Posts Tagged With: Hannah Jane Lewis

If UK Country Music Acts Were the Stars of the Nashville TV Show

This started out as a much more serious topic, of trying to figure where the Nashville equivalent would be in the UK, and what would be our Opry and Ryman? Don’t ask me how, but my mind took a tangent to thinking who from the UK country music scene would I have in place of the stars of the Nashville show. This is a very lighthearted article and some of these links are very tenuous, so please don’t take offense as an artist or fan, absolutely none is intended.

Raintown as Rayna Jaymes and Luke Wheeler

Raintown as Rayna Jaymes and Luke Wheeler

Raintown as Rayna Jaymes and Luke Wheeler

As the veterans of UK country music this was an obvious pick, and as a recently married couple, could Paul and Claire have done what Rayna and Luke are on the same track to do?

Hannah Jane Lewis as Juliette Barnes

Hannah Jane Lewis as Juliette Barnes

Hannah Jane Lewis as Juliette Barnes

Both are young, blonde and hitting the country pop market, but with traditional influences. Juliette could probably do with some of Hannah’s work with schools to improve her public image and from what I’ve seen Hannah isn’t as big a diva as Juliette…but who knows what goes on behind closed doors 😉

Gary Quinn as Deacon Claybourne

Gary Quinn as Deacon Claybourne

Gary Quinn as Deacon Claybourne

Another veteran journeyman of the UK country scene and often seen gigging with Raintown, much like Deacon is with Luke in the show. I don’t think the love triangle exists between these guys as does on the show though…

Jess Roberts as Scarlett O’Connor

Jess Roberts as Scarlett O'Connor

Jess Roberts as Scarlett O’Connor

Brilliant new singer songwriter who is quieter than her contemporaries and infinitely more talented than she realises. Jess or Scarlett? It could well be either, and we await new music from both with baited breath.

Richard Clarke as Avery Barkley

Richard Clarke as Avery Barkley

Richard Clarke as Avery Barkley

An artist in his own right and guitarist on Hannah Jane Lewis’ band. if you’ve watched Nashville you’ll be thinking how eerily similar this is, except for the tempestuous relationship part. Both Richard and Avery have a wild side though 😉

The Shires as Gunnar Scott and Zoey Dalton

The Shires as Gunnar Scott and Zoey Dalton

The Shires as Gunnar Scott and Zoey Dalton

Ben and Gunnar are both singer songwriters from the UK, not that you’d know from Sam Palladio’s accent on Nashville. Add in the gorgeous, almost angelic voices of Crissie and Zoe and I think this comparison works pretty well, relationship status aside.

Ward Thomas as Maddie and Daphne

Ward Thomas as Maddie and Daphne

Ward Thomas as Maddie and Daphne

The ages might be a little off, but other than that this a perfect match – sisters with gorgeous voices and fantastic harmonies. The question is – who is who?

Gareth Thomas and Deeanne Dexeter as Will Lexington and Layla Grant

Gareth Thomas and Deeanne Dexeter as Will Lexington and Layla Grant

Gareth Thomas and Deeanne Dexeter as Will Lexington and Layla Grant

This is where it gets a bit tenuous, but bear with me! Both came from relative obscurity and have made a name from themselves in the last 12 months. Will and Layla have a sham marriage while Gareth and Deeanne have a band marriage! Gareth and Deeanne have better voices though and Gareth prefers his wife to his personal trainer!

That’s as far as I got, and I stopped at casting Jeff Fordham for fear of ruffling feathers! So, what do you think – agree or disagree, I’d love for you to leave a comment and if you have any of your own suggestions, go for it!

Categories: Articles | Tags: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

New Hannah Jane Lewis Video – First Time Feeling

A few days ago I interviewed Hannah and you can read that here. One of the things we talked about was the new single, First Time Feeling, and the imminent release of the video. Well that immanence has come and gone, and the video is out!

It went live just over 24 hours ago and has already notched up almost 1,200 views. It’s a really well shot video which brings the story of the song to life, whilst showing us footage of Hannah and her band performing First Time Feeling. Much like Hannah’s first video for Seventeen Again, it’s hard to believe that she’s an independent artist and there was no label involved in the production of this music video.

An hour after the launch of the video, Hannah hosted a live chat with fans on YouTube, where she talked about her career, her goals and even her cooking skills, or lack there of! The chat finished with an impromptu acoustic performance of First Time Feeling, along with other band members Grace Lewis, Richard Clarke and Leo Clarke.

Hannah Jane Lewis EP Launch

Hannah’s second EP Run With Me will be available to pre-order tomorrow, January 3rd, and at that point you get the download for First Time Feeling straight away. The official EP launch is at The Borderline in London on Saturday 17th January, and for just £5 you can be there – tickets available here. Hannah will be supported by 400 Miles to Nashville favourites Dexeter and Louise Smith.

Categories: Music Videos | Tags: | Leave a comment

Interview: Hannah Jane Lewis is Back with A New Single – First Time Feeling

Interview: Hannah Jane Lewis is Back with A New Single - First Time Feeling

It was back in February that I first wrote about Hannah Jane Lewis, when I reviewed her debut EP, and after a year that saw gigs and tours of various kinds, Hannah is back with her new single: First Time Feeling. With this new single we get those glorious vocals that we have become used to with Hannah, that ooze emotion as she bares her soul. It’s a song, that with the help especially of the guitars, builds perfectly to an upbeat chorus, and proves once again that Hannah’s ability to produce well written and catchy songs is as strong as ever.

Ahead of the song’s launch I caught up with Hannah, and here’s what she had to say:

So tell us what you have been up to since we last chatted in June, and particularly the schools tour you embarked on.

Hello! Well since June I guess I’ve been working behind the scenes on everything that is about to kick off in January. So I focused on writing and eventually took my best songs into the studio and recorded my new EP ‘Run With Me’.

I’ve also been concentrating on building my fan base. As you mentioned above I embarked on a schools tour. I’ve always been into public speaking and can be pretty hot headed with the subjects I believe in so this seemed like a perfect fit for me. I’ve basically been travelling to lots of different secondary schools talking about either drugs/alcohol abuse or cyber bullying and online safety. I pair this with performing my music, which I’ve found makes these lovely kids want to listen to the speech more. It has been one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life and has inspired me more than I can say.

In the latter half of the year I’ve focused on cyber bullying which is something that I strongly believe in. I spend a lot of my life (probably way too much) on social media and have seen people be brutal to each other over social media. I myself have been a victim of it, and people really close to me have been too so it’s something that

I am becoming increasingly passionate about. The response I have had from these kids since I’ve been to their schools has been so eye opening, this is something that is happening to so many of them and often their parents and teachers are unaware. Now that I’ve become involved in this I feel like I can’t back away now, so in 2015 I am going to continue these tours and get more involved with helping these kids out!

Back in June when you played at The Borderline, supporting Jill & Kate, you debuted a song which is now to be released as your next single. First Time Feeling – what’s the story behind this song?

Ah well this is a song that is really personal to me. I wrote ‘First Time Feeling’ about my experience with first love. I’d wanted to write a song about that subject for so long, it’s something that I think is so significant – at least to me. So if you listen to the lyrics it’s basically a story about looking back on the way that first love felt. Its probably one of my most autobiographical songs (which is a little scary!) but it’s something that I think a lot of people can relate to. It’s the idea that no matter where you are in life, even if you are married or have
moved on, you always have a special place for your first love.

The video for First Time Feeling is released on Thursday – what can we expect from that and are you feeling nervous, excited, both!?

Oh god I am literally SO excited! Definitely a bit nervous too though, as I mentioned before it’s a really personal song so that makes it a bit scarier but still very exciting. I had the best experience filming this video; it has turned out exactly how I had imagined when I was writing this song. I asked my friend Shaun Reynolds (songwriter/producer who I did the ‘Shake It Off’ cover with) if he could help me out and he decided to get involved and bring in his friend Tommy Reynolds who is an amazing videographer/photographer. Tommy filmed it with the help of Shaun and then Shaun edited it. I wanted to recreate all of those ‘first time feelings’ when you meet someone new, so the video is focused around that. Dino Fetscher (he’s about to be in the new E4 TV show ‘Banana’ so look out for that) plays my love interest and my lovely band feature in it too. It was filmed in Brighton, the weather was UNREAL and we basically just did fun things all day. So I can’t wait for everyone to see!

This is the first song of an upcoming second EP – how do you feel you and your music have changed between EP releases?

I have learnt so much in the space of the year between these two releases, so I would say that is the biggest change. When I released my first EP I really didn’t know much about the music industry at all and hadn’t been living back in the UK for long. I was very wide eyed and bushy tailed (which I think I will always be to a degree) but now I feel a lot more prepared and in control. This year has had its ups and downs and I’ve learnt a lot of lessons that I feel all contributed to a more mature sound in this new EP. I also co-wrote with Leo Clarke and Jamie Jarvis on three out of the five songs, that is something I hadn’t done before. I still write the lyrics by myself but I’ve loved collaborating on the music side of things. With that I’ve become very much open to a lot of different musical styles which I think shows here.

Is your new music made with the same band you were with at The Borderline and also at Country 2 Country 2013?

Yes it is! I get asked the question all the time of how I found my band and I literally feel so lucky that that all fell into place. As most people know my sister is my backing singer, we’ve been singing together since we were little so it’s amazing to have her in the band and on the new EP. The rest of the boys in the band are all my best friends, play on the EP and at all of my gigs. So it is a family affair 🙂

Speaking of The Borderline, that’s the location of your EP launch on January 17th, where you are headlining. How does that feel, and how will it compare supporting to headlining?

I’m really excited about that too. The Borderline is one of my favourite venues and I couldn’t think of a more perfect place to launch my EP. I can’t wait to headline it, which was always a goal of mine so it feels great to be doing it. I loved supporting Jill and Kate there and can’t wait to go back.

You have Dexeter and Jess Roberts supporting you that night – why those two acts?

Well I’m friends with both of them and I think they’re great. I love Dexeter’s sound, Deeanne has the dreamiest voice and they are so supportive I thought they’d be perfect. Sadly Jess Roberts can’t support anymore for personal reasons but I’m in the process of sorting someone else out to take that spot. Never fear though, Jess and I may or may not do a duet so she’ll still be there.

We’ve seen indication that you may have a tour in your plans for the future – is there anything more you can tell us about that now?

That is something I am working on right now! Lots of my fans live outside of London in the Home Counties and are quite young so I’m hoping to do some all ages shows that I will announce soon! I want to play out this new music as much as I can though so keep your eyes peeled 🙂

Is Country 2 Country 2015 something you have applied for and when do you find out if you have been successful?

Yes I have applied for it! I’m not entirely sure when everyone will find out but fingers crossed!

Single, video, EP, tour – what else is on the horizon for Hannah Jane Lewis?

Hmmm well! So yes the video comes out, then the EP and then I will be doing a little tour and playing gigs as much as I can. I’ve already started writing new music for my next EP so that’s something I’m always thinking about. I’m collaborating more as well which I really enjoy. As I mentioned above it’s a goal of mine to become more involved with anti cyber- bullying this year, so I’ll continue to do school tours and other things concerning that. And if you haven’t seen I put up my first vlog on YouTube a couple of weeks ago, that’s something I am going to do more of! You will see a lot more of my face on YouTube this year!

Is there anything you would like to say to your fans before the release of your new music?

Absolutely! I literally can’t thank them enough for being so supportive. As some of you may know, every single thing you see posted on my Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram etc is entirely run by me. I’ve got no label, PR Company, agency or management – it is purely DIY music. It would mean so much to me if everyone could get behind my music and see where we can take it. And for those of you who want to be singer/songwriters and don’t see how you can do it by yourself, I promise you that you can! That is probably the most important lesson I have learnt in 2014!

Hannah’s EP launch is on January 17th at The Borderline and you buy tickets here for just £5. That’s not a typo – tickets are just five pounds! See you there.

Facebook: /HannahJaneLewisMusic
Instagram: hannahjane001
Twitter: @hannahjane001
Soundcloud: hannah-jane-lewis
YouTube: hannahlewis001

Categories: Interviews | Tags: | Leave a comment

4000 Miles to Nashville Presents: Hannah Jane Lewis at The Borderline

Rising UK country / pop singer songwriter Hannah Jane Lewis recently supported Nashville duo Jill & Kate at their gig in the prestigious Borderline in London on Wednesday June 4th 2014.

I had the great opportunity to both watch the gig and interview Hannah, all about her preparation, her gigs, her plans, her upcoming schools tour and much more. In this feature you can see that interview, with footage from the performances at The Borderline too.

You can read a review of that gig here.

Categories: Interviews | Tags: | Leave a comment

Gig Review: Jill & Kate, Jeannine Barry and Hannah Jane Lewis at The Borderline, London – 4th June 2014

Not 1, not 2 but all 3 of these modern country music artists played at Country 2 Country earlier this year, and here they all were, back together again to play the very prestigious Borderline in London. It was my first time at The Borderline, which is just a short walk from Tottenham Court Road, and had a great vibe. It was a four date mini-tour of the UK for Jill & Kate, who specifically chose Jeannine and Hannah after seeing them perform at Country 2 Country in March.

Hannah Jane Lewis

Read through previous articles about Hannah and you’ll see an EP review and interview amongst other things, and she was the act I was most familiar with. She was on stage with her full band, and as always looked thrilled to be there, the place she feels most at home. Tonight’s set was actually different to the two I saw her play in The O2, as she played some new material that I’d not heard before. Stuck On You is a very upbeat song that had the crowd singing so loud at one point, that I’m certain Hannah had to sing louder!

Hannah Jane Lewis at The Borderline, London – 4th June 2014

Hannah Jane Lewis at The Borderline, London – 4th June 2014

The other new song was called Part Of My Heart, though that may change, and is a story of first loves. I had it in mind that this would make a great single, something Hannah confirmed as a plan of hers in the sit down video interview we did – coming soon! It has a fantastic hook and as popular as 17 Again has become (over 10,000 views on YouTube), I think Part Of My Heart could be a really big breakout song for Hannah. It was a great 7 song set, which also included songs from her EP and a cover of Hey Ho, which she sings with her sister Grace. Hannah just keeps getting better, both as a singer/songwriter and as a performer.

Jeannine Barry

I learned a big lesson during Jeannine’s set – don’t go to the loo right before someone starts playing if you intend to take photos of an act on stage. You got it, I lost my spot, and then spent the next 20 minutes trying to get into a good position to get some good snaps of Jeannine and band! Luckily I had seen Jeannine play just 6 days earlier at The Garage in Highbury, so I knew she could sing, and the acoustics in The Borderline are even better.

Jeannine Barry at The Borderline, London – 4th June 2014

Jeannine Barry at The Borderline, London – 4th June 2014

I wasn’t that familiar with Jeannine’s music before these two gigs, but I found myself singing along to What I Long For at The Borderline, and it’s been in my head ever since – that’s the mark of a great song. I’m not sure during which song it was, but at one point the mic failed – such is the power of Jeannine’s voice! A new mic was soon brought out and it was back to business! Jeannine is a class act on stage, but I feel sure there’s a sassy side just waiting to burst out, and I want to be there when that happens!

Jill & Kate

In case you didn’t know, Jill & Kate spent 6 years as backing singers for Kelly Clarkson, so they should be able to sing live, and boy can they ever. They also had quite the rabid pack of fans, who cheered their every word, something Kate both cottoned onto and played on, to the delight of that very crowd. Charming and funny, with Jill on guitar and piano, and Kate on lead vocals and mandolin, this is one very talented duo that seem to have made the right decision to go it alone.

Jill & Kate at The Borderline, London – 4th June 2014

Jill & Kate at The Borderline, London – 4th June 2014

They played hits from their catalogue, as well as from their new acoustic covers album. One such number was ROAR by Katy Perry, which is a song I don’t mind, but every time I’ve seen Katy sing live it’s been somewhat of a disaster. To that end it was quite refreshing to hear a Katy Perry song performed live, and sound good, really good! The crowd went bonkers for Since You Were Gone and I was delighted they played my own personal favourite: Skinny Jeans. They sang for over an hour and when they went off I actually thought that was that, but they came back on for a two song encore, including the very moving Hey Bartender.

Hannah, Jeannine, Jill and Kate, aside from sounding like the register at a girl’s school, all sounded fantastic and put on a great show to entertain all of us in attendance. I’d be very surprised if the audience didn’t go away both bigger fans of everyone’s music and keen to see them all live again soon. The Borderline is a venue rich in musical history, and all three acts did it proud. CMAFest may be going on in Nashville right now, but on Wednesday we had our own mini version right here in London.

Categories: Gig Reviews | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Interview: Rising UK Country Singer Hannah Jane Lewis

I became a fan of Hannah when I saw her music video for 17 Again, and then quickly bought her self-titled EP which I loved, and reviewed here. Fast forward a few weeks and I saw her play twice at Country 2 Country, with full band on the Saturday and smaller acoustic set up on the Sunday. So she sounded great on CD and live, but I wanted to know more. This is what Hannah had to say when I caught up with her.

Tell us a bit about how you got started in music?

Well music has always been a constant throughout my life. I started to sing before I could even talk, and haven’t stopped since…much to my families dismay sometimes! I started to take piano and singing lessons when I was 8, and kind of ran with it since then. I grew up in a music filled household, and have never thought about doing anything else but music. I started to take it really seriously about two years ago now, and since then have done whatever I can to keep pushing forward.

I’ve read elsewhere that you spent several years in America – how did that come about and how did your music develop or change over there?

We’d been going to Florida every Easter, summer and Christmas since I was really little, so when I turned fifteen my parents just decided to move there. It was a second home to us already and we were up for an adventure so we went for it. By living in America and particularly the south, I was surrounded by country music most of the time. So when I started to make my own music, it just naturally came out that way. I think from living in the states I picked up a lot of ambition and drive, because they don’t do anything half heartedly out there- that is probably one of the biggest things that has shaped me and my music.

You describe yourself as modern pop/country – what made you decide on that direction for your sound?

It wasn’t really a conscious decision that I made. When I started to write, it naturally started to move that way. Vocally, I found a couple years ago that country music suited my voice the best too. I have also always been drawn to music that tells stories which is the basis of country music, so If I was going to write it myself I knew it would be in that vein.

Last year you released your self titled first EP – how did the recording process go and how did you feel when it was finished?

Ah that was amazing! The stars kind of aligned for that process, as the boys (who I had never met before) who recorded the instruments on that EP became my band. That was my first time in the studio too, so I was definitely nervous but really excited about what the outcome would be. I had been playing those four songs for so long in my bedroom with just me on the guitar, so when they started to take shape in the studio it was like a dream come true. I learnt that I am a major perfectionist, which meant that I was a lot more hands on than I thought I would be.

When it was finished I was obviously so excited, but also really scared about releasing it. That was the first representation of me, so it was quite a scary moment.

Hannah Jane Lewis on Stage at Country 2 Country 2014

Hannah Jane Lewis on Stage at Country 2 Country 2014

What has the response been to your EP and will you look to record a second EP or is an album next?

The response has been great! Everyone has been so lovely and supportive about it. I am definitely looking to record another EP which will be happening SOON. Potentially a single in the very near future.

You were part of the Country 2 Country festival at The O2 in London and played both days. Can you remember when you found out and how long did it take to sink in?

Yes I do remember, I had literally never been so excited! I had a smile on my face all day. I went to Country 2 Country the year before and hadn’t even really started putting myself out there as an artist yet, but set myself a goal of being on that pop up stage in a years time.So that was a big moment when it happened, I can’t really believe how much has changed in a year! I don’t think it really sank in until we had to send all our final information over for it to be confirmed.

You looked nervous when you were about to go on stage on the Saturday, but once on stage the nerves seemed to disappear and you sung with great confidence. How does it feel to be on stage, signing your own songs?

Haha I was a bit manic on that first day when you saw me! I am a procrastinator so it tends to be like that right before I go on stage….I make life so hard! Performing is honestly my favourite thing in the world though, I am in my element when I am up there. It is amazing to be singing my own songs too, and absolutely crazy when I see people in the audience singing them back. That just blows my mind..

You played a full band set on the Saturday and an acoustic set on the Sunday – how did they differ and what was it like playing those gigs to such big crowds?

Full band was loads of fun, I love the boys and my sis who play with me so its always a really good time. It also amplifies the energy, and I love to dance which I get to do more on full band gigs. The audience for that gig was the biggest I have played to so I was on a high from that. For both shows it was really cool to play to an audience that all love country music, that was special.

I did also really enjoy the acoustic gig though. It some ways that one was even better, maybe as it was the second day and I was a little bit more comfortable. I love the intimacy of acoustic gigs, and the audience of that one was really responsive and had lots of energy!

What’s it like playing these gigs and then having fans ask for photos and autographs?

Absolutely mad! haha something I definitely haven’t gotten used to. My sister and my friends find it the weirdest. I love meeting fans though. They are the ones who give me the confidence to push for things like Country 2 Country, so they mean a lot!

Your sister Grace was on backing vocals, how does it feel having her up there singing with you?

I love having her there! She is an actress in her own right so I will be really sad when she gets too busy to sing with me. We have sang together ever since we were really little, so its natural and comforting to have her up there. Plus I am the biggest airhead and forget to thank my band and say when my next show is etc, and she always reminds me!

As well as looking happy to be signing with your sister, your whole band plays really well together, and most importantly you all seem to be having a good time. How did you all get together?

We do all get along really well, they are the dream. I met Richard Clarke my guitarist a couple years ago, when we both used to randomly sing with this soul band. I had just moved back to England and didn’t know anyone in music, so I always went to him when I had questions about things. I asked his advice on recording and he basically took it in his hands to organise it for me. He got some of his friends to come and record the EP with me and we played really well together, so they became my band. It was really lucky actually!

Going back a few years – what was the Open Mic UK experience like?

That was definitely an interesting one! I had absolutely no idea what I was doing at that point. It was a good experience- performance and feedback wise, but I wasn’t sure of who I was as an artist or on the track that I am now so it wasn’t as beneficial as it could have been.

Back to the present and you just recently released a music video for 17 Again. What made you decide to make the video and why for 17 Again? Was the process fun?

After releasing the EP, it was clear that that song was the favourite. Lots of people tweeted/facebooked me saying that it was the one they loved, so it was a no brainer to have it be the lead track. It is hard for me to pick favourites as they all mean something different to me, but I love the message of 17 Again and have a lot of fun singing it.

Shooting the video was awesome. I was really nervous and thought I would be awkward but I ended up having the best time. I wanted it to be really personable, relatable and a true representation of me, so I basically just hung out with my band for a couple days and filmed the process!

All the songs on your EP, and your new song Worth The Wait, are written by you – what’s the writing process like for you – is it something that comes easy and do you enjoy it?

The process changes a lot! Sometimes it starts with a melody that is going around my head, or a line that I have heard somewhere that sparks something. Other times (the best times) I pick up the guitar/piano and just unload into the song exactly how I am feeling at that moment. They are all written from personal experiences and relationships, I find it near impossible to write about something that I haven’t been really close to. I love writing though, I find it really therapeutic. Luckily most of the time it comes easy, but there have been times when something is in the way and it is a little harder.

You have a few gigs in London over the next month or so but you’ve also just been announced as supporting fellow Country 2 Country performers Jill & Kate – how did that happen?

That came off the back of performing at Country 2 Country! I am so excited for that gig, should be really fun!

How important is social media in getting your music out to people?

Ah so important! It is crucial now. I was never really much of a facebook/twitter user until I realized that nowadays you can’t be a singer/songwriter trying to get your music out there without it. I think it is really important to build a fan base and keep in constant conversation with them too. Most of my opportunities have come from people stumbling across me on twitter/facebook/youtube etc, so I couldn’t be without it.

Hannah Jane Lewis Acoustic Set at Country 2 Country 2014

Hannah Jane Lewis Acoustic Set at Country 2 Country 2014

It’s unfair to ask who you most like to be like as you want to be Hannah Jane Lewis, but whose career(s) do you admire and think that’s the kind of route I’d like to take.

Hmm, well I have a lot of different inspirations. I am a huge fan of John Mayer and think it is really interesting how much he re invents himself. I like how every album has a different sound, keeping people guessing so thats something I’d like to emulate. I’ve always been a big fan of Taylor Swift, I love how she focuses on writing her own material and being really honest in songs making them universal. She’s also really good at making her fans feel appreciated.

Big fan of Kacey Musgraves too, she has really taken off in the last year and I really admire how she did it. The focus being on her as a songwriter makes her really credible, and I love her frankness. That is really refreshing to see, she’s paving the way for others with a similar mindset.

What’s next for Hannah Jane Lewis?

Well I am making plans to record another EP that I hope will be out at some point in the summer. A single that will come before that is on the cards too! I’ll also be playing as much as I can, and doing some more touring. I am potentially planning a northern tour for the end of May and am really excited at the idea of getting a southern one set up too! So basically as much as I possibly can 🙂

A huge thank you to Hannah for letting us in and I look forward to catching up again for a progress report. I’ll be seeing Hannah play live again soon, so I’ll be back with a gig review.

You can catch up with Hannah Jane Lewis in the following places:

Facebook: /HannahJaneLewisMusic
Twitter: @hannahjane001
Soundcloud: hannah-jane-lewis
YouTube: hannahlewis001

Categories: Interviews | Tags: | Leave a comment

Country 2 Country 2014 – One Week On and it’s Pop Up Mania

This time last week I was is enjoying the second day of Country 2 Country, just getting ready to watch Striking Matches, to be precise at the time of writing this. So here I am 7 days later, and what effect, if any, has attending Country 2 Country had on me?

While it was the main stage acts that I paid to see, given that the pop up stage acts were free to all, it may be somewhat surprising that it’s those pop up stage acts that have left thew biggest impact on me. There’s no denying I was blown away by the likes Brad Paisley, Dierks Bentley and the Dixie Chicks, but it’s not these juggernauts of country music that have occupied my mind this past week. Over the course of the two days I saw quite a few acts on the pop up stages, and it brought to my attention just how much talent there is, right here in the UK.

Of the 28 acts that were on offer, I saw just 8, and 6 of those ply their trade in the UK and you can read about the ones I did see here. Thanks to Twitter, Facebook and YouTube I’ve caught up with a lot more of the acts that performed last weekend, and without fail have been bowled over by just how good they are. The homegrown country music scene is bursting full of great signers, songwriters and musicians – they just need more exposure. I’ve found myself listening to and watching a ton of performances, both new and old, from acts I saw and those who I missed out on too.

It’s one thing to watch videos on YouTube, after all, that seems to be how the new generation consume music these days anyway, but what next? It hasn’t stopped there for me though, as I’ve also been looking at live dates, to see if I can watch as many of these acts in person as I can. I met the band Dexeter last weekend and have been listening to their EP this week, with a view of going up to the Midlands to see them perform. Being in North Hertfordshire it won’t be the longest drive know to man, but would I have considered it had Country 2 Country not crossed out paths – probably not.

Closer to home Lisa Redford is performing at the music shop I frequent for Record Store Day, just 3 miles from my house. How could I not to go to that? Thing is, had I not seen her at Country 2 Country last Sunday I wouldn’t have known who she was, and probably wouldn’t have gone, no matter how close it is to me. Ward Thomas are a band that played last weekend, and though I didn’t see them, I became more aware of them, and just this morning listened to them on Radio 2. Now I am keen to buy their EP when it comes out in April and see them live at the next opportunity.

Gary Quinn is someone I knew of before Country 2 Country, and since seeing him live, where I really enjoyed his set, we have chatted on Twitter and I have bought a ticket to see him perform a StageIt show. I’d never even signed up to StageIt before he announced his gig, but what a great way for fans to see live music without travelling to locations that are too far away. It has cost me just $5 which equates to £3.03 for a 30 minute set – a veritable bargain I’m sure you’ll agree.

Hannah Jane Lewis is someone whose music I knew the best before Country 2 Country, and I reviewed her self titled EP here. It was however Country 2 Country that gave me the opportunity to see her perform, twice, and now know she’s every bit as good live as she is on her EP. As such I’m considering going to see her play this coming Wednesday at The Water Rats Theatre. This is a venue that just happens to be near Kings Cross, which is the station the train from my town goes to, and at £5 it’s almost too tempting to resist. If I get over my cough, yeah poor me, then I will do just that. She has another gig in London the month after, so either way I’ll get the chance to see her perform again, and maybe grab an interview too if I’m lucky.

If we are talking non UK talent then Jill and Kate have a mini UK tour in June and will be playing The Bordereline in London – another gig from a Country 2 Country artist that I am strongly considering going to. Just a few hours after I wrote this it was announced that the aforementioned Hannah Jane Lewis would be supporting Jill & Kate – 2 pop up stage acts appearing on the same night! Tickets are available here. Of course there are also Striking Matches who I hadn’t even heard of before last weekend, wowed me, have just signed a record deal and will release an album later this year. I’ve since bought their EP and single on iTunes and will be first in the queue to get the album, along with everyone else who saw them.

So struck with the quality of the pop up stage acts, I have even been having thoughts of organising a festival to showcase all this talent as I want as many people as possible to experience the great music I have discovered. I’m not sure how that will happen and I think it might be better on the hands of the guys at, whose promotions guy Andy I have been pestering with the idea of a UKCMFest relentlessly!

These are just a few, there is a thriving country music scene in the UK, and that’s something that I only recently had my eyes opened to thanks to the Country 2 Country pop up stages. Imagine if every other country music fan in the UK knew about all these great acts too – how long before we’d hear more of them on the radio, see more of them on tour, and see more of their albums in shops? I’ve taken it upon myself to spread the word as much as possible about the great talent on offer – so expect more posts, more tweets and more Facebook updates about these acts in the coming weeks and months. It’s pretty exciting that I can see so much great country music in my own country, all year round.

Categories: Articles, Country 2 Country | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Country 2 Country 2014 Review – Pop Up Stage Acts

Country 2 Country 2014

Last year I went to just the Sunday of Country 2 Country and didn’t realise there would be pop stage acts. This year I went for the whole weekend and scheduled what pop up acts I wanted to see – no seriously, an actual schedule, look! I did keep pretty much to that schedule, with a few exceptions, and even added in a few more performances I hadn’t planned for. On Saturday night I managed a mighty 2.5 hours of sleep, and adrenaline saw me through Sunday, but to say it was one of the greatest weekends of my life would in no way be hyperbole or exaggeration.

If you’ve never been to Country 2 Country, you’ve never seen The O2 transformed into a mini Nashville, with a market area for traders and food stalls, but more importantly 4 pop up stages placed throughout the complex. These stages played host to 28 acts from all over the world and in many respects were the heart of the weekend, providing countless number of highlights.

Striking Matches at Country 2 Country 2014

Striking Matches at Country 2 Country 2014

I have to start with Striking Matches, who are a mesmerising duo of singer songwriters with an almost inhuman level of guitar wizardry. I arrived a bit earlier than expected so was able to see them within moments of entering The O2 on Saturday, and again on Sunday. They weren’t the only act I saw twice as Hannah Jane Lewis’ full band performance on Saturday was so good I had to see her acoustic set the very next day. Both were superb and Hannah seems like someone who was born to sing, and shines in the spotlight. These two acts came together as I chatted to Hannah as we walked over to see Striking Matches on Sunday. Yes, look at me, mingling with the acts 😉

Hannah Jane Lewis at Country 2 Country 2014

Hannah Jane Lewis at Country 2 Country 2014

It was great to see Maria Byrne who I’d been in contact with before the festival, and who brought a change of pace with her folk/country songs and impromptu joke session. I caught Emma Jade mid Sunday afternoon, and though suffering with a sore throat, that didn’t stop her performing songs such as The Dixie Chicks’ Travelling Soldiers that two girls near me had requested numerous times the night before, when the actual Dixie Chicks were playing. With Jill and Kate we got Christmas in March, and I even got my song request played when they sung Skinny Jeans, just for me, as they’d never play one of their most popular songs without me tweeting them, right?

Emma Jade at Country 2 Country 2014

Emma Jade at Country 2 Country 2014

What these pop up stages did showcase is what a hotbed of country music talent there is right here in the UK. As well as those already mentioned I finally got to see Gary Quinn and Raintown, though the latter only for one song as I turned up too late to a massively packed out Brooklyn Bowl Stage. That one song was enough to make me want to see them again, and I caught most of Gary’s set on Sunday, and saw a guy who I immediately wanted to see performing on an outside stage in the sun. Great songs, great voice and entertaining throughout. Then there was Lisa Redford who caught my attention as I was walking past the Armadillo Stage, so much so that I stopped and listened to her silky smooth vocals and forgot about where I had intended to go.

Gary Quinn at Country 2 Country 2014

Gary Quinn at Country 2 Country 2014

All that’s really just the tip of the iceberg of what was going on, but without cloning myself there’s no way I could experience it all. I do have to point out that astonishingly, all these pop stage acts were free to anyone who came to The O2 over the weekend. That’s free as in no charge, as in it cost not one penny to see these incredible singers, songwriters and musicians perform. Just ponder that thought for a few moments. Amazing, right?

I will be doing some individual reviews of some of pop up stage acts I saw, and I have a bucket loads of photos to share and even a few videos too. If ever you want to experience Country 2 Country but for whatever reason can’t get tickets to see the main stage acts, you have to visit The O2 during the afternoon for the pop up stage acts – it’s almost rude not to.

Credit goes to my very good friend Mark for the Striking Matches and Emma Jade photos, and also for keeping up with my crazy schedule where others fell to the wayside.

Categories: Country 2 Country, Gig Reviews | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Six of the Best Pop Up Artists to Check Out at Country 2 Country 2014

Unless you have been living under a rock you’ll know that Country 2 Country is the big weekend of country music in the UK, held annually at the O2 in London for the second time this coming weekend. But what is a pop up artist? As well as the big 4 acts from America playing in the arena each day, there are what they call pop up stages for smaller, lesser known acts to play on. These 4 stages are named to coincide with what they are near, which makes sense, be daft to name them after something in a completely different area! The fabulous have created these great graphics that show who is playing on each of the stages on both days. Before you look at those, do head over to and check out the amazing selection of country music being played 24 hours a day, 7 days a week!

Pop Up Artists at Country 2 Country 2014 - Saturday

Pop Up Artists at Country 2 Country 2014 – Saturday

Pop Up Artists at Country 2 Country 2014 - Sunday

Pop Up Artists at Country 2 Country 2014 – Sunday

So, without further a do, here are six of my recommendations of people to check out, and are ones that I’ll certainly be looking out for myself.

Hannah Jane Lewis
If you’ve visited this blog before then this will come as no surprise to you. I was blown away with how great Hannah’s EP sounds and I’ll actually be trying my best to see her twice. She’s with her full band on the Saturday, after which I’ll have to run like Usain Bolt to get to my seat in time for Martina McBride, and then on the Sunday she’s going it alone and performing a acoustic set. In my review of her EP, I said it would be good to hear Hannah play The Worst Way acoustically – consider this my formal request for Sunday.

Gary Quinn
Gary is someone who I have been aware of for a few months due to seeing him mentioned on Twitter but only in the last week or so have I been listening to his album, and actually have a review coming soon, so look out for that. Gary’s music brings a combination of modern and traditional, but most definitely country. You know I bang on about story telling in songs? Gary ticks that box, and is a great weapon to use against anyone who says people from the UK don’t get country music, as I have heard said. I’m particularly hoping to hear I Love To Watch You leave, which shows his cheeky side.

Jill and Kate
It was fellow country music blogger Kasey Stone over at Hitting All the Right Notes who recommended me this duo from Nashville, who actually used to be backing singers for Kelly Clarkson, just a few days ago. When I should have been getting ready for work I instead sat on the sofa listening to their songs on YouTube, as you do. I was struck by how well their voices complimented each other and the variety of songs that show off both their tender and fun spirits. They also get bonus marks for agreeing to sign stuff and I think I have an interview secured for some time in the future.

It’s almost criminal that I’ve never listened to any Raintown – they are as synonymous with UK country music as, well,! Actually, I’m not sure that really works, but what the heck, a plug to a great website is always allowed. Anyway, Raintown are a duo who I have heard mentioned so many times, and even seen active myself on social media, but somehow not yet listened to. Well that’s going to change at Country 2 Country as I’m making sure I watch an act that has been recommended to me quite a few times over the last couple of weeks. So how can I include them if I’ve never heard them? I have a hunch, and I bet after you’ve heard them at the weekend we’ll both agree they deserve their place.

Jessica Clemmons
I’ve been meaning to talk about Jessica for a few weeks now, ever since I got her EP What if, but I wanted to wait until we were closer to Country 2 Country, which we well and truly are now. Jessica has just been over in the UK supporting Boyzone, so is already known by many thousands of fans on these shores. Jessica Clemmons has a voice that makes you sit up and take notice and I’m certain she’s going to wow anyone who goes to see her play. Don’t worry if you can’t get too close, she has power to spare, but not in a shouty way as some singers reply on. Single Tonight is the stand out song on her EP which boasts 5 great songs, and is beautifully presented.

Maria Byrne
I’m not just featuring Maria because she has song that includes the words I’ll be gone 4000 miles and alludes to going to Tennessee, though how incredibly apt is it that I’m talking about her on 4000 Miles to Nashville? Maria’s music is a delicious mix of country and folk, that makes me want to lie down in a field on a sunny evening and hear nothing but her songs. Just listening to songs like Keep On and My Sweet Burden and I feel a sense of calm and contentment. Maria’s music is a mood changer, and in a very positive way.

So that’s my 6, but that leaves 22 acts of the 28 I’ve not talked about. If you have any you want to recommend, or you are one of those artists and think I should come see you play, then please either leave a comment or email me and I’ll do my very best to see as many as humanly possible at the weekend.

Categories: Articles, Country 2 Country | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

EP Review: Hannah Jane Lewis – Hannah Jane Lewis

Twitter can be a wonderful resource and for me, as someone looking for good country music, it’s been invaluable. It was via Twitter that I became aware of Hannah Jane Lewis, a young country singer from right here in the UK, London in fact. I’d heard a few clips of her covers and original songs, but it wasn’t until I saw the music video for her song 17 Again that I really sat up and took notice. That’s right, music video. Not content with just releasing the song on audio, Hannah and her team made a proper music video, which you can watch right now – go on…

It was after watching this video that I went straight to iTunes and bought her self-titled EP: Hannah Jane Lewis, containing 17 Again and 3 more songs for just £2.49 – a veritable bargain.

In true classic country style, the EP starts off with a story of a lost love in Missing Piece. What you can hear straight away is a really well produced record, the kind that you’d expect from a big release by a huge record company. Hannah’s voice is great, and not just for someone at her level, but great as in as good as any singer you’ll hear selling thousands of albums in the charts these days. She has a wonderful tone and it’s a voice that oozes honesty and believability, something that is very important in her chosen genre of music.

17 Again I saw someone on Twitter call their song of the summer, and you’d be hard pushed to disagree, especially with the accompanying video. This has a slightly more pop feel, but is still very much a country song, especially with that voice that could very well have origins in Nashville. Hannah spent 7 years in America working on her music, and I’ll be interviewing her shortly so will find out more about where she was and what she got up to.

My Time brings the tempo down and once again showcases Hannah’s beautiful vocals. There’s an element of Taylor Swift mixed with Kacey Musgraves, and probably a few others too. That’s a combination that anyone who knows me will understand why I like this EP so much. I’d love to hear Hannah play this song acoustically, just her and a guitar.

The EP closes with The Worst way, which displays a youthful energy mixed with a mature outlook on life, one that has obviously experienced a lot in just a short time. As I listen to this track now, as I type, I honestly think it can only be a matter of time before Hannah Jane Lewis becomes a name that a lot more people will know, a whole lot more.

When I bought the Hannah Jane Lewis EP I wasn’t expecting it to be this good, and don’t mean that as an insult Hannah – it’s just that it really is as good as anything I’ve listened to in a while. Great storytelling, fabulous vocals and all put together seamlessly. I will be seeing Hannah at Country 2 Country in 3 weeks time and I’m as excited about that as I am about seeing the likes of Brad Paisley and The Dixie Chicks! I just hope a full album is on the way, I want more!

Check out Hannah’s brand new website here and buy her EP here – for the price of a coffee it’s almost rude not to!

Categories: EP Reviews | Tags: | Leave a comment

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: