Root down at the Ashcroft

InterCeltic stars Jamie Smith's Mabon
InterCeltic stars Jamie Smith's Mabon
Black Star Riders: from left, Scott Gorham, Chad Szeliga, Ricky Warwick,  Robbie Crane and Damon Johnson.  Picture by Richard Stow

Black Star Riders come under Heavy Fire on their latest tour

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The reputation of Jamie Smith’s Mabon as a blistering live act precedes them.

Playing InterCeltic roots music, the five-piece are joined on their latest jaunt by fast-rising Cumbrian singer-songwriter Maz O’Connor and her trio.

InterCeltic stars Jamie Smith's Mabon.

InterCeltic stars Jamie Smith's Mabon.

And they’re looking forward to bringing their musical journey to a climax when their tour finishes at the Ashcroft Arts Centre in Fareham on Wednesday, March 5.

Speaking to The News from the back of their van on the way to a gig in the Lake District, band leader Jamie says: ‘We spend more time on the road than making albums – this sort of music is at its best live.’

Mabon’s own roots stretch back to 1999, when Jamie, his father Derek, and two brothers Gareth and Iolo Whelan began to play as an acoustic folk quartet.

Numerous line-up changes and several years later, Jamie assumed control and the previously instrumental group began experimenting with lyrics.

‘When it comes to running the band, sometimes I have to take decisions and say: “Do that”.

‘On the musical side, I have fairly strong ideas, and I will get input from the others – they know their instruments well.

‘I’m not too much of a dictator,’ he jokes.

Explaining the band’s style, he says: ‘It’s our take on the Celtic musics of different places. People might think it’s just Welsh, because we’re from Wales, so it’s a way of expressing a lot of different styles beyond that.’

Joining Jamie on accordion are Oli Wilson-Dickson on fiddle, Adam Rhodes on bouzouki, Matt Downer on bass and Iolo Whelan on drums.

Call the box office on (01329) 223100 or go to hants.gov.uk/ashcroft