)
Dimbran

TRWBADOR (Cwmbran / Pembrokeshire)
Shapes (la La La)

HUNTERS (Cardiff)
Broken Bell (session Version)

CAT STEVENS
Was Dog A Doughnut

Adam Walton playlist and show info: Sunday 18 July 2010 (Cardiff)
Kittens

Paul Potts counters Cowell split snub

Post categories:

James McLaren James McLaren | 14:21 UK time, Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Paul Potts, Port Talbot's opera-singing Britain's Got Talent winner, has split from Simon Cowell's record label.

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Syco Records, a subdivision of Sony, had worked with Potts since the 2007 competition, but the parties have separated prior to the release of his third album, Cinema Paradiso.

The News Of The World had reported that Potts and Cowell had fallen out, quoting an 'industry insider' as saying, "As soon as Susan Boyle came along it was bound to be curtains for Paul. SuBo captured the world's imagination and it was hard to compete."

We spoke to Potts' management. Their statement reads: "For over three years, Paul has enjoyed a successful collaboration with Simon Cowell and his record label Syco. He treasures his time with them and feels he learnt a lot from everyone there. Contrary to a report made last week, there was never a case of Paul and Simon not seeing 'eye to eye'.

"Paul continues to enjoy success across the globe. His third album Cinema Paradiso, a movie-themed release, has been recorded with Hollywood producer, Simon Franglen. Simon has worked on the production of many blockbuster soundtracks including Titanic, Moulin Rouge and Avatar.

"Many major labels around the world continue to show their commitment to Paul. Japan (Sony Music) has been chosen to launch Cinema Paradiso next month. Other countries will quickly follow on with releases in places such as Germany, Canada, Asia and Australia (as well as other European territories). A UK release is hoped for late March 2011.

"Paul says, 'I am looking forward to the next stage in my career as a recording artist - I honestly think this is my best album yet and I look forward to performing these amazing songs all over the world to my loyal fans who have been with me since my career began with those exciting moments on Britain's Got Talent'."

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Bethan Elfyn and James Dean Bradfield

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James McLaren James McLaren | 10:19 UK time, Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Bethan Elfyn's show on Radio Wales is always an interesting mix of old and new, good interviews and ephemera, but on Saturday 14 August at 6pm it's shaping up to be a superb two hours of Welsh music, and I've been given a sneak preview of what has to be one of this year's Welsh radio highlights.

Manic Street Preachers' James Dean Bradfield spent an hour with Beth last week, pre-recording an amazing interview which covered many topics from their early days in the band, his formative musical experiences, Richey Edwards' lyrics and the new album, Postcards From A Young Man.

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It's a fascinating listen. The show's producer, Darren Broome says, "This one for the fans... It's probably his most revealing interview to date; he explains why the Manics still believe in albums as art, his choirboy past, why record shops matter and why getting his heroes on the new record really made his day."

Those heroes include John Cale, Echo And The Bunnymen's Ian McCulloch and Guns N' Roses' Duff McKagan. James talks incredibly fondly of McKagan and being able to play Gn'R's It's So Easy at Hammersmith Odeon with him.

James also takes Bethan through his Personal Playlist, which is an eclectic and fascinating listen.

This week on the show (Saturday 7 August, 6-8pm, BBC Radio Wales) The Blackout play an acoustic session and the band's Gavin Butler also performs solo. The band are interviewed too, and we'll be blogging about that next week, so look out for that.

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Richey Edwards inspires novel

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James McLaren James McLaren | 09:04 UK time, Wednesday, 4 August 2010

MIssing Manic Street Preachers guitarist Richey Edwards is to be the subject of a novel out in October.

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Photo: Dave Hardacre

Written by music journalist Ben Myers, Richard is a fictional story of Edwards' life based on events from his life. Myers told NME, "A lot has been written about Richey Edwards, but I thought a fictional setting would be a better medium to explore his personality, especially because he was a particularly literate person who injected a wealth of literary influences into a fairly staid British rock scene that was lacking any true iconoclastic voices at the time."

Richard is out on 1 October, a week after the release of the Manics' 10th studio album, Postcards From A Young Man.

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McFly on Radio Wales

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James McLaren James McLaren | 08:47 UK time, Wednesday, 4 August 2010

McFly came into Radio Wales yesterday, greeted by a crowd of teenage fans, to talk to Alan Thompson on the Evening Show.

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You can listen to the full interview here, but only until 4 September!

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The guys talk about their new album, working with top pop producer Dallas Austin, meeting their fans and what fans can expect from their new website.

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Sheen to star in new Manics video

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James McLaren James McLaren | 13:07 UK time, Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Welsh actor Michael Sheen will reportedly be starring in the short promo film for Manic Street Preachers' forthcoming single (It's Not War) Just The End Of Love.

Sheen, famous for his representations of figures such as Tony Blair, David Frost, Brian Clough and Kenneth Williams, could star as Boris Spassky, the Russian chess Grandmaster whose battle with American Bobby Fischer captured the imagination of millions in the 1970s.

MIchael Sheen as a Roman:

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Originally reported to be playing the other Russian chess legend Garry Kasparov (when Nicky Wire got confused when talking to the NME), Sheen will be playing the Eastern half of the totemic Cold War clash.

Wire said, "We've tried to recreate the classic '70s chess match between [Spassky] and [Bobby] Fischer. That's the kind of vibe behind it. It's real '70s Russia - just that idea of 'it's not war, just the end of love', I think a chess game really fits that."

The short film will accompany the song's release as a single on 13 September. The album, Postcards From A Young Man, follows a week later.

Sir Tom Jones waits for chart record

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James McLaren James McLaren | 10:58 UK time, Monday, 2 August 2010

So after much anticipation and speculation, Sir Tom Jones has failed in his bid to become the oldest male ever to have a UK Number One album.

His album Praise And Blame was beaten to the top spot yesterday by Eminem, who'll be a mere 38 this year, with Recovery. Unless Praise And Blame can rise up the chart, Sir Tom will remain behind Bob Dylan, who had a chart-topper last year at the age of 67. Tom Jones' last Number One came 11 years ago, with Reload.

He lost out to the Detroit rapper this week by about 8,000 copies. Phil Matcham of the Official Charts Company believes there's a chance he may scoop the prize, providing more singles from the record are successful.

"It's difficult to say," he says. "In the normal state of affairs the first couple of weeks is when an album picks up its highest chart positions.

"It's definitely his most successful album for a while, the best since Reload. This is definitely shaping up to be one of his bigger hits. He likes to reinvent and take risks and it's this change of direction, to a more stripped sound, that's probably made this album so successful, rather than the leaked email and publicity a few weeks back. If the LP wasn't strong enough that story could have been detrimental."

Watch Tom Jones talking about that leaked email on BBC Radio 4's Front Row.

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Feeder, The Blackout, Los Campesinos!, Pete Lawrie - Cardiff Big Weekend 2010

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James McLaren James McLaren | 09:33 UK time, Monday, 2 August 2010

It's the Friday of Cardiff Big Weekend. It must be raining.

The omens were, paradoxically, good. This time last year, as the rain streamed down, Kids in Glass Houses played a stormer in the gathering gloom of a Cardiff summer evening. The Blackout had nothing to worry about. The drizzle, now incessant, put a damper neither on the crowd's rabidity nor the Merthyr band's own party rock.

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I'd spoken to a crew member a little earlier. Blackout fans had been queuing to enter the site from 5am, and down the front, as they launched into their fist-pumping set, there was near hysteria. The Blackout aren't huge but their fans are incredibly loyal. Witness the singalong of It's High Tide Baby for proof positive.

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There was a girl down the front with 'I heart TBO' across her cheeks. It's as obvious a display of fan affection as the average 16 year old can do. And there were so, so many teenagers (mainly girls) in the crowd, all displaying some love for the band.

The Blackout rock, as usual.

Earlier in the evening, Los Campesinos! had played a belter too. Perhaps relishing a big crowd and the chance to wow some unfamiliar passers-by, Gareth and his cohorts played a great set, combining the twee-core elements of fiddle-scraunching folk with crazed, punk wig-outs.

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They sounded magnificent, and wonderfully un-twee. I've hitherto been ambivalent towards LC! but here was proof that, live at least, they can rock as hard in their own way as dudes with axes and stuff.

I gave myself an evening off Saturday as I wasn't enraptured by the thought of spending a headline set in the company of Chaka Demus And Pliers. But if you went on the day, please leave your comments below. Instead, I went back to Cardiff's Civic Centre for a Sunday in the company of Pete Lawrie and Feeder.

Chilled-out is how I'd best describe Lawrie's audience. Mostly seated, they clapped politely and cheered sporadically at the Penarth man's finely-wrought, semi-acoustic vignettes. "Anyone from Dinas Powys?" he asks to a surprisingly loud response. "I used to work in the garage there. It was rubbish!"

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He went down well, especially with a spangle-covered, wildly enthusiastic lady down the front, singing along loudly. If Lawrie's album, coming soon through Universal/Island catches on, he may find himself with a few more fans singing his songs back to him.

Then there was Feeder. I'd never seen the Big Weekend site so crowded. Tens of thousands seemed to be crammed onto the green in front of the stage, and down the front, waiting expectantly, was a mix of ages, genders and races, all singing to Summer Of 69 and Livin' On A Prayer and occasionally breaking into chants of "Feeder! Feeder!".

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Grant Nicholas, honorary Welshman Taka Hirose and their bandmates are one of those bands able to trade on past glories and not sound like they're treading water. Sure, the older material got the 'I know this off the radio' and 'Oh it's that CD player song' reactions, but the new tracks from Renegades were proper rock and Feeder hammered out the hits like a British Foo Fighters. Their radio rock is pretty crunchy and a good end to the UK's biggest free music festival.

Galleries from the weekend:

Occasions like the Big Weekend should be approached having put one's scepticism to one side; it's a weekend for families who may not be familiar with the acts playing to consume ice creams while being exposed to jazz-funk, reggae, pop-punk or windswept indie. It's for partying and dancing. The core fans of bands like The Blackout, Los Campesinos! and Feeder get their kicks out of it, but so do the casually interested.

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