Dylan Thomas Celebrations

During 2014 I have been working for Literature Wales as part of the ‘Dylanwad100’ team, creating cross art-form workshops for disengaged pupils across North Wales. My partner in crime has been poet Martin Daws, who is currently Young People’s Laureate for Wales. Together we have tried to mesh together the spoken word with sounds, and it has been great fun! A thought-provoking and inspiring learning curve for all I think, with plenty of emphasis on discovery and creativity through play and experimenting. Here is a selection of some of the work, created by pupils at Bryn-y-Maen Colwyn Bay, Montgomery Junior School and Flint High School. Da iawn pawb!


Ramping It Up

Here’s something I did earlier this Summer, in conjunction with Rambert and Ideas Tap:

Claire Barbier and Sarah Llewellyn – New Album

A few weeks back I trotted off to London to record with circus friends on a new album by Claire Barbier and Sarah Llewellyn. It was fantastic to play again with old band members! And share moments whilst recording (and drinking tea in bed whilst listening to Late Junction). Everything is still under wraps….but suffice to say it’s going to sound and look great. Thank you to Claire, Sarah, Karen, Louise, Leah, David and Joe!

The Paper Cinema in China

I recently visited China with The Paper Cinema’s Odyssey. The tour was an incredible insight into how the people of China live and work, and we were welcomed in five cities – Shanghai, Wuhan, Guangzhou, Beijing and finally Nanjing. Apart from the show and interesting Q&A sessions (of course!) highlights for me have to be visiting the Great Wall, the phenomenal bell at Yellow Crane Tower, cycling around Tiananmen Square, eating Mongolian Hotpot and Shanghai dumplings, and being immersed in such busy and industrious cities. Oh, and discovering Roy Orbison’s ‘Black and White Night’ gig.

Here are a few snapshots!

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European Collaboration

Whilst at the Circus, I had the pleasure of meeting and working with many incredibly talented performers and writers.  We are hoping to reunite at the end of this Summer to record an album and have launched a Kickstarter campaign to get things moving.  We are offering a beautiful array of bespoke musical gifts such as having your own song written and handprinted CDs. What’s not to like?!

We are currently at 29% of our target, so if you feel moved, then please help us reach our goal!

Diolch!  Merci!  Thank you!

Pleidleisiwch Drosom Ni – Please Vote for Us! #10MewnBws


10 Mewn Bws have been nominated for the National Lottery Awards for Good Causes, which is searching the UK to find out our favourite lottery funded projects. GO 10 ON A BUS!!!!!!

As a finalist in the Arts category, winning would give us the chance to continue the project – more gigs, more spreading of the Welsh folk tradition, more happy faces listening to our music! It would be tremendous for everyone involved.

Please do vote and follow this link to do so. DIOLCH!!!!!!!!



Today I am polishing my saw, mending his homemade cloth case and choosing the right bow for a performance this Saturday May 10th in Chapter, Cardiff for ‘Lleisiau’.  Good Cop Bad Cop are presenting three evenings of performance related to the unusual and varied voices of Wales, as part of the Dylan Thomas celebrations. If you don’t live in Cardiff then you can live stream the event on the internet.  See you there!


That’s That

If you currently check out a strand of one of Berlin Phil’s media campaigns, you will see some fantastic photos taken of inside of some of their instruments.  Well, funnily enough, I recently did the same.  Not with my own violin, but a battered old thing I sacrificed for a project.

As an aside – anyone who has visited a luthier’s knows that it is often necessary to take a journey inside the instrument with a tiny camera, to work out what’s going on.  Some instruments are ‘virgins’ – I’ll leave you to work that one out – and so you can take a peek without causing any undue meddling.  As this violin had been played underwater, the wood naturally began to open up from the lower bouts, which allowed the camera do the talking.

I have been working as part of a multi-arts project Mapio Madoc Creadigol, or Mapping Madoc Creatively, with a team of collaborative artists (Karen Heald film, Angela Davies visuals, Ant Dickinson sound).  We decided to create an artistic underwater film at Plas Madoc Leisure Centre , and myself and Ant took time to record ambient pool sounds, underwater recording and vox pops from customers.  It was again a new experience for me to play instruments underwater!  Violin, swanee whistle, harmonica, saw, kalimba….more of this later.

As for the violin – I bought him from a friend in London for about £15.  It is an orange factory box, nothing more. So I was quite amazed that for his final swansong, he took on a most extraordinary and beautiful aspect.  I played the violin in the water, and let him float away like a coffin at sea, the water rushing in and out and making him gurgle.  I thought “well, that’s that”.

So the surprise was all mine when I brought him home, patted him dry, and left him out to settle.  The wood kept on opening until – he seemed to have turned into an old wooden ship.

Suddenly I’m unsure whether I was on the inside or the outside…?


Sue The Second Coming

The tour is going well and is in full swing! We have played to many sold out audiences in Cardiff and London, to great reviews. It is my first experience of ‘fringe style’ roll-in/roll-out so it has taken me right back to my days at the circus….the stage is up and my props are set…but did I remember to tune my violin?!

Last night I even managed a post-show impromptu cocktail piano and musical saw duet, to a dedicated audience of five, including the barman. Magical yet eerie.

Catch us tonight for our last performance in Soho or next week at Bristol Old Vic.


La Naissance de Charlot

During the summer I recorded some violin, musical saw and uke parts for a Charlie Chaplin film called ‘The Cure’, courtesy of silent film pianist Stephen Horne (www.stephenhorne.co.uk). The dvds contain small amounts of new footage alongside  original scores.

Available now !! http://shop-lobsterfilms.com/CHAPLIN-MUTUAL

I didn’t realise that Chaplin is known in many countries by the name ‘Charlot’ (‘the tramp’) and that also, this is what he really looked like…


Abram Wood

…very tall…his complexion was very dark, with rosy cheeks…he always rode on horseback, on a blood horse…he wore a three-cocked hat with gold lace, a silk coat with swallow-tails, sometimes red, sometimes green, and sometimes black…the buttons on the coat were half-crowns, those on the waistcoat shillings…he wore two gold rings – only two…


And so this description of Abram Wood, the ‘Father of Welsh Gypsies’, inspired me to write the song ‘Abram Wood’ as part of my contribution to the 10 Mewn Bws album.  I incorporated clogging rhythms and a keening vocal line, alongside rough time signatures, to make a crooked and devilish song. The above description is given by his great granddaughter Saiforella Wood, and certainly packs a punch!

Abram Wood was the head of a dynasty of Welsh musicians, and perhaps one can only guess how this legacy has filtered through. Astonishing stuff.

Now released on Sain records and on Itunes – make sure to buy your own copy, and hear our slant on Welsh folk music!


Taith 10 Mewn Bws Tour

So next week our ‘folk bus’ hits the road once more, as we wind our way from North to South Wales, this time finally gigging our new material! We will be peddling our beautiful CD and playing at some fantastic venues, finishing off at the Swn festival in Cardiff. Do come, listen, have a chat, have a drink. We will be playing at:

Thurs 17th Oct – Y Galeri, Caernarfon

Fri 18th Oct – National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth

Sat 19th Oct – Llangammarch

Sun 20th Oct – Chapter, Cardiff