A few years ago I was lucky enough to travel to Nashville, the home of Country music. It was this visit that really started my love affair with all things Country. Once I was back in the UK I quickly realised that I was not alone. There’s a new kind of Country in town, this is not the stuff your parents listened to. Some people refer to it as New Country; others call it Modern Country, whatever you want to call it though, you can’t argue it’s growing in popularity.
There is such a diverse range of artists in the Country genre though ranging from more pop orientated like Kelsea Ballerini and Thomas Rhett to the more classic country sound like Midland and Kip Moore and thankfully there is now an annual festival where you can see all these awesome bands perform without having to travel to Nashville. C2C is a 3-day festival held at the O2 Arena in London in March each year. It has actually been running for several years but this was my first time attending and I loved it so much that I already have tickets to go back next year.
My first Country gig in the UK was to see Maren Morris in Bristol. This girl is amazing, you should seriously go check her out. Her song My Church will blow your socks off and she’s actually a great artist to showcase what I’m talking about with New Country as a genre. It’s Country with a pop feel, the soulful lyrics are still there, the guitars, the twang but with a modern twist on it. Maren has actually played C2C in previous years. There are even UK acts making waves in the US Country charts, such as The Shires and Ward Thomas to name a few.
This was actually my first ever festival I have been to so the shock of the initial ticket price did leave me a bit breathless but my gosh it was worth it. You get to see so many artists, there are lots of acts playing across various different stages and you need to know before going that you are not likely to see everyone you want. With this in mind, I created a spreadsheet of the artists, stages and times for all the acts I wanted to see and, you know what? I saw them all. BOOM! It was a bit of a rush between some of the stages and you might miss the first song but this is a great opportunity to see these massive stars in some really small and intimate venues.
We even got to see a few artists over the weekend that we were not expecting or hadn’t planned to see including one of my new favourites, Ashley Campbell (as in the daughter of Glen Campbell) who was amazing both singing and playing her banjo. I think that’s one of the things I really wasn’t expecting, how talented these artists are. I mean it seems obvious that they can at least sing but they really do so much more. They all write or co-write their own songs, they all play at least 1 instrument and play it exceptionally well. A lot of the artists sang acoustically or with minimal backing bands, there was no trickery or backing tracks here but to stand and listen to them you can’t tell the difference between a recording and a live performance. Luckily we even got to see some of our favourite artists more than once. We really enjoyed Delta Rae and American Young and managed to see them on several occasions over the weekend.
The set up of the festival is that during the day there are numerous stages which are either free to enter or ticketed and you can buy wristbands on the day to get into these, then at night it moves into the main O2 Arena where the bigger artists perform. These are the tickets that cost a lot, if you want to be anywhere near the front you are looking at over £700 per ticket. We went for moderate seats this year although they were still quite high up, but next year have managed to get some tickets at an “early bird” price in the lower tier near the Spotlight stage which I am so excited about. This is a smaller, more intimate stage at the back of the arena where some of the smaller artists get a chance to perform acoustically while they turn around the main stage for the next stage performance.
I had such a good time at the festival, there is so much to see and do including food stalls, drinks (obviously) and a marketplace selling all sorts of Country-themed goods including, of course, cowboy boots. It’s a really good atmosphere throughout despite the fact that there can be a fair bit of queuing and no guarantees that you will get in to see all the artists you want. We missed out on seeing Jillian Jaqueline in the Ny-Lon Lounge due to it being at capacity but managed to catch her the next day in Indigo. But none of this detracts from the fun and smiles and good times you will rack up over the weekend.
If you are interested in giving this music a try then I’d highly recommend the following playlist on Spotify to get you started: Very Nearly Nashville.