AM DDIM – WHO THEY?
MUN (as in MONDAY) – ED –YAD AM THIM (as in THIS and THEM). This
popular folk/pop band has been entertaining audiences throughout Wales
and further afield for over 30 years.
Early Days 1974-5
The saga began in 1974 when six students
at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth got together for a bit of a
laugh and, more importantly, to compete at that year’s inter-college
Eisteddfod at Bangor. They won there and decided to carry on.
All six had a musical background –
Emyr Wyn and Robin Evans (vocals) were both experienced competitors in
Eisteddfodau (and Emyr had already recorded an E.P. at a very early
age…..), Graham Pritchard (fiddle, mandolin & piano) and Dewi
Jones alias Dewi French Horn (you guessed it – French horn) were
former members of the Welsh National Youth Orchestra and Mei Jones
(vocals) and Iwan Roberts (guitar & mandolin) had already formed a
group at Aberystwyth – Coes Glec (Gammy Leg) – and had started
mid-70s were heady times for the Welsh-language pop, folk and rock
fields, which had only really developed over the previous decade –
with a host of young bands- mainly acoustic – being formed, singing a
blend of traditional and original material.
influences, especially from Ireland and Brittany (where Alan Stivell was
making his breakthrough) were very much in vogue and Mynediad am Ddim
were certainly part of this trend, but in addition, from the beginning,
Mynediad am Ddim was a “fun” band; even the name (which means
“free admission”) was meant to confuse poster readers everywhere
(the fun also extended to drag and mooning in the early days – hey,
they were young!)
The band began writing its own material – in any possible combination
of two or three and with others, but it would be a new member who would
give the band its direction.
a Mark 1975-77
Emyr Huws Jones or “Ems” arrived in
Aberystwyth following a period in college in Bangor. He was somewhat of
a veteran in singing circles, being a former-member of Y Tebot Piws (The
Purple Teapot) and, more importantly for Mynediad, an experienced
songwriter. His arrival was very timely, and he became the seventh
member of the band (in spite of his reluctance to play live).
Soon after, Mynediad am Ddim made its recording
debut on the various-artists fund-raiser Lleisiau with the
song “Padi”, the first of Ems’ songs about his native Anglesey.
The band was making a name for itself as a live
attraction and it was only a matter of time before the offer came to
record an album, courtesy of Sain Records. Mynediad am Ddim
(also known as Wa McSbredar after one of the songs) was a mix of those
early writing combinations, four by Ems and a handful of traditional
||The album was a great success and a follow-up was
required; an attempt at a live album stalled (only one of the tracks
made it to the next record), so it was back to the studio for Mae’r
Grwp yn Talu (The Group’s Paying).
By this time, there had been a few
personnel changes: Dewi left soon after the first album and was replaced
by another former-member of Y Tebot Piws -and the band Ac Eraill (And
Others) –Alun “Sbardun” Huws on guitar.The new album presented the
blueprint for the future – with the exception of two songs, all the
tracks were either credited to Ems or “traditional”.
1976 saw the group travel to Ireland and also
Ems’ retirement from live performances, although he continued to
contribute songs. He was replaced by Peter Watcyn Jones on guitar and
mandolin, a former member of the folk-rock band Josgin.
A third album, following the same formula, Rhwng
Saith Stol (Between Seven Stools) appeared in1977 but by the
time of its release, two other members, Mei and Sbardun, had left.
That summer, Mynediad accompanied the Godfather
of Welsh-language popular music, Dafydd Iwan, on a successful tour of
Brittany, where the repertoire was geared towards a new audience with
greater emphasis on traditional music, especially songs done acapella.
The line-up changes and the experiences in
Ireland and Brittany led to a change of style and the now five-piece
band (Emyr, Robin, Iwan, Graham and Pete) decided that the next album
would consist of exclusively traditional music.
The result was Torth o Fara
of Bread) - 17 songs, with an equal emphasis on instrumental and vocal
work, with the sleeve design and multilingual notes all declaring a new
direction. As part of the promotion for the album, the band visited
Brittany for a second time and seriously discussed the idea of turning
professional – for a variety of reasons it remained an unrealised
||At the end of 1978, Pete, the only member still a
student, moved to France for a period as part of his studies and
a substitute was drafted in.
Geraint Davies (guitar/vocals) was a former
member of the country/rock band Hergest which had just come to the end
of the road and had already stepped in on occasion when Mynediad needed
| In 1979, the band made their infamous
one-day trip to Brittany, courtesy of a Breton festival in
Guipavas near Brest who were so keen to have Mynediad perform
that they financed a private airplane from Cardiff so that the
band could make the gig and get back to Wales within 24 hours.
this period, the first of two cassettes for Mudiad Ysgolion Meithrin
(Welsh Nursery Schools Group) was recorded.
Hwyl wrth ganu (It’s Fun to Sing) was a
collection of nursery rhymes and other children’s songs. A second
volume Hwyl yr Wyl (Holiday Fun), this time with a
Christmas theme, followed in 1986.
Quiet Times 1980-82
following few years lacked a little in focus and direction –
Pete returned from France, but somehow Geraint the Sub stayed on
– nobody seemed to mind.
Graham split his time between Mynediad am Ddim
and Ar Log, another Welsh-language folk band who had gone full-time.The
only recordings were a handful of traditional/standard songs for a
middle-of-the-road compilation called Dewch i Ganu (Come and
| Other members filled their time by doubling up
with other groups, Geraint with his short-lived soft-rock band Y
Newyddion (The News) and Iwan with the folk bands Cilmeri and
Pedwar yn y Bar (Four in the Bar).
Iwan slowly drifted away to concentrate on the
latter – he wouldn’t appear with Mynediad again until 1999 in a
tribute evening to Ems, who by that time had grown into one of Wales’
replace Iwan, Rhys Dyrfal Ifans was drafted in to bring a new
dimension on bass (guitar and vocals). An experienced musician,
Rhys had played with Pete in Josgin, Geraint in Hergest and
enjoyed further success with the funk/disco band, Bando.
the same time, Graham ended his full-time stint with Ar Log – and a
new, more settled, period began.
The six members in 1982 – Emyr, Robin, Graham,
Pete, Geraint and Rhys – have kept the Mynediad am Ddim flag flying
for over twenty years, mainly through live work , travelling the length
and breadth of Wales. In recent times, Delwyn Sion, another refugee from
Hergest and a solo artist in his own right, has become an occasional
member; he and Geraint have both contributed new songs to the band.
In 1992, to celebrate the band’s 18th
birthday, and the fact that the National Eisteddfod was being held in
Aberystwyth, where it all started, a compilation of the band’s most popular songs, some re-recorded, and a
few new songs was released on the CD Mynediad am Ddim 1974-1992
a scrapbook Digon Hen i Yfed (Old Enough to Drink) tracing
the band’s history. A year later a live performance recorded in
Mynediad am Ddim (Here’s
Mynediad am Ddim) was released on video.
|In the 80s and 90s, the growth of Welsh-language
folk festivals gave Mynediad a bigger platform: among the
highlights are a total of five appearances at the Cnapan
Festival in West Wales, sharing the stage with such giants as
Davy Spillane and the Dubliners. In 2003, the band played in
front of 8,000 fans at Bryn Terfel’s Faenol Festival in North
2004 marked Mynediad am Ddim’s thirtieth
birthday with T-shirts, baseball caps and this website to commemorate
the event – and it isn’t over yet. Watch this space (literally).
For more information
e-mail the band