New-look Welsh band Jamie Smith’s Mabon (JSM) are gearing up for a gig in the heart of their homeland next month, when they play Cardiff’s St David’s Hall.
It will mark a debut at the prestigious venue for the new all-male line-up spearheaded by South Wales-based Jamie Smith.
Formerly known simply as Mabon (meaning autumn equinox), the prodigiously talented JSM sextet are fast making their unique mark on the roots scene with a vibrant fusion of InterCeltic music, led by Risca tunesmeister and accordionist extraordinaire Smith.
They will appear on Tuesday, September 13 (Level 3 stage) when they raise the curtain on a “new season of global sounds”, entitled Roots Unearthed. The music series will also include acts Lau and Pentangle, Breabach and Calan. Tickets for the 8pm show are available from St David’s Hall box office on 029 2087 8444, price £12 (£10 concessions) or online at www.stdavidshallcardiff.co.uk
The Cardiff show follows on from JSM’s successful debut at WOMAD a few weeks ago, on the BBC Radio 3 stage, as well as memorable appearances at Llangollen International Eisteffod and Carmarthenshire’s Small Nations Festival.
The album not only triggered an instant response from fans old and new but garnered an unprecedented volume of media airplay and reviews for the band, including BBC Radio 2 and 3.
Radio 2’s Mike Harding called them “a top band led by one hell of an accordion player and arranger” while Radio 3’s Mary Ann Kennedy described them as “a breath of fresh air in Welsh music” and the Financial Times praised their “fearsome reputation as a live band”.
2010 saw Mabon playing numerous gigs including headlining at the Festival Interceltique de Lorient, Brittany, the First Minister’s Gala Party at the Ryder Cup in Cardiff Castle, showcasing for Welsh music at WOMEX in Copenhagen and taking the stage at Fairport’s Cropredy Convention.
They relaunched as Jamie Smith’s Mabon (JSM) at the start of 2011 with new band member Adam Rhodes bringing bouzouki to the band’s soundscape for the first time. The remaining band members are all familiar faces from the former Mabon line up – Brittany-based Young Scottish Musician of the Year finalist Calum Stewart on wooden flute and pipes ; stand-out, in-demand fiddler Oli Wilson-Dickson, Bristol’s Matt “The Hat” Downer on bass and the Vale of Glamorgan’s irrepressible Iolo Whelan on drums and percussion.
While Mabon gained its class act reputation as an instrumental band, JSM marks a new departure, weaving some songs, penned by Smith, into the set –including the aptly named Yes We Sing Now(!) as well as some exciting shifts in style and sound.
But it is Smith’s inspired, eclectic tunes that continue to dominate the material that delves into every Celtic corner – from their native Wales to Brittany, Scotland, Ireland, Galicia and beyond.
His prolific and imaginative compositions take audiences on a magical whistle-stop Euro tour with jigs and reels jostling for space alongside other dance-related forms including Breton an dro, French mazurka, Galician muinera and even shades of klezmer in an exuberant, feelgood show.
Before the St David’s Hall show, the band heads north for the Mull of Kintyre Music Festival and a show in Buckie, Banffshire. JSM has already scored success in Scotland notching up a successful debut at the world’s largest indoor music festival Celtic Connections in January.
Other UK festival performances this summer will include headlining Fylde Folk Festival in Lancashire in September.
In November, the band will embark on a winter tour opening in Great Torrington, Devon and taking in Basingstoke, Bridport, Clitheroe, Isle of Man, Stiwt Theatre, Wrexham (November 25), Banbury, London and Sudbury, ending with a show at Powis Hall, Bangor (December 2).