The quote of the day, and that was just before 1pm! Too good to resist.

To those who know, welcome back, great to see you. And to those who don’t, it’s a warm welcome to you. And thanks for checking this out, the first of my day-by-day roundups of the events of FOCUS Wales right here at Millimagic in association with Unity!

Amelia gave me a major leg up when she first invited me to guest blog here two years ago, and I have returned each year since to do the honours. 2024 is my first year doing it without Unity being here in Wrexham too, and I’m still getting used to that to be honest! But I’ll definitely hold the fort down for her, and for everyone else interested.

Okay then, shall we get down to business?

My 2024 FOCUS Thursday kicked off with my usual walk over to Glyndŵr University to see not only the first of the acts scheduled to play, but also to reunite and catch up with the staff and students who I’ve become friendly with over the years. This here is Nia, who I initially met during her first year, saw her again during her year two, and now here again just weeks away from her graduation. So cool to see the transition and her confidence grow from year to year, and I wish her all the best in her career going forward.

The music part of proceedings kicked off with a showcase of Canadian talent, the first of it being Fold Paper. This ensemble, led by Chell Osuntade, produced a vibrant opening offering.

Plenty to listen to, and to be excited about.

Everybody who performs at the university also takes part in an interview later on to complete the media package. It was cool to watch from a distance, and to see Chell be calm and composed with his answers.

Next up at Glyndŵr were sibling led Candian band Vox Rea. Some relaxed, chilled numbers in the offing. And it was them who gave me my ‘dripping wet reverb’ tagline during their soundcheck!

Many different musical influences on display. The song they performed here was a particularly emotional one.

More acts played at the uni for a fair while longer, but as is my tradition, it was then time for me to head into the city centre and start the venue hopping! First on the agenda was my first 2024 visit to Hope Street Church and to check out a handful of Ukranian acts playing a showcase. First to see were Akine. No nonsense, straight from song to song, and completely held the attention of the assembled audience.

“Hi. My name is Ratmir Bilodid. I’m a performer…obviously”

The dry, subtle humour to go along with his multi-instrumental talent.

He did a good job, rather captivating.

Next to play was electronic artist NFNR, who explained that the majority of her work to be performed during her set was composed in 2022 around the time of the Russian invasion. A poignant reminder of the reality of the current situation.

From there, it was a first visit to Old No. 7 and the Larynx Entertainment showcase. Always great to touch base with Dave Acton, you saw him up above at the very top of this piece.

First to take the mic was Greyzee, his first ever time performing at FOCUS. He said that he was nervous afterwards, but he didn’t show it.

“What’s the vibes? MILLION VIBES!” KAYO brought the party, the carnival atmosphere and the general good vibes all the way from St. Lucia for his set. You couldn’t help but get down with him.

Always great to hang out with the Kaptin, wherever whenever. Kaptin Barrett is truly one of the industry’s good guys.

If the guy running the show is able to step up with bars of his own in the event of a scheduled performer having to withdraw, it isn’t the worst backup plan in the world. Dave Action handling his business on the mic…

…before taking his message directly to the people.

After saying my goodbyes, I then headed over to HWB Cymraeg to see Parisa Fouladi perform some beautiful songs in Welsh. Standing room only.

Well it would have been rude to have rocked up at the time I did and then stood in their way!

A FOCUS first then followed for me, as I then headed over to The Fat Boar for a first ever visit in any capacity. Providing the tunes was Nicole Ariana and her cool band.

The Rockin’ Chair always features in my FOCUS plans. A fleeting first visit this time around to catch Angharad and her band perform. The message up front means everything.

I was in The Parish the day before for the launch event. Back there properly at this moment to see Wrexham locals Jonny Ash do their thing.

I’ve seen them play once before, and it was great to have the pleasure once again.

I love returning to Tŷ Pawb, it is such a cool space! French band W!ZARD certainly attracted my attention during the planning stage for my own personal schedule, and the live experience of seeing them play certainly didn’t disappoint.

I just love this shot. A mixture of nonchalence and cool.

As I was leaving Old No. 7 earlier, I told Kima Otung that I would catch her set over at Tŷ Pawb later on. I’m a man of my word.

She’s a very confident performer.

Some country happenings next in the Flexible Space courtesy of Cowbois Rhos Botwnnong.

Yep, we made our choices. Not going to dwell on that here. I’d been waiting literally years for this moment to see Sage Todz play, and I was going to grab it with both hands…

…and I loved every second.

Back then to The Rockin’ Chair for the weird and wonderful part of proceedings.

I went to Room 1 to be graced by an intstrumental of ‘Sexy Extra Terrestrial’, heralding the imminent arrival of Wrexham settling aliens Cosmic Dog Fog. When one sees them, one never forgets the experience.

The short hop over to Room 2 saw me then witness Worldcub do their thing. Plenty to be enjoyed there.

A bucket list moment then followed in the big room, as I then saw Snapped Ankles in their latest emergence from the forest. As with Sage Rodz, I’d been waiting a very long time for this particular live experience too.

Whoever knew that trees could play music in a manner as good as this?

This picture does not in any way do justice to the amount of feral energy that SHLUG then brought to proceedings in Room 2. But keep reading…

Oh wait, what’s this!!!! NO WAY. Minas then emerged with a mic, and you know that intensity was immediately going to ratchet up!

So, so crazy. And I enjoyed it. And would have done so anyway even without their special guest.

But it’s still fun to hang out with one of my people.

I go to Manchester all the time for shows, and I like to keep my ear to the ground in respect of music and artists over there. Sometimes I miss a few, so it was great to make the acquiantance of Antony Szmierek as his band in the quintessential ‘better late than never’ manner. The party atmosphere of his set was the perfect way to close out the events of Day 1.

Wall to wall as usual when I’m in Wrexham without missing a beat.

I already showed you my plans for Day 2 in my last dispatch, and the full roundup of what was a glorious day will be coming your way early next week. So much good stuff happened, and I want to ensure that you get the full LG flavour with the time, care and attention that the piece deserves.

Here’s what I have in store for Day 3:

A visiting taste of Manchester comes to the fore with me looking forward to taking in the sets of The Red Stains and LIINES. But in bringing things back to Cymru, I’m so very pleased to be taking in the soulful reggae of Aleighcia Scott once again, and to see JP take to the mic at Old No. 7. With Deerhoof unfortunately being unable to travel over to Wrexham after this schedule was produced, Gallops are a more than worthy replacement.

The roundup to Day 3 will naturally follow after Day 2 early next week. Look out for them both.

And thank you very much for reading and engaging with everything that I have given you whilst here in Wrexham.

Take care and speak soon.