Ceri Rhys Matthews, folk musician, artist and founding member of Welsh group ‘fernhill‘ has developed a new show which will warm the hearts of many I am sure.
Inspired by long solo walks he has been taking along the Pembrokeshire coastal path since the spring of 2010, the event is entitled rambles through tunes and takes the audience on an unstructured musical and conversational dander through the medium of folk music, new tunes, bits of remembered things from the day… snippets; creating a patchwork of song, flute, poetry, bagpipe, social history and memory. Not storytelling, but telling stories; not performing, but playing music; not chatting, but sharing histories.
Put simply: he walks in, plays his flute, and embarks on a shared reverie with everyone present, just as has been done for millennia. It works on a footpath, in a field, front room, tent, gallery, church, cafe, club, village hall or concert space.
Ceri is joined by long time collaborator Christine Cooper on fiddle and banjo, who brings her stories along, too.
Writer Kate Pawsey shares her thoughts about the background to this new work:
Walking pace / A walking piece
Ceri Rhys Matthews is walking into himself these days. And he brings with him a host of characters that speak through his pipes, guitar, flute and more recently his singing voice. It is hard to hide much of himself behind the words and tunes of people who are now integrated into his music scape. These are people who, living or dead, speak to him and through him, making us dance or cry or sing in unison. Iolo Morgannwg, stone carver and savant, is an example who has divided academia but united certain musicians in their satisfaction. He has provided a rich vein among the wide-ranging material that Ceri has responded to in his masterful and idiosyncratic way. When he is struck a spark flies that no-one, including him, may know fully what it will ignite.
Ceri is allowing more and more of this unpredictable fire to be seen in the way he follows the unmapped pathways through his exploration in music, in art, poetry, the kitchen, friendships, and the landscape that he and his family belong to. The music he plays may be interjected by a thought, or a tale, or an enthusiastic digression. Sometimes he re-enacts a full blown encounter, so that the voices of others enter the arena. The music and the tales enrich each other.Ceri’s playing is striking and, to my ear, comes from a very pure place. I have turned up at his house unannounced and stood outside the door listening to him playing the flute, and experienced the relief of being re-connected to something I wasn’t aware was missing till that moment. And, as well as being a practised and polished performer, he has a view of both the performer and the audience benefiting from a more sharing environment, without proscenium or privilege. Those who know him have experienced this informally, and a little more formally at the Yscolan music retreats he has hosted at Pentre Ifan, whilst, paradoxically, at the same time encountering him as a powerful teacher. He manages to combine all these approaches to music when on stage playing with the band Fernhill, or with the exceptionally talented fiddle player Christine Cooper. He draws the audience nearer with his infectious enthusiasm about the pieces and then knocks it dead with the pieces themselves, so to speak.
He has been walking a lot these last two years along the coast of Pembrokeshire, usually alone, sometimes for days, and now we can smell the gorse in his jacket. This brings a whole other dimension to his rambles and tunes. This, his latest artistic development, is a natural extension of all of these elements, allowing in the places he walks, the people who have shaped his world, the tunes which leap off a page or from the fiddle of another musician, or who arrive from the pillow, the apple trees, or the sky. They take their places, equally or unequally alongside reveries about the three triangles in football and how to cook sheep’s heart, Eleanor of Aquitaine and the best cafés in Glasgow or a Scottish Islander’s views on Independence.
This might sound a mite serious, were it not punctuated by a self mocking humour that can lift the veils between ourselves, for a glimpse of something that unites us: art; life; cheese; breath; a hornpipe; an old word; a tweet; a ballad; perfume; pudding; red earth; laughter; a jig; home.
“Each of us who are interested in music making, particularly un-schooled, local music making, have a little bag full of our stories, our musical tools and tricks and tunes and tastes and smells and fruits and tears and triumphs. Everything we ever played or cared about is in that bag and a great more besides. Over the years I have known Ceri I have caught him rummaging around in that bag and stood amazed as time after time he has produced, without any ceremony, some of the rarest treasure I have ever seen or heard.”
“Ceri Matthews from Wales has spent a decade or more bringing back from extinction the Welsh pipes and has created a beautiful music informed by the Welsh language and song tradition.”
BRIAN VALLELY – Director William Kennedy Piping Festival, Armagh
“His explorations into the hidden corners of Welsh folk have produced a music that is rapturous and alive”
with Ceri Rhys Matthews and Christine Cooper.
If you are interested in booking Ceri he can be contacted via his site here.
Thurs 8th November 2012. 19.30
Theatr Fach, Dolgellau Glyndwr St, Dolgellau, Gwynedd LL40 1BD
01341 422680 http://www.theatrfach.co.uk/
Sat 10th November 2012.
‘Soundbites’ at The Great Oak Cafe, Llanidloes 12, Great Oak Street, Llanidloes, Powys SY18 6BU 01686 413211
Sun 11th November 2012.
Felin fach, Abergavenny 07980 159253
photo credit: Ceri Rhys Matthews (Image: pen y daith, heddi)