It’s 10 years since the masters of Welsh folk Calan released their debut album – Bling. It’s fair to say that during those 10 years they’ve blasted their way through the old traditions giving a fresh and contemporary sound to traditional Welsh music. Credited for their sparkling melodies, foot tapping tunes and spirited and energetic performances of Welsh step dancing, they’ve taken Welsh traditional music to international audiences.
Following the release of their debut album, Bling in 2008, which attracted four star responses from the critics, the five piece have played to big audiences and rave reviews at concerts and festivals around Britain, USA, Australia and Europe. It hasn’t always been plain sailing for the band, there have been a few hiccups along the way, the biggest crisis being Sam and Patrick’s night in a cell at Chicago O’Hare Airport and their deportation back to the UK the following day! Despite this not so nice experience the band’s love of touring the States has continued as they’ve recently returned from a successful few weeks of gigs that included a performance for the radio programme Mountain Stage – produced by West Virginia Public Broadcasting and distributed by NPR to more than 240 stations across America.
Highlights from the last 10 years include performing at the Royal Albert Hall with Bryn Terfel and Sting, singing in the rain at the Borneo Rainforest Festival and performing to 25,000 people at the coveted Cropredy Folk Festival. They’ve toured Italy, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Australia and the USA and have performed several times at the Festival Interceltique de Lorient, Brittany, where they’ve received the award for the best group and they will be returning this year to perform alongside other Welsh artists such as Manic Street Preachers, Alaw, Vri and Catrin Finch & Seckou Keita.
Calan have released three further studio albums – Jonah, Dinas and Solomon and the compilation album Deg |10 is a combination of their favourite tracks along with three brand new songs, two live recordings and two brand new remixes of previous singles ‘Apparition’ and ‘Synnwyr Solomon’. Calan are heading out on tour again and we are looking forward to see where the next 10 years will take them!
The new song ‘Irontown’ tells the story of the Chartist uprising of November 4th 1839 when iron workers and coal miners from the valley towns of south Wales marched into Newport in support of the People’s Charter. A charter which called for universal suffrage, secret ballot, a salary for MPs, giving those who did not own property the right to vote. Waiting for them were troops from the 45th Of Foot who opened fire on the crowd. By the end of the protest 22 men were dead and 50 wounded. The troops were defending the Westgate Hotel where it was rumoured some Chartist supporters had been taken prisoner. The hotel still stands today and it is believed the bullet holes can still be seen in the fabric of the walls.
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‘Apparition’ – live: