Tag Archives: Welsh music

The Return of Pioneering Welsh Folk Band Ar Log

Saith – VII (Sain Records, 2018)

Ar Log is Wales’ most veteran professional folk group. Saith VII is Ar log’s first album in 22 years. To celebrate its 40th anniversary, in 2017, the ensemble went on an international tour. One year later Ar log recorded Saith VII.

Saith – VII features beautifully-crafted new arrangements of traditional Welsh folk tunes and songs.

The current lineup includes Dave Burns pn lead vocals, guitar, and mandolin; Geraint Cynan on piano, organ, harmonium, keyboards and backing vocals; Geraint Glynne Davies on lead vocals and guitar; Iolo Jones on fiddle; Graham Pritchard on fiddle, mandolin and vocals; Dafydd Roberts on triple harp, flute, whistles and backing vocals; and Gwyndaf Roberts on knee harp, clarsach and backing vocals.

Ar Log’s discography includes Ar Log (1978), Ar Log II (1980), Ar Log III (1981), Yma O Hyd (1983), Meillionen (1983), Pedwar (1984),
Ar Log V (1988), Ar log VI (1996).

Saith – VII is an album of exceptionally expressive, timeless Welsh folk Songs.

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Artist Profiles: Ar Log

Ar Log

Ar Log was formed initially to represent Wales at a Celtic Festival in Lorient, Brittany, in August 1976, and they were encouraged by The Dubliners to continue performing as a group after the festival. The founders were Dave Burns on guitar; Dafydd Roberts on triple harp and flute; Gwyndaf Roberts on knee harp and bass; and Iolo Jones (fiddle).

The ensemble eventually grew in size and had different lineups throughout the years.

Ar Log has toured throughout the British Isles, continental Europe, and North and South America promoting Welsh music and songs.

Discography:

Ar Log (Dingle’s Records, 1978)
Ar Log II (Dingle’s Records, 1980)
Ar Log III (Dingle’s Records, 1981)
Yma O Hyd, with Dafydd Iwan (Sain, 1983)
Meillionen (Dingle’s Records, 1983)
Pedwar (Recordiau Ar Log, 1984)
Ar Log V (Sain, 1988)
Ar log VI (Sain, 1996)
Saith – VII (Sain, 2018)

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Dylanesque Welsh Folk

Bob Delyn a’r Ebillion – Dal i ‘Redig Dipyn Bach (Sain SCD2773, 2017)

Dal i ‘Redig Dipyn Bach is the fifth album by Bob Delyn a’r Ebillion, one of the leading folk music acts from Wales. Unlike other Welsh artists that draw influences from the Celtic music tradition, Bob Delyn a’r Ebillion has a folk-rock edge with deep Bob Dylan influences, highlighting the charismatic vocals of frontman Twm Morys.

The band features a mix of traditional instruments such as fiddle; folk-rock band drums, bass and electric guitar; American folk-style harmonica; plus musical instruments from other parts of the world such as the Breton bombard and the South American charango.

Vocals are in Welsh. The CD booklet includes the Welsh language lyrics with English-language descriptions.

Personnel: Twm Morys on vocals, acoustic guitar, harp and harmonica; Gorwell Roberts on metal strung harp, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, mandolin and charango; Edwin Humphreys on saxophone, bombard, cornet, trumpet and organ; Einir Humphreys on vocals; Einion Gruffud on saxophone and pigborn; Claire Jones on fiddle; Nikolas Davalan on bass and double bass; Rhydwen Mitchell on drums; and Gwyn Jones on drums and percussion.

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Artist profiles: Siân James

Siân James

Siân James is the most important folk singer in Wales. Coming from a small village in heart of Wales Siân James was brought up in a Welsh speaking family steeped in the traditions of music and poetry. She sings and accompanies herself on her harp and is passionate about the unique and gentle nature of Welsh songs. Siân feels that it is time for Welsh musicians to get the same audience and recognition as the musicians from the other Celtic nations and regions.

Siân performed and competed in eisteddfodau from the age of three started to play the piano at six and the harp at eleven. She gave solo concerts starting at age eighteen and during her university years performed with a folk rock band Bwchadanas which continued to be popular in Wales for over ten years.

The first of Siân’s albums Cysgodion Karma (1990) is a mixture of traditional and original songs. It was followed by Distaw in 1993 showcasing more of her songwriting ability. Gweini Tymorwas released in 1996 and the culmination of twenty years of Siân’s interest in traditional music. The fourth CD Di-gwsg is made up of original music in Celtic style with a slightly more contemporary sound. Birdman her fifth album was commissioned as a soundtrack for a BBC miniseries of the same name. Album number six was released in 2000.

Siân has toured in other Celtic countries playing festivals in Brittany Ireland and Scotland and further afield for festivals and concerts in Spain, Italy, Japan and the United States. When Wales opened their new National Assembly, Siân was one of the musicians invited to celebrate the occasion at Voices of a Nation concert.

In 1996 she sang on the film score for The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill and Came Down a Mountain and the CD of the soundtrack was released by Miramax. Siân has considerable experience as an actress on Welsh language television and in 1998 she was given a six part series where she performed with her own band and presented guests such as Capercaille, The Saw Doctors, Frances Black and Alan Stivell.

Discography:

Cysgodion Karma [Karma Shadows] (Sain, 1990)
Distaw [Silent] (Sain, 1993)
Gweini Tymor [Serving a Term] (Sain, 1996)
Di-Gwsg [Sleepless] (Sain, 2153)
Birdman (BBC Records, 2000)
Pur [Pure] (Bos Records, 2000)
Y Ferch o Bedlam [The Girl from Bedlam] (Bos, 2005)
Cymun [Communion] (Recordiau Bos, 2012)

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Artist Profiles: Robin Huw Bowen

Robin Huw Bowen

Robin Huw Bowen was born in a Welsh family settled in Liverpool, England. He is passionate about the Welsh triple harp and its music. Of the few harpists worldwide who can play the triple harp, he is the only professional now specializing solely in this particular field. He is recognized internationally as the leading exponent of the Welsh national instrument.

As a teenager, Robin was fascinated by the music of the renowned Celtic harpist Alan Stivell. In 1979 he received a degree in Welsh Language and Literature from the University College of Aberystwyth Mid-Wales.

He began his pursuit of the Welsh triple harp in 1980 while employed at the National Library of Wales Aberystwyth. He seized every opportunity to research into the music and techniques of the old Welsh harpers by studying many of their old manuscripts and publications. He was also able to extend his research beyond dusty archives gleaning tunes and techniques from several elderly harpists. By 1986 he had mastered the instrument well enough to pursue his musical career full-time.

He has performed extensively around the globe as a member of the Welsh folk group Mabsant and since 1989 as a solo performer. Between 199 and 1996 he also performed and recorded with Cusan Tan.
While not touring Robin is able to continue his research into the Welsh harp tradition. In 199 he set up his own press Gwasg Teires to typeset and publish books of traditional Welsh music. His publications include collections of Welsh dance tunes and harp music.

Robin Huw Bowen

His first solo album was Cyfarch YDefyn (Honor the Harp) released on Sain Records. In 1991 he released on his own label Teires his highly acclaimed second solo album Telyn BerseinioIfyNgwIdd (The Sweet Harp of My Land). This album was released in the United States on Flying Fish Records and is the first recording from Wales that was readily available to Americans. His album Hunting the Hedgehog features music of the Welsh gypsies and Harp Music of Wales his third solo CD was released on Saydisc in 1995.

Although Robin’s repertoire closely reflects that of the Welsh harp in its heyday (mid-17th to the end of the 19th Century) his playing and interpretation of the music emphasize his awareness that he belongs to an unbroken tradition. His music is far from being a mere museum relic from a past culture. His pioneering research and passionate promotion of his country’s national instrument have earned him great respect and generated a renewed interest in both the Welsh triple harp and its music wherever he performs.

Discography:

Trwy’r Weiar – Through the Wire, with Mabsant (1987)
Telyn Berseiniol Fy Ngwlad – Sweet Harp of My Land (1991)
Cusan Tân – Kiss of Fire, with Cusan Tân (1992)
Hela’r Draenog – Hunting the Hedgehog (1994)
Cerddoriaeth Telyn Cymru – Harp Music Of Wales (1995)
Esgair – The Ridge, with Cusan Tân (1996)
Hen Aelwyd – Old Hearth (1999)
Crasdant, with Crasdant (1999)
Nos Sadwrn Bach – Not Yet Saturday, with Crasdant (2001)
Yn y Gwaed – In the Blood, with Rhes Ganol (2004)
Dwndwr – The Great Noise, with Crasdant (2005)
Y Ffordd i Aberystwyth – The Road to Aberystwyth (2007)
Harp Music of Wales – Cerddoriaeth Telyn Cymru (2011)
Iaith Enaid (2015)

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Timelessly Crafted Welsh Songs

Gwyneth Glyn – Tro (bendigedig BENDI1, 2017)

Tro is the first release on a new label called bendigedig which is dedicated to Welsh music talent. The first album is by rising talent Gwyneth Glyn. On Tro, songwriter, poet and musician Gwyneth Glyn delivers a set of original, intimate acoustic songs sung in Welsh and English. It’s a fascinating mix of Welsh traditions with world music elements from India and Africa. Acclaimed kora player Seckou Keita makes a guest appearance on the album.

The lineup on Tro includes Gwyneth Glyn on vocals and guitar; Rowan Rheingans on banjo, bansitar, violin, vocals; Seckou Keita on kora; Patrick Rimes on violins; Gillian Stevens on viol, crwth; Jordan Price Williams on double bass; Mark O’Connor on drums, percussion; Dylan Fowler on guitar, mandocello, dobro, kantele, tabwrdd, mbira, electric bass; and Dan Lawrence on shruti.

Tro is an impeccable example of open minded folk music craftsmanship.

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bendigedig, New Welsh Music Label

Gwyneth Glyn – Photo by Andy Morgan

ARC Music Productions International and Theatr Mwldan in Wales have formed a new independent record label called bendigedig. bendigedig will be producing a limited number of fully supported albums, working on an integrated and sustainable model, in partnership with the artists involved.

The first release is ‘Tro’ by Welsh singer-songwriter Gwyneth Glyn.

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Remarkable Welsh Talent

Calan – Solomon (Sain Records, 2017)

Calan is one of the finest contemporary folk music bands from Wales. The group sings in Welsh and English and mixes traditional music with modern elements.

The opening features great vocal harmonies, superb instrumentation and attention-grabbing mesmerizing spoken word. The rest of the album is a mix of virtuosic instrumentals and lively songs with real singing and really cool beats that resemble an acoustic form of electronic dance music.

Calan’s sound is driven by the remarkable fiddle, accordion, harp and bagpipe interplay, outstanding vocals and unconventional rhythms.

The lineup includes Angharad Jenkins on fiddle and vocals; Alice French on harp and vocals; Bethan Sian Rhiannon on vocals and accordion; Sam Humphreys on guitar, percussion, vocals and effects; Patrick Rimes on fiddle and Welsh bagpipes, pigborn, whistle, hulusi and vocals.

Guests: Greg Sterland on saxophone; Josh Barber on trumpet; Lloyd Pierce on trombone; and Nigel Jenkins on spoken word.

Solomon is a remarkable, beautifully-crafted Celtic music album by the exceptional Welsh band Calan.

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Artist Profiles: Ffynnon

Ffynnon (pronounced: fun-on), a Celtic folk group from Wales, perform songs deeply rooted in the rhythms, traditions and landscapes of the Celtic tradition. Their album Celtic Music from Wales (Green Linnet), is ancient and contemporary, traditional and modern. The sixteen tracks include a Scottish border ballad, traditional dialect songs, 6th century nursery rhymes and Cumbrian sheep counting, jigs, a Breton song for dancing and 17th century poetry put to music.

Vocalist Lynne Denman has an ethereal voice provides an idyllic soundtrack for the new Wales. Stacey Blythe displays a unique cross-cultural diversity on a wide variety of instruments including accordion, cello, harpsichord, recorders, piano and voice. Dave Reid played six-string bass guitar, and was an active figure in the London jazz scene.

In January of 2003 Ffynnon announced that David Reid, the bass player in the group, died from a heart attack in New York City. The band was in New York to perform at a showcase at the Association of Performing Arts Presenters. With the release of their CD on Green Linnet (the first Welsh CD on this leading American Celtic music record label), they were on the verge of doing some really great things and this was a big blow to Lynne and Stacey.

The group released an album titled Adar Gwylltion in 2006 and Llongau in 2015.

Lynne Denman – lead vocals and bodhran

Stacey Blythe – keyboards, accordion and vocals

Discography:

Celtic Music from Wales (2002)
Debatable Lands
Adar Gwylltion (2006)
Llongau (Taith Records TRCD00018, 2015)

website: http://ffynnon.org

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