For those of you who were at Buckle and Boots you will be well aware of the talent the UK Country scene has to offer, not only that you will have seen a number of visiting US acts who felt at home in our not so little community! The weekend was fantastic, from the setting on Whitebottom Farm, the friendly hosts, and of course the incredible pool of talent that braced the stage each day and filled our hearts with their songs and stories. I had the pleasure of interviewing many acts from the UK and the US and I can’t wait to share them with you but for now, here is my review of the weekends events and hopefully this will convince you why you all need to book for next year’s Buckle and Boots.
Dexeter kicked off the weekend in style, Deeanne’s vocals were of course on point and the pair looked as if they were having as much fun as we were the entire performance, they played favourites such as ‘Slow It Down’, and ‘Meet Me There’, and it was lovely to see them stick around afterwards, meeting fans and supporting their fellow Country stars. They were followed by trio Honey Ryder who always impress me, Sonia Leigh proceeded, the only US based act of the night. Leigh’s performance was one of the ones I was looking forward to the most after seeing her play a writers round in Nashville earlier in the year. She lived up to expectation playing my favourite ‘When We Are Alone’ which was also featured on Nashville earlier in the year and ‘Booty Call’. Again Sonia hung around afterwards, having fun with fans and enjoying the other acts. Holloway Road, who recently played Nashville Nights in London were on next. They really suit the festival, party vibe and really got the crowd going just like they did the week before in London. Raintown our favourite Scots closed the night, and the duo (soon to be a trio with Claire’s baby bump!) put on a show as they always do playing a selection of songs from their recent and past releases, and even threw in a Taylor Swift cover.
Saturday morning saw more fans flood in to Etherow Country Park, though the weather was unpredictable the mood was not, everyone was smiling despite some hangovers being felt! Lisa Wright began the day’s events on the acoustic stage to a fairly large crowd and Fittzwallace opened the main stage. They have progressed a lot since I first saw them two years ago at C2C and it was nice to see them doing so well and having a good time up on that stage. I ran from there back up to the acoustic stage where Emma Swindells was playing and caught her performing ‘Flat Line’. Her and her band were tight and once again a large crowd had formed up there. I was really glad I managed to catch some of Katy Hurt’s set down on the main stage, prior to the festival I’d heard lots of great things about her and I thoroughly enjoyed her performance, she has some great songs that are very relatable! Then to the acoustic stage once more where I was dying to hear Shantell Ogden, I had never heard of her before but I came away a fan and I hope to bring you a review of her latest album soon.
Southern Junction really impressed me and I heard great reviews about Fred’s House though I missed their set. The writers round with Sonia Leigh, Gary Quinn and Carley Stenson did not disappoint and my favourite moment was Sonia and Katy Hurt performing ‘Sweet Annie’ together. Jeannine Barry was another artist I hadn’t heard before the weekend but became a fan of after the weekend. Glen Mitchell lived up to everybody’s expectation and was fantastic, one of the highlights of the weekend. Then another of the UKs favourite duos Luke and Mel took to the main stage, the weekend wouldn’t be complete without the pair who played their latest single ‘Bad Habits’. SaraBeth followed, again she kept the crowd in the palm of her hand the whole performance and the energy level remained there for the rest of the night with Carolynne Poole giving a passionate performance and Ward Thomas showcasing old and new material to close the night.
I missed the after parties but they sounded like fun. Arriving on Sunday morning I noticed the distinct lack of sober, fresh faces, I guess everyone was partying long into the early hours of the morning! Two Ways Home opened the main stage, unfortunately the crowd didn’t thicken out until a few songs into their set but they did a fantastic job. Outlander, last years BCMA Horizon Act of the year, followed Two Ways Home and they were talked about much of the day, they were a fan favourite. Meanwhile at the Acoustic Stage I discovered another act I hadn’t previously heard, Blue Genes. The family trio were endearing and I hope they continue to write and perform together at more country festivals. Liv Austen and Claydon Connor, two of our favourites did not let the standards slip in the acoustic tent and though the rain had set in at this point their music kept smiles on people’s faces. Though I missed most of his set, many people came back from the main stage saying great things about The Southern Companion. Lauren Housely and Laura Oakes impressed me on the main stage and once again I really enjoyed the songwriter round at the acoustic stage with Luke and Mel, The Southern Companion, and Thorne Hill who is such a lovely guy, I could’ve talked to him all day!
One of my favourite acts of the weekend however was The Cains. I was not familiar with their music beforehand but everyone was raving about them before their set. I went to see what all the fuss was about and they were incredible, their harmonies were so tight, they just blew the roof off that barn! They were followed of course by the legendary Gary Quinn who did a fantastic job of organising this festival along with W21 and The Hancocks. Phil Vassar followed and invited Gary back on stage with him, he brought a high energy performance and his interaction with the audience was great, Jess and the Bandits closed the show in style.
I must also mention the food, which was excellent, in particular Caarma catering who had the Curry marquee, Burger marquee and Breakfast van, who took me under their wing, looking after all my equipment, keeping me warm and constantly putting a smile back on my face and all of their customers after we got soaked in the rain, thank you!
All in all it truly was a fantastic weekend, I highly recommend any Country fans in the UK attend next year, the atmosphere was lovely, everyone was friendly and had a great time and the calibre of acts that were playing was very high. Interviews and photos to follow!