Photo Credit Richard P Walton
Calan to launch new album ‘Kistvaen’ (out 3 April) via front room of Cwmbran semi
+ Band put themselves up for sale via online shop in novel fundraising campaign
+ UK tour now rescheduled for autumn 2020
“Traditional Welsh music, incorporating accordion, fiddle, pipes & harp – but the sound
has translated to a modern audience on a grand scale.” (Yahoo)
ONE of Wales’s biggest trad-folk bands will premier their new album from the one of the world’s smallest stages… The front room of a semi in Cwmbran.
With Covid-19 cutting a swathe through auditorium concerts, and the release of Calan’s hugely-anticipated sixth album Kistvaen scheduled for April 3, the band needed a new plan… Fast.
“So, on that day, we’re going to play the album end to end in a live online streamed concert from my front room,” says Calan’s vocalist, accordionist and step dancer Bethan Rhiannon.
Folk Wales magazine describes Calan’s music as, “A storming juggernaut of power-folk,” so they’ve had a quiet word with the neighbours! “It helps that we’re going to play the album unplugged,” adds guitarist Sam Humphreys. “To be honest, I’m not sure a three-pin socket would take us all at full pelt!
This is not the first time that Calan have come up against the Curse of Coronavirus. Last week they were in the middle of a nationwide American tour when concerts suddenly began to be cancelled. In a mad scramble for airline tickets, they managed to get the last seats on one of the last flights back to Britain… And found themselves the best part of £6,000 out of pocket after paying for visas, flights, accommodation, transport and all the paraphernalia of a Stateside tour.
So they’ve set up an online shop – with just about the only thing they have to sell…. Themselves!
“You can commission a tune specially written by one of us,” explains fiddle player Angharad Jenkins, “You can book any one of us for an online music lesson, and even enter our tune raffle… Send us your own tune and if you win, we’ll include it in our repertoire.”
Quickest off the shelf was fiddler Patrick Rimes’ famous custom-made Bollywood jacket from the band’s Solomon album. It went in a day. “Yes, you can literally buy the clothes off our back,” he added.
“None of us want to make light of an awful national emergency,” said Bethan. “We absolutely recognise that people are losing loved ones and livelihoods. But, even if it’s online, we’ll do our level best to bring just a small amount of joy and music into people’s lives.”
Meanwhile, Calan’s UK tour, due to begin in early April, is being rescheduled for November/December, when they’ll play as many of the gigs as they possibly can.
Full list of rescheduled UK live dates so far;
26 July Cardiff Harp Congress – Cardiff Bay Wales Millennium Centre
8 August Tregaron Eisteddfod Ceredigion (National Eisteddfod of Wales)
30 August Shrewsbury Folk Festival
13 September Bromyard Folk Festival
7 November Brecon Theatr Brycheiniog
8 November Bristol Folk House
14 November Cardiff The Gate
29 November Dorchester Arts
2 December Sheffield – The Greystones
7 December Southampton Chapel Sessions
11 December Caernarfon Galeri
12 December Glyn Ceiriog – Canolfan Ceiriog Centre
17 December South Molton George Hotel
18 December Bradford-on-Avon – Wiltshire Music Centre
19 December Alfriston Old Chapel (TBC)
30 January 2021 Wolverhampton – Newhampton Arts Centre
To take part in Calan’s fundraiser visit. https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/calan-fundraiser#/
Their live-streamed album premiere will take place on April 3 via https://www.facebook.com/calanfolk/
And for news of any further rescheduled UK tour dates check back on www.calan-band.com.
Calan have come a long way since they began busking in the streets of Cardiff to help pay for university fees. Now they perform in venues and festivals all around the world from as far afield as Canada, USA, Borneo and Australia.
Winners of Best Band at last year’s inaugural Welsh Folk Awards, Calan will release both a new single ‘The Song of Evan’ (English & Welsh versions) plus their fifth album, ‘kistvaen’, on 3 April 2020.
As Calan’s Angharad Sian Jenkins says, “’The Song of Evan’ was another drop of inspiration from that never-ending source, Merêd, (a collector, historian and performer of folk music of Wales written in the Welsh language.) The original verses, chorus and melody all come from his collection, and inspired Beth to pen some new text”
Calan are one of the new young Welsh bands riding the wave of a country discovering their heritage of traditional music, but here the reels, jigs and pagan harmonies are accompanied with a pounding beat plus a healthy dose of pop and rap.
The brand-new album ‘kistvaen’ (also out 3 April) was inspired and informed by various visits to the Wales’ National Library in Aberystwyth. With the friendly and expert supervision of the archivists, Calan combed through dusty reams of old tunes, songs and stories; then with their brains saturated with information, they went away to try and form some ideas. Calan are conscious of trying to be informed by, but not tethered to what has gone before. They hope that the ideas that were notated so diligently by Merêd, J Lloyd Williams and so many others, are not only safe in their kistvaen in Aberystwyth, but also being given license to come out and float around a bit – and maybe even morph into something new!
A kistvaen or cistvaen is a tomb or burial chamber formed from flat stone slabs in a box-like shape. If set completely underground, it may be covered by a tumulus. The word is derived from the Welsh cist (chest) and maen (stone).
Angharad Jenkins Fiddle, Vocals
Bethan Rhiannon Accordion, Kashaka, Step Dance, Vocals
Patrick Rimes Fiddle, Bagpipes, Whistles, Wurlitzer, Vocals
Samiwel Elias Humphreys Guitars, Mbira, Percussion, Vocals
Shelley Musker Turner Harp, Vocals