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BIG WEEKEND Civic Centre, Cardiff Fri 30 Jul-Sun 1 Aug

Dig out the foldaway chairs and dust off your sunnies – it’s festival season, and that can mean only one thing in Cardiff: The Big Weekend is back. Now in its 16th year, Cardiff’s fab free festival is a summer institution and is always packed with an eclectic mix of Welsh and world music, combining the best new local bands with some big names and the obligatory blast from the past. With previous years featuring everyone from Nik Kershaw and Chas & Dave to Asian Dub Foundation and The Magic Numbers, the Big Weekend is famed for its eclectic lineup and, this year, looks set to outdo its own well-deserved reputation as the UK’s best free outdoor music festival. Friday night is curated by Swn and belongs to the Welsh contingent, with the ace combination of Race Horses’ psychedelic pop, manic upbeat indie from Los Campesinos! and a nice, loud slice of post-hardcore from headliners The Blackout getting things off to a stomping start. Saturday is world day, featuring everything from Maroon Town’s Latin-fl avoured ska and dub to soulful Indian fare from the Raghu Dixit Project, with The Congo Allstars’ rumba/dub mish-mash and Alejandro Toledo and the Magic Tombolinos’ easier-to-dance-to-than-say Balkan sounds following the formula and keeping the crowd moving. James Brown’s sax player, Pee Wee Ellis and his Funky Assembly inject a little groove into the proceedings before this year’s 90s fl ashback headliner – none other than Chaka Demus and Pliers (of Tease Me and Twist and Shout fame – don’t lie, we know you love it). Sunday brings a chilled mix of jazz, soul and folk-rock from Rumer and Pete Lawrie followed by the me- lodic electro-pop of Fenech Soler and the Phenomenal Handclap Band’s [pictured] quirky 60s-infl uenced beats. The Big Weekend ends with sets from Athlete and Welsh live favourites Feeder, who – with a back catalogue of massive tunes between them – should provide the feelgood singalong quota. As always, there’s loads more to the Big Weekend than just the music, from the funfair to the fi reworks each night, and all music is still completely free. It’s Cardiff’s biggest summer party – see you there. Admission: free. Info: 029 2098 2087 / MEGAN CAMPBELL



Abertillery Park Fri 16 + Sat 17 July Ah, memories of being played the ‘greatest scream ever recorded’ and being forcibly sat through an internet gallery of ‘the great- est rock and roll solos’. Plenty of dinners spent watching my stepfather’s enthusi- astic fi nger-tapping out of any rhythm and time to Exile On Main Street. It was once a fool’s ignorance of mine that every one of The Yardbirds’ songs followed the same progression of chords and solos, that blues was a constant renewal of the same old same. But progressive bands like The Black Keys have shone light on the matter. Rock and/or roll!

A gathering at Abertillery Park plays host to British and international artists, this growing fringe festival can certainly be expected to pay suffi ce tribute to blues and rock. Hail to Page, Plant, Beck and the likes! Headliners Ten Years After, known at their peak in the 60s and 70s for their hard, jazzy rockin’, make this sure to be an intoxicating experience. Other talents on the line-up include Mojo Jim and the Muddy Wulfs, Kyla Bronx Band and The Dirty Aces. Expect moaning, crooning, crashing drums and age-old licks. Sun, booze, grass and the recapitulation of the blues era to your ears, the roots from which oodles of today’s genre cross-breed- ing grew: summer starts here. Tickets: £40/£30 Blues Club members both days; £20/£15 members Friday; £30/£24 mem- bers Saturday. Info 01495 355800 (HM)


MUSICFEST Various venues, Aberystwyth Sat 24-Sat 31 July MusicFest will be returning to Aberystwyth this July. Celebrating its 23rd birthday this year, the festival will be attracting musicians and music lovers from around the world for a week of live classical sounds, workshops, talks and discussions. The event, which is annually hosted at Aberystwyth Arts Centre and also features performances at other venues throughout the town, aims to merge together the music festival and its summer school to form a unique environment of learning, celebration and performance for classical enthusiasts at any given level of experience. For those who only come to see the live performances, the festival displays daily lunchtime and evening concerts in dif- ferent venues throughout Aberystwyth, which includes a variety of classical, jazz and folk music. Headliners of the festival include The Sacconi Quartet, The Orion Orchestra and the Solstice String Quartet. The Sacconi Quartet consists of four grad- uates of London’s Royal College Of Music and has given recitals in leading concert halls throughout Europe. Both the Orion Orchestra and Solstice String Quartet have also built up successful reputations throughout Britain and Europe with their highly rated recitals. All artists will be involved in teaching and coaching the summer school students and will also lead workshops. Tickets: £75 for festival pass (check listings for individual events). Info: 01970 623232 (AM)

TJ’S IN THE SQUARE John Frost Square, Newport Sat 10 July

In tribute to John Sicolo, the owner of Newport TJ’s who sadly died in March, some of Newport’s brightest stars of the 1990s are to reform for a special open-air gig in the city centre. The festival is entitled TJ’s In The Square, referencing TJ’s In The Park, a summer staple of the Newport rock scene until the late 90s. Reuniting for this summer concert are a host of bands who found their feet one to two decades ago in TJ’s. The Darling Buds, indie hitmakers for a time in the early 90s, are the best known; Novocaine, Doctor Bison, Flyscreen, Rollerco, Varisp- eed and Disco are all warmly recalled. Kicking off at 11am and fi nishing around 9.30pm, as well as the music there’s also guest speakers, including Paul Flynn MP and John Sicolo’s daughter. Of the more ‘current’ acts on the lineup, local hitmakers Goldie Lookin Chain will play alongside bands such as Sick Livers, Bad Samaritans and Elephant Rescue Plan, while a few ska bands (TJ’s regulars 2 Rude, for example) represent Mr Sicolo’s love for that musical genre. Finally, a band of local youngsters will be given the chance to play in front of a 2,500-strong audience as part of a Square Factor talent contest. TJ’s In The Square looks set to be a fi tting tribute to a legendary man.Admis- sion: free. Info: 01633 777404 (CH)

THE WONDER STUFF Coopers Field, Cardiff Thurs 15 July At various points in history there have been bands that have briefl y and surpris- ingly found themselves to be the biggest act in the country. In between the fall of Madchester and the rise of grunge, such a fate befell The Wonder Stuff.

Led by the infamously caustic Miles Hunt, they were a quintessentially English band. Like regional forebears Slade, they wrote self-deprecating but catchy anthems. Hits such as Welcome To The Cheap Seats displayed a knack of marrying British wit to tunes your mum could whistle. In recent years the Stuffi es have toured reg- ularly, with classic albums The Eight Legged Groove Machine andHup enjoying Don’t Look Back-styled outings. For the Coopers Field show, we’re promised a run through old favourites as well as new material. “I’m looking forward to this. We’re doing a few festivals. They’re great cos they’re not all about you, I see those gigs as warm ups for this one.” For Hunt, it’s a chance to hopefully settle some old scores. “We don’t have a place in the history of rock. We’ve been conve- niently swiped out by the rock media. We never went stadium, we avoided that. It wasn’t about getting on the front of NME. The music was designed for 1700-capacity theatres, you know, you can’t play a good gig if it isn’t hot enough.” Get ready to get sweaty, the eight-legged groove machine are back. Tickets: £22. Info: (PJ)

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