Calan On Mountain Stage Capturing the vibrant spirit of traditional Celtic folk music, this young Welsh quintet is already a staple on the festival circuit across the pond.
Brian Blauser/Mountain Stage
Calan
Brian Blauser/Mountain Stage

Mountain Stage

Calan On Mountain Stage

Calan On Mountain Stage

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/698699284/698736193" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Capturing the vibrant spirit of traditional Celtic folk music, the young Welsh quintet Calan is already a staple on the festival circuit across the pond. Calan remains the only Welsh band to have won the "International Folk Band Award" at the Inter Celtic Festival and was named "Best Group" at Festival Interceltique de Lorient.

Accolades aside, the group's mission is two-fold: to spread the word of traditional Welsh music and to keep it contemporary. Singing in both Welsh and English (often in the same song), the melodies evoke mid-century folk songs while the rhythms and textures (some electronic) propel the music comfortably into the 21st Century.

Calan opened with the title track of its current release, "Solomon," featuring Bethan Rhiannon's lithe voice accented by penny-whistle, courtesy of multi-instrumentalist Patrick Rimes. Aside from its musicianship, the band's strong suit is creating a gorgeous, rich sound, thick and textured, by stacking accordion and bagpipes over Sam Humphrey's driving rhythm guitar.

The instrumental "Ryan Jigs" features Alice French on Celtic harp, melding a medieval sound with twin fiddles, by Rimes and Angharad Jenkins, establishing the intricate melody. You'll hear a variety of instruments as the members seamlessly switch between accordion, fiddle, pipes and the pibgorn, a traditional Welsh reed instrument.

"Kan," a song that sets the band apart, draws inspiration from an ancient form of Welsh chanting, adding lyrics taken from a poem by Nigel Jenkins, fiddler Angharad Jenkins' father. The result moves between madrigal-styled chanting with Angharad's rapid-fire lyrics and spoken word. It's a heady musical stew that brings together old and new - just the way we like it.

The group closed with "The Dancing Stag," a funky, fiddle and accordion-based jig that leaves no doubt as to the bloodline of traditional Appalachian music, and featured some nimble step dancing by Rhiannon (one of the bonuses of attending a live Mountain Stage.)

Set list:

  • Synnwyr Solomon
  • Ryan Jigs
  • Kan
  • The Dancing Stag
[+] read more[-] less

More From Folk

Erin Rae and the Meanwhiles perform at Tiny Desk on June 11. Photo by Olivia Falcigno/NPR Olivia Falcigno/NPR/Olivia Falcigno/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Olivia Falcigno/NPR/Olivia Falcigno/NPR

Erin Rae

Every time she performs live, Erin Rae transforms her quiet storms into different hues of squalling introspection.

Miya Folick plays a Tiny Desk Concert on Feb. 21, 2019. Jenna Sterner/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Jenna Sterner/NPR

Miya Folick

Miya Folick was raised a Buddhist in Santa Ana, Calif., and is of Ukrainian and Japanese descent. She sings of conviction, not fiction.

Gemma Doherty (left) and Morgan MacIntyre performing as Saint Sister during their Tiny Desk Concert at NPR in Washington, D.C. Michael Zamora/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Michael Zamora/NPR

Saint Sister

The group from Ireland makes music that mixes the organic with the electronic, starting with a large, 34-string lever harp.

Tomberlin performs at a Tiny Desk Concert on April 23, 2019 (Emily Bogle/NPR) Emily Bogle/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Emily Bogle/NPR

Tomberlin

Tomberlin is the daughter of a Baptist pastor, grew up singing in the church and, since her teens, has questioned her own beliefs in God and faith. Her songs are delicate and vulnerable.

Quinn Christopherson performs a Tiny Desk Contest on May 28, 2019 (Claire Harbage/NPR). Claire Harbage/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Claire Harbage/NPR

Quinn Christopherson

Quinn and his musical partner, guitarist and singer Nick Carpenter, arrived from the cool of Anchorage to the swelter of D.C. and performed with remarkable confidence and grace.

The Devil Makes Three plays on Mountain Stage. Brian Blauser /Mountain Stage hide caption

toggle caption Brian Blauser /Mountain Stage

The Devil Makes Three On Mountain Stage

NPR Music

The Devil Makes Three creates music that is fun to dance to, but take a closer listen for the artistry behind the group's poetic and engaging storytelling.

The Devil Makes Three On Mountain Stage

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/728586093/728680765" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Matt Nathanson Brian Blauser/Mountain Stage hide caption

toggle caption Brian Blauser/Mountain Stage

Matt Nathanson On Mountain Stage

West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Hear Matt Nathanson's three-song acoustic set. Each tune is fortified with tasty, hummable riffs that stick with you.

Matt Nathanson On Mountain Stage

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/722057187/722077638" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

The Lone Bellow Brian Blauser /Mountain Stage hide caption

toggle caption Brian Blauser /Mountain Stage

The Lone Bellow On Mountain Stage

This set is book-ended by songs spanning the entirety of The Lone Bellow's career. Hear music from the group's self-titled debut and two songs from the band's 2018 acoustic EP, The Restless.

The Lone Bellow On Mountain Stage

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/719148786/719161583" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
Brian Blauser/Composite by Alexis Palmer/Mountain Stage

The Grateful Dead Tribute On Mountain Stage

In celebration of the Grateful Dead, hear these performances from Catherine Russell, Joan Osborne and Larry Campbell & Teresa Williams, live on Mountain Stage.

The Grateful Dead Tribute On Mountain Stage

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/717096109/717146401" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
Back To Top