Tuesday, 16 September 2014

It's Nearly That Time Of Year Again! - Oh Yes It Is!

Cinderella cast: Lee Mead, Linda Lusardi,
Gareth Thomas, Holly Bluett and Andy Jones
I'm quite shocked as to how quick 2014 has flown by and today bore testament to the fact as I interviewed several cast members of this years pantomime production at The New Theatre, Cardiff.

Thankfully everyone at The New Theatre was brilliant as were cast members, Sam Kane (who is also director), Linda Lusardi, Gareth Thomas, Lee Mead, Andy Jones and Cinderella herself Holly Bluett.

You can see by the photograph I took that several cast members were suitably attired and I'm sure Cinderella will be one of the highlights of the pantomime season.

There will be more photographs as well as write-ups of some of my interviews in The Guide in coming weeks and I'll make sure I'll add more pictures here.

  • In the meantime, what are your favourite pantomime memories?

For booking information of Cinderella at The New Theatre, Cardiff visit their official website.

The Curious World Of Rachel K Collier

Curious’, the new single from Ray Foxx ft. Rachel K Collier, is the latest collaboration from the duo, following on from last summer’s infectious Top 20 hit ‘Boom Boom (Heartbeat)’.

23 year old singer/songwriter Rachel who hails from Swansea and is a former student of the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama,  has had quite a busy year since her last chart appearance.

“I’m working on an EP now and another commercial release which will be coming quite soon after Curious,” she says, “I spent a bit of time in LA last year just song writing not only for myself but for other artists and other projects. I came back last summer and it all kicked off with the Boom Boom which was amazing because we got to play Majorca Rocks and the Radio One Live Lounge. Since then I've been working on my own stuff and getting all my solo material together.”

Anyone who hears Rachel’s music is usually struck by her diversity, she is equally at home playing piano and singing as well as laying down beat hooks for new dance tracks.

“I love dancing and I love writing over a beat, but scrape all that back and I’m a singer/songwriter,” she continues, “I play piano and write stuff with chords, if you take away the beat there will always be a strong song there. Sometimes it’s quite hard knowing where to fit yourself in.”

Rachel’s musical success is a far cry for the young girl from Swansea whose initial interest was drawing. “There was a piano in the house which my mum played a bit when I was small. One day I just switched from drawing pictures to playing around on the piano every night. It was like a complete transition; I found the piano and started experimenting on there, copying tunes from the television. I never really read music until I was about 18. I had a really good group of supportive friends who would just listen to me.”

Since studying a Music Tech course at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama Rachel has fronted her own band and released several recordings before signing to Island Records. Recently Rachel had to turn her skills to acting for the Curious video in which she is seen swimming with a male model.

“We shot it in Ibiza during July, I was quite nervous because it was an acting role. I did a bit of acting in school at the Glamorgan County Theatre. To be honest I didn't like acting, I just used to like the singing and the dancing. There was this moment in the boiling sun when I was just about to swim in the water to do this underwater kiss scene and I thought, “Actually the West Glamorgan county theatre had its uses!”

Does Rachel have a particular formula she follows when collaborating on a track with another artist? “With Ray Foxx it’s been a song beforehand and then he’s taken a song and made a wicked beat. Then Ray and I work on it to make the chorus strong. But in my next commercial release, the producer just sent me the beat. He said “can you write me a melody and lyrics over this?” In that case it can be beat first, it varies. It depends on the producer you are working with.”

A varied approach to music ensures Rachel won’t be restrained by a specific genre, so music fans can expect to be hearing more from her in coming months as a singer. Songwriter and producer. “There’s lots of ways you can go about making music especially for me, because I can go about making banging dance music or stripped back vocal and piano. With my forthcoming EP I want to get a blend in there I make a lot of music just from my vocal sounds. I do like to have a variety of what I can do. It’s definitely a challenge.”

Curious by Ray Foxx featuring Rachel K Collier is available on Island Records now.



Saturday, 13 September 2014

Remembering August Play The Big Cwtch

Last weekend was particularly frantic as we had to travel to West Wales as well as get me back in time to review Ray Davies at St David's Hall on Sunday evening.

So it was nice to get an appreciative thank you tweet from Remembering August who I'd featured in a Q&A in that Friday's edition of The Guide.

You may remember I caught the band at their recent Newport NATO gig and must admit enjoyed them immensely.

Remembering August have a new EP out called Brother and play this weekends Big Cwtch Festival in Carmarthenshire so if you get the chance go and see them!

Remembering August Official Website

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Interview With Trumpeter Alison Balsom

Alison Balsom Interview In The Guide
I recently interviewed trumpeter Alison Balsom who will tour shortly.

The tour will include repertoire from Alison’s much anticipated new album entitled Paris, which she has co-produced with Guy Barker as well as some classic material. “ I’m going to start with a little bit of Bach, but then I’ll go to Sachse and Ravel,” says Alison, “there will also be a lot jazzy things like April In Paris and Gershwin’s Someone To Watch Over Me .”

Alison will also be collaborating with her own ensemble of musicians for her forthcoming UK shows.

 “I’m going to have a mixture of amazing musicians with me,” she tells me, “I’ll have a jazz trio, a rhythm section and string players. With the trumpet, I’m showing it can do all these different Miles Davis and Baroque things, and then there are these other instruments like the double bass and the piano that have all those different personalities too.”

Evidently Alison intends to exploit all the musical instruments in her show to their full potential, “It’ll be eclectic, classical and a bit more jazzy, something for everyone,” she says.

For more information visit Alison Balsom's Official Website

Friday, 5 September 2014

Summit About NATO

I rarely delve into the political spectrum but as the NATO Summit has been on my doorstep this week, I haven't been able to ignore all the action centred around Newport. Policemen on patrol, helicopters overhead, and even aircraft flying past my house this morning heading towards the conference at Celtic Manor.

Yet there is the usual skepticism that comes with such occasions and the criticisms hurled at people like Barrack Obama, David Cameron and other world leaders.

Frankly, its high time critics started looking at whats going on around the world, not just in other countries but in their own. Cruelty exists on many levels from war victims to everyday domestics at home and we simply can't keep on ignoring things by walking away.

I frequently struggle with what I see on the news as well as what I hear people talk about as been perfectly acceptable in the office on a day to day basis. A lot of what I see and hear sickens and troubles me.

Thank goodness there are people in power that are making steps to changing our world, I may not support everything they say and do, but I certainly appreciate the tough decisions they have to make and although NATO in Newport might be over, the world and its problems will keep on turning, until we all find answers.

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