Jul 11, 2014

NAFOW 2014 - An Interview With John Good of Tramor

"Opening Concert ~ Tramor [Overseas] John Good is a multi-instrumentalist, Welsh piper, singer, songwriter, poet and storyteller. His ensemble of Billy Parker and John Piggott add mandolin and harp to bring the flavor of tradional Welsh music to the contemporary stage.." 

AmeriCymru:  Hi John and many thanks for agreeing to this interview. What can you tell us about your forthcoming performance at NAFOW 2014? What will the lineup be?

  Tramor (Overseas) - with the snazzy byword of The Welsh-American Acoustic Project - can vary somewhat in lineup according to the focus, demographics, location, date and budget of the appearance. Harper John Piggott and yours truly are always on stage, but on this occasion, being something of a need-to-rock-and-reel-their-socks-off kind of night, guest Mandolin/string virtuoso Billy Parker will be with us, as he was for our recent album. Billy swells the ranks for the festival and major concert venues and - believe me - lights up all sentient beings within earshot. So … you will hear various dastardly combinations of harp[s], harmonica, laughter, Welsh Pipes, tears, guitar, voices (spoken and sung), wooden/silver flute[s], claves, bones and egg shaker, mandolin, penny whistles, sopranino recorder, octave mando and pibgorn. There will be songs, instrumentals and true and not quite so true stories, some ancient, some modern in Welsh and in English, hailing from Scotland, USA, Ireland, and of course predominantly Cymru. NAFOW is a yearly gathering of the tribes that has all kinds of Welsh activities, with Tramor headlining the Thursday night folk concert. ‘Na fe/There you go!   http://www.nafow.org/index.html

AmeriCymru:   Any sneak previews of the evening's repertoire?


AmeriCymru:  You have recently started re-mastering your last album 'Chwarae Teg'. What can you tell us about this and about the album generally?

As an experiment, I recorded the pilot album in my home studio. Then I took it for mix/mastering to the masterful Kyle Harris http://www.playrrecording.com/about.html.

Kyle votes on the Grammies, is a seminal and exquisite engineer / producer of acoustic/traditional-esque music. He said he would take on the job after listening to my efforts, but being a wily perfectionist, made me an offer I couldn’t refuse: For a fee I am embarrassed to quote, he offered to re-record the whole album, live in the studio (minimal overdubs). He has been a stalwart supporter of my endeavors since Hywel Dda (no relation!) was a boy, and I must say, this was the most enjoyable and productive session ever for the band and myself. Yes, there were some very long days, occasional gnashing of teeth and desire for strong alcoholic drink to replace lost hope, but in the end we got what we wanted: A live-sounding, accurate, professional and enjoyable recording that represents the range, dynamic and eclectic ability of the band and, most important of all, something I feel will be listen to and enjoyed for many days to come as well as something we are and will remain proud of.  So in fact it is a completely new and better album, and to be fair, we will swap this one for any of the old ones previously bought … if you found or stole a copy of the old CD, we’ll replace it for half price plus a bonus bonclust / clip on the ear. Can’t be fairer than that … Chwarae teg/Fair play.

AmeriCymru:  Where can readers go to hear your music online and/or purchase 'Chwarae Teg'?

  The track attached to this article is from the album and I’ll have further samples up on our web site very shortly.  http://tramormusic.com/index.html

It’ll be available at gigs, and as soon as the final mastering and printing is finished (within a month) on our web site and other sites to be announced. If you get stuck and can’t find it write to me at potelobop@hotmail.com

(Maybe AmeriCymru could make it available in the shop for members and browsers … hint, hint.)

AmeriCymru:  You will be in Minneapolis for the whole event. What for you are some of the other highlights on the program? Is there anything you are particularly looking forward to?

The event has concerts (Only Men Aloud!), seminars, celebrities (Elinor Bennett, Dafydd Wigley, Sioni Dda %$*& …), a pub night, language classes ac ati … but the highlight to me is being in the company of other Taffies (Taffs/Taffys?) and hearing perhaps a thousand people sing in harmony along with our band and in the Cymanfa Ganu. I grew up with choirs, eisteddfodau, sheep and of course friendly little Welsh people. It’ll be like going home …sob sob.

AmeriCymru:  I know that the Welsh language is a passion for you. Care to tell us a little about your Welsh language classes?

I taught myself Y Gymraeg/Welsh after reaching the homesick-of-a-sudden age of forty, so, in the unlikely event they let me into heaven, I can speak to my grandmother in the language of her childhood. I’ve already accomplished one goal which was to almost exclusively converse - on the phone and in person - with my mother in her natural language over the last ten years of her life. This has instilled a passion in me to pass on the delight of understanding, reading and speaking the language of my heritage to other like-passioned people. As a teacher/learner of 15 or more years, I worked and still work hard to make up for lost time as a monoglot English speaker and am now able to understand the sometimes very basic but elusive problems encountered by reasonably adult learners, that teachers who knew Welsh from the cradle sometimes understandably miss. It’s not a hard language to learn if you appreciate its logical beauty, and beauty and logic are there in abundance. In our classes we use stories, poems, songs, grammar, newspaper articles, YouTube, conversation …so that not only the syntax etc but the context of Welsh can be appreciated and retained. AmeriCymraeg, as you know is affiliated with AmeriCymru and is an inexpensive, on-line affair bringing real-time rewards to those willing to try.


AmeriCymru:  What's next for John Good and Tramor?

  It must be time for a pasty and pint by now.

But seriously, The Festival of Wales is my/our focus. We are hoping to bring a couple of smiles to perhaps world-weary faces; tell a couple of entertaining lies; make people feel part of a larger, totally inclusive Welsh-American community; also, in general, play a few gigs (Celtic Harvest Festival, Sedona, Sept. 20th; Tucson Celtic Fest. Nov 1st), sell a few CD’s and enjoy ourselves with others enjoying each other and us. (Or should that be us enjoying each other with others enjoying themselves? Mae pen tost ‘da fi nawr/I have a headache now.)

AmeriCymru:  Any final message for the attendees of NAVOW 2014?

  Get the word out! Y Cymry sy’n dod/The Welsh are coming!!

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