Mabon
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Mabon

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"OK Pewter album review by fRoots Magazine"

With a cheeky title that maybe is some kind of rootsy answer to Radiohead’s OK Computer, Mabon have sneaked up to the mark when we weren’t looking, rather than making a huge fuss and palaver. Their debut was quietly assured, more of taster than a statement, however with Pewter they’ve certainly laid their cards on the table. And whilst this may not be quite a full house, it’s got more than its share of trumps and aces.
Whilst they’ve retained a toe-hold in Welsh identity, ideologically they’re pushing the envelope under the stewardship of accordeon master Jamie Smith. Smith is a smart mover, not only has he funked up the rhythm section, but welding obvious Celtic inspiration to loftier European traditions – hence such wit as A Hungarian in Brittany, Gower Flotsam in Bordeaux – they neatly sidestep fellow fusion troopers. Add in a deft lightness of touch which stops proceedings becoming too serious and OK Pewter comes off as a huge grin of an album. Not an ounce of sampling or tricks of the trade, all good honest graft. Hold it in your hands soon.
- Simon Jones, fRoots Magazine


"5 star OK Pewter album review by Rock n Reel Magazine"

Winning plaudits for their wittily titled album, Welsh contemporary upbeat folk band Mabon are an eight-piece producing the kind of crisply executed, often exhilarating and entirely memorable music that is giving folk music a good name.

Led from the front by composer and musician (accordion and mandolin) Jamie Smith, another of those scarily talented younger folk musicians, OK Pewter sees the band integrating and accommodating English, Irish, Welsh, Breton and Eastern European influences, which culminate beautifully on the uplifting ‘La Randonnee’. What makes Mabon particularly exciting is their willingness to move beyond the comfort zone; when they’re rocking they avoid the folk-rock template and when they’re adding continental elements they still forge their own identity and sound.

Add to the musical equation a fabulously funky bassist, an excellent drummer, an expressive and exceptional fiddler in Oli Wilson-Dickson and supplement it with the impressive guitar work of Derek Smith, the fine flute playing of Calum Stewart, nifty bodhran playing of Will Lang, and sterling bouzouki work of Adam Rhodes and the result … arguably the most rounded and consistently satisfying collection of folk music to emerge from Wales in some time.
- Sean McGhee, Rock n Reel Magazine


"OK Pewter album review by Irish Music Magazine"

Mabon play a blend of lively modern Celtic music and although a Welsh band their repertoire is characteristcally idiosyncratic as all the tunes were composed and arranged by accordion player Jamie Smith, who has mastered an
essentially Celtic rock dance form at the young age of twenty-three.
The line up gives us a clue as to the new direction Mabon are taking. The band includes original members Jamie Smith on piano accordion, his father Derek Smith on guitars and Iolo Whelan on Drums. New faces on this album
are Will Lang on bodhrán (a past All-Britain Champion and All-Ireland Finalist), Calum Stewart on Flute (runner-up Scottish Traditional Instrumentalist Final at Celtic Connections 2007), Oli Wilson-Dickson on Fiddle (ex-Szapora), Adam Rhodes on Bouzouki & Fiddle (he's from the Isle of Man ), Jason Rogers on Bass (he has since been replaced in the live touring band by Matt Downer).
Mabon's music is ideal for social Fest Noz dancing and with their close links to Brittany there's a familiar Breton An Dro sound to some of their pieces: they have become unofficial regulars at the Lorient festival, and one track "La Randonnée" is named after their favourite restaurant in Ploemeur.
However with the band now featuring Irish and Scots influenced players there's been a subtle shift in the composing. For instance there are hints of Lúnasa and Capercailie on "The Hustler" where flute and accordion trade licks as the bodhrán tips steadily under it all.
Three sets of tunes take up almost a half hour of the album, they allow for bigger ideas to be worked out, so we get a rolling rainbow of accordion colours on "A Set of No Names" which has an interesting accordion and
bouzouki mid section full of the sunshine of Auray. In contrast the equally expansive "File Under Biddley" has more of a Scottish flavour with the fiddle setting the early tone. If I had a favourite track, for sheer vivacity and tongue in cheek fun it would have to be the full ten minutes of "A Hungarian in Brittany", Hanter dro meets gypsy fiddling, it's all so
mesmeric and catchy.
Mabon are a band going places, no wonder they have recently signed a distribution deal with Proper records. The only big question is when will we see them in Ireland; they'd be ideal for a late night Nosen Lowen for
the Bray Festival next August. Remember folks you saw the suggestion here first!

- Seán Laffey, IMM


"OK Pewter album review by Folking.com"


The rather irreverently titled, OK Pewter, marks the latest release from the vibrant Welsh folk group, Mabon. Right from the outset, this is an album brimming with contagious energy, and positively overflowing with utter joy! All eight tracks are penned by the conspicuously talented accordion player, Jamie Smith, offering a triumphant fusion of Celtic and European influences. Jamie's talent for composition is more than matched by his fluid accordion playing, and his presence alongside an array of proficient and flamboyant musicians ensures that the phenomenal sound of Mabon is of considerable appeal. Oli Wilson-Dickson on fiddle and the Scottish flute phenomenon, Calum Stewart, lend Mabon solid Celtic credentials, whilst the bodhrán, drums and bass of Will Lang, Iolo Whelan and Jason Rogers provide a rhythmic powerhouse that really adds some muscle to their sound. The European influence is sustained through the rhythmic bouzouki of Adam Rhodes.
The album opens to the funky bass riff of "Schindig," and it becomes immediately obvious why this band should be much in demand on the festival circuit. The sound of Mabon makes you want to throw away all your inhibitions, take to the floor, and dance your socks off to their astonishing collision of contemporary and traditional melodies. The inclusion of Jamie Smith's father, Derek Smith, on guitar ensures that Mabon is something of a family affair, lending solid foundations -- in particular the funky interplay between bass and guitar on "Set Of No Names."
For me the highlight of OK Pewter is the ten-minute, genre-hopping epic, "A Hungarian in Brittany" -- a breathtaking set of tunes that transports you on a frenzied odyssey with its exotic rhythms and catchy European-influenced melodies. If the first seven sets of tunes on OK Pewter provide the perfect tonic to get feet tapping and bodies moving, then album closer, "Gower Flotsam in Bordeaux," is the perfect last dance -- from the lonesome opening fiddle through to the lamenting flute and brooding bass, this is just the tune to send a rowdy festival crowd reluctantly homeward.
Mabon make fantastic music, and the fact that OK Pewter boasts a treasure chest of remarkable, original compositions makes it essential listening. Jamie Smith's star shines bright throughout and judging by this evidence he's likely to have a bright and distinguished music career ahead of him.

- Mike Wilson, Folking.com


"OK Pewter album review by Taplas Magazine"

This young Welsh band are frighteningly good. They have sewn up a 20s-to-30s fanbase in their home town of Bridgend, they opened the doors to the prestigious and huge Lorient Festival to Welsh musicians and have headlined gigs in Italy, Brittany and over the world. Celtic Music rocks, and how!

Mabon first made their mark with a self-produced debut CD, Lumps of Mabon, which laid the foundations and the musical ambitions of brothers Gareth and Iolo Whelan and father and son Derek and Jamie Smith. OK Pewter is stupendously great. The line-up has been expanded, Gareth (a fine fiddler) has gone and his place has been taken by versatile Oli Wilson-Dickson, a master musician who can make his violin sit up and beg. He and Jamie fit each other like the proverbial glove.

But it’s Jamie who gets the plaudits. He composed the eight tracks on the CD and his breathtaking accordion leads the band, with Oli’s collaboration, through dreamlike vistas both Irish, Breton and Hungarian-influenced. Mabon strike brilliant sparks when they play fast, but suddenly they slow the pace down, both Oli and Jamie effortlessly achieving such beautiful harmonies to make you weep with joy. A fabulous, cracking CD.
- Mick Tems, Taplas Magazine


"OK Pewter album review by Buzz Magazine"

Welsh folk outfit Mabon’s second effort is a remarkable piece of craftsmanship, especially so as every song has been penned by 25-year-old Jamie Smith. This young man’s musical insight and maturity is quite astonishing, considering his lack of years. Traditional folk is given a contemporary edge with the occasional wry outlook, pastoral harmonies and playful melodies. The Gaelic flavour of A Hungarian in Brittany is quite charming also. This will have you intoxicated and enthralled.
4/5 stars.
- Buzz Magazine


Discography

OK Pewter (2007)
Ridiculous Thinkers (2004)
Lumps of Mabon (2002)
Mabon ep (2000)

Tracks from OK Pewter and Ridiculous Thinkers receive regular radio airplay in various BBC regions including Radio Wales. Radio airplay in other countries includes France, Ireland and USA.

Photos

Bio

Text for the OK UK Tour 2009:
Miss Mabon at your peril! For the past few years these high octane festival favourites from Wales have been fizzing, frothing and fermenting into the intoxicatingly heady brew they are today.

Shades of Shooglenifty and Peatbog Faeries there may be but Mabon’s music is self styled, singular and toe-tappingly good – an insatiable blend of world music, Celtic roots and rabble rousing funk folk. One minute you’ll think you’re in a Breton bistro, next there are echoes of klezmer, and then they perfectly capture what it says on the can for fusion tracks like “A Hungarian in Brittany” and “Gower Flotsam in Bordeaux”!

Led by the indecently talented accordionist and tunes meister Jamie Smith, this six- piece band also features Young Scottish Musician of the Year finalist Calum Stewart on wooden flute and Ruth Angell ( Rainbow Chasers, Lark Rise Band) on fiddle.

Freewheeling through a frenzied repertoire of feelgood tunes the band is also capable of slowing down the tempo for mellower, moving numbers. But not for long!

A knock out in Europe and beyond, they have played castles in Poland, forest parks in Italy and woven their magic in Mexico, Canada and Australia. Back on home turf they will showcase numbers from their acclaimed “huge grin of an album” OK Pewter.

So stand by for infectious, energising, life affirming music in spades. The only problem will be how to stop yourself leaping out of your seat or just when to stop dancing. Prepare to party!

www.mabon.org www.myspace.com/mabonband
Media enquiries: Jane Brace PR on (01243) 789554 or j.brace@virgin.net