Music

Two chapels, two gigs. St Davids Tabernacle and StudiOwz

The latest venue for Boia Gigs was the crypt of the Tabernacle chapel in St Davids. A gothic design built in 1877, the chapel is an imposing building but unless you are a member of the tiny congregation, you’d be forgiven for not noticing it on your way through St Davids. Downstairs is usually used for Sunday School but last week opened its doors to host Dan Bettridge (Ogmore, Wales) and The Brother Brothers (Brooklyn, NY). One of the attractions of live music is hearing a little background about the songs and the ideas behind the lyrics. The Brother Brothers were brilliant at filling in the history that inspired their writing and some of the covers they performed, but were also funny and engaging which made for a great show. As identical twins they referenced other familial duos from down the ages and are adeptly carrying on the tradition. Go see them if you get the chance. They were supported by Dan Bettridge who showcased his great guitar sound and songwriting.

John Blek returned from County Cork to Pembrokeshire last night to play at StudiOwz before he takes to the stage at the Tabernacle Chapel in St Davids tonight. When I heard he was playing at the studio I knew that John’s songs were perfectly suited to it and it was a treat to hear his music there. Plucking out his melodies and delivering his soul rending lyrics in such a venue was spellbinding. In the crowded world of male singer songwriters, John Blek stands out as a true talent with plenty of outstanding songs that should be getting more radio play over here. Look out for chances to see him live and buy his records.

Emily Barker at StudiOwz

I was lucky enough to get along to Owain’s new studio in the wilds of mid Pembrokeshire for a really special gig the other night. A Boia Gigs event with a very limited amount of tickets on offer made for a really intimate night in the company of Emily Barker, with Lukas Drinkwater alongside. Owain has created a beautiful space to record and perform music in an old chapel, now lovingly converted into a dream studio. Emily performed her songs for a small, captivated audience to make for a magical first gig in this unique setting. A perfect place to record music and a brilliant venue for this kind of tiny event, it was great to be there as the first one unfolded. New life given to a space that has seen song, emotion and spirituality within its walls from the beginning; it’s a wonderful thing to see its history continue in a fresh form. In attendance was Jeff, who told me that 4 of his sisters had been married in the chapel and both his parents lay at rest in the graveyard. His smile as he left showed that the new chapter is a welcome turn of the page.

As usual, keep an eye out for Boia Gigs events in Pembrokeshire. There are some excellent nights ahead.

Latest gig shots

A quick selection covering the latest Boia Gigs events in St Davids. Becca Mancari was a recent highlight, I’ve been spinning her Good Woman album a lot since seeing her truly brilliant and moving show. There was the welcome return of Twin Bandit from Vancouver and Cardiff based Ivan Moult was sublime. Steph Cameron was the first to grace the stage at the City Hall as the latest venue for Boia Gigs events. March saw Kacy and Clayton arrive; a great show and a little dark humour to go with it. See details for upcoming shows… Boia Gigs on Facebook.

Tenby Blues Festival 2018

At the weekend I had the pleasure of being the official photographer for the annual Tenby Blues Festival. Over the three days the daily Blues Trail has a timetable of acts playing in local pubs, restaurants and hotels before the main evening events take place in the De Valence Pavilion. The festival has been going for over a decade now but this was my first time sampling it. It’s always great to see high quality acts in Pembrokeshire especially when they have made the effort to come from another continent to get here and this year, Malcolm, Chris and the rest of the team put together a great lineup. Here’s some shots of the weekend… and you know me, I couldn’t resist popping out to get a shot of the sunset on a beautiful Sunday night in Tenby.

Dave Arcari kicked things off single handed on Friday night with a high energy show…

“Dave plays like he got his skin turned inside out and pretty soon my skin was inside out too listening and it was all good. That boy bleeds for you – he a real down deep player and a soul man…”  Seasick Steve

Afterwards The Paul Garner Band from London took to the stage and the night was rounded off with some groovy blues from Lighnin’ Willie and the Poorboys.

Saturday night kicked off with Husky Tones , the duo creating a fantastic sound with guitar, stand up drums and vocals. The British blues legend, Eddie Martin followed with his band before The Reverend Shawn Amos brought the night to a close with a sensational show.

The audience on Sunday night were given a real treat with Jodie Marie and Bella Collins teaming up to produce what was for me, the standout performance of the weekend. A spine tingling set made all the more amazing for the fact that they’d barely played together. That’s chemistry I guess. The result was sublime and had the audience on their feet at the end. They made way for Catfish which was a change of pace before the night and the weekend was brought to a close by the soulful voice of Kyla Brox and her band.

A great weekend of music and a festival that is well worth checking out. A good excuse for a November trip to Tenby.

Look out for tickets for next years event https://www.tenbyblues.co.uk/

The Slocan Ramblers and Christopher Rees

A rainy November night in St Davids. We had the pleasure of listening to Christopher Rees, from down the road in the Rhondda Valleys and from further afield, The Slocan Ramblers from Newfoundland, Canada. Foot stomping Americana and Bluegrass from some masters of playing and songwriting.


Live Music: Joey Landreth, John Blek, Nathan Bell and Rosey Cale

More visitors from over the water came to St Davids to play Boia Gigs events. Joey Landreth came over from Canada and a little closer, from Cork, Ireland, John Blek included St Davids in a mini tour of the UK. Another fantastic couple of evenings showcasing some brilliant songwriting and sublime playing. The pick of the tunes for me was this one from John Blek…

In October, Nathan Bell came from Tennessee to play us some captivating Americana folk songs coupled with evocative story telling. Drawing on the experiences of a life as a working man in the USA, Nathan intertwines his songs with reflections on life, love and modern America. Support came from the talented local singer songwriter, Rosey Cale showcasing her self penned works and exceptional voice.

Live in St Davids: Hillfolk Noir

The band describe themselves best:

"Fronted by singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Travis Ward, Hillfolk Noir is a trio of neo-traditionalists playing traditional music on traditional instruments for non-traditional times. They call it Junkerdash, and it’s a sound brewed from folk, bluegrass, punk, string-band blues and other influences musical and otherwise."

All I would add is that they were proper bompin'.

Another great night courtesy of Steve at Boia Gigs.

Live Music: Twin Bandit and Sky Barkers

On Thursday at The Meadow in St Davids, I went along to take some pictures of Twin Bandit (a folk duo/band from Vancouver, Canada) and local duo Sky Barkers playing some beautiful tunes. We don't often get live acts making the effort to journey all the way to play for us in Pembrokeshire so it's been lovely to have Boia Gigs attract some quality acts to St Davids.

Twin Bandit are on a European tour and had been in London the previous evening before flying to Amsterdam the following day; from Britain's largest city to it's smallest before hitting mainland Europe, we appreciated the effort! Be sure to check them out if they are in your neighbourhood.

The Meadow is also recommended as a great place to get fed and watered if you're in St Davids.

You have a talent for capturing expression and the feeling of that show. We are so grateful, it was a beautiful night and it’s such a joy to remember it by these pictures!
— Twin Bandit

Musical interlude : Song Exploder

I've enjoyed listening to the Song Exploder podcast recently. I always find it interesting to hear how a piece of creative work is put together and to have an insight into the thinking and processes behind the finished article; this podcast provides that insight for an ever growing list of tunes. Music is often something that becomes a background to daily life and although the age of listening to music is often said to be behind us, this is also the information age and we can learn more than ever about the artist behind the work. Give it a listen.

A couple of my favourite episodes...