Day two of The British Country Music Festival had a relatively early start as there was a huge amount of music to fit in over five stages. Despite a late night singing and dancing along to Sarah Darling, the fans arrived well in time for even the earliest artists, likely fortified by a hearty breakfast from the town’s famous B&Bs!
The Outside Chancers attracted dancers regardless of the early start. They grooved to songs from the band’s EP, We Are The Outside Chancers, such as Drowning In The Dark. “We’ve come all the way from sleepy Somerset”
Recovering Satellites were lucky to have made it to the set on time as they ended up getting a longer set because the next schedule band had sever car trouble, and throughout the day other bands and family members had brushes with heavy traffic.They were probably the heaviest band on over the weekend as they rocked out to You Want It, We’ve Got It as well as a reverent cover of Wichita Lineman. Extra points for the Counting Crows reference in their name, obviously!
“It’s our dysfunctional love song. Any coincidence to persons living or dead is purely coincidental!”
Kate Ellis brought some serious talent to the Gillows bar, playing new music and songs from her impressive debut album Carve Me Out. The title track sounded particularly good. Her pure voice was variously accompanied by electro-acoustic guitar, fiddle and melodica.
“I am so massively inspired by Fleetwood Mac”
Megan Louise had perhaps the biggest content leap of the festival, going from Mask, a song she wrote when she was 9, to Fleetwood Mac’s Gold Dust Woman. She also had the most on-brand team on site, as her supportive family sported the merch that they helped her sell!
“Close enough for Willie”
As well as giving us a great phrase for tuning, former Noah and The Whale bassist Matt Owens shared engaging stories and songs like Lay Down Honey, which he originally recorded with Thea Gilmore. Unusually for performers on the Gillows Bar stage, he came equipped with a drummer and full drum set.
Beth Rowley’s dulcet tones and rock guitar riffs reverberated around the arena as she performed old and new songs, including Forest Fire.
“We literally just arrived from Brighton and walked on stage”
Mike Ross turned up just in time to delivery a bluesy Americana set at The Gillows bar, with some nifty guitar work and a laidback weekend vibe.
“This song’s about times in a relationship where you don’t always get on”
“Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday”
O&O were a great fit for the more intimate ‘Arena 2’ stage and they drew quite a crowd of fans and fellow musicians, including Two Ways Home and Joe Martin. They had a compellingly intimate duet style on songs like Born In The Sixties.
“A British take on an American thing”
The songwriters’ carousel was the keystone event for Saturday daytime at TBCMF, also known as a songwriters’ round, where artists take it in turn to share songs and stories. The carousel was hosted by Tim Prottey-Jones, formerly of The Wandering Hearts. The Luck kicked things off with their sweet harmonies and guitar work. They got the crowd clapping along with If This Is Love. Twinnie styled it out by getting the claps back in time when they drifted off! Lionheart was delicate then beefed up with percussive guitar. Jake Morrell took the opportunity to preview new songs like This House and Freewheelin’, plus old favourite Englishman which stresses that British artists can write country songs without needing to go to America for inspiration. Pretty apt for the British Country Music Festival! This round also debuted a call that seems set to punctuate Morrell’s live sets going forward: “YES, JAKE!”
Twinnie charmed the crowd with classic bants about Blackpool, having lived in the town for three years. Despite joking around between songs, her music was classic and sophisticated, including the thoughtful track Mother of Mine and the Jessie J-esque song Cupid.
Jack Blackman calmed the crowd down after all that hilarity and excitement with gentle harmonica and guitar using slide and fingerpicking techniques.
“I do like to be able to see you out of the corner of my eye just to check you’re not up to no good!”
Two Ways Home are such a fixture in the London scene, what with their regular songwriters’ round The Round Up, so it was somewhat unusual but welcome to see them play to a new crowd (plus Joe Martin and O&O who returned the favour in supporting their friends). Two Ways Home’s tight duets included their new single Speed Of Anything, and Vegas Wheel, an intriguing cut from their forthcoming album. Alongside the music, they entertained through humour, plugging their branded mugs as multi-purpose; perfect for coffee or whisky!
“It’s about cooking and the Empire”
Blair Dunlop took the stage main stage in the world-famous Empress Ballroom with bassist Lukas Drinkwater, who the crowd may have recognised from his work with Emily Barker and his own duo Jacob & Drinkwater. Dunlop is award-winning but his performance may have been better served on one of the more intimate stages, especially in comparison with the exuberance of Twinnie who was just about to own the stage. At least one merry reveller appreciated the soundtrack to a series of star jumps and carthweels, though!
“Sway with me!”
Twinnie had a busy day. As well as performing in the songwriters’ carousel, she presented the evening’s entertainment in the Empress Ballroom and performed two sets there herself. She flirted with and high-fived the eager front row crowd, owning the stage and conducting rapturous singalongs as if she were performing a greatest hits set rather than cuts from a yet-to-be-released debut album! Social Babies had hands swaying, More had (red) lips swearing, and Daddy Issues came with a fitting country shuffle backing. Later, Better When I’m Drunk was so catchy that it’s *still* an earworm, and Twinnie’s acrobatics were pretty unforgettable too. YES, TWINNIE!
The Adelaides also bounced out with effervescent energy and insanely catchy hooks, proving that the rising stars and leading lights of UK country are women. They brought a dance party atmosphere to the Empress Ballroom with banger after banger, including cheeky song Jelly Baby. They also brought down the tempo with a cover of Lady Antebellum’s Need You Now.
“Is it a manly thing to like gherkins?”
We went from two supremely polished performances in a row to just this side of hot mess in an instant- but large parts of the crowd took Honey Ryder’s singer Lindsay O’Mahony to their hearts. With her energetic performance, idiosyncratic stage banter and habit of sway dancing with her dress, she appeared to be having the time of her life with her band.
“We apologise in advance for fucking up”
Ward Thomas’ sweet harmonies, empowering messages and approachable personalities have led them to popular success, especially with young girls, to the extent that there are after primary school age kids in the front row. This festival was no exception, even though it was way past bedtime. It was late for Lizzy Ward Thomas as much as anyone as she was suffering the after-effects of a recent trip to Africa, despite her twin sister Catherine delighting in ribbing her that there was no excuse because there was no time difference! Given their wholesome image and young fanbase, it was simultaneously surprising and refreshign to hear them both swearing, though it was somehow fitting that they both did it in the context of apologising for potential mistakes that never actually happened!
The duo capitvated the crowd with hits like Guilty Flowers, Cartwheels and Lie Like Me. They were backed by a semi-uniformed band but things got more interesting when they stripped it back to a duo set, especially when they previewed a song that their label hadn’t even heard yet! All in all, a compelling and engaging performance.
Click here for a recap of Day 1 of TBCMF, featuring Sarah Darling, Laura Oakes, Danny McMahon and many more!
For all the action from Sunday featuring coverage of Catherine McGrath, Worry Dolls, Megan O’Neill Jake Morrell and The Fatherline, click here.
The British Country Music Festival 2020 will be back at Blackpool’s Winter Gardens from September 4-6, 2020. Tickets are on sale now.
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