ROUNDUP | SPRING 2021
Things ain’t what they used to be, as you know, but here are a variety of items offering the possibility that they might be soonish, for better or worse.
Thurs 22 Apr will see south Wales’ first Zip World site open, with northerly attractions in Penrhyn Quarry, Blaenau Ffestiniog and the Conwy Valley joined by one in Hirwaun, near Aberdare. Set amongst the Rhigos mountain range, it’s also notable for being on the site of the Tower Colliery [pictured, top], a mine which operated in some form for over 200 years until its closure in 2008. This means that when you and your family fly through the air on a 270ft zip line, you can not only gaze upon the beauty of the Brecon Beacons but also ponder Wales’ proud industrial history.
From Mon 26 Apr until Mon 3 May, you can hop online and enjoy the inaugural Gŵyl Crime Cymru – or the taster event for its real-world debut next year, depending on how you look at it. Crime Cymru, the organisers, are a group of Welsh writers and enthusiasts dedicated to the promotion of crime fiction (as opposed to crime itself), and this year’s fest will include guest appearances from the likes of Lee Child of Jack Reacher series fame and Elly Griffiths who writes the Ruth Galloway series. For 2022, meanwhile, Gŵyl Crime Cymru will be in Aberystwyth across several venues, and will open on Fri 29 Apr.
This prestigious annual award is still awaiting a confirmed (summer) date, presumably in the hope that they can proffer the gong and clink glasses in person, but has finalised its 2021 judges. The English language titles will be overseen by Tishani Doshi, Scott Evans, Tanni Grey-Thompson and Charlotte Williams, the latter a former Wales Book Of The Year winner in 2003. For the Welsh language nominations, the panel will comprise Guto Dafydd, Anni Llŷn, Tomos Owen and Esyllt Sears. Submissions have now closed for this year’s awards, with the shortlists to be announced in spring.
Traditionally held over the Easter bank holiday, Cardiff’s commendable indiepop-ish annual fest Wales Goes Pop! had to cancel at short notice last year, and while it’s been clear for some months that 2022 will be the next chance for ticketholders to gather at The Gate in Roath, they’ve enlisted a bunch of globally-drawn names to deliver live sets from their house and/or recording studio. The Catenary Wires, Swansea Sound, Fightmilk and delightful Korean skatepunks Drinking Boys And Girls Choir are among two dozen or so names currently confirmed. It’s on from Fri 2-Sun 4 Apr, all free but donations are welcome, and streamed on Facebook and YouTube.
Young Welsh people who want to get ahead in the music industry in whatever way are to be aided this spring by Beacons, who describe themselves as “a new bilingual suite of online resources designed to empower the next generation of the music and creative industries in Wales”. The Summit conference is aimed at ages 16-25, takes place from Fri 9-Sun 11 Apr and will cover topics including songwriting, founding a record label, social media, A&R and the so-called “side hustle”, with Welsh or Wales-based professionals best placed to speak on each of those areas enlisted. Tickets are free; register at the above link.
Billed as “an annual celebration of Welsh language, arts and culture in The Vale Of Glamorgan”, Menter Iaith Bro Morgannwg, the organisation behind Gŵyl Fach Y Fro, will like many of their peers be onscreen-only for 2021. They’ve attempted to offer as many of the regular attractions as possible in an equivalent web-based form – so schools from the Vale will be performing on a special platform (a digital one, that is, although they might be standing on a physical platform too), and the type of wares one might buy at the Gŵyl Fach Y Fro market will be sold over Facebook. This is all on Sat 17 Apr, from 2-06pm.
This hard rock-centric success story, set on a mountainside near Ebbw Vale, is pressing ahead with its intention to bring the ruckus in its normal festival season slot, on the last weekend of July (Fri 23-Sun 25 in fact). Steelhouse 2021, as it currently stands, combines old favourites of the fest – The Wildhearts, Hand Of Dimes, Bernie Marsden – with debutants including Final Countdown hitmakers Europe, quizzical noiserock Ulstermen Therapy? and the band who put the ‘four’ in ‘big four of thrash metal’, Anthrax. Will any/all of those acts be able to visit the UK come July? If I knew the answer to that, I would be doing something other than writing this.
Multi-functional Milford Haven venue the Torch Theatre has recently unveiled a new project, The Pembrokeshire Story, whose stated aim is “to connect people across generations in celebrating the Pembrokeshire spirit”. It was sparked by the experience of Peter Doran, artistic director at the Torch, who while caring for his father last year had been regaled with a wealth of anecdotes. James Williams of Tenby will be heading the project, meanwhile, and has enlisted people to collect locally-specific stories – but submissions are still very much open if this project catches your eye.
A two-volume covers compilation paying tribute to the Super Furry Animals is released through Bandcamp on Fri 26 Mar. Corona Logic, titled in reference to SFA’s very-nearly-25-year-old debut album Fuzzy Logic (and coronavirus), has been assembled by Jon Mlynarski, who gathered similar tributes to The Velvet Underground and David Bowie from Wales’ indie scene last year. Pete Fowler, responsible for much of the group’s sleeve art, has drawn this one’s too, and it’s all in aid of Welsh homelessness charity Llamau. Split into two volumes, names offering their services include Carwyn Ellis, Adwaith, Martin Carr, CVC and Clwb Fuzz.
Cardiff venue The Depot, which moved premises in spring of last year though has had limited chance to invite customers in, is set to expand with a second establishment in Swansea. It’ll be in that city’s former Albert Hall, a grand building dating back to the 1860s but fallen into disrepair after more recent functions as a cinema and bingo spot, and sharing the space with other tenants. The opening date is unlikely to be confirmed for a while, but some point between spring and autumn of next year appears to be the current goal.