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Swansea resident Vicky O’Neon raises her drumsticks for ‘Europe for Ukraine’ band

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Swansea resident Vicky O’Neon, a native of Finland, is raising her drumsticks for Europe for Ukraine – a music initiative that gathers musicians from 50 European countries to record an original composition in support of Ukraine.

O’Neon, co-founder of the non-profit music organisations Girls Rock London and Rock Donna, has worked with Hans Zimmer and Nile Rodgers.

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O’Neon, a graduate of Drum Tech in London (now called BIMM), believes that we should never stand quiet in the face of injustice.

“It’s easy to feel powerless towards what is happening and difficult as an individual to make a difference. But as a society we have to do everything in our power to show support for Ukrainians to stop this war,” O’Neon said. 

Songwriter and Klaukkala resident Amelia Ray, founder of Europe for Ukraine, discovered O’Neon in 2021 through O’Neon’s “Drumming Through The Decades” series on YouTube. When Ray had the idea to write and record a song in support of Ukraine, she remembered O’Neon’s series, and asked her to participate.

Drummer, Vicky O’Neon (Image: Vicky O’Neon)

Ray wrote “Hands in Hearts” in multiple languages to highlight the diversity of the European community. The song will be released on Ukrainian Constitution Day, 28 June 2022.

Hands in Hearts,” is an opportunity for me as a musician to raise my voice for Ukraine against this war together with fellow musicians all over Europe,” O’Neon said.  

The Europe for Ukraine band also includes composer and performer, Adi Mulahalilović – who penned Bosnia and Herzegovina’s 1994 Eurovision Song Contest entry –, North Macedonian classical pianist Mimoza Keka, Franc Moody bassist Rosetta from Italy, and Ukrainian violinist Yuliia Kryzhanivska. Participating musicians will record their performances remotely.

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A portion of the proceeds raised from the release of “Hands in Hearts” will be donated to the UNHCR for humanitarian relief efforts prioritised for Ukraine.

For more information, please visit: www.europeforukraine.com  

(Lead image: Vicky O’Neon)

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Big 90s Festival is heading for Swansea’s Singleton Park

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The Big Nineties Festival is heading to Singleton Park, Swansea for the very first time with a night of throwback 90’s music.

Friday 28 October 2022 will see an amazing festival production with lasers, smoke machines and light displays throughout the night, all hosted at Singleton Park, Swansea for a Nineties Festival Extravaganza.

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Organisers say they have “a line up like no other” and can’t wait to announce this year’s acts very soon.

Tom Cullen Marketing Manager for The Big Nineties Festival said: “Swansea will host a huge weekend of live music, delicious food and drink, and EVERYONE’s invited!

“We can’t wait to bring something of this scale to Swansea, and it’s been assured to help boost the economy and small businesses.”

Organisers say demand is expected to be high and urge anyone interested in going to buy tickets as soon as possible.

Find out more at thebigninetiesfestival.co.uk/swansea.

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Craig Charles brings his ‘Funk and Soul Club’ to Swansea’s Patti Pavilion

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Promising a cracking start to the Easter Bank Holiday, Craig Charles will be coming to Swansea to deliver a set of his finest funk’n’soul tunes this Good Friday.

An iconic actor, host, broadcaster, and now one most beloved DJ’s in the country, Craig’s ‘Funk & Soul Club Night’ will see him open-up his “trunk of funk” at Swansea’s legendary Patti Pavilion venue on Friday 15 April 2022.

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From Robot Wars to Red Dwarf, Craig has now grounded himself as a Funk & Soul icon after nearly 20 years of broadcasting on BBC 6 Music with a primetime Saturday night show. As of Autumn 2021, Craig has also settled into a mid-afternoon slot on the station which has already proven a massive hit with listeners nationwide.

“When BBC 6Music asked me to do a Saturday radio show I only had one condition, it has to be a funk & soul show” says Craig, when he was first approached by the station. And so, the Craig Charles Funk and Soul Show was born in 2002.

Live every Saturday night since, it features an assortment of classic gems and emerging artists and has seen Craig garner global support as one of the UK’s foremost Funk and Soul commentators, DJ’s and promoters of new music. The show has also become a European benchmark for artists who want to connect directly with their fans.

“Since its inception I have been interested in all varieties of soul and funk music, without imposing any barriers and I am just as enthusiastic about fresh new talent as I am about the classic artists from the golden age of the 60s and 70s”.

The list of guests that have been on The Funk and Soul Show speaks for itself: Gil-Scott Heron, James Brown, Roy Ayers, Cymande, Marlena Shaw, Paul Weller, Primal Scream, Terry Callier, Candi Staton, Marva Whitney.

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Hip Hop legends, The Roots and the Jungle Brothers, as well as the leading players of the new school Kokolo, Cut Chemist, Sharon Jones, Osaka Monaurail, Amp Fiddler, Amy Winehouse, The New Mastersounds, Smoove and Turrell, Quantic, The Apples, The Grits, JTQ, and The Fusion Experience.

Mr. Charles and his trunk of funk DJs, every weekend throughout the UK – stopping regularly at Band on The Wall in Manchester for his monthly residency. A night of soul-hitting funk, ‘can you dig it’ attitude and dance-floor jivin’.

The monthly stop off is currently one of the most anticipated nights in Manchester’s scene, with an array of guests from the funky depths such as, Maceo Parker, The BlackByrds, Smoove & Turrell, New Mastersounds, The Perceptions, Speedometer, Lack of Afro and Funkshone.

Craig Charles has captivated crowds throughout the UK – the Maestro of funk has played at numerous festivals such as, Love Box, Park Life, Festival no 6, Wychwood Festival, Common People, Mostly Jazz funk and soul festival to name but a few. Highlighting 2016, Craig recently played to over 10,000 people at the world famous Arcadia and Shangri-La stage in Glastonbury.

With a jammed packed year in the making, the funk and soul train keeps movin’ along without a stop in sight – in the words of the soulful don himself, ‘No Sleep till Bed time’.

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Craig plays the Patti Pavilion on Friday 15 April. Tickets are priced at £20.00 (plus. Booking fee) and are available through SeeTickets.

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Sounds of emergency department inspire instrumental music

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A medical student has been inspired by the sounds of Morriston Hospital’s Emergency Department to create a piece of music aimed at soothing colleagues and patients.

Former semi-professional musician Leo Polchar is in his final year of medical studies at Swansea University.

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He spent an afternoon in the busy department recording a range of sounds before composing the music and enlisting the help of instrument-playing colleagues to record a track titled Accident & Emergency.

The end result has seen the 29-year-old turn the tables on sounds such as bleeping, ringing, shouting, and trollies squeaking, which can often appear oppressive, through incorporating them into an uplifting score.

Leo said: “The idea came to me when we were tasked with doing a big project as part of our final year, with the option of doing something in the humanities.

“I was in ED hearing all these bleeps and things and thought, ‘Maybe I could make a piece of music out of this?’

“Compared to other placements it’s the hardest – it’s like a merry go round of stuff going on and you have to just jump on it and find your place in it all.

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“It’s such a loud, oppressive place where you hear all these different sounds – I liked the idea of taking something that a lot of people struggle with and try to make it into something that’s pleasant.

“I had worked for a few years, after my undergraduate studies, as a semi-professional musician, and have done a bit of composition before. I also currently play in a band called Distant Waters.”

Leo said he was grateful for the support of Swansea Bay’s Medical Illustrations team during the recording of the ED sounds, which he then incorporated into the musical track.

“I played the piano on the track, which is the main part, and there’s a few different cello parts, and some other instruments to give it a more orchestral feel.

“Some of my good friends, who are also final year medical students – Alice Arvidsson, who plays the flute, and Lewis Thelwell, who plays the trumpet – played parts I wrote for them.”

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With the track laid down, Leo is keen to hear the prognosis of its merits from a range of people, not least, those who work in ED.

He said: “One of the ED consultants gave me the best praise by saying that having worked in the department for so many years, she felt I had been able to transform the meaning behind the noises.

“Those who have reacted to it best are from the medical field – those who recognise the noises react to it more profoundly.

“I just hope that people enjoy it.

“If it’s well received perhaps we could publicise a link to the track and people can listen to it on their phones while waiting in ED.”

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Sue West-Jones, a consultant in ED, said the music was ‘simply wonderful’.

She added: “These are sounds which have filled my life as an ED clinician – very powerful sounds that can easily add to the stress of my role, but Leo has given them beauty and clarity.

“It is very emotional. It conveys the intensity of the noise of the department yet turns the noise into the sounds of life, sounds that save lives and sounds that sometimes describe the ebb of life.”

(Lead image: Swansea Bay NHS)

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