13th October – Open Mic@The Unicorn

After a tremendous start at the new venue in September, the club returns with an open mic session on the evening of Thursday, October 13th. Things will kick off in the Upper Room at the esteemed Pont-y-pool location at around 7.30pm.

The open mic sessions have included both renowned musicians (many of whom have had their tunes or their instrumental veracity exposed on radio/tv/international media) and those just starting out, voicing their thoughts or exploring an avenue.

Come along and do your thing! It’s not just music – we welcome the spoken voice – and it’s not just acoustic – none of us belong to the folk police. We sort of prefer self-penned stuff but wicked, idiosyncratic  interpretations of anything ancient or modern will be appreciated equally.

The Unicorn is a fine venue: good atmosphere, acoustics and the provision of a class PA under the guardianship of Mike and John and their attuned ears.

We ask for a £3 donation from all just to keep the club afloat in terms of booking guest performers.

Shootin’ the Crow

Acoustic session moves to new venue

The Open Hearth Acoustic session – the monthly extravaganza of acoustic-based music (very much ‘based’: the club is certainly not disinclined towards amplification), the spoken word and comedy moves, to The Unicorn in Pontypool, and the pub’s large upstairs room, for the visit of Shootin’ the Crow on Thursday, September 9th.

Shootin’ the Crow present a wide repertoire of toe tapping material, much of it their own, conveyed with an easy, infectious manner. The band’s self-description sums it all up very well: ‘Think Hillbilly meets Country Rock meets Rock n Roll meets Folk .…if we can get away with it we do it….don’t get hung up on genre’s ..pinning a label could kinda hurt ya head’. Skilful musicianship from three guys who draw audiences in to the camaraderie of a band that clearly enjoys what it’s doing.

Despite the venue change, the basics of the session will be maintained: an open mic starting at around 7.30pm with the band on stage at around 9pm; the suggested donation of at least £3; the raffle; etc.

Shootin' the Crow

Change of venue!

The next OH Acoustic session, on Thursday 8th September, featuring the exciting music and not inconsiderable skills of Shootin’ the Crow will NOT be at the Open Hearth but at the Unicorn, just a mile or so down the road on the outskirts of Pont-y-pool. The Unicorn will become the new home of the the sessions.

A fuller story about this change – and a preview of the September session – to follow, but just to say that the change was brought about due to events beyond our control or the control of the Open Hearth staff, who have given us great support throughout the time we have enjoyed their hospitality.

Change to schedule!!!

It’s with regret that we have to announce that the planned appearance of Leif on July 21st will not now take place. The band have given their regretful apologies also – which we appreciate.

Instead, we will move to our usual second Thursday in the month date – so Thursday 14th July – when we will host one of the very popular open mic sessions.

As usual, a kick-off as near to 7.30pm as we can is anticipated.

Our apologies, again, for this change.

Leif: from across the water-21st July


Due to the Folk on the Lawn festival links, we are honoured to host the extremely talented Irish band, Leif,  on July 21st.  The musical tradition from across the water is a long one and seems to produce, time after time, artists with creative sensitivity and musical knowhow.

Leif hail from the southwest of Ireland. As a pairing, Leif is a new project, although individually the band’s two funders – Eoin O’Brien and Conor O’ Sullivan – have performed and recorded with some of the country’s most high profile musicians.

They come to Gwent soon after recording a new album (to be found on iTunes), which was followed by a brief but intensive tour of Russia, playing eight concerts in seven days!

In Eoin’s voice, you will hear sincerity – a total immersion in each song, each phrase. Conor’s dexterity allows accompaniment ranging from the beautifully sparse to the wildly intricate. Blending traditional, contemporary and brand new folk music, Leif really will, as the plaudits claim, ‘leave you captivated by the storied music of songs old and new.’ Samples of their sound can be found at www.eoinandconor.com

Leif will take the stage at around 9.30pm following Leifthe open mic beginning soon after 7.30pm. The usual donation of £3 is requested.

The Artefacts from the Museum

June 9th sees a performance from a man who many who frequent the Open Hearth event would recognise as host, foremost, rather than focus artist. Jon, however, has a history of performing and – perhaps most relevantly – recording stretching over many, many years. From solo work, to bands, to theatre, to mixed media…Jon has been there! With a strong urge to ‘puff the manna to heaven’, his confessional and knotty work has earned, via his recordings, many plaudits across the world.

Here – June 9th – he plays the second chapter of a little tour of sorts, where the he focuses on things written afar, from afar – with the artefacts suggested by a companion and significant other; plus exerts from his new recording, ‘Rope and Rags’.

The night starts at 7.30pm with an open mic. Jon will begin producing the artefacts and relating their history at about 9.30pm. A donation of £3 is requested from all those attending.

‘(One of the) artists who defy acceptance by many, in pursuit of artistic freedom of expression.  These are the mavericks of the music world, who dare to do something different…brave enough to color (sic) outside of the lines.’

‘Bohemian grace’

‘Luminous musicianship’

‘(A) love of genuine emotion and the knotty drama of life’

‘Airdrie’s voice: slow and viscous, it shares a little of Leonard Cohen’s weight, but has its own arched quality, ranging over these songs, rich like a fruity uncle’

‘Plenty to get into your bones’

‘(He) has the Welshman’s facility with the English language’






Blind River Scare at the Open Hearth

The Open Hearth Acoustic night on April 14th, at its canal-side hostelry home in Sebastopol, sees the appearance of the Newport-based singer/songwriter, Tim Manning (AKA Blind River Scare). Blind River Scare take on various forms, but offer – always – a diet of original Americana, alt-country and roots-tinged songs of a bitter-sweet nature.
Promoting releases such as ‘Killing Time’, ‘The Straight and True’ and the latest record, ‘The Point Of No Return’, Tim has ventured out in the good old fashioned style: travelling the length and breadth of the UK, both headlining and supporting touring musicians from across the world. In this fashion, with a focused endeavour and a vast experience, Tim has carved out for himself a distinct niche on the UK music scene.
As one writer has described (In Dancing About Architecture), referring to the songs and the sound, Blind River Scare’s ‘roots anchor [the band] somewhere just the other side of the mid-Atlantic ridge. As they say, east is east and west is west … but when the twain does meet, you get music as great as this.’
The night begins at around 7.30pm with an open mic session. Tim Manning will take the floor at 9.30pm. The usual £3 donation plea applies.


Blind River Scare