Yesterday, at a special launch event at The O2, the lineup for Country To Country 2015 was announced. This was something I was supposed to be at, along with the Lady Antebellum gig that followed it, but an eye infection kept me at home. Time to put the violins away and on with the lineup…
I had a feeling we were going down the bro-country / spring break route, as that’s a trend that seems very popular on country radio in the US these past few years, but I wasn’t expecting it to be quite so all encompassing. It’s never been a secret that I dislike the music of Luke Bryan, and I feel the same about Jason Aldean. Florida Georgia Line I don’t dislike as I do the other two, but they do very little for me. Lady Antebellum are a band I used to like, and Hello World in particular, but I hated Golden, and their latest album doesn’t seem much like a return to form.
That’s the four biggest acts, and half the weekend on the main stages I have no interest in seeing, and wouldn’t actually stay to watch. I do like Brantley Gilbert but we saw him at Country to Country in 2012. I haven’t heard his latest album, who some tell me has him fully embracing the bro country regime too. I will listen eventually, as I like to make my own mind up. Kip Moore I don’t know and Brandy Clark is the only one that interests me. In fact she interests me a lot, and was one of the few artists I’d publicly said I wanted to see at C2C.
So where am I going with this? Well, with a heavy heart I sold my early bird tickets today. I say heavy heart, because I enjoyed last year so much, and especially sharing it with some of my best friends. But this lineup, for my tastes, just doesn’t warrant the £312 the tickets cost. I can understand why Country to Country have booked these acts, and it’s quite a coup to get so many big names, but I think the lack of variety is a little baffling, as is the inclusion of so few females. There is still one slot to miss, so maybe good news will come in the form of someone like Ashley Monroe, Miranda Lambert or Lee Ann Womack, to redress the balance. Lots of friends in the country community are happy, and for them I am happy too, but this year I’ll give the arena a miss.
Pop Up Stages
While I may not be interested in the main stages, I’ll still be going to see the pop up stage acts. Anyone would be a fool not to, especially as they are free to see. If they do decide to charge an entry fee I’ll still be going, as they were as much a highlight of last year’s festival as the main acts. Not staying into the evening does mean my 6 year old son can come, and he’s excited to see and meet Dexeter, Ward Thomas and Hannah Jane Lewis, so he says.
As for me, I would love to see Dexeter perform at The O2. It was at last year’s Country to Country that I met them, and want away with their Brighter Skies EP, and a promise to catch them live, as I’d missed them over that festival weekend. See them live I did, a few times, at festivals, London gigs and some even more intimate settings. This band has worked so hard since March, and with talent and an admirable attitude, have cultivated quite a following, who funded their upcoming album in just a number of days. They deserve, maybe more than any other, to be invited back to play on the pop up stages, hopefully the Brooklyn Bowl stage.
Of the acts I have seen already, Ward Thomas are an act I will never tire of seeing, and will have seen them 5 times before next year’s C2C, in less than 10 months. They were another act I never saw at this year’s festival, along with The Shires, who I will be seeing with Ward Thomas on their Homegrown Tour in Milton Keynes next month. I saw The Shires back at their showcase with Cassadee Pope in London, and am keen to witness their impressive vocals again.
Hannah Jane Lewis is the one of the people who actually made me aware of the UK scene, with the release of her music video for 17 Again at the start of the year. It’s obvious from hearing her new songs when she supported Jill and Kate, that she has grown as a writer and a singer, and on the verge of finishing her 2nd EP, she seems an obvious choice to come back.
At the risk of going on and on, let me also request Frankie Davies and Liv Austen – two exceptionally good singer songwriters, as well as Alex Hart from my old stomping ground in Devon. It’s a bit of a crime I’ve gotten this far into the article without mentioning Jess Roberts, who may be the UK’s answer to Ashley Monroe, and is absolutely mesmerising to watch perform. McKay, Laura Oakes, Paul Carella, Lisa Redford and the list goes on.
This is by no way a complete list and don’t be offended if I haven’t mentioned you! There’s so much talent in the UK that slots on the pop up stages could be filled four times over. I’m very much looking forward to immersing myself in the amazing atmosphere once again, seeing old friends and making new ones, whist discovering some incredible new talents.