With, arguably, Wrexham's biggest musical event of the year, Focus Wales 2019, only days away, I will concentrate this week on this extravaganza of music that includes over 200 live performances at venues throughout the town.

The festival, now in its ninth year, was formed to promote Welsh talent, supplemented by the best new acts from across the globe. Although the main acts are mainly form the pop, rock, punk, etc genres of music, there are still plenty of folk, acoustic, roots and crossover performers to see. I have picked out a selection of names for you to look out for, although a comprehensive, full list is available on the festival website. In no special order, the Welsh super group, 9 Bach kicks us off playing at St Giles' Church on Thursday (May 16) at 8.50pm and Aled Rheu, Cardiff singer songwriter, is at Friday Acoustics (May 17) at 9.30pm, which is housed at the Old No.7 Bar. Local singer Andy Hickie will be hosting all three evenings of the festival at The Royal Oak from 3.50pm until late, and African folk duo, Answer Ali and Dave Owen will join him there on Thursday (May 16) at 7.50pm. Continuing, Welsh singer, Bryony Sier, is at the Old No 7 Bar on Saturday (May 18) at 8.10pm and Americana, Roots, Country and Bluegrass band, Darren Eeders & the Slim Picken's strut their stuff in a trio of performances on Thursday (May 16) on Glyndwr TV (4pm), The Royal Oak (8.30pm) and, on Friday (May 17) at St Giles' Church at 8.10pm. The classical crossover artiste, Elin Catrin Parry will be at HWB Cymraeg on Friday (May 17) at 9.30pm and, another young singer, 17-year-old Evie Moran features three times on Thursday (May 16) at Ty Pawb (3.30pm), The Royal Oak (5.10pm) and the Old No, 7 Bar (7.30pm) while local singer songwriter James MacGregor will be at the Royal Oak on Saturday (18) at 5.50pm.

South Wales joins the contributors with the Swansea band, Little Folk at Undegan (The Void) on Saturday (May 18) at 8.40pm. Arguably, the biggest name, from a Welsh perspective, is the recent Wales Folk Award Winner, 2019, Martyn Joseph, who won the award for Best Original Song in the English Language and Martyn, quite rightly, takes pride of place at St Giles' Church on Friday (May 17) at 9pm.Saith Seren is the venue for quite a few Welsh artistes, as you would expect, and among these are the trio, Mountainface, on Saturday (May 18) at 7.20pm and folk and acoustic singer, Tegid Rhys, from the Llyn, on Friday (May 17), at 6.30pm.

It is also nice to see that one of the most respected singers and musicians in Wrexham, Matt Nicholls, is taking part too. Matt, whom I, personally, regard as one of the most talented and nicest guys you could meet, is known for his contributions to the bands, Camera and The Big Beat. But, on this occasion, it is with the Dakota Radio Band that he will be playing a mixture of blues, jazz and rock at The Fat Boar on Friday (May 17) at 8pm. The list goes on so, briefly, look out for Welsh Folk Award Winners, World music's VRi, at HWB Cymraeg on Saturday (May 18) at 4pm and Paint Your Guru (Andy Hickie, Tim Eastwood and ex Family Mahone accordionist, Rusty Mahone) at the Royal Oak on Saturday (May 18) at 8.30pm. Lovers of choral music are catered for by Cor DAW Choir at HWB Cymraeg on Friday (May 17) at 5.30pm, the Glan Aber Singers at HWB Cymraeg on Saturday (May 18) at 6pm and Wrexham One Love Choir at St Giles' Church on Saturday (May 18) at 4.20pm.

Whilst many of the smaller, acoustic venues are free you will need tickets for the bigger bands and venues, and you can obtain these through the very comprehensive festival website.

Finally, a new venue has been added to the list this year, The Nag's Head, Mount Street, Wrexham. As it happens this has been the home of Wrexham Folk and Acoustic Music Club for many years and next Thursday (May 16) happens to be the cub's last night of the current 2018/19 season when they will hold their traditional Singers' Night. The evening usually starts at 8.15pm but, on this special occasion, they will be opening their doors earlier to accommodate the Focus Wales Singers events, so it is a 7pm start. The Focus Wales element may cease at 9pm but the club will carry on until its usual finishing time of 11pm and all Focus Wales fans will, of course be welcome to stay. Resident band Offa will be hosting not only this evening but the following two when Focus Wales will be holding Singing Sessions from 7pm to 9pm on the Friday (May 17) and Saturday (May 18).

Returning to the current live gig scene we have a busy weekend ahead of us.

Tonight (May 10) Soundbox present the Luke Jackson Trio at St Mary's Space, Chester at 8pm and, tomorrow (May 11), Folk at the Hall, Trelawnyd, near Rhyl have the golden voiced Gracie Petrie at 7.30pm. Also, on the same night, the remarkably resilient and seemingly ageless John Finnan takes his trio, Welcomme, Finnan and Chrimes, to St Michael's Church Hall, 1 Gill's Lane, Pensby, Wirral where they are in concert at 7.30pm with all proceeds going to Wirral Fund for Children with Special Needs. Tickets, at £9, are bookable from 0151 342 3410/051 648 7661. Saturday is turning out to be a very charitable night indeed as, over at The Top Monkey (previously The Boar's Head), Northop, the latest Among the People folk night is in aid of good causes and two local bands, Vicar's Son and 9 Blind Ravens will be providing the music with admission payable on the door. The weekend goes out with a bang at The Raven Folk Club, the Bear & Billet, Lower Bridge Street, Chester where Steve Ashley is their guest on Sunday (May 12). Tickets for this one can be booked by phoning either Nick or Chris on 01244 677212/343788.

Next week The Hungry Horse Acoustic, the Whitby Club, Chester Road, Ellesmere Port have one of the best female singers around, Flossie Malavialle as their Thursday (May 16) guest at 8pm. French born, but now based in the North East, she has a stunning voice and admission is payable on the door. That brings us neatly around to the start of Focus Wales, 2019, now the choice is yours!

So, whatever you do and wherever you go, enjoy your music.

By D.C.M.