VOICES FROM WALES - 11 of 52 James Page, Columbus Campervans

An enthusiast from Swansea who over the years has learnt how to restore old VW vans and from a hobby has turned the projects into a small business.

I first heard about Jimmy nearly 30 years ago when a guitar tutor friend came to a band rehearsal and said:

"You wont believe this but I am teaching guitar to Jimmy Page! Hang on!" he said, "I’m also teaching bass to his mate, Steve Miller!"

As the boys grew older and learnt their respective guitars to a high standard, they formed a band. Another friend called Paul Young came on board, he was the singer and on drums they had the magical drummer, Paul Daniels – a super group was formed!

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cofiwch dryweryn.jpg


Rydyn ni angen eich lluniau a’ch straeon! 

Mae Gwasg Y Lolfa’n paratoi cyfrol ddwyieithog i drafod a dathlu’r ffenomenon ddiweddaraf o furluniau Cofiwch Dryweryn, i’w chyhoeddi yn Hydref 2019. 

Bydd y gyfrol yn cynnwys detholiad o’r murluniau newydd sydd wedi eu creu o gwmpas Cymru mewn ymateb i’r trosedd casineb yn erbyn y murlun eiconig gwreiddiol. 

Meddai golygydd y gyfrol Mari Emlyn: “Cyfyngir y dewis o luniau i furluniau yn bennaf. Ni fydd yn bosib cynnwys pob murlun a llun yn y gyfrol, ond rydym yn chwilio am y rhai mwya trawiadol a diddorol! Bwriedir cynnwys dyfyniadau gan rai o’r bobl allweddol fu’n creu’r murluniau newydd a rhoi sylw i’r twf diweddar yn yr ymwybyddiaeth Gymreig ac annibyniaeth.” 

A fyddech gystal â chysylltu efo golygydd y gyfrol Mari Emlyn  i rannu eich lluniau a’ch straeon? Dyddiad cau derbyn deunydd yw Mehefin 24, 2019 


We need your photographs and stories! 

Y Lolfa is preparing a bilingual book discussing and celebrating the recent phenomenon of the Cofiwch Dryweryn murals to be published in Autumn 2019. 

The book will contain a selection of murals and images that have been created all over Wales in response to the hate crime against the original iconic mural. 

The editor Mari Emlyn said: “The choice of photographs will be mostly limited to murals. And although it will not be possible to include every image in the book, we’re looking for the most impressive and interesting ones! Quotations by some of the people who have been instrumental in creating the new murals will be included in the book, as well as coverage to the recent serge in Welsh identity and the independence movement.” 

Please contact Mari Emlyn to share your photographs and stories. Closing date for submitting material is June 24, 2019

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Bryn Seion Welsh Church SUNDAY, 23 JUNE 2019

                       84th Annual Gymanfa Ganu (Welsh Singing Festival)

Come and join your fellow Cymru in an American-Welsh tradition, singing together in Welsh at the oldest Welsh church west of the Rockies for the 84th year of this event.  Bilingual song books are available with phonetic pronunctions of Welsh language lyrics.  This is a lovely family event in the country, limited seating is available inside the church building itself and more outside on the lawn.  The Gymanfa is conducted in two sessions, one in the morning and one in the afternoon with a wonderful Welsh high tea served in between.  

Located at 22132 S. Kamrath Road, Beavercreek, Oregon 97004

Celebrating 135 years in Beavercreek, Oregon

Whether you have Welsh heritage or not, you will be very welcome at this cultural event.


                 Enjoy lunch at one of several restaurants nearby.


                Eryl Aynsley, director; Geneva Cook, organist;

                with musical guests, The Phoenix Choir.

4:00 PM: The ladies of the church will serve a bountiful Welsh Tea

                ($12.00 adults, $5.00 for children under 18)


                Jamie Webster, director; Geneva Cook, organist.

For more information, email:,

Mail: Bryn Seion Welsh Church, PO Box 484, Beavercreek, OR 97004

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Week 10 of 52, isea surfwear

By Andy Edwards, 2019-05-14

Voices from Wales - Week 10 of 52 - isea surfwear

In March 2012 I cycled with my brother in law from Chicago to New York as The Two Fat Cyclists and played in bars as we went. A supportive business woman sponsored us by making us some promotional hoodies and tee shirts in support of a Children’s Ward in Glangwili Hospital, Carmarthen.

Anna Strzelecki has set up her buisness isea surfwear in the coastal village of Amroth. In the video Anna discusses how she started and developed her business from virtually nothing, whilst bringing up her daughter. It’s a story of a young woman having a dream of a lifestyle and having a work ethic that drives her towards the vision.

This week Anna posted on her Facebook page:

"Very proud of our little business to be awarded PLASTIC FREE APPROVED STATUS by Surfers Against Sewage."

"We've always made an effort to be as environmentally friendly as possible and we have made lots of small changes over time and there's still more to do but every little bit helps!"

"If you'd like to know more about becoming a Plastic Free Approved business go to or feel free to get in touch with me or your plastic free communities leader in your area."

Congratulations Anna

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teach your cat welsh.jpgTeach Your Cat Welsh has been developed due to the huge popularity of the dog version, as well as numerous requests by cat-lovers who are learning Welsh!

“The popularity of the series has been amazing! I was thrilled when Teach Your Dog Welsh was re-printed for the first time – but I’m amazed that it’s been reprinted three more times since! A lot of cat lovers approached me personally or contacted me over social media asking if there’d be a cat version of the book,” says author and illustrator Anne Cakebread.

The mischievous black cat in the book, who – unlike the very obedient dog in Teach Your Dog Welsh – often ignores instructions, has been inspired by two cats: one being Chanel, the cat of Anne Cakebread’s two nieces. Mari and Elin are thrilled to have Chanel in a book.

“Chanel made a lovely model as she’s nice and plump and full of character,” said Anne Cakebread. “The other cat that inspired the personality is the local black tom cat with yellow eyes who prowls and hunts around the old Abbey ruins, and is a bit of a legend here in St Dogmaels. He’s a seriously tough character!”

Originally from Cardiff, Anne and her partner moved to St Dogmaels 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.”

The original book was inspired by Frieda, a rescue whippet, who only understood Welsh commands when she was first homed with Anne and her partner. 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.

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 light hearted 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 Cat Welsh really brings the language to life and makes it fun – it’s a really positive (re)introduction to this wonderful language.”

“It was particularly fun for me to edit the book as I started learning Welsh on my own in Oxford, where the only ‘person’ I had to practise on was my cat! This book would have been really useful!”

There are plans to expand the Teach Your Cat Welsh and Teach Your Dog Welsh series to include translations into other minority languages including Cornish and Irish. Teach Your Dog Māori is already available as an e-book, and there will be a special travel edition teaching Japanese to coincide with the Rugby World Cup in the autumn.

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 Oriel Milgi.

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

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Lawrence Davies is a Welsh boxing historian, the author of Mountain Fighters: Lost Tales of Welsh Boxing and Jack Scarrott's Prize Fighters. His groundbreaking work has served as the basis of a TV documentary and numerous newspaper articles. His meticulous original research has uncovered many Welsh prize fighters previously unrecorded in any publication. AmeriCymru spoke to Lawrence about his new book:- The Story of Welsh Boxing - Prize Fighters of Wales

Story of Welsh Boxing Lawrence Davies Image 1.jpg


AmeriCymru: Hi Lawrence and many thanks for agreeing to this interview. Care to introduce your new book The Story of Welsh Boxing for our readers?

Lawrence: Hi, well my new book, 'The Story of Welsh Boxing, Prize Fighters of Wales' will be available to purchase at the start of June, 2019, and is published as a hardback by Pitch Publishing. This is the first book I have written on Welsh boxing to attempt to trace the origins of the sport of boxing in Wales, and to outline the careers of the most prominent Welsh fighters (or pugilists) recorded in the earliest days of British Boxing History.

The book introduces a number of forgotten early boxing 'champions' to have come from Wales, and features full accounts of some of the most prominent of the Welsh bare-knuckle fighters to have earned some measure of fame in the days before the advent of boxing gloves. There are some real surprises in the book and I hope that Welsh boxing fans enjoy reading about the forgotten fighters to have come from Wales.

It also introduces a full account of the career of Ned Turner, whose name might be familiar to some readers, as he is occasionally name-checked, although I don't think a full account of his career has been printed previously. Ned was a national hero in Wales in the 1820's and was thought to be the second greatest lightweight in Britain after a fighter named Jack Randall. His tale really is very engaging, Ned was a very likable and honorable man, and was greatly admired in his day. To the people of Wales it is no exaggeration to say he was a national hero. I hope that I have done him justice, and that readers enjoy his story.

AmeriCymru: What period of Welsh boxing history does the book cover? How difficult is it to research the earlier periods in the development of the sport given the dearth of written records?

Lawrence: The book covers what I would consider to be the first 'period' of Welsh boxing history, starting from the early 1700's with the most prominent Welsh fighters to have earned some measure of fame outside Wales, mostly within the 'London Prize Ring'. At this time, boxing or 'pugilism' had not yet broken away from the 'prize fighters' of the time, who were engaging in armed battles with the sword and staff, and the first chapter of the book gives background details on the types of contests that were fought with weapons, prior to fist fighting splitting away and being viewed as a separate art. It also contains details on some Welsh fighters who took part in these gladiatorial contests.

It also features those bare-knuckle fighters who were battling on native soil within Wales, right through to the fighting career of a boxer named William Charles from Newport who was deemed to be the 'Champion of Wales' by 1828, although he was not the first. The book covers a timescale of roughly 130 years, and charts the development of boxing within Wales, and the most prominent Welsh fighters that were recorded in the sporting journals and newspapers of the time.

Researching the book proved to be very difficult, in part because the first Welsh newspapers were founded at the start of the nineteenth century, and were very reluctant to print any information on boxing, or 'prize fighting' as it was known, mainly due to the influence of religious leaders and the chapel within Wales, who saw boxing as a demoralizing and brutal activity, although it was very popular, and often drew crowds of thousands to contests between prominent local 'Champions'.

Prior to the founding of the Welsh papers, what information can be found on the Welsh fighters of the eighteenth century is very hard to find, and piecing together the fragments of their fighting careers is a long and time consuming process, even after you have uncovered names of boxers who have long been forgotten. After fight accounts have been uncovered, you have to be able to review the materials critically and cross reference against other sources, which are often contradictory, in order to establish the accuracy of the material. The early history of prize fighting and boxing hasn't been explored in as great a detail as you might imagine. Most of the early works on boxing focus on the heavyweights, and the most prominent of the national champions.

AmeriCymru: What are the major differences between the bare knuckle fights of old and modern day boxing contests? Were fighters tougher back in the day?

Lawrence: One of the main differences in the bare-knuckle fights that took place in the days of prize fighting is that the contests were open ended, so there was no limit to the number of rounds. A man was expected to come up to the 'scratch' - a line in the center of the ring to fight - until such time as he was physically incapable of continuing. A round only ended when a man was sent down, rather than lasting a set time of three minutes. A fight could conceivably last hours, and often resulted in terrible injuries, particularly as a fighters supporters might well keep sending him out despite his injuries as they were naturally reluctant to lose the money they had wagered on their man.

Prize fighting was also an 'underground' activity. While there were many prominent members of the aristocracy who privately admired prize fighters, contests were always at risk of being broken up and the fighters and their supporters taken into custody and forced to defend themselves in court. Fights were therefore scheduled to take place at spots outside police jurisdiction, often on county boundaries, so the fighters and supporters could hop across the boundary in the event that they were being pursued by the constabulary of one county, and find another spot outside their reach to pitch another ring in a neighbouring one. As these contests took place outside, a portable 'ring' consisting of ropes and stakes were pitched once a suitable piece of flat turf was found, so it was a sport that took place 'on the fly'.

It seems to be one of those questions that creates a great deal of debate in boxing circles - were the old timers tougher than the fighters of today? I guess it depends on your point of view. Nowadays we have the benefit of science when it comes to physical training. Modern professional boxers are superbly conditioned athletes, but the toughness of some of the old fighters is quite phenomenal when you consider that they fought for hour after hour. They often sustained terrible injuries, with little medical assistance, without the benefits of modern methods of pain relief, and often for figures that would be unthinkably small for the professional boxers of today. Prize fighting was an incredibly dangerous sport. The book contains details of one fighter, recorded as a 'Welchman' who fought 276 rounds and was recorded in the Guinness Book of Records!

AmeriCymru: I think it's fair to say that bare knuckle fights were frowned upon by the authorities. Care to share some examples of the subterfuges fight organizers adopted to safeguard their events from interference by the local constabulary? Didn't the police face significant danger trying to break up these events?

Lawrence: The location where an important prize fight was to take place was often kept a secret until the day of the battle, usually when contests were to take place they were specified within a certain number of miles of London - which was the hub of prize fighting. This information was then circulated to fight fans of all walks of life, known as 'The Fancy' who would congregate at sporting houses, or pubs, where tips as to where the fight might come off might be heard.

At a later time, a 'special' train might even be booked to take the fighters and spectators to the scene of a battle, with the train pulling up at some quiet point on the line for the party to jump off, pitch a portable ring on a suitable spot of turf and bring off the fight before the authorities could locate the battleground.

Some prize fights drew crowds of thousands, and it might well be imagined in such circumstances it proved all but impossible for the police to exert their authority over such a vast number of people. There are accounts of people turning on the police when they attempted to break up a fight, and occasions where a posse of policemen scouring for the location of a fight were so out-manned that they had to merely watch from a distance with no ability to stop a contest.

AmeriCymru: From the book listing we learn that your "meticulous original research has uncovered many Welsh prize fighters previously unrecorded in any publication." Do you have any personal favorites? Are there any you would like to give a special mention to here?

Lawrence: Very few of the fighters within the book have been recorded at all in modern books of boxing history. As mentioned previously, Ned Turner was a symbol of bravery and honour in his day, but there are a few other fighters that appear within the book that are worth remembering. One is a particularly fierce Welsh butcher who plied his trade in Whitechapel Market, who was appropriately named 'Jack Rasher'. His fights were incredibly hard long and brutal, but he would laugh while his head was beaten 'like a rainbow, all manner of colours', and he would still spit on his fists and come out to fight. They called him 'Ironface'.

Another fighter within the book was known as the 'Wrexham Champion', he had a big reputation for thrashing everyone for miles around but died at the age of 38 after being attacked by a mob of 61 people. One of my favourites, because he sounds like a bit of a loon, is someone I know far too little about, a fighter named 'Taffy' Pritchard who challenged another fighter to eat 6lb of liver in less time than Taffy could eat 7lb of liver fried in candle wax! There are also some interesting details on the fighters that came after Ned Turner's time who claimed to be the 'Welsh Champion', whether merited or not.

Perhaps one of the most interesting accounts for Welsh boxing fans is the story of William Charles of Newport, who was genuinely held to be the 'Champion of Wales' by the general public - and was even compared to Owain Glyndwr the heroic rebel Prince of Wales. He has never been recorded in any book of Welsh boxing history before now. Charles was a smashing and powerful fighter and incredibly popular. For one of his fights in Monmouth, approximately 4,000 people traveled by horse, carriage and on foot from far and wide to a field to watch him take on one of his rivals, which seems astonishing to me, most of them trudging mile after mile for hour after hour to see their champion fight. I have tried to present as complete an account of his career as possible within the book.

AmeriCymru: Care to tell our readers a little about your earlier titles:- Mountain Fighters: Lost Tales of Welsh Boxing and Jack Scarrott's Prize Fighters.

Lawrence: The Mountain Fighters book was the first book I wrote on Welsh bare-knuckle boxing history, and it was published back in 2011. Prior to boxers wearing gloves, at the end of the nineteenth century, the bare-knuckle fighters of Wales were known as 'Mountain Fighters' because they fought on the mountains above the towns to avoid the interference of the police. I had come across references to them, but no details, who they were, who they fought, or any aspects of their lives and decided to research them. The book presented accounts of aspects of the lives of a number of the most prominent mountain fighters for the first time, including William Samuels, Robert Dunbar, Pete Burns (Dublin Tom), Sam Thomas (Sam Butcher), Dai St John, Patsy Perkins and others. Looking back it was a mammoth of a book, probably a bit too big. I wrote it in a very general style in an attempt to make it more readable to people who weren't necessarily only interested in boxing, but also in Welsh history, about a period that hadn't been previously explored.

The Jack Scarrott book finally came out in 2016 after many years of research. The name is probably most familiar to fight fans because Jack discovered the legendary Flyweight Champion of the World, Jimmy Wilde. Scarrott was a fairground boxing 'booth' owner. A boxing booth proprietor had a string of fighters who he employed to stand on the front of the booth, and he would invite members of the audience to challenge them over a few rounds. If they lasted the distance they won a cash prize. The spectators would pay an entrance fee to go into the booth, a large heavily decorated tent, to witness the contest. Virtually all the early Welsh gloved boxing champions started in the booths, and Jack handled most of them at one stage or another, the great 'Peerless' Jim Driscoll, Wilde, Tom Thomas the middleweight champion of Britain, Percy Jones, World Flyweight champion, and so many others all started out with Jack. Scarrott toured South Wales, packing up his booth and putting on contests around Wales for decades. He was a showman, a promoter, and one of the most important figures in Welsh boxing, although he had become something of a footnote in history, more of a myth than a man. His life and times were incredibly colourful, and the book shows how he took boxing from a small tent he knocked up himself in the town of Pontypridd, featuring ex-mountain fighters on his booth front, to venues where thousands watched the 96lb future wonder of the world Jimmy Wilde destroy all comers. It is an amazing story. As I learned more about Jack I admired him more and more. I hope one day that a revised edition will be published.

My new book, 'The Story of Welsh Boxing' is a bit different. It tries to present a full period of boxing history in as much detail as possible. I hope it is something that readers enjoy whether a wholehearted boxing fan, or whether they are just interested in the history of Wales generally. This is the first book that I have written that contains full footnotes, appendices, and a lot of wonderful portraiture and illustrations, and I really hope that people enjoy it. Sometimes it was hard trying to push on with writing it, and pull the various pieces together but I have tried to do credit to the courage and bravery of some of the great forgotten Welsh fighters of the past that should be remembered.

AmeriCymru: When will the book be available and where can readers buy it online

Lawrence: The book will be on general release at the start of June, 2019. I believe that Amazon are taking pre-orders. On the high street it should be available at Waterstones and WH Smiths and other bookshops.

AmeriCymru: What's next for Lawrence Davies? Do you have any other projects ongoing at the moment?

Really hard to say right now, I have a few other things sitting on the shelf, mostly Welsh boxing related. I am also trying to fit in research time when I can, and would like to continue charting the 'Story of Welsh Boxing' when I get time to sit down and write. Hopefully people will like the new book enough that I will be spurred on to write some more, all I ever really wanted to do when I was a kid was to write something worth reading. I used to bash away with two fingers on a dusty old Remington typewriter that my dad had, the hope is that each time I try, I get better at doing it. He used to say, keep trying, keep fighting, keep going. I think thats probably the best advice I ever had.

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

Lawrence: I really hope that if you read the new book, 'The Story of Welsh Boxing' that you enjoy it. If you do I would be really grateful if you might be so kind as to post a review on amazon, or share your thoughts on it with others on facebook, twitter, etc. Its always wonderful to read that someone has enjoyed something that you have written, or tried to write to the best of your ability.

If you are on twitter you can tweet about the book to Pitch Publishing @pitchpublishing using #TheStoryofWelshBoxing. If you follow Pitch on Twitter you can leave book reviews, get exclusive news and enter competitions and prize giveaways.

Alternatively, you can also find out more about the book on facebook, or give your thoughts on it by visiting :

I am really thankful for all the people who have supported my previous books, or have been so kind as to review them, or write forum posts on them, etc. it really helps you keep trying and keep writing when you are struggling to find the momentum to keep working on a something that you know is going to take you a very long time to put together. Some people have been incredibly generous with their support, so thank you for your kindness to date. Also want to especially thank AmeriCymru for having alerted readers to my previous books when they came out, sometimes its the interest and enthusiasm of others that keeps you going when you are flagging.


By Paul Steffan Jones AKA, 2019-05-05

Mighty mere of tears

the tears of migrants

the tears of slaves

the tears of the great whales

at the side of your pregnant wife and small children

so excited to be going on such an adventure

you watched your brothers friends and neighbours

and the coastline you knew so well dwindle

then disappear from view for a final time

horizons imperceptibly changing

never drawing near but falling away

your place of birth observed as though

via the wrong end of a telescope

doors closing as others opened

you sailed with hope and piety

and escaped the pity

and the poverty of your county

to settle in a land that for a time

would remind you of the language

and religion of your homeland

twenty years later you took your teaching and your healing

further west and put a necklace of fences

around uninterrupted grasslands

beneath unfenced skies

where your sons would experience

the resistance of the local tribes

at the same time as a civil war raged

the augmented savagery

the attrition of invasion

amid the convulsive nature of nation-forming

the letters home dried up

and your origins became clouded

as the demands of Capitalism became irresistible

enlisting you in the displacing and replacing

of a long-established population

the ways of living and thinking of all the participants

and their progeny changed forever

mighty mere of tears

the tears of fears

the tears of separation

the tears of those left behind

Posted in: Poetry | 0 comments

Week 9 of 52 - yr Ysgwrn

This week, from Mother Bear Productions, we have a visit to the poet Hedd Wyn's home, Yr Ysgwrn, in Snowdonia National Park in Wales.

After a breakfast stop in Aberystwyth and the sharing of a black coffee thermos, we arrived at Trawsfynydd early morning. The sun had risen early on a daffodil March morning.

Turning right we followed the signs for Yr Ysgwrn, a fascinating magical place especially in the blush of a strong spring breeze. The farmhouse welcomes all visitors with an open door and an ethereal warmth that not only comes from the kitchen hearth but from the natural beauty of the landscape.

The peacefulness is absorbed and as clouds float in from the Irish Sea, across the lake and over the Moelwynion Mountains, a tranquillity settles and we breathe in.

Why did men leave this place to fight in the mud of Passchendaele?

"Hedd Wyn," blessed peace, is the bardic name given to Welsh language poet Ellis Humphrey Evans. Yr Ysgwrn was his family's farm and is now a museum. A Christian pacifist, he was conscripted and went to war in his younger brother's place. He was killed approximately a month after submitting his poem, "Yr Awr" (The Hero), to the 1917 National Eisteddfod, on the first day of the WWI Battle of Passchendaele, on 31 July 1917. He won the 1917 National Eisteddfod bardic chair in September 1917, under the pseudonym "Fleur de Lys" and on the news that the winner had been killed in the war, the chair was draped in black and given to his family.

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tt0MiJw.jpegAmeriCymru: Hi John and many thanks for agreeing to this interview. Care to tell us a little about your new (forthcoming) single 'There's a hole in my heart (an area the size of Wales)'?

John: Hey, its what I thought was a breakup song, but it turns out that the main character is speaking from the grave, but it is still probably a break up song.

AmeriCymru: Will there be a new album forthcoming soon?

John: Hopefully, yes. Though as much as I love the form I have been told that it isn't the best vehicle to promote an artist work anymore.

AmeriCymru: We learn from a recent press release that your 'most recent album “The Fen Sessions” was written and released over a weekend and then deleted on the Monday.' Why? Are there any plans to resurrect it?

John: It was a conceptual idea that I had. I wanted to see how many people pay attention to my social media, as that was the main vehicle of promotion prior to and during the sessions. I also like to challenge the creative process and force myself into producing material. I think consumers of music expect the music always to be available and to be free, so I was questioning this concept. One thing I didn't expect to come from the sessions was that many of the people who downloaded the songs actually ended up paying for them. I think this was because they had invested in the process, some of them followed it throughout the weekend, and maybe limiting the release availability gave the album some monetary value.

AmeriCymru: After your 2014 album 'The Death of.....', John Mouse went away for a while. Why was this and why did he return?

John: I had had enough about not reaching a larger audience. I sort of gave up. Now, I'm liberated by this fact and so do what I want knowing that no-one really cares.

AmeriCymru: The track 'Happy I am Not' from 'The Death of John Mouse' seems to sum up the album and is a personal favourite of mine. Care to tell us a little more about the song?

John: That is an oldie! Right, so I mashed up Heaven Knows I'm miserable now, by the Smiths, Lets move to the country, by Smog and Considering a move to Memphis by The Colourblind James Experience. Just have a listen to those three songs and you'll understand Unhappy a little more.

AmeriCymru: Another intriguing track from 'Death of....' is 'Ilka Moor'. Punk versions of old standards are not unheard of, 'The Dickies', 'Banana Splits' and 'Eve of Destruction' spring to mind, but why 'Ilka Moor'?

John: I had this old folk song book and the lyrics for Ilka Moor really stood out. It's so bizzare, eating your mate, turns out it's about sexual disease though.

AmeriCymru: What is your creative process? Do your lyrics simply come to you fully formed or do you work for days/weeks carefully polishing them to perfection?

John: I do a lot of pre-editing, inhaling, before I write the words. I don't really change them much, sometimes move some sentences around so that they rhyme or that the words rhythmically fit.

AmeriCymru: How would you caharacterize your writing and recording process in general? How closely do you collaborate with the other musicians on arrangements etc?

John: It just depends. Sometimes I write by myself and tell people I work with what I'd like to achieve on the instruments I can't play. Sometimes I just let them write the song, for example this new one is written entirely by Phil.

AmeriCymru: What music are you currently listening to? Are there any artists you would claim as an inspiration?

John: New music that I am listening to include Fontains DC, John Maus (I know), Yak, Beak, King Gizzard and the Lizzard Wizzard, but I'll always go back to albums by Bill Callahan and anything Arab Strap related.

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

John: Thanks for reading, and please do spread the word.

Posted in: Music | 0 comments

keys.jpg‘There you will find them, tucked away in between The Stooges ‘Fun House’ and John Lennon / Plastic Ono Band the KEYS, the band you never knew you needed until they changed your life.

Over four Albums, Eps and countless Singles during this millennium the KEYS have become a mythical presence on the Welsh musical landscape. The timeless quality of the band’s music, touches on the wide eyed wonder and boundless possibilities of the sixties pop song, West Coast harmonies, Motown backbeat and the aggression of post 1968 proto-punk, sets them apart as true believers in the communion of Rock and Roll. KEYS are very much a band for the here and now, shaping music from the moon dust of the past into a re-imagined future that is all theirs for the taking.’ – Libertino Records ‘Black and White’ is the confident and bold return of the KEYS. The single was recorded during the productive two days session for the band’s new album in Miner’s Welfare club, lost in the Neath Valley.

Matt Evens, the band’s singer and songwriter, explains the background and the writing process of ‘Black and White’: “I wrote it while playing the drums on my own one morning. I was trying to write a modern-day nursery rhyme so it’s kept really simple. Then it went through the KEYS machine and came out all reverb guitars and maracas. It starts off Scout Niblett and ends up all Stooges with some Ron Asheton-style wah-wah thrown into the mix. It’s still a very sparse arrangement though which is the point. The lyric comes from something a photographer said to us once “Don’t worry, they’ll look alright in Black and White”; Gwion (Lead Guitar) used to quote it all the time in a jokey way so it ended up finding a melody.”

Fe wnewch chi ffeindio’r KEYS, rhwng The Stooges ‘Fun House’ a John Lennon/ Plastic Ono Band - KEYS, y band sydd ei angen ar bawb.

Ers rhyddhau pedair albym, sawl EP a sawl sengl yn ystod y mileniwm diwetha, mae’r KEYS wedi bod yn bresenoldeb chwedlonol yn nhirwedd cerddorol Cymru. Mae ansawdd bytholwyrdd cerddoriaeth y band yn cyffwrdd â rhyfeddod diderfyn caneuon pop y chwedegau, harmonïau West Coast a Motown backbeat gydag ymosodiad porto-pync 1968, sy’n eu gosod arwahan fel credinwyr cryf Rock n Roll. Mae’r KEYS yn fand cyfoes, yn siapio cerddoriaeth o lwch lleuad y gorffennol i ddyfodol dychmygus, disglair.

Mae’r KEYS yn ôl gyda’r sengl hyderus a chadarn ‘Black and White’. Recordiwyd y sengl yn Miner's Welfare Club, Cwm Nêdd yn ystod sesiwn dau ddiwrnod o recordio eu halbym newydd. Esbonia Matt Evans, canwr a chyfansoddwr y band, y stori sy’n perthyn i ‘Black and White’:

“Ysgrifennais y gân wrth chwarae’r drymiau ar ben fy hun un bore. Fe driais i ysgrifennu hwiangerdd fodern, felly cadwyd y gân yn syml. Yna, aeth y gân trwy beiriant KEYS ac allan daeth reverb gitars a maracas.

Scout Niblett yw’r dechrau a'r Stooges yw’r diwedd gyda ychydig o steil Ron Asheton-wah-wah-aidd wedi’i daflu i’r gymysgedd. Mae’r geiriau yn dod o rhywbeth ddywedodd ffotograffydd wrthon ni unwaith “Peidiwch â phoeni, bydd e’n edrych yn iawn mewn du a gwyn”; Roedd Gwion (gitar flaen) yn arfer dyfynnu’r linell drwy’r amser mewn ffordd bryfoclyd, felly roedd rhaid rhoi’r dyfyniad hwn i mewn i’r gân.”

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