Country to Country Festival 2017
Friday, March 10, 2017
All Bar One, O2 London
It must be exhilarating for an up-and-coming country artist to get a coveted slot at Country to Country Festival (C2C). There was just one catch for the three bands who stepped up to the All Bar One stage on the opening night: they’d be clashing with the main stage sets of Brad Paisley, Chris Young and Jennifer Nettles. No pressure, guys! Thankfully, there was no shortage of people willing to give Worry Dolls, Miss Winter and The Hardy Band a chance. They were handsomely were rewarded with exuberant performances, great musicianship and lots of laughter.
“In the Southern states of America, ‘bless your heart’ is a very nice way of telling someone that they’re an idiot”
Worry Dolls opened their second C2C set of the day with Miss You Already, a perfect way to introduce the uninitiated to their harmonic style.
Another striking duet, Bless Your Heart, co-written with Wild Ponies, was fresh from being played on Radio 2 the night before. Presenters Baylen Leonard and Paul Sexton championed Worry Dolls as demonstrating the vitality of the Americana end of the country spectrum.
The rich sound added by the band was undeniable, including award winning CJ Hillman on the pedal steel guitar, joined by a double bassist they had only met the day before.
However, there was no doubt that Rosie Jones and Zoë Nicol were the stars of the show and they approached the set like a Nashville showcase, opening up about the songwriting process.We learned that the beautiful track Light Oh Light was written “when we felt like we didn’t have any songs left in us.” Perhaps writer’s block isn’t so bad if that’s how it ends!
Later they talked of writing a new middle eight in the kitchen; their anchor metaphor concept having been nixed by co-writer, Jeff Cohen: “that’s a great idea. We’ve already written it, it”s on our album!” As a consolation, Cohen promised they would create “a song that you’re going to want to sing for the rest of your life.” As the band kicked in, it’s pretty clear they’re more than happy with the result. Endless Road is, indeed, something special.
There was a lot of laughter in the upstairs bar, inbetween Worry Dolls’ sweet bluegrass-infused leaving songs. Zoë spoke of writing their EP track, Long Gone, after stomping around London in a mood. It’s a stomper of a track which had the audience clapping along right from the start. She helpfully pointed out that the EP and the new album, Go Get Gone, were both available “at the merch place by the cash machines, conveniently!”
Train is Leaving is a highlight of Go Get Gone and a great way to end a short but accomplished set, sure to have lured some country fans over to the Americana dark side (we have cookies!)
Go Get Gone is out now on Bread and Butter Music. Head to worrydollsmusic.com for music and tour dates.
“I’m enjoying every second of me being here”
With a such quick turnaround on an impromptu stage, its not surprising that Miss Winter had to fight a little feedback. With 3 powerful singers, 2 guitars, bass, drums and a lap steel guitar, it’s not surprising that the Swedish band won the fight. Songs like Walking Like A Soldier and Right Now kelp up the onslaught with military tattoo drumming and Johnny Cash style syncopated guitar.
Much credit must go to the musicians for capturing any attention at all when performing with such a dynamic trio on vocals.
Imagine a party version of Red Moon Road with saucier lyrics and a touch of ABBA in the final song. (Try not to get distracted by how much you want to see Red Moon Road cover ABBA.)
Miss Winter’s EP, Making Stories, is out now – available through their website at http://misswinter.se/
“Feel free to clap along, jig along, do what you gotta do”
Judging from the singing, dancing and rapturous applause they received, it seems The Hardy Band brought their people with them to C2C.
That’s not to say there weren’t new fans to pick up. They had one from the moment they took the stage: “She’s got a f***ing xylophone. Go on the xylophone!”
The Hardy Band began with an intriguing extended intro, ominous and moody even with the light tones of the xylophone. The set ranged from crime drama noir to outlaw bluegrass.
Highlights included Lost In You accented with fiddle and steel guitar, and Light of Mine sounding like a classic Western soundtrack. Everyone involved was lucky that it was the last sent of the night because there was risk of a riot if the band hadn’t been allowed time for an encore.
Check out The Hardy Band E.P. at https://thehardyband.bandcamp.com/releases
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