Last year I reported on the very first Buckle and Boots Festival which takes place in the beautiful setting of Etherow Country Park near Manchester
In my piece I said I thought over time it would grow into a huge event.
Well even I did not expect the festival to take off this quickly, 4 times as many people attended compared to last year and judging by the demographic of the bookings the festival has at last tapped into the elusive C2C crowd.
With new features added for this year and twice as many trade stalls and food vendors I knew we were in for a treat .
We started off on the Friday night with a great rock Set from Kris Barras who is one of the U.K's most exciting Blues-Rock Guitarists.
Next up were former BCMA winners Outlander who just get better every time I see them then it was on to the first of the US stars Jenn Bostic which gave us our first ” hear a pin drop” moment of the weekend, her voice is so beautiful it had the audience spellbound a truly magical set from Jenn.
Then a familiar face to UK audiences Sonia Leigh who as usual did not disappoint with her own brand of Country Rock and a nice touch was a guest appearance from our Very own Katy Hurt.
To close the show we had the first ever headline performance for The Southern Companion who delivered songs from the BCMA album of the year 1000 days of rain and also material from the new yet to be released album. As you would expect Darren and the boys were on top form and finished the set with the now obligatory Chris Stapleton cover Tennessee Whisky which dare I say could well be better than the original!
Bright and early next day was the turn of the BCMA horizon stage which featured the Simon James Band who played a nice set and Darcy who took the opportunity to launch his fantastic new album Hooked, which was produced in Nashville by top producer Jason Delkou
If you haven’t heard the album yet you are in for a treat
Then finally to end the BCMA section came internet sensation Jade Helliwell who has now had over 25 million views on her You tube channel and I have to say she disserves it as she is brilliant
It goes to show just how far UK country has come when artistes of this calibre are performing on the BCMA horizon stage!
During the day I also saw great sets on the alternative Paddock stage from Journey Home, Melanie and US star Jason Tucker who has teamed up with must have side guy Luke Thomas who played 11 sets with various artistes over the weekend but the highlight of the afternoon was the Writer round which saw Gary Quinn, Sarah Darling and Jenn Bostic collaborating on another magical high point of the festival with a truly world class performance.
The Main stage kicked of with sets from Kira Mac then a great set from the vastly improved Katy Hurt who went down very well with the crowd
Freds House and Bristol Based blues singer Elles Bailey also played before the Thorne Hill band rocked the stage with and energetically charged set which brought the house down!
Morgan Evans who has just been signed to Warner Nashville showed us just why he is being tipped as the next big thing as he played a great collection of his original songs finishing up with a sing along version of hey Jude, also being the boyfriend of Kelsea Ballerini this young man has an awful lot going for him.
Jess and the Bandits were next on also featuring Luke Thomas on guitar and wow did they rock the place, I have seen the bandits on many occasions but this was the best I have seen them by far, Great stuff
To bring the Saturday to a close we had US act Dylan Jakobson and his band who finished things off with a very heavy set of Southern Rock.
On the final day of the festival the BCMA stage saw the much improved Emma Swindels who now has her 2 sisters in the band then a very popular set from the traditional Country artist Ags Conley who judging by his merchandise sales won over many new fans.
To close the BCMA section we had Clara Bond who is a young lady surly destined for stardom, she is the real deal she has the lot, Great songs, Stunning good looks and a fantastic voice to match raising the bar for UK Country Music still higher.
Sunday standouts on the paddock stage for me were Kevin McGuire who is another young star in the making, Family band Orfila were also very good but once again the in the round stole the show with our own new UK star Jade Helliwell stepping up to the plate and mixing it with US big guns, Sonia Liegh who included the song she wrote for Zac Brown Sweet Annie plus another spine chillingly good performance from Jenn Bostic.
The final main stage session opened with a nice set from Morgan Way followed by American Young who once again blew me away with a fine performance which was also the first time over here with their full American band featuring Dan on guitar who normally plays with Maren Morris and Lee Brice amongst others.
Jason Tucker then took to the stage again along with his side kick Luke Thomas in a band that also had Justin Jonson on Kit. Tucker did a really nice job and included his US hit #Country in his set and he was telling me after the show he has worldwide copy right on that name so not only a great act but a shrewd business man too.
What can I say about the next artiste? It’s the wonderful Laura Oakes, this girl is head and shoulders above her peers Laura is playing all the major festivals this year and is surly only moments away from Joining Ward Thomas and the Shires in securing a major record deal with her world class talents and fantastic songs.
Co organizer Gary Quinn and his band then made the main stage their own and had the near capacity crowd singing along with every word of his now familiar songs that are fast becoming uk standards Gary then brought on the headliner Sarah Darling and her band Sarah won many fans with her performances on the C2C this was clearly evident as she was amazed the crowd were so familiar with her material Sarah was an absolute delight and was a fitting end to the festival before the after party took us way into the night
I said it last year but there is something very special going on here Buckle and Boots is more than just a Country Music festival it’s more of a happening and you can feel the magic and the love everywhere, you have young girls with garlands in their hair and mystical stars and moon face painting this festival has the lot
Jan, Karl and Laura are a lovely family who above all other considerations really have the interests of the music at heart and along with Gary and their excellent team have created something absolutely wonderful, forget Glastonbury, this is better, This is Buckle and Boots!