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

 

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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

Interview with US Country singer A. C. Jones!

“Chase everything you want to do and try your best at it” – A.C. Jones

Hello

I’m sure you’re all aware that since I last posted, a tragic and shocking event occurred at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester. I think it hit everyone hard, I personally haven’t slept much since as it was in the city I call home, at a venue I regularly visit and many people I know were present that night. My love and thoughts go out to the families who have lost a child or a parent, to those who escaped with their lives but are physically or emotionally scarred, I can’t imagine what any of them are going through. Music is a wonderful thing that is supposed to bring us together, that is a release from the daily troubles of life, that heals us, so for this to happen when young people were supposed to be having the time of their lives is devastating. It’s best to focus on going forward now, to focus on our response which should include coming together and supporting each other. It will be difficult for the families affected to see a way to move forward at this time so I’d like all my readers to spare a moment to check out the just giving page below and to donate (even if it’s just £1) to help the families affected. Thank You.

https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/westandtogethermanchester

When I was at Vamos Festival two weeks ago I met some fantastic artists from the other side of the pond. One of those artists was A.C. Jones. I did a quick interview with her before her set and she was lovely, the interview is below and there were certain things that intrigued me, for example she talks about how she was classically trained in Opera and now she’s singing Country music. When she took to the stage you could tell she was well trained vocally. Her voice was flawless, every song, both originals and covers had me hooked and she was bursting with a bubbly personality. Read on to find out more about A.C. Jones and listen to one of her tracks below!

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First of all can you tell me a little bit about your journey into music?

I have a very musical family so it’s in our family history, I grew up with that, loving every kind of music. We got into church so I started out singing gospel music and learning instruments like guitar and piano and from there I started writing some original songs, gospel and then I started drifting into the Country genre. I had a few bands as I got older and I had a tribute band actually which gained some traction back home and after that we started transitioning from the tribute band to an originals band with my original songs.

What were your main influences growing up, what did your parents make you listen to and what are you listening to now?

Oh gosh, we listen to everything from country music to classic rock to some classical there was a mix of everything. I was classically trained for about ten years in opera so quite a mix of different genres and today I’m still listening to Country and to Rock, it reminds me of my childhood and I’ve really been getting into Indie music as well. I love all music.

When you’re writing songs where do you draw inspiration from particularly in the lyrics?

Sometimes it’ll be that I’m trying to fall asleep at night and a thought goes through my mind or I’ll be out in the World watching people go by or sitting out by a beautiful lake or stream and just looking at nature and what’s around you and you draw influence from there. Sometimes it’s life experience, events that have happened to me or someone I know. It’s a good place to start and sometimes the song keeps that feel and stays true to the story and sometimes it gets altered along the way but either way it’s always fun to write.

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

The strangest one is probably about a crush on a teacher, not me, but in college there was a very young professor and all the girls just thought he was quite adorable so I thought it’d be fun to write a silly song about that so that’s probably the strangest one.

And when you’re on stage are you completely focused or do you let your mind wander – What are your mid-gig thoughts?

It can be anything to making sure I know the lyrics coming up because you get used to singing so many songs but every now and then something will kind of catch you off guard and you start thinking oh do I know the lyrics coming up and there’s a brief moment of panic. If you see something out in the audience you start thinking about that sometimes, I’m a people watcher so I watch the audience and I think I wonder what their life is like, who they are and what they do, where they’re going from here. So it’s a bunch of random thoughts!

When you write songs they become like your babies but I wondered if you had a favourite of yours that you enjoy playing live?

I think my favourite song is probably wanderer, it has a lot to do with people I met in my life so it’s a song that’s very near and dear to me.

Do you have a favourite quote?

I went to school to study bio-chemistry, a science background and I was going to go to medical school or get my PhD and I decided instead to take some time and focus on the music so in that time I was thinking how realistic are these dreams that I want to do and that always weighed on me and so one of the things that I’ve said before is that some of my dreams are achievable, some of them are downright impossible but I haven’t yet decided which ones are which so I’m going to chase them all. So just go out there and chase everything you want to do and try your best at it. To anyone out there who loves songs and loves to write just get out there and do it, put your songs out there because it’s daunting but you don’t know who’s out there who needs to hear that song and those feelings.

What’s next for you?

Going back home, I’ve got a lot of live performances this summer, getting back in the studio, I’ve been writing some songs with my label in Nashville. Hopefully we’ll have a single coming out in a very short amount of time so I’m looking forward to that.

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If you haven’t heard A.C. Jones before you’re really missing a treat so check out some of her music below.

Thank You!

Zoe

Imelda May live at the Bridgewater Hall!

“They raised her up, They made her fly, They gave her roots and wings, As time moves on and years go by, She’ll miss those simple things, She’s the girl I used to be” – The Girl I Used To Be, Imelda May

Hello!

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Last night I had a lovely night at The Bridgewater Hall checking out Imelda May’s tour. I looked around the bar before doors had opened and there was quite a mixed age range which was good to see. A small child had been surprised by what appeared to be her mum and grandma with tickets and she was over the moon! Later on I saw her dancing with her mum so May obviously lived up to expectation. Imelda’s latest album is something quite different from her previous material, it’s a lot more personal and stripped back and I was excited to see how this would go down live. The stage was littered with big spotlights which dimmed and brightened helping to set the mood up for each song and before the show began I noticed the large set-up of her band.

The support act, Jack Lukeman, also from Ireland opened the show, dressed all in black with a red handkerchief protruding out of his trouser pocket. He began with a song called magic days, the title track off his new album. He went on to play seven more tracks, a few of which he got the audience involved with, Soul King and Little Man saw everyone joining in for a rousing chorus, which was an achievement as the audience seemed quite quiet and reserved even when Imelda came on. He also sang Ol’ Man River acapella which was really good, he had rather a deep voice but with a beautiful clear tone to it so this song suited his voice quite well. He finished his set unplugged with no Mic and an accordion decorated in fairy lights and his voice carried and filled the bridgewater hall. Many members of the audience gave him a standing ovation at the end of his set which is unusual for a support act but he deserved it. He had his work cut out but he got the audience involved and by the end of his half hour set they had really connected with him.

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Then it was time for the main attraction, a chair was positioned centre stage and the band began to play as Imelda May walked on and sat down. She opened the show with the first single off her new album the very beautiful Call Me. Instantly her vocals struck me, they were soft and delicate but flawless. She sang every song off this new album and a few fan favourites from her back catalogue. She moved the chair after Call Me though and proceeded with the gospel infused When It’s My Time as she stalked across the stage in those high heels and black dress. After she talked to the crowd for a little while about her previous shows in Manchester, she sang one of my favourites off the new album, Human. This song showcases her vocal ability particularly on those soaring melodies in the Chorus. This was followed by Sixth Sense, the bass player put down his instrument and picked up the double bass instead. The band was very tight throughout and multi-talented – the percussionist doubled up as the trumpet player in certain songs.

Before May sang each song she talked a little bit about how the song came about, like before she sang Bad Habit she talked about getting her heart broke and how a bit of retail therapy inspired this song. Then she seemed to be struggling to find the right words as she spoke about being in Paris with U2 around the time of the Paris attacks in 2015. As she spoke it came to light that two of her record label had been killed at the Bataclan and she remembered the words that a vicar friend of U2 had said the day after to them all about Love and Fear and that is where the song came from with the same title. You could tell it was a hard story for her to share with the audience as she recalled the events and the memories she had of her friends and colleagues. She proceeded with the new album playing How Bad Can A Good Girl Be. Throughout, the audience was quite tame, after each song was a ripple of applause but not many whoops or whistles from the crowd like you would expect. Imelda picked up on this and asked why we were so quiet, was it because we were in a posh theatre?

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She sounded a little reminiscent of Patsy Cline on Black Tears. The Country Soul ballad is another one of my favourites off the new record and again it showcases her vocal range and ability. She’s one of those singers who sounds just as good live as on the record and I was in awe of how flawless her voice was throughout the night. She sang Flesh and Blood followed by Levitate. It was around this time that she told the audience to ignore the security and to have a good time and go wild. A few people began to get to their feet for Should’ve Been You, yet another one of my favourite tracks off this new record. Leave Me Lonely was one of the last to be sung from the new material and more people began to get to their feet and clap along for The Longing. She had a more gravelly tone to her voice for this song as her wilder rockabilly side came alive and with that the audience also came alive. When it became time for Wild Woman a number of ladies ran down the aisle and were jumping around near the front. Imelda walked over and high fived them from the stage at the end of the song security tried to usher them back to their seat and Imelda said “ignore them! Come back!”

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A fan favourite was next, Mayhem. The whole theatre was on their feet now and singing along. Imelda’s vocals did not falter as she paced the stage feeling quite pleased that the audience had now come to life and were clearly enjoying themselves. She threw in a cover before she did another fan favourite, Johnny Got a Boom Boom off her 2008 album Love Tattoo. The band exited the stage and she finished her set with the very personal storytelling track The Girl I Used To Be. The crowd were on their feet clapping and cheering until she came back out, she thanked the audience and proceeded to play a two song encore with the band back on stage. She ended on Game Changer which was a great rousing, high energy number to conclude what had been a great night with a mixed performance of intimate, emotional numbers and fun, upbeat songs.

Thank You,

Zoe x

Review of VAMOS Festival and Country Music Week Announcement!

Hello!

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Well there’s so much to talk about on the blog this week! First of all the first announcement has come about country Music Week which is taking place in London in October. News broke during the C2C weekend that the organisers had set up a string of events in the capital promoting both UK and US acts and this week they announced those first acts. Following this, those acts announced more dates across the UK and tickets went on sale. So without further ado below we have listed all you need to know about those recent announcements.

Country music week is taking place from 2nd – 8th October with Marty Stuart and his Fabulous Superlatives playing on the 4th at Cadogan Hall and Kip Moore and Drake White confirmed for the 6th at the O2 Shepherds Bush Empire. Further tour dates for all three acts can be found below.

Marty Stuart

4th Oct – London

6th Oct – Birmingham

7th Oct – Gateshead

9th Oct – Glasgow

10th Oct – Manchester

12th Oct – Dublin

Kip Moore and Drake White

2nd Oct – Birmingham

3rd Oct – Manchester

4th Oct – Glasgow

6th Oct – London

However another great event happened in the past week, yes some of you may have seen on my Facebook page that I spent the weekend in Scotland at Perth Racecourse for Vamos festival which is a brand new festival of American style music which of course included Country music. Now it was a busy weekend for me as I was performing twice as well as interviewing artists for the blog but I had a great time and so did my family. Coming up in the next few weeks I’ll bring you interviews with Branch and Dean, A C Jones, Molly Adele Brown and Blue Genes to name a few but for now I’ll give you an insight into the festival and some of the stand out performances.

Our weekend began on the Friday when we arrived just in time to see Branch and Dean perform a very emotional track of theirs called The Dash. It is a song about the little line in between the year you were born and the year you die and how you choose to live that dash. After Branch’s son died from cystic fibrosis the duo has been raising funds and awareness for the charity so this song was very personal for the duo to sing. However their set demonstrated their versatility, the pair are hilarious, they know how to have a good time as well as how to get a meaningful message across and on both the Friday and the Saturday they really connected with their audience and for me were the stand out act. I love their track Your Ol Lady’s Gone, they closed their set with this song which spent ten weeks at number 1 in the UK. And the pair are as lovely and approachable as they are talented.

Friday night also saw the Scottish Blues Brothers take to the stage as well as Eve Graham and Marmalade. Eve Graham one of my mum’s idols actually brought a lot of humour to her set. In a sparkly dress she made comments about the Scottish weather as it began to rain but the show went on and the 74 year old told stories about the songs and her time in the new seekers before singing them beautifully. Marmalade were a lot of fun and still full of life as they sang songs such as Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da. The Scottish crowd despite the rain really got into the swing of things and were dancing and singing along, unfortunately for me my Dad cracked out his dance moves too!

My Saturday began with an interview with Ohio Singer-Songwriter Amanda Jones who goes under the stage name A C Jones. What a lovely girl! She took to the songwriter stage not long after and despite the low numbers in the audience she remained professional and blew me away, she was one of the stars of the festival for me. Her voice was flawless which isn’t surprising since she’s trained in Opera as well as being able to sing Country and she also had some fantastic songs of her own. After this I interviewed Branch and Dean and Molly Adele Brown, the Americans are lovely and were really pleased to be playing over here. I then joined my family and listened to some of Blue Genes set. On the Saturday they were in the barn playing some country covers and then on the Sunday they were on the Songwriter stage singing their own songs. Both days they didn’t disappoint and got a good reaction from the crowd, their own songs are just beautiful.

After grabbing some food and doing another interview I rejoined my family and we headed to see Branch and Dean in the barn and SaraBeth and Glen Mitchell on the main stage. Because they were on at the same time there was a lot of running backwards and forwards involved but we managed to see a good part of each acts set. We then went inside to the cafe bar and saw Stephanie Aird. Now this girl was great, she was hilarious she had the whole room in uproar and not only is she a great comedian she’s also a great musician. Her song 12 days of me diet was fantastic! She was so good the whole family went back to see her performance on the Sunday as well. After Stephanie performed on the Saturday, little old me took to the stage, she was a hard act to follow but for some reason the audience stuck around and gave me a chance and they were a lovely crowd to entertain!

We stayed at the cafe bar for Tanya Taylor who was performing a tribute to Karen Carpenter. What a great job she did as well and the audience really enjoyed singing along. We then caught the last song of Definitive Buble’s set on the main stage and ate burgers and hot dogs whilst we waited for Let’s Drift to take to the stage, a drifters tribute act. They came on and sang such hits as Under the Boardwalk, Saturday Night At The Movies and You’re More Than A Number In My Little Red Book. They did a great set and once again there was some dad dancing taking place but the main thing was that everyone seemed to be having a good time! Then after a short pause Johnny Lee Memphis took to the stage as Elvis. He had a laugh with a number of members of the audience giving scarves and kisses away but he sang other songs from the era not just Elvis numbers my favourite of his set was Can’t Help Falling In Love and I also enjoyed In The Ghetto. Much of the crowd were still there as we left, not wanting the night to end they’d had such a great time. At least there was one more day to go!

And Sunday came and we saw what we were told was a rarity… the sun! There was a cool breeze but we were warm sat in the sun. We arrived to catch the end of Millwood Duo’s set, they were good, Ashli brought a bit of humour to the set! Then I had to rush off and kick off proceedings on the songwriter stage. Blue Genes followed my set and after they had performed we did a quick interview with them – such a lovely family. Following this we split up again and half the family went to check out Stephanie Aird again and half of us went to Molly Adele Brown. Equipped with gummy bears and Can Koozies for the audience, Molly took to the stage singing a mixture of her own songs and well known covers including a medley of You’ve Got A Friend and Bear Necessities. I really liked her own material and inside my can koozie when I returned home I found a download code so I can continue listening to some of this she played like Spook the Horses which is my favourite! Then I headed across to catch the rest of Stephanie Aird’s set and once again she had us in stitches!

She wasn’t to everyone’s taste as some rude people made known, however I think they just lacked a sense of humour as everyone else enjoyed her performance and I am now very much a fan! Following Stephanie’s set we headed off and caught some of the Jersey Notes performance before I was told of this really great band in the songwriter room which I couldn’t miss. Sure enough Munro, equipped with a pedal steel, were ready to begin. They had some good songs and some touching stories behind their songs and they sounded all the more beautiful with a pedal steel accompanying them. After that we headed across to the main stage where The Pacemakers were about to start. Later PJ Proby joined them and they performed together, he told stories about the songs and about the various people he was friends with such as Elvis and then he would play some of their songs too. The last night was running slightly late and despite the lovely afternoon we’d had it began to rain but this didn’t dampen anyone’s spirits. Los Pacaminos and Paul Young took to the stage around quarter to 11 dressed the part in shirts and cowboy hats. They were great they really got the crowd going and were really lively. We had to leave not long after but what a great end to a wonderful weekend! Lynda and her team did a fantastic job. If you missed out on the weekend remember to look out for the name VAMOS as I’m sure they will be organising lots more great events and festivals in the future!

Interviews and Pictures to follow!

Thank You

Zoe x