Velvet Coalmine, the multi-arts festival which took place across Blackwood, south Wales, from 1 – 6 September 2015, has closed for its second year, with legendary American band Meat Puppets playing to a packed-out Blackwood Miners’ Institute crowd.

Meat Puppets, famed for influencing Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain and appearing on the multi-million selling album Nirvana Unplugged, played their first ever show in Wales and headlined the final night of The Carling Stage at Blackwood’s largest venue. Other headliners including Dub War (Friday, returning after a 20 year hiatus) and fast-rising punk duo Slaves (Saturday) attracted audiences from across Wales and beyond, with local bands Henry’s Funeral Shoe, The Noses, Fjords, Sick Livers and Dead Shed Jokers joining the main stage billing.

Scores of emerging and more established artists from all genres including Cardiff’s Houdini Dax and BBC’s The Voice star Ragsy, played on stages at venues in the town for free live music.

Across six days, Velvet Coalmine also hosted a children’s literature festival, poetry sessions, debates, inspiring panels (featuring Don Letts, Viv Albertine and Simon Price) and an event to mark the 30th Anniversary of the Miners’ Strike featuring Patrick Jones, Roy Noble and the Markham Brass Band.

Nicky Wire of the Manic Street Preachers collaborated with BAFTA award-winning Director Kieran Evans to curate the film arm of the festival, with screenings of classic films including Taxi Driver, Butch Cassidy and Birdy at new Blackwood venue The Black Sheep.

Last month it was also announced that the Velvet Coalmine legacy would continue in the town year-round thanks to Charity partner The Joe Strummer Foundation alongside UK Music for the opening of a rehearsal studio in Blackwood to help allow the next generation of bands to develop.

Iain Richards, Festival Director said

“Following last year’s successful pilot, Velvet Coalmine has really grown this year into an arts festival with huge potential that Blackwood can be proud of. We’ve welcomed international musicians, poets, painters, authors and a music legend or two to be part of Coalmine, and the response has been tremendous. Even just looking at the incredible reaction of hundreds of people each night watching the main stage acts and the involvement of high profile figures such as Nicky Wire and Kieran Evans, it really confirms for me the importance of this festival.”

“Thank you to everyone who bought a ticket and to those who travelled in for events.  We look forward to 2016 when Velvet Coalmine returns, and I’m already inundated with requests, ideas and offers from people inside and outside of Blackwood.”

Partners and sponsors included The Joe Strummer Foundation, the Ashley Family Foundation, Community Foundation in Wales, PRS For Music, Carling / Doom Bar, Edwards Coaches and Blackwood Miners’ Institute.


Notes for editors:
For further information on any aspects of the programme, media enquiries and interviews with Iain Richards, please contact

Velvet Coalmine, some key highlights:
◦ The first ever Wales gig by legendary American band Meat Puppets, famed for their influence on Kurt Cobain and Nirvana.
◦ Manic Street Preachers bassist/lyricist and Blackwood native Nicky Wire curate the Velvet Coalmine Film Festival with BAFTA Award winning director Kieran Evans.
◦ Fast-rising duo Slaves headline the Saturday main stage.
◦ Newport legends Dub War play only their second show in Wales in 18 years

◦ Literature Festival curated by award-winning Welsh writer Rachel Trezise.
◦ Children’s literature festival.
◦ Poetry stage featuring Costa prize-winning local poet Jonathan Edwards, local poet/playwright Patrick Jones and award-winning performance poet Clare e. Potter
◦ Opening night of the festival dedicated to the 30th anniversary of the miners’ strike with Roy Noble as speaker, a brass band, guest speakers and all proceeds to the National mining Memorial in Senghenydd.

Velvet Coalmine allows local artists to perform alongside more established stars and encourages expression and creativity for all ages across a variety of art-forms.

The Carling Stage at Blackwood Miners’ Institute:

Friday September 4:
 Dub War / The Voyeurs / Gwenno
Saturday September 5:
 Slaves / Henry’s Funeral Shoe / Sick Livers / Dead Shed Jokers with DJ Don Letts
Sunday September 6: 
Meat Puppets (first ever Welsh show) / The Noses / Fjords