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Libyan adventure for folk band; MUSIC: Rag Foundation going on north African trip.

Byline: LUCY WHITFIELD

MEMBERS of a Welsh folk band are set to be the first professional musicians to play in Libya for more than 30 years.

Swansea-based Rag Foundation will travel to the northern African country on Sunday on a cultural project organised by the British Council.

Arranged in conjunction with the Libyan Artists League, part of the project will involve the band collaborating with a well-known Libyan musician and there will be concerts in Tripoli, Bhengazi and Gherain. The main event will be a huge open-air concert in Green Square, Tripoli, an important cultural centre.

"We're thrilled to be invited out to Libya and being the first British musicians in over 30 years is pretty amazing, " said fiddle player Kate Woollard.

"We'll get a chance to pick up some local music off the people we're working with, which is always a real buzz."

The band mix traditional Welsh folk music with their own brand of uplifting contemporary material.

The trip to Libya is not the first British Council project that the band has been involved in and they are becoming as well known abroad as they are at home.

John Kieffer, head of music at the British Council, said the band were an ideal choice to take part in foreign initiatives.

"Rag Foundation were selected as cultural ambassadors for this venture because of their considerable experience of this type of project, having been to India, Egypt, Vietnam and a number of European countries for the British Council, " he said.

"The band thrives on the opportunities for cultural exchange that the British Council can offer and has a sound that appeals to audiences of all types.

"They will be true pioneers on this, our first project of it's type in Libya."

The band, represented by CSM Management, have two critically-acclaimed CDs - Minka on the Fflach label and South By South West on the independent Ty Bach label. They are working on material for a new album.

Colin Lewis of CSM Management said the trip to Libya was a great opportunity for the band.

"Music transcends political and social boundaries and reaches out to the ordinary people of any country in the world, whatever their background or beliefs, " he said.

"This is a great opportunity in the development of this young band and will be a great experience for all the musicians concerned.

"They have done other work for the British Council but nothing quite as exciting as this."

Background

RAG Foundation may already be prominent on the folk scene but they are now beginning to be recognised for their own contemporary material.

They were formed in 1998 by Neil Woollard, (voice), Kate Woollard, (fiddle, crwth, flute and vocals) and Richard Cowell (guitar and vocals).

In 2000, Huw Rees, (drums and percussion) and Nick Moore, (double bass), were added to the line up.

When the band are in Wales, they perform at a selection of smaller venues and folk clubs although their music is now heading in a more mainstream direction.

This year, they are booked to appear at the Fishguard Folk Festival.

On their way back from Libya, they will perform in Malta, also with the British Council.

Info For further details on Rag Foundation visit the website at www. ragfoundation. com
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Mar 14, 2002
Words:542
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