Friday, September 27, 2019

The Other Side of Festivals – A Chat with TBCMF Organisers Marina & Martin

Although I saw them on and off during the weekend, it wasn’t until the final day of the British Country Music Festival in Blackpool that I was able to pin festival organisers Marina and Martin down – they were quite busy!  I did manage to pre-warn them of my main question – “Why?”

Experienced events organisers with their production company “Fit The Bill”, Marina and Martin have put on West End Shows, other festivals and corporate events – but I still wanted to ask why a country festival, why in Blackpool and why now!

Martin supplied the first answer, and the second!

We produced and promoted a contemporary folk festival in Liverpool alongside a shanty festival, but over the three years we kept seeing young talented artists coming through on our emerging stages and watching them grow – people like Robert Vincent, Megan O’Neill and we saw this growing folk merging into country/Americana bursting  through, and we wanted to know what their platform was. So we decided to do a British Country festival.
How are we going to be different from all the other festivals? We didn’t want to be in a field, we wanted to reflect what we could see in the music, what was happening, and it felt like it all had British roots, so we started looking for a lovely older venue, not sterile, so the venue is part of the festival.  We both know Blackpool very well, we have worked in the town and live just up the coast.

Having chosen Blackpool as a venue, they worked in partnership with the Winter Gardens and Blackpool Council to put on the event. Being indoors they have mitigated against the weather being an issue – although the weather was actually glorious for the entire weekend!  This partnership was demonstrated by the outside stage on Friday night which became a part of the seafront fireworks display in entertaining the homebound crowds.

That certainly covers the why Country and why Blackpool. The “why now” is answered by this being the last festival of the season, the ideal time for other festival teams to relax, enjoy and network.  Marina also noted that once they started the festival planning the first phone call offering support came from Karl at Buckle & Boots, the second from Millport Festival’s Gavin.

Meeting as we did on the third day of three I could ask for a reflection on the weekend.  Both Marina and Martin were still smiling, although Marina did say her feet could use a soak! Although as organisers they are focussed on what hasn’t maybe worked, they were clearly happy with how the Festival had gone, and are always looking at ways to improve for next year. 

Looking forward then – what one thing would they ask for if offered a magic wand?

Double our ticket numbers - and I'm very confident that we will do that next year, I can feel that.  This year's set of customers are very unique, they've bought into an idea, nothing more than an idea.

Martin and Marina are husband and wife, working together in a very stressful industry – but apparently never argue!  Just from talking to them you can see what a great team they make, professionally and personally and this is obviously a big part of their success.

So did they pull it off?  Yes they did.  Three days of British Country artists (and one honorary Brit in Sarah Darling). Sure, there were teething problems, and it is a venue style that takes a little getting used to but I have no doubt that next year and the year after will be better and better as a true showcase of what the British Country music scene has to offer and providing another platform for breakthrough artists.

As Marina commented
I would like to see someone who has played here this year being booked by another festival and seeing them climbing the festival ladder

And that is reason enough to be back next year!

The British Country Music Festival returns to Blackpool’s Winter Gardens
 4 – 6 September 2020.

See you there!

Thursday, September 26, 2019

The Other Side of Festivals - Southern Style Americana

Its not just the musical acts that we love to see at Festivals – there is meeting up with old friends, making new friends and of course – retail therapy

At most of the UK Country festivals, if you venture into the shopping areas you can’t help but spot the now famous red gazebo of Southern Style Americana Gifts and Jewellery

So who are the ladies under the gazebo, and what is it all about?

Southern Style Americana is J&L designs – which is actually sisters Jeanette and Lesley.  Crafters and lovers of Country Music, Jeanette and Lesley visited C2C and noticed that while some of the gifts on sale were nice, they weren’t necessarily great quality or value.  Deciding that they could provide a better product, Southern Style was born.

Exhibiting for the first time at Buckle and Boots Country festival four years ago, if you visit the stall you will find a range of jewellery and gifts with an Americana and Country Music theme. 

The difference here though is that all the items are either hand-made, bespoke commissions or specially imported from the states, which means you won’t be seeing the same items on other stalls. Song lyric plaques are the newest addition, and Lesley is always adding new strings to her bow

From necklaces to bracelets, with country motifs to song lyrics, and trinkets to wall plaques, nothing you see on sale is priced at over £25, so while your shopping might fill your luggage, it won’t empty your bank balance!

Jeanette and Lesley have become friends over the many times that we have met them – and their products are worn by us both, and feature in our houses!

You can find Jeanette and Lesley at a festival under the red gazebo
 or on their Facebook page - visit the virtual gazebo and give them a like!

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Single Review - Love Don't Give a Damn - Jess and the Bandits

What is it about Jess' music that just makes me feel better?

New single Love Don't Give A Damn opens with a catchy beat even though the lyrics are more sullen and some might say very true. 

Another great song highlighting Jess' vocals. Despite the song’s subject, Jess uses some soaring “a-whoo”s which lend a slightly pop sound but, at the same time, back up the cautionary narrative.  There is some clever looping too, to really emphasise the point.

Like every good country song it looks for the silver lining - you could keep your heart in a secret place or save it for a rainy day but basically as the title suggests love don’t give a damn, it doesn't play by any rules, it’s a stubborn hearted fool that will never believe you; love has a mind of its own; so you should just accept the way it is and get on with life.

Although there are a few minimal but very effective studio effects, I’m looking forward to hearing this new single played live, as it is sure to be a real crowd pleaser!

This little treat, out Friday has been released to celebrate the start the nationwide tour. 

Catch Jess and The Bandits at a venue near you very soon: 

1st Oct - Nottingham, Bodega

3rd Oct - Manchester, Gullivers

9th Oct - Gateshead, The Sage 2

10th Oct - Hull, St Mary’s, Beverley

11th Oct - Glasgow, Classic Grand

15th Oct - London, Under the Bridge

The new single from Jess and The Bandits Love Don’t Give A Damn is available to download from Friday 27 September on all the usual platforms. 

More details and tour information can be found on facebook and online

Artiste Profile - When Rik Met Megan O'Neill

It was a delight at the British Country Music Festival to not only hear Megan O’Neill play a full band set on Sunday, but to catch up with her backstage for a chat and a bit of a reunion.

We were both a it shocked to work out that having last caught up at the Belnash concert and Jenn Bostic’s album launch it has been over a year…

So what has Megan been up to in that time?  Well, it seems like she has been a little bit busy…

Firstly – she’s moved!  After 5 happy years living in London she’s returned to Ireland, although she spends half her time in London, half in Ireland – and far too much on Ryanair!  Whilst her writing and recording was in London and Leeds, Ireland has proved to be

Massively inspirational and creative for me. I think its just to do with the area. I’m surrounded by rolling green hills and I have dogs and I have horses and its stunning and when I feel like I need a bit of headspace I just go for a hike

But never fear, Megan still has a certain fondness for London

I love London a lot but it’s chaos and I never realised how stressed I was, all the time, it’s like an underlying base layer of stress you have… but then I go back to Ireland and I can just be at peace and I find writing music a lot easier

So will we see a Celtic influence in future music?

There’s definitely a Celtic influence, if you listen to modern Irish music there’s a Celtic influence underlying and there’s something in the writing and the melody – and there’s a song on the new Album called Ireland

Megan has also been touring – with Jake Morell just ahead of the Blackpool festival, and almost solidly before that across the UK and Europe since February and in July Megan was supporting the legendary Sir Tom Jones at three outdoor arena shows to 15,000 people.  How was that?

Nuts and amazing

You have to ask what was more nuts? 15,000 people, or supporting Tom Jones?

I think both are equally nuts. I mean maybe “Tom Jones” is more nuts because he’s such an icon. This was one of those moments where I thought “18 year old Megan would FREAK OUT right now”

Megan also expressed how happy she was that there was a production crew, catering, a dressing room and fancy portaloos! 

On top of all of this there is another tour coming – “Now That’s What I Call Country” across Ireland to support a new covers album that Megan has performed all the female parts on – the album sounds amazing!

You’d think that Megan would be stopping for a rest, maybe some sleep…but no!  With her new album due out in early 2020 new singles will be dropping at intervals with the first of these being “Rootless” (which did cause some accent issues!) due out on 25 October and debuted in her set at The British Country Music Festival.

So Megan has no intentions of slowing down.  She’s happy with this as she is doing what she loves – and as she pointed out “if you find a job you love you’ll never work a day in your life”

So its good news for Megan, good news for fans of her music and great news for Ryanair!

Megan O’Neill’s new single Rootless will be available on all platforms on 
25 October. 

Find Megan on Facebook, online and in airport departure lounges, with a big smile on her face

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Single Review - The Other Side - Lauren Jane

The British Country Music Festival in Blackpool was as much an opportunity for networking as listening to the acts on stage!  During the weekend I met a few artistes who either weren’t performing, or whose sets I wasn’t able to see.  One of these was Liverpool’s Lauren Jane who is set to release her second single The Other Side.

Telling the story of a love that has not exactly worked out, Lauren’s powerful vocal combines with some clever instrumentation to tell her tale.  Opening softly (with some lovely pedal steel) the beginning of the song is like the beginning of a relationship, with all those lovey dovey clich├ęs, whispered in ears… but in comes the powerful vocal and out goes the romance.

The words convey great imagery, to the point that you don’t just hear this song, you see it, you see him “on the other side of the bed”, you see the gap between them driven by the existence of “someone else taking up your mind

Our storyteller doesn’t sound angry, but hurt and annoyed - it is quite a plaintive lament.  She fell, she tried, she gave him a chance…but as so often in life, she just wasn’t enough for him.

There is an element of sadness in the moving on, and this is beautifully reflected in the ending of the song, as all that power and angst trails back to a soft instrumental sigh of a finish

From the way Lauren sings this, she will be once bitten twice shy, and I wouldn’t recommend being the one to hurt her again.

The Other Side, the follow up single to If I Was Whiskey, will be available to download and stream from 4 October, preorder your copy on 27 September

Find Lauren Jane on facebook, online,  and on the other side…..

Monday, September 23, 2019

Artist Profile - When Rik Met Megan Louise

Normally when you write about a new artiste you talk about them “going places” – well, with Megan Louise, its more a case of she has been places, specifically Millport Festival, The Long Road, and the British Country Music Festival in Blackpool where I met her for the first time.  Megan’s is a name I had heard, but I hadn’t had a chance to see her perform, so I took the opportunity to sit and have a chat ahead of her set at the British Country Music Festival on Day two in the Arena.

Aged only just 17, Megan is playing festivals before she can even drive (she has now passed her test) and long before she can even have a drink at the bar – she even missed seeing one of her favourite UK artistes in Blackpool (Laura Oakes) because of school!

It feels a bit strange to ask a younger singer when they started in music – but the answer was fairly surprising.  Not only did Megan start song writing at the age of 9, but the first song she ever wrote was the song she opened her set with.  Gigging followed at the age of 11, which goes some way to explain why Megan was so well received at all the festivals that she has played, with Blackpool being no different.

So how did 9 year old Megan Louise come to music?  Megan laughed when she replied

I tried loads of hobbies when I was younger.  I tried swimming but I had a popped eardrum, I tried gymnastics but I’m not very flexible I can’t touch my toes, so my Mum and Dad tried musical theatre – and I fell in love with performance and singing

When Megan then decided she wanted to learn guitar her parents were slightly reticent – and an eyeroll from Mum in the background certainly confirmed that!  Fortunately, it didn’t go the way of ballet “you get all the gear and give it up in a few days”.  Having only had 6 lessons (Megan doesn’t do structured learning!) it seems that playing guitar is another thing that comes easily to Megan.

Megan’s parents are clearly supportive – but not pushy – and you can see the pride they have in their daughter’s achievements, and they have been behind her through the rough and the smooth parts of her story so far.

Why Country music?

Me and Country, our paths have crossed a lot.  I don’t have the typical “I grew up with Country” but my vocal coaches told me I had a natural country voice, which I ignored  until it completely overwhelmed me with how many people told me that, and when I started to listen to Country Music and I just absolutely fell in love

Country music isn’t popular among younger listeners, and being a fan of country music isn’t popular, but for Megan

I just felt like I had fifty best mates on my phone

So who is Megan’s favourite Country Artiste?

John Paul White. If John Paul White’s voice was a 17 year old boy I’d marry him tomorrow

A very cool and rather unique way of describing a voice!

And on the UK scene?

Ward Thomas or the Shires

And who would you have to see on the line up of Blackpool?

Definitely Laura Oakes or Gary Quinn

Despite being only 17, I am sure that it won’t be very long at all before people are saying that Megan Louise is their must see artiste at any festival she plays. 

Oh, and that song she wrote when she was 9?  It is very good! 

Look out for  Megan, she is definitely one of our 
Class of 2019 “Ones to Watch”

Follow Megan Louise on Facebook and online

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Festival Review - The British Country Music Festival - Day 3

Sunday morning in Blackpool.  Most people were trying to remember – or forget – the night before. I was looking forward to the two things I need for a Sunday morning:

  • ·        A fry up
  • ·        Tim Prottey-Jones on stage

I got both!  Tim took to the main stage in the Empress ballroom in his new guise as The Fatherline, only his third gig with his new band (and Silverball Country have been at all three!).  As well as a fabulous voice and superb songwriting, Tim has an incredible, and hilarious, stage presence. Unfamiliar with being centre stage he is born to it and grows with every show.

After his little taster session at the songwriter’s carousel the previous day, Jake Morrell showed off all his talents – and his powerhouse voice – while Tim decided to hang around on stage and play keys for Jake!  Jake has been busy touring with Megan O’Neill but this festival show will definitely have won him some more fans.

With it being Sunday and a long drive home was ahead of me, I wasn’t able to stay the whole of day 3 at the festival, but having checked the line up, I knew that I couldn’t miss a full band set from the wonderful Megan O’Neill – and take the chance for a reunion!  Before taking to the stage, Megan and I found time for a chat about what she has been up to and what she has coming up (its all very busy and quite impressive) and then it was showtime.  Megan has a beautiful voice to go along with her musical and song writing talent, and is clearly at the top of her game.  Her next single “Ireland” was performed with real emotion – and a definitely enhanced Irish lilt – and hints at a must have album which is due out in a few months time.

The M6 is a hard mistress, so my festival ended before the festival proper.  A long round of goodbyes and a chance to reflect on a new Country Music Festival.  

Some people have said that it would be crazy to try and have an all British line up, but The British Country Music Festival proved that to not only be incorrect but also what a great idea it is.  The setting is different to the norm, but allows for a festival later in the season (no weather worries) and for the weekend to be treated as a mini break with all that Blackpool has to offer.  Sure, there were some teething problems, but with other festival organisers on hand to offer support and advice and an organising team receptive to ideas there is no doubt that next year will be bigger and better – and a definite date in the Country Music diary….

Friday, September 20, 2019

Festival Review - The British Country Music Festival - Day 2

And so Day 2 dawned in Blackpool.  The music was due to start at 12, so a chance to stroll along the seafront and truly appreciate the magnificence of Blackpool!  While wandering around it was hard NOT to spot TBCMF wristbands, and Wetherspoons appeared to be doing a roaring trade in hangover breakfasts!

Tourist tat purchased, it was back to the arena to catch a new band The Outside Chancers. Made up of a group of talented and experienced musicians and with a couple of singles recently released The Outside Chancers took the opportunity to introduce their music to the early crowd and to get the day going.  Sadly the Dusk Brothers were unable to make the journey – or rather the Dusk Mobile was unable to – and so with a bit of rejigging of set times Recovering Satellites took to the Arena stage, a long way from their Somerset home! Although the Dusk Brothers were missed, the Recovering Satellites filled the gap with an extended performance of Country Rock.

The changes to the running times gave me the opportunity to conduct the first interview of the weekend.  I had heard bits and pieces about relative newcomer Megan Louise, so we grabbed a chat in the green room ahead of her own set on the second arena stage.  After taking to her about many things including her busy summer of festivals I was excited and curious to hear her performance – especially as she told me that her first song was written when she was 9 years old.  When Megan took to the stage it was one of the highlights of the weekend – a very mature voice for a young lady just turned 17 with a nervy but confident stage presence, if that is not too much of a contradiction!  When I mentioned this to her Mum/cheerleader in chief she called it Megan “Scatty” – but very much in a loving way!  A mix of (very) original material and cover including Fleetwood Mac meant that Megan was one of the most talked about acts of the weekend – particularly among the festival teams watching her.

A little more sightseeing followed but I made sure I was back down the tower in time for the Songwriters Carousel.  Hosted by – but sadly not featuring the singing of – Tim Prottey-Jones the line up of The Luck, Jake Morrell and Twinnie meant that the rather intimate Gillows band was very full. Nice setting, but perhaps somewhere with more capacity next time!  The Carousel wasn’t quite a traditional round but did give the opportunity to preview artists who were performing again on other stages, and Jake Morrell was probably the stand-out of the three.

Nipping between stages can be tiring – but not so bad indoors!  Slight delays help as well, which meant I was able to catch The Blue Highways on the arena stage. We first met this Americana band with a brass section at Country In The Afternoon and will soon be reviewing their debut EP – but hearing these guys live is always a treat. They tear up the (non-existent) rule book to deliver a powerful live set. 

The Luck were stage hopping as they came from the songwriters round to appear on the second stage in the Arena, meanwhile Two Ways Home had taken the vacated Gillows bar stage to deliver an acoustic set.  I’ve seen this duo in so many different settings and every time they are a delight to listen to – and to hear their newest single “Speed of Anything” (reviewed on the blog) and some new music from their forthcoming and much anticipated album.

The final act for Saturday in the arena was another Country In The Afternoon and Millport performer Katee Kross with her band The Amberjax. As with other artists, Katee mixed it up with covers but in her case Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly delivered in her own style – clearly a great musical education by her parents!

The Main stage was once again female dominated (the festival line up as a whole was over 60% female) with the very harmonic Adelaides giving way to Honey Ryder, a second set from Twinnie and then our main headline act.

Ward Thomas are very much poster girls for UK country, playing with their full band, and then giving the boys a break to sit and really show off their own harmonies. There was plenty of singing along with their better known songs (I *may* have belted out “Guilty Flowers”) and despite the set finishing somewhat after midnight the sisters stayed and met every fan who queued up for a photo, a chat and an album signing

and so to bed...

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Festival Review - The British Country Music Festival - Day 1

From the moment you walk into the Winter Gardens in Blackpool, you know that the BCMF is something different (the same can be said for arriving in Blackpool itself, but that a whole other blog!) Because this festival comes at the end of the season and is indoors, it allowed other festival teams to attend and watch rather than work – it was a chance for me to wander around more than I usually can, appreciating the music as well as enjoying my first ever trip to Blackpool. I was armed for the weekend with a festival programme and a list of touristy photo requirements from Francesca, who was unable to make the trip.

With four rooms and a plethora of artistes to choose from, I had mapped my first night – with my own timings slightly messed around by the beloved M6 motorway!

The smaller of the principal stages was in Gillows bar – a pub like setting with an acoustic stage. First on my list for the evening was Emily Lockett – a young singer songwriter from Stoke who we have met and profiled before.  Emily was very excited to be playing at the festival, and to be listed on the line up (there are many pictures of her posing with the posters!).  Sounding like a young Taylor Swift (as many younger singers can) Emily made the most of her set and certainly won new fans from the attendees and festival teams alike.

From Gillows bar it was a short, indoor, walk across the main atrium to the arena stages – not quite as grand as the name suggests but two stages in a larger room that can be used alternately.  Friday night saw a Ginger Dog Records double – Sam Coe with her full band The Long Shadows and then Simon James with his Deep River Pilots including Sam Coe as a guest Pilot on keys and backing Vocals.  Sam is working on a solo album, but it was great to have a chance to see her with her full band again, and Simon has already released his new album which he clearly had great fun performing live on stage.

At any festival, you can’t always see every band performing, and I was keen to enjoy my weekend rather than rush from pillar to post – allowing time to eat, drink and pop back to the B&B on occasion

I did make sure I was back in time for the slightly delayed main stage opener – Gary Quinn.  Again, playing with a full band, Gary was the perfect artist to perform first in the very grand and historic ballroom with his voice and music filling the room. His songs are well known and very catchy, based on real life that anyone can relate to. Make Sure The Door Don’t Hit You proved a popular sing-a-long. It is always a treat to see Gary play with a band to support his great voice – and he was joined as ever by Luke Thomas on lead guitar and moral statements and also Donna Marie on keys and acoustic.

Danny McMahon took to the stage next, and his stage show is always high energy from the word go. Playing the night before his very successful awards night, Danny showed us why he is fast becoming a real go to act for big live shows.

Outside in the town there was a seafront fireworks display, and in an effort to spread the word of the festival and to provide entertainment to the returning crowds the Winter Gardens and the festival set up an outdoor stage. Emily Lockett performed immediately after the display finished, and her endearing stage banter and well selected covers drew a very large crowd who could be seen singing and dancing – a great and mature performance from a young singer.

Back indoors for ladies night – a day like this can feel a bit of a whirlwind, but it is a fabulous way to catch new acts, rising acts and established performers.  Thrilled to be performing in the town where she spent so many family holidays, Laura Oakes seemed to be beaming through every one of her songs. We last saw Laura on our Cactus Jacks stage at Millport festival, and she seems perfectly at home on any stage. Laura then made way for the Friday night headliner – and Honorary British artist -  Sarah Darling.  If Laura beamed, then Sarah shone.  Sarah’s music is perhaps not as up-tempo and loud as the earlier sets from Gary and Danny, but it did seem to suit the grand and historic surroundings of Blackpool’s Winter Gardens, and the assembled crowd in front of the stage, sitting at the tables and in the balcony certainly appreciated her, despite the slightly late finish.

An after party disco, and then spilling out of the front doors for some to enjoy Blackpool’s later night offerings, while others made their way back to B&Bs to reflect, refresh and recover!

Friday, September 13, 2019

Single Review - Jo Lee - Hicktown Breakout

A new single hit our inbox today from a band called Hicktown Breakout.  We prefer to review songs “blind” but in this case we have not even a picture – but a good song will spark your imagination!

A nice gentle opening on acoustic guitar is quickly joined by drums and then electric guitar – but the tune never changes, which is a lovely touch. In comes the gruff, Americana sounding vocals and the story…

It would seem our singer is in love – but this is no poetic declaration of love, this is a rough and ready statement. In comes that imagination – plaid shirt, dirty truck cowboy, probably a former high school footballer.  He doesn’t know how to spell romantic! The whole sentiment and song feels gritty and rugged.  You can see Jo Lee cringing as he tells his own love story, but inside she has a big beaming smile.

Francesca took a listen to the song, and her imagination was piqued too...

"I hear maturity in the song, this guy has lived and he knows that it is the women that will make this better
There's nothing I can't do with you

He has lived a bit  and he knows about boys and girls, but regardless of time and probably being married to this woman - she drives him crazy after all - he still loves her. 

This song is great because I can't guess the setting - is it UK or US?"

Jo Lee tells a simple tale of love from a simple guy – and the song is the same. Simple, but heartfelt and well performed. I loved the repetition – of the chords, of the name Jo Lee.

A straightforward, honest song about straightforward honest love

He may not be romantic Jo Lee, but he sure does love you!

Hicktown Breakout are relatively new to the scene but are destined to become a well known name if this first single is any indicator.

Recorded at Puzzle Maker Studios in Bristol, find the band on  facebook and online 

Looking to the future, we can expect great music but don’t expect flowers….

Monday, September 9, 2019

Festival Review - Millport Country Music Festival - An Overview

Millport review
Millport Country Music Festival is a bit different from your average festival. It seems to spread across the whole of the town, if not the island. That’s the Isle of Cumbrae just off the west coast of Scotland. American flags were hoisted along the seafront, lots of American apparel was displayed in shop windows and even local businesses dressed up to lend their support. 

In fact, a parade takes place across the island, leaving Kames Bay and heading along the front streets past the site. You’ll witness American cars, vintage trucks, Harley Davidsons and lots of fancy dress.

The festival site consists of 4 stages surrounding the beautiful Garrison House. Nashfield is the main open-air stage, Cactus Jack’s the party marquee, the Maverick acoustic tent and a dedicated line dancing venue. Accommodating all ages there is a fun fair and food vendors in the centre and a couple of stalls around the periphery, including Country 2 Western and Ariat, who ran a competition and gave away a pair of boots!

Over the weekend 50 artists performed, ranging from big US names, artists from across the UK and American, and a selection of emerging talent.

This year, the 25th anniversary saw Cam and American Young as headliners on the main stage on Saturday and Sunday nights respectively. Over the weekend the stage also hosted Lockeland, Elles Bailey, Stevie O’Connor, Zoee Byrne, Remember Monday, and CC Smugglers.

On of the highlights of the Maverick stage was an acoustic jam session on Sunday night. How many country stars and their guitars can you fit onto the one stage? The answer - just about everyone! The special line up included Gasoline & Matches, Stevie O'Connor, Simon James, Kenny Foster, Lars Pluto, Zoee  plus Jamie from Backwoods Creek on keys.

Cactus Jack’s partied hard throughout the whole weekend, with everyone encouraging the crowd to get up and dance, this included ourselves (Silverball Country) as not only the stage managers but the after-party DJs.

The event also helped to raise money for the local cause: Save the Waverley, a beautiful old paddle steamer, sadly missing from this year’s festivities due to the need for an urgent refit. An auction was held of a guitar and drum cover signed by all the acts in addition to a beautiful picture of the Waverley drawn by Millport Festival team member Scott Watson.

This truly is a festival with a difference and there is something for everyone. Gavin and Christine Chittick and Scott Watson did an outstanding job selecting the line up, I cannot wait to see who they invite next year.   Finally, our thanks to everyone involved, all in orange (or black) who give up their time, and to all of you, country music fans: thank you for your support, braving the weather and undertaking the journey not matter how far. Hopefully you too thought it was worth the effort and have amazing memories.

Hopefully we will see you all next year and maybe even the sun!
Francesca & Rik