We are getting ever closer to festival season now and there’s a couple of brand new Country and Americana festivals for us to check out this year. One of those festivals is coming up very soon at the end of June and that festival is Black Deer. The Kent based festival was announced nearly a year ago now and ever since social media has been a buzz with anticipation of what it has to offer. With 5 stages and artists of all different levels from around the World, the main event - the music - is bound to be fantastic but we definitely have our favourites that we want to recommend you check out! However festivals are now about much more than just the music and this festival has everything from demonstrations from top live fire chefs to custom motorcycles. It aims to delve in and explore the culture behind the genre and there is something for fans of all ages. We’ll keep you updated on all the latest announcements as they happen but for now we’ll take you through which artists we are most looking forward to seeing!
So first of all lets look at the main stage, Saturday starts off well, second on the bill is Ashley Campbell the daughter of legendary Rhinestone Cowboy Glen Campbell. As many of you will know Ashley is one of our very favourite artists. Her record which came out on the 9th March whilst she was at C2C is fantastic, it is unique in the sense that there are songs on there that are quite humorous and not like what anybody else is writing or releasing, there are your traditional love songs and an instrumental. The album draws influence from traditional Country yet doesn’t in any way feel dated and wouldn’t sound out of place in the middle of a Pop-Country fans collection. Also on the bill on Saturday is Kiefer Sutherland, who has had a number of professions over the years, most notably an actor in films such as The Lost Boys, A Few Good Men and A Time to Kill and TV Series 24. He’s been a competitive cowboy, set up his own record label and back in 2016 released his own album. Not many people can be good at that many things!
The penultimate act on the main stage on Saturday is UK duo Ward Thomas. They were the first UK Country act to claim the number one spot on the UK Mainstream albums charts - pretty impressive right? Yes they are one of the best Country acts in the UK and they deserve to be as high up on the bill as what they are. Bringing a fresh take on Pop Country their major label debut Cartwheels won over fans of the genre both here and across the pond and they followed this up with successful tours of the UK. The Saturday night is capped off by headliners Iron and Wine, I first heard him on the Twilight Soundtrack (don’t judge, it was a good film with a good soundtrack!) his song Flightless bird, American Mouth was used in the prom scene. But Iron and Wine has actually released six studio albums, a live album and several EPs. He’s sure to encapsulate everything that this festival is about and I’m looking forward to his set.
Sunday on the main stage is equally as great with William The Conqueror opening the show but one of the acts I am most looking forward to is Sam Palladio. Yes the star from the hit US TV show Nashville is returning alone for the festival after a successful farewell tour of the UK with his co-stars. I really like the songs of his own that I’ve heard, like Wake Me Up In Nashville a song about his Grandad. I’m sure alongside his own material he’ll throw in a couple of the most popular songs from the show. He is followed by a fan favourite here in the UK, Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit. Interestingly his last studio album The Nashville Sound was number 1 on the US Indie, US Country, US Folk and US Rock charts, that’s pretty impressive. The festival will finish with singer-songwriter Passenger whose most successful single to date “Let Her Go” topped the charts in 18 countries and won Passenger an Ivor Novello Award.
It’s not just the main stage that hosts World class musicians, and the other stages begin on Friday night so let’s look at what they have to offer on the opening day. The Ridge has four fantastic acts beginning with Broken Witt Rebels the Birmingham based Blues/Rock band and they’re followed by another British band who have been doing very well for themselves this past year, The Wandering Hearts signed to Decca, went down a treat with the crowd at C2C Festival earlier this year. Then we have two American acts the lovely Sarah Darling who visits these shores a lot and has a strong UK following, with good reason. Her storytelling lyrics, her beautiful vocals, and endearing personality make her a fan favourite and I’m sure there will be a large following at the festival who have come just for her and it’s a similar story with the next artist. Striking Matches are unlike any other artist out there, their guitar playing abilities are second to none and they write some amazing songs in a range of genres in fact. They rose to fame after having a number of songs in the Nashville TV Series but since then they’ve released an album and two EPs which have all been quite different from each other and I look forward to hearing what mix of songs they do live. Whatever they play, you are bound to be mesmerised by their guitar skills and their facial expressions! Also on Friday, over on the Supajam stage is a good friend of ours Sonia Leigh, she is perhaps the most versatile songwriter around, there will definitely be something for everyone in her set. Having written Country hits for The Zac Brown Band and Big and Rich, Sonia has since gone on to release numerous records of her own, her latest record having an eclectic mix of songs from a range of genres.
Saturday on the ridge stage requires some research for me, although I am familiar with the opening act Jarrod Dickenson who recently supported Don McLean on tour, the other artists were all new to me when the line up was announced. Upon listening though I am really excited for Texas Country Singer Wade Bowen’s set. Bowen has had a long and quite successful career as an independent artist having released 11 records, only one of them on a major label. On his latest record he’s collaborated with the likes of Miranda Lambert, Jack Ingram and John Randall. Headlining Saturday on The Ridge stage is Texas Bluegrass band Whiskey Shivers. Any fans of the film franchise Pitch Perfect may have seen the band in Pitch Perfect 3 recently where they do a mash up of Aviccii’s Wake Me Up and the Cranberries Zombie which shows the bands versatility. Over at Haley’s Bar on Saturday we have another chance to see the great Sonia Leigh in an acoustic session whilst Canadian band The Sheepdogs headline that stage.
Sunday on The SupaJam stage is looking great so far. There’s been a competition running to perform on that stage and hopefully we’ll find out soon who is opening on the Sunday but second on the bill is Katy Hurt a UK Country artist we at The Writers Room love! Another artist we’re big fans of is Jess and the Bandits, their last record was phenomenal. The first time I saw this band was at a festival and I fell in love with their music and energy. Headlining is Wildwood Kin the Indie/Folk family trio, signed to Sony, they are currently working on their second studio album and are a favourite with Bob Harris. Over at The Ridge Elles Bailey will be opening the show, I have heard so much about her but unfortunately have not yet seen her live, I always seem to be interviewing someone during her set at every festival I’ve almost seen her at! Well hopefully not this time as I think she’s going to be amazing live. CC Smugglers seem to be closing that stage and this band are one of the most talked about bands in the UK scene right now and with good reason, they certainly have a lot of energy and I think they might become one of the most talked about acts of the festival!