High energy, foot-stomping folk and world music from 3 of Britain's finest musicians. BBC Young Folk Award winners Uiscedwr perform a variety of folk styles with intricate arrangements that has earned them tours and performances at festivals across Europe. Folk music for non-folkies!


They could make a movie about Uiscedwr. One day they MAY do…

From the moment a Welsh fiddle player/singer Anna Esslemont met an Irish bodhran virtuoso Cormac Byrne late one strange, magical night when both were students in Manchester in 2002 and they resolved to make sweet music together, their rise was instant and spectacular.

Forming a trio, they won the prestigious BBC Young Folk Award having barely played a gig together, starred at the Cambridge Folk Festival the following year, went on tour to be greeted by ecstatic, jigging audiences and were nominated for a "grown-ups" BBC Folk Award after making a debut album 'Everywhere' that had critics and fans alike rolling on their backs and kicking their legs in the air in delight. They were young, vivacious, adventurous, exciting and original and their impossibly captivating way with everything from a bunch of reels to dark songs about broken relationships had the folk world eating out of their hands. With the sort of energised momentum they seemed to be effortlessly igniting, it seemed only a matter of time before the rest of the world would follow.

Then Anna got sick. Seriously sick. Early in 2005 friends noticed how pale she looked, how slender she'd become, how exhausted she got after gigs, how easily she bruised… and eventually she saw a doctor. After initially being wrongly told her problems were simply due to a bad diet, she was diagnosed with aplastic anaemia, a disease resulting in dangerously low blood counts as her immune system attacked the bone marrow.

There followed an horrendous year of endless hospital visits, appointments with specialists, tests and weekly blood transfusions and when these failed it left Anna with the hardest decision of her life - whether or not to have a bone marrow transplant. The risks were high and her consultant advised against it, but Anna decided to go for it and had the transplant just before Christmas, 2006. Happily it was successful ("though I feel like a prescription junkie!") and Anna set about putting her life - and Uiscedwr - back together.

Anna and Cormac had fought valiantly to keep the band rolling during the dark days of her illness though they were complicated by a series of disputes with guitarist Ben Hellings, which ultimately led to his departure. In a moment of divine inspiration, however, they managed to persuade one of the UK's most admired and charismatic guitarists, Kevin Dempey to replace him. He had no hair (but they didn't care) and Dempsey - singer, producer, songwriter, occasional solo artist and veteran of many adventures folk and otherwise, ranging from Percy Sledge and Alice Coltrane to Whippersnapper (with Dave Swarbrick) brought plenty to the table to sustain them.

Between blood transfusions they continued to gig and even played Fairport's Cropredy Festival (when Anna finished up a wheezing heap backstage) and Towersey Fest (where she rushed offstage to throw up and then returned to finish the set). And they even managed to record a second album 'Circle', which maintained all the effervescence of the first while moving the sound into ever bolder new shades of jazz and rock, a cracking song collaboration between Anna and Kev (Everyday Cynic) and some telling guest contributions from Joe Broughton, who produced the album.

In the periods they weren't working, Cormac Byrne's amazing bodhran rhythms hadn't gone unnoticed elsewhere. A percussionist since the age of four, Byrne didn't seriously get into Irish music until he left his home in Co.Waterford to study at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester. It was there he started playing Irish sessions and met Anna. During Uiscedwr's 'down' time, he was awarded a BBC Fame Academy bursary which helped pay for Uiscedwr's second album. He was also snapped by Seth Lakeman and played a pivotal role in the dramatic rise of the Lakeman band.

Yet despite lucrative alternative offers, Cormac's belief in Uiscedwr - like the moral support he gave Anna - never wavered. "There aren't many people who'd put up with the crap he's had to put up with," says Anna, "what with me looking rank, being bright yellow for a time, coming off steroids and being a complete bitch. But he's still my best mate and the person I most enjoy playing music with."

Cormac turned down the chance of a major tour with Seth Lakeman to be at Anna's side on December 15, 2006 when she finally underwent the bone marrow transplant. It seems to have worked better than anybody could have hoped and as the danger of rejection receded, the music started flowing again.

For Anna it couldn't be any other way. Music has been in her soul since she first started playing violin at the age of six in Newtown, Powys. She subsequently played a variety of music in different outfits before heading off to study violin in Manchester in 2001. But she was frustrated by the rigidity of classical music and after meeting Cormac, the Uiscedwr vision came sharply into focus an



Written By: Anna Esslemont

Drink up your wine, Dad
finish your glass
I don't need to tell you
that this is your last.

Cross over the sea, Dad
we won't be there
You might lose us forever,
That's your cross to bare.

I don't care what you think of my clothes any more
I don't care if we don't speak for six months or more
I don't need your money, your gifts or your lies
So take yourself off to America.

So let's smile our farewells, Dad
I can't look in your eyes.
So much for a future
That starts with goodbyes.

Go marry your new love,
Start a new family.
I'll try not to resent them
if you don't forget me.


I'm glad that you're gone, Dad
we're doing just fine.
We've picked up the pieces
and set them in line, again.



YRCD01: Everywhere
Album released 2004

YRCD02: Circle
Album released 2006

Set List

Full gig: 2 x 45 minute sets plus encore

Festival performance: 60 minute set