Music reviews

Looe Music Festival.

A fantastic, friendly, folk, rock and indie inspired music festival, in the calming harbour town of Looe, Cornwall.

Looe is satisfyingly far down on the south Cornwall coast. The journey is long, but you will be rewarded.

Cocooned in a bay, this pretty and vibrant, old harbour town is surrounded by high, lush green woodland. Many of the buildings date back to the 16th and 17th century.

Its fascinating history of smuggling, shipping and fishing, is kept alive by way of preserved landmarks, charismatic locals and historic buildings throughout the town and coastline.

It’s busy now, with the festival in full tow. The setting is perfect. Cobbled streets, a sparkling river, venues to suit all genres of music, and plenty of eateries and pubs to amble in-between acts. Folk, fun and frolics here we come! Looe Music Festival.

A cool, Cornish welcome.

Headline acts this year include Brian Ferry, Alabama 3, Fun Loving Criminals and Craig Charles DJ (my fave was Craig Charles), but at the heart are the smaller acts and buskers who play in various locations around the town – in old pubs, small bars, huge tents, the beach main stage, the streets, the harbour, on top of a big van..

Everyone from locals, festival goers, folk lovers, families, bearded hipsters and pirates alike, are out enjoying the music and warm September heat.

Some music highlights

Gilmore and Roberts a folk/indie duo, charmed us with storytelling tunes, seamless harmonies, gorgeous guitar and violin playing, and quirky, funny chats in-between. I liked the one with the guy with an amputated leg or arm…

I caught a rare jazz act – Louise Parker in Zute Bar. Her strong, soulful voice filled the room with some old classics and lively clap along jazz numbers. She sang to our small crowd with ease, and got everyone involved.

Accompanying Louise was a piano playing feind. I didn’t catch his name, please do comment if you know it.

I enjoyed a captivating performance from Elliott Morris. Folk, pop with a rock edge.  A strong and calming voice, each song was heartfelt and warm. His superb, lively and edgy acoustic guitar playing added an extra dimension to his performance.

Busker on the harbour


Choose if you want, to avoid the ticket cost. You could happily amber round the numerous side streets on both sides of the river, explore and catch some great buskers.

There was some bellowing didgeridoo playing, a folk style ukulele Sia tribute, some mythical story telling, and a host of very good traditional folk singers, to name a few.

Enticing food around every corner

Good food is never far away. Street food vendors, venues and pubs offer an array of cuisine from classic Jamaican dishes to freshly caught seafood platters.

Sample some Cornish pasties (they are lovely), sip good quality coffee or herbal tea, or a cool beer. Eat chips, relax in a plush restaurant or chill in a pub of your choosing. I spotted some locals crab catching. They had a bucket full!

After 3 days of glorious music, exploring cobbled streets, some unexpected company from Australian Jess, and many a Cornish treat, I ended the festival on a high and made my way to the last couple of acts.

girl-writing-@-LooeOne of the best things about this festival… big enough crowds to create a great atmosphere, but small enough venues so that you can get up close, if you want.

I caught the start of Fun Loving Criminals with Huey and his no pulling any punches chat, and strong rock performance. I heard good reviews of them, but with a dance head on me, I made my way to see funk and soul connoisseur Craig Charles, with his boundless energy and a funktastic funk & soul DJ set. It was superb.

A good dance finale from myself and a few hundred revellers to round the festival off nicely.

Thank you Looe. I will be returning for sure. 😍

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Music reviews

Summer 2016 Music Festivals And Gigs In Pembrokeshire

2016 will see Pembrokeshire host some fine music.

From World renowned musicians, new up-coming acts and a host of local talent.

We have a new Arts festival The Edge. A performance from the great jazz/blues musician Courtney Pine at Aberjazz, and an intimate set from ‘Welsh Tornado’ guitarist Gareth Pearson in Caffe Vista

If you’ve not ventured out in Pembrokeshire recently, you may be pleasantly surprised. 

Gone are the 90s, grungy, grubby, pubs (I know I miss them!).

Music venues have been revamped and re-energised. More musicians are finding their way down and enjoying what’s on offer.

Cosy, friendly music cafes/bars have emerged.

Try Cwtch Coffee Shop and Art Gallery in Pembroke Dock, a welcome burst of culture to the town, or Tenby’s Caffe Vista, a stones throw away from Tenby’s north beach,

Or the lovely French/Welsh inspired venue of Ffwrn in Fishguard, where you can enjoy a freshly baked pastry and an ale of your choice.

Go on your own, go with friends. Explore Pembrokeshire and enjoy the music.

July 2016

Tamsin Waley-Cohen. 2016 Music festivals and gigs in Pembrokeshire.
Tamsin Waley-Cohen.

The Fishguard International Music Festival Thursday 21st July to Tuesday 2nd August. 10 days of song, music and verse in some picturesque and atmospheric locations in Fishguard, St Davids and around Pembrokeshire.

Acts include The Welsh National Opera Orchestra, clarinetist Michael Collins, and violinist Tamsin Waley-Cohen.

Kadia a folk inspired trio from Dorset, perform Friday 22nd July in Cwtch Coffee Shop and Art Gallery Pembroke Dock.

Enjoy their unique take on some modern classics, jazz, Irish and traditional folk. Also on Friday 22nd July through Span Arts in The Queens Hall Narberth is Edd Bateman’s West African Love Affair.

Influenced through his experiences touring and performing in Africa, Edd Bateman, a talented bassist, along with his all-star West African band, deliver their unique blend of rhythmic and intoxicating West African inspired music.

On Saturday 23rd July in Caffe Vista Tenby, experience an acoustic performance from Gareth Pearson.The influential and successful Welsh jazz/blues guitarist dubbed ‘The Welsh Tornado’ known for his fingerstyle guitar.

Pembs Fest Music Festival Friday 29th to Saturday 30th July is held inside the castle walls in Haverfordwest. Saturday’s headline act is Billy Bibby & The Wry Smiles fronted by former lead guitarist of the BRIT award winning Welsh indie rock band Catfish and the Bottlemen.

Support acts include hip-hop reggae maestros Regime. For the ravers, on the Saturday in the castle’s ‘prison vaults’ over 28 DJ’s bring you drum & bass, dub step, house, hip-hop, electro and techno vibes. It’s hyped to be a night to remember.

Pembroke Beer and Cider Festival Friday 29th July to Sunday 31st July. In conjunction with CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) sample from over 25 ales, including brews from Pembrokeshire (there are many), Wales and beyond.

Enjoy music, dancing and singing on the Friday, with duo Lighthouse on Saturday and Al Davy on Sunday.

August 2016

Monday 1st August Roxy Musique The Queens Hall Narberth. A fantastic tribute act to one of the most influential bands of all time. Go back in time and explore Roxy Music’s daring and creative repertoire from 1972-75.

And of course you’ll be treated to many of their classic hits such as Virginia Plain, Love is the drug and Angel Eyes.

Friday 5th August to Sunday 7th August The Edge Festival, Solva harbour. A new event on the circuit. Inspired by the filming of ‘Under Milk Wood’ on location, an Arts festival was born. A celebration of music, literature, film, food, craft, sport, with coastal outdoor activities.

Live music plays throughout including a performance from Ragsy, who’s recently collaborated with Caroline Harrison on new single My Love – Bring out the Guards. Local talent including the Pembrokeshire Ukulele Pirates, Welsh singer/songwriter Meic Stevens, and a host of local acts in a Battle of the Bands on the Saturday.

Tuesday 9th August. A live broadcast of Glyndebourne Opera:Béatrice et Bénédict by BERLIOZ in The Torch Theatre Milford HavenWith the London Philharmonic Orchestra and the Glyndebourne Chorus. Sung in French with English subtitles.

The Hot Seats. Summer 2016 music festivals and gigs in Pembrokeshire
The Hot Seats

Wednesday 24th August 2016 The Hot SeatsBurnett’s Hill Chapel Martletwy, Narberth. 

Five hillbilly virtuosos from Richmond, USA perform in the charismatic and old chapel not far from Narberth town. (The chapel has more great acts like this throughout the summer).

Aberjazz jazz n blues festival. Thursday 25th August to Monday 29th August. Over 50 superb acts, in an array of venues around Fishguard and Goodwick.

Be it traditional jazz n blues, ska, roots, country, rock, folk, gypsy jazz, dance, you are likely to find something to satisfy your ears and eyes. Venues range from art galleries to cafe/bars, to old traditional pubs.

Highlights include Courtney Pine in the Theatr Gwaun on Thursday,  The Jasmine Power Quintet in Peppers on Friday, and Tipitina in Ffwrn on Saturday.

Friendly and welcoming music and dance workshops are open to everyone. Try the Blues Harmonica Workshop with Rick Asherson in Ffwrn on Sunday.

Aberjazz is by far the biggest festival in Pembrokeshire. One not to be missed.

The relaxed feel, the calmness of Cardigan Bay, intimate venues, the end of summer, it all adds to the good feeling Aberjazz creates.

Other music venues in Pembrokeshire.

Food at Williams Pembroke, a warm and tastefully decorated cafe with gourmet food. Friendly hosts with a communal guitar on the wall.

They occasionally have music events in their garden. Cromwells Bar and Tavern in Pembroke (opposite the castle) host music from local bands and a weekday open mike night.

Pembroke Castle hold large music events in the castle grounds.

The magnificent St Davids Cathedral hold events throughout the year.

Try the Castle Inn in the beautiful coastal village of Newport, North Pembrokeshire. A relaxing pub with a nice outdoor space where they often showcase local music.

Narberth has an independent and family-friendly vibe.

By day it’s a foodie, craft and boutique hub, by night there is a friendly vibe with a foray of locals and musicians coming together to talk music and enjoy the creative atmosphere.

Explore and enjoy Pembrokeshire. A warm welcome and live music awaits!

*Feel free to comment, and promote your venue or music gig/event


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Music reviews

The World Music Expo (Womex). Part 2 of my review.

Womex. The networking sessions.

The networking sessions at a World Music Expo are not your typical suit wearing and card swapping affair.

They are a get-together of colourful characters and influential music professionals from across the globe, all eagerly there to champion their cause, listen and take action. 

Each session starts with a short talk from a selected topic. Anyone and everyone attends. You don’t have to be directly involved or connected to the talks.

But if you are, it’s an ideal opportunity to speak with like-minded people, share ideas and form relationships.

First up was Women of the World and it was the most memorable for me. Every space in the room was taken with near 100 ladies (and 1 man.. hello Bill Bragen!) with tea available if you desired.

Hosted by the lovely Allie Silver (USA/Argentina Free Radical Productions), this session is designed simply to give women a chance to talk and get to know each other.

Everyone had a short stint on the microphone. You get a good overview of the different reasons people attend Womex.

There was no pretension in this room. All ladies listened and collectively encouraged each other to talk. A good one to go to if you’re new to the event.

Womex 2013 Exhibition
Womex 2013 Exhibition

The North American session was bustling with big characters, lively chat and positive interactions. And as you would expect, was about doing and making things happen.

There was an air of confidence and instant togetherness in the room. Dmitri Vietze (USA Rock Paper Scissors) was a flamboyant and encouraging host and got everyone involved.

The Forum of African Music session was also packed. You couldn’t help but feel the energy and passion about music here. It seems there is a well-established and talked about community already set up.

It really felt like I was walking in on a continuing conversation with discussions on the efforts and achievements already achieved in the African music scene.

Throughout this event you would not have missed Jessica Mbangeni. A well known influential artist and poet who often gave us bursts of song and prose for us to enjoy. A real Queen Bee milling round the event.

The Atlantic Music Expo session had a similar feel. This was formed to represent the new music Expo for Cape Verde, Africa, and both sides of the Atlantic. This year held in the Cape Verde capital Praia.

The emphasis was on how music is a strong commodity and how it has the potential to enrich your country socially and economically, with discussions on how you could tap into the world music scene.

Sessions for The World Trad Forum (about traditional music) and Liet International: The Song Contest in European Minority Languages were not without energy and passion.

Both had smaller groups, but with the advantage that you can get to the point quickly and come together to make things happen.

The last one I attended was The Education Network. This was fascinating. I believe there should be a stronger focus in music in schools and the community.

I discovered it can be used as an effective learning tool to help in other subjects and personal development.

I have a feeling this network will grow each year. There’s a lot to talk about and achieve in music education. I’d be interested to hear what people think about this.

Womex 2013. Review by Vanessa Williams CopywriterOther conference talks included: World Music, Diversity and Democracy – examining the role of music in social protest. I heard a lot of people talking about this one.

Jazz and World Networking Meeting. As you would expect some interesting characters attended. I would have liked to be a fly on the wall.

And Growing Your Audience, Social Media Strategies and Innovations. Some innovative and creative examples of social media campaigns here with an opportunity to brainstorm ideas and debate the benefits of social media. Again another one I would have liked to attend.

See the showcase here and find an insight into the trends of the World Music scene today.

Womex is an open and encouraging event. Everyone had a strong sense of responsibility to promote their cause.

I found myself thinking about the worth of music as a commodity, in education and in bringing communities and countries together.

And more than anything I re-discovered my love for music. You can’t not by attending this event!

If you are passionate about World Music, the music scene of today or if you want to find new ways to promote your own or your country’s music, this event is for you.

Discover where the next Womex will be held.

I am a freelance copywriter in Pembrokeshire.

If you would like me to cover your event or write for your business get in touch.