You can’t have a Carolina barbecue without live music

Music has always been a key part of Southern culture, evolving initially from the Scotch-Irish music that arrived with the first settlers but then becoming immeasurably enriched by African American music. The combination of the two strands has given us everything from Bluegrass to Honky-Tonk, from Appalachian folk music to the Blues (see the bottom of the page for some background to this music). These genres owe much to the hardships experienced by Southerners: early settlers, African slaves, the deep poverty that followed the American Civil War, and the hard experience of segregation until the late 60s. As with Southern cuisine, poverty and hardship had some beautiful results.

In the days before television and the Internet, many Southern families would entertain themselves by gathering with the neighbours on their front porches in the summer to play and sing. That’s why so many of the old standards are about the hardships they faced or the ups and downs of romance. But because their music was about their real experiences, it came to characterize Southern regionalism as much as their diet and accents. Like almost all folk music, too, it kept alive local memories.

Last year, we enjoyed the performances of Hatful of Rain and Lighthouse Fire, who brought us a blend of original and well-known American folk music. This year, we’ll welcome the band FiddleBop and the singer songwriter Sarah Birch, who together will give us a mixture of Gypsy Jazz and Folk music.

HoI87i8pFiddleBop has just reformed in a new Welsh version following the move of some of its members to Wales. The previous Oxfordshire-based incarnation of FiddleBop was a very successful hard-gigging gypsy jazz band. Gigs included:

as well as many other live shows, of all kinds, and with the occasional guest musician. On stages large and small, on haywagons, in street markets, at festivals, in sunshine and (thankfully not often) in rain. In marquees and in gardens, at stately homes and universities, in pubs and in breweries and even in a distillery.

sarah birch 1Sarah Birch is a singer songwriter residing in Swansea. Best known for writing and performing for festival favourites Lost Tuesday Society, Sarah has embarked on a solo project having just written and recorded her debut solo album “The Ballad of Peter and Jane”

Sarah’s record has been described as  “well crafted, expertly played, the production atmospherically shimmering and the whole thing rather mesmerising”

Produced by Dave Milsom and released through Death Monkey Records “Sarah’s alt folk songwriting manages to combine enough contemporary nous with a respect for the more traditional folk forms.”

The album is available to download from all the usual places as well as cd and vinyl available from Derricks Records Swansea, Death Monkey Records and

Weather permitting (and the one thing we can’t guarantee is Carolina weather in Wales!), we’ll be able to sit, stand or dance amidst the lovely grounds of the Cathedral Close at Brecon Cathedral and enjoy their performance.

So, come along and enjoy the day!

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