Aye Aye Captain: SummerTyne Americana Festival Day 2!

Hello!

I thought I’d bring you another quick update from the Americana Festival at The Sage Gateshead. I’ve just snuck out as Jim Lauderdale is finishing his set at Sage 2. What a magnificent Songwriter he is and he commands the room perfectly. He’s going to be hosting a writers round at 10.45pm. My day started off on a boat… Yes, it was a really unique experience which saw us set sail at 10.30am down the Tyne whilst Ashley Campbell and her band entertained us for the first half an hour followed by Massy Ferguson for half an hour, we then had around a half hour break as we reached the mouth of the river and turned around before Ashley began a second set and then Massy brought the cruise to a close. There were a few technical hitches to begin with but the team from The Sage along with crew on the boat were quick to solve the problem.

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For anyone who saw Ashley last night her set was fairly similar, but I thoroughly enjoyed it and there’s a number of songs that are fast becoming my favourites. For example I’ve always thought Remembering was a beautiful song and it will always be one of my favourites but Good For You has become my favourite after this weekend. Lyrically the song is so well written, it definitely has that Nashville style of writing where everything leads up to that pay off line. Her version of The Highwayman which is being released on Thursday is great too and I really look forward to hearing the studio version next week. Ashley and her band found themselves taking it in turns to steer the boat as we reached the mouth of the river and her brother Shannon turned the boat around. Not just talented musicians it seems! I heard many people say how they could have listened to Massy Ferguson all day as well and I would agree. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience!

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I made a quick dash from where the boat had docked up to the Sage where Danni Nicholls followed by Angaleena Presley were soon to take to the stage. I’d not heard of Danni before but she was good, had some good lyrics in her songs and nice clean vocals, there was almost a soulful edge to it. She engaged with the audience and had them singing along and had them laughing which actually there’s been a lot of humour this weekend from the artists but that was nothing compared to the fits of laughter Angaleena Presley had us in throughout her set. Of course she’s known for her witty lyrics, she’s often very outspoken about the music industry, particularly Country radio and the lack of female artists in rotation but I found her set refreshing and inspiring. She was completely herself, honest and funny and when she talked about her songs and the stories behind them there was a real mix of emotions and I find the whole “women in country music and country radio” topic fascinating and infuriating at the same time. If you know me, you’ll know that I wrote my dissertation for Uni on Controversy in Country music and this was a topic I discussed within that and to hear Angaleena’s comments a year on from me writing that was very interesting to me and like I said it’s inspiring that we have people like Angaleena in Country music who aren’t afraid to speak out and do it in the best way possible… through their music!

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Getting back on topic! Her set was filled with songs of her own, some off her new record like Wrangled and Dreams Don’t Come True which is one of my favourites along with Bless My Heart, and some Pistol Annies numbers like Lemon Drop which she sung to close the show. She spent quite a long time after her set talking to fans, taking photos and signing their merchandise. She’ll be back at the sage in October for the CMA Songwriters Series which is going to be a fantastic evening especially in this venue, the acoustic’s are amazing! Anyway only one more day left of this fantastic festival!

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Thanks

Zoe

Legend’s Children: Day 1 at SummerTyne Americana Festival!

Hello!

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Well this weekend there is so much going on, I was torn between three festivals all with a great line up of Country and Americana, can you believe that? Anyway I headed to Gateshead, for the SummerTyne Americana Festival. I had heard a lot about it in previous years but had not yet had the pleasure of checking it out myself. I’ve just returned from day 1 though and boy am I glad I chose to come here! The line up is fantastic, so good that it’s hard to decide which shows to go to and though Americana is in the title, there’s really something for everyone; Country, Blues, Soul. I arrived around 1pm and though the sun hadn’t yet made an appearance the Jumpin’ Hot stage just outside the sage had attracted a large crowd and with good reason. The musicianship was good, there was a lot of talent on stage. All the acts in that location today were new to me. The vibe was great though throughout the day. There was a lovely drinks reception in which Sam Outlaw performed and Tamsin the programmer at the Sage gave a few words. The team there were all incredibly helpful and surprisingly very calm, I thought organising a festival would be stressful but those ladies have got it all together and seem to be enjoying themselves as well which is great to see!

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Before the crowds split off and headed into Sage 1 for The Shires and Sage 2 for Merle Haggard’s Strangers featuring Ben and Noel Haggard, Stax Academy Revue took to the stage on the concourse between the two auditoriums. Never have I seen a more energetic group of people, for a good 45 minutes or so they were all dancing and clapping as they played and sang their hearts out. Everyone there was blown away by the group of youngsters from Tennessee who really got everybody in the mood for a great time, what a wonderful way to really kick off proceedings at the sage, everyone was on their feet, grinning like cheshire cats by the time they got to the end of their set.

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Then, after interviewing her earlier in the day, it was time for Ashley Campbell in Sage 2 to take to the stage. Along with her brother Shannon on guitar, her fiddle player Eli and Dobro player William, Ashley picked up the banjo and began with the humorous song I’d be a better boyfriend than you. I’ve seen Ashley play at C2C Festival in London and I was thoroughly impressed with her Banjo skills, I didn’t however realise at the time what a lovely tone she has to her voice. She continued to demonstrate those great banjo skills though as she played an instrumental which is going to be included on her debut album along with another song she played Good For You which lyrically is very well written. Much to the crowds delight, she played Gentle On My Mind which was beautiful even if the two siblings did make a tiny mistake, the atmosphere was relaxed and they both just looked at each other, laughed and then continued and the crowd didn’t mind one bit. She reduced me to tears when she sang Remembering, a song she wrote for her Dad when she learnt of his illness and a song which is on the soundtrack of the documentary Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me which won a grammy. After tonights performance, I can’t wait for her album to come out, the legend’s daughter is really going to make waves in Country music and may one day become a legend herself.

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Merle Haggards Strangers and his sons Ben and Noel took to the stage not long after. They said they’d been travelling around since their dad passed away just over a year ago paying tribute to him and letting him know that they still loved him. Well that was clear and though the crowd were fairly reserved it was still evident that they still loved the man and his music and were grateful his sons carried it on. Again, it was a relaxed atmosphere and though they had a sheet of paper telling them what songs to play they played what they felt although that was partly down to Noel not being able to see his list of songs! My favourite was either Mama Tried which they performed close to the end of the set or Okie from Muskogee. The brothers took it in turn to take the lead on different songs and Ben in particular was a fantastic guitarist! In both their set and Ashley’s there was a lot of humour, their pedal steel player who had been in the band for 49 years was both funny and phenomenal (I do love a good pedal steel though and he is one of the best out there!) They threw some Folsom Prison Blues in their set and the crowd at various points throughout the show clapped along. When it was time for them to exit the stage the crowd shouted for more and clapped until they returned and for the encore they sang  Sing Me Back Home.

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Tomorrow along with the other stages that have been on today there will be river cruises which sound great and it’s such a unique experience to have someone of Ashley Campbell’s calibre serenading you as you travel up and down the gorgeous river Tyne. I hope the weather stays fine for the people heading off on that tomorrow morning! It’s bound to be a fantastic fun filled weekend! I hope everyone at Blackthorn and Nashville Meets London is having as good a time as I am!

Thanks,

Zoe

Upcoming festivals and Darcy’s New Video!

Hello!

Well there are so many exciting things coming up in the next few weeks. Many of you will be heading down to London this weekend for Nashville Meets London, I hope the weather stays fine for you all but if not I’m sure the line up of artists will brighten your day! Some of you may be up north at Blackthorn Music Festival where there is a Buckle and Boots stage featuring some great UK Country acts such as Darcy, did you all see his new video released this past weekend? If not you can check it out below. Meanwhile I’ll be in Gateshead at the Summertyne Americana Festival which has a fantastic line up once again. The Shires will be there, Ashley Campbell is supporting Merle Haggard’s strangers featuring Ben and Noel Haggard, Angaleena Presley is performing… you get the gist, there’s big names and it’s going to be a big weekend. I had a chat with Tamsin Austen who organises the festival about how it began and where it is heading.

How did you start working in the music industry?

Well I come from a musical family, my parents are musicians and I played the fiddle so I was involved in music from an early age. I started out working as an agent, working with a lot of North American and Canadian Folk acts but through that work I was booking acts into venues all over Europe and I was interested in programming more than being an agent so I moved into a venue in Scotland called The Archers so I was basically booking acts to play under an archway in central station. That was 18 years ago now. Then before The Sage was built I did some consultancy work for them and when it was complete I went for the lead programming post for Contemporary music.

So how did the festival begin?

We started it really quickly after The Sage opened. One of the founding organisations was an organisation called folk works so there were already a long legacy of folk music promotion that had happened within the region. They moved into our building when it opened. There was lots of folk and grass roots promotion going on across the city one of those was called the Jumpin’ Hot Club, they put on Americana, Blues, Country gigs. When our building opened I was pretty well connected with those people in the scene and I started going to America each year to South by Southwest which was a really good melting pot of everything, it gave me a heads up as to what was coming up in the US, 18 months prior to hearing about it in Europe. So we started the festival in 2005, it was originally a ten day festival and it wasn’t just Americana but the last weekend was Americana and Roots and it was really clear that that was the most tangible aspect so the other bits of programming kind of fell away and we focussed on that weekend of Roots and Americana. In the early days we did get some big names like Dwight Yoakam and Kris Kristofferson because we wanted to get big names here and let people know we’re here and we can do this. We have three performance spaces; a big open concourse area that looks over the river, then we have a sort of outside amphitheatre next to the building which my friends at the jumping hot club programme, and we have boats on the river it’s lovely.

You’ve championed a number of Country and Americana acts, can you tell me about some of those acts you’ve worked with, from the start of their career right through to now?

It’s kind of the most fun bit of the job finding new baby acts and having a festival like Summertyne is great actually to platform new and emerging acts that nobody’s heard of particularly with the free stages. It offers people a first show and a lot of acts we’ve done that like The Shires, Yola Carter, Ward Thomas, have played the smaller stages and built up a following here and we’ve brought them back when they’re touring. For example Nikki Lane played a few weeks ago on the back of her new album, I’ve been trying to get Nikki over for a while and it went really well and we had a chat after the show about her coming back next year so it works both ways. There’s been a few acts like that, Jess and the Bandits and Rhiannon Giddens. The American ones I’ve seen whilst I’ve been over there in a tiny little venue and thought wow these are amazing and it might take two years or maybe more but you keep contact and hope to get them over here in future.

Who’s your favourite artist of all time and which artist are you really looking forward to seeing grow?

I absolutely love Alison Krauss, I’ve been a fan of hers for years, I’ve always loved her voice and her playing and her band’s really tight. I’ve seen her play three times and two of those times were at the sage, they were heavenly nights for me. Programming is really tough, it’s hard work and the satisfaction is when you land one of those gigs that’s on your list of dream gigs to get. Then acts that are coming up, I love Margo Price at the moment and Nikki Lane who I already mentioned. I saw Margo in Nashville a few years ago. She came on with her band and she was just so authentic and like Loretta Lynn. I tried to speak to her after and passed some info onto her manager. Then I found out she’d been recording at third man records and was going down this more alternative route and I’ve been trying to get her here ever since, I’ve been trying so hard! I saw Nikki at the Hard rock Cafe on Broadway we were doing this summertyne event in partnership with the AMA’s. I’m good friends with Raul Malo from the Mavericks so I got him to do a couple of songs, and one of the guys from the AMA said he had this artist and it was Nikki Lane and I’ve followed her ever since.

What’s next for the festival, where would you like to see it go?

The thing with festival programming is that it is really tough especially bringing american acts into the UK in July because they have so many options back in the states during festival season. And getting people across the atlantic when the sterling’s quite weak… I’d certainly like to see the sterling improve, that would be good haha. I think collaboration is the way to go, what’s fantastic with the Country and Americana scene at the moment is that it’s seeing a boom. There’s more festivals now and we all talk to one another so we can say who we’d really like and help each other out and come up with a good offer to get them over. We’re also working hard together to support Uk acts, the work the AMA is doing is great and because it’s not a particularly mainstream genre we do need to work together to help it grow and make as many opportunities for people to play as possible. But you know it’s a really great atmosphere and I want to develop the reputation of the festival amongst artists because they’ll go back and tell their friends it’s a great festival, I got treated well there and then they’ll want to come and play it next year.

So if you haven’t yet got tickets to this fabulous festival then make sure to head over to the website. There’s also some fantastic free shows going on across the three days and if you’re down south and can’t make it then you have the option of Nashville Meets London which is all free and again has some fantastic acts playing so plan your weekend. There’s so much going on in Country music at the moment! And as promised here is a link to Darcy’s new video for his song Hooked. This lad is going all the way in the UK and beyond so if you can, make sure you catch one of his upcoming shows.

Thanks

Zoe

Buckle and Boots… What a weekend!

“I followed my heart and it led me to good friends, good music and good beer” – Country Rebel

Hello!

This past weekend was insane, Country fans are honestly the best fans and they sure know how to have a good time! The weather was a little hit and miss but we did get some sun and the rest of the time people’s smiles lit up Whitebottom Farm. I’m sure everyone agrees that Karl, Jan and Laura did a fantastic job once again along with the guys at W21. The artists were top quality and there was something for everyone and from all over the World. Now some of you may have seen me working for Chris country, running round with the sign, taking photos and doing a few interviews so though I saw almost every artist unfortunately I didn’t catch anyones full set! But I thought I’d bring you a quick review of what I did see and the stand out acts for me!

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Friday started off quite nicely, the weather mostly stayed dry (Bear with me, I know this blog so far just sounds like a weather forecast but I just got in and I am soaked to the bone today haha!) And for me it began with me catching up with some old friends, some of whom I met last year including the guys at Caarma Curries who worked so hard this year to bring you breakfast early on and then jumped on their other stall and stayed serving you there late into the night, they also charged peoples phones (mine included) and sheltered people when the rain came down! Then at around 7pm the music began and opening the show was Kris Barras, I was very new to his music so I was really looking forward to his set and I certainly enjoyed it and so did the crowd, it was a great way to kick off the weekend’s festivities. Kris was followed by Outlander who I first discovered at the festival last year, this young band has so much energy in them and they come alive when they are on stage. Jenn Bostic came on just after 9pm, of course I’ve heard Jenn before but I’ve never had the chance to really listen to her songwriting and appreciate how good she is lyrically and Jenn made a few appearances throughout the weekend and by the end of the festival I was hooked, I’m now a huge fan! Two songs in particular grabbed my attention, Jealous of the Angels and Not Yet.

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After Jenn, the artist I was most excited for took to the stage, Sonia Leigh. Whilst I’d been chatting to people earlier in the day, many had told me they first heard Sonia at last years festival and had returned just to see her again! On stage with her and the band was Katy Hurt, one of the UK’s rising stars (I say that, I think she’s already risen to the top and can be crowned Queen of the scene! She’s fantastic and very hard working) Anyway back on topic, the highlight for me was either Sonia’s new song Jack is Back or her duet with Katy of Sweet Annie which Sonia wrote and the Zac Brown Band took to number 1 on the Country Airplay charts in 2013. It seemed to go down very well with the crowd too and the fact it started to rain didn’t bother them at all they were having too much fun. To close the evening The Southern Companion took to the stage, what a guy! I’m only sorry I didn’t manage to catch up with him this year because he’s lovely and very humble, I mean the talent this guy has and his experience as a musician is exceptional, but he’s a down to earth kinda guy who just seems to enjoy what he does and makes the most of it.

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Saturday began just after 11am on the Paddock Stage, I’d heard that people had partied well into the early hours of the morning but it was nice to see a fairly large crowd gathered in the blue big top tent for TC Country. Again I was unfamiliar with this band but they got the crowd moving and a number of people mentioned how good they were. Tim one of the front men really impressed me with his attitude off stage too, you can tell making music really means something to him and he’s trying everything and taking every opportunity to make this band successful. Not long after I caught Jade Helliwell on the BCMA Horizon Stage, she’s got a fantastic voice as many of us know, not too long ago a video of her singing with a busker went viral! I have a great interest in songwriters and it was nice to hear her talking about her favourite songwriters as well and she performed Old Men, Young Women, which was written by one of my favourite writers Lori McKenna.

I’ve heard a lot about Darcy and it was good to finally see him perform as he released his EP this weekend. Looking very smart in his suit he impressed the crowd, most of whom were new to his music. It was good talking to him afterwards and finding out about the songs on his EP and how he selected them. The final act on the BCMA Stage that day was Simon James, again this is someone I’ve heard a lot about but have not had the chance to check out live. I thought this stage was great as it was good to see the new talent coming out of the UK and all three acts did a great job. A quick dash to the Paddock ensued but when I got up there the crowd had grown so large there was no way I was getting a good view! No in fact I didn’t see a thing, the In The Round sessions seemed to bring the largest crowds of the weekend. Luckily, the sound engineers did a great job so small people like me at the back still heard every word even outside the tent and Sarah Darling, Jenn Bostic and Gary Quinn really wowed the audience. Those kind of style shows are great to get to know the personality of the writers better and to hear the stories behind the songs!

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At 3pm Kira Mac took to the main stage, I could tell she was really excited to perform and be on the main stage. Meanwhile on the Paddock stage, Tucker was entertaining the crowd which had stuck around after the writers round session. It was great to see Melanie again, she performed on the paddock stage and Katy Hurt was on the main stage! It was so hard to scoot from one stage to the other at this point, there were so many great acts on at the same time and people were trying to split themselves in two to see all their favourites! I saw most of Katy Hurt’s set though and like I said before she blew everyone away with her performance; her band were tight and they seemed to enjoy themselves too!

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The main stage on Saturday did have an awesome line up! One of my favourite UK artists took to the stage at around 7pm. Thorne Hill has so much energy and as I spoke to a number of people they said that was his best show to date. He was followed by Australian born Morgan Evans who now resides in Nashville with his fiancé Kelsea Ballerini. It was great to chat to him and brilliant to see his performance particularly on the loop pedal. Jess and the Bandits followed Morgan and they always put on a show and it was nice to hear some of their new songs. It was lovely to see Luke Thomas on guitar, in fact he played guitar for a number of artists throughout the weekend. Dylan Jakobsen brought Saturday to a close but the happy campers partied long into the night.

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Sunday began at 10am and it was nice to see so many people looking fresh ready for the church service which was being held on the main stage led by Reverend Lynn Boyle and Jenn Bostic. It was a beautiful yet emotional service about recent events across the Country. I couldn’t help it, I cried when Jenn played Jealous of the Angels, but the service held a positive message and I thought it was a nice addition to the festival. I was looking forward to seeing Emma Swindells on the BCMA Horizon stage. She came on and introduced her band, her twin sister on drums, her younger sister on guitar, it was only the bassist who wasn’t a relative! It’s been a while since I saw Emma perform but her and her band had it together and it was good to hear some new material from her too!

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And keeping with the family theme I then headed over to catch sibling trio Orfila on the Paddock stage, some of you may remember seeing them at C2C the past couple of years. Their harmonies are gorgeous. I floated around getting photos of fans with the Chris Country sign and then I returned to catch some of Demi Marriner’s set, I hadn’t heard of her before so it was a nice introduction to her music and her keyboard player has the same name as my brother! I stayed there and had a brilliant spot for the second In The Round session of the weekend which featured Jenn Bostic, Sonia Leigh and Jade Helliwell and wow this was definitely my favourite part of the weekend. I mean there was so many great songs and stories behind the songs, and I mean these three all have great personalities so the audience had a few laughs too! We had Jenn’s powerful vocals and positive songs like Not Yet and Sonia Leigh played a new song off her upcoming record as well as fan favourite Booty Call and Jade Helliwell brought so many funny dating and break up stories. Once again the tent was packed and they did an encore which pleased the crowd but made things run a little late, which nobody minded!

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There was then a mad dash to get to the main stage to see American Young who had only just landed in Manchester, luggage-less! When I spoke to them later they were shattered however there luggage had been found. Amy Westney went down a treat on the Paddock stage and Tucker began his set on the main stage. Kevin McGuire who I first heard on Chris Country radio and saw perform for the first time at last years Buckle and Boots did a fantastic job on the paddock stage and I really enjoyed his cover of Rascal Flatts What Hurts The Most. I headed back to the main stage where Laura Oakes had taken to the stage. The Liverpudlian was really working the crowd and singing her heart out. I was gutted to miss Liv Austen as she’s lovely and I always enjoy her shows. Gary Quinn who worked tirelessly throughout the weekend to help make the festival a success was the penultimate act on the main stage and it’s no wonder he’s won entertainer of the year at the BCMA’s, he knows how to really perform and his energy rubbed off onto the crowd. Sarah Darling who we had heard earlier in the weekend at the first writers round closed the weekend. If you wasn’t a fan before you would be after that performance in fact I might just ask for all her records for my birthday this year! She’s fantastic, I especially liked the song she said she wrote with Brandy Clark, The Boy Never Stays.

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There were a few artists that weren’t to my taste, of course we can’t all like everyone! But all in all, it was a superb line up and everyone involved did an amazing job! A special shout out to Karl, Jan and Laura, Gary Quinn and the guys at W21, all the traders who worked hard all weekend and Chris for letting me represent Chris Country Radio, I had a blast! To everyone I had the pleasure of meeting, with the sign or just for a chat or an interview, thank you, you all played a part in making me feel like the luckiest girl, with the best job in the World!

Thanks,

Zoe

 

All the latest info on Buckle and Boots, The Cast of Nashville and Chris Stapleton!

“Let your dreams stay big and your worries stay small” – Rascal Flatts

Hello!

Well whilst everyone else heads off to Glastonbury Festival this weekend we’re heading to Buckle and Boots Festival where some of Britain’s best Country acts are taking to the stage along with a few of our favourite Americans and I believe an Australian this year as well! Whatever nationality though it’s bound to be a fantastic three days of top quality Country music. This year I’ll be floating round hoping to get some photographs and hoping to get some interviews for both Best of British Country Music and Chris Country Radio so look out for us and come and say hi! Now it’s a little bit different from C2C as there aren’t as many stages but don’t be fooled, you’ll still need to plan your day, where you need to be and when so you don’t miss your favourite acts! So have a look at the  timetables below for each day and we’ll tell you about some of the must see acts!

Well we ease into things on Friday as music is confined to the one main stage and begins at 7pm. It is a great line up which sees The Southern Companion headlining. Personally I’m looking forward to seeing Kris Barras as I am not overly familiar with his music and have never seen him live so that will be something new for me to look forward to. One of my favourite artists is playing again this year, Sonia Leigh, she takes to the stage just before The Southern Companion.

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On Saturday the paddock stage kicks off at 11am and runs right through until 7.30pm whilst the main stage kicks off at 3pm and runs until 11pm. There are some great acts on both stages and the very popular “In The Round” session returns this year with Gary Quinn, Sarah Darling and Jenn Bostic at 2pm on the Paddock stage. My top tips on that stage are Melanie who performs at 4.30pm and Dahlia at 6.45pm. However on the main stage headlined by Dylan Jakobsen we see the likes of Thorne Hill return at 7pm and he’s not to be missed, (I’m sure he should win an award as the loveliest guy in UK Country!) And at 4pm Katy Hurt takes to the stage, she’s been creating quite a lot of buzz this past year so make sure to check her out and find out what all the fuss is about! And later on just before the headline act we have Jess and the Bandits and it’s always a delight to catch up with Jess!

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On Sunday we have another In The Round session featuring Sonia Leigh but before that we have Orfila who some of you may remember won the yamaha hoedown to play at C2C in 2016 and they returned to C2C this year. I love Sunday’s line up on the paddock stage actually as we have Amy Westney, Liv Austen, Kevin McGuire, some of my favourites in UK Country so that stage is bound to be busy Sunday afternoon so to get a good spot, get there early and don’t move! The main stage starts at 2.15pm I believe and it features some well known acts such as American Young who I know have quite the following. We’ve also got Laura Oakes and Gary Quinn and our headliner is Sarah Darling so again its a jam packed day of great Country Music!

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Also in the news today, Nashville in Concert have donated £10,000 to the UK Solidarity Fund set up by the British Red Cross to help victims of the recent terror attacks in Manchester and London. The cast of Nashville were due to perform at the Manchester Arena where the attack took place but  due to the ongoing investigation they ended up changing the venue to the Apollo where they played two sold out shows instead of one. This generous donation follows a number of touching tributes that the cast dedicated to the people of Manchester during their shows in the city.

And good news for Chris Stapleton today as his sophomore album From A Room goes Gold in the United States making it the first Country album to do so in 2017. We hope the news will help Chris’ hand to heal quicker as he is recovering from a broken finger and detached tendon which forced him to cancel shows but we hope he is on the mend and can soon pick up a guitar again!

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Thanks

Zoe

 

Interview with the lovely Molly Adele Brown!

“Live the life you have imagined”

Hello!

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Well with another festival just around the corner, I’m still reminiscing the good times that we had at Vamos Festival in Perth this year and one of the highlights of that festival for me was meeting this next artist, the wonderfully talented Molly Adele Brown! Molly has been performing at CMA Fest this past week and I’ve been hearing so many good things about her from my friends in Nashville. She comes across as having a bubbly personality that shines through in her music and she is a joy to watch perform and to chat to. I had the pleasure of interviewing her and her guitarist who was also a friendly guy who seemed to be loving life! Read on to find out what Molly had to say about her music.

Can you tell me a bit about your journey so far in music?

Yeah so I started in musical theatre when I was in middle school and danced when I was younger than that so I was always into theatre, then I went to study musical theatre, my goal was always broadway but in my junior year I thought, you know what I think I want to write music. All my teachers were like, are you kidding me? So I started to transition and I met up with this duo Nef and Jimmy and they have been the ones kind of leading me where to go and what to do so I transitioned at the end of my senior year fully into music and once I graduated I started diving into it head first and since then it’s been a whirlwind of a journey.

What did your parents play to you growing up and what are you listening to now?

Jimmy Buffett was on repeat every Sunday morning, I think my Dad gave us until 8am and then cheeseburger in paradise was the first thing we listened to. He’d be cooking bacon and we’d smell it and be like “ok we get it, we’re up” so he was into that and my mum was more into singer-songwriters, Dixie Chicks and stuff like that would be playing always, so I kind of had a dual influence from them. The Country side of things was a free loving feeling that the songs had, kind of happy music that you could just drink along to haha, of course not for me until I was 21 but you know what I’m saying.

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What’s your writing process like, is it different every time and do you co-write? What influences your lyrics?

I do all co-writes, just because I feel like you can get more with two people than you can with one so I love it. Each time I find that it’s completely different. I like to almost watch how the other person approaches it because I can learn more from other people who have done it longer than I have and I can see what works and what doesn’t. I like writing the lyrics more and have people helping me with the music and chord progression and as far as where those lyrics come from it can be anything from influences around me to something someone said at the bar that I steal, so I start off with a line and build off that.

You mentioned you’re into musical theatre, what’s your favourite musical?

Bonnie and Clyde, it lasted on broadway for like the blink of an eye and nobody saw it except for me, it didn’t make it which broke my heart because it had some of the most amazing music that broadway has done. I loved it from start to finish, I loved the story, I loved everything about it and the way they approached it was awesome so that’s my favourite one that nobody knows. There’s also the mega big ones like you can’t not like Wicked! That one I’ve seen a bunch of times, Hairspray I’ve seen a bunch of times, there’s a lot of influence there.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever written a song about?

Boardy Barn! There’s this bar and it’s only open on Sundays and it’s one of the craziest bar’s I have ever been to in my life, it’s just a huge massive party and everyone just goes bonkers, I literally left there one day and was a little bit toasted and was like we need to write a song about Boardy Barn which turned into Summer Sunday’s which I have out but it’s not out and about all that much now but when I play it in my set it’s my favourite!

What are your mid-gig thoughts?

My mid-gig thoughts are all over, sometimes I’ll be focused on what I’m supposed to be doing and I find that if I get too caught up in that then I lose the fun in it so I like to take the other course and sit back and enjoy it so I can be thinking about anything from what’s the next song to I’m going to grab a drink after this, what do I want? Or there will be some fun story going through my mind or I’ll be looking at my band and wondering what they’re thinking about.

And what are you thinking about?

Lorenzo (guitarist): Nothing! Haha. I’m completely blank.

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What’s next for you?

I’m playing CMA Festival, there’s so many amazing artists there so I’m so happy to be there. I’m thrilled that I’ve had the chance to play in Scotland, everyone’s been so nice.

Quote: I have a tattoo that says imagine and I used to have a bracelet and I got so upset because I lost it and it says live the life you have imagined and so I lost the bracelet four or five times and I kept crying overtime I lost it and my mum was like I can’t keep buying these bracelets, you need to stop losing them! So I turned 18 and my mum says “so what do you want for a tattoo, you’re sisters got some” so I thought I want to get the word Imagine so I don’t have to wear the bracelet and cry every time I lost it, it’s not going to go anywhere. So that’s the quote but if you need a secondary one there’s one that I put at the end of all my emails and it describes me to a tee is “turning mayhem into music and whiskey into wisdom!”

You know I love interviewing artists as they all have different influences and different paths that led them to where they are today. I hope we’ll see Molly back in the UK again soon and if you’re not familiar with her music then check out her website below, my favourite song of hers is Spook the Horses which is available on iTunes so go grab it! I really believe Molly is going to go far in Country music and I look forward to watching her career really take off!

Thanks,

Zoe

Interview with Branch and Dean!

“You’ve got to live each breath as if it’s the last breath you’ll take so live your life to the fullest because you never know when it’ll end.” – Branch and Dean

Hello!

So going back to our coverage of Vamos Festival, this week we have an interview with stars of the weekend Branch and Dean who really got the main stage rocking on the Friday night and headlined the barn stage on Saturday. These two have such a great time when they’re on stage, they’re so full of life and so fun that it’s hard for the audience not to enjoy themselves as their energy is infectious, the music isn’t half bad either! In fact their songwriting is fantastic, reminiscent of the old Country Honky Tonk style, they have the ability to write fun upbeat party songs and emotional tear jerkers. Below is a link to one of their biggest hits and check out what they had to say when they were in Scotland for Vamos Festival.

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First of all I wondered if you could tell me a bit about your journey in music and how you got  together?

Dean: We are Branch and Dean, we hail from Jacksonville Florida in the States. We grew up together and it’s funny because I thought if you was gonna be a Country singer you had to be like branch and sound like everyone on the radio and I couldn’t do that so I dived into the songwriting. One day Branch called me and he had one up’d me again, he had this idea for a song and it went a little something like this…

Branch: (begins to sing the chorus melody of Your Ole Lady’s Gone)

Dean: So our producer in Nashville, a great friend of ours, songwriter Michael Huffman we call him the Huffdaddy, he wrote songs like Tight Fittin Jeans for Conway Twitty and Adalida for George Strait. He’s like I don’t know who that is but get him up here so Branch and Dean was born, so we’ve been Branch and Dean way before we were the duo but the journey has led us here and all over the World, we’ve been really blessed to sing Country music and live our dreams.

Branch: It’s been great, we’ve been everywhere, we’ve been here (UK) a couple of times, Japan, Puerto Rico…

Dean: Alaska, one of the Rico’s haha

Branch: haha yes, I think it was Puerto Rico but we’re not sure!

Dean: And we love it over here, the people are so nice, it’s beautiful. We’ve had three singles out over here on hot disc and they’ve all gone to number 1. Your Ol Lady’s Gone went ten weeks number 1 which is our all time best. So we’ve been really fortunate.

That’s great! This next question will probably be different for both of you but what did your parents play to you growing up and what are you listening to now?

Dean: I always grew up with the old Country, I liked George Jones, Alan Jackson and Garth Brooks, people like that, I love the older stuff.

Branch: I was adopted so I didn’t have a background, the family I was raised in wasn’t into music, but for fun when I was 6 years old I’d go and play CDs and stuff and sing to all the greats like Elvis Presley and The Beatles, all genres of music, I just love music and I fell into Country because that fits me best with my accent and stuff but I love it all, we both love all kinds of music. Good music is good music.

Dean: Growing up in Florida, you wouldn’t think this but the north part of Florida has a big bluegrass influence so we grew up on all that kind of stuff too, and gospel.

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When you’re songwriting, where do you draw inspiration from lyrically?

Dean: You want to write stuff you feel and that means something to you so we try to be real about it. We both love music that emotionally says something whether it’s fun or it’s not. I personally like different lyrics that haven’t been done before so we look for that. We’ve got a few songs on the album like The Dash, we tell the story about that, we’re not really good enough to have written a song like that, it was a gift from God that had a purpose and music is intended to change lives and we knew when we wrote that one we’d be changing lives.

Branch: That song is very special to me because I lost my son to cystic fibrosis four years ago and he always wanted to be a spokesperson for cystic fibrosis so when he passed I kind of wanted to take his steps further and I called up the Cystic Fibrosis Chapter in Jacksonville Florida and Dean called the one in Nashville, we just told them we wanted to help and they made us National Celebrity Ambassadors so we get to go to a lot of places and bring awareness and raise a lot of money.

Dean: We’ve helped raise $4million and it’s led us all the way over here, when we played our show last night in Scotland the CF fund for Scotland came out and the proceeds from the audience went to CF.

That must be a very hard song for you to play live?

Branch: Well what I’ve learned in life because of what I had to deal with with my son, you may have a child that has a sickness of some kind but there’s a lot to learn from them and I learnt from my son that it’s not about you as an individual it’s about everybody else and you do what you can to help so singing the dash, sometimes I get a little bit emotional and I can’t help that but for the most part we make it through pretty well and I do it for him, that is the last thing I can do for him so I try to do it the best I can. We say a little prayer before we do any show and what that prayer is, is that we can touch just one life, if we can touch just one life with this song and everywhere we’ve been so far we’ve had at least one person coming up to us after the show telling us that song touched them. Someone once told me that if you can make at least one person laugh or one person cry through music then you’re doing something special, and we seem to do that every show which is a special thing.

When you’re writing do you have a set process or is it different every time?

Dean: It’s pretty much different every time, we’ve been doing it so long now it’s the kind of profession that you just hammer them out, it all just kind of falls out when you start something new, you try it with the lyrics and you try the melody. Everything is a song now though, a conversation, you’re like that’s a good lyric, what did you just say? And what we’ve found is the secret to writing is getting out there and having fun. Back in Nashville we go on trips, because music is supposed to be fun, it’s hard work but it’s fun so the more fun that you have the more songs you get out of it.

Branch: One of the things I found is, putting a story to music, there’s always a way to say it different.

Dean: If it can be done different Branch we’re going to do it different! But don’t rush a song, some hits have been written in 15 minutes and some have been written in 20 years! So never rush a song, let the song tell you when it’s done.

Branch: We’ve got a great word for a great line, we cal it a Tadonka, that’s a Tadonka!

A few strange questions now, what’s the strangest thing you’ve ever written a song about?

Branch: For me it’s got to be Your Ol Lady’s Gone because I’ve been married three times so my lady’s been gone at least three times, different ol’ lady’s and I’m not saying old, they’d be annoyed with me for that haha. But I was just driving down the road and I aways liked yodelling and I just thought hey that’s saying your ol lady so that’s how that came about.

Dean: I don’t know if I have one.

Branch: Well we’re going to have to work on that!

Dean: There was one that went something like I quit Carin’ for a little Joy in my life but she lead me straight to Faith, I lost Faith now I feel like starting Carin’ all over again. I don’t know it’s something like that!

Branch: what about that one, I know I’d miss her but she just won’t leave.

Dean: We’ve written some crazy songs over the years we wrote one called I’m going to make some woman a damn good wife, it was about a friend of ours who just cooks and cleans all the time.

What are your mid-gig thoughts?

Dean: I don’t know what he’s going to do! I don’t know if he’s going to stay on the stage with me.

Branch: Yeah I definitely let my mind wander. Yeah we do put on a show and each one is different every time mostly because I don’t even know what I’m going to do. With that comes a lot of good stuff and people seem to enjoy it.

Dean: I think they know that we’re having fun. We truly feel so blessed and humble to be here and every time we get on that stage we feel that and I think the audience does too.

Branch: We love people, especially the kids, they’ll come running down to the front of the stage and they have a good ole time. I said to Dean if this thing doesn’t work out we can always go into childcare, so we may open a Branch and Dean Daycare.

It has a nice ring to it! What’s next for you guys?

Dean: Lunch in about 30 minutes haha!

Branch: We do a fundraiser for Cystic Fibrosis, we get to play golf with our friends for that. We sing a little bit and tell our story and raise money.

Dean: We’re filming a TV show in Nashville before then.

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You can check out Your Ol Lady’s Gone below and don’t forget to give them a like on Facebook as they were already planning their return visit when we spoke to them, and that’s a tour you don’t want to miss! There is also a link to the Cystic Fibrosis charity that the band advocate for.

https://www.cysticfibrosis.org.uk/what-is-cystic-fibrosis

Thanks,

Zoe x