ACCOMPLISHED musician Sam Sweeney will be heading to Cardigan’s Theatr Mwldan on Wednesday, May 1 (7.30pm), playing music from his first solo album The Unfinished Violin.

Sweeney signed with Island Records to release his first solo album, The Unfinished Violin last November, an expansion and development of his acclaimed live show, Sam Sweeney’s Fiddle: Made In The Great War, which toured to great acclaim from 2014 to 2017.

The show centred on a fiddle the 19-year-old Sweeney came across in violin maker Roger Claridge’s shop in Oxford, made but not assembled by one Richard S Howard of Harehills, Leeds, in 1915.

Claridge had come by it at auction, in pieces, in an old manila envelope, and put it together and put it on sale.

It’s the instrument Sweeney has used for numerous albums and countless gigs, and in time he set about digging into its history, and uncovered the fateful tale of Richard Howard, a music hall performer called up in 1916 to the Duke of Wellington’s West Riding Regiment to fight and lose his life in the Battle of Messines on June 7, 1917.

Last summer, Sam visited the battlefield.

“They had arranged a Richard Howard walk, and we visited loads of important sites connected with the Battle of Messines. There were about 100 people with us and we ended up at his grave. His granddaughter read a poem, I played the fiddle, and a bugle player played The Last Post,” said Sam.

The tune he played, from Howard’s regiment, was the beautifully mournful The Wellesley, which is also one of the outstanding 16 tracks on The Unfinished Violin.

The Wellesley, with its swelling melodies and stately rhythm was the march Richard Howard himself would have heard as a recruit to the Duke of Wellington's regiment.

“Playing that over Richard Howard’s grave was incredibly emotional,” says Sam.. “It’s amazing to be a part of this instrument’s life."

Following Sam’s appearance on Radio Four, to talk about Made In The Great War, Island Records subsequently invited Sam to create an album of the kind of music Richard Howard’s violin would have played had it been assembled at the time of its making.

“I said, give me a few days to think about it, because I really didn’t want to create a jingoistic, patriotic album,” he says, “but after some research, it was very clear that there would be loads of great tunes, and great stories.”

He is very much looking forward to sharing these on the tour.

Sam, a veteran of the mighty Bellowhead’s domination of British folk for 10 years, Artistic Director of the National Youth Folk Ensemble, founder member of the acclaimed instrumental trio Leveret, and a superb instrumentalist at the forefront of the revival in English traditional music.

He was also part of the acclaimed Full English project and won the 2015 BBC Radio 2 Folk Award for Musician of the Year.

“No jingoistic, flag-waving Last Night Of The Proms triumphalism here…this is sensitive, fragile, emotive and extremely beautiful. An impressive work,” says Froots.

“Sweeney’s playing is unearthly at times: the singular focus of this set and the level of its performance makes this an outstanding and deeply moving experience,” writes Soglines, while RNR adds: “‘One hell of an album from one hell of a fiddler.”

Tickets for Sam Sweeney are £16 (£15), and are available now from Theatr Mwldan’s box office on 01239 621200, online at or via the MWLDAN app.