Country music fans in the UK only ever used to have one weekend of the year to look forward to, granted it was so good that the excitement and memories used to last the whole year round! Of Course I’m talking about Country 2 Country Festival. But with it’s growing success year on year the festival grew from two days to three and as other festivals began to pop up around it C2C expanded once again and last year saw the very first Country Music Week come to life in October. I caught some of it… of course unless you clone yourself it’s impossible to see it all with numerous shows on each night! What I did see was a range of different types of Country music on offer to fans, there were rising stars, artists from the UK and US and large shows in the Royal Albert Hall. All of this coincided with the announcement of the full line up of C2C the following March. And this year CMW is back with a bang! So here are all the details, but be warned you may want to do everything and it is physically impossible…Lets take this day by day!
Monday 22nd October
We’re starting the week off nice and relaxed with just the one show announced at Shepherds Bush Empire and that is the CMA Songwriters Series which you can read more about on our homepage. For those of you who have not been to one of these shows before let me tell you how it works, the four songwriters will sit in a line on stage (sometimes in a circle in the middle of the room) and take it in turns one by one to play a song acoustically and tell the story behind how they wrote it. You may not recognise some of the names on the line up but more often than not you’ll know the songs they’re playing especially when it comes to host Chris DeStefano who has multiple number 1 hits sung by other artists. As I said earlier though, if you’re thinking of attending do check out our article with all the information about each writer and the ticket link.
Tuesday 23rd October
Now this is where the problems begin as we have two shows on Tuesday. At the Palladium we have Duane Eddy plus Robert Vincent whilst over at Bush Hall we have Chase Rice, Jimmie Allen and Lainey Wilson. Luckily they are from two different sub-genres of Country so may attract different crowds but for those of us who love it all it’s a decision we have to ponder over for a while! Duane Eddy has had an impressive career in Country, Rockabilly, and Rock and Roll, by 1963 he’d already sold 12 million records. His long career has seen him not only be a writer and artist but he is a prolific guitarist who was inducted into the musicians hall of fame in 2008 and won a grammy in 86 for Best Rock Instrumental and was nominated in 92 for Best Country Instrumental. Several of his songs charted throughout the 50s and 60s and after a successful performance at the 2011 Glastonbury Festival Duane Eddy is back!
Meanwhile over at Bush Hall multi-talented country star Chase Rice will take to the stage. I say multi-talented as this boy could have been an NFL star, he was a linebacker in high school and in college until he picked up an injury, he rose to fame in a reality TV show but he became a successful country singer around 2012 after he co-wrote Florida Georgia Line’s Diamond selling number 1 hit “Cruise”. Before that he had released music that had minimal chart success but since then he’s had airplay on The Highway (Sirius XM), an EP that got to number 1 on the iTunes Country albums chart and his last album Lambs and Lions reached number 6 on the official Billboard Country albums chart. That album features co-writers such as Chris DeStefano (who is performing the night before in the songwriters Series), Ross Copperman and Ashley Gorley - some of the top writers in Nashville. Supporting him at his Bush Hall show are new faces to the UK Jimmie Allen and Lainey Wilson.
Wednesday 24th October
There is just one show on Wednesday at Koko, and the headliner is a favourite amongst the UK Crowd and that is Drake White! If any of you have seen him live you will know why he’s a fan favourite, not only does he love the UK crowd and visits regularly but he is a born performer. Recently he has parted ways with record label Big Machine Label Group and despite his popularity here in the UK his singles have struggled to make a dent in the top ten of the US Country charts which surprises me. Songs such as “Making Me Look Good Again” and “Livin The Dream” have become favourites amongst the UK Country community. He is supported by Ryan Kinder and Tenille Townes. Kinder has been across the pond before supporting Eric Clapton at BST Hyde Park and has had his songs streamed over 50 million times without ever releasing a full length record. You can read more about Canadian singer-songwriter Tenille Townes in our article about CMA Songwriters Series.
Thursday 25th October… there’s nothing in the schedule yet… a C2C announcement on Bob Harris perhaps? Who knows, we don’t think they’ve scheduled a break for no reason!
Friday 26th October
We have two fantastic shows on Friday Eric Paslay headlines the Borderline whilst over at Bush Hall there is a special Under The Apple Tree Session. I talked a bit about Eric Paslay on last weeks Nashville Sounds UK Country Radio Show on Roch Valley Radio with presenter Vinny Morley. He has visited the UK a couple of times and has had some chart success as an artist himself however he is probably better known for the songs “Barefoot Blue Jean Night” - Jake Owen, “Even If It Breaks Your Heart” - Will Hoge and Eli Young Band and “Angel Eyes” - Love and Theft all of which made it to number 1 on the US Country Charts. He has also had album cuts on Lady Antebellum’s records as well as on Rascal Flatt’s Rewind album. He was one of last year’s artists at Country Music Week and it’s great to see him back on this side of the pond. He is supported by the Fairground Saints and The Adelaides a UK Country Pop trio who have wowed at several festival appearances this summer.
The Under the Apple Tree sessions over at Bush Hall feature some of the UK’s and US’s rising stars starting with The Wandering Hearts. They too have had a good year with a successful festival run in the UK under their belt and have supported Marty Stuart both on his tour here and at The Ryman Auditorium and made their Grand Ole Opry debut earlier this year. Sarah Darling who is also on the line up loves visiting the UK and has written with the likes of Brandy Clark and Josh Osborne in the past whilst US artist Sara Douga is a new name to me and perhaps to many in the UK but she is turning heads amongst the industry pro’s in the US and the other acts on this bill have a lot of respect for her. Liverpudlian Eleanor Nelly completes the line up, she has had success on BBC Introducing and recently played Countryfile Live alongside the likes of The Shires in Oxford.
Saturday 27th October
There are three shows on Saturday but don’t worry you can make it to two of the shows as one is a daytime hub. Yes at The Borderline noon until 5pm You will get another chance to see Sarah Darling and Lainey Wilson along with Keywest and Jake Morrell. Jake Morrell from Norfolk, England has been making a name for himself in the UK Country scene over the last couple of years. He’s had festival slots at Glastonbury and Country 2 Country and radio play from the likes of Dermot O’Leary on BBC Radio 2.
Sticking with The Borderline that night we have the talented Russell Dickerson who is supported by Twinnie. Russell has had lots of success in the past year with his latest single “Blue Tacoma” still climbing the Hot Country songs chart, currently sitting at number 8 whilst the single before “Yours” reached number 1 on the airplay charts and number 3 on the hot Country Songs chart and is now certified platinum. He has around 200million streams on spotify and is fast becoming a household name within the US Country scene. He is supported by UK Country singer Twinnie who once again is a multi-talented artist after having success as an actress playing Porsche McQueen on the soap Hollyoaks since then she has written with Ben Earle of The Shires (Black and White made The Shires debut album) and has performed twice at C2C.
The main event (in my opinion) on Saturday night is Kacey Musgraves! A lady who needs no introduction, Musgraves has visited the UK on many occasions including last March when she headlined C2C. Her latest album Golden Hour went to number 6 on the UK all genres albums chart a rare feat nowadays for a Country singer. All three of her studio albums have claimed the top spot on the US Country albums chart but her singles have struggled on both the Hot Country and the Airplay charts. This could be to do with Kacey’s “anti-country kind of country” disregarding this latest album for a second, sonically Kacey has always been true Country, she looks the part, sounds the part and even has the perfect back story however where Country is firmly rooted in it’s conservative views of Family life and Religion, Kacey has always pushed the boat out encouraging her fans through her music to “Follow Your Arrow” basically do whatever you want because society will judge you anyway, and this talk has upset some narrow minded country fans in the past. But in Kacey’s case success isn’t defined by the number a single climbs to on the chart, she has still won Grammy’s and CMA Awards with those songs. As always I expect Kacey to put on a show so make sure you catch her on one of her dates wherever you are in the Country!
Sunday 28th October
We’ve come to the last day of Country Music Week but again we have three fantastic shows starting again at 12 noon at The Borderline for the Daytime hub. You’ll get another chance to see Fairground Saints as they play alongside Kerri Watt, Foreign Affairs and Cassadee Pope. The big hitter here is Cassadee Pope, the 2012 winner of the Voice used to be the lead vocalist of Rock band Hey Monday but Pope has now broke onto the Country scene with her debut solo album topping the Country albums chart. Her most successful song to date is Think Of You a duet she released with Chris Young that went to number 1 on the airplay charts and number 2 on the Hot Country Songs chart. It’s not often she performs over here so make sure you catch her set at The Borderline!
But if you do miss Cassadee in the day you can still catch her at Bush Hall for the Bluebird Cafe Songwriters Round. Yes Cassadee is on the bill alongside Eric Paslay and Jimmie Allen so this is a second chance to catch them! Also on the bill is Lee Miller who has seven number 1’s under his belt, three for the great Brad Paisley (The World, I’m Still a Guy, Perfect Storm) and he’s been nominated for three Grammy’s. This is a rare occasion to see this prolific songwriter and you do not want to miss it!
The final show of the week is a special one held at The Royal Albert Hall, Darius Rucker supported by Russell Dickerson is going to have the London audience talking for a long time after. Rucker came to the UK a couple of years ago for C2C Festival and impressed the UK audience. He rose to fame as lead singer of Rock band Hootie and the Blowfish. However he has been making music on the country scene since 2008 when he released Learn to Live, four more albums later Rucker has won 3 Grammy’s, 1 CMA and 1 ACM and had 8 singles top the Country Airplay Charts. He is bound to put on a good show and it’s a second chance to see support act Russell Dickerson, I believe this show is a sell out but never fear, Darius is touring the UK and there may be tickets left for other venues!
All in all it is going to be an explosive week of country music and you’re bound to feel a buzz around the capital, so look out for fellow cowboy boot wearers and get to as many shows as you can!