Archives for November 2011

Bethlehem Village Band's traditional Christmas

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James McLaren James McLaren | 10:21 UK time, Wednesday, 30 November 2011

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

The Bethlehem Band

The Bethlehem Band

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

Martin Leamon of the band told us:

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

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

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

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

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

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Scales are like really foul tasting medicine

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Laura Sinnerton Laura Sinnerton | 12:53 UK time, Monday, 28 November 2011

As a string player you generally always play as part of a section. That is, you are one small cog in a much larger machine. Each member of the section has to blend, in terms of intonation, use of the bow, dynamic and colour of sound, in order to ensure the section has a good, well rounded ensemble sound.

This is all fine and good, and also, fairly obvious, but the upshot of playing in a symphony orchestra is that a lot of the time, as a string player, you can't really hear yourself all that terribly well! It is only now that I have really realised the importance of all the technical exercises one is forced to endure in college and while starting out with an instrument.

While you are a student, locked in a practice room wondering if it's too early to have a Gregg's pizza bread slice (what? what do you mean that was just me?), the thought of trawling through pages upon pages of Sevcik bowing exercises is about as appealing as the thought of sitting through a three hour tutorial on Schenkerian analysis. The thing is, you really do need to have the complete arsenal of bowing techniques at your disposal and you need to be able to produce any required of you at a moment's notice.

It's the same with scales. When I was younger, I hated them with a passion. They were boring and the tunes were where the action was at. In all honesty, I simply could not see the point of them and did my best to avoid them at every opportunity. The fact is, my playing did not improve until I really knuckled down and started paying real attention to my intonation.

Even the seemingly stupid scales, like ones in harmonics, are important, because a surprising amount of music, in particular, new music, utilises this technique and there is nothing worse than feeling you aren't quite hitting the right notes! When you are in the middle of the orchestra you need to be able to rely upon your ability to hit a note, even when you can't really hear yourself.

When I was in youth orchestra, we had a wonderful viola tutor called Michael Cookson. I remember him taking our little viola section for coffee after rehearsal one day, and as he was regaling us with tales from his career and the musical world 'back in the day', he told us a saying that I have heard many times since: "If you don't practice for one day, you will notice, if you don't practice for one week your desk partner will notice, but if you don't practice for a month everyone notices."

I, and I know a lot of my colleagues, try to do a little maintenance practice each day. We have so much music to get through every month, I feel like I spend a lot of my time listening to works I'm not familiar with and learning a squillion notes, and it would be so easy to neglect technique. For me, it is important to not just keep technique sharp, but to continue trying to improve it.

I like to be able to enjoy the music I play, not stress about whether my staccato has gone flabby or if my intonation is wonky. I have learnt to love scales and technical work. Well, maybe not love. In a way, they're like foul tasting medicine - pretty grim at the time, but ultimately, very good for you.

George Michael Cardiff gigs postponed

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James McLaren James McLaren | 10:19 UK time, Thursday, 24 November 2011

Singer George Michael has been forced to postpone two concerts in Cardiff this week after being admitted to hospital.

George Michael

George Michael

The former Wham! frontman and solo star was due to play the city's Motorpoint Arena on Saturday and Sunday as part of his Symphonica Tour.

"With great regret, George Michael has been forced to postpone his 26 and 27 November shows in Cardiff, Wales, due to his ongoing illness," said a statement on his official website.

"George was recently forced to postpone tour dates in Vienna and Strasbourg under doctor's orders after being diagnosed with pneumonia. He is currently receiving treatment.

"Plans to reschedule these postponed tour dates will be provided when available."

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Anton Bruckner: The all new complete arm work out...

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Laura Sinnerton Laura Sinnerton | 10:55 UK time, Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Friday night will see us perform Bruckner's Seventh Symphony at St David's Hall. It is widely recognised as being one of his most loved symphonies which brings me to a small confession. I do not particularly enjoy playing Anton Bruckner symphonies.

Now, before people start complaining or lecturing me, and before our orchestral manager reaches for my P45, I would like to point out that I have not confessed to disliking Bruckner. I actually really like listening to his music and without a doubt, there are some moments of the seventh that are simply sublime. However, playing a Bruckner symphony really can be downright exhausting - it is like doing an intensive arm workout at the gym!

Let me explain how I have come to hold such a blasphemous view. While the trombones and tuba are having fun playing their little chorales, while the violins are soaring in the stratosphere and the horns are hooting out their heroic tunes, what are we, the viola section doing? Scrubbing.

Scrubbing is the not-quite-technical common term we use for tremolando. It is a bow stroke that involves moving the bow as rapidly as possible on the string. At times it can produce a silvery, fluttering effect, or it can create an ominous rumble, or an absolute blanket of sound. To watch, it can look a little like the string section have had too much coffee. Or that they are trying to saw their instruments in half.

I'm being facetious of course - tremolando is a technique used to great effect in so much of the epic orchestral works that we all know and love. It is just that in Bruckner there is so much of it! My part for the Seventh Symphony is 22 pages long, and out of that, 11 pages are almost full of scrubbing. I've had a nosy at the second violin part too; 13 out of 23 pages are tremolando-tastic!

The thing is, Bruckner certainly knew how to write for strings. Our principal trombone, Donal, gave a talk on Bruckner on Monday evening in our small studio, the Grace Williams, and some of us performed Bruckner's String Quintet. I was genuinely surprised by how idiomatic the string writing was. It still sounded like Bruckner, but was so much more satisfying to play than the symphonies are (in my opinion). I guess somewhere along the line, he just decided he loved the brass more than he loved us. Don't know why.

What stops me actually disliking the music of Anton Bruckner is the simple fact that it is actually rather epic. It is exhilarating to listen to, it is colourful and noisy and the brass chorales are beautiful. Despite the fact that by the end of the symphony my arms will feel like lead weights, it will be a huge buzz to sit in the middle of all that sound on Friday night.

Laura and the Orchestra will be performing Bruckner's Symphony No 7 from 7.30pm on Friday 25 November at St David's Hall, Cardiff. For tickets and information call 0800 052 1812.

Radiohead's Ed O'Brien leads session for music students and enterprises in Cardiff

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James McLaren James McLaren | 08:06 UK time, Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Radiohead's Ed O'Brien comes to Wales tomorrow to talk about his life in music and give advice to would-be professional musicians.

Ed O'Brien

Ed O'Brien. Photo: Neil Lupin/Redferns

The guitarist will take to the stage at Cardiff's ATRiuM as part of the Featured Artists Coalition (FAC) and Music Managers' Forum (MMF) Roadshow, which comes to the capital courtesy of the Welsh Music Foundation (WMF) in partnership with I Like The Sound Of That.

Lisa Matthews of the WMF said: "We are thrilled to be partnering two important UK music organisations to host this roadshow in Wales, a country renowned for its musical talent but where management is thinner on the ground. We're honoured that Ed in particular is sharing his experiences with students and helping to inspire a next generation of musicians and music enterprises."

While O'Brien opens the programme of sessions tomorrow, more information for people working in music is available throughout the day. The MMF will provide a manager's perspective giving guidance for those wanting a career as either artists or managers, while musicians and businesses will later get the opportunity to hear from companies including Topspin, Key Production, The Musicians Union and WMF.

Matthews said: "The whole day runs from 1pm to 7pm. The session with Ed O'Brien is open to Wales-based students studying related FE courses only but the afternoon session is open to students and those working in the music sector in Wales. To reserve your place at this event, please visit our eventbrite link."

Gruff Rhys' Atheist Xmas EP

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James McLaren James McLaren | 11:21 UK time, Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Gruff Rhys, sometime Super Furry Animal and recent recipient of the inaugural Welsh Music Prize, has announced details of a singularly non-god-bothery Christmas release entitled the Atheist Xmas EP.

Atheist Xmas EP

Atheist Xmas EP

Released on 19 December, the secularist EP is described as "an unholy trinity of three turkey-free new tracks for the festive season".

Post Apocalypse Christmas sees Gruff re-imagining Christmas "through the semi-melted eyes of a nuclear holocaust survivor". At The End Of The Line also features in the soundtrack for Jesus And Mary Chain bassist Douglas Hart's semi-autobiographical short film Long Distance Information. Slashed Wrists This Christmas "addresses the seasonal [but] taboo subjects of manic depression and suicide".

Cheery stuff. But I'd imagine in Gruff's svelte hands, three tracks of more invention in one bar than X Factor's inevitable Number One. Don't forget, in the run-up to this festive season, you can check out our Welsh Number Ones page with information on our four Christmas chart-toppers.

Gruff Rhys will also be making three in-store record shop appearances on 19 December, to coincide with the EP's release. He'll play solo sets at Cardiff's Spillers Records at midday, Bristol's Rise at 3pm and London's Rough Trade East at 8pm.

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Green Man sets record for 'early bird' tickets

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James McLaren James McLaren | 10:17 UK time, Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Fans of alt/indie music and beards last week snapped up Green Man's 10% allocation of 'early bird' tickets in just 45 minutes.

The annual festival, held near Crickhowell, will take place on 17-19 August next year. Its managing director, Fiona Stewart, told the Western Mail: "We are delighted and over-whelmed at the record-breaking response to our annual Early Bird ticket offer.

"This year's Green Man was undoubtedly the best yet, but next summer's 10th festival promises to be a very special event indeed. We haven't announced any headliners yet, but we've got plenty of tricks up our sleeve to make sure Green Man's 10th birthday party goes with a bang."

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Jodie Marie on the road with Will Young

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James McLaren James McLaren | 09:06 UK time, Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Old timers familiar with the Verve record label will be interested to hear of a new Welsh singer who's been chosen to front the relaunched imprint, now part of Decca and therefore owned by Universal.

Jodie Marie

Jodie Marie

Jodie Marie, a young singer from Narberth, has been hotly-tipped by the press and played by a range of BBC radio stations. Her début single, On The Road, is out now and she's in the middle of a UK tour with Will Young. Her first album, produced by Bernard Butler and Ed Harcourt, follows in March next year.

Speaking to the Western Mail, she said of the tour: "I've really enjoyed touring with Will, he's such a nice guy. He even invited me to go surfing with him! I think he's a great performer and has a brilliant band.

The second night was in Bournemouth and there were more than 3,500 people in the audience. They were silent when we played; how often would you get that? It's lovely having such appreciative audiences and getting to play such lovely venues."

Jodie Marie plays with Will Young at Cardiff's St David's Hall on 26 November.

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Adam Walton playlist and show info: Sunday 20 November 2011

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Adam Walton Adam Walton | 12:36 UK time, Monday, 21 November 2011

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

We celebrate the crystalline vocal prowess of Rachel Lloyd & Matt Nicholls (performing live at this year's Focus Wales Festival). It's a beautiful set, marred by an errant CD that coughs and dies just before we reach the last song. We'll play that on next week's show. But it shouldn't diminish the beauty of the fine performances that preceded it.

Alan Holmes tells us about the first real, 'proper' band he can remember seeing come out of Bangor, Hot Water - featuring a voice that shouldn't be too unfamiliar if you're a (very) long-term listener to the show.

Ben Hayes links back to the excellent Jellyfish track he played last week, and plays something that'd make a cauliflower dance, such is the excellence of its Moogy groove.

I celebrate the production work of David Wrench - 'cause he's ace.

We have debut plays for Dirty Wordsmith, Mr Pelham and Shoot The Rabbit. I haven't had access to the BBC Introducing Uploader for a couple of weeks, so please (kindly) mail new releases/demos/gig info etc to

On the subject of gigs, I'm hosting two wonderful looking celebrations of Welsh music this week. Firstly, on Tuesday 22 November, a folkish winter warmer featuring the incandescent Cowbois Rhos Botwnnog (who graced the main stage at Green Man Festival this year) and the phenomenal Georgia Ruth (& band), 7.30-11pm at Telfords Warehouse in Chester, with crackling vinyl coming from DJs Elin Bach, me and the aforementioned Ben Hayes (Soundhog).

The next night (Wednesday 23rd November), BBC Radio Wales in conjunction with Goleuo, host Georgia Ruth & band and Dan Amor (playing tracks from his excellent new album Neigwl) at the Gwydyr Hotel in Betws Y Coed (8-11pm). I'll be DJing and it's FREE to get in.

Both events have been specially formulated to bring a glow of joy and yearning into winter-stricken hearts. Come along for amazing sounds and friendly faces. Apart from mine. I always look like a bulldog licking a nettle. It's concentration, and fear of someone requesting Rihanna.

Whatever you decide to do this week, I hope the show introduces you to some amazing sounds.

Same time next week?

ISLET - 'This Fortune'

ASTROID BOYS - 'Follow Me [ Boson Remix ]'

TERROR CELL - 'Another Love'

SATURDAY'S KIDS - 'Black Pocket (EP Version)'

YR ODS - 'Paid  Gwrando Ar Y Gân'

GEORGIA RUTH - 'Bones (Mastered EP Version)'

COWBOIS RHOS BOTWNNOG - 'Celwydd Golau Ydi Cariad'
Llyn Peninsula

DAN AMOR - 'Calon Anialwch'


CASKADE & DIRTY WORDSMITH - 'Blue Collar Rhymes'

SEX HANDS - 'Rembrandts'

WIRE - 'Outdoor Miner'

SAMMO HUNG - 'Bat Squeaks'

I AM AUSTIN - 'D. T. T. R. H.'
Connah's Quay

NUCLEUS - 'Arms Around Me [ Raithe Remix ]'


ALAN HOLMES - 'Spoken Contribution'

HOT WATER - 'Different Morning'


Y NIWL - 'Undegun'

MEKONS, THE - 'Warm Summer Sun'

ZUN ZUN EGUI - 'Cowboy'

STRUCK A NERVE - 'Can't Lose Out'

MY PET MONSTER - '[ Citation Needed ]'

LOVELY EGGS, THE - 'New Allergies'

AVAN RIJS - 'Treasure Chest'

PULCO - 'Whistle Frog (EP Version)'

KNICKERS - 'My Baby's Just A Baby (But I Love Him So)'
London/Cardiff Distribution

9BACH - 'Cariad Mam (Featuring Black Arm Band)'

OWAIN K - 'Sans Fin'

HOWL GRIFF - 'Sharkfins In The Sky'

BASTIONS - 'I Tried To Stitch The Sea To The Shore'

BASTIONS - 'Onset'

RACHEL LLOYD AND MATT NICHOLLS - 'Crystal Balls (Live At Focus Wales 2011)'

RACHEL LLOYD AND MATT NICHOLLS - 'Wait For Me (Live At Focus Wales 2011)'

RACHEL LLOYD AND MATT NICHOLLS - 'Into The Air - Interrupted Version (Live At Focus Wales 2011)'

SUPER FURRY ANIMALS - 'Ymaelodi A'r Ymylon'

BEN HAYES - 'Spoken Contribution'

AIR - 'Kelly Watch The Stars (Moog Cookbook Remix)'


JACKIE LEVEN - 'Rainy Day Bergen Women'


Death Of A Polaroid signing at Waterstones, Cardiff

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James McLaren James McLaren | 10:01 UK time, Monday, 21 November 2011

Manic Street Preachers bassist Nicky Wire was at Cardiff's Waterstones last week to sign copies of Death Of A Polaroid, the band's paean to a passing art form. I asked Jarrad Owens, editor of AmpedWales, armed with his own specially-bought Polaroid, to report on the occasion. You can also read this post at AmpedWales - it is reproduced here by kind permission.

Death Of A Polaroid

Death Of A Polaroid

Waterstones, The Hayes, Cardiff. The scene for the launch of the first of two books by Manic Street Preachers bass player and mouthpiece, Nicky Wire.

It's strikingly appropriate that an event steeped in as much history as this should be staged in the heart of the Hayes, a district of Cardiff which more than any other shaped the Manics. Spending their formative years performing in the arcades and alleyways surrounding Waterstones before using their hard earned busking money to purchase the latest vinyl delights in Spillers.

The queue snakes around the perimeter of the store, a mixture of hardcore Manics devotees decked out in Wire-esque outfits and the more casual 'Radio 2' fans hoping to finally get a glimpse of Nicky up close.

The event has attracted a number of elderly onlookers inside the store, and as Nicky makes his grand entrance via a large Victorian staircase one gentleman asks me who he is. He goes on to remark that he saw the Manics on Strictly Come Dancing; proof that in 20 years the band have gone from anti-establishment upstarts to 'National Treasures'.

Jarrad Owens with Nicky Wire

Jarrad Owens with Nicky Wire

Death Of A Polaroid', a baby pink hardback heavyweight, is a selection of pictures that intimately documents the history of the Manics, shot of course as the title suggests, on Polaroid format. Each picture comes from the private collection of Nicky Wire, the self confessed archivist of the band, and combines candidly captured portraits along with concept and documentary photography.

"I'm not a photographer," says Nicky Wire. "I'm a Polaroid freak who thinks that the colours and the vividness and the memories encapsulated in this art form are spectacular. Nothing moves me more."

Nicky Wire

Nicky Wire

As a long-time follower of the band it's nice to get a rare view from the inside; particular highlights include studio bound shots and a myriad of alternative artwork for singles from the This Is My Truth era. This visual journal is a fascinating look at what could be the last great British rock n roll band; the apt marriage of a dying genre and a dying photography format.

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Beethoven rocks

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Laura Sinnerton Laura Sinnerton | 10:33 UK time, Friday, 18 November 2011

Some of you may already been hooked on the BBC 4 series Symphony. I don't think there is enough content like this on our screens and I've found the series so far very interesting and really quite inspiring, in particular the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment playing Beethoven and Schubert under the baton of Sir Mark Elder - amazing playing!

Engraving of Ludwig van Beethoven by Blas Hofel, from a crayon drawing by Louis Tehonne, 1814

Engraving of Ludwig van Beethoven by Blas Hofel, from a crayon drawing by Louis Tehonne, 1814

We are involved in the Radio 3 link up to the series and this week performed a live broadcast from Hoddinott Hall of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. It was a packed hall and it was nice knowing that my newly-retired father was listening in at home (incidentally, he enjoyed it very much). It was also the first time we had the opportunity to work with conductor Michael Francis - I really enjoyed his no nonsense, efficient, yet very enthusiastic approach. Hope we see him again soon!

I was always a very imaginative child. If I was caught up in reading a really good book, a full complement of marching bands would pass the front of the house and I would remain blissfully unaware. As an only child, I would happily spend hours in my own company with my own imaginings, fueled by day trips my parents would take me on to the Ulster Museum and the Armagh Planetarium. As I grew up, music was the medium that increasingly captured my imagination.

Beethoven's music in particular has always grabbed me, whether it be the symphonies or the great Razumovsky Quartets. The seventh symphony is my preferred symphony for sheer exuberance, but the fifth truly moves me. There is something about the first movement that makes my heart thump. You can almost taste the composer's desperation. When the oboe has its mini-cadenza in the recapitulation, I could cry for poor, deaf, still raging against the unfairness of it all, Beethoven.

Through the beauty of the second movement's variations we reach the electric final movement. As well as making my arm want to fall off, this movement always makes me break into a smile. There is such resilience, such fight, in this symphony. To me, it is a life affirming work, albeit in a much more personal way than the 'Freude!' of the Ninth.

Over the years, I must have played this symphony umpteen times. I never tire of it. I find something fresh in it every time I have the opportunity to play it. While there are times when I would genuinely like to pitch my viola out the nearest window, works like this symphony keep me excited about being a musician.

It can be difficult to hold on to that excitement sometimes, but how could anyone hear or play this music and not feel something? In a week that will also see us performing Elgar, Britten and Vaughan Williams at the Colston Hall, Bristol, in addition to recording soundtracks, it is Beethoven's Fifth Symphony that has kept me buoyed up this week.

Newport's TJ's venue goes back to auction

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James McLaren James McLaren | 10:15 UK time, Friday, 18 November 2011

Newport's TJ's will go under the hammer for the second time next month, following the withdrawal of previous buyers who had planned to turn the historic music venue into a restaurant.

TJ's venue in Newport

TJ's venue in Newport. Photo courtesy of Paul Fosh Auctions

Paul Fosh auctions will hold the sale at the Park Inn hotel in Llanedeyrn, Cardiff, on 8 December, with a guide price of £175,000. Following the death of the venue's charismatic owner John Sicolo, his family put TJ's up for sale. Any buyer will come into possession of a property which has hosted bands such as Green Day, Mudhoney, Hole, Fugazi, Therapy?, Oasis, The Bluetones, Supergrass, Shellac, Catatonia, Manic Street Preachers and 60ft Dolls.

60ft Dolls' Carl Bevan told us: "There are so many reasons why it should remain as a music venue. Newport has one decent venue left, Le Pub. Everybody knows about the wonderful heritage of TJ's and of course the very badly missed John Sicolo.

"The main thing is a lot if people grew up with that place and actually consider it home! The amount of weekends I have wondered where I could go and then remembered its no longer there. Very sad indeed."

And it's not just old timers who believe it should stay as a venue. Crossbreaker, a Cardiff hardcore band, said: "A functioning venue of that size was integral over the past few years, to touring and local bands, especially those of an 'alternative' nature. For all of its latter wrongs, that place was still so right."

But not everyone agrees. Huw Williams of Swansea's Pooh Sticks said: "Newport, like Swansea, gets short shrift due to its proximity to Cardiff so it's very healthy for there to be more venues outside of the throbbing metropolis. I can't figure out a way forward for TJ's though."

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Wakestock 2012 stays in Wales

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James McLaren James McLaren | 11:06 UK time, Thursday, 17 November 2011

After some reports that the Wakestock festival would leave Wales for the south west of England, organisers have announced that the music and wakeboarding festival will be returning to its Abersoch site in 2012.

Wakestock 2012

Wakestock 2012. Photo: Louis James Parker

A press release for the festival says:

"Great news for all Wakestock fans - Wakestock will return to Cardigan Bay on 6-8 July 2012. After an epic year in 2011 which saw Biffy Clyro, The Wombats, Ellie Goulding, Chase and Status, Example, Ed Sheeran, Kelis, Wretch 32, Nero and a whole host of other top name bands and DJs join the world's top wakeboarders for three days of non-stop sporting and live music action, we are thrilled to announce the festival will return to the same site near Abersoch in July 2012. The first exciting announcements about this year's music line up and wakeboarding action will be coming soon."

Welsh DJ's Welsh connection

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James McLaren James McLaren | 10:41 UK time, Thursday, 17 November 2011

Joanna Ranson, a dance music journalist who's an occasional contributor to BBC Wales Music, came to me a few months ago with some interesting information about a link-up between a Welsh DJ and a forthcoming major film. Interest piqued, I asked her to investigate. Here's her report:

Neil Navarra

Neil Navarra

Trainspotting was a film that captivated the audiences of the 90s with its uncomfortable and brutal depiction of heroin addiction in working class Scotland. Danny Boyle's adaptation of Irvine Welsh's novel gave a realistic portrayal of crumbling friendships held together by spoons and syringes set against a background of decaying society.

March 2012 will see the highly-anticipated arrival of Irvine Welsh's Ecstasy, the adaptation of his best seller Ecstasy: Three Tales Of Chemical Romance. Directed by Canadian Rob Heydon, it features Kristen Kreuk of Smallville fame and Adam Sinclair.

Ecstasy has already received critical acclaim after it was screened at the Toronto Independent Film Festival. Its Welsh connection comes through its musical director, the Cardiff-based and internationally-renowned DJ, Neil Navarra.

As well as DJing and developing projects for young people that aim to give something back to British dance culture, Neil manages the branding for dance event Escape Into The Park and fronts Cardiff's Ku Ku Club.

He explains how he came to compile the music for Ecstasy:

"The movie really came about through a meeting about a radio show I'd developed for Godskitchen. I was asked to meet a movie director called Rob Heydon, so I hopped on a train to London. In a little café on Berwick Street in Soho, Rob explained to me the project and that he'd like me to help him out.

"A few months later Rob informed me the movie was complete and my role as musical director would now begin, licensing and compiling music for the synchronisation process. Having purchased the original Trainspotting CD when that first arrived in the stores, I knew the bar was high and to get anyway near that level of quality I'd have to pull out all the stops.

"Calling in many favours and having some great people in my address book from the music industry greatly helped this process, and before I knew it my inbox was completely flooded with some pretty outstanding music. We managed to filter the number of tracks down to around 40 with some great songs from artists such as Tiesto, Underworld, Iggy Pop, The Verve and Calvin Harris.

The synchronisation process takes place in post production. I get sent relevant scenes or clips of the film with a short brief of the mood, and I then have to source the appropriate music to put over the top of that scene. The music sourced then has to be licensed from the artist or record company. Music is such a powerful medium and it can really make or break a scene.

During my years in the industry I've managed to make some great contacts and even better friends. Once I'd realised I was working on the project I was pretty overwhelmed with the submissions, without even a brief [to the artists].

I worked with the director Rob Heydon and Craig McConell the composer. After I whittled the songs down to the ones I thought worked best, I sent over a folder to Rob and Craig. The list finally made its way to about 38 tracks, I think, in the end."

With Ecstasy's uncompromising depiction of a dark and powerful love story surrounded by ageing clubbers, hedonism and drug taking, Neil's music choices will have an impact on whether it will achieve the cult following of Trainspotting.

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A New Eclecticism

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Adam Walton Adam Walton | 09:23 UK time, Thursday, 17 November 2011

My much better half, Jo, likes to put things in boxes. It'll be me one day; such is life. Well, death. Hopefully, though, I won't end up in Tupperware with nothing more than a freezer bag sticker identifying my remains as contents:

"Adam Walton - Use Before 1998."

What do we keep in this container port of plastic receptacles? Well, literally everything. But let's just concentrate on my particular weakness: biscuits. We have traditional biscuits (digestives, cow, Rich Tea and Nice) in one box; chocolate biscuits partitioned elsewhere; biscuits for cheese in a couple of other boxes; dunking biscuits in another; 'healthy' biscuits in yet another. Not that I've ever opened that box, not on purpose anyway.

It's a triumph of obsessive organisation over anarchy. I'd prefer anarchy, to be honest. Perhaps Jo is concerned the biscuit equivalent of a tax man will pay a surprise visit, insisting they audit any undeclared Bourbon Creams. Maybe a more demanding relative visits in her dreams, threatening family ridicule if she can't proffer a cranberry oatcake within seconds of it being requested.

The shame would be cataclysmic.

Here is my problem with putting everything in boxes: I can't be bothered looking beyond whichever box is in front of me when I open the cupboard. Jo's system is governed by the need to find what you want quickly and without accidentally fingering a long-forgotten fig roll. Sometimes, however, taking a sticky leap beyond the rigid confines of the system is just what is required to alleviate torpor. Put too many things in boxes and you may as well live in a box yourself.

I'm hoping Jo doesn't read this piece for a number of reasons - but the idea she'd get, and implement, having read that last sentence is the key reason.

Boxes make me claustrophobic. They're good at containing, but containment is a reductive philosophy and not always a good thing, especially for music.

I heard a brilliant - proper brilliant, not my usual, kneejerk hyperbole 'BRILLIANT!' - interview with Chic's legendary Nile Rodgers on Lauren Laverne's 6 Music show the other day. He recounted his amazement the first time Chic did Top Of The Pops. Unlike the more rigid, partitioned system in America, TOTP was a genreless free-for-all.

Chic, who'd have been marginalised towards the black, R&B charts and programmes in the States, got to play alongside "some guy singing Ugly Duckling". The wonder of TOTP was it was an imperfect democracy based entirely on sales. Rock/pop/reggae/music hall/novelty/dance/punk: every musical denomination having to rub shoulders together, and all playing in front of a similarly broad-ranging audience.

The kids waiting for Little Jimmy Osmond got to get warped by Bowie; a dyed-in-the-wool rock fan would have been titillated by Chic; stuffy parents got to sneer at it all. The point being that it wasn't a programme predicated on genres. Neither the artists nor the audience were put in boxes.

This amazed Nile. He still sounded amazed almost 40 years later.

But almost ever since then, some bright sparks, probably in marketing departments or some such, decided that a better way would be to partition creativity. Maybe MTV's American, genre-orientated approach was the catalyst; then exacerbated by the reboot of Radio 1 in 1993, with the dawning of specialist indie/hip hop/reggae/metal and dance shows. Undoubtedly the process was exacerbated by the growing influence of the internet. Podcasts and music blogs took specialisation to a whole new level. If you wanted Norwegian black metal, you could find it, and only it, and the same applied to a massive proliferation of sub genres.

Original, leftfield music went niche. The audience got split. And - at a time when market research, focus groups and audience demographics started to rule editorial decisions - the audience for new music had disempowered itself, splitting into niches and cliques that hardly registered on the stattos' pie charts. Top Of The Pops got dropped in 2006, what little music TV that followed in its wake unashamedly targeted the mainstream advertising pound.

And eclecticism, as a street level musical philosophy, died.

Now, I do understand that eclecticism - or randomness - isn't always the perfect way to enjoy music. A cleaner, more aesthetic focus on form, an awareness and respect for style and flow is also important. It's what makes great DJs great DJs. But I'd argue that it shouldn't be the dominant ethos that dictates how the music industry and media showcase the talent they support.

People (shows/magazines/blogs) have been preaching to ever-decreasing circles for over a decade now. Audiences, I believe, have got bored by the predictability of what they're served up. I have no statistical evidence for this, It's a feeling. But this is a blog, not academic research.

It's one of the reasons that pop music - generally - has been more exciting and cutting edge than the supposed leftfield. You can hear a real convolution of ideas and styles in a lot of pop productions. But indie guitar hasn't evolved much, despite flirtations with jangly, off-kilter African riffs or surf-y reverb, for eons. And that - I believe - is because the pool of influence on those bands has shrunk because the shows, magazines etc that they seek support from have become, inevitably, more nepotistic and inward looking. Same goes for metal. Same goes for dance music. One dubstep does not a summer of genre-melting creativity make.

My radio shows and DJ sets are eclectic, but not purposefully. I just play the things that I hear that I am most excited by, regardless of the box they come from. It's not an approach that always finds favour. You can guarantee that if I play an R&B/grime/house/trance track on my show, there will be tweets and emails of derision.

Famously, John Peel challenged a similar conservatism when punk records started to replace the prog rock that had been his show's domain hitherto, but how can this kind of conservatism still exist in 2011? Why is it, in my experience at least, getting worse?

I'm preaching for a new broad-mindedness. Music lovers are far more eclectic than they're given credit for. For evidence, see the growing popularity of 6 Music and the enduring love for John Peel - the last great eclecticist. And, if I've just coined that word, can we keep it? Because I'd be proud to be regarded as an eclecticist.

So, can we please have daytime radio that seeks to bring more joy and variety into our lives, not just a stream of 'meh' focus-grouped to bland, predictable nothingness? Could we have a music programme other than Jools Holland's, that isn't entirely determined by live performance underpinned by boogie woogie piano? (Although - piano omnipresence notwithstanding - I applaud the ethos of Later.) Could the media and the music industry encourage and support more cross-genre fertilisation? Could we take the decisions about musical content away from marketing people who love boxes more than they love what they put in them?

Remember, the moment you stick music in a box, even if you put a leaf and a thimble of water in there and puncture the lid with air holes, it will die. Genres suffocate. All hail a new eclecticism!

And here, while you're thinking about it, have a fig roll (unfingered).

The Tricky issue of the man from Busted

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James McLaren James McLaren | 14:10 UK time, Wednesday, 16 November 2011

People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. I know this, and writing this blog is potentially very dangerous because 'there but for the grace of god go I'.

Last weekend The Daily Mirror published a story in which they said Matt Willis, manager of trip hop icon Tricky, was suing the Bristol artist. The trouble was, they stated that this Matt Willis was the very same who sang with boy band Busted, when in actual fact there are multiple Matt Willises in the world.

Matt Willis

Matt Willis. Out of Busted.

But then other media outlets began recycling the same story, including The Guardian, NME and contactmusic. The Guardian quickly took down the story when the mistake was pointed out to them, and many of the others have now been removed, but this farrago points to an ever-more-common phenomenon in the media, and often in music journalism.

Crusaders such as Tim Harford and Ben Goldacre point out the dangers of simply recycling stories or press releases' content as fact but - provided the stories are interesting and of public value - I often rewrite press releases or existing news stories for this blog. Luckily here at the BBC with its lovely compliance, we need two reliable sources before publication, so we're insulated a little from the horrendous error.

With a bit of nous I'm confident that it's not hard to avoid the absolute clanger. The trouble is, for media organisations like newspapers and websites which rely on traffic for advertising, the need to get there first is now greater than the need to get there correctly. Everyone operating in online media has traffic at the back of their minds.

Breaking a story, getting the benefits of being there first is great for Search Engine Optimisation. Then reacting as quickly as possible to someone else's breaking story is also important. But at what point does the desire to publish something as quickly as possible supersede the ability to detect a wrong fact, or a completely erroneous story? How hard actually is it to think 'Matt Willis is 28 and was once in Busted; Tricky is 43... I wonder if it's a different Matt Willis?'

Louis Pattison is a freelance music journalist of some 15 years who's worked for The Guardian, NME, BBC Music and Plan B among many others. He believes that the modern news mechanic means that things simply won't won't change:

Generally, over the last decade or so, the news cycle has sped up enormously. What once took place over weeks or days now, thanks to the internet, often takes place over hours or minutes. In this landscape, there's there's a lot to be gained from being first to a story - you don't just get the early hits, but you get other sites linking back to you, which can increase traffic exponentially.

On the flipside, there's not really much to be lost if the story is a dud, because there's another 10 stories up by midday - and even if the story is factually wrong... well, hey, you still got the hits, right?

The Daily Mail's entertainment site, I read recently, puts several hundred stories up daily, and of course, there's simply not the manpower to research and write this much original copy. So you get a situation where other stories, and press releases, are cannibalised and facts can spread very quickly across the internet, whether they're strictly true or no.

This Matt Willis thing is an excellent case of this, because it sounds at least semi-feasible: ex-boy band star goes into music management, and why not? Being in a boy band, you'd probably learn a whole lot about the music industry, knowledge you'd want to use in a subsequent career. Of course, it's not true; either someone in a news room has got the wrong end of the stick, or there's a page to be filled at short notice and it seemed like a funny thing to make up.

And let's be honest, it sounds slightly fishy too - one of Busted is managing Tricky, really? But as soon as it's published, it gains a sort of legitimacy - so you've immediately got other news organisations picking it up, passing on this story, and at no point do the facts receive the kind of scrutiny they should. At the end of the day, though, it doesn't really matter. The story is shown to be a dud. Perhaps there's a few red faces in a few newsrooms. But no one has really lost out, and besides, there's another five stories due to go up before lunch. And so, the practice continues.

Lewis Jamieson, whose acid tweets first brought this story to my attention, runs Loudhailer Press, a music PR company. He has been in the business for many years, previously at the famous Hall Or Nothing agency, and has seen the industry from the inside and at a high level. His criticism of the media outlets which reported this story was scathing. He believes that there's more damage done in these instances than Louis does:

Yesterday's mistaken revelation may well cause a few giggles but, behind a straightforward case of mistaken identity there is a serious point to be made about how the media deal with news in an online world.

There is certainly an increasing issue with what has been called 'churnalism'. Once organisations with history post stories on their sites that demonstrate a complete lack of basic fact checking, they abandon all claim to be reporting news and we are in a media world where trusted information sources are no more accurate than hearsay.

There are clear reasons for the spread of churnalism. The first is cost. At even the biggest organisations the relentless cutting and pruning has led to news rooms where sub editing and fact checking has been relegated for entirely practical reasons.

The second is profit motive. Being first is everything in current media theory. Breaking the story is far more important than actually reporting the story. This is tabloid theory in extremis, from 'Print and be damned' to 'Print and count hits and damn the truth'. If you are a big site then retaining readers is locked into being first. In a world of Twitter and Google simply keeping up is almost impossible and as for filtering the 'possibles' and 'maybes' from the hearsay is a tall order if you want to keep up. If you are a new site or media outlet, grabbing a reputation for telling the world something first can shift you up the pecking order fast and drive that investment and advertising revenue that everyone so badly needs.

The third is a little more insidious. My personal concern is that we are developing a culture where, if it runs it is true and, once proven to be untrue, you just move on and kill the web page. Trying to recover a story once it is out has always been difficult and the 'apologies are smaller than the story' line holds even truer in a multi-media world.

Plus, like I say, the piece may go but the headlines stay on Google. The general reaction to the story from those who have realised it is wrong (several are still running it) was either silence and a blank webpage or a somewhat jokey 'What a shame, would have been a great story'. Where the story has now been taken down the headline lives on in Google world and the public is unlikely to return to check facts once it is read.

When they get Tricky's manager wrong it is poor but not dangerous. When The Daily Mail post the Knox verdict on a guess to be first it is wrong and verging on dangerous. Either way it shows how media is being downgraded and becoming less trustworthy which is very dangerous.

Tim Chester, deputy editor of, one of the outlets which republished the story told me: "We always check sources of stories, and that mistake was made across numerous sites including the Guardian".

This is a lesson for all of us who write content for the web: harvesting hits and getting the stories out there is all very well, but perhaps we're in danger of risking the 'leverage' of trust. It can't be that difficult to pass a story through a few minutes of thoughtful research, surely? But for some, the checking of facts now feels increasingly old-fashioned.

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Adam Walton playlist and show info: Sunday 13 November 2011

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Adam Walton Adam Walton | 11:47 UK time, Wednesday, 16 November 2011

I think I'm going to start a 'new thing' right here, right now and award each show a score out of 10 to help you work out whether it's worth your bother listening. I may not be the most objective judge imaginable - this could be akin to allowing Idi Amin to choose World Dictator Of The Year back in the day - but I'll do my best to be honest and self critical.

This week's show scores an 8.75.

Despite a few fluffed lines from me (and who other than my own mother* cares about that?) / a skipping Los Campesinos track (my CD-R, not their fastidiously manufactured & excellent new album), it's nigh on perfect - containing, as it does, new Future of the Left (EP out now - buy it to alleviate all wan); new Bastions (LP out now - buy it to alleviate torpor); new Shy & the Fight (can't buy it now cos it's not due til 2012).

I'm so happy Future Of The Left have something new out. There isn't enough bristling intelligence in the modern world - well, there is, it's just the karaoke idiots, the finely considered hair dos and the scrotum-munching ITV wannabes tend to be the dead wood, when what most of us are seeking is Juno 60-mangling, lyrically astute TREES. Polymers Are Forever is to wit and noise what owls are to wit and woo.

Get in there, music lovers. Elbow-deep.

The last 15 minutes of the show is dedicated to the curiosity and vision of West Wales' Jobina Tinnemans. She was recently invited to be one of the electronic composers in residence at the Daphne Oram exhibition in the Science Museum (London). She has an all encompassing love for electronic sound generation, and a real vision and gift as a composer, as is magnificently demonstrated by her composition Shakespeare And Hedgeshear.

It blew my mind open in the most effulgent manner imaginable. I hope it does the same for you; widened ears are a very good thing. Ask a mouse.

Elsewhere, there are walk on parts for Huw Williams (troweling down Peter Harvey); Lara Catrin (translating Heather Jones) and Ben Hayes (inspiring us with Jellyfish.)

There are debut plays for Kayla Painter (edgy electronic minimalism); Bertel Haugen (joy encrusted song jewels) and Flying F M (baffling scat).

I couldn't access the BBC Introducing Uploader over the weekend, apparently my security certificate has expired. It'd be easier to waltz into Fort Knox with a bulldozer and a trailer marked 'Gold Swag'. So, for the time being at least, please direct demons and demos to: as a download link / high quality .mp3. Please read the below in advance of submitting music.

They're long. I'd give them an 8.75, though. I'm nothing if not consistent.

That's it for the verbals. Please share / retweet about the iPlayer link, not because I'm desperate for a boost -- I'm desperate for as many people as is possible via the 'magic' of social networking, to hear some of these amazing sounds.

Thank you for your time / diolch yn fawr iawn. Have a musically satisfying week, Adam.

* my mum's just been in touch to tell me she doesn't care either. Aces.

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Archive interview - Gruff Rhys (2000)

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Adam Walton Adam Walton | 11:28 UK time, Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Despite Super Furry Animals' and Gruff Rhys' (almost) ubiquitous presence in the modern Welsh musical landscape, I have only ever interviewed Gruff twice, and met him once (when honoured to present the inaugural Welsh Music Prize to him for Hotel Shampoo, last month.)

Gruff Rhys

This is a transript of an interview I conducted with Gruff back in May 2000, just prior to the release of Mwng, one of my favourite albums of all time, and a contender (if we're to reduce art to something as base and tawdry as a competition) for Greatest Welsh Album of All Time.

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North Wales tour, November 2011 - part two

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Laura Sinnerton Laura Sinnerton | 13:25 UK time, Tuesday, 15 November 2011

On this tour, four of us were staying together - me, Gwenllian Haf Richards (violin), Eilidh Gillespie (flute) and Amy McKean (oboe). On Thursday morning, our first challenge was to get everything into the car. Four suitcases, assorted instruments, two large food bags, Amy's knitting, a biscuit box, a lasagne and an apple crumble are not the easiest of items to fit into a Ford Fiesta.

The first venue was Aberystwyth Arts Centre. Rehearsal was going swimmingly, then the lights failed. It's a nuisance trying to play in bad lighting (I promise we aren't just being divas). Rehearsal continued with the centre's staff trying to find a solution and the orchestra looking a little like it was part of a sound and lights show. I particularly liked the green light that the second violins were briefly bathed in.

When we broke for dinner, the lighting staff valiantly persevered and by the time we were seated for the A, the stage was more or less back to the anticipated lighting norm. I was very much enjoying the concert until a giant fly, buzzing around the front of the hall, attacked our desk. It flew right at my desk partner Pete; I momentarily thought he was having a minor fit!

It was lovely to arrive at our little Llandudno cottage, Tŷ Fry. We've stayed there a number of times and the landlord Mark had left the lights and heating on for us.

Next day, the journey to Bangor was straightforward. Arlene, our second trombone, is not with us this tour, but still made us an itinerary of when we were supposed to leave, journey lengths and times, venue contact numbers, etcetera.

'Side by side' violins

'Side by side' violins

Additional elements of this tour were 'side-by-side' projects with local students. In Bangor, under- and post-graduate students had the opportunity to rehearse with the orchestra. I wasn't involved in Bangor, so called my mum to have a natter.

I like Bangor, but the orchestra tends to be quite spread out (due to the shape of the stage). It's a concerted effort to keep things together. If you rely on what you're hearing, the music ends up horribly untidy. The concert went well though and I think the Mathais benefited from being performed in a larger space than our studio. To me, it seemed to make more sense than it had done in rehearsal.

With that, there was only Wrexham left. We worked with students from the Wrexham Youth Orchestra, before finishing our own rehearsal. It was very warm on stage and as I wasn't involved in the Oboe Concerto, it was very nice to nip outside for some fresh air!

Concert done and we started the long drive home. Our favourite car game of the tour was pronouncing Welsh place names (Amy and I, with our rather strong Scottish and Irish accents, struggle with this). We also spent a lot of time singing along to Steps - The Ultimate Collection and to the Wicked! Soundtrack. A very enjoyable North Wales Tour!

Right Hand Left Hand - Power Grab

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Bethan Elfyn Bethan Elfyn | 08:42 UK time, Tuesday, 15 November 2011

One of the buzz bands of the last few years at Cardiff's Sŵn Festival have been local boys Right Hand Left Hand. They only perform a handful of shows, full of their distinctive brand of looped guitar and fierce drumming.

There's a début album Power Grab available through Bandcamp, and it's interesting to see them make the jump to recorded project. I caught up with the band to find out a bit more - here's what happened:

Right Hand Left Hand

Right Hand Left Hand

Hi RHLH! Who's in the band and how long have you been playing together?

We are Andrew Plain and Rhodri Viney. We've been playing in bands together since 2004 but we decided to ditch other people and employ a loop station and formed Right Hand Left Hand back in late 2006. The loop station does what we tell it to do and, apart from some funny mood swings from time to time, it rarely argues back and doesn't have a drink problem.

What's the reason you got together?

We formed Right Hand Left Hand while on tour in Europe with another band of ours. We'd just finished a show in the Vera in Groningen and were drinking in the little club downstairs when we discussed the idea of doing something on our own. Slow Response by Trans Am was playing in the background so we decided to cover that song first.

We ended up sharing a flat when we got back and one night we were watching a great Robert Mitchum movie called Night Of The Hunter. There's a scene where he tells the story of 'right hand, left hand' or, in other words, the battle between love and hate which he has tattooed on his knuckles. We'd recommend it, it's a great film. We decided that it was a cool band name for a two-piece so Rhodri went and booked us a gig.

It wasn't until 10 days before that gig we realised we hadn't played a single note or used the loop station so we got to work and wrote five songs in a week and covered the Trans Am tune. I'd recommend that approach to anyone. Having a deadline really got us to do something rather than just talk about how great it would be. We were probably a bit crap but we enjoyed it.

What's been your career highlight so far?

We've been very fortunate to have supported some really great and diverse bands in the last few years but one of our highlights was supporting Super Furry Animals. Getting the opportunity to record our album was also a big deal.

Which have been your best and worst gigs to date?

Too many favourites to mention and I don't think there's been a worst gig as such. The weirdest was when we supported Funeral For A Friend in the Pavilion in Tenby. It was great to be asked to do it but the venue was weird and the crowd didn't really get it. One kid asked us afterwards if we had a bass player who hid backstage. Saying that, we left a bunch of free demo CDs out on the merch stall and they all went. Hopefully the the kids listened to it before they used it as coaster for their bottles of black hair dye.

You mostly write instrumentals. Are there any with lyrics on the album, and is there any reason for avoiding words?

Power Grab has a few songs with vocals on it but we tend to treat vocals as another instrument as opposed to a main vocal over the top. It's not something we try to avoid - if we feel it needs vocals then we'll do it. For those willing to look a little deeper, some of our song titles have useful/useless bits of information without needing vocals.

You played a blinding set at Sŵn. Where's usually good to play and what's your favourite Welsh venue?

Thank you, we had yet another great time at Sŵn but it was a bit weird playing in the afternoon. We had to play our daytime, pre-watershed set! There are so many venues in Cardiff these days and I think the whole gig playing circuit is very healthy. What we do is a very visual thing so we feel comfortable in smaller venues where the crowd can get up close and see the looping in action. Downstairs in Clwb Ifor Bach is still one of the best and I've really enjoyed watching gigs in Undertone lately but Right Hand Left Hand are yet to play there.

Have you got any tales of crazy misfortune while on the road?

Unlike our previous bands, there's no real tales of misfortune with Right Hand Left Hand. Maybe it's because there's only us two idiots to look after. The loop station going down in a show would be a massive dose of misfortune for all concerned if that happens.

2011 is closing on a busy high for you, but what about next year? And what are your plans following the album release?

We've got a few shows before this year is out and we plan to release the songs that didn't make it onto Power Grab along with some remixes which some very lovely friends of ours have done. These include a remix by Guto Pryce from Super Furry Animals and Underpass. It'll all be on Bandcamp before Christmas and we might set it as a freebie or perhaps set it up so that people pay what they feel they want to pay for it. If there are any proceeds then we'll take the people who were kind enough to remix a track out for beers.

We'll keep gigging in 2012 but we also intend to record another album in February. It's almost written so we're really excited. We'll be working with the amazing Charlie Francis again and be doing it at the legendary Musicbox Studios.

Where can people find you online?

We are available on Facebook as well as Myspace. We are RHLHmusic on Twitter but most importantly you can listen and buy our album Power Grab from Bandcamp. Shameless plug!

What are the next few gigs coming up?

We're playing with our friends Poket Trez in Dempseys on 18 November and supporting Truckers Of Husk upstairs in Clwb Ifor Bach on 26 November for their album launch. We'll be doing a headline show somewhere too but we're yet to sort that. Getting out further afield is also on the cards for early 2012 but nothing has been finalised just yet.

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Katherine Jenkins tackles online bully

James McLaren James McLaren | 10:42 UK time, Monday, 14 November 2011

As Anti Bullying Week gets going, one of Wales' biggest stars has confronted an online tormentor.

Katherine Jenkins

Katherine Jenkins has revealed that she has been the victim of bullying by someone on Twitter for a year, and after the protagonist had a question read out to her on TV show Something For The Weekend she tweeted:

Dear ******* I find it very sad that even as an adult you think it's okay to bully someone. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and I'm not under any false illusion that everyone is goin to like me but you have no right to harass me as you've done over the past year with comments like 'bring out the dead daddy story again'.

You've set up a false account in my name where you slate and destroy my character. After blocking you, you still tried to find a way to get to me and this morning was one step too far. Sending in a question to be read on live TV (which didn't even make any sense!) to 'make me look clueless' is utterly pathetic and you clearly failed.

I've tried to ignore you but after this it's time to stand up to you. The sad thing is you'll probably enjoy the attention which is why I haven't mentioned your twitter name but I know you know who you are #StopCyberBullying

A spokesman for Jenkins told the Daily Telegraph: "Bullying of any kind is unacceptable. Katherine loves Twitter. It's a shame a minority use it to bully."

Some people subscribe to a policy of 'don't feed the trolls', but it's to be applauded when someone in the public eye chooses to combat head-on those who victimise others online. But for every Katherine Jenkins there are many more don't have the public forum on which to make their point.

"I've only served eight weeks, I can't really write a concept album about jail"

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Adam Walton Adam Walton | 15:12 UK time, Thursday, 10 November 2011

With the news of The Stone Roses' reunion last week, here's a companion piece to the blog post I wrote earlier this month.

This is a transcript of the interview I conducted with singer Ian Brown on 2 February 2000. It was recorded at Wise Buddha in London prior to the release of Ian's second album, Golden Greats.

It was intended to be a syndicated interview that other radio stations could easily reuse. However it was too 'conversational' and was only ever broadcast on my show.

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Bastions - Hospital Corners: a prelude

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Adam Walton Adam Walton | 12:50 UK time, Thursday, 10 November 2011

If I could convey the cataclysmic force of this music in words, you'd be reading this here screen in a gale of distortion, face contorted by an unimaginable G-Force. Believe me, Bastions' début album justifies melodramatic language. And not just because of the sounds. This is a major event for music in north Wales. Its epicentre is the heart of this album. Nothing will be the same again. Hopefully.


I first played Bastions in 2008. I don't want a t-shirt or a pat on the back or anything. But their evolution is one of the most inspirational music stories to come out of north Wales; up there with Melys topping John Peel's Festive 50 in 2001, or The Joy Formidable releasing the equally jaw-dropping The Big Roar earlier this year.

It's inspirational first and foremost because they're a great band. The bruised, evangelical, telepathic power of their music has always set them apart. It's organic hardcore that breaks the form and shames the formulaic, with a natural intuition for light and shade. And when it's shade, by god it's opaque. They've a terrifying intensity when they immolate as one. A Jupiter storm of guitars, drums like granite cannonballs, and a voice that screams and breaks with real, heart-rending, Biblical soul.

Oh, by the way, this isn't a review. This is a prelude. I implore you to investigate the album for yourself. Liking noise is probably a prerequisite but if anything is going to turn you onto noise, it'll be this.

The other reasons this album is inspirational are all wrapped up into one, like a bundle of interbred elastic bands. Bastions grew up and out of a part of the world that has nothing of substance to support music. Anglesey has been an inspiration and a breeding ground for some of Wales' most fascinating musical minds - but it's an unfortunate fact that few of these most talented of people ever get their music heard away from the island.

Talent, when it's far removed from the alleged tastemakers or a sustaining audience, tends to circle in on itself in ever decreasing circles, until it implodes in an acrid smoke of bitterness and cynicism. North Wales is full of bands who could've/would've/should've (my own included - if I'm pointing fingers here, one of them is most definitely pointed at myself). Too many bands have used the limitations - logistics-wise - as an excuse for being ignored. But the truly clever and innovative don't whinge about what isn't here, they build what's missing rather than waiting for a silver platter that will never materialise.

So has it been for Bastions. And that's why this story should be an inspiration to those who follow in their wake from the north.

When Bastions couldn't find anywhere to play, they commandeered venues and put their own nights on with bands from all over the UK who shared a similar vision. They had to come to Wrexham (quite a hike from Anglesey) to do this. Respect to Central Station for trusting their vision enough to let them host a night, even if things didn't work out quite as everyone might have hoped.

Bastions never had a comfort zone on the island, which has been the curse that became their biggest blessing. Without a comfort zone, they couldn't get mired in one; without an incestuous DIY scene on their doorstep, they had to look beyond. And to get accepted in other people's back gardens you have to be better than good. So, they made sure they were better - much better - than good.

When Bastions couldn't find anyone to release their music, they made a couple of the most incredible DIY EPs it's been my pleasure to play in my (nigh on) two decades of radiomongering. The DIY ethic is so ingrained in the south Wales punk and hardcore scene, this might seem an obvious - even an easy - route. But Bastions were the first band of this generation to do it up here, and to do it so well. From the handmade sleeves to the excellent recordings, these were brilliantly conceived and executed artefacts of noise.

And people started taking this band from a part of the world that isn't synonymous with hardcore seriously. They played a half empty room at Sŵn for us last year. I remember being stood among that threadbare audience.

"Who the hell are these?"

"Why haven't I heard of them before?"

"This is amazing!"

A triumph - and probably the smallest audience they've played in front of in the last 12 months.

So, the début album is here. The first time I saw Bastions was in a garish cabaret bar, playing through nothing more than a 200W vocal PA. It was obvious, even then, that they had the spirit, the ability and the attitude to make truly momentous records. This is the first of, I hope, many. An incredible album and a true inspiration for any young band stuck in the arse end of nowhere.

We're going north!

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Laura Sinnerton Laura Sinnerton | 10:43 UK time, Thursday, 10 November 2011

It is that time of year. Time to get the thermal underwear out from the back of the drawer and dust off the scarves, hats and gloves. It is time for the orchestra's November tour of north Wales!

It sounds a little bit pathetic, but after last week's education concerts, and the four concerts we played during the Wales Millennium Centre's open day, I was rather fatigued. After a couple of days off, however, and a lovely trip to Riverside farmers' market, I am feeling ready to face the journey north.

With us this week is Japanese conductor Takuo Yuasa, and the soloist in Mozart's Oboe Concerto will be our principal oboe, Dave Cowley. I love having the chance to hear my colleagues as soloist and over the next while there will be lots of opportunities to hear our principals. On 2 December principal bassoon Jarosław Augustyniak will perform Jolivet's Bassoon Concerto in Hoddinott Hall and in the new year, principal horn Tim Thorpe will perform Strauss' Horn Concerto No 1 at the Brangwen Hall, Swansea.

However, back to this week. There's actually a lot to get through during our rehearsal period. Although it will be the same concerto and symphony we play at each concert, each night we will play a work by a different Welsh composer. One of the works is by a gentleman called Daniel Jones and my fun trivia fact for the week is that he was a code breaker at Bletchley Park during World War Two - how cool is that?

On Tuesday morning we concentrated on the symphony, Beethoven's eponymous Pastoral. There is something so refreshing about this work. Almost everything about it feels simple and fresh. It is a bit of a tiring play though. The Storm section in particular is rather labour intensive for the violas. This is not helped by the fact that the music moves attacca into the subsequent allegretto, with the violas holding long pianissimo chords; your arm feels like it might fall off, but you've got to hold this ridiculously quiet, controlled pedal.

In the afternoon we tackled Hoddinott's sprawling work Landscapes, and the following morning Mathais' Helios and Daniel Jones' Cloud Messenger. Wednesday afternoon was dedicated to rehearsing the Mozart Concerto and me walking to the Post Office depot in the rain to pick up my bow and to the dry cleaners to pick up my concert dress (I finally got that rehair for my bow, and as for the dress, I'd spilt foundation on it backstage a few weeks ago - absolute disaster).

It's now Thursday morning and despite a rather inauspicious start to the day - I ran out of coffee, then didn't realise the milk was off and took a big gulp of sour tea - I'm rather looking forward to heading north. The roads may be a car sickness victim's nightmare, but the scenery is fabulous. There's no wi-fi where us girls are staying, so will update you on all the tour news next week!

The orchestra will be visiting Aberystwyth Arts Centre on Thursday; Prichard Jones Hall, Bangor on Friday; and William Aston Hall, Wrexham on Saturday. Tickets are available on the door.

Shelter Cymru celebrates 30 years with concert

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James McLaren James McLaren | 13:28 UK time, Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Three titans of Welsh music are joining Shelter Cymru this month to celebrate the homelessness charity's 30th anniversary.

Bryn Terfel

Bryn Terfel

Bryn Terfel, Cerys Matthews and Rebecca Evans are performing at The Shelter Cymru Presidents Concert at Cardiff's St David's Hall on Thursday 17 November.

Bryn Terfel said: "For 30 years, Shelter Cymru has been working tirelessly to prevent homelessness in Wales and all three of us as President and Vice Presidents are very proud to be involved with a charity that has such a long history of helping some of the most vulnerable people in our society.

"The current economic situation means that Shelter Cymru is busier than ever and needs all the help and public support it can get to ensure that its services remain available to anyone with housing problems.

"The 30th birthday concert is a great way to mark such an important milestone, but amid the celebrations I ask people not to forget the thousands of families who would not have a home if it hadn't been for the work Shelter Cymru does every day across Wales."

Visit the Sheter Cymru website for ticket details.

What's your story?

BBC Wales is looking for people to take part in a season of programmes on housing and homelessness in Wales. Our programmes will look at the difficulties of housing and homelessness issues and follow people's stories from all over Wales.

You may have been made redundant and are facing difficult housing issues. Maybe you are sleeping on a friend's sofa and need a place of your own. You may be facing other issues related to benefit changes and cuts. You may be homeless and struggling.

If you feel you would like to be filmed as part of a programme email:, or telephone 029 2055 9955 and ask for Nia, Carys, Ian or Hannah.

Adam Walton playlist and show info: Sunday 6 November 2011

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Adam Walton Adam Walton | 14:45 UK time, Monday, 7 November 2011

This week's show is now available via the iPlayer. It has no particular, front page-grabbing, tabloid-nuzzling headliner; instead, it's a thrillingly democratic celebration of Ace Noises That Happen To Come From Wales. I've capitalised that because it is The Ethos Of The Show. In A Nutshell.

I'll Stop Now.

You'll also learn the lesson that I learnt on Saturday afternoon: that leaving your car in Connah's Quay, for the sake of a few, casual (free) cans of Stella with friends, can exact a painful price. I'm amazed I can type, such is the all encompassing agony wracking every fibre of my being.

Not that I'm being melodramatic, or anything.

In amongst the new stuff, the token Public Enemy track and a bit of De La Soul, you'll find Alan Holmes expounding on the Arctic (via Wrexham) delights of Artaud Beats. Lara Catrin translates Maharishi and Ben Hayes brings in a 20th birthday cake for My Bloody Valentine's epochal Loveless album.

We have debut plays for the Watkins Screamers, Sam Jones, Joseph & David, Crevasses, Rumour and Anna Rose Carter.

Please send new releases / demos / gig info and Furbies you've fallen out of love with to:

Or post stuff to:

Adam Walton
BBC Radio Wales
The Centre for the Creative Industries
Glyndwr University
LL11 2AW

There is more info on submitting music to the show on another blog entry.

Have a better-than-middling week, and you hear anything ace, please tell me about it. I like to leech.

Yours in sounds, Adam Walton

PAMELA WYN SHANNON - 'Rites O' The Wicker Man / Abbots Bromely Horn Dance / Paddy Fahey's'

GOLDEN FABLE - 'The Chill Pt. 2'

LOS CAMPESINOS - 'Songs About Your Girlfriend'

STRUCK A NERVE - 'Can't Lose Out'

THORUN - 'Chorus Of Giants'


KEYS, THE - 'From Tense To Loose To Slack'
Resolven / Cardiff


GRUFF RHYS - 'Whale Trail'

WIBIDI - 'What Gets U Home At Night'


Colwyn Bay / Manchester

TRAVELLING BAND, THE - 'Sundial Mmxi ( Free Download )'

SAM AIREY - 'The Blackout ( Radio Edit )'

JOSEPH & DAVID - 'Rise Up The Sun'
Cardiff / Leeds


ALAN HOLMES - 'Spoken Contribution'

ARTAUD BEATS - 'Untitled ( Live At Nødutgang Festival, Bodø, Norway 29th October 2011 )'
Bangor / Hastings / London / Paris

KUTOSIS - 'House Sounds'

CREVASSES - 'Exosurf'

PULCO - 'Whistle Frog ( E.p. Version )'

DE LA SOUL - 'Change In Speak'
New York

FRANK TURNER - 'Wessex Boy'

FUTURE OF THE LEFT - 'Polymers Are Forever'

SCIENCE BASTARD - 'A Different Same'

FALLS - 'Who's Afraid Of The Big Bag Gulf'

Mold / Leicester

DAUWD - 'What's There'

CREISION HUD - 'Llygaid Gwan'
Caernarfon / Cardiff

LARA CATRIN - 'Spoken Contribution'
Bangor / Cardiff

MAHARISHI - 'Ty Ar Y Mynydd'
Llanrwst / Llansannan / Ruthin / Bethesda

BLACK HAND LASER BAND - 'The Witching Hour'

PUBLIC ENEMY - 'Fight The Power'
New York

DISCORD - 'Full Moon'
Cardiff / Bristol

BEN HAYES - 'Spoken Contribution'


RUMOUR - 'Writing Wrongs'
Denbigh / Rhyl / Prestatyn

ANNA ROSE CARTER - 'Belle's Jar ( Featuring Christopher Brett Bailey )'

The Gentle Good in Chengdu, China

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Bethan Elfyn Bethan Elfyn | 10:00 UK time, Monday, 7 November 2011

Welsh folk artist The Gentle Good, aka Gareth Bonello, is currently on a very interesting residency in Chengdu, Sichuan province.

He was selected from hundreds of nominated artists for the scheme organized by the PRS for Music Foundation and British Council to record an album with musicians from the region, experimenting with traditional Chinese instruments and attempting to interweave Welsh and Chinese folk styles.

It's a highly ambitious project, and exciting too for Gareth as he gets to creatively experiment with the musical culture in the heart of China for six weeks.

I caught up with him on email, and asked if I could quote sections of his own personal blog of his adventure for this article. It sound like he's embracing every aspect of live from strange foods to the hustle and chaotic bustle of the Chinese streets. I can't wait to hear the final product, an album of collaboration, but also what a life changing experience for one musician. Pob lwc Gareth with the project!

It is a beautiful autumn day today in Chengdu. The weather has been colder and wetter this week, but today the sun is out and although it is still quite cool the air is crisp and clear. The veil of cloud and smoke that normally blankets the city has lifted to reveal a brilliant blue sky. It puts me in mind of the warm and pleasant autumns we've had in Wales over the past couple of years.

I've been here in Chengdu for almost two weeks and I'm starting to get a feel for the place. I've been learning lot about the history, culture and tradition of the region and have met and played with some excellent musicians who are real masters of their craft.

At the moment I'm trying to familiarise myself with the sounds of the traditional Chinese instruments and the scales that predominate in the music. Although the five note scale (pentatonic or 'blues scale' as it's known in the west) is the basis of a lot of the tunes I've heard it is by no means rigidly stuck to by the musicians and part of the thrill of the music is that it deviates and expands on these notes and takes you to some pretty unexpected places. The music is also almost visual, with some techniques being employed to deliberately imitate or illustrate scenes from nature.

Sun Xian Chu playing the Hulusi

Sun Xian Chu playing the Hulusi

It was also a pleasure to visit Du Fu Cottage, built on the site of the former residence of Tang dynasty poet Du Fu it contains tranquil bamboo gardens and water features and reconstructions of the dwelling where he wrote over 200 poems. I had a press conference there on Monday attended by TV crews and print journalists and I performed a couple of songs - all of which was a pretty new experience for me!

Jiang Qian playing the Guzheng

Jiang Qian playing the Guzheng

I am particularly interested in Du Fu as he was a contemporary and an acquaintance of Li Bai whose life is the theme and whose poetry is the inspiration for the album I'm writing whilst I'm here.

I've written two songs so far in the old Welsh style of the 'Hen Benillion'. One is an atmospheric poem in which Li Bai hints at his Taoist world view (based on two poems 'question and answer in the mountains' and 'On visiting Taoist master in the Tai-TIen mountains and not finding him') and the other takes the form of a letter written from his lonely wife whilst her husband is away travelling (based on 'The ballad of Chang-Kan').

Since then I've jumped ahead of the narrative a bit and am writing the death scene but it all seems to be going well at the moment. I've also been recording sounds from the streets of Chengdu such as buskers, chimes from temples and traffic that I want to include on the album.

Photos are by Gareth Bonello. You see the full story with music on his blog.

What the world was waiting for

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Adam Walton Adam Walton | 17:29 UK time, Friday, 4 November 2011

Back in the summer of 1989, The Stone Roses were the second most important thing in my life. I was going to try to avoid writing about them in light of their recently announced resurrection, but it's like that afternoon I spent in a Bulgarian gulag in 1981, learning how to ski: the harder I tried to avoid getting a pine trunk in my unmentionables, the more frequently it happened.

I first heard The Stone Roses on Snub TV. My girlfriend, Charlotte, phoned: "Turn the telly on, quick. There's a band on BBC 2. You'll love them."

I only caught 30 seconds, or so. Ian Brown being beyond tune and mesmeric, singing something about not having to sell your soul. All of a sudden my beloved Cure, Smiths and Beatles albums didn't seem so special any more. There was a moment of chemistry in that clip of I Wanna Be Adored that didn't just exude something indefinable and 'other', it exuded something indefinable, 'other' and NOW. It made House of Love sound like an unflushed toilet, the Wonderstuff sound like the Wurzels with worse tunes, and The Smiths sound like a fun-less dirge of somebody else's problems.

Woofer ran the local record stall in the indoor market in Mold.

"I heard this band on the telly last night."

"The Stone Roses..."

"Yeah, I think so. Have you got anything?"

Another early memory of hearing The Stone Roses was while listening to the build up to the 1989 Liverpool vs Everton FA Cup Semi Final on, I think, Radio City. They played Made of Stone. It must have been before that day's terrible events began to unravel. Wherever its rather stately and melancholic tones appeared, I will forever associate the song with that sad, sad day. Which is the precise reason why, earlier this week, I felt so sick when I saw an ad for a competition in The Sun to win tickets for their forthcoming gigs.

So what have I got to say about the band that hasn't been said before? Why are they relevant to a blog about Welsh music?

Well, The Stone Roses changed my life. When I met and interviewed Ian Brown in 2000 he told me that he meets someone every day who tells him the same thing. He didn't say this with any weariness. He took great pride in the fact that people had met their wives, or been inspired into new lives and directions, by their experiences at Stone Roses gigs. And he's right to feel pride in the love they engendered.

In retrospect, much has been done to displace the band from that initial fervour they generated: the immolation of their reputation at Reading in 1996; the endless Silvertone reissues; the boorishness of many of the bands that photocopied them (the Stone Roses were hard as nails but androgynous, too); 20 years of ubiquity at indie discos; 20 years of people not getting the link between The Stone Roses and funk, hip hop and reggae.

If I had a balloon for every snarling berk who'd demanded I stop DJing Toots and the Maytals, or Funkadelic, in favour of some "Roses", I'd have enough to fly myself to a tropical idyll, far away from snarling berks.

And then there is the fact that the band are oft derided by the people whose musical taste I most respect and admire. John Peel, famously, wasn't much of a fan, comparing them to Herman's Hermits. My broadcasting mate and DJ inspiration, Soundhog, would rather play almost anything else in his DJ sets than "The Stone bloody Roses".

I loved them, though. I'm not sure I still do, but I did then, and they did - undoubtedly - change my life.

I'd imagine they also had quite an effect on Gruff Rhys when he was studying art in Manchester during their ascent. There are certainly echoes of similar touchstones in Radiator and The Stone Roses' debut (particularly Love's Forever Changes). Catatonia, too, had moments of liquid, melodic transcendence that sounded like reverberations from The Stone Roses.

For whatever reasons they spoke to me more evocatively than any other band had done up until that time. They were all the good bits of my mum and dad's records, the swirling guitars and timeless melodies, with a swagger and a groove that set them apart. Their lyrics had a dark, mysterious poetry to them that was so much more romantic than Morrissey's Wildean wordplay and kitchen sink drollery.

"And for as far as I can see, tin-twisted grills grin back at me, bad money dies I love the scene..."

It took me months to fathom those words. Part of the allure of their debut album was filling in the gaps between the dreamy syllables you could make out, and the whispered ones you could not. What the hell was he on about?

But the real life changing experience wasn't the day that I bought their album (19 May 1989) the real life changing experience came when I saw them at the Empress Ballroom in Blackpool in August of that year. I'd seen a couple of bands before, but I'd not experienced anything like that; still haven't.

The sun shone. The prom was full of kids my age in big trousers and bright t-shirts. There was candyfloss and lollipops. A fug of marijuana hung over the Golden Mile. The smiles were brighter than the dayglo signs on the funfair. This is all pretty much pat nostalgia. Ooh, how wonderful things were when I was thin, floppy-haired and fancy free. However, I'm not really a nostalgist. Necrophilia with one's past is unhealthy. As somebody once sang: "the past was yours but the future's mine..."

The sounds that came out of the speakers before the Blackpool gig filled me with a wonder and excitement I had never experienced before. It was Damascene, an ear-opening revelation fashioned entirely from incredible noises.

I had grown up on my mum and dad's old 50s and Motown rock 'n' roll singles, their Beatles and Bob Dylan albums. I started listening to Peel in 1988, bemused but attracted to the fey jangle of The Pastels, the strange rush of Loop and the banjaxing, splenetic grit of The Fall. I'd never heard Public Enemy, or Sly and the Family Stone, or The Stooges, or A Guy Called Gerald, or Sympathy For The Devil, or the multitude of other records I heard that night in Blackpool. But I went seeking each and every one of them out in the days following the gig.

I'd never ever heard anyone playing such a broad and unfettered selection of music. Genres, like the Berlin Wall, came down over those couple of summers - and that was the life changing inspiration. So, maybe this piece is more a tribute to Dave Haslam (the DJ that night) than it is to The Stone Roses. The latter enabled the former to amaze me and broaden my listening.

Four thousand people danced: kids from council estates, from nice middle class houses, from cities and villages, from Merseyside, Manchester and Mold. Indie kids, ravers and breakdancers. I try to live that open-minded, joyous dream in every DJ set I do, in every radio show I present, and - almost inevitably - fail every. But it's a goal worth aiming for.

The fact that they've reformed and are in danger of further desecrating that early philosophy worries me. But if one person goes to those gigs and gets their head blown as wide open by the possibility of sounds as I did, way back then, it will be a triumph.

Who are Yr Ods?

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Bethan Elfyn Bethan Elfyn | 10:13 UK time, Friday, 4 November 2011

Headlining the biggest Welsh language inter-colleges student event this weekend in Aberystwyth are North Wales band Yr Ods. They've been steadily building a following for a number of years, gaining fans from Emily Eavis to Huw Stephens.

This year alone Yr Ods headlined one of the showcases at Sŵn Festival, and the Eisteddfod, and now are embarking on a tour of Wales to coincide with the release of their debut album, Troi A Throsi (Toss and Turn).

Yr Ods

Yr Ods

So a band in our own country, playing huge gigs to thousands of young people, with the catchiest choruses and tight stage presence, and yet we could still know a thing or two about who they are. I thought it was high time we found out a bit more about the band.

Who are the members of the band and how long have you been playing together?

There's Griff Lynch and Gruff Pritchard on the vocals and guitars, Osian Howells on bass, Osian Rhys on the drums and me, Rhys Aneurin, on synths and piano.

What's the potted history and the reason you got together?

Well Yr Ods came to being when Griff and Gruff, who were at Aberystwyth University at the time, started to compose music. After a few acoustic gigs, they decided to get a bassist and drummer, and that's where the Osian came in. I joined about a year later when they felt the need for a keyboardist, and that's how it's been for nearly three years now.

What's been your career highlight so far?

Playing Glastonbury two years in a row were very proud moments for us, yet we see the release of our first album as an great achievement, and we're very proud of it.

Which have been your best and worst gigs to date?

Well, playing Glastonbury and Radio 1's Big Weekend were big gigs for us, and fortunately we got fantastic receptions at both. On the Welsh scene front, we've had great Maes B gigs in the last three years, all of which went very well and the crowds were massive, as well as a few good sets in Sŵn over the last few years.

You mostly write in Welsh. Is there any English on the album, and has language choice ever been an issue?

There's a chorus that's in English on the song Cerdded (Walking) but it doesn't really change the fact that it's a Welsh language album. Growing up listening to Welsh language bands, we've probably always had this aim to make a Welsh language album that people will hopefully remember in years to come, yet to say that we view language as a big issue would be misleading. We write most of our music in Welsh because it's our first language and what comes naturally to us.

All our music is written in the language that comes naturally in the process of composing it - we don't go "right, we need to write an English song". We do intend to write an English EP in the future, perhaps our next release who knows, but it'll happen only when we feel that the music is good enough.

You're about to set off on a tour of Wales, where's usually good to play and what's your favourite welsh venue?

Well, we're off this weekend to play the Dawns Rhyng-Golegol (Inter-University Dance) where all of the Welsh universities get together for a gig and a massive drinking session of course. They're always fun gigs to do, though I'm not sure how many of the crowd are actually about their wits at all by the time we play! I'd say that Clwb Ifor Bach is probably our favourite venue - we always get a warm reception there, as well as a fantastic sound on stage.

Any tales of crazy misfortune while on the road - usually a band staple?

Not anything crazy so far really, only a mad drunken woman (who paid to get in to the gig last weekend) did tell Griff to 'get lost' with his Welsh songs. It was hilarious! It was in Machynlleth too, which made this a bit of a shock!

2011 is closing on a busy high for you, what about next year, and any plans following the album release?

I think that we're going to take a bit of a break after Christmas, and we're probably going to start writing another record in the new year. I think we'd like to have another busy festival season in the summer so perhaps a new record by then would be good. Who knows what 2012 will bring really?

Where can people find you online?

We usually post and announce stuff on our Facebook page and we have a Myspace account.

What's the next few gigs coming up?

We're in the Students Union in Aber this weekend, then Cobdens in Capel Curig (12 November), Telfords in Chester (18 November) then Clwb Ifor Bach (10 December).

Remember, remember the fifth of November

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Laura Sinnerton Laura Sinnerton | 09:51 UK time, Friday, 4 November 2011

Since I first started coming to Cardiff, eventually becoming a full time member of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales in 2009, the face of the city has changed so much.

Cardiff has, of course, incredible shopping (I love the arcades in particular) and a sporting pedigree to be proud of. There is the legendary Cardiff night life, Mecca of the young and scantily clad. There are the lovely green spaces and the beautiful castle. Those are the obvious things, but Cardiff also has such a vibrant arts scene, with little independent venues dotted all over the city.

This Saturday, 5 November, the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff Bay is throwing open its doors in an unprecedented, access all areas open day. The whole event is free and will give people the opportunity to explore all of the spaces of the centre and generally, to have a good nosy at what goes on behind the closed doors of Cardiff's largest arts venue.

Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff Bay

Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff Bay

When my parents first came to visit me here, we took a tour of the WMC and it was really quite fascinating to hear all about its conception and to see behind the scenes. The centre boasts Wales' own national orchestra (that's us), an internationally recognised opera company (WNO - can't wait for their Tristan and Isolde in the summer! - a fantastic contemporary dance company (National Dance Company of Wales) as well as a myriad number of other music and theatre groups, including the Touch Trust and Hijinx Theatre Company.

After our week of education work, we will also be involved in the Millennium Centre Open Day, and you are welcomed to come and view our lovely studio. Gone are the days when the orchestra was locked in a windowless, colourless, airless studio!

We moved to Hoddinott Hall in 2009 and it is our rehearsal studio, recording studio and also a concert space. We record all the Doctor Who soundtracks here and it was also used for the Young Musician of the Year category finals last year. We will be playing several concerts throughout the day and it's a great opportunity if you haven't had the opportunity to see the studio and hear the orchestra free of charge.

We are very proud of our role as Wales' national orchestra and want to continue playing an ever more active role in the cultural life of Wales and its capital. Saturday's concerts will be family friendly and very relaxed. You don't have to dress up in anything fancy and you don't need to know anything about music at all. Perhaps you aren't too sure if orchestral music is your thing, but I would thoroughly recommend you give it a go.

BBC Hoddinott Hall, the orchestra's home, will be open to visitors on Saturday 5 November, between 12pm and 5pm, as part of the Wales Millennium Centre's Open Day.

Education concerts take to the road

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Laura Sinnerton Laura Sinnerton | 13:47 UK time, Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Over the last few years, the orchestra has been involved in a long term education project that has seen us bring a unique musical programme to thousands of school children, from both mainstream and special schools, the length and breadth of Wales.

Masterminded by our education and community manager, Suzanne Hay, along with Andy Pidcock and conductor Grant Llewellyn, the show brings together sing-a-long pieces written by Andy specifically for the show and familiar classical pieces.

This week, we are off on the road again with our education show, this time for concerts in Tenby and in the sports centre at Cardiff's Sophia Gardens. We will play to over 100 schools, totalling over 4,000 young people.

We have played this show so many times now and every so often, before the show starts, I find myself momentarily thinking, "here we go again!" I always feel slightly ashamed of myself in the next instant.

The children's response to the sheer spectacle of an orchestra playing live is incredible - perhaps this is a wonder that we need to remind ourselves of. We cannot deny that for some of the students, it will be the one and only time they will ever see an orchestra perform live (a sobering thought), while for others, it may be the beginning of a life long love of music.

Due to the persistent hard work of the education team, these shows are not a one-off extravaganza. The show was recently recorded and broadcast on BBC Learning Zone and is also now available as a DVD resource pack that has been made available to all Welsh primary and special schools.

Although I only play a small role in the show, I feel very proud to have been a part of it. When we perform the show for special schools, some of the children are coping with extremely severe physical and mental conditions. At times it can be impossible to tell how much or little they are aware of or able to take in, but that doesn't mean that we should be arrogant enough to decide ourselves that these children's perceived limitations make them less capable than us to appreciate and love music, to be moved by it and to find in it a means for expressing something that may be difficult to put into words.

Music education with the orchestra is not just about box ticking; neither is it about jumping on the bandwagon of something that is very much in vogue at the moment. It is about taking practical steps to make music accessible for everyone, regardless of their age or their abilities.

Adam Walton playlist and show info: Sunday 30 October 2011

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Adam Walton Adam Walton | 13:32 UK time, Tuesday, 1 November 2011

This week's show celebrates as broad a swathe of Welsh music as is humanly possible to squeeze into three tiny hours.

We glory in the melodic craftsmanship and elevating strums of Paper Aeroplanes, recorded live at this year's Focus Wales festival. Four wonderfully arranged acoustic renditions of songs from their catalogue.

They're one of the UK's most accomplished duos - and have earned broad ranging support from Radio 2, 6 Music, Radio Wales and the national media. There's no pretence, no artifice, just great, memorable songs and a voice that'd charm a piranha.

At the other end of the sonic scale, something likely to excite piranha to the point of spontaneous combustion - if it's possible to combust something under water. Colwyn Bay's Jay Robinson has earned himself a reputation as one of Wales' finest floorfillers and speaker shakers. He's a brilliant DJ, but also a producer par excellence. And both facets of his talent are in evidence during the 20 minute mix he's performed for this week's show.

Huw Williams comes in to remind us of the fleeting excellence of Tredegar's Alan Phillips, Ben Hayes reminds us that there was much more to Demis Roussos than billowing kaftans and Forever And Ever and Lara Catrin translates something excellent from Sibrydion.

Elsewhere it's all about the music. There are debut plays for Myrmyr, Knickers, Rezaloot, Malcom Gales, Fourth Autumn, Wearebrightstar and Alex Davies.

Please send new releases / demos / gig info / left over Trick or Treat sweets to:

See my blogs for more info on submitting music to the show.

Many thanks/diolch o galon, Adam Walton.

MYRMYR - 'Hot Snow'
Bridgend (label)

RIGHT HAND LEFT HAND - 'Stanislav Petrov'

KNICKERS - 'My Baby's Just A Baby ( But I Love Him So )'
London / Cardiff Distribution

STRUCK A NERVE - 'Millionaire Typewriters. Saturday Fightlife ( Radio Edit )'

REZALOOT - 'Killuminati'
West Wales

EUROS CHILDS - 'Emyn O Wdig'

GOLDEN FABLE - 'The Chill Pt. 2'

DAUWD - 'What's There'

MALCOM GALES - 'Enuma Elish'

FUTURE OF THE LEFT - 'Polymers Are Forever'

BASTIONS - 'Augury'

KUTOSIS - 'Devo'

Y NIWL - 'Un Deg Saith'

JIM JONES REVUE, THE - 'Dishonest John'

METHOD, THE - 'Dissidents Dancers'

MOGWAI - 'San Pedro'

GRUFF RHYS - 'Space Dust #2'


HUW WILLIAMS - 'Spoken Contribution'

ALAN PHILLIPS - 'Like In A Movie'

Colwyn Bay

TODDLA T & ROOTS MANUVA - 'Watch Me Dance ( Heartbreak Remix )'
Colwyn Bay (mix)

HERVE FEATURING CADENCE WEAPON - 'Roll With The Winners ( The Mane Thing Moombahton Remix )'
Colwyn Bay (mix)

Colwyn Bay (mix)

FAKE BLOOD - 'Voices ( Original Mix )'
Colwyn Bay (mix)

JAY ROBINSON - 'Believe In The Hype'
Colwyn Bay

BART B MORE & AC SLATER - 'Cry Baby ( Original Mix )'
Colwyn Bay (mix)

KRAFTY KUTS FEAT. M C DYNAMITE - 'Pounding ( Jay Robinson Remix )'
Colwyn Bay (mix)

ALEX MIND FEAT. SUE CHO - 'Deeply Into You ( Jay Robinson Remix )'
Colwyn Bay (mix)

JAY ROBINSON - 'Positive Vibes ( Original Mix )'
Colwyn Bay

JAY ROBINSON - 'I Need Bass ( Original Mix )'
Colwyn Bay

EXPONAUT - 'E621 ( Original Mix )'
Colwyn Bay (mix)

DOCTOR P - 'Tetris ( Original Mix )'
Colwyn Bay (mix)

CALVIN HARRIS - 'Feel So Close ( Nero Remix )'
Colwyn Bay (mix)

NOISIA & PHACE - 'Program ( Original Mix )'
Colwyn Bay (mix)

REVOKER - 'Great Pretender'
Rhymney Valley

CARTOON - 'Men From Mars'

PAPER AEROPLANES - 'Stones Inside ( Live From Focus Wales, Wrexham )'
Milford Haven

PAPER AEROPLANES - 'Safe Hands ( Live From Focus Wales, Wrexham )'
Milford Haven

PAPER AEROPLANES - 'Flee ( Live From Focus Wales, Wrexham )'
Milford Haven

PAPER AEROPLANES - 'My First Love ( Live From Focus Wales, Wrexham )'
Milford Haven

MEKONS, THE - 'Work All Week'

SŵNAMI - 'Ar Goll'

LARA CATRIN - 'Spoken Contribution'
Bangor / Cardiff

SIBRYDION - 'Gwyn Dy Fyd'
Waunfawr / Cardiff

H. HAWKLINE - 'Funny Bones'

BEN HAYES - 'Spoken Contribution'


FOURTH AUTUMN - 'Coffin Fit'


ALEX DAVIES - 'F R Double E'

UNSCENE - 'Mssn Link'

Hallelujah! It's Messiah time

Post categories:

BBC Wales Music BBC Wales Music | 10:37 UK time, Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Christmas comes early to Wales this year, with the first Messiah of the season taking place on Sunday 6 November.

Mega Messiah poster

Mega Messiah poster

A major part of Christmas for many classical music lovers in Wales is getting their annual Messiah 'fix' - whether it's taking part or being in the audience. Handel's most famous piece - the Hallelujah Chorus is arguably the most recognizable piece of music in the world - has always had a special place in the Welsh heart.

The Welsh fondness for oratorio goes back to the middle of the 19th century. Through a combination of the strong Nonconformist chapel community, with its tradition of congregational singing in harmony, and the setting up of choirs and bands associated with factories and mines, everyone was singing.

Ambitious conductors wanted their choirs to win medals in competitions, and the popularity of the Tonic Solfa system for learning music and the publication of the cheap Novello scores made it possible for choirs to learn these substantial pieces of music more easily than ever before.

The subject matter of the great oratorios, often based on Old Testament stories, were close to the hearts of the many devout chapelgoers. These pieces were often very dramatic in nature, in particular Mendelssohn's Elijah, but didn't involve the great cost of staging opera. An oratorio could easily be put on in the local church, chapel or village hall, accompanied by the organ or a small orchestra. Famous soloists were often booked to take part, and performances were so frequent that the train between Cardiff and Merthyr became known as the 'Messiah Express'.

Messiah in particular had everything going for it as far as the Welsh audience was concerned, with its subject matter ranging from the Old Testament prophecies through to the New Testament Resurrection. It's usually performed in the lead up to Christmas, and less often before Easter. It's full of beautiful solos and rousing choruses but also moments of orchestral serenity, and everyone has their particular favourite numbers.

Another reason for Messiah's popularity is that, while it isn't easy, most of the choruses are within the capability of most choirs. But perhaps it's because choristers in Wales are so familiar with Messiah that it doesn't take long to get it back up to speed every year.

If you're within striking range of Cardiff, there are several Messiahs coming up that will scratch your itch. The first, known as Mega Messiah, is in the afternoon of Sunday 6 November in the Wales Millennium Centre; you can either sign up to bring your copy and sing, along with hundreds filling the stalls, or just listen as a member of the audience.

Then, the Cardiff Polyphonic Choir give their performance at St David's Hall on Sunday 4 December. And if you're feeling more like a pre-Easter Messiah, yet another of Cardiff's great music venues - the new Dora Stoutzker Hall in the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama - hosts the Cantemus Chamber Choir Wales' version on Saturday 31 March.

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