Monday, December 01, 2008

Live Music at Zac's Place - some discussion....

Since Zac's Place began as, 'Zac's Place - Church in a Pub?' just over ten years ago, great quality live music was an essential part of everything that took place in the four different pubs we used; Over 300 gigs in fact, lost count of the number of artists, five TV programmes with ITV Wales, several other documentaries for TV and radio plus festival stages. Musicians such as Martyn Joseph, Phil James, Rob Ash, Lorraine King, Bill and Rachel Taylor Beales, Julia Harris have all been regulars on gig listings. Guests for TV and festival stages have included Glenn Kaiser, Rick Elias, Mike Peters, Mal Pope, The Electrics, Ben Castle and many others as well. The quirky TrifleSky and innovative Iain Hornal made their mark alongside the metal of Kosher and in more recent months it was great to run the stage and host a fundraiser with The Story's.

Since having our own venue over recent times it's been good to have the occasional gig and this past year we've had guest: Bryn Haworth, Martyn Joseph, Rob Halligan, Julia Harris, Rachel Taylor-Beales and Sir Silence and then just last week After The Fire. Swansea continues to be a frustrating place to put on gigs, especially paying ones. In the main we've managed to make this years gigs work out OK and I want to maintain some sort of momentum into next year.

One option is to introduce a regular monthly gig - something like a Sunday Night Live at Zac's. Charge a little bit on the door cover all the costs and on a busy one might even make a bit towards the charitable work we continue to be involved in among the marginalised.

Ten years on and Zac's Place has moved on - we're a 'Church for Ragamuffins' - but I still passionately believe in the importance of the voice of the artist - as unpredictable and chaotic as it may be sometimes; I still believe in giving artists a platform for their creativity. So my friends - musos, artists, fellow pilgrims - is there any mileage in some regular gigs? Is it something you'd support? Let me know - lets bat it around for a bit........

Cheers and God bless


Monday, November 24, 2008


Well, After The Fire came to Zac's to play their first gig in Swansea since 1981 and what a good night it was! Thanks to all those who came out to support it. Thanks too to Pete, John and the lads for making the journey and we hope it serves as a fitting start to their Autumn tour. It was a bonus getting them an interview and live session on BBC Radio Wales on the Fri night too. Rob Halligan grew in confidence taking the lead vocal role as his first full gig with ATF, and was good to see him again. Zac's is a long way from the venues and stadiums they played in with the likes of Queen and ELO in the 80's, but it was great to hear the songs are still alive and kicking and back on the road again.

Sunday, November 16, 2008



Here's a pre gig preview vid...

Friday, October 31, 2008

After The Fire Tour rehearsal and preview...

Only a few week to go before the After The Fire gig at Zac's - here's a snippet.

Monday, October 20, 2008

......The Persecuted

On a day when I was reading some news stories about the persecution of Christians in Iraq, the tragic shooting of 34 year old Gayle Williams by the Taleban in Kabul, Afghanistan also hit the headlines. Her body was peppered with bullets as she made her way to her office where she volunteered for a charity working among people with disabilities.

Taleban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid told AFP that they killed Ms Williams "because she was working for an organisation which was preaching Christianity in Afghanistan"

At Zac's Place we have an art commission based on the Beatitudes. We shall be adding Gayle's name to the sculpture that was inspired by Jesus words 'Blessed are the persecuted...' It depicts hundreds of faces and hundreds of crosses separated by a river of blood and barbed wire, symbolizing those imprisoned and martyred for the Faith in recent years.

For those choosing to work in hostile environments takes courage born of faith and their stories should not just remain a story, but a challenge. It will never cease to amaze me just how threatening a life lived in love can be...

My prayers are for Gayles colleagues and family - for her, I am sure she is now indeed Blessed.

Sunday, October 12, 2008


Here's a snap of our latest piece of artwork at Zac's Place - a ace stained glass window based around the God's Squad colours, (Zac's serves as the European HQ for the club and a base for our activity in South Wales).

It sits nicely above the main doors alongside a previous piece based around the Zac's Place logo, (something of beauty made from all the left over bits...). Both windows have been made by great friend Lloyd Evans.

Friday, October 10, 2008

AFTER THE FIRE - News Release

Originally well known back in the 70s and 80s, the last time After The Fire played in Swansea was in 1982. After a bit of a layoff since their monster hit 'Der Kommissar' in 1983, After The Fire (aka ATF) are now back and return to play Zac¹s Place on Saturday 22nd November for what promises to be a great show. Over the last 18 months, ATF have been enjoying their busiest period since 1982, when they toured the world with rock icons Queen, ELO and Van Halen.

Since 2004 both their early, self-financed cult LP 'Signs of Change' has finally appeared on CD, as has the full collection of CBS recordings, re-released by Sony on a double CD set. The band's energetic live set came out on both DVD and CD and a suite of material recorded back in 1982 was released on Angel Air Records.

During 2005 ATF returned to the studio to re-record their former top 40 UK hit, 'One Rule For You', re-titled 'One Rule (For Trade Justice)'. In conjunction with Christian Aid, the band immersed themselves in MAKEPOVERTYHISTORY campaigns and events.

Now loyal supporters are introducing their offspring to ATF's positive, high energy music! The band have re-invented their live approach with a well crafted, semi-acoustic sound. ATF's website and continue to help build their following with a new generation of fans.

Tickets are available from the ATF website or at Zac's Place.

Friday, September 26, 2008


Tickets are now available online for the ATF Gig on 22 Nov via the ATF website.

Friday, September 19, 2008


Sean will be bring a flavour of Zac's Place to the folk of Woodley Baptist Church in Reading on Sun 21 Sep.

He'll be joined by Musician Phil James for an evening of reflections, music and banter that will hopefully encourage and challenge.....

Kick off 6.30pm....directions on the WBC site.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

News Feature in Evening Post

Just to for here's the link to the news feature in Swansea Evening Post (9 Sep, 2008)

10 years of Zac's Place!!



Sunday, August 17, 2008

Ribbons of Grace - Olympic Reflections...

Recorded some years ago with HTV Wales, thought it's worth re-airing as it carries some Olympic themes.....

Saturday, August 16, 2008

On The Road, Goodbyes......

Apologies for the lack of updates on the blog recently. The past six weeks or so have seen a lot of time on the road which have included brief visits to Ireland, Ukraine and Holland as well as a couple of thousand miles within the UK. Holland was a crazy ride of 1050 miles round trip laving Swansea 5am Saturday morning and being back home by 9pm the Sun evening! On such a public forum as this I can't detail the nature of the trips but suffice to say it's all been very productive.

Recent months have also been sad with five funerals of people connected with me - tragedy close at hand is a constant reminder to keep things in perspective, travel safely and appreciate the love of those around you always.

The recent gigs at Zac's with Rachel Taylor Beales with Sir Silence, Julia Harris and Rob Halligan went well despite struggling a little for numbers - Quite superb performances with some very intimate moments. Is good to see numerous of our regular artists on the bill for the Tenby Folk Festival next weekend - Rachel, Julia, Phil James, Martyn Joseph and more recently The Story's. Well worth a visit to Tenby if you can get a ticket.

At Zac's we have a quiter two weeks to give me a breather, so no Tribal Gathering and Coffee Bar until the first week in September now. We also say goodbye to Aussie Glenn as he returns with his family. They came for a year, two and half years ago, (connected originally through God's Squad) and have made a huge contribution to the very core of what goes on at Zac's. I am really going to miss having them around and thanks God for them. Glenn and Ros on right of pic below after a gig at Zac's with Sammy Horner, also pictured.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Rachel Taylor-Beales Gig - Live Video

Here's a clip from Rachel's recent gig at Zac's.

Audio recording by our man at the desk Paul and video by Bill...enjoy...

You can check out several other tracks HERE

Friday, July 04, 2008

GIG Update - Rachel Taylor- Beales

SAT 12 JULY at Zac's Place

Rachel will be performing songs from her new release 'Red Tree', (produced by Martyn Joseph), and her previous album 'Brilliant Blue'

Profits from this event will go towards our work amongst those on the margins of society.


Thursday, July 03, 2008

Big Issue Cymru Feature - Homeless Deaths

Zac's Place work among the homeless and street community of Swansea features in this weeks edition of The Big Issue Cymru. It is as part of a story covering the recent deaths of several from the street community - (see the previous post; also related we finally get have the funeral of Julie next Wednesday.)

Friday, June 06, 2008

Remembering Julie

One week ago Julie was found slumped at the top of a stair case just off the High Street in Swansea City centre. This wasn't in itself unordinary; Julie has been sleeping rough for many years and her life was coloured by deep tragedy and resulting addictions continued the struggle, so sleeping in a corner on a public footpath was part of daily life. Except this time she had slipped into unconsciousness and died. Her body was discovered at about the time she would have been at Zac's Place on a normal Thurs night, where along with many others she came for soup and friendship. Julie was also a regular for Breakfast on the weekday mornings at Zac's and in recent month's she had also enjoyed and actively took part in our Tuesday Tribal Gathering, (Bible Study, discussion etc). She felt accepted, taken seriously and 'at home'. it was also a place where many experienced her tender touches of kindness and thoughtfulness. On the one hand a raging, angry soul but it was easy to see why she was considered to be like the street community's 'den mother'.

A few weeks ago Glenn bathed her feet during the Tribal Gathering, (not necessarily a pleasant task I can assure you), and having been angry and disruptive moments before, she started to sing the old Sunday School song, 'Yes Jesus Loves Me...'. Indeed He did. Last night and one week on from her death, after our Thurs eve Coffee Bar our regulars and others from the street community and welfare workers walked to where she had died and placed flowers, tributes and candles. To some, Julie was a homeless addict, to others a statistic - to those of us last night, Julie was someone who mattered and will be missed.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Rachel Taylor-Beales Gig Date Announced

We are pleased to be able to write that Rachel will be playing Zac's Place on Saturday 12 July. This date along with others follows the release of her second album, 'Red Tree'.

....When Rachel Taylor-Beales released her first album, it was met with great appreciation from those who heard it. BBC Radio 2’s Bob Harris called Brilliant Blue "lovely" and Acoustic Magazine said it was "hauntingly beautiful". That album, the first in her colour trilogy, is now to be followed up by Red Tree. Released on 21st May 2008, Red Tree was recorded, produced by and features Martyn Joseph. The album blends folk, country and Americana in a bewitching, otherworldly fashion. It’s an album of great drama inspired by the music she heard as a child (Tori Amos, Joni Mitchell), her modern day fixations (Iron And Wine, Ani DiFranco) and by The Red Tree, an illustrated children’s book by Shaun Tan. Much like the book, the album reflects the fear and wonder of childhood. It’s haunting, sometimes eerie, vivid and often beautiful.

Thursday, May 01, 2008


We are pleased to be able to confirm another line up of great acoustic music at Zac's Place with the visit of Julia Harris and Rob Halligan on 13, June. Check out the links to their myspace pages. More info further dates available soon. Tickets will be priced at £5.

Here's a clip of Julia from her set at our fundraiser in April 2007...

Friday, April 18, 2008

ITV Interview Archive - From 2006

With some recent media profile provoking a bit of interest, (also featured in present issue of Christianity Magazine), I thought it might be good to make available this 2006 clip from ITV of an interview I did - some reminders of where a few things began and some early shots inside the current venue and the first two commissioned art pieces....also features Rowan Williams, Rick Elias, Stewart Henderson & Ben Castle in the second clip.



Monday, April 14, 2008

Surprise Award

After a hectic two weeks on the road, covering in the region of 3,000 miles and including the previously mentioned memorial run - plus ministry at Spring Harvest in Skegness, then onto Holland to take a wedding, (also took the family) and a return to Reading to take Tim's funeral in there, compounded into a period of mixed emotions indeed. As usual on my return, there was a heap of messages to catch up on including several from Swansea Bay Radio. Turns out, they were running a series of community awards and I'd been nominated and won the 'Good Samaritan' catagory and the presentation was only two days away! Not being used to this kind of thing, it came as a complete surprise and I'm very grateful and pleased for all associated with Zac's - particularly those who volunteer time to work among the homeless community through our ventures.

So suitably suited and booted we went along to a Hotel for an evening of presentations from the great and the good hosted by Swansea Bay Radio. Local celebs and noteables handed out the awards in the 12 catagories, The Storys and Helen Enser Morgan performed and Mike Doyle did a fine job of mc-ing. The lasting image in my mind though was of young ten year old Georgia who, after having collected her award for 'carer of the year', (for looking after her mum who suffers with crippling arthritis), shyly snaked her way back through the tables to her seat, whilst all eyes had now turned to the stage where the Diamond Girlz were shaking their bits and bobs under the spot light. For a fleeting moment Georgia held the limelight, but now clutching the glass award, a much brighter light burned deep within her and those who love her as the stage lights pointed elsewhere. I'll post a few pics from the evening later, but for now here's one with the most famous person I had the pleasure of meeting last Thurs evening, Georgia.

In the meantime my deepest gratitude to Lor and Steve for the nomination.

Monday, March 31, 2008


Easter should be a sacred time for followers of Jesus. No doubt about it what so ever. Too often though, as with Christmas, I have often struggled to find those genuine sacred moments amid an increasingly commercial emphasis.

This past Easter was different though, in a bit of an unexpected way. Just 25 miles up the road from Swansea, where we live, is the community of Bridgend. Bridgend has hit the headlines in recent weeks for all the wrong reasons. A seemingly in explicable high number of teen suicides over recent months have brought damming headlines such as ‘suicide city’ which have hardly been helpful in a place that is trying to cope with immense tragedy.

On Good Friday as God’s Squad members in South Wales, we hosted a memorial run (ride) to Zac’s Place for a memorial service to remember biking mates in the area that we have collectively lost. About 70 turned up from a numerous local clubs to share in some moments of quiet reflection and remembrance. Hospitality was shared and many of our guests appreciated the artworks on display too. But, here’s the twist, as an additional act, the ride then continued to Bridgend; To a popular kids hangout and near the site of the skate park in the town centre. The purpose was simply to provide a symbolic symbol of solidarity with a community of people that is hurting. As many of our biking mates rode in memory of lost loved ones, they also remembered others, as we placed a brightly coloured wreath and personal notes signed by many of the run participants. Many taking part have their own kids - many of them teenagers. This was closer to home than we thought.

It was a precious moment - many of our mates wouldn’t necessarily share our faith, the sight of all of us riding up the M4 doesn’t initially seem like a sacred act in progress! But it was, somehow it just was. There was a connection going on between people and with God; questions and human frailty were all reference points. Friday was indeed Good.
Sunday, resurrection day, was equally moving. A three hundred mile, last minute, round trip to Reading to visit a friend in the very late stages of cancer. Of all days, the day we celebrate an empty tomb, I struggle to find words of hope and comfort but I do my best. I take his hand and kiss his forehead, praying that God’s peace would be real amid the turmoil. As I walk from the ward and look over my shoulder, he raises a cup of medication, as if to say ‘cheers’........
........I got home that night and kissed each of the four children as they slept and was grateful to have a wife that I love and a God that understands such mystery when my answers have long since dried up.
Tues, 25 March, 2008

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Bryn Haworth Track Added on MySpace Page...and other updates.

As expected the recent Martyn Joseph Gig at Zac's Place went brilliantly. Alternative format in the second half giving opportunity for questions proved a worthwhile exercise with a whole range of questions from the deep to the trivial, moving to the amusing. His 'storyteller' song was 'Carried In Sunlight' which he performed and then movingly explained the song line by line as he recounted much of his Grandfathers life and influence on him and his struggle and death from Alzheimer's. Numerous folk at the show commented on, despite seeing MJ on many occasions, they thought this performance was the best they'd heard - high praise indeed. Thanks to all who supported the gig and to MJ for choosing to use Zac's as his preferred venue in this area.

Continuing on the theme of live Zac's gigs, I have uploaded a short instrumental track recorded live at Zac's from Bryn Haworth on our MySpace page. It's a beautiful rendition of 'Were You There..' and a dobro masterclass for any guitarist. Quite superb.

Also did a radio spot for Swansea Bay Radio on Helen Enser Morgan's Show in recent weeks - pic below of muggin's and Helen meeting 'Doris' - one of our Beatitudes art exhibits. (Although Doris didn't say alot on the interview..)

Next couple of weeks sees me return to Spring Harvest to work on the Pastoral Team and then onto Holland to take a wedding. Some of which either some or all of the family join me. This is all after (Good) Friday's Bikers Memorial Run via Zac's which God's Squad is running and then onto Bridgend to show support for the community there.

May the challenge and eternal hopes of the Easter message be real in these coming days to each of us.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Live Music

It's been great to have some gigs to be involved in over recent weeks. Whilst we're not in a position at the moment to put on the weekly events in a pub, I really miss it. Two weeks ago I was asked to host and run the stage for a charity fundraiser gig at the Princess Royal Theatre in Port Talbot - in aid of CISS (Cancer Information & support Services). It was a very emotional night for all concerned. Last year I took the funeral of Matthew Davies, a young man, whose parents I know. Matthew died of pneumonia whilst battling leukemia. During his period of illness he dreamed of being fit enough to raise funds to help those who had cared or him - he actually wanted to bounce a basket ball from his home near Port Talbot to Cardiff. Sadly he never got the opportunity. In his memory, his parents organised a live music event pulling in a host of local musos including Mal Pope, Lorraine King, Helen Ensa Morgan, Phil James, Rob Ash, Luke Morgan, Andrew Meehan and headlined by The Storys. What followed was a great night of excellent live music infront of about 350 people and raising over $4000.

Two days later we hosted Bryn Haworth at Zac's Place. Bryn gave a master class in guitar playing in what was a virtual sell out gig. My personal fave moment was the Dobro instrumental of 'Were you there when they crucified my Lord....' - quite sensational. To see such an accomplished artist at work is indeed a priviledge. Great to have Paul P at the desk too for the occasion. Thanks to all who supported the event and also to Linden Church for help in promo. Bryn's Site Here

From host, stage manager and promoter it was great last weekend to get to a gig as a fan. To celebrate our 16th wedding anniversary last weekend, Jayne and I went to see Mike Peters at the Point in Cardiff. Jayne's always loved The Alarm - infact our kitchen noticeboard has a pic of Jayne and Mike from a Zac's gig years ago when they were both on the same bill! Mike did a great 2 hour acoustic set proving that the revolution can still be led by an loaded six string acoustic guitar.

More ace music coming up this Friday at Zac's as Martyn Joseph returns. This time it's part of his UK spring tour - his most recent visit was guesting with John Smith back in September. Always a pleasure, always a journey of contrasts. Some tickets still available by the way....£14 07971 218644

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

LARRY NORMAN - A Great American...

After a long struggle with poor health, the voice crying in the wilderness that was Larry Norman died on Sunday in America. May the legacy of his songs live on in the countless performers around the world who recognized his song writing talents and continue to perform these masterpieces. Rest in Peace, Larry.



Sunday, February 24, 2008

Which Piece Are You....

Made from the broken bits, the cast offs and misfits - our new window.....

Yes I know it's back to front - that's because I shot it from the inside using the natural light outside...

Friday, February 22, 2008

Windows and Gigs....

A whole heap of stuff has been happening, which means I haven't had a great deal of time to jot any notes down recently.

Great mate and stained glass artist Lloyd, has done the first of two windows to go over the main doors of the venue - this first one is based on the Zac's logo and made of a myriad of colours and shapes - and all from his scraps bin - true Zac's style, made something very beautiful out of the broken bits and leftovers.....Pics to follow....

A lot happening on the music front. I hosted a charity fundraiser gig last night at the Princess Royal Theatre in Port Talbot. It was organised by the family of a lad who's funeral I took last year and was in aid of the cancer care at Singleton Hospital in Swansea. The Storys headlined the gig which also featured a whole heap of top quality local artists, several of which are our regulars. A real great night with some very special moments and it all probably raised in excess of £5000. A wonderful tribute.

Tickets are going well for the Bryn Haworth Gig tomorrow and there's Martyn Joseph on 7 March which I'm looking forward to. Also got a radio interview with Helen Ensa Morgan for Swansea Bay next week sometime.... amid all this, usual chaos continues....

Saturday, February 09, 2008


Fri 7 March sees Martyn Joseph return to Zac's Place as part of his UK Spring tour. His gig at Zac's is one of a few selected as a one that will feature special Q & A opportunity in the second set.

Great to read his 'Vegas' album review in MOJO this week and giving it a four star rating.

Colin Irwin writes.....

Britain's best-kept secret goes on the attack

Welsh singer-songwriter Martyn Joseph is one of Britain's most underrated talents. He had a hit 25 years ago with a song about dolphins and seems to have been filed under "wet" ever since. In reality, he's a challenging songwriter and a compelling courageous live performer. This forthright album - cleverly balancing a menacingly Spartan production with angry vocals, broody electric guitar and stirring narrative songs - demands reclassification. Strange characters weave in and out of its colourful human scenarios. The title track is the story of a lonesome cab driver, while The Fading of Light is a modern Desolation Row and Nobody Loves You Any more a coldly fierce epitaph to a shamed leader - just fill in your own name. But it's the musical spaces Joseph daringly inserts which make the difference, giving the album its brooding tension and intensity.

Tickets for the gig are available from Zac's Place, 07971 218644 or the tour office 01524 414043 Price £14
More info available from MJ site HERE

Tuesday, January 08, 2008


Yup, Bryn Haworth play's Zac's on 23 Feb!

Check his MySpace page out to have a listen and read his biog.

Tickets are available in person at Zac's Place (07971 218644) or from Linden Church 01792 403777.