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‘MidMad’ at Aberystwyth Arts Centre

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The interior of the marquee: with kind permission from Rachel Scurlock, Marketing Assistant at Aberystwyth Arts Centre.

THE ANNUAL MidMad event, for music and festival lovers, returned to the Aberstwyth Arts Centre on Saturday (Jun 25) for another funfilled day.

The event was held from 2pm, where people had the whole day to look forward to a packed schedule of activities. As well as dancing, singing and live music performances throughout the day, children were entertained by face painting, arts and crafts workshops and circus skills workshops, and families had the opportunity to enjoy the Arts Centre’s popular barbecue.

All was not lost for football fans as the Arts Centre televised the UEFA Wales game during the event.

At 2pm, the event kicked off with Manchester artist and musician Gideon Conn, a uniquely gifted songwriter who is currently based in London. Having toured extensively around the UK, he has played many UK festivals, including Glastonbury Festival, and is influenced by Soul and Jazz music from artists such as Stevie Wonder, OutKast and Nat King Cole. Conn has also had the benefit of being played on XFM Radio and on BBC Radio 1. With the likes of Ed Sheeran as self-professed fans, he supported popular American singer-songwriter Jason Mraz on his 2008 UK Tour.

An established clothing designer, painter, drawer and sculptor, he sells his artwork and accepts commissions through his official Facebook page and website.

With a list of released singles under his belt, that include first single ‘I Want You Around‘ on Mannequin Republic on 10-inch vinyl, and the release of ‘Highlights and Perceptions’ on 12-inch vinyl and digital download in November 2013.

Having already performed at the Leigh Folk Festival in Essex and the Green Note Basement in Camden, fans are able to see Conn at places such as the Glastonferret in Preston on July 10, the Cloudspotting Festival in Lancashire on July 30 and the Wilderness Festival in Oxfordshire on August 5.

Speaking to The Herald, Gideon Conn was able to tell us his thoughts on the MidMad event as a whole and on his performance: “The marquee tent was very large and almost empty as I was first on and the weather was good at that point so people preferred to stay outside.

“I did have a lovely email today though from a guy who watched the show and really enjoyed and engaged with my music. I mostly played songs from my debut album ‘New Bop Sounds’, but slipped in a couple from the following albums.”

At 3 .05pm, cabaret style singing group ‘Sgarmes’ were next to perform at ‘MidMad’.

Dynamic, bilingual and unique, Sgarmes are a close harmony singing group based in Aberystwyth, Mid Wales. Named after the welsh word for scrum, the group was set up by musical director Elinor Powell in 2006 with the specific aim of filling the gap between a formal choir and a covers band. Sgarmes sing a wide range of classic and contemporary songs in both English and Welsh.

They like to defy being categorised but are probably much more of a cabaret act than a choir that just love to sing and entertain. Sgarmes have performed at numerous events throughout Wales, the rest of the UK and even Germany and are ideal for wedding parties, charity events and functions large or small.

Speaking about MidMad, Sgarmes’ Manager , Huw Bates , told The Herald: “We’ve performed at this event a few times now and always thoroughly enjoy it. Free music, activities for kids, food and drink and Wales playing football on the big screen – what’s not to like?!” Sgarmes sung a variety of numbers showcasing their diverse repertoire from ‘Calon Lan ‘ and ‘Mambo Italiano ‘ to ‘One Day More ‘ and a couple of their newer numbers : ‘ A Little Respect ‘ by Erasure and Iko Iko, originally by the Dixie Cups.

The group have a busy summer ahead, with events ranging from a fundraising evening in Llangwyrfon to a wedding in Merthyr and will be performing on the Main Stage for the third year running at this year’s Big Tribute Festival.

‘MidMad’ was then treated to the fabulous Lady Gaga tribute and impersonator, Donna Marie. This show is the Lady Gaga tribute that raises the benchmark for all other tribute acts, and as Lady Gaga, Donna Marie is internationally acclaimed as the ‘Best Lady Gaga Tribute on the planet’! Even the real Lady Gaga agrees, when she squealed in excitement upon meeting Donna Marie, telling her: “Oh, my god ! You look just like me – you are amazing.”

Donna Marie is the only Lady Gaga Impersonator and Tribute in the world that uses an authentic working replica of the Lady Gaga Spark Bra. All the costumes are professionally tailored handmade replicas of the Haus of Gaga wardrobe, designed and created by Donna and her very own costume designer (who has worked on BBC Television and the West End as a theatre costume designer). The costumes cost thousands of pounds to make, but the attention to detail is noticeable with every single stitch, helping to re-create the experience of drama, attitude and fashion that is ‘LADY GAGA‘.

Donna Marie is constantly updating the ‘HAUS OF GAGA’, recreating the outrageous fashion trends and props in line with Lady Gaga‘s ongoing hits and ever changing wacky wardrobe.

But it’s not only the costumes that turn heads; Donna Marie, has an uncanny natural resemblance to Lady Gaga. The show has the support of a full team of professionals – choreographers, dancers, sound engineers, special effects, set and prop designer, stage manager, dresser and costume designer who together notch up over 80 years experience in the entertainment industry.

Donna Marie has won many awards for her Lady Gaga tribute show, including the prestigious GOSCAR award for the ‘Best Act of 2010’, which she then won again the following year. In 2013 and 2016, she won the Agents Association ‘National Tribute Award‘ as ‘The Official UK No. 1 Lady Gaga Tribute‘. In 2011, Donna Marie’s Lady Gaga tribute act theatre show at St David ‘s Hall in Cardiff was a sell-out.

The Lady Gaga tribute show is available worldwide and can be tailored to suit any venue, event and capacity. Clients to date range from global corporations and five star hotels (including hotels frequented by the real Lady Gaga when on tour!) to more personal private functions including birthdays and weddings.

Donna Marie was happy to speak to The Herald on how her performance went at the event: “It was great to be a part of the ‘MidMad ’ event in Aberystwyth. The crowd really enjoyed my Lady Gaga tribute performance. Dancing and singing along, they really got into the spirit of things. We had an amazing time. Thank you, Aberystwyth. “

The songs that Donna Marie performed at the event were: ‘Guy’, ‘Manicure’, ‘Do What You Want’, ‘Alejandro’, ‘Telephone’ and ‘Applause’. There was also a Gaga medley that included ‘Just Dance’, ‘Pokerface’, ‘Marry the Night’, ‘Bad Romance’, ‘Judas’ and ‘Born This Way’.

“There are a few exciting things coming up over the next few weeks. On Wednesday (Jun 29), I picked up my award at the National Tribute Music Awards. I have won the ‘UK’s Official No. 1 Lady Gaga Tribute‘. I’m then off to perform at Edinburgh Pride, a castle in Latvia for a wedding, Charlie’s Bar in Ibiza, and I’m also performing at the Royal Airforce 100 years Celebration in Kings Lynn. We are also in rehearsals for my theatre show at Blackwood Miners on October 14.”

After the televised UEFA match, international award-winning brass ensemble ‘Oompah Brass‘ performed for the MidMad crowd. The band have been described by Chris Evans from Radio Two as ‘The Legends In Lederhosen – they rock – so good‘.

Shortly after, Mid Wales band ‘Cartoon Violence‘ headed the event with songs capturing the classic British Pop scene, including music from The Kinks and Madness. Endless soaring energy, great sing-a-long choruses and wonderful piano melodies are all hallmarks of the band’s unique sound.

At 9pm, the event wrapped up with an over 18s disco with DJ Ed Underwood. As well as that, the additional entertainment at the event was Dripping Tap Theatre Company who presented ‘Webster and Jones: A pocket guide to Wales’, which was a comic interactive walkabout performance about two intrepid Victorian explorers conquering the great outdoors!

Additionally, 2009 Britain’s Got Talent competitors Jeffrey and Turbo, from ‘Flawless‘, provided a House and HipHop Dance Workshop from 2pm until 5pm.

Special thanks and credits for photos of the performers to: Dewi Alun Jones Photography and Donna Marie herself

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Ceredigion dog breeder fined for failing to comply with dog breeding licence

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A CROWN COURT has upheld a conviction that the dogs under the care of Mr. Jones were kept in overcrowded conditions in contravention of the minimum space standards required by the license conditions.

Other convictions were overturned.

On 27 November 2020, and 22December 2020, the Crown Court heard an appeal by Mr. Dorian Wyn Jones, of Dorwan Kennels, Penrheol, Talsarn, relating to convictions for failing to comply with dog breeding licence conditions. 

Mr. Dorian Wyn Jones had previously been convicted at Aberystwyth Magistrates Court of running a licenced dog breeding establishment far in access of the number allowed on his licence and that the dogs in his care were kept in overcrowded conditions.

The Court heard evidence that Mr Dorian Wyn Jones had been granted a licence for 33 dogs. However, during a visit undertaken by Ceredigion County Council’s Public Protection Officers on the 07 August 2019, they found 91 dogs at the premises excluding puppies, in breach of his license. The dogs were kept in pens of a size that were inadequate for the number of dogs kept within them.

On 9 February 2021, Dorian Jones was fined £1000 for the overcrowding offence, and ordered to pay legal costs amounting to £2500. 

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Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh, dies aged 99

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The Duke of Edinburgh, the Queen’s ‘strength and stay’ for 73 years, has died aged 99.

Prince Philip’s health had been slowly deteriorating for some time. He announced he was stepping down from royal engagements in May 2017, joking that he could no longer stand up. He made a final official public appearance later that year during a Royal Marines parade on the forecourt of Buckingham Palace.

Since then, he was rarely seen in public, spending most of his time on the Queen’s Sandringham estate in Norfolk, though moving to be with her at Windsor Castle during the lockdown periods throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and where the couple quietly celebrated their 73rd wedding anniversary in November 2020. He also celebrated his 99th birthday in lockdown at Windsor Castle.

The duke spent four nights at King Edward VII hospital in London before Christmas 2019 for observation and treatment in relation to a “pre-existing condition”.

Despite having hip surgery in April 2018, he attended the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle a month later and was seen sitting beside the Queen at a polo match at Windsor Great Park in June. He and the Queen missed Prince Louis of Cambridge’s christening in July 2018, but he was seen attending Crathie Kirk near Balmoral in August, and driving his Land Rover in the surrounding Scottish countryside in September.

It is expected that flags on landmark buildings in Britain will be lowered to half-mast as a period of mourning is announced.

The First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford has expressed his sadness on the news of the death of His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh and offered condolences to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and the Royal family on behalf of the Welsh Government.

He said: “It is with sadness that we mourn the death of His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh. Throughout his long and distinguished life, he served the crown with selfless devotion and generosity of spirit.

We offer our sincere condolences to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, his children and their families on this sad occasion.

He will be missed by the many organisations that he supported as Patron or President over many decades of service”.Andrew RT Davies, the Leader of the Welsh Conservatives in the Senedd, has led tributes to Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, whose death was announced today.

In light of the sad news from Buckingham Palace, campaigning has been paused with immediate effect.

Mr Davies said: “This is a very sad day for the United Kingdom.
“The Duke of Edinburgh led a remarkable life, excelled himself with his career in the Royal Navy, was the strength and stay to Her Majesty The Queen, and has left a legacy to the nation through the Duke of Edinburgh Award.

“Dutiful, devoted, and diligent, his like will never be seen again, and Welsh Conservatives offer their deepest condolences to The Queen, and the rest of the Royal Family.”

Adam Price, leader of Plaid Cymru said: “On behalf of Plaid Cymru, I send my condolences to Her Majesty the Queen and her family. Many young people in Wales will have benefited from the Duke of Edinburgh’s award scheme, a reflection of many decades of his public service. Thoughts are with the Royal Family at this time.”

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Elin Jones calls for a plan to revive Aberystwyth town centre

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AS NON-ESSENTIAL retail re-opens on April 12, many of larger shops in Aberystwyth town centre will not be re-opening, with head offices scaling back on their presence on high streets across the UK.

In Aberystwyth, their absence will be particularly obvious with many of these retailers being located along Great Darkgate Street. Multiple retailers such as Burton, Dorothy Perkins, Clinton Cards, Edinburgh Woolen Mill, M&Co and Lloyds Pharmacy will not be reopening leaving a large proportion of empty properties.

These closures are in stark contrast to many independent retailers on Aberystwyth’s other streets looking to expand or start.

Commenting on this issue, Elin Jones said: “It’s time for a major rethink for Aberystwyth’s Great Darkgate Street.

“The multiple larger retailers are turning their back on our town centre and now we need to re-focus these large premises in order to make them more attractive and accessible to independent, local businesses. There have been smaller independent shops opening along other streets in Aberystwyth and throughout Ceredigion, so there is definitely businesses who could be persuaded to have a presence on the high street.

‘It would be great to see a partnership effort in the town to persuade the absentee landlords to give rent-free start up opportunities, to re-purpose the larger premises to suit smaller businesses and to ensure the buildings look attractive on the street.

‘Welsh Government has confirmed that no rates will need to be paid for this whole financial year and therefore now is a great opportunity to support small local businesses to reclaim their place on Great Darkgate Street.

‘It is the town’s largest street and needs to be a star attraction in Ceredigion.’

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