Local Heros

Toni Schiavone


He's the reason for many of today's Welsh music stars becoming fully-fledged musicians. Melys' Rich Eardley meets probably the coolest geography teacher ever.

You're in school, okay? It's Geography time, and you walk into the classroom where the teacher place a tape recorder on the desk and proceeds to play dub reggae. He then jumps onto the desk and starts singing Oh Ma Paloma Blanca. "You might not remember anything I teach you about Geography, but I'm sure you'll remember this" says the teacher. And so they do, as this passage was expertly recalled by Geraint Jones (studio Engineer at Sylem studios - see page 25). The teacher in question is Tony Schiavone.

Within the Welsh music scene, Tony's effect on the people who have come into contact with him is indisputable. Not one to shout it from the rooftops is Tony, but he and a few other documented characters have had a big effect on some of our now famous musicians, and still a regular gig goer and just as excited about Welsh music when I spoke to him.

"I always had a passion for music and when I moved to LLanrwst in the early Eighties, there were all these kids in bands who had no idea how to get gigs or get their songs onto radio. We started doing gigs in the school first, then the community centre, then moving further afield, always with a view to help the different alternative bands (such as Y Cyrff Yr Orsed), bands I felt were being ignored. We put the smaller bands on to support the more established bands (a theme which runs to this day) all organised through Cymdeithas Yr Iaith Gymraeg, the Welsh language pressure group.Through people we knew in the more willing Welsh language media, these bands got airplay and TV coverage."

Gorky's, FFa Coffi Pawb, Y Cyrff, Melys and more recently bands like Metamorffic, have all benefitted from a guilding hand and also being pushed to help themselves with hard work - the indie ethic.

Add to this, the rock workshops where established musicians are asked to help inspire and advise younger people on how to start out and you can see how the same ideas from 20 years ago are being passed onto a new generation of aspiring Welsh musicians. And when you think that from FFa Coffi Pawb and Y Cyrff came founder members of Super Furry Animals and Catatonia, you realise that the future should always be bright whilst there's people willing to give their time and energy.

So, is he still enjoying music and gigs? "Yes, still getting out and keeping my eye for new bands who maybe have something different to offer." A band he enthuses about at the moment are not from LLanrwst or even North Wales. "Texas Radio Band seem to have something about them, and I feel this should be the year for them." He could just be right too. It wouldn't be the first time for this unsung hero.

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