This Sunday, it will be exactly nine months since a friend of a friend in the pub declared “country music is beige”. This Sunday, that same friend of a friend (now somehow my own friend despite our rocky introduction) will be with me in Stockport for Buckle and Boots Festival. After nine months of me slipping country lyrics into conversations and using gateway country songs as the soundtrack to our happiest moments, this Sunday I’m hoping to give birth to a country fan.
But enough of the creepy placenta-covered metaphor.
My confidence for this weekend is not in my own influencer / brainwashing abilities. Instead I’m relying on Buckle and Boots festival itself to do the final push, and I’m trusting in these things…
Buckle and Boots’ location – a farm hidden in a stunning park which feels a million miles from its Stockport surrounds – is the embodiment of the charmed simple life country music evokes. The small but perfectly formed fest could be the set for a backyard BBQ in a Hallmark movie so I’m fully expecting Non-country friend – let’s call him Steve, because that’s his name – will be enamoured by rustic stages, drinking whiskey perched on hay bales, the bar in a barn, Sunday morning church service in a tent… and thankfully God is playing along and apparently providing some sunshine.
I’ve been to non-country music festivals (against my will obviously) and none have compared to the family feeling between the fans. Last year, my first every Buckle and Boots was the best example of this. At every turn (not that there were many turns) there were familiar folk, the old faces who were country before country was cool. They have created an inclusive culture where you are not judged on anything other than that you have chosen to be at a country music event, and for that reason, surely you must be OK.
Brace yourself. This country-agnostic friend was not at all fussed when I played him Chris Stapleton. But, surprisingly, he raved about the guitar playing on a rogue Brad Paisley track that had accidentally slipped into my ‘subtle-country’ playlist. It was a reminder that one man’s trash-country is another man’s musical treasure. And this is why I think Buckle and Boots is the perfect introduction. Its success doesn’t hinge on the pulling power of one headliner; its supporters are drawn by more, like the camaraderie of the fans and the down to earth organisers, who are fellow fans. I’ve no doubt we’ll hear something incredible – last year I went to mainly hear The Wandering Hearts and had no idea I’d fall in love with Curtis Grimes or be practically hypnotised by Sarah Jory’s steel skills. This year, I’m most eager to see William Michael Morgan but who knows who I’ll come a way an ever bigger fan of. Here’s the full lineup…
If you would like to be part of a charming weekend of live music and chilled vibes, or simply to be part of my Steve-conversion Master Plan, there are still some tickets available to join the first of the summery outdoor festivals. Adult day tickets cost £40, available here.
Maybe see you there – and if you see non-country-Steve play it cool, yeah? Under no circumstances mention that this is the make or break weekend of my SECRET nine-month scheming..