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, and in particular traditional Irish music.
Eventually taking up the Celtic harp in 1986, he decided to concentrate on that as his main instrument, with bouzouki as second instrument, and on Celtic music in particular. After a couple of years, he started working as a musician full-time, and has done so ever since.

From the late 80's & throughout the 90's Chris played solo harp performances including public recitals, folk clubs, private bookings, live background music in restaurants and art exhibitions, work with theatre productions, and events for CADW at many castles throughout Wales. He was CADW's official minstrel at Caernarfon castle for 9 years, from 1991- 1999. He also did session recording & live session work for various studios and artists, and on TV & radio programs.
He was also 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.

During this time he also formed a duo with an uilleann piper, the late Allan Moller, and they appeared at many folk clubs, festivals, arts centres, and other venues throughout the UK throughout the 1990's. 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 live radio features, numerous folk club and festival gigs, and they headlined at many 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) and they played privately for H.M. The Queen on her first 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 solo, and also often 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 also 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.


CV - Timeline of some past performances



           The present.....

Chris works as a multi-instrumentalist; his principal instrument is Celtic harp, which he frequently performs solo, but also sometimes in combo with other musicians.
He continues to play regularly in duo with Ben Walker; they play trad. Celtic music featuring harp, uilleann pipes, flutes, whistles, bouzouki, and cittern. Their material is largely Irish, but also features other Celtic music.

Chris plays fiddle, whistles and sax regularly with Mooncoin ceilidh band, and 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.