They say a rolling stone gathers no moss and this has most definitely been the case of the Country to Country Festival. Since its first event in London 2013, the festival has snowballed into what we know it as today.
Over its six years we have seen huge acts such as Carrie Underwood, Brad Paisley, Little Big Town, Zac Brown Band and Darius Rucker to name a small few and this year has been no different, with some of the acts making the cross Atlantic trip for a second time.
What has made C2C (Country to Country) so successful? Why even bother? Do we really need such a concert? Can I have a “Hell Yeah!”?
C2C is the first multi-day country music festival since the International Festival of Country Music ceased. It ran from 1969 – 1991 at the old Wembley Arena and featured now country legends like Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson and many more. They made a brief comeback in 2012 where they brought Reba McEntire Little Big Town, Ricky Skaggs and Lonestar to London and Belfast.
It’s clear to see the C2C format had been tried and tested before and it was indeed successful for many years but it came to a sudden end. Why? The 80s were a hard time for the Country Music genre. It was very pop influenced and by the mid-80s audiences were growing tired of the twang, in fact the New York Times ran with an article telling us that Country Music was “Dead”. Going into the 90s I believe this depression of country music was still being felt and big events like this just weren’t cutting it anymore and the plug was pulled.
Queue Garth Brooks who in the 90s sold 113 million records in just the U.S alone. He along with other artists such as Clint Black, Alan Jackson and Brooks & Dunn helped re-establish the country music brand, saving it from the downward spiral it was facing.
Meanwhile in Ireland the term “Country and Irish” had been floating about for many decades and again has seen a huge revival over the last ten years or so with many young acts popping up from Michael English, Jonny Brady, Nathan Carter, Lisa McHugh and more recently Jake Carter (to name a small few) who has just announced his first tour. The whole Jive scene has exploded with dances and jive classes taking place across the country on any given night of the week. Matthew Sloan who runs “Jive NI” had this to say “Demand for jive classes is overwhelming with us. We’re running classes every night of the week to keep up with demand. It’s great to see young people out enjoying themselves and learning to dance.”
It’s no surprise then that the resurgence in country has gave way to these huge festivals popping up, with C2C pioneering the way with the multi day festival taking place firstly in London in 2013, then spreading its wings to Dublin and London in 2014, and including Glasgow since 2015. The festival has helped immensely in spreading the American Country Music brand in the UK and Ireland. Ireland has played its part in the festival with Miranda Lambert finishing off her set last year with Bangor based Foy Vance’s “Shed a Little Light” and this year Lisa McHugh heading to London to take part in the festivities there.
Of course little Northern Ireland is also holding it’s own last year’s Harvest Festival in Fermanagh and Sligo with Miranda Lambert herself headlining along with Nathan Carter and many other American and Irish acts.
Last year, Zac Brown Band, Brad Paisley and Reba McEntire, all put on quite a show and there were some amazing covers that really got the crowd going such as “Bohemian Rhapsody” by the Zac Brown Band, “Mr Brightside” by Dan + Shay and not to mention that “Purple Rain” by Darius Rucker! We can’t wait to see what this year has in store!
Get in touch with us and let us know your highlights of the concert! For me, it’s hard to call, Brad Paisley is my guy..but what about that encore of “Chicken Fried” from the Zac Brown Band?
Well, what’s the future? Country music is in healthy shape here in our land, the C2C weekend was a testimony to that with thousands of fans singing every word to every song, demand is still on the up. Downtown Country here in NI also is a sign that country music is here to stay. The latest RAJAR figures just published shows yet another increase in listeners to the station. TV shows like Nashville continue to flourish with a UK audience and with more and more big artists announced for Dublin and Belfast dates later this year, the scene is healthy and growing. We just need to make sure and show our support so get those tickets bought!