How often do you get to hear bagpipes in Splott? More often than you would think thanks to local musician Antwn and his band, Carreg Lafar, who are launching their fourth album ‘Aur’ at a FREE launch party in Splott’s Old Library on Friday 21st April.
As part of a Splottlight Series on local artists, Inksplott caught up with Antwn to find out more about the groups and their ambitions for a music scene in Splott.
Inksplott: Hi Antwn, thank you for being interviewed for Inksplott. Can you tell us a little about yourself and your group?
Antwn: The group is called Carreg Lafar, and we’re a traditional Welsh folk group. We’ve been recording and performing since 1995, made 4 albums and toured Europe and North America.
Inksplott: How did you get into this? Can you please tell us a little about the history of your group and how you became involved?
Antwn: I became interested in folk and Welsh culture after I moved away from Wales, to London.
When I returned, I met people with a similar interest, James and Simon, and we started the band. James, our flautist, is still in the band. Then we met Rhian our fiddle player and Linda our singer, and the rest is, as they say, history! Danny joined the band as guitarist in 2006 I think. I play bagpipes and sing as well.
Inksplott: And how come the group is (performing) in Splott? Are you locals?
Antwn: Linda and I are married, a band romance, and we’ve lived in Splott for 21 years. James used to live in Splott but recently moved back to Llanelli, where he’s from. The refurbished Old Splott Library is a great community venue. I’ve started a music event there called Y Parlwr (the parlour) to present folk and acoustic music. Not necessarily Welsh, but that’s what I know best. So it seemed to be the ideal place for the launch of our new album ‘Aur’ (Gold). The next performance is an excellent trio called Elfen
Inksplott: What do you think of the music scene around here? How would you like to see it develop?
Antwn: I’m hoping to put on a gig at the Splott Old Library every other month, at Y Parlwr. It would be great if others also thought about arranging gigs at the venue. It’s not big, and it can’t be loud because of the residents, but there’s lots of potential for folk, jazz, classical etc. I think there are lots of artists and performers living in the area, so no shortage of talent!
Inksplott: What’s your speciality? Why should people come and see your group?
Antwn: We specialise in Welsh traditional songs and music, but we treat them in contemporary way, so hopefully it’s not old fashioned! Our music is a mix of slow ballads and up tempo songs and tunes, something for everyone. I don’t think it matters if you can’t speak Welsh, you can still enjoy the music, the arrangements. And how often do you get to hear bagpipes in Splott?
Inksplott: What’s your best story since setting up the group?
Antwn: There are very many stories over 22 years! On our very first international trip back in 1996, we were attending a huge Celtic festival in Brittany. By chance, we ended up supporting the finale concert, with an audience of 10,000! We’ve toured N America 5 times, and there are plenty of tales from those trips, a book full! Maybe the best story is friendship. We’ve been great friends for a very long time, and making a new album has been a great experience.
Inksplott: Tell us a secret or something about Splott that we won’t know.
Antwn: Linda and I are both Buddhists, and we run a small Soka Gakkai Buddhist group for Splott and Adamsdown.
Inksplott: Any exciting plans or events on the horizon?
Antwn: Carreg Lafar is hopefully going to do some touring and performing. In Splott, my next event for Y Parlwr is coming up on 28th April. Elfen is a band worth checking out. It’s just £5 on the door and people can bring their own drinks. All the details are on the facebook page. Hopefully see you there!
Inksplott: That’s great – thank you so much for the interview!
For more information on Carreg Lafar and upcoming events, click on the links below
Tickets to the FREE album launch
A bit more about the band:
A treasure chest of new music made from ancient melodies, Carreg Lafar is a band breaking the boundaries of Welsh musical identity.
With their new album Aur (Gold), Welsh folk band Carreg Lafar, reveal old traditions and re-imagine them for the 21st century. Bagpipes, fiddle, flute and ancient melodies are mixed with dynamic vocals and rhythmic guitar, for a contemporary twist on traditional music.
Carreg Lafar are celebrating their 20th anniversary with the launch of Aur, at Y Parlwr in Splott, Cardiff, on Friday 21st April 2017. There will be drinks and refreshments and of course – Welsh cakes, to accompany the band performing tracks from the new album.
Aur is the band’s fourth album on the Sain label, it had its international release at the Lorient Festival in Brittany, France and is now being released into the UK market April 21st. Carreg Lafar have been described by fRoots magazine as “a band against which others are measured….This album, like its predecessors, is a treasure chest of Welsh traditional songs and tunes.”
The ‘treasure chest’ of tracks is a collection of some of the band’s favourite songs and tunes, including well-known folk songs like Aderyn Bach (Rew di Ranno) and Titrwm Tatrwm, but also lesser known songs like Cariad Aur and Baban Bach. We want to ‘breathe new life and energy into these old songs and tunes’ says bagpiper Antwn Owen Hicks.
Members of Carreg Lafar come from all parts of Wales and comprise the pure-voiced and mesmerising Linda Owen Jones from Wrexham; dynamic and soulful fiddler Rhian Evan Jones from the Rhondda; the breathily atmospheric flute of Llanelli-born James Rourke; self-taught bagpiper and vocalist Antwn Owen-Hicks from Pontllanfraith; and Cardiff-born guitar maestro Danny Kilbride.
Mick Tems of Folk Wales Magazine says that Aur is “magnetic, immediate, beguiling and so full-on that startled listeners could be soundly forgiven for taking a hasty step back from the speakers.” And fRoots speaks of “the richly-textured contralto voice of Linda Owen Jones…along with the sweeping, majestic instrumental accompaniment.”
Joining Carreg Lafar for the launch party, as special guests, are the captivating folk duo, Olion Byw, Lucy Rivers on fiddle and voice and Dan Lawrence on Guitar.
The launch party will be held at the Splott Old Library, Singleton Road at 7.30pm. Linda Owen Jones said, “It’s a free event, for people to join us in celebrating Welsh traditional music and our 20 years as a band.”
People can reserve a ticket for the launch party at Eventbrite, via Carreg Lafar’s website or Facebook Page. There will be some complimentary refreshments, and don’t forget Antwn’s homemade special Welsh cakes, and perhaps something Gold to discover at the venue…..