Taking the best of Swansea to London.

There’s an old African proverb which says,

‘It takes a village to raise a child’.

What I’ve come to realise more and more is that the same is true of just about everything we do in life.  Whether you are raising children or building a career we all need help. We might think we are big enough, and strong enough to go it alone but you will soon find when the going gets tough you need people there to support you.  You might even need them to carry you sometimes when the going gets really tough.

Next Tuesday I’m off to London for a concert to celebrate ‘Wales Week London’.  Wales week is an annual showcase of events that aim to celebrate Wales and promote some of the amazing things we do and create here.  This year there will be over 120 events around London from fashion shows to film and photography, choirs and comedians, rock bands to Jewellery exhibitions.

I started chatting to the organisers back in November and here we are with a few days to go and…I couldn’t have done it on my own, I need more than a little help from my friends.

Finding the right venue was the first task and checking dates for availability.

Ria Jones Centre.

It was at the Maggies Concert at the Swansea Arena that I mentioned my dilemma to star of the show Ria Jones (Friend 1).  Ria has performed at all sorts of venues around the world but has some great connections in London. 

Her recommendation was a venue known as ‘Crazy Coqs’ just off Piccadilly Circus. Intimate with a piano and good supportive audience.  Ria made the call for me.  They’d love to have me…but… no space until later in the year. 

It soon became clear, looking for the perfect central London venue with only a few months to go and Christmas and New Year in between meant most of the usual theatre and club spaces were already fully booked.

I would have to be a little more creative…

Not one to give up too quickly, I next emailed Michael Andrews from Neath (Friend 2).  Michael is in charge of music at All Souls Langham Place.  This iconic building is featured every night on the BBC News Programmes because it is right next door to the BBC.  Michael made a few calls and introduced me to the Events team at the Church.  Looking on the website I felt the church itself was beautiful and probably too big and churchy for the event I had in mind.  It was then they suggested their Waldergrave Hall, a room in the basement often used for meetings and cabaret style, intimate events.

The website looked interesting but there’s nothing like seeing a space for yourself.  As it happened I had been asked to perform at a Christmas Carol Service in Kensington.  I booked an earlier train and went straight to All Souls.  I had a lovely welcome and the room was almost perfect.  It had a small built in PA system but not quite what we would need. I knew we would need to bring everything.  It would be quite expensive to hire, and it also didn’t have a box office. Enter friend 3.

Mal & Ian Parsons

I’ve talked about working with Ian Parsons in previous blogs.  I told him the dilemma I had.  The venue was the perfect location but lacked some essentials.  ‘Don’t worry about that’, said Ian.  In a few hours he had set up our online box office through Ticketsource and started hunting down a PA system he had bought on a whim some years earlier but didn’t quite know where it was.

Mal & Steve Balsamo

In fact I knew I did have a good idea of its location. Enter Steve Balsamo (Friend 4).

It was March 2023 and I had been invited to bring a ‘concert party’ to Parliament for a bit of a do.  That was the last time I used Ian’s PA. Steve Balsamo came to perform as well and at the end of the night he offered to look after the gear. 


A few weeks ago I called Steve. He said it was safely stored away and he would get everything out for me to collect. I then asked would he be free to do a few songs on the night.  He agreed and asked, ‘Is Dai going to drive us up again?’.


Dave Harris far right!!

Friend 5, Dave Harris.  On that momentous trip to London Dave Harris had volunteered to be our chauffeur.  He was a regular London driver, knew all the pitfalls of city driving and loved to talk.  I gave Dave a call.  He would be delighted to spend a day in London with the lads.  He suggested we ask Rod if we could borrow a van again.

Mal with Rod Lloyd from LCV Group.

Rod Lloyd, Friend 6, is the man behind the Low Cost Vans Group of companies.  I’ve known Rod for years but its still a big ask, ‘Please Rod, can I borrow one of your vans for a gig in London?’.  I looked at my phone for a few minutes and then made the call.  The answer was swift and positive.  He asked me to pop down to see the size of the van and get all of the details sorted.

One of the good things about Wales Week London is that it gives Welsh businesses an opportunity to shine in front of a London audience.  We have strong brands ion the city and they are keen to support initiatives to put Swansea and Swansea people on the map. 

Mal with Alun Williams CEO Swansea Building Society.

Friend 7 Alun Williams Chief Executive Swansea Building Society. I might be celebrating 50 years of making records but when it comes to anniversaries the Swansea Building Society beat me hands down.  They have been helping people buy their own homes for over 100 years.  As well as supporting people in the region they also lend money to people further afield.  They said they would be delighted to join our band ‘Taking the best of Swansea to Wales Week London’.

Mal with Stephen Davies CEO Penderyn Whiskey.

Penderyn Whiskey have supported Wales Week for many years, providing lots of miniatures for those attending Wales Week events.  They had allocated a supply for my gig. Now with their heart in the Copperworks near the Swansea.com Stadium I thought it would be good if I went to collect some miniatures myself.  I borrowed Rod’s Lox Cost Van and headed off to meet Friend 8, CEO Stephen Davies.  After a quick tour of the very impressive copper themed distillery I loaded up the van and ticked one more thing off my list.

Having said that the list has lots of unticked boxes, so I’d better get back to that. Yes it’s a one man show in London but as you can see I couldn’t have done it on my own.

If you have any friends or family in London next week and they want a taste of home make sure they know that the Jacks are coming.


1 thought on “Taking the best of Swansea to London.”

  1. What a wonderful read Mal especially St this time of night.
    You have many good and loyal friends ⭐️.
    Now that whisky you mentioned I can vouch for its quality and smooth taste.
    A couple of years back I was given a bottle of it by my daughter’s partner (he’s TT and know I like whisky). I’d never heard of it before but it’d be great to try it again. I’ve never seen it in the shops or supermarkets here in South Lanarkshire.
    I can’t make London next week but I’m sure your concert will be ace
    I hope you have a safe journey there and back and make more loyal friends

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