WHEN and how did Allan Yn Y Fan come together?

KS: We became friends after meeting through Garden Festival Wales. We enjoyed each others’ company and shared a passion for traditional music – the rest is history.

What are your names and where do you come from?

KS: Geoff Cripps and Linda Simmonds both live in Newbridge. Some people have fairies at the bottom of their garden – Geoff’s got Linda (but she lived there first).

Kate Strudwick lives in Aberbeeg (so close enough to Geoff and Linda to borrow the odd cup of sugar), Chris Jones was brought up in Gilwern but now lives in Undy (luckily far enough away for us not to hear him practising the accordion) and Meriel Field lives in Abertridwr near Caerphilly, although originally from mid Wales.

How would you describe your style of music?

GC: Rooted in the musical traditions of Wales and reflecting the broader Celtic music styles, AYYF style encompasses delicate melodies, heartbreaking songs and powerful tune sets that crank up a real head of steam. Our musical style is as old as the hills and as fresh as tomorrow’s newly-baked bread.

What sets you apart from other bands of your genre?

GC: The original music created by band members Chris Jones, Kate Strudwick, Meriel Field and Geoff Cripps – plus the quality of our arrangements.

KS: The fact that we are always exploring and creating. We are inspired by Welsh traditional music but not afraid of presenting it in unexpected ways. This is essential if we are to capture the interest of new audiences for folk music.

Also we are the least mean and moody band on the planet. We enjoy what we do and it shows.

What can people expect from your shows?

GC: We always aim to connect with an audience – we love this music and our enthusiasm for it is infectious. We aim to entertain any crowd and whether they’re brand new to this genre or experts to make them have a great time – as we certainly intend to.

KS: A good time, and some cracking tunes, we hope. Maybe also the opportunity to discover that Welsh music is every bit as enjoyable as Irish and Scottish music.

Are you looking forward to 2013 as a band?

GC: Greatly – it starts in wonderful fashion for us as we have been invited back to the world’s biggest mid-winter festival Celtic Connections in Glasgow – and there are very few Welsh acts that can say that. We are also looking forward to some Welsh concert dates, creating a new show and hopefully touring Germany again. We’re also excited that WOMEX is coming to Cardiff. This is a terrific opportunity for Welsh artists to showcase their music and we hope we might get the chance to be associated with that great event. We’re also looking forward to continuing to plug our most recent album (our fourth) Pwnco – distributed in the UK by Proper Music.

What are you working on at the moment?

GC: Keeping us together and going forward in these difficult times.

Getting the balance right between concert and festival gigs and those occasions when we play for people’s weddings, birthdays and other celebrations as a Twmpath Dawns band and reduce everyone into soggy heaps. Oh, and rehearsing hard to impress everyone at Celtic Connections.

KS: We are also creating a new show for community audiences who might not know anything about folk music.

This aims to be an entertaining exploration of Valleys culture, combining music, stories, humour and history.

Catch Them Live:

  • Fri Feb 23: Neuadd Powis Bangor
  • Fri Mar 1: - Bedwellty House Tredegar
  • Sat Mar 9: Wyeside Arts Centre Builth Wells
  • Thu April 25: The Hafren Newtown
  • Sat May 25: Fishguard Folk Festival - Theatr Gwaun
  • Sat June 22/23: Beverley Folk Festival

Keep in touch with Allan Yn Y Fan online