It is now eighteen months since winning the Words Matter Publishing Holiday Book Competition, with Crach Ffinnant – The Prophecy.
The second volume in the series, Crach Ffinnant – Rise of the Dragon was published four months ago and Volume Three, Crach Ffinnant – Ravens and Dragons is well underway towards publication. I must admit, social media whilst fascinating in so many ways, especially, personal publicity, is time consuming and does take me away from writing and narrating much more. But we cannot have one without the other, as in this day and age we have to promote ourselves and social media is the engine for that journey. Striking the right balance twixt, writing and social media time is the answer, however, easier said, than done.
Narrating Crach Ffinnant – The Prophecy myself, has been and is most stimulating as I can really bring my story and characters to life, with my own voice as well as words. The first audio book is almost complete and samples I have posted across social media have been well received. This in turn gives me the confidence to push on with other work and I have made audio books of my children’s stories for my SoundCloud site, and folk can download free. I am beginning to film and record storytelling as well as writing, an exciting adventure.
Debbie Eve, Crach Ffinnant series illustrator in addition to working on my books has created gift cards, colouring cards and posters now available on her web site.
The task is never-ending as I keep creating as so does her pencil and brush. Ah well! Time to scribble some more!
Sunday 2 June welcomed our major fringe event for the weekend, Literature Fest and Book Fair. I was so privileged to welcome so may authors of sound literary standing from Wales and beyond. Sadly we had a tremendously wet day, with showers throughout however, it did not spoil the fun and creativeness unfurling. Some authors gave readings, delighting others with excerpts from their tales, whilst others chatted to festival goers, signing books and other ‘author y’ behaviour. Such a lovely crowd of talented folk. Will we do it next year? Yes I think we will. Grateful thanks to the Mayor of Llandovery, Louise Wride for opening the Literature Fest and Book Fayre and the Castle Hotel for hospitality. More importantly, thank you to our authors!
Saturday brought warm weather and sunshine for most of the day, which kicked off at 1130 am with an open mic session for festival goers wishing to entertain. We were privileged, Her Worship the Mayor of Llandovery, Louise Wride opened the day, welcoming folk to this historic town.
Fil Zeibicki, our winner from 2018 was the first of our acts to step on the stage. Fil has had a busy year since winning the competition and in good Lazzmatazz tradition, the previous winner of the Welsh Connections / Lazzmatazz Songwriting Competition, always opens the festival program on the Saturday. Fil did not disappoint, playing a lively set with strong vocals we are now so familiar with.
Marc Gordon, a good friend and sponsor of the ‘Runner Up Prize’ for our competition came next. Playing his own compositions with a fusion of blues and classical arrangements, Marc mellowed our audience in the sunshine.
We were about to be in for a shock, but nobody knew, especially me. Until that is, Christian Arron Perry and Mia took to the stage. Arron played a few tunes solo and then, was joined by Mia. She is the youngest artist ever to perform at Lazzmatazz, being a tender age of twelve years. As I listened, my heart and soul were moved by this voice, echoing around the festival. As I looked around at the audience, everybody and I mean everybody was silent, transfixed by Mia’s performance. I think this young lady will go far, as the audience clearly agreed, by sharing a rapturous applause. And readers it was well deserved.
Ronnie Three Chords, a blues guitarist in the style of Joplin was next. Ronnie played with his heart and soul and an appreciative audience shared their love.
I thought the next act was a Canadian lumberjack, he looked like one and Candy Mountain, played with the strength and fortitude you might expect from a woodsman. Powerful earthy vocals with driving guitar and original compositions. A very strong performance.
Following the Welsh Connections / Lazzmatazz Songwriting competition, it was to time for the chairman of our judges panel, Paul Nicholas to step up to the microphone. Paul is a seasoned performer, having played extensively in Europe and the UK. His passionate self penned compositions have received radio play globally. Fresh from the Tredegar Folk Festival. Paul did not disappoint, the audience transfixed by haunting vocals, moving lyrics and beautiful guitar playing.
Our second local Llandovery act of the day, Will Jones stepped on the the Lazzmatazz stage with great confidence, one man and his strat! Playing a few covers and his own material, young Will is a promising young performer, giving one hundred per cent of himself. https://www.facebook.com/gail.adams.568/videos/10218541369264520/ Fresh from a working holiday in Borneo, Frost and Rose approached the microphone. Harry Frost is a talented guitarist providing accompaniment for stunning vocals from Rose. Shades of Amy Winehouse, rattled in my head, and like Amy, Rose has an extensive vocal range, an incredibly hypnotizing set, not to be forgotten. https://www.facebook.com/frostandrose/videos/916593832018135/
Next up, the Glass Dolls, hailing from Swansea. This five piece band consists of Kelly Bolch on lead vocals with harmonies by Rhiannon Lewis, percussion from Andrew Griffiths, bass with Marvin Medwell, and lead guitar, Andrew Vorn. An incredible set that began on the main stage, but half way through, the heavens opened and ‘rain stopped play’. Within 15 minutes they were up and playing again on the main stage in the ballroom, all dry and snug, thanks to the speed and professionalism of Cariad, our stage management team. A spellbinding set and very well received by the audience. Another Swansea musician followed the Dolls. Christian Sayers, now playing solo after leaving Portraits some months ago. He is a sound performer with an excellent voice, accompanying himself on guitar. His set of self penned songs was powerful in every respect and one can see why he has been selected for the Voice!
Finally, on Saturday night, our headliners The Fireside Family, with their theatrical show of self penned songs took to the stage. Harmonies, percussion and guitars blended hypnotically and the audience were mesmerized as was I.
What a day of great fun, music and entertainment and what better way to end, than with a festival jam, that ended around 230 am. I have to be up at 730 to set up the Literary festival for tomorrow, Sunday…… hardly worth going to bed, but worth every minute.
Three days of music kicked off on the Friday evening, after the Mayor of Llandovery opened the Festival. The Unknown were first to play and what an extremely promising young band they are, shades of the Manic Street Preachers and their own brand of tunes to tap yer feet too, lyrics to sing along with, and a great set to start the evening with.
Next up, the haunting tones and melodic guitar of Stephen P Greenhalgh from Cardigan.
Festival goers were in for a real treat with our next performer, Bob Woods. A very funny man, who brought back to our memories the wonderful satire of Tom Lehrer.
Nathan Laurence stepped up on stage next. A grand folk singer and multi instrumentalist, entertaining the audience with guitar, flute and other instruments and of course, his unique voice!
Followed by Jam Jar Blues, a duo from West Wales playing the history of the blues!
Then it was time for our first headliner of the festival, Harvest. Harvest are a duo from West Wales, Tim Greenwood and Peter Williams. An entertaining and memorable performance with loads of Simon & Garfunkel tunes. Excellent picking and close harmonies, a grand act!
Back tomorrow with Day Two of Music, Merriment & Mayhem
I just love the summer, don’t you? It started with a big bang for me last weekend as LAZZMATAZZ 2019 hit the historic town of Llandovery, for three days of music, performance poetry, storytelling and literature. The festival was opened by the Mayor of Llandovery, Louise Wride.
Now in its fifth year, the festival which is a platform for new talent was busier than ever with over 25 acts on the main stage, Fringe Events, Literature Festival and Book Fayre, and Craft Market.
There really was something for everybody and I am really proud of our small team that made it all happen. The venue for the festival is the Castle Hotel in Llandovery, and the hospitality for festival goers was incredible.
We were lucky for a little while on Friday as the weather held and all was outside on our main stage. Saturday a day of sun and everything was grand until about eight in the evening when the heavens opened.
Cariad our, stage management team are based in Wales, they know rain! Within fifteen minutes they had moved the desk, lights and pa and the Glass Dolls continued their set on our Ballroom Stage.
Excellent work guys. The sad thing is, Cariad moved from inside to out and back, four times over the weekend. But this is Wales and Cariad are an excellent stage crew. ‘Impressive’ I hear you say, it was! The Welsh Connections Lazzmatazz Songwriting Competition 2019 had seven finalists this year and was won by Erin Lancaster.
The judges had a dreadful time trying to decide on ‘runner up’ and in the end, announced ‘joint runners up’.
They are Christian Aaron Perry and Tim Greenwood, both of whom passionately performed, stunning our judges.
We held the Tim Williams Award for Performance Poetry on the Sunday with five finalists.
In this competitionhistorically, we have only awarded a first prize. This year there was a clear winner and Trudi Petersen took the award home. But for the first time this year, the judges awarded ‘highly commended’ to David Thorpe a local poet from Llandovery.
Posts to come:
Part Two – Music Mayhem & Merriment
Part Three – Lazzmatazz Literature Festival & Book Fayre
Part Four – Lazzmatazz ALL WINNERS & RUNNER UP SHOW 2019
2018 has been a roller-coaster of a year in so many different ways, memorable highs with the occasional blip. But what a year! It all started off with amazing news received in late January. My book, ‘Crach Ffinnant – The Prophecy’ was a winner in a holiday book competition organised by Words Matter Publishing in America.
You can imagine the feelings created by this, when considering I had received over 30 rejections on the manuscript before entering the competition on a whim. My prize was a full publishing contract and by April, following the release of a promotional video by WMP, the book was launched and appeared on all major on-line platforms. WMP kind of finished off the year for me too, as in late November, my second book in the Crach Ffinnant series, Rise of the Dragon was published.
So in 2018 I published two books, which are tales of wonderment and magic, in the Celtic tradition from Wales in the Middle Ages. Debbie Eve (Illustrator) and I have both enjoyed this journey and it continues as we enter 2019, preparing the third book in the series, ‘Crach Ffinnant – Ravens and Dragons’. We both created web-sites to promote our work, me as an author and Debbie Eve, as an illustrator, in turn bringing new experiences and enhancing horizons not before considered. As a result of this good fortune, invitations to book fayre’s throughout the year evolved following an appearance and interview on Showboat TV programme hosted by Welsh Author, Judith Barrow.
Attending the book fayres enabled us to meet other authors in Wales and pick their ‘brains’, as well as begin networking. I have thrived in taking on ‘readings’ during the year which stimulated me to begin recording audio books of my work.
Of course we attended various musical festivals throughout the year and I performed in a few folk clubs. I must say there are three highlights shining from the year. Appearing at Lampeter Folk Club reminded me so much of ‘old school clubs’, packed by an attentive audience. Great reviews and a splendid memory. Tafarn Bach Music Festival was a super weekend where not only did I enjoy performing, we also made really good new friends and I was able to book some acts for Lazzmatazz. Lazzmatazz in 2018 changed venues from Penlan Village, Cenarth, to the Castle Hotel in Llandovery. We will be there again in 2019 with a bigger and better programme but 2018, memorable in so many ways, not least of which, over 4,000 hits on-line of the live streaming of our song writing competition. Playing at Dennis Robinson’s 70th birthday three day bash was a hoot, loads of new friends and a super weekend.
Some nice weekends away in our clapped out camper van, but not as many as we would have liked as Dippy as the name suggests, was indeed so. The final highlights are managing to replace our camper van with one that works, and the adoption of Minnie. So we enter the New Year in grand spirits, looking forward to writing more, Lazzmatazz 2019, Book Fayres, Readings, Performing and enjoying our creative lives with so many others, spending quality time with each other and the dogs, Noodle and Minnie, as we journey through the universe, its wonder thereof never-ceasing to amaze.
Thank you everybody who we have worked with through 2018 and in particular, Tammy Koelling, CEO of WMP, Judith Barrow (Showboat TV), Cheryl Beer, Sarada Thompson, Paul Nicholas, Castle Hotel, Llandovery, Dennis Robinson, Tim Greenwood & Sarah Howdle (Tafarn Bach), and West Wales Poundies.