That first week, I remember playing in the Gower with the Bethlehem Village Band. It was a Twmpath in the village hall back in Martin's old stomping grounds. There was an enthusiastic crowd and some ravers who danced some of those old dances in real style. Earlier in the day, we all went for a walk down to Pennard Castle - Vicky, Jas, Martin, Sille and myself. It was a beautiful sunny day, the smell of ocean and sand. Dai's Vicky was also at the dance and we danced some mazurkas. I think that's when I started to finally understand that dance.
Derwydd ac ArchDerwydd
The following week, part of the Aber Dawns crew traveled to the National Eisteddfod - Llawer Mwy the groups name. We were competing in Wrecsam. It was Elsa, Nette, Keith, Nigel and me. We had to leave really early in the morning to get there on time. I think Elsa picked me up at 6 in the morning (she later told me she was up at 4 making sandwiches for all of us!). Backstage was completely crowded - full of druids with no room for us to warm up in - with their robes, rather disappointingly, made of polyester. We were all extremely nervous. I think I started singing at one point, which I like to do to relieve tension. As I said, Elsa had brought lunch for all of us which was extremely kind.
I managed to break a string just 10 minutes before going on stage. Disaster! I was sweating buckets trying to get it changed on time - just barely managed. And there we were, on the big Llwyfan. Massive tent on a massive stage. I played a bit of a warm up on the stage just before we started. Probably wasn't supposed to but it felt right anyway. It went really well all things considered. As we came off the stage, I was cornered by a woman to do a radio interview in Welsh - very difficult. I don't think it was live fortunately. She also interviewed Keith and Nigel.
At any rate, somehow, we managed to win the bloody thing. Shock and, actually, joy. I think I held my harp up above my head in victory. ha, ha... Nah, just kidding. The thing is I didn't really care about winning or losing. That's all a bit of a bull crap anyway. But the experience was really good and we played really well together, especially considering the pressure and nerves. Certainly worth doing it. (Llio Rhydderch sent me a congratulatory text shortly after! ...but more on that later)
Mari a Fi
After the win, I did a short interview with Mari Lövgreen - the red haired Welsh presenter. I recognized her from her time on the Welsh show Uned 5. I had trouble understanding some of the questions (all in Welsh) but there it is again, another amazing experience. I did the whole fan thing (I think she's a really good interviewer and quite funny as well - especially when she was interviewing and meeting famous actors) and got my picture taken with her. I should have got her to sign something... tro nesa!
We were all on a high I think. It was great to spend the day with Nette, Elsa, Nigel and Keith. Later we watched some folk dancing and eventually found our way to the Trac tent (welsh folk music promoters). There was a mini session there. It was quite odd as I remember it. Trac... we seemed to get off on entirely the wrong foot. Most memorably, they tried to use me to promote themselves when really it should be the other way around. Put me off them to this day, though that may change at some point. After all, there have been quite a few changes there. Anyway, we met Huw Clogs but he didn't really want to have anything to do with us... didn't say even a word of hello... and I don't care how famous one is, there's no excuse for rudeness! ...and he was doing this weird circus thing, watching the crowd of people (during a simple session) and if enough of a crowd gathered, he'd start clogging. Not for the love of it mind, just to put on a show. I was wondering when the jazz hands might make an appearance. Pffttt... I had a good excuse to get out of there though. That evening, Cerddcegin had a gig.
Nette and Elsa - the Eisteddfod
We played for the first meal of the Cwrs Haf Aberystwyth at the University. It was "opening night" so to speak. We mainly played background music. It was Nette, Elsa, myself and Gwil joined us. It was wonderful to play with them all together. The new vice-chancellor was there and lots of my old Welsh language Cwrs buddies. It's a really treat to play with these people that are so close to my heart and that I trust so much.
After the gig at the University, we made our way down to the bandstand and played the rest of the evening with Parti Dawns. We may have continued on into the evening that night, playing under the stars, sitting on the Prom and listening to the waves crash. A long and beautiful day.
Later in the week, I had a gig with Bethlehem Village Band - a Twmpath near Pencader - a private birthday party, though almost no one wanted to dance - I was extremely tired and incredibly hungry. I wasn't feeling so great at that point and just made it through the gig. Though I should add, the hosts were (and are) very kind and generous people.
The following week, I joined the Cwrs Haf classes. Actually, it was really good for my Welsh. I had two great teachers, Dwynwen and Ioan. Both full of energy, both loads of fun. My friend Ben was there as well as Veronica and Mary again. And of course, Denise, Rob, Mark and Sarah - Andreas from Basque. And loads of others that I've crossed paths with before. Erin showed up but just briefly. I wasn't able to spend much time with her unfortunately, just traveling too much really.
In the last week, I played in Fishguard with Peni and Stef... at least, I think I did. I'm having trouble remembering now and may be getting my weeks confused. If it was this week, it was a gig in the rugby club in Abergwaun. It was great to play with them and have always hoped to play with them more. Peni was on pipes, pibgorn and whistles while Stef played mandola, drum and crwth. The gig started with quite a good crowd until after the raffle was called and virtually the entire bar left. Didn't matter because the music was really good. One thing I do remember - At one point, I walked into the washroom and a fellow walked in and started chatting with me and said, "I really like your music but I keep expecting Henry VIII to walk in!" A good laugh.
And later, BVB played on Jason's home turf of Bethlehem for their summer fair. We even played a twmpath that evening. The hall is nice and cozy, quaint and quite a few people showed up throughout the day and evening. The band was starting to get into a groove by that point I think and were getting ready to record an album. But more about that later.
It seems that I played another twmpath in Aberystwyth but I can't remember for what now. It must have been in the Catholic hall. Perhaps that was the time we were raising money for football gear... I don't remember quite. It would have been the Cerddcegin crew if it was... along with the bulk of the Celtic crew.
There was also a point where I went on a picnic with Elsa, Ana and Gwil - hidden away down a forest trail... and Nog the pine-cone hedgehog coming for a visit. Elsa was on form that day, I remember. Loads of stories pouring out of her that I hadn't heard before... a day that I showed the secret stone circle and which, later, finished on the beach, just enjoying the ocean... another great day with great people!
Well, I have gone on quite a bit now.
Next time, Rhosygilwen and other momentous occasions...