Probably my favourite record shop bag is this one from the long gone ‘Centre of Music’ in Cardigan. The shop was first located in the centre of town I believe, on the site of what is now The Original Factory Shop, before moving to Pendre and finally closing in the early 1980s.I met Mani’s Son Gethin back in 2010 when I was exhibiting some work in the Guildhall Gallery in the town centre. The exhibition was part of a project about local chapels and their history and we chatted about his father who I had heard used to record various local chapel’s Cymanfa Ganu events (Choir festivals) direct to disc before the advent of tape recorders. He told me about how they had built the first radio in their village and how they placed the earpiece (no speakers in those days) in a large ceramic bowl and gathered around to listen, and how his mother was deeply suspicious of who and where the voices they heard were.
He returned later in the week bringing me a CD of recordings his father had made in local chapels, a vintage bag from the shop and a blank unused record (which has lived on my kitchen wall since).
Another local music shop no longer trading is Swales in Haverfordwest. Trading into the 90s I remember it was one of the best record shops in the area as well as selling instruments and sheet music too. Visit http://www.britishrecordshoparchive.org/swales.html for a great selection of photos from there. The founder and namesake Robert Joffre Swales, known as “Joffre”, was awarded an MBE in 1975 for his services to music in the town for over 50 years. As well as playing in a number of bands and teaching music he set up an instrument rental scheme at Swales, allowing those less well off members of the community the opportunity to enjoy learning and playing an instrument.
These last ones I know very little or nothing about, the Dales bag came (with a record in) from a charity shop in Fishguard I think, the others were gifts from my good friend Flo Fflach.
A few years back I found a cassette in the local Barnardo’s charity shop (maybe 2013?). It was before compact cassettes got trendy again, and possibly only of interest to anyone else to record over and reuse..
I regret not listening to it when I first found it.
For as long as I can remember my Mum was an astrolger and psychic (also an author, dramatist and journalist) and offered a range of services including Astrological readings, tarot and palmistry. Through the 1980s and into the early 90s she would record the readings for clients onto cassette so they could listen back as they liked. Interesting to find this in a charity shop, something so personal and potentially loaded with meaning to someone..
After my mum died in 2015 I found the cassette again in a drawer of her desk and though I don’t remember that it had anything written on it when I bought it, it now has the name ‘Lou’ written on both cassette and case. I was slightly taken aback by this as Lou was the name of my best friend who had died almost exactly a year before my Mum. Slightly freaked out by this I decided to put it away and look at it again another time.
Since then I have speculated what might be recorded on it: was it a reading for another Lou and just a weird coincidence it was my friends name? or was it a reading for my friend from years before? or a message from not so long ago..?
I felt I wanted to do something with it, to play it purposefully, for a reason. I also wanted to be sure the tape player was not going to destroy it and set up to film and record it playing. So here we are some years later and I decided it was time to play it for Mother’s day 2019…
So the side with the name written on it was blank – I have a memory of her asking if I had a means of making voice recordings in the last few years she was with us and I suggested she use her mobile phone – what I think happened is that my mum tried to record a message for Lou, but the microphone or tape machine didn’t work properly and just wiped the existing recording.
The second side has a recorded tarot reading for an unnamed client and has predictions for them for autumn and winter 1988, it sounded like they had a quite a busy time ahead!
I would be really interested to hear from you if you have one of these cassettes or a written horoscope/reading by Liz Whittaker, there must be quite a lot of them out there in the attics and cupboards of West Wales…
Playing with harp records (and a ZX spectrum cassette).
A couple of old 78s recorded playing on a vintage Decca Junior gramophone dating from the mid 1920s. Despite being a song called ‘Land of the Harp’ they both seem to have piano accompaniment, perhaps piano recorded better on the microphones of the day…
The John Lovering version appears to be from around 1929 according to the fantastic resource that is tedstaunton.com. While the version by Miss Annie Rees is listed in the September 1924 Zonophone record catalogue here in the British Library.
More recently I have been involved in a number of projects with harpists, one of my favourites was this short film for the fantastic duo Deuair
Continuing a celebration of Wales and Welsh music here are a few 7inch singles with harps on the covers…
In 2017 I made this short film about John Roberts, ‘Telynor Cymru’, with folklorist Peter Stevenson and harpist Harriet Earis.
And here are some album covers with harps on too…
Dechreuodd casgliad newydd yn Bara Menyn wythnos hwn i ddathlu Dydd Gwyl Dewi Sant. A new selection of records started in Bara Menyn this week to celebrate St David’s Day.
A short film documenting a St Davids day excursion to the woods with a Decca Junior and “Hen Wlad fy Nhadau” and a Dulcetto playing “We’ll Keep a Welcome” amongst the daffodils in the ruins and grounds of the Holy Cross Church Llechryd. (2007)