Dragonfall started life as a band called Fragile Earth several years ago in Aberdare in the South Wales valleys. Rob and Helen were joined by Steve Jones on bass and had moderate local success. From the start, they played a mixture of original material (by Helen & Rob) and unusual covers. They had a residency at the Aberdare Social Club (now The Marquis) where there was standing room only when they played. After a while Steve left to join Quest - a local covers band.
Fragile Earth decided to change their image as Aberdares Premier Folk Band (Aberdare Leader). They recruited Simon Jones on bass and Pete Cowan on drums and became less folky, more upbeat and somewhat more jazzy. The result was promising, but just as things looked good, Simon and Pete left to go to college.
Gareth Preest joined on guitar and the new lineup had some success playing Welsh language gigs under the name of Gobaith - whilst still maintaining a parallel career with English language gigs as Fragile Earth. The band slowed down to occasional gigs in both languages for a few years while Helen got her degree. Angharad Davies augmented the band occasionally on violin. Steve Alcock joined on bass, until his day job took him to another part of the country and the band was no more.
Or was it? Rob decided that if they weren't gigging, why not record? This was long overdue. Although the various incarnations of the band had won fans and critical acclaim from live concerts, no professional quality recordings had ever been made. Although encouraged by interest from a small record company, Helen and Rob decided they wanted to retain complete artistic control, so they set up their own label and funded the album on their own.
To acknowledge the shift in musical direction since the original lineup, the name was shortened to Fragile. After so many personnel changes, this seemed appropriate.
Rob and Helen went into the studio at Big Noise in Cardiff with John Pulman (Bass) and Greg Haver (Drums) as session musicians. The result was a three track demo of March Blue Eyes, Coming Home and Forever. The tape had some favourable reviews in Making Music and Welsh Bands Weekly.
On the strength of the demo, Fragile were invited to perform on television. It was time to reform the band. Gareth rejoined on guitar and Pete on bass. With insufficient time to recruit permanent members, session players Lee Nicholas (drums) and Mike Roberts (keyboards) completed the lineup for the performance.
After the gig, it was back to the recording studio to complete the album. Angharad Davies joined on backing vocals and Greg once more sessioned on drums.
Thoughts now turned to the release. It had become evident that several other bands were operating under the name of Fragile, so once again a change was needed. This time, a complete break was decided upon and Dragonfall was born. The new name seemed to sit much better with the Celtic edge that had been increasingly creeping into their music.
The bands imagery was refined, artwork was produced for the CDs, posters, stationary, web pages etc. A single was chosen and the publicity work commenced.
Press releases were organised and radio stations were courted. The press were enthusiastic and encouraging in their reviews of the album. Many radio stations were also enthusiastic and the first single found its way onto more and more playlists. Blue Line magazine rated the single as 'find of the month'.
Angharad took over keyboard duties and Dragonfall's lineup was completed with the arrival of Elliot Bennet - an accomplished drummer & percussionist. Gigs were organised, along with radio sessions and TV appearances. Despite no major backing or advertisements, initial sales of the single and album were encouraging and the general response was excellent.
Then everything went pear shaped. Helen was rushed into hospital for an emergency op which required at least 6 months convalescence. In that time, the world refused to stop spinning. Pete left for the other side of the world (Leeds). Gareth decided to concentrate on his day job. Elliot became more & more involved with other projects. The band was down to 3 plus a part time Elliot.
With Helen 90% recovered, a second single was released. The response was again excellent - although the band was not in a position to capitalise on requests to perform on TV, radio and at festivals. Nevertheless, a few acoustic performances were organised and the search for the new line-up commenced in earnest.
By this time, we have received interest from a few magazines and radio stations around the world. Unfortunately, we don't have the resources to do more than the odd interview and supply the odd CD. Overseas reviews and reactions are excellent. We receive e-mails and guestbook entries from people we don't know. All of this is very encouraging.
Distribution is now our biggest problem - although we continue to add outlets here and abroad, it is very slow. We can't get enough product to market. Still, we have been delighted with positive responses from people buying our CDs from several different parts of the world. Many many thanks. We have also been delighted with responses from radio stations, mostly in the UK, but also from a few other countries who have contacted us requesting information.
So after a small break, we're off again. We've written enough stuff for the next album. Band auditions are going well - more of that when we're 100% certain. While the new line-up is forming we have been appearing at acoustic gigs, songwriters circle gigs and have done a little TV work. We're really enjoying playing again.
The band unveiled the new line-up at a sell-out gig at the Coliseum Theatre, Aberdare on January 8th 2000. The new members were Steve Jones on bass and Steve Chandler on drums. This made things a lot easier as the rhythm section is now known as "Steve"! Both boys are experienced musicians. Steve Jones played with Rob and Helen in "Fragile Earth" and is an old friend. Steve Chandler has played with a number of bands and is a new friend! Steve C is well known in local music circles and owns Bar-Rock Music shop.
We also had a new permanent sound engineer for live gigs in the shape of Mark Winstone. Mark is an experienced professional who brought an added edge to the band's performance.
Steve Chandler decided to leave the band at the end of April 2000 in order to concentrate on his business interests.
May 2000 - the band have just recorded some tracks for the new album, including single "In The Valley" to be released later in the year.. Legendary drummer Greg Haver has joined us again for the album and he will also be playing a couple of live gigs with us.
The band performs at Pontardawe Arts Centre and does more live sessions for BBC Radio Wales on "Owen Money's Radio Show".
First festival performance outside of Wales at Middlewich Folk & Boat Festival June 2000.
September 2000 - pre release copies of new Welsh single "Yn Y Cymoedd" are very well received by Welsh Radio Stations. Dafydd Du becomes the first DJ to play the single.
October 2000 - "Yn Y Cymoedd" released and played on every station in Wales broadcasting Welsh language music.
"In The Valley" also receives a good response from selected stations outside of Wales.
November 2000 - Band performs on S4C's "Heno" programme. New single recorded for pre-Christmas release in collaboration with Clive Harpwood, the legendary singer from the fabled "Edward H. Dafis".The single will be launched at Clwb Y Bont, Pontypridd.
January 2001 - Frank Connor-Hughes joins the band as permanent drummer, and we take to rehearsing in his garage!! We play support to the Strymdingars and the audience response lets us know we are on the right track...
Summer 2001 - Brilliant gig as part of Parti Ponty - thanks to Menter Iaith and BBC Radio Cymru. We are set to play Sesiwn Fawr Dolgellau for the first time and the studio is booked to finish the new album.
The album was finished and the band agreed a record deal with Welsh label Sain. Our first album with them "Natur Bywyd" was released in November 2001 and entered the Welsh language chart at number 18. It received an excellent response from Welsh language radio stations, especially BBC Radio Cymru being played regularly on all shows. Jonsi and Dafydd Du have been particularly kind.
2002 - Highlight was definately Sesiwn Fawr Dolgellau but also included the Christmas Special of Noson Lawen. It also saw more personnel changes. Steve Jones left due to family reasons. Paul Williams joined as bass player for Sesiwn Fawr - learning the whole set in 2 weeks! Frank also left during the summer.The album continued to get lots of airplay but the band was without a drummer for about a year.
2003 - Matt Davies joined as drummer for the Children in Need concert in Cwmaman. The band was gigging again but as Angharad was concentrating on her degree final year we were limited as to how much we could do.
2004 - April starts with a very well received gig at Callaghans in Cardiff. We also play at Clwb y Bont in Pontypridd. The band is asked to play at the Celebration of Celts in New York County but is unable to secure visas in time. We also perform at the National Eisteddfod of Wales for the first time - which is great fun. We continue to write more songs. Angharad passes her degree. Yea.
Helen was featured in the BBC3 "End of Story" series 7/11/04. She came second in a writing competition entered by many thousands.
Dragonfall were 'Band Of The Week' on Valleys Radio's 'Evening Sessions' from 29/11/04 onward. The band were interviewed live and tracks were played. Frequency: 999 and 1116 AM. Somewhere between 18:00 - 21:00 each night.
2005 - Played all over the place. Highlights included Cwlwm Celtaid, Cardiff Millenium Centre, Pontardawe Festival, Merthyr Festival.
2006 Dragonfall released their third album to critical acclaim.