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Issue No. 4 [Back Issues]
3rd August 2004

Cor Baby That's Really Free! - John Otway helps to get Monmouth Festival under way


Monmouth Festival kicked off to a terrific start on Friday 30th July. Following introductions by Monmouth's Mayor, Anthea Dewhurst, The most recent line-up of the 'Mighty Pledge' opened the event, providing their usual brand of great soul music to a street packed audience and were joined for an encore by original lead singer, Gary Sutherland, having re contacted the band through this web site. 'Selector' then took to the stage, entertaining the crowd with their 'ska' music, including their '80s hit, 'On My Radio'..

More from my own era and to my personal taste in entertainment however, I can only say that John Otway's performance on Sunday 1st August was nothing less than brilliant and he has stolen the show for me so far! Having not seen John Otway for many years now, without his Wild Willy Barrett, I was not sure exactly what to expect but with heavy metal guitarist (and recent Granddad) Richard Holgarth, the pair kept the audience entertained with body drums, a wire coat hanger and plenty of 'eadbuts.

With more than two chords and not only one, but two hits to his name now, John was able to stretch both out over the evening, incorporating his unique brand of humour. His performance, particularly when the 'birthday present,' a theremin made its appearance on stage, took me back to the halcyon days of my youth and my regular Saturday nights at the Dagenham Roundhouse to watch Arthur Brown's Kingdom Come, Black Sabbath, Hawkwind, Deep Purple and even Pink Floyd once, with an entry fee of between 50p and a quid (free if you stood by the fire exit with a bag of chips).

Ref: DSC_1987   More photographs can be seen here.
Barry Needle's New Volume Published - The River Wye, A photographic essay from the source to the sea

This month sees the publication of photographer Barry Needle's follow-up to his hugely successful volume, South Wales in Focus. The River Wye is a sumptuous record of an amazing landscape, rich in character, natural beauty, and history - a history in which the Wye itself has played a vital part. In breathtaking colour photographs, Needle captures the essence of the river - its character and the impact it has had on the landscape through which it passes - from its source high in the mountains of mid-Wales, to its entry into the sea under the towering Severn suspension bridge.

Barry Needle combines his artist's eye for composition with enormous technical facility, to produce a series of beautiful, surprising and endlessly fascinating images of a landscape he has come to know intimately. Along the way he takes in the delights of charming market towns like Rhayader, 'book town' Hay on Wye, the gorge at Symonds Yat, Ross on Wye, the cathedral at Hereford, the picturesque ruin of Tintern Abbey and imposing Chepstow Castle. In between there are mountains and woodlands, meadows and fields, valleys and plains, ancient rural villages and riverside churches, and, towards the sea, a working river.


The River Wye, a photographic essay by Barry Needle.

Also included are exquisite images of: Llangurig, Gamallt, Llanwrthwl, Builth Wells, Boughrood, Llowes, Whitney on Wye, Bronydd, Winforton, Willersley, Staunton on Wye, Hoarwithy, Sellack, Bicknor, Monmouth, Redbrook, Bigsweir, Llandogo and Brockweir.

Barry Needle grew up in the steel town of Port Talbot where he served his apprenticeship as a fitter. He became interested in photography relatively late - aged thirty - when he was given a camera for Christmas. Having had no formal training, Barry says he learned the craft, 'Ňat the school of mistakes and perseverance - and I still attend from time to time!' Barry is married, has two daughters, and now lives in Llanelli.

Over the years, both of us being in similar fields, Barry Needle and I have become good friends, although we have never met other than by emails, sharing experiences. I wish you a great deal of success, Barry - I know exactly how much hard work is involved and you certainly deserve it! Barry also has a web site, 'South Wales in Focus'. Why not visit him there? Barry Needle's book may be purchased from good book shops or on-line from

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