For a lot of people, last weekend’s country music festival Nashville Meets London kicked off with a Where’s Wally game to find their friends. In its third year, we would estimate that attendance at the outdoor event had doubled since the start, possibly due to the combination of a heatwave and a Nashville TV show star on the bill.
We put aside our initial outrage that someone was sitting in our picnic spot (be careful when you wish for country music to thrive in the UK) and squished in for a Saturday of free live music. By the rainier Sunday, the fair-weather fans and Nashies stayed home, giving way to a roomier but still buzzing event.
To sum up the two-day mix of UK country and Americana acts, we’ve opted for giving out some entirely subjective and completely prize-less awards from the weekend.
MOST EXCITED: Dylan Shneider
18-year-old Dylan Shneider was the Saturday night headliner and might be the most enthusiastic act to ever grace a UK stage. Part of his joy was genuine gratitude at playing an international stage, but he also confessed to the buzz of being old enough to drink beer here, instead of waiting to turn 21 back home. As fans began passing him beers throughout the set he was also a contender for the “most likely to be hungover and miss his plane back to the States” award. His energy was contagious as he played his own poppy country tunes which have filled three EPs and also a few covers including of a band he named as one of his childhood inspirations, Florida Georgia Line. Makes you feel old, right?
BIGGEST DRAW: Sam Palladio
At first we’d thought the sunshine had attracted the crowds, but it turns out for some the sun shines out of Sam Palladio, who plays musician Gunnar on TV drama Nashville. We spent much of his gentle singer-songwriter set praying he didn’t give any spoilers for the series finale. Others spent it crying, overwhelmed that they were actually seeing Sam in the flesh. We’re still trying to work out whether they’re primarily fans of Sam’s music or Gunnar’s.
BEST COVER SONG: The Adelaides
We’ve heard them sing it before, but once again The Adelaides’ version of Maren Morris’ My Church was a highlight. The British trio were celebrating just one year of being a band, but the blend of voices sounded like they’d been singing together for so much longer. Other contenders for the Best Cover award were The Sisterhood Band for their ethereal take on Landslide.
LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD: Alba-Rose
Not one of the performers (yet) this winner is the daughter of Scottish country music duo Raintown, who played on the boat party the night before the festival. This toddler had more stamina than some of our friends who bailed on the second day. She wins for managing to get a VIP wristband before the age of two when we’ve been trying to get one between us since before she was born. She also walks away with the cutest country fan award.
BEST CROWD SINGALONG: Tyminski
Dylan Shneider was in the running for his performance of Garth Brooks’ Low Places. That ultimate country cover had everyone singing along, full pelt, on Saturday night. But the last act of the festival, Tyminski was the voice of George Clooney in O Brother Where Art Though. He pronounced us all Soggy Bottom Boys (Clooney’s fictional band in the film) inviting us to join in for a rendition of I am a Man of Constant Sorrow.
MOST ENVY INDUCING OUTFIT: Two Ways Home
Seeing this duo with a full band brought a great, fresh energy to their folky sound. But we’ll never know whether it was the backing musicians or the beautiful red suede fringe jacket that gave Isabella extra fire in her Sunday afternoon performance. We’d love to borrow the jacket to find out.
MOST HEAVENLY HARMONIES: The Sisterhood Band
As in any country music event, there were a LOT of contenders for this over the weekend, especially on Sunday when duos ruled the daytime. Special mentions for Worry Dolls (pictured at the top of the blog post) and Holloway Road’s unplanned acoustic performance, which they improvised while a technical sound issue was solved. But Nashville act The Sisterhood Band snatched the title with the harmonies which weren’t just tuneful, but powerful. They were also contenders for the Best Dressed Instruments, jangling a ribbon-adorned tambourine and Best Cowboy Boots for the silver distressed pair of our dreams.
MOST PREPARED FANS: Llama blanket ladies
The heatwave of past weeks had lulled us into a false sense of security and we had (shock, horror for Brits) turned up without a jacket or even spare cardigan. We had to run to the shopping centre opposite the festival site to panic buy layers when the biting wind started to blow (and at times it really blew!) No such drama for these fans who’d brought a stack of blankets so they could settle in for the long haul.
FINALLY, THE ACT OF THE WEEKEND: Tyminski
Every year at Nashville Meets London, there’s been one act we’ve never seen live before but we’ve all come away talking about. This year, it was the final act of the festival and one verse into his very first song we knew Dan Tyminski was the one. As well as being a Soggy Bottom Boy, we’d known his music through his band Union Station and their work with Alison Krauss but we weren’t sure how engaging his solo music would be (sorry for doubting). His is a rich, bluegrassy voice backed by incredible musicians, singing gritty, captivating songs which would fit in perfectly on the True Blood soundtrack. We could also award him: Most Songs About the Devil, Best Personal Catchphrase Lyric for “these boots don’t belong to a liar”, or Quote of the Weekend for “song writing was a journey of self discovery and I found out I was a pretty dark person.” We fell for him even more when he seemed genuinely unprepared for an encore, like back in the days when encores were real encores. After we screamed and chanted what felt like forever, he came back, alone with an untuned guitar for just one song.
Same time next year?