A Beginner’s Guide to Welsh Trad Music

Have you ever wondered why there seems to be loads of Irish and Scottish music, but nothing from Wales?

Did you know that Deck the halls is a Welsh tune? And did you know that it comes from an ancient Celtic bardic tradition? In fact we have a whole ton of music, songs, and traditions that have ancient origins, including the Mari Lwyd and the world’s oldest harp music. So why has no-one heard it before? In this video we’ll be looking at the past, present and future of traditional music and customs in Wales, and where you can find the good stuff.

A very special thanks to Phyllis Kinney, Harri Llewelyn, Gerard Kilbride, Gwen Màiri, Jordan Price Williams, Welsh Whisperer, Calan, Angharad Jenkins, Patrick Rimes, Gwilym Bowen Rhys, and Emily Jane Coupland for your knowledge and your support! Ffwrnes Gerdd clips by Gethin Scourfield-Gerard KilBride for S4C

30 UK campsites to book now for summer 2021

We’ve rounded up the best camping and glamping getaways … assuming the Great British Summer gets the green light, that is

Before you book, check individual campsite Covid refund and rescheduling policies

WALES

Three Cliffs Bay, Penmaen, Gower

The dramatic clifftop location is a huge selling point for this family-run campsite on the south side of the Gower peninsula. It is right on the Wales Coast Path, and a short stroll from the spectacular Three Cliffs Bay. Guests can choose between sea-view or (cheaper) countryside-view pitches, for tents, caravans or campervans. There are also sea-view bell tents and inland yurts (both sleeping five). The shower block is particularly impressive, with power showers, LED lighting and underfloor heating … Even the dog-washing points have warm water. The shop is also well stocked, with local bread, meat, beer and wine; and guests can order hampers, and rent picnic tables and firepits. The campsite was started in 1948 on North Hill Farm, which dates back five generations, and is still run by the Beynon family.
• Camping £29.50 a night for a family of up to 5, glamping £454 for three nights, threecliffsbay.com

Top of the Woods, Pembrokeshire

Friendly pigs at Top of the Woods Eco Camping & Glamping Pembrokeshire

“Eco luxury” is the vibe at this site on a 27-acre farm. Campers can pitch their tents in the four-acre wildflower meadow, while glampers can choose from safari lodges, nature domes or pioneer camps; there is also one pitch for a campervan. The farm courtyard is the social hub, with a huge Dutch barn, campfire and wet-room showers. Breakfast is served in the barn at weekends, as is a stew supper on Fridays and barbecues on Saturdays. There are pop-up food stalls during the summer holidays and a fishmonger comes every Wednesday. Campers can help feed the site’s three kunekune pigs, walk to the secret waterfall in the woods for a swim, and take yoga classes in the barn. The owners also run glamping activity weekend breaks several times a year, from “wild gin” foraging to canoe treks and paddleboarding safaris.
• Camping £16/£8 a night adult/child, campervans £20/10, dogs free, five-metre bell tents for hire at £30 a night, glamping from £100 a night for 4, topofthewoods.co.uk

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Review: Gwenifer Raymond “Strange Lights over Garth Mountain”

Gwenifer Raymond – Strange Lights over Garth Mountain

Welsh-born fingerstyle guitar devotee Gwenifer Raymond‘s second album contains five tracks less than You Never Were Much of a Dancer, over pretty much the same running time. This is significant because it gives each longer piece (most are around six or seven minutes) space to breathe and Gwen time to flex and explore. Although You Never Were Much of a Dancer was an accomplished debut, it still felt like Gwen was demonstrating her skills and doffing her cap to the players who helped influence and shape her sound. Strange Lights feels like a huge leap forward; every note sounds original and creative. That space in the songs is also critical to how the album plays. There is still plenty of Gwen’s punky frenetic picking across the set, but it is juxtaposed with moments of calm (touched with menace of course; it’s still a Gwenifer Raymond album). Take opener Incantation as an example; after the briefest of percussion intros, Gwen begins playing a low tattoo, which leads into a slow-picked line that hits top strings before heading into a slightly more anxious part. The bass notes run through the whole song, giving it structure, but the tune is complex and intriguing, not quite allowing us to relax. This incantation could still take you somewhere dark.

Things heat up for Coal Train down the Line, this album’s train song. After another fairly calm intro, Gwen’s fingers start moving and after half a minute she hits a groove that gathers pace until the engine is hurtling. A train song is a staple feature of solo guitar music, but this piece is far from posturing to tradition; indeed, it is as brimming with ideas and complexity as all of the other tunes here. There are moments of intense playing in several places, but each is balanced with a strong melody line and interesting direction. Living up to a gory title, Gwaed am Gwaed (Blood for Blood), is the most hostile piece, with flat notes hidden throughout that give it a rough cut texture and a sinister edge. Even the melody line that crops up at points is unnerving. More forgiving is Marseilles Bunkhouse, 3am, a fascinating song that shifts pace at several points, letting a sense of drama and paranoia build until a quickly picked line with buzzing bass string bursts out at the halfway point.

Gwen plays with pacing throughout Strange Lights to great effect. Stand out piece Ruben’s Song begins with a lullaby of a line before gathering momentum a la Coal Train down the Line and then deciding to switch into a tightly played upbeat melody song. A deceptive little creation, it’s a lot of fun and shows off Gwen’s deft playing and her ability to write a cracking hook. Eulogy for Dead French Composer is another multi-faceted tune, with as many moods as a piece of classical music. The final title song maintains the drama of the previous Eulogy, but while the playing is softer and quite sweet in places, the oddness of the shifts and fidgety nature of the piece lends it the strange character of its title. Completely fascinating, daring and complex, it’s a splendid piece that neatly sums up the progressive nature of this album and Gwen’s playing as a whole.

Source: Folk Radio UK