There’s not many UK folk bands that can claim to have been locked up and deported but in a strange turn of events two members of the Welsh band Calan found themselves locked up in a detainment cell at Chicago airport along with a death metal band. All because of a computer glitch…oh, and then there was the tornado…and the House of Commons debate…
In June 2015 the computer system broke down at the US embassy. Unbeknown to Calan this resulted in two band members not having the correct paper work for their visas. They were refused entry at Chicago airport, taken to a detainment cell and locked up along with a death metal band from Estonia. Sam, the guitarist from Calan said ‘It’s a pity we all weren’t allowed our instruments in the cell we could have created one hell of a fusion’. They were deported back to the UK but re-entered the US a few days later with the correct paper work only to find themselves crouched in a basement in New Hampshire hiding from a tornado.
The Calan visa debacle eventually became a subject for discussion in a debate in the House of Commons. The band was hoping for some good live reviews in music magazines but didn’t expect to have their name featured in Hansard.
Calan have been building up a big following since the release of their debut album Bling in 2012. They breathe fire into the old traditions with their infectious rhythms and high voltage performances leading one critic to say Calan are ‘a diverse ride between giddy Welsh reeling, healthy acoustic folk-pop with upfront attitude and brashness of youth.
They have introduced a new generation of music fans to Welsh traditional music – in Wales and well beyond. Audiences in Belgium, Italy, France and Denmark as well as all over the UK have given them a terrific reception along with regular listeners to BBC Radio 2.
The Daily Mirror summed it up by saying that their music was “played with grace, daring and sheer joy”. The Belfast Telegraph got the idea, too, saying “folk just got a kick up of the Noughties”.
Calan are a band with a growing confidence with an even quicker growing audience. ‘Folk’ is no longer a dirty word in fact some would say it’s almost fashionable. But Calan reach out beyond the folk enthusiasts anyway. They played to capacity audiences throughout their British tour in 2015 with many new people hearing their music for the first time either via BBC Radio 2’s Simon Mayo and Mark Radcliffe or their televised appearances. One of which was their performance at the Royal Albert Hall alongside Bryn Terfel and Sting as part of Bryn’s 50th birthday concert.
Main stage festival performances have included Cambridge Folk Festival, Shrewsbury and Wickham sharing stages with Katie Tunstall and The Proclaimers and Fairport Convention’s Cropredy Festival playing for 26,000 people all at one time. And yet Calan took joy in playing a folk club in the south of England in front of a handful of music fans. Not restricted by a sound system or stage lighting, the band decided to play their final number standing on tables and jumping off chairs.
Calan begin touring parts of Britain in May before heading out for two tours of North America in the autumn.
Calan Tour Dates
18/5 – South Devon Arts Centre, Totnes
19/5 – The Neeld, Chippenham
20/5 – The Spring, Havant
21/5 – Imperial Road, Matlock,Derbyshire DE4 3NL
22/5 – Theatr Brycheiniog, Brecon
09/07 – Priddy Folk Festival, Priddy
13/07 – Yn Chruinnaght, Isle of Man
21/07 – Galeri, Caernarfon
22/07 – Music on the Marr Festival, Brampton
31/07 – Guiting Music Festival, Guiting
12-14/08 – Great Lakes Folk Festival, MI
17-18/08 – Rochester, MN
19-21/08 – Milwaukee Irish Festival, WI
17/09 – Whallonsburg Grange, NY
18/09- Flying Cat
19/09 – Colebrook NH
20/09 – Longfellow
21/09 – Calais Celtic Concerts, ME
22/09 – North Church Farmington, ME
23/09 – Folk Project Special Concert, Morristown, NJ
24 & 25/09 – Celtic Classic, Bethlehem PA
27/09 Green Willow, Wilmington DE
30/09 – Old Songs, NY
01/10 – Earlville Opera House, NY
07/10 – London, ON
09/10- Woods Hole, MA