The musical traditions of Wales are preserved through the performances of Cardiff-based sextet Carreg Lafar. With Trio Bulgarka-like vocalist Linda Owen-Jones leading the way, the group continues to bring a fresh outlook to the music of their homeland. Featuring musicians and singers from every region of Wales, Carreg Lafar was formed by flute and whistle player James Rourke and hornpipe, bagpipe, whistle, and percussion player Antwn Owen-Hicks in 1993. A native of the West Wales town of Llanelli, Rourke previously performed traditional Welsh music as a member of Carreg Aonair. Playing the flute since the age of 15, he trained as an actor and filmmaker. In addition to playing with Carreg Lafar, he continues to write scripts for film and television. His first novel, The Mayor of Aln, was published in 1999.
A self-taught musician, Owen-Hicks hails from Pontllanfraith in the Sirhowy Valley of southern Wales. He trained as an illustrator in London before returning to Wales to form Curreg Lafar. Rourke and Owen-Hicks' interests in traditional Welsh music has been passed on to the other bandmembers. Rhondda Valley-born fiddle, viola, and cello player Rhian Evan-Jones and Northern Wales-born vocalist Linda Owen-Jones, who married Owen-Hicks in the mid-'90s, had little experience with traditional musician before joining Carreg Lafar. Linda Owen-Jones previously trained as an actor, while Rhian Evan-Jones has been playing violin since the age of ten and holds a music degree from Cardiff University. She continues to teach music at a secondary school in Pontypridd. Carreg Lafar is rounded out by guitarist Simon O'Sea and vocalist/songwriter Dylan Davies. The group's name, which translates literally as "speaking stones," refers to the Welsh tradition of "echo stones" or "places of echo." Carreg Lafar toured North America in late 1997. ~ Craig Harris