It was the first year of Black Deer Festival last year and it was nothing short of epic and this was reflected in the amount of awards they won. So this year I had high hopes for the line up and so far I'm not disappointed. True the line up has diversified and the amount of pure Country artists has some what decreased but we have some top quality acts representing a range of different styles of music. The latest announcement, made on Friday, sees Wild Rose film star Jessie Buckley added to the line up. The film which opened in Cinemas on Friday has a fantastic Country soundtrack which features some classic hits originally recorded by the likes of Emmylou Harris, Wynonna Judd, Chris Stapleton and Patty Griffin as well as some original songs written just for the film. Buckley will play songs from the soundtrack when she appears on one of the seven stages at Black Deer this year.
The artist I'm most excited to see though is the legend that is Kris Kristofferson! His career is the very definition of perfection that every songwriter strives for. Spanning over five decades the songs Kristofferson has written continue to be relevant. Some of his most notable pieces of work include Me and Bobby McGee, Sunday Morning Coming Down, For The Good Times and Help Me Make It Through The Night all of which were hits for other artists. He along with Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson formed the Country supergroup The Highwaymen however it is not just his music he is known for but his acting as well. He appeared in several films his most notable being A Star Is Born the 1976 version for which he won a golden globe award for best actor. It shall be a treat to see such an icon serenade us at Black Deer - his set is not to be missed!
The Mavericks are another group who have managed to sustain a long and successful career, founded in 1989 this band combines a range of styles from Tex-Mex, Neotraditional Country and Rockabilly. They have had a few member changes over the years but one constant is that no matter what the line up they are consistently at the top of their game. They've won a number of awards including a Grammy for Best Country Performance. They've released nine studio albums, three compilation albums and a live album and despite taking a little break in 2004 they are back and better than ever, they are going to be perfect for this festival! Another name that stands out to me, appearing on the Sunday night is Billy Bragg, now he won’t be everyone’s cup of tea due to the controversial nature of his songs, he is known for his left wing political activism as well as his music and the two often go hand in hand as he writes protest songs. Again he is someone who has proved himself in the industry, he released his first album back in 1983 called Life’s a Riot with Spy vs Spy.
The Sheepdogs are a band that I’ve seen a few times at different festivals and this kind of setting is where they really thrive! They’re playing all three days bringing their high energy southern rock to the deer park. Another class act on the bill is The Wandering Hearts, signed to Decca their debut album followed by the deluxe version of it went down a treat with both Americana and Country crowds. They have played the spotlight stage at Country 2 Country and SummerTyne Americana Festival as well as having their own successful headline tours. They are another group that really shine in the festival setting with foot stopping numbers that will get the whole family bobbing along. More great artists come in the form of Roseanne Reid and The Southern Companion who are not to be missed. The day splits are up and with more artists rumoured to be announced soon, it is set to be a fantastic weekend with something for everyone! Stay tuned for updates on stages and timings.