Every year since 2013, AEG Europe and SJM Concerts have put on a multi-day country music festival in association with the Country Music Association. The festival takes place in March each year and is held in London, Glasgow and Dublin. The festival has grown every year and last year, the organisers added a third day to the schedule. Now it reaches over 80,000 fans across the U.K.
Country music in the UK has had a big growth spurt over the last 5 years and artists from America, who a few years ago wouldn’t have been able to tour in the U.K, now have have a big enough fan base to play a run of shows here. Despite a fair few enthusiasts wearing cowboy hats and cowboy boots, British people have started to look past the stereotypes of country music and are actually diving deeper into the genre because country music is not just Dolly Parton and Johnny Cash. There’s something for everyone. Country to Country has been at the heart of the growth of country music in the U.K and it was very apparent as I walked into the O2 on Friday. I was unprepared for how many people were in attendance. It was like I’d taken a portal into Broadway in Nashville. One live act bleeding into another as I walked through the complex. It was definitely more than I expected and I didn’t hear a bad act. The level of songwriting and musicianship was top notch, and most of the bands playing on the free stages outside the main arena were from the U.K. I was very pleasantly surprised. Over the three days I got to chat to a few of the artists and fans to see how they felt about the U.K country music scene and the C2C festival.
After absorbing the fantastic atmosphere inside the O2 and immersing myself in the spirit of the weekend to come, it was time to ask the opinions of some of the bands. Playing on the Town Square Stage were a band from Sweden called Miss Winter. Fronted by Jenny Hillman, Anna Edman and Linda Pröjz-Ålund, they performed an upbeat set and produced three part harmonies that were amongst the best I’d heard. Their songs have that classic country pop sound and each one tells a story. I decided to catch up with them after they’d finished. I asked them if they thought country music was growing in the U.K. Linda’s response was “Yes, it definitely is growing.” Jenny followed that up with “However, in Sweden the country scene isn’t that big at the moment. That’s why it’s so amazing to be here and meet all the fans that really love country music”. Over the coming months, Miss Winter are recording a new single and going on tour in the summer. Keep up to date with them via their social media platforms. Links are at the end of the blog.
My next interview was with singer songwriter Jake Morrell. I’ve been wanting to see Jake live for a while as a good friend of mine, and up and coming country artist Emily Faye has written with Jake, and has said nothing but good things about him. His set showed off his songwriting ability and a personal favourite of mine was his single “Wire and Thorns”. This song reached number 2 in the iTunes country charts on its first day of release. Pretty impressive! He also performed his country rendition of “Perfect 10” by The Beautiful South. The classic country train beat rhythm and three part harmonies made the arrangement very stylistically appropiate, which I enjoyed very much. After he’d performed, I asked his opinion on the growth of the U.K country music scene and he replied with “Yeah it’s growing massively! You can tell by the amount of people everyone knows. It’s just great!” I couldn’t agree more with his answer and the proof was the amount of U.K bands performing at C2C. I then asked him whether it’s important to collaborate with different songwriters. “It’s very, very important” he said. “I’m writing with as many people as I can. You’ve got find people with the right energy, and as soon as you get that, you write some really good songs. It’s also a great way to meet people”. Jake is planning to play some festivals over the summer and getting new music out there is key for him over the next year. You can follow Jake via his social media. Links are at the end of this blog.
As well as artists, I caught up with a few fans and one fan was particularly enthused by the festival. She excitedly told me, “It’s fantastic! All the acts are excellent. I haven’t heard a bad one yet”. This level of excitement seemed to be running though everyone at the festival and it was a joy to be part of it.
I hope you enjoyed this and coming tomorrow will be my Day 2 instalment of C2C, which includes more band and fan interviews.
Miss Winter’s social media:
Jake Morrell’s social media: