Preview : Sesiwn Fawr 2016 : 15th - 17th July
'Sesiwn Fawr Dolgellau is a folk festival for the whole family held in the summer in the historic square at Dolgellau'
Sesiwn Fawr, held this year on 15th - 17th July, is the first festival we will be covering in some detail - in the run up this page is less a preview, more the case for going, which is not hard to state. As a declaration of interest - we bought our block of tickets on a wet, miserable day in late Winter, and have looked forward to it ever since.
Sesiwn Fawr is one of two or three events in the calendar (FOCUS Wales being another) that can be pencilled in before the acts are announced, such is the strength of the curation. It also offers quite ridiculous value for money and is set in one of the most beautiful parts of Wales. Case almost made.
It has had a long but eventful history, and at one point was a much larger and ambitious (in terms of scale) event, but that is no issue now - 2016 offers a varied and quite brilliant bill for an intimate weekend festival.
Sesiwn Fawr is principally about music, especially Welsh folk / alt. folk and World music. This year sees a very strong roster - it is worth picking out a few, starting outside those genres with the effervescent whip smart pop of Houdini Dax - described by Adam Walton, Radio Wales presenter as 'Cardiff's prodigious, whimsical and wonderful modern psychedelicists' - then well within them with the evocative, soaring country folk rock of Cowbois Rhos Botwnnog and infectious folk / pop of Sera.
These three are joined by a solo outing from Gwilym Bowen Rhys, of y Bandana and Plu, and a new duo being tested on this year's summer festival stages between Matthew Frederick (of Climbing Trees, and one of Wales' best upcoming songwriters) and Jodie Marie - whose last album had a deserved and heartfelt recommendation from Wales Arts Review: "It's worth getting acquainted with these marvellous songs, you'll be glad to have heard them all, and one or two might just become your travelling companions for life". Even in this pack dense with talent Brigyn, from Snowdonia, stand out for their inventive contemporary folk. Yws Gwynedd should not be missed either - superb, bright Welsh language pop / rock.
New bands include Jambyls, from nearby Blaenau Ffestiniog, who are exceptionally promising with their driven sound that veers between uplifting indie and a place not a million miles from the rousing early folk rock of the Levellers, and Patrobas - a young band from the Llŷn Penninsula who bring youthful energy and edge to their take on country rock.
The line up from outside of Wales is equally strong; especially the turbo charged traditional Scottish folk of Talisk, winners of the 2015 BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award, and The Sidh from Northern Ireland, who play a modern, fast paced and innovative indie folk rock.
Dolgellau has very good pubs, cafes and restaurants within easy walking distance of the town centre venues and the main market square where the event is held. It is a delightful setting for a great event.