“If Welsh music is perennially considered the poor relation in the Celtic tradition, Allan Yn Y Fan are moving mountains to change all that.”

“...So look out Scotland and Ireland, a new Celtic Tiger is prowling...”

Deio I Dywyn & Scot Erin Reel

Video filmed and produced by "on-Par Productions" on location at Barry Island.

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2014

ALLAN YN Y FAN ANNOUNCE NEW LINE-UP (29.11.2014)

Geoff, Chris, Linda and Kate are delighted to announce that Allan Yn Y Fan welcomes two new members to the band. Joining us as our lead singer is Catrin O’Neill together with fiddler Alan Cooper.

Catrin grew up in Southern Snowdonia and it was her Nain or Grandmother who first introduced her to the storehouse of Welsh folk song. This initiation was later reflected in the title she gave to her debut solo album “Cegin Nain/Nain’s Kitchen” released in 2010. In 2013 Catrin was one of the members of the highly successful trac project “10 mewn bws/10 on a bus”, which caused a great commotion in Welsh music circles and this year was nominated for a National Lottery award.

Catrin says :- “Welsh folk music has been overlooked for so long, even well-known Celtic musicians not really being aware of its existence. Many people think that our folk music consists of hymns or male voice choirs – so far from the reality. The true folk music of Wales can be compared to the carefree passion of Irish, or the beauty of Breton music, but with it bringing harmonies and a poetic tradition to rival that of anywhere in the world. I think it would be very mean of us not to share it! Joining Allan Yn Y Fan means I get to be part of a band who really subscribe to that generosity of spirit and put the miles in to take our music to new countries, concert halls and festivals – I can’t wait to get on the road!”

Meanwhile fiddler Alan Cooper is a highly experience folk musician who has been playing fiddle for perhaps longer than some of us would care to remember! Commencing in the classical music world, he has been a folk fiddler for some decades and his experience encompasses working with twmpath bands such as Juice and recording and touring with several singer-songwriters including Alex Valentine and Maurice Dixon. His touring has taken him to America, Germany, Holland and Belgium. Recently he has made albums with Dan James and Simon Newcombe.

Alan says “I am really excited about the prospects of working with Allan Yn Y Fan and with Catrin O’Neill. As new players for the band we are relishing the opportunity of honouring what the band has created over the past decade, but also to putting our creative stamp on the next chapter of their musical journey.”

Look out for further information soon on our first appearances with this terrific new line-up.

AUTUMN UPDATE OCTOBER 2014 (26.10.2014)

We can scarcely believe that time has passed so rapidly since we last posted on our site. Huge apologies!

2014 has been quite a year for Allan Yn Y Fan one way or another. An eon ago we had a thoroughly fantastic tour of Germany, Switzerland and Luxemburg. You can read all about that courtesy of the article Geoff was commissioned to write by Karen Price, Arts Editor of the Western Mail (click here...). Huge thanks to all our hosts/promoters in those countries but especially to Frank Reglin of Syke.

Almost as soon as we came back we began a wonderful commission from the Performing Rights Society Foundation and St. David’s Hall Cardiff for new work to be performed at their first Folk Day, as part of the Welsh Proms on Sunday 21st July. This commission teamed us up with our great musical colleagues Delyth & Angharad Jenkins – of DnA – the first opportunity for us to work with Delyth since our Home Ground Tour and Lle Arall EP of 2010! Six new pieces were created by Kate, Chris, Delyth and Angharad.

Kate has this to say about the process: “The commission both stretched me as a composer, presented me with challenges that I really enjoyed working through, and the Cardiff theme involved a fair bit of research.

My compositions are very much about people and places so I needed to find suitable candidates to provide the right inspiration. The first was easy. When discussing famous Cardiffians who might fit the bill, Geoff joked that maybe Shirley Bassey wouldn't be the first choice for a folk band. I couldn’t resist the challenge of stepping outside my comfort zone and trying something that mimicked her brash diva style and James Bond film connections - something that would be unexpected from a group of folk musicians. I also thought that Angharad's fiddle style would suit the slightly "Hot Club of Paris" feel of the piece.

I also discovered that one of my favourite authors, naturalist Ronald Lockley, had been born and raised in Cardiff. He wrote extensively of his childhood dream of living on an island and his life on Skockholm Island off the Pembrokeshire coast, where he established a bird reserve.

I rearranged his own words into verses and set them to music. The extra instruments, and being able to use violin and voice simultaneously, meant I could experiment with a different instrumentation than usual. It was just the voice with a sparse accompaniment reflecting the sun on the water and the broad skies. Having completed this, I felt it needed something with more movement at the end, so wrote "Flight of Birds" to complete the picture, bringing in the rest of the instruments. This is certainly the longest piece I have written.”

We hope to record these pieces for our next album and will certainly be playing some of them in our next concerts.

The biggest news of all for this site is that sadly, due to personal reasons, after a fantastic six years with the band, Meriel Field has left for pastures and adventures new. Geoff, Chris, Kate & Linda thank most sincerely Meriel for all the great escapades together over those years and for greatly assisting the band to take huge strides forward in that time. We all wish Meriel the very best for her future.

During 2014 – including most recently a splendid gig for the Urdd Eisteddfod coming to Caerffili in 2015 – we have had the great good luck to work with a fantastic fiddler, Helina Rees – so a big diolch o galon to Helina for all her great playing.

So, as you hopefully won’t be surprised, the four partners in the band have decided that AYYF shall continue and work hard to build on our achievements of those years. It looks like it’s going to take two people to replace Meriel – we shall soon be making an announcement about our new singer but currently we are searching for a new fiddler. Details of this opportunity are appended here - AUDITION DETAILS.

Look out for more news on this site soon!!

ALLAN YN Y FAN – WELSH FOLKIES ABROAD! For Karen Price Arts Editor Western Mail(19.07.2014)

The audience are on their feet cheering and clapping, the local press photographer is snapping away as we launch into our encores for the wonderful audience at Thieles Garten in Bremerhaven. The venue tonight is a small concert hall, with ancillary bar and food preparation area, set amongst the most extraordinary sculpture garden – the setting providing the inspiration for the Thieles family to create this cultural oasis just outside the town centre nearly 100 years ago.

Multi-instrumental quintet Allan Yn Y Fan, the band I have been performing with for now c 17 years (!), is on the first night of a short tour of Germany, Switzerland and Luxembourg playing 7 concerts across the ten days we are in Europe. All venues but one, the marvellous Bandhaus Theater in Backnang (a town twinned with Chelmsford), are new venues to the band – so we definitely feel we are on a mission!

This tour has its roots in forays the band made into Germany earlier this century occasioned by us being culturally connected via Caerphilly’s twin German town Ludwisgburg to a German band called the Geyers. Their brand of medieval “histo-rock,” championed by the likes of ex-Deep Purple guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, might appear to make for strange musical bedfellows with a traditional Welsh/ Celtic music band. But over weissbier/coffees/weissbier/wine we found new friends and supporters. So our early gigs in Germany happened in the villages and towns around Ludwigsburg with two very memorable appearances at the Nordlingen Medieval Festival – this had enough interesting placements of open fires, authentic looking weaponry and strong drink to make a Welsh health & safety expert faint! Surprisingly to us, although venues like Belinda’s Disco were initially well outside our comfort zone, – audiences really liked what we had to offer!

More recently with the addition of vocals that response from audiences has been greatly enhanced. Thanks to support from Wales Arts International, Kate & Linda were enabled to attend the WOMEX event in Copenhagen in 2010 at which they made contact with Frank Reglin from the German folk development agency Pro-Folk. It is Frank who has been instrumental in putting our tours together for 2012 (3 dates in northern Germany) and now in 2014. This allowed us to accept an offer of a booking from the Zurich Folk Club who last booked a Welsh band – Ar Log – back in the early 1980s as well as, thanks to sterling work from an ex-pat music teacher in Luxembourg (Jacqueline Fleming), returning to that small country for our first concert there since 2006.

In all we covered over 2300 miles and played in a wide range of venues. Starting off in northern Germany, we headed south to Zurich before starting the drive north via Backnang to Wiesbaden with the tour finishing off in a parish hall in Gasperich, Luxembourg. Some impressions :- local journalists and press photographers were out on a Saturday night for our school hall concert in Weyhe; sixth form students volunteering their time at that venue to assist with teching the show/FOH duties; a beautiful Sunday afternoon concert in a hostel for adults which offered the warmest of welcomes to residents, staff and the local public and, to quote the centre director – our music and passion for what we do leading to the unprecedented feat of all the residents who attended staying for the whole concert; the Zurich Folk Club Committee preparing and sharing a meal with us all before we played the concert in their stunning studio theatre; the amazing Walahalla Theater in Wiesbaden with its unrivalled chandelier and the sadly derelict main auditorium where GI Elvis Presley performed when stationed here; lastly the high percentage of the audience in Luxembourg who returned to see us 8 years on from their first taste of our music. Everywhere we went we were treated so well by volunteers and staff alike and we stayed in some wonderful hotels, ate some fine meals and did I mention the Weissbier?

We also met and stirred hiraeth in a few ex-pat Welsh people – Sian originally from Ebbw Vale who had been in school with Greg & Jethro of legendary Welsh band Yr Hwntws who came to see us in Backnang; and Mr.Hughes, originally of Wrexham, who has resided in Wiesbaden for over thirty years and who told us much of that city’s history.

What does this all mean for Welsh music and Allan Yn Y Fan? I wouldn’t be destroying anybody’s illusions by suggesting that AYYF are more famous in Europe than we are here at home in Wales. What we are, perhaps, (don’t snigger!), is slightly exotic! Celtic music has for decades had a huge audience in Western Europe and Germany in particular. Many members of our audiences were thrilled to hear a distinctly different form of Celtic music and pleased to also hear songs in Welsh. For us, thanks to Pro-Folk and Frank Reglin we are planning now to return twice in 2015 and hope to include a performance at one of Germany’s pre-eminent Folk Festivals.

Now we are delighted to be back home, and, thanks to a St. David’s Hall and the PRS Foundation commission, busy collaborating with DnA (Delyth & Angharad Jenkins) on writing new music which we shall premiere at the Welsh Folk Day at the Hall on 20th July. Following that AYYF make our first appearances at the long-established Fylde Folk Festival in Lancashire and then shoot down to the Wallingford BunkFest all on the last weekend of August. You should try our music – like the good denizens of Switzerland, Luxembourg and Germany you might just find its more to your taste than you imagine!

Now, where did I put our supply of Weissbier……….?

Western Mail

Taking Welsh traditional music to the European masses by Wales Online (18.07.2014)

Allan yn y Fan has been touring Germany, Luxembourg and Switzerland but is now preparing for the Welsh Proms. Guitarist and singer Geoff Cripps shares their experiences.The audience are on their feet cheering and clapping, the local press photographer is snapping away as we launch into our encores for the wonderful audience at Thieles Garten in Bremerhaven, Germany.

The venue is a small concert hall, with ancillary bar and food preparation area, set among the most extraordinary sculpture garden – the setting providing the inspiration for the Thieles family to create this cultural oasis just outside the town centre nearly 100 years ago.

Multi-instrumental quintet Allan Yn Y Fan, the band I have been performing with for around 17 years, is on the first night of a short tour of Germany, Switzerland and Luxembourg playing seven concerts across the 10 days we are in Europe.

All venues but one – the marvellous Bandhaus Theater in Backnang (a town twinned with Chelmsford) – are new venues to the band, so we definitely feel we are on a mission.

This tour has its roots in forays the band made into Germany earlier this century occasioned by us being culturally connected via Caerphilly’s twin German town Ludwisgburg to a German band called the Geyers.

Their brand of medieval “histo-rock,” championed by the likes of ex-Deep Purple guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, might appear to make for strange musical bedfellows with a traditional Welsh/Celtic band.

But over weissbier/coffees/weissbier/wine we found new friends and supporters.

So our early gigs in Germany happened in the villages and towns around Ludwigsburg with two very memorable appearances at the Nordlingen Medieval Festival – this had enough interesting placements of open fires, authentic looking weaponry and strong drink to make a Welsh health and safety expert faint!

Surprisingly to us, although venues like Belinda’s Disco were initially well outside our comfort zone, audiences really liked what we had to offer.

More recently, with the addition of vocals, that response from audiences has been greatly enhanced.

Thanks to support from Wales Arts International, two of our musicians, Kate Strudwick and Linda Simmonds, were able to attend the WOMEX event in Copenhagen in 2010 at which they made contact with Frank Reglin from the German folk development agency Pro-Folk.

It is Frank who has been instrumental in putting our tours together for 2012 (three dates in northern Germany) and now in 2014.

This allowed us to accept an offer of a booking from the Zurich Folk Club who last booked a Welsh band – Ar Log – back in the early 1980s as well as, thanks to sterling work from an ex-pat music teacher in Luxembourg (Jacqueline Fleming), returning to that small country for our first concert there since 2006.

In all we covered more than 2,300 miles and played in a wide range of venues. Starting off in northern Germany, we headed south to Zurich before starting the drive north via Backnang to Wiesbaden with the tour finishing off in a parish hall in Gasperich, Luxembourg.

Some lasting impressions include the fact that local journalists and press photographers were out on a Saturday night for our school hall concert in Weyhe and sixth form students volunteered their time at that venue to assist with teching the show and front of house duties.

A beautiful Sunday afternoon concert in a hostel for adults offered the warmest of welcomes to residents, staff and the local public and, to quote the centre director, our “music and passion” led to all the residents who attended staying for the whole concert.

The Zurich Folk Club Committee prepared and shared a meal with us before we played the concert in their stunning studio theatre and we played the amazing Walahalla Theater in Wiesbaden with its unrivalled chandelier and the sadly derelict main auditorium where GI Elvis Presley performed when stationed here.

We were also thrilled with the high percentage of the audience in Luxembourg who returned to see us eight years on from their first taste of our music.

Everywhere we went we were treated so well by volunteers and staff alike and we stayed in some wonderful hotels, ate some fine meals and did I mention the Weissbier?

We also met and stirred hiraeth in a few ex-pat Welsh people – Sian originally from Ebbw Vale who had been in school with Greg and Jethro of legendary Welsh band Yr Hwntws who came to see us in Backnang; and Mr Hughes, originally of Wrexham, who has resided in Wiesbaden for more than 30 years and who told us much of that city’s history.

What does this all mean for Welsh music and Allan Yn Y Fan?

I wouldn’t be destroying anybody’s illusions by suggesting that we are more famous in Europe than we are here at home in Wales. What we are, perhaps – don’t snigger! – is slightly exotic.

Celtic music has for decades had a huge audience in Western Europe and Germany, in particular. Many members of our audiences were thrilled to hear a distinctly different form of Celtic music and pleased to also hear songs in Welsh.

For us, thanks to Pro-Folk and Frank Reglin we are planning now to return twice in 2015 and hope to include a performance at one of Germany’s pre-eminent Folk Festivals.

Now we are delighted to be back home, and, thanks to a St. David’s Hall in Cardiff and the PRS Foundation commission, busy collaborating with DnA (Delyth & Angharad Jenkins) on writing new music which we shall premiere at the Welsh Folk Day at the venue this weekend.

Following that we make our first appearances at the long-established Fylde Folk Festival in Lancashire and then shoot down to the Wallingford BunkFest.

If you haven’t tried music like ours before, I urge you to give it a go – like the good denizens of Switzerland, Luxembourg and Germany you might just find its more to your taste than you imagine...

Allan yn y Fan are performing at the Festival of Folk, part of the Welsh Proms, at St David’s Hall, Cardiff, tomorrow. For details, call 029 2087 8444 or visit

by Wales Online

Allan Yn Y Fan: 10 Years On by Colin Irwin (18.04.2014)

Ten years? Ten years?!? Surely some mistake...

But no, dates don't lie and apparently it's a full decade since Allan Yn Y Fan, the pride of Welsh folk music, unleashed their landmark debut album 'Off The Map' on an unsuspecting world. The unsuspecting world was intrigued.

Who were they? (Geoff Cripps, Linda Simmonds, Kate Strudwick, Chris Jones and Meriel Field). Where had they come from? (Gwent). What were they doing? (exhilarating dance music on a motley array of instruments, mostly). What on earth was that name all about? (Out in the van). Where were they going? (Ah, tricky one...)

A busy and enlightening decade on - which has produced four albums, a formidable reputation as a top live band, a devoted following all over Europe and one excitingly explorative collaborative EP with celebrated Celtic harpist Delyth Jenkins - we know the answers to most of those questions.

It was, of course, a very different musical environment when 'Off The Map' emerged in 2003. There had been champions of Welsh music before AYYF, but with the eisteddfod tradition still dominant, indigenous Welsh dance music had long hovered in the shadow of its Celtic cousins from Scotland, Ireland and Brittany.

AYYF would love to be able to tell you they had a crusading vision all along to deliver it from those shadows and display its full, colourful majesty to the wider world. But in truth none of them really imagined they were shaping a band destined to have such enduring impact.

A product of what he describes as 1960s “folk scare”, guitarist/bouzouki/bass player Geoff Cripps had long been running folk clubs and presenting folk shows on Radio Wales and was heavily involved with The Chartists, the group that originally came together at Islwyn Folk Club in 1979 in commemoration of the Chartist uprising in South Wales.

He and Linda Simmonds (mandolin, bodhran) initially started AYYF with Kate Strudwick (flute) and Chris Jones (accordion) to play for local dances, birthdays and weddings, but say they didn't really start in earnest until Emma Trend joined on fiddle. Suddenly people were asking them to play concerts and where they could buy their albums...so they thought they'd better make one.

The result was 'Off The Map'. It was received with an enthusiasm that took them by surprise, rapidly accelerating their progress; and although Emma left in 2008 after moving to Devon following the release of their second album 'Belonging', her replacement Meriel Field gave them a significant new dimension. Apart from her free-flowing fiddle playing, Meriel's accomplished singing completed the full package (“a sorbet in a posh meal to refresh the palate” as Geoff entertainingly describes the vocal interludes) increasing their appeal as a concert and festival attraction before decamping to a cottage at Brecon Beacons to record their third album 'Trosnant'.

A couple more years on and they've continued to progress both on the 'Lle Arall/Another Place' EP with Delyth Jenkins and fourth album 'Pwnco', the consistent quality of their music and the measure of their development clear on this even-handed compilation (three tracks from each of their four albums and one from the EP).

Their roots remain strongly in the previously neglected traditional music of Wales, but in writing fresh material alongside it, they give it fresh buoyancy and impetus and, while their legacy is still being written, their part in renewed interest in the indigenous music of Wales is clear. “We've always taken a bold view and never been afraid to try new things,” says Geoff Cripps. “Welsh music is distinctively different from Irish and Scottish music and if we've helped put it on the map then that is a huge honour and we are very proud.”

And so they should be...

by Colin Irwin

RELEASE DATE FOR COMPILATION ALBUM “COOL, CALM & COLLECTED” SPCD 1017S (14.04.2014)

Leading Welsh band Allan Yn Y Fan is delighted to announce the release on 28th April 2014 of a brand new collection entitled “Cool, Calm and Collected” which captures the development of the band across the first decade of its existence.

Band member Geoff Cripps said: “When we realised in May last that a decade had elapsed since we first issued 'Off The Map,' we took a collective deep breath! It prompted us to re-listen and evaluate what we had produced over four albums and an EP. With the help of Donal Whelan of Hafod Mastering and Dylan Fowler of Stiwdio Felin Fach, (with whom we have made all of our recordings), we aim to demonstrate the musical prowess of the band over the past ten years and celebrate the work we have created.”

Kate Strudwick said :- “The collection gives a new take on some of our favourite tracks, both traditional and pieces composed by members of the band. We are thrilled to hear the results of Donal Whelan's work in the re-mastering process that all the tracks have had.”

“Cool, calm & collected” also demonstrates another strong creative relationship the band has had over the past several years with Pontypridd based photographer Darren Warner, who not only took all the pics, but also designed the striking artwork for the CD digi-pack.

The new CD release will be accompanied by Allan Yn Y Fan undertaking a major European tour in May taking in concerts in Germany, Luxembourg and Switzerland. Meanwhile, UK audiences will have opportunities to see the band at a number of festivals and events later in the summer. These concerts will also be the first opportunity for audiences to hear a number of new pieces - as usual a split between self-composed and choices from the Welsh tradition; plus a trip through the band's decade of music making.

“Cool, calm and collected” is released on the Steam Pie label and distributed by Proper Music Distribution. Catalogue number is SPCD1017S.

SPRING HAS SPRUNG UPDATE MARCH 2014 (28.03.2014)

Don't you just love March?! Last weekend we hosted the lovely Emily Smith and her band and we all sat outside in the sunshine - huddling indoors this weekend and no excuse not write you all an update on our activities.

Since we last posted at Christmas we have in fact had a two month break - sort of! Well there were no gigs until the 7th and 8th March when we were delighted to return in full Twmpath Dawns mode. On the Friday we were pleased to be raising money for the Urdd Eisteddfod with a Twmpath at Hirwaun Rugby Club whilst the following night we helped celebrate a 50th Birthday close to home. Both nights were incredibly enjoyable affairs - although it wasn't so much fun having to retrieve a very important bag from Hirwaun 40 minutes to go to the Ystrad Mynach starting time! But we do have a record round trip time now! At both these gigs it was great welcoming back Helina Rees on fiddle - our dep of choice on a regular basis! It was also super to work again with our Welsh language caller Rhian Griffiths and, after quite a gap, Gina Roberts. Both callers are, in our humble opinion, the best in the business! Just ask all those they reduced to soggy heaps that weekend!

Also since we last posted we have been working hard to finalise the details of our European Concert Tour in May. We're not quite finalised yet but we are all excited about playing our first concert in Switzerland, returning to Luxembourg and playing lots of new venues in Germany. Full details up on this site very soon!

Allan Yn Y Fan is also really looking forward to performing at a clutch of festivals in England - all new to us! We start out by visiting the Middlewich Folk & Boat Festival in June followed by the legendary Fylde Folk Festival and the Bunkfest in Wallingford both in August. Please do come and say hello if you can make it to any of these events.

The other major event we have all been working behind the scenes on recently is the forthcoming release of our compilation album "Cool Calm & Collected" to be released on our Steam Pie label on 28th April and distributed by Proper Music Distribution. The album is a reflection of the band's first decade as a recording act and the chosen 13 tracks have all been beautifully recorded at Dylan Fowler's Stiwdio Felin Abergavenny and mastered by the very talented Donal Whelan at Hafod Mastering in the Vale of Glamorgan. Sleeve design this time around has been done by the very talented Darren Warner - our photographer of choice for many years now! Glimpse the cover here! You will be able to pre-order copies from this website soon and the album will be available from all good on-line and other corporeal outlets from the end of April.

Lastly the band is very pleased to announce that in a year when there won't be many opportunities to see us in Wales that we have been booked to appear at the Royal Horticultural Society Show in Bute Park Cardiff on Saturday 12th April and we're also thrilled that we will be part of a Welsh Folk Day /The Welsh Proms at St. David's Hall Cardiff on 20th July. There will be much more on this latter event in our next news posting.

In the meantime if you're thinking of booking us for your special event or concert - get in touch now!