Chris Knowles

Musical biography......

Chris started out playing electric and acoustic guitars in the late 60's and early 70's- mainly blues, folk and rock music. He went on to explore and play many other instruments including tin whistle, fiddle, shakuhachi, bouzouki, mandolin, low whistle, dulcimer, bowed psaltery, hammered dulcimer, saxophone, and various styles of music including bluegrass, appalachian old-time, and in particular traditional Irish music.
Eventually taking up the Celtic harp in 1986, he decided to concentrate on that as his main instrument, and on Celtic music in particular, with Irish bouzouki as main second instrument. After a couple of years, he started working as a musician full-time, and has done so ever since.

Chris has played solo harp performances including public concerts and recitals, folk clubs, festivals, work with theatre productions, live background music in hotels, restaurants and art exhibitions, and a very large number of private bookings such as weddings, garden parties, corporate events and cruise ships. He was CADW's official minstrel at Caernarfon castle for 9 years, from 1991-1999, and performed for numerous events for CADW at many other castles & historic sites throughout Wales. He also has done session recording & live session work for various studios and artists, and on TV & radio programs. 

He was a founder member of the original line-up of Welsh folk band 'Gwerinos' 1987-89, but left the band to concentrate on his solo and duo work.

In 1988 he formed a duo with an uilleann piper, Allan Moller, and throughout the 1990's they performed at many folk clubs, festivals, arts centres, and other venues all over the UK. At the time they were one of very few acts in the world playing uilleann pipes and Celtic harp together in a duo. Their appearances included many folk club performances, concerts, and live radio features, and they headlined at numerous festivals including Pontardawe International Music Festival Festival (1989 & 1990), Isle of Islay Celtic Festival(1990 & 1991), Glastonbury Celtic Festival (1991), Edinburgh Folk Festival (1991) and Strathearn Festival (1995). They also played privately for H.M. The Queen on her visit to Conwy Castle in 1991.

In the mid-90's Chris and Allan teamed up with traditional Welsh music trio 'Hin Deg' (renowned Welsh singer Heather Jones, fiddle & bouzouki player Mike Lease and fiddle & bodhran player Jane Ridout). This 5-piece Welsh folk band was called 'Hafren', and over a period of 4 years they played concerts, festivals (including Cambridge folk festival 1996, and headlining at Crawley and Aberfeldy folk festivals) and appeared on live radio sessions and several TV programmes for BBC, HTV and S4C. 

Another musical partnership during this time was with acclaimed acoustic guitarist Anthony Griffiths, performing as a harp/guitar duo, and recording together on Anthony's CD "Ysbryd".

In 1998 Chris and Allan formed a trio called 'Howling at Ravens' with excellent jazz multi-instrumentalist Ben Walker, who also played trad. Irish music. Ben played flutes, whistle, uilleann pipes, keyboards, saxophone, synth, percussion and other instruments. Although this band was fairly short-lived (1998-2000), they played some concerts & festivals including Glastonbury Festival (1999), and they recorded a CD 'Lovely Molly', an album that attracted considerable critical acclaim in trad. folk music circles; it was played on radio including Mike Harding's folk programme on BBC Radio2, plus a 1 hour special feature with live interview on Radio Scotland, and various stations thereafter in the USA and Canada. (See album page for some reviews).

Chris was also a member of contemporary folk band 'Roam' for four years (1999-2003); this band featured singer/songwriter/guitarist Colin Rudd, singer Rachael Anne Davies, and Jayne Coyle on viola. When Jayne left the band due to her classical music commitments, she was replaced by Ben Walker on flutes, pipes & fiddle. Roam recorded two CDs, and played many folk clubs and several folk festivals, including Fylde (2001 & 2003) and Saltburn (2002 & 2003).

Since 2004, Chris has performed mainly either solo, or in a duo with Ben Walker, mostly in the UK but also including a short tour of concerts in Canada in 2005. They have recorded several duo albums, both of traditional Celtic music, and also of Ben's songs, which are of a more contemporary folk-jazz style.

Between 2008-2013, Chris played numerous gigs in duo with fiddler Gary Matthewson.

Since 2009, Chris has also played occasional performances with singer/songwriter Catrin O'Neill, as either a duo, or a trio including Mike Lease, and the trio recorded Catrin's album 'Cegin Nain' together in 2009.

Chris also plays fiddle, whistles and sax regularly with the North Wales based Mooncoin ceilidh band, and he often plays informal sessions and gigs of various styles of music (rock/blues/jazz/folk) on sax, low whistle and mandocaster, with local musicians in and around his home area of Barmouth, Gwynedd.
He is also available for live and recording session work.


CV - Timeline of some past performances
CV - list of some past performances