Tudur Morgan:
Wales songs

Tudur Morgan is a producer, songwriter, singer and multi-instrumentalist from Ynys Mon (Anglesey) in North Wales. He has been a mainstay of the Welsh-language music scene for two decades, recording with Welsh legends such as Dafydd Iwan and Plethyn, among others, and as part of the group 4 yn y Bar. Tudur has also appeared on U.S. label Ellipsis with CDs World Music for Little Ears and Celtic Lullaby, and on Narada with Celtic Legacy.

His solo album, Naw Stryd Madryn, appeared in 2005. In 2006, his band Mojo returned from a 10-year recording hiatus to produce a lively album, Ardal. He's also produced two daughters, Nia and Rhiannon.

David Cox, Rambles.NET's Welsh music editor, interviewed Tudur by e-mail.

DC: What was it like making your first solo CD, Naw Stryd Madryn?

TM: It had been suggested to me many times to record a solo album, so in April and May 2004 I made time for it. Solo was solo in almost every way. I contacted a few trusted musos to help out but it was mostly me. I concentrated on my original songs as well as few of my favourite folk songs.

It was FUN! No more Mr. Diplomat, no more trying to please everyone: all the time only me, me, me!

As well as the recording and arranging I distributed the CD to shops, marketed the whole affair as well as promoting it on radio, etc., and the small matter of taking digi-pics for the booklet and mailing each CD.

DC: What's it been like working with so many artists in and around the Welsh scene over the years?

TM: It has been interesting over the years. It is never easy to work with such diverse artistes, so coming home to my musical "island" of friends, Mojo, has always been very enjoyable. Our new album Ardal is one of the proudest highlights in a fairly long career.

DC: What's the new CD like?

TM: Ardal (Area) is our first album in 10 years, it's also our best ever. The 10 songs were recorded at Rockcliffe Studio on the coast in Llandudno: it's Welsh West Coast music! It contains our trademark vocal harmonies as well as Hammond organ, piano, bass, acoustic and electric guitars, sax, bass, drums and percussion. It was recorded using the latest technology in a beautiful location near the sea, which was very conducive to the creative process.

DC: What are the songs about?

TM: The 10-song set reflects our observations on the world as well as subjects nearer home such as Garnedd Lwyd, the last house vacated from Capel Celyn, the valley near Bala (North Wales) drowned in the 1960s to provide water for Liverpool.

DC: Any other projects on the go?

TM: I've also just recorded another acoustic album of traditional folk songs and tunes from Ynys Mon -- Anglesey. This folk album features harmony vocals, guitars, bass, percussion, fiddle, traditional Welsh "teires" harp (three rows of strings), banjo and whistle. It features Tudur Huws Jones on banjo/whistle and Huw Roberts on fiddle/triple harp, with yours truly on vocals, guitars, bass, keys, percussion. The two albums were recorded back-to-back and were equally rewarding.

DC: What's it been like working in the Welsh language -- a minority language even in your own small country of Wales?

TM: Creating albums that sound just as good as CDs from other countries has always been a passion of mine. Indeed, the Welsh language and everything from Wales is my passion, too! I feel that we have been somewhat overlooked as a nation, both musically as well as our culture in general.

DC: How does Welsh language music relate to other Celtic musics?

TM: Our folk music and song has its own identity, but has been overlooked because of the strong "brand" of the Irish, mainly, but I've learnt so much from my next-door neighbours, though!

DC: What else is new these days, musically speaking?

TM: I'm working creatively at Llandudno's Rockcliffe Studios with Simon Gardner mainly these days. The new Mojo CD was done there, as well as my latest folk project. I'm also involved with a massive project for 2008 -- watch this space!!

DC: Who are your all-time musical heroes and influences, either in Wales or elsewhere?

TM: My all-time heroes from the folk/acoustic world are Paul Brady, Christy Moore, Donal Lunny, Moving Hearts -- all from Ireland -- as well as Jackson Browne and Bob Dylan.

Recently I have worked with Linda Griffiths (I produced her three solo albums), Tudur Huws Jones (produced his debut solo CD) and most of Wales' country music artists. I've enjoyed working with Ireland's Donal Lunny, Keith Donald, Davy Spillane, Ronnie Drew and Altan, and Scotland's Battlefield Band, who recorded a 4 yn y Bar tune in 1984.

DC: What about the gig you did one recent summer, opening for the Beach Boys? What was that like?

TM: Mojo's support slot for the legendary Beach Boys (summer 2004) was a magical evening. It was at the Faenol Estate near Caernarfon, but we did a bloody good job in warming the crowd for them! The mixing guy had just worked with Prince and Eric Clapton, and said that we were one of the best bands he'd heard. Our mix of instruments was a challenge for him, too: sax, steel, three-part harmonies, drums, percussion, guitars, bass, etc., but he enjoyed it -- and so did we!

DC: Thanks so much Tudur, diolch yn fawr, and best of luck with all your future projects.

Tudur has produced or appeared on a number of CDs, which can be found at: www.fflach.co.uk and www.sain.wales.com.

by David Cox
3 March 2007