Saturday, 4 June 2011

One Year, Week 5 - Ystalyfera, Abertawe and Gower

I made my way back down to Ystalyfera.  I think my favourite bus driver was driving.  The one who always asks me what sort of weaponry I'm hiding behind my harp case and that sort of thing.  I found out he had done sound for the Rolling Stones at one point in his life.  How cool is that?  Very interesting fellow.

Anyway, that weekend there were more gigs with Martin and Sille thankfully... I've said this previously, but without their help I would have been at a dead loss.
They've hired me for so many gigs, even though they truly haven't needed to.  A deep kindness.  We did some playing that evening and some more the next day.  Much less on the drinks this weekend though which was just as well.
Peter Pan!

Sille had made some paper hats which were very stylish as you can see.  As funny as it was, it probably helped me to not get completely sunburned.  We had a lovely play in the backyard and some good laughs.

On the Friday evening the three of us went into Abertawe and visited the session at Ty Tawe.  It was good to see the Swansea crew once again and this time on their home turf.

As before, it was a tremendous amount of energy that filled the little cafe.  I was glad we were able to share some tunes together.  The usual suspects were all there - Geraint, Huw, Pam, Chris, Tracey, Caradog and a few I hadn't met before.  I decided to sing a couple of new tunes that I'd been working on.  Martin and Sille played some wonderful tunes and both Chris and Huw sang some songs.  A couple of them were quite funny.  I've said this before, but it's worth repeating, Chris has a great big powerful voice which is a pleasure to listen to.

The folk sessions I've been to have been generally very fun.  It's a good way to learn and hear new tunes, meet new and interesting people, and a nice way to enjoy a pint.  Each session seems to have its own flavour.  And the Swansea session sounds like Swansea to me.

The following morning, I played at a christening at a wonderfully quaint little church close to Mumbles.  The family were very welcoming and the Rev seemed very kind.  It felt good to play there.  The sound was amazing in that little church and the location of the place itself was very peaceful, tucked away into a little wooded area.  There was a fellow there from Bristol who told me to give him a call as he'd help me find some gigs out that way.  The family also invited me to their house party but I had another gig with Martin and Sille that evening so politely declined.

It was a beautiful day.  It felt like mid-summer and with all that music, I was feeling rather happy...

Sild at the King Arthur
That evening we were at the King Arthur to celebrate the pub's anniversary.  The three of us played in the big medieval looking dining hall.  There were jugglers, magicians, fire eaters and us the musicians.  The staff were all in medieval themed costumes.  Martin and I were matchy-matchy, folk troubadours.  Playing with Martin and Sille comes so easily and naturally.  We seem to be able to play for hours without tiring and without break, a testament to their talent and creativity.

Martin and Sille are very delicate musicians who are just as equally passionate.  Some of their tunes are quite fast and I must admit, I'm not always able to keep astride.  I think this must frustrate them to no end.  Though I am getting better, I know that I have a very long way to go.

At any rate, I played quite a bit of harp the next day while Martin and Sille were taking a breather.  Sille was trying to convince me not learn so many tunes or rather to be more selective with the tunes that I learn.  I think she said, "You can't learn every tune!"  I'm not sure why I'm like this, but when it's put to me that way, I take that as a challenge and now fully intend to learn as many tunes as Diarmuid.  I know, I know.  It's a strange reaction and one of my many bizarre ticks.

Afterwards, we did a big walk about the Gower, and every few minutes we'd run into someone Martin had grown up with, meeting people quite randomly.  I think Martin really misses this part of the world.  It's easy to tell he's most at home in the Gower.

Barney loves his tractor...
We stopped by a pub during our walk and funny enough there was Barney.  Barney O'Kane, whom I'd met about three years ago at a Welsh language intensive.  Barney was great on the course.  He was the one who helped us all to speak Welsh almost constantly throughout that summer just by being himself.  It was great to see Barney again.  He's a character and a half.  A truly wicked sense of humour, full of life, with an easy laugh and so very positive and enthusiastic.

I spoke Welsh only a little with Barney.  His friend next to him asked where I was living.  I said Aberystwyth.  "Oh yes," he said, "You'd need Welsh in Aber but you don't need it down here in the Gower."  Barney piped up right quick, "I LOVE speaking Welsh!  I love how it sounds.  I just love it."  The perfect response and it reminded me of the real reason for the thing.  The only true reason to learn to speak Welsh.  Right on brother.  I hope to see Barney again soon.

We had a short play in Ystalyfera before I had to travel down to Narberth for Pwyll's funeral.  I remember that I spoke Welsh to the woman in the flower shop before leaving.

Next, a quick visit in Narberth, a gig in Llandeilo, a gathering in Llandre and some more time with Elsa and Gwilym...


my Tundra sister in her finest attire...

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