How will you be choosing? Coin toss? Decision dice? Following the crowd? This year before we even get into London’s main O2 arena for the headline and spotlight stage acts, we’ll have had over 40 country acts to choose between, across six daytime ‘festival stages’* around the O2 complex.
It is an overwhelming business. The very useful C2C app can help run your schedule (and life), but there are also spreadsheets flying around on social media as the UK country family prepares for its annual gathering with military level prep. Squads across the land are currently designating roles from The Logistics Expert (“no, we can’t see Fairground Saints then because we’ll still be at Abby Anderson) to The Navigator (“looks like it’ll take about six minutes to get from Indigo to the Icon Stage”) or the all-important Snack Officer (“hey, guys, there’s a taco stand over there”).
Our team is trying to resist the temptation to over-schedule as we want to leave room for discovery, with poetic visions of us following the call of chords across a crowded walkway. So a lot of our C2C weekend will be left to chance but we’ve each chosen three must-see acts we’re allowed to drag the others to, whatever else happens.
- Craig Campbell because I’m all for a naughty country innuendo and really want to hear his cheeky song Fish live.
- I fell for Lainey Wilson when she was here for country music week last October and have been in love with her songs ever since.
- I’ve only seen Megan O’Neill once, at her album launch last year, but remember how personal and engaging her songs are.
- Logan Mize because he has a great voice and sings about the important stuff like friends, family, girls and…Luke Skywalker!
- I want to hear Sarah Darling live again because, apart from that crystal clear voice, she sings from her heart and you know she is sharing her journey with you. (You can read CJ’s interview with Sarah here).
- I know Lainey Wilson is a repeat recommendation but I love her grit and the freedom I hear in her voice when she sings. Plus I missed out when all the others saw her opening for Chase Rice last year.
- Adam Hambrick because country music is so often about the songs rather than the stars and this is the guy who’s written for Eli Young Band, Lindsay Ell, Justin More, and Dan and Shay (including their no.1 hit How Not To).
- I’ve always got time for tight harmonies and attitude so I’m looking forward to seeing Runaway June for my first time before they’re off touring the US with Carrie Underwood this summer.
- I love a huskier voice so will be making Travis Denning part of my C2C experience. I reckon his caps and Georgia accent will help me pretend I’ve left London and his song David Ashley Powder from Parker Springs always makes me smile. I’d say he’s one for Luke Combs fans to check out.
- Jimmie Allen because Best Shot has been my ear worm for the last few months and I’m hoping we might hear his cover of Shallow with Abby Anderson, since she’s in town too.
- I’d describe Kenny Foster as the ‘thinking person’s country artist’ but I might be biased because I had a drink and great chat with him when he was last here in the UK.
- I really like how Jake Morrell manages to write country songs but keep them rooted in the lovely British Isles. Actually, Lisa Wright does that really well too.
Limiting ourselves to only three each was really tough as of course there are plenty of others we’re excited about too, so a swift bonus mention for UK bluegrass duo Copper Viper who’ll give us our weekend fiddle fix.
Who’s on your must-see list? Please let us know below.
Brits in Boots
*For C2C ticket holders the festival stages are included. For everyone else wristbands are on sale here for £10 per day, which are a great way of giving your non-country-friends a taste of this mini-Nashville weekend.