For much of Day 3 I was off interviewing artists but I still got to soak up the festival atmosphere as I had more of the great street food on offer and tried the special ales put on for the festival whilst I sat outside with my family in the sun listening to some great bands including the CD Wallum Trio. I was particularly impressed by Georgie who played the concourse stage at 1pm, her lyrics were great and she seemed to have this stage presence that was endearing to the audience which was already quite large despite a full day looming ahead. We stuck around to catch the Pop up Country choir and heard them sing classics like Jolene, Country Roads and Wichita Lineman. My favourite act by far on the free stages though was Hymn For Her who had a really cool and clever set up but perhaps the nicest thing about their set was when they invited their daughter on stage to sing with them.
At night in Sage 1 there was a fantastic line up and in fact I was most excited about this show out of all the shows of the weekend. Sarah Darling opened the show at 7pm. I have seen Sarah play a few times over the past year or so and I really enjoy her music. Vocally her performance was flawless, she sang a mixture of songs from her repertoire but mostly from her latest record Dream Country including Halley’s Comet and Montmartre which she only played as someone requested it on twitter! The people who requested it stood and applauded when she reached the end of the song. She played my favourite song of hers Where Cowboys Ride as well as the song Anchor which she wrote with Sam Palladio who was on next. She concluded her set with her latest single Diamonds which she wrote with English writer Jessica Sharman before receiving a standing ovation from the audience.
Sam Palladio took to the stage next and it became clear that many in the audience were only here for him. Known primarily for his role as Gunnar in the hit TV show Nashville Sam is trying his best to put out his own music though his busy acting career sometimes takes over the original music I have heard from him in the past has the potential to go far! He played around half and half - half original material, half from the TV show including songs such as I Will Fall and Fade Into You which he closed his set with. He charmed the audience with his humour and his ability to miss his mouth… twice, the first time whilst taking a sip of beer which landed all over his pedalboard and the second time whilst trying to have some water, his guitar had a nice shower that time. Of his original material Wake Me Up In Nashville which he played solo seemed to go down the best. Many die hard fans in the crowd, myself included knew a lot of the words after watching a video of him playing it at the Opry. I went away though with his opening track stuck in my head Hello Heartbreak Blues. Gunnar’s last song in the show is Sam’s first cut on the show it’s called Going Electric and he played that for us as well on the night and he too received a standing ovation.
Then Striking Matches took to the stage with more energy than ever… no, seriously, it was an explosive start! The pair had got dressed up for the occasion with Justin wearing a silver/grey suit jacket and trousers and a black tee whilst Sarah had a fancy silver onesie on. They opened the show with Retrograde one of their newest songs and after the epic guitar riffs of this song some people in the crowd gave a standing ovation… after the first song! It must have got too hot up there for Justin who quickly whipped his jacket off. They went on to play more of their new material as they taught the crowd the chorus of Medicine and played one of my favourites of their’s Shameless. Then came their signature song Trouble Is As Trouble Does and another one of my favourites Make A Liar Out Of Me, two songs which really show off Striking Matches as the unique duo they are, who have the ability to write great lyrics, catchy melodies and play guitar like you’ve never seen anyone play before! And now they have added percussion instruments that they play with their feet!
They played a couple of covers which they put their own stamp on, Rick Astley’s Never Gonna Give You Up and Robert Johnson’s Cross Road Blues. They talked about their link with the TV programme Nashville before singing one of their most notable songs When The Right One Comes Along but one of the highlights of the night was when they invited Sam Palladio back on stage and the three of them sang I Aint Leaving Without Your Love which Striking Matches wrote but Sam sang in the programme Nashville. When we talk about putting artists into nice little genre boxes, Striking Matches just don’t seem to fit in any, they have their own style and whatever you want to call it, they sure do rock it! The duo will be back certainly before the year is out and possibly with new music in tow. Listen out for the interview I did with them on Chris Country Radio soon and keep checking their website for tour dates. All in all it was a fantastic end to a wonderful festival.