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"Sir Karl Jenkins is the most performed living composer in the world."



We are extremely pleased and proud to announce that Distinguished Concerts International have made available a pair of tickets for the forthcoming Karl Jenkins concert in New York at the Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage, Carnegie Hall on Monday, January 21st, 2019. The program includes Sir Karl Jenkins’s Symphonic Adiemus as well as Jenkins’s Stabat Mater. Read our (2010) interview with Karl Jenkins here

We are offering these tickets as a QUIZ PRIZE on Americymru!

Just answer the three easy quiz questions below ( answers can all be found on Wikipedia ) and send them to us at americymru@gmail.com ( all email addresses will be deleted when the competition closes ). We'll throw all the entries in a hat and pick the winner! Please email us by Monday, January 14th, 2019 no later than 9 PM ( Pacific Time ). Tickets will be ready at will call on 1/21 at the Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage, Carnegie Hall; the winner will just need to bring a photo ID.

Only one entry per email address is permitted. Duplicates will be disqualified. You do not need to be an AmeriCymru member or logged into the site in order to enter this competition.

If you don't win the competition, please do not despair. DCINY is very kindly offering a 30% discount code for AmeriCymru readers. The code is DCG30382 and it can be used online, over the phone, or in person at Carnegie Hall

Karl Jenkins Quiz



  1. Which famous jazz-rock fusion band was Karl Jenkins a member of in the 70's?
  2. Which of Jenkins' works was listed as No. 1 in Classic FM's "Top 10 by living composers"?
  3. Where was Karl Jenkins born?



The Music of Sir Karl Jenkins: A 75th Birthday Celebration



Monday, January 21, 2019 at 7:00 PM
Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage, Carnegie Hall

DCINY presents the US premiere of Welsh composer and DCINY’s composer-in-residence Sir Karl Jenkins’s Symphonic Adiemus as well as Jenkins’s Stabat Mater. Maestro Jonathan Griffithleads the Distinguished Concerts Orchestra and Distinguished Concerts Singers International in a celebration of Sir Karl Jenkins’s 75th birthday.

Performers

Jonathan Griffith, Conductor
Baidar Al Basri, Ethnic Soloist
Distinguished Concerts Orchestra and Distinguished Concerts Singers International

Program

All-Sir Karl Jenkins Program
Symphonic Adiemus (US Premiere)
Stabat Mater

Tickets $20-$100!
On Sale Now!

Visit CarnegieHall.org or call 212-247-7800

Box Office: 57th Street and Seventh Avenue

Ticket Link: https://www.carnegiehall.org/calendar/2019/01/21/the-music-of-sir-karl-jenkins-0700pm


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Posted in: Music | 0 comments

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The Music of Sir Karl Jenkins: A 75th Birthday Celebration



Monday, January 21, 2019 at 7:00 PM - Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage, Carnegie Hall

DCINY presents the US premiere of Welsh composer and DCINY’s composer-in-residence Sir Karl Jenkins’s Symphonic Adiemus as well as Jenkins’s Stabat Mater. Maestro Jonathan Griffithleads the Distinguished Concerts Orchestra and Distinguished Concerts Singers International in a celebration of Sir Karl Jenkins’s 75th birthday.

Performers:

Jonathan Griffith, Conductor
Baidar Al Basri, Ethnic Soloist
Distinguished Concerts Orchestra and Distinguished Concerts Singers International

Program:

All-Sir Karl Jenkins Program
Symphonic Adiemus (US Premiere)
Stabat Mater

Tickets $20-$100!
On Sale Now!

Visit CarnegieHall.org or call 212-247-7800
Box Office: 57th Street and Seventh Avenue

Ticket Link: https://www.carnegiehall.org/calendar/2019/01/21/the-music-of-sir-karl-jenkins-0700pm

Posted in: Music | 0 comments

walesfirstandfinalcolony.jpgPlaid Cymru leader Adam Price today publishes an anthology of notable writings which can be seen as a ‘manifesto’ for Welsh independence.

Wales – The First and Final Colony by Adam Price, published this week by Y Lolfa, is a collection of writings by the politician and Plaid Cymru leader on the politics, history and culture of Wales. In it, Adam offers his ideas for securing a brighter future for Wales.

Adam Price was born to a working class family in a council house in Carmarthenshire the son of Rufus, a miner and Welsh champion boxer, and Angela, who moved to Wales from Worcester.

At 31 years old, he was elected an MP for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr in 2001 and within a year he was uncovering dodgy dealings between Tony Blair and international steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal. Shortly after, he led a campaign to impeach Mr Blair following the invasion of Iraq – eventually leading to the Chilcot Inquiry.

However, in 2010 he stood down from Parliament and headed to the Kennedy School of Government in Harvard, before taking up a role in an innovation foundation.

He returned to frontline Welsh politics in 2016 when he was elected as an Assembly Member in his home patch of Carmarthen before subsequently becoming leader of Plaid Cymru on 28 September 2018.

Speaking ahead of the book’s publication Adam Price said,

“I grew up in the shadow of the miners’ struggle of 1984. A struggle which shaped the politics I retain today.

From council house to House of Commons and from Harvard to Cardiff is not a well-trodden path, but I now face the biggest challenge of my political career – leading the Welsh national movement. But mine and Plaid Cymru’s message to the Welsh people must be simple: Yes Wales Can.

As the first openly gay man to lead this party and indeed any party in Wales, I am a modern, inclusive leader for a modern, inclusive Wales.

I am confident that we can compose a new future for a new Wales. Labour will not be its author. And nor will it be written for us in the marbled halls of Whitehall and Westminster. It will be written in the streets and shops, the pubs and rugby clubs, the homes and hearts of our nation.

Some may shrug off our hope as blind optimism. I say to you that a successful, independent Wales is not a far-off, unachievable aspiration. It is a firm, near-term, realisable goal.”

Over the coming months, Adam Price will be embarking on a Wales-wide tour aimed at sharing his ideas with the people of Wales with the tour launching on Monday 26th November in Insole Court, Llandaf in Cardiff.

Wales – The First and Final Colony by Adam Price is available now (£9.99, Y Lolfa).

Posted in: Book News | 0 comments

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Trenchfoot have established an enviable reputation as one of the fastest emerging folk rock acts in Wales. Steeped in stories real and imagined, it’s not a sad sound though, with emotionally, powerful lyrics, foot-tapping rhythms, driving bass lines, rousing sing-a-long choruses and an Americana folk style with their vocals and harmonies. AmeriCymru spoke to Andy Edwards about the band's history and future plans.




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AmeriCymru: Hi Andy and many thanks for agreeing to this interview. How did Trenchfoot come to be formed? What can you tell us about the band's history?

Andy:  In 2013 I had an urge to build a trench system and with a small grant from the local council went ahead in readiness for the start of the commemoration of the The Great War. My workplace, Morfa Bay Adventure, Pendine supported my proposals and in the four years since it has been built has seen over 10,000 visitors.  It was to be an educational resource for schools in England and Wales, open to all but mostly for Primary Schools.

When researching my own family I found subject matter for songs and was inspired to pick up my guitar. During visits to the trench I realised nearly everybody had a story to tell.

Getting together with a fellow musician we got a small set of songs together as a duo and the band just grew. 

Trenchfoot’s first studio album was released in the summer of 2015 inspired by the stories of men and women of a hundred years ago and life in the trenches. ‘Flatiron Brothers’ takes people on a journey. It’s not about war. War is the canvas, not the detail. These twelve folk-rock songs are based on family and local history. The group sings of the humour, joy, love and tragedy around everyday people struggling in adversity. ‘Whispers’ came out a year later.

‘more than a fascinating concept….the songs are really interesting,’

Adam Walton, BBC Radio Wales Nov 2015

AmeriCymru: Care to tell us a little about the band's current lineup?

Andy: The group came together in 2013 as part of a project to support some of the WW1 centenary commemorations and events of the following year. Phil Jenkins, came on board as a multi instrumentalist, guitar, ukulele, mando-cello and lead singer. Terry Thomas, mandolin, accordion and lead vocals, Jeff Singer, guitar and lead singer, Lorraine King, banjo, acoustic guitar, mouth organ, whistler and lead.

Seimon Pugh Jones and Andy Edwards lay the foundation of the performance on drums and bass.

It’s a unique sound that successfully melds the human, humorous, love and passionate stories behind the tragic events of WW1 with a 21st Century brand of music that transcends folk/rock.

‘…starting to make a big name for themselves in their home country of Wales and in 2016 expect to see them at festivals across the UK as their following grows.

Painstakingly researched for authenticity and sung and played with a passion which cannot be matched. These guys are being labelled a folk group and although there is a strong element of traditional storytelling here there's also a very modern feel to the album with sumptuous harmonies and accomplished musicianship.

… the passion they feel for this project is overwhelming - so successful has their debut album been that they're already halfway into recording number two ! If you buy one album - one great Welsh album - make it this one!’

Welsh Connections - CD Review


AmeriCymru: How would you describe Trenchfoot's repertoire? Do you mainly perform songs from or about WW1 and WW2?

Andy:  All songs are related to The Great War and more or less take the audience through from 1914 to 1918 and then the after effects of the war. All songs are originals and the whole band are credited with composition.

We have developed two sets of songs. The first starts with the outbreak of war, ‘The Great First World War’ opens the set and relates the cause and effect of what happened in Sarajevo with the assassination of Franz Ferdinand. The first set finishes just after the Battle of the Somme.

The second set is a little more up tempo and invariably people will dance and singalong. We will always finish with ‘Keep The Flame.’ The song has become the band’s motif for what we have done over the last four years – to keep stories alive.

‘A Welsh folk-rock band that tells tales, sings songs, makes you laugh, makes you cry, but above all, entertains you!’

‘Not only a musical feast, it was a tonic for the soul. I stepped out with my heart a little lighter and my head filled with song.’

Wales Online, Nov 2014


AmeriCymru: What's next for Trenchfoot? New gigs, recordings?

Andy: It’s a cross roads for the band. We purposefully entrenched our music in a specific time slot. 1914-18. It has been hard to market a band who although play up-tempo tunes have the subject matter of death and war. The last few weeks as we have travelled through South Wales we have been met with large appreciative audiences and it questions whether to change direction or not.

We still have a large number of songs unrecorded. It would be amazing to go back into the studio and finish the job, but it all costs and decisions will have to be made. We have muted a possible change in direction to become a folk band relying on Welsh history in general. Trenchfoot is such an original, creative group of people it would be sad to let it go. We’ll just have to wait and see!

‘There’s something about their songs that impress itself upon us, tapping into nuances of emotion we didn’t know we had, and finding memories that don’t belong to us,’
Western Mail, Dec 2014

AmeriCymru: Where can readers go to hear/purchase your music online? 

Andy:   Website: https://trenchfoot-music-wales.webs.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Trenchfootmusic/

People can always e mail us. We have a few CD’s left and can post them worldwide £9.99 inc p&p or £15 for the two.

trenchfootmusic@gmail.com

‘Prostrate’ a powerful song...Lorraine’s voice suits it perfectly’

Frank Hennesey Celtic Heartbeat, BBC Radio Wales Nov 2015

AmeriCymru: Any final message for the readers and members of AmeriCymru?

Andy:  One concept we would love to follow is the Welsh influence in the U.S.. Can anybody tell me the best place to research? Are there any books written? Is there any information that might help? Sometimes it’s nice to look at the ‘small’ man and the social side of life rather than bigger moments in history. It’s stories of the real man that inspire us to compose songs that tell a tale.

‘It was all a dream. TRENCHFOOT seen live is a unique and powerful experience. The band cross eras and indeed styles. Reminds one of the 'hard drinking' Irish folk bands of the 60s but the difference is they are Welsh and targeted. The subject matter is often hiraeth, as felt by the men at the 'front' in WW1. Through it all there is a sense of fun, albeit some songs are poignant and sad. Numerous catchy chorus lines are nailed on 'singalongs' and 'foot-tappers'. Beneath it all the message is strong and moving.

Great band, great night out!’

John Francis Wake

Posted in: Music | 0 comments


A stream of Hollywood A-listers including Sir Paul McCartney, Bryan Cranston, Dame Judi Dench, Henry Cavill, Whoopi Goldberg, Jack Black, Steve Martin and more have recorded on a musical video alongside the stars of London’s West End. ‘The Hero – A West End & Friends Tribute’ pays thanks servicemen and women around the World and is raising money for the UK charity, Help For Heroes.

The project had an unlikely start, far from the bright lights of Hollywood, in the valleys of South Wales. Married writers; Daniel and Laura Curtis planned on producing the song they had written featuring only a handful of friends who were currently starring in the West End. 

Laura Curtis said; “In between writing new musicals or cabaret for Broadway and West End performers we try and raise money for good causes. We were in Florida during the INVICTUS games in 2016 and we met some true heroes and their amazing families who were staying at the same hotel as us. We decided then and there we wanted to do something but it took us a little bit of planning before we came up with the idea of writing this song.” 

The project had so many artists wanting to take part, that production extended into nearly a year. The couple and the performers donated their time whilst several businesses such as Fortnum and Mason, WPP and Fender helped to underwrite the costs of production, which were kept to a bare minimum. 

Daniel Curtis explained; “It became quickly clear that this project was bigger than our previous ones, people really engaged with the song, which is about a female recruit and her journey. Soon we had artists from Broadway signing on, we even had to change the name from ‘A West End Tribute’, to ‘A West End and Friends Tribute’. Then, when some of the biggest names in Hollywood came on board to record spoken contributions, it was clear to us that so many people shared our vision to make a fitting theatrical tribute for these heroes.” 

The couple are hoping the online video, filmed only with mobile devices and their own basic camera will capture a large audience. Laura Curtis says “We have set up a Just Giving Page for Help For Heroes and will include the link with the video. All proceeds from digital sales of the single will also be donated to the charity. We are also appealing to people watching in different countries to also donate to their own local charities which support veterans”

The release of ‘The Hero – A West End & Friends Tribute’ coincides with the commemorations surrounding the 100th Anniversary of the End of World War One’.



The full list of those providing spoken contributions are: 

Paul Bettany; Jack Black; Dan Brown; Simon Callow; Craig Cash; Henry Cavill;  Bryan Cranston; Dame Judi Dench; Stephen Fry; Josh Gad; Whoopi Goldberg; Kelsey Grammer; Richard E. Grant; Kerry Howard; Jeremy Irons; Sir David Jason; Carole King; Steve Martin; Brian May; Sir Paul McCartney; Kevin McKidd; Alan Menken; Piers Morgan; Matthew Morrison; Wendi Peters; Sir Tony Robinson;  Jonathan Ross; William Shatner; David Suchet; Zoë Wanamaker; Levison Wood 

West End & Broadway Performers:

Stephen Ashfield (Book Of Mormon Broadway); Sam Bailey (X-Factor Winner); David Bedella (Rocky Horror Show); Norman Bowman (42nd Street West End); Christina Bianco (Joseph & The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat); Alan Burkitt (Kiss Me Kate West End); Sophia Anne Caruso (NBC Sound Of Music Live!); Rodney Earl Clarke (On The Town West End); Collabro (Britain’s Got Talent Winners); Maria Coyne (Wicked West End); Louise Dearman (Wicked West End); Killian Donnelly (Les Miserables West End); Samantha Dorsey (Les Miserables West End); Kerry Ellis (Wicked West End); Alice Fearn (Wicked West End); Ben Forster (Phantom Of The Opera West End); Emma Hatton (Wicked West End); Kara Lily-Hayworth (Cilla UK Tour); Matt Henry (Kinky Boots West End); Rob Houchen (Les Miserables West End); Ida; James Monroe Iglehart (Hamilton Broadway); Charlotte Jaconelli (Heathers The Musical West End), Emma Kingston (Evita International Tour); Luke McCall (Phantom Of The Opera West End); Jai McDowall (Britain’s Got Talent Winner); Nadim Naaman (Phantom Of The Opera West End); Trevor Dion Nicholas (Aladdin West End and Broadway); David Phelps; Dame Siân Phillips (Cabaret West End); Laura Pitt-Pulford (Seven Brides For Seven Brothers West End);  Joe Aaron Reid (Dreamgirls West End); David Ribi (Dreamboats and Petticoats West End) Oliver Savile (Wicked West End); Cleve September (Hamilton West End); Charlie Stemp (Hello Dolly! Broadway); Savannah Stevenson (Wicked West End); Marisha Wallace (Dreamgirls West End); Emma Williams (Mrs Henderson Presents West End); Michael Xavier (Sunset Boulevard Broadway).

 

Posted in: Music | 0 comments

teachyourdogwelsh1.jpgHere’s a book for Welsh learners with a difference! Teach your Dog Welsh aims to help Welsh learners practise their Welsh with their dog.

Teach your Dog Welsh (Y Lolfa) is full of appealing 1950s-style retro illustrations, with a picture and the expression it illustrates (in both Welsh and English) on every double page, as well help with the Welsh pronunciation. There are over 100 expressions to practise, from Paid â chrafu (‘Don’t scratch’) to Fydda i ddim yn hir (‘I won’t be long’). It’s an excellent and really fun introduction to learning Welsh for all ages – and most of the phrases can also be used in non-dog related situations!

The inspiration for the book came to Anne Cakebread after she re-homed Frieda, a rescue whippet. Anne came to realise that Frieda would only respond to Welsh commands. Slowly, whilst dealing with Frieda, Anne realised that she was overcoming her nerves about speaking Welsh aloud by talking to the dog, and her Welsh was improving as a result –this gave her the idea of creating a book to help other would-be learners whilst also using her skills as an illustrator.

The book has been awarded W H Smith Book of the Month for November 2018 and praised for its beautiful illustrations and quirky concept. Comedian and writer Richard Herring has commented:

“Anne Cakebread not only has the best name in the Universe, she has also come up with a brilliantly fun book which will help humans and canines learn new languages. I am world renowned for doing the best Welsh accent ever, so it’s good to now also be able to speak some actual Welsh too. And more importantly, so can my dog.”

Originally from Cardiff, Anne and her partner moved to a village on the west Wales coast. She wanted to improve her Welsh as it was important to her to become part of the lively Welsh-speaking community in the area.

“I first had to unlearn the Welsh I'd been taught in school as it's nothing like the Welsh people speak here. That's why I've made the expressions in the book colloquial, as a large part of learning is listening to what people say around you.”

Frieda, the Welsh rescue whippet, can understand a few words in English and the other English dogs have learnt a few sentences of Welsh – so the house is fully bilingual!

BBC weatherman and Welsh learner Derek Brockway has praised the book and described it as “a really nice, fun way to start learning Welsh – great book!”

Summoning up the confidence to use a language you’re learning can be daunting at first, and a number of books are available to help with vocabulary and pronunciation, but the lighthearted context and the beautiful illustrations mean that this book is a bit out of the ordinary. Lefi Gruffudd from Y Lolfa says:

“This book is both a practical and a fun way to practise Welsh, and hopefully it will be a useful resource to Welsh learners.”

Carolyn Hodges, Head of English Publishing at Y Lolfa, who developed language-teaching materials for Oxford University Press for many years, said: “Some people have a bad experience of learning Welsh at school and that puts them off trying again as adults. One of the key factors in motivating someone to start learning and using a new language is to make it enjoyable. Teach Your Dog Welsh really brings the language to life and makes it fun – it’s a really positive (re)introduction to this wonderful language.”

There are plans to expand the series to include Teach Your Cat Welsh, as well as translations into other minority languages including Manx, Cornish and Maori.

Anne Cakebread is a freelance illustrator with over 20 years’ experience in publishing and TV, including cover art and illustrations for numerous books, magazines and adverts. She also illustrated sets and props for Boomerang on S4C’s award-winning ABC. She grew up and went to school in Radyr, Cardiff and now lives with her partner, two whippets and lurcher in St Dogmaels, where she runs a B&B.

Teach Your Dog Welsh by Anne Cakebread is available now (£4.99, Y Lolfa).

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Posted in: New Titles | 0 comments

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AmeriCymru spoke to Welsh author, Michael Keyton about his work and future plans. Michael was born in Liverpool, graduated from Swansea University and has lived in Newport, south Wales in the past. He currently resides in Monmouth and is the author of several books including a collection of spooky short stories set in the Murenger pub in Newport ( Tales From The Murenger ). He has also written a novel about the tragic life and fate of  Gwyneth Morgan of Tredegar House ( The Gift ).

"My Newport is a dark, seedy and magical city, the unimaginable just around the next corner . . . or the corner after that." Michael Keyton


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AmeriCymru: Many thanks for agreeing to this interview. Care to tell us a little about your Welsh background and your history as a writer?

Mike: I was born in Liverpool, from a long line of Parrys on my mother’s side and a rich mix of Irish—Keytons, Henrys, and Tobins—on my father’s. That’s the nature of Liverpool, the unacknowledged capital of the Celtic world.

I went to Swansea University and loved it so much I decided to settle there. Fate had other ideas and led me to Newport instead – which I loved. I still live in Wales – just about—in Monmouth.

Ironically, I began writing (in my head) before I could read. I caught rheumatic fever as a child and was in hospital for over a year on my back. People gave me books I couldn’t decipher. I remember Beatrix Potter books, in particular Mr Todd and Jeremy Fisher. I’ve had a thing about foxes, reeds and lily pads ever since. There were no TVs in Myrtle Street Children’s Hospital and not much conversation. Instead, I stared at book pictures and made up my own stories.

All in all, I lost two years of schooling, and it was a struggle to catch up. The first inkling I had that writing could be sexy was in what they called a ‘free composition’ class in English. I still remember the story but not the ending. It involved a man falling from a plane without a parachute. The most attractive girl in the class—Ruth—was breathing over my shoulder caught by the story I was only halfway through. ‘What happens next?’ she asked, and I stared at the page like rabbit caught in a headlamp. I had no idea—other than he was going to smash into the ground at hundred miles an hour—and I knew that wouldn’t satisfy her. Luckily, I was saved by the bell. But that basic question, ‘What happens next’ has always been with me.

At university, and influenced by Michael Moorcock, I wrote a poor pastiche of Moorcock’s hero—Elric, my equivalent being ‘Meibron, Pale Piper of Valkesh.’ Less said about that the better, I think. Subsequently, family, teaching, and a profitable side-line in a Ceilidh band left little time to write. The itch though, remained constant.

AmeriCymru: What can you tell us about your novel The Gift ? How did you become interested in the Morgan family?

The Gift FINAL Kindle size.jpgMike: The Morgan family and Tredegar House have always fascinated me, in particular Evan Morgan, Papal Knight, sexual predator and Satanist, and his more tragic sister, Gwyneth Morgan, who died in such mysterious circumstances. It dominated the papers at the time.

In ill health, weakened by enteric typhoid and drug abuse, Gwyneth was a severe embarrassment to the Morgan family and was all but incarcerated in ‘The Niche,’ a large house in Wimbledon.

In the early hours of Thursday, December 11th 1924 she slipped out of the house and vanished. Six months later, her body was fished out of the Thames near Wapping.

The mystery is manifold. By all accounts, Gwyneth was severely ill, unable to walk very far without feeling tired, and spent much of her time in bed. On the night she disappeared, London was shrouded in one of those legendary fogs, an impenetrable ‘pea-souper,’ and the nearest entry point to the Thames was Putney Bridge, four miles from where she lived. It is hard to believe that a semi-invalid could walk four miles in thick fog through unfamiliar streets and fall into the river at Putney Bridge. The fact that her decomposed body was found in Wapping, even farther away, compounds the mystery. It would have had to have floated along one of the world’s busiest waterways beyond Hammersmith and Rotherhithe without being seen.

Nature abhors a vacuum and so does the press. In the absence of hard facts, newspapers had a field day with theories involving white slavers, Chinese opium lords, and lesbian lovers. It is in this context The Gift was born.

AmeriCymru: What can you tell us (without spoiling the plot) about Lizzie McBride and Gwyneth Morgan, the two central characters of the novel?

Mike: The Gift follows the rise of a Liverpool orphan, Lizzy McBride, and the degradation but ultimate redemption of one of the richest heiresses in Edwardian England, Lady Gwyneth Ericka Morgan. Though there are elements of the fantastic, the novel is grounded in historical fact. It involves real people and historical events as it explores the occult underbelly of the English aristocracy and its links with the emergent Nazi movement.

The Gift is the first book of a trilogy, beginning in 1912 and ending in 1941. The three books trace the magical rivalry between two sisters, Elizabeth and Elsie McBride and interweaves between historical events and the cracks in between - the ultimate prize, the unlocking of Hell.

The first book introduces the two sisters, twelve-year-old Elizabeth and Elsie, then a baby inhabiting the bottom drawer of a cabinet. Hints of Elizabeth’s occult gifts appear early on and the story develops as leading Satanists— including Aleister Crowley— attempt to seduce and corrupt her. The second book traces the corruption of Elsie and the love-hate relationship between the two sisters. The final book describes Elsie's attempt to engineer a bloodbath ie World War II through the occult manipulation of diplomacy; it ends in a struggle to the death between the two sisters as Operation Barbarossa begins.

In short the three books are inspired by the rich but wasted lives of Evan and Gwyneth Morgan, and the dynamics of three fictitious characters, Elizabeth and Elsie McBride, and the magician John Grey.

AmeriCymru: Tales From The Murenger is a collection of dark tales centered around the pub of the same name in Newport, Gwent. Are there any standout tales in your opinion

Mike: That’s a difficult question. All of them have their different qualities. For a more objective answer than I’m able to give, the first story, ‘Mr Nousel’s Mirror,’ was included in anthologist, Ellen Datlow’s Best Horror of the year for 2011, alongside works by Stephen King and Jack Ketchum. I am though, fond of ‘A Touch of Rat,’ ‘Martin Brownlow’s Cat’ and ‘Ailsa.’ And there I have to stop as other stories start screaming in my ear accusing me of favouritism.

AmeriCymru: What inspired this collection? Are you a regular at The Murenger?

Mike: The Murenger was the first pub I drank in on the first day I arrived in Newport.

That was more years ago than I care to remember. It’s still my ‘local’ even though I now live over twenty miles away in Monmouth and drink there less frequently

Most of the stories have been previously published in various British and American anthologies. With the various copyrights having reverted back to me I puzzled on how to make them earn me a little more money.

There was no problem in putting them together in a single collection, for they all had a central motif: every story was set in or around Newport—and for good reason. Newport, or my version of it, is an alternative ‘Arkham,’ the Welsh equivalent of HP Lovecraft’s sinister town. The only problem I had was choosing a name for the book. Tales from Newport . . .? No, perhaps not. Tales from the Transporter Bridge . . . again no — but I was getting there. I needed an icon, something everyone in the area would recognise, something once seen you immediately think— ‘ghosts be there inside those walls’—and above all, something smelling of beer. Good beer.

The Murenger immediately came to mind, an iconic pub that everybody in Newport knows. And what you see on the front cover is pretty much what you see on the street, though I can’t guarantee the ghostly smoke. After that it was a marriage made in heaven. Rob, the landlord has a savvy media presence, and the relationship became symbiotic—Rob generously incorporating the book in his tweets and me marketing his pub. You can imagine my delight when he framed a picture of the book cover in his pub. In my daydreams, a future pilgrimage for those who like their Newport dark.

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AmeriCymru: "My Newport is a dark, seedy and magical city, the unimaginable just around the next corner . . . or the corner after that." Care to expand?

Mike: Ha! So far no one has objected to the depiction. Perhaps they agree that ‘dark and seedy’ suggests fertility, and there’s no doubt Newport is magical, if you know where to look.

My first years in Newport were spent in ‘bed-sit’ land – converted rooms in Edwardian or Victorian buildings behind the Civic Centre. Many were built on hills and so offered evocative views of roofscapes and sky. In winter the roofscapes were blurred in shadow and rain and with mysterious gaps in-between. The sky was equally exciting, changing from day to day, sometimes sulphurous, often grey, but the sunsets were something else.

I loved the streets, the alleyways, and old Pill (the dockside area) before redevelopment carved it out of existence. And the river, muddy, turgid and slightly sinister. It’s easy to superimpose a shadowy, alternative world onto Newport. Walk through Maindee or Baneswell at night and you’ll understand what I mean.

The 1960’s blighted many towns, when developers razed old buildings and replaced them with concrete and glass. In those days, Newport had more sense than money and as a result when you walk the main street and look above the generic shop facades, there remains an unspoilt Victorian skyline. Above all though, it’s the people, resilient, sharp and never predictable. You can’t be otherwise with the curved balls Newport has faced year after year.

AmeriCymru: Where can readers go to purchase your titles online?

Mike: Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk. In fact any Amazon outlet throughout the world.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Michael-Keyton/e/B016S5RBI4?ref=dbs_p_ebk_r00_abau_000000

AmeriCymru: What are you reading currently? Any recommendations?

Mike: I’m fairly eclectic. I enjoy thrillers like Scott Mariani’s Ben Hope series. Mariani provides a master class in how to write page-turners. I love old and now forgotten pulp writers like Peter Cheyney and Richard S Prather, and I love Anthony Trollope. I’m currently reading an Agatha Christie, but if I were to recommend two books – the two best books I’ve read this year—they would be:

The Shadow Of The Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon and Plain Song by Kent Haruf. The Shadow Of The Wind is rich in image, satisfyingly complex and has a strong but subtle narrative drive. Plainsong is set in the fictional Holt County, Colorado. The characters get under your skin – especially the two magnificent McPheron brothers. You won’t forget them. When you read books like these, you lament that you haven’t written them but you at least learn by reading.

AmeriCymru: What's next for Michael Keyton? Any new titles in progress?

Mike: The Gift is book one of a trilogy. The second book, ‘Bloodline’ will be out January 1919, the final book, ‘Blood Fall’ in the summer of that year. I’m currently turning The Gift into a TV script in the hope that it will be picked up by BBC Wales.

In between times I’m doing a final edit of a Science Fiction book called Phage.

AmeriCymru: Any final message for the readers and members of AmeriCymru?

Mike: Nothing special, just a big thank you if you’ve read this far, and a huge thank you to Ceri for offering me the chance to burble on for so long. Hmm, maybe I should also urge you to buy the books. The money will come in handy for Christmas.

The Vancouver Welsh Men’s Choir 2018


By AmeriCymru, 2018-10-28

RemembranceFinal.jpgThe Vancouver Welsh Men’s Choir (VWMC) was formed in 1980 by Welsh singing enthusiasts, and is now one of Canada’s largest non-profit male choirs with close to a hundred singers of diverse ethnic backgrounds. It tours provincially each year; internationally about every three years. The choir maintains a Welsh singing tradition within a varied repertoire of folk songs, spirituals, show tunes, and Canadiana. We first started doing Remembrance concerts over 20 years ago. Several members of our choir were veterans and had close ties with the military and Legions. It has become a tradition that many of our patrons look forward to each year. This year we are doing two Remembrance concerts Nov 10th and 11th with the Band of The 15th Field Regiment Royal Canadian Artillery who we have performed with for several years.

Music touches the human soul the way nothing else does. It helps us keep in touch with our past and to connect to others of different cultural backgrounds. When the choir tours to other countries the music helps us transcend our differences and come together as brothers and sisters. Music has a unifying and uplifting quality.

In our upcoming Christmas series of 7 concerts, one of the songs we sing is called “Christmas In The Trenches”. It tells the story about how during WW1 in 1914 France, British and German soldiers laid down their arms on Christmas morning and refused to fight. Instead they met each other in “no man’s land” and traded pictures, cigarettes, played games and sang songs. They realized that this was not their war but brought about by politicians and others. Some of the words in the song are: “The frozen fields of France were warmed, and songs of peace were sung. For the walls they’d built between us to exact the work of war were crumbled and were gone forever more.” The song ends with the words, “For the one’s who called the shots won’t be among the dead and lame, and at each end of the rifle, we’re the same.”

These concerts are heartwarming and emotional and enjoyed by all. They are especially meaningful to veterans or anyone who has lived through conflict. In 2017 the choir toured France, Belgium and The Netherlands to honour the fallen, performing at Vimy Ridge, Menen Gate, Juneau Beach, delivering memorable charitable concerts along the route. Memories of this tour will make Remembrance 2018 with the 15th Field Artillery Band RCA an especially poignant concert for choir members.

The choir is a “not for profit” organization with a limited advertising budget. We rely on our reputation and word of mouth to help us share our joy of singing. Some of the comments we have received: “A truly heartwarming and memorable experience”. “A very professional and unforgettable concert”. “It made the hair stand up on the back of my neck”.

Consummate professionals Music Director Jonathan Quick and Accompanist/Assistant Music Director Karen Lee Morlang ensure that VWMC’s male amateur vocalists experience and deliver the joy of singing, from the heart.

The choir produces CD s of its music, available at concerts and online at vwmc.ca

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