This time last year The Long Road festival raised the bar for both country music events in the UK, and for my tolerance for camping. Back then I raved about it and said I absolutely couldn’t wait for this September, that I was ready to go back to sunny Leicestershire right away. But somehow I have blinked and now it IS this September. The festival kicks off tomorrow and – despite a full, frustrating year of waiting – somehow I am not ready.
So, with a full work day to fit in between now and Friday, I will also be trying to achieve all of these things today…
Buy (or borrow) a festival wagon or camping trolly.
For most folks this is because you can’t bring your cars onto the campsite (the car park is a little walk away). For me, it’s because I don’t even have a car and would like to arrive looking less of a bag lady than last year after navigating two trains and a shuttle ride.
Download the official festival App…
… and do 2 things. Firstly, highlight the must-see acts for reminders on the days. Apart from the headliners, mine include Lainey Wilson, Charley Crockett, Suzy Bogguss (especially for the pre-teen me singing along to the radio alarm clock alone in her bedroom), and Cam, who I gained a fresh obsession with at the C2C Festival CMA Songwriters’ Round in March.
Secondly screenshot most needed pages like the map or personal schedule so you’re not constantly draining phone battery.
Decide on just. One. Pair. Of. Boots. to bring.
They’ll need to be pair that can stand at outside stages all day, survive the showers forecast for Friday, and not punish me for wanting to dance at the after parties until 2 a.m.
Check which top to wear that will not get me arrested for indecent exposure in a hula hooping lesson.
Last weekend I saw Grace Jones performing at a festival and she hula hooped for the entire duration of a song whilst singing. Inspired by 71 year old Grace, I declared that this was my new life goal, and luckily there are hula hoop workshops as part of the extra-curricular Americana lifestyle elements that made this festival stand out. Also on the list is Cowboy Olympics and lasso lessons.
Set up the squad What’s App group…
…as we’ll definitely all wander off to different sets. And it’s also a good time to remind them who’s who from our festival squad quiz.
This time last year was my first foray into camping so I was grateful for Maria’s packing tips. Now, I’ve refined the process and realise I’m very miserable without basic creature comforts like an air bed, duvet and kettle – since it was hard to get a hot chocolate post 10am from the food trucks. (Even amid last year’s heatwave it was ice cold at night). And I’m also all about the little extras to turn my experience into a D.I.Y. glamping one. Although next year, perhaps I should just book the Long Road’s own glamping option…
Pick out some artists I’ve never seen live before.
This is part of the ongoing mission to get out of my own musical rut. It’s all on offer here from traditional roots with Rhiannon Giddens to ‘country cosmic folk’ (yes, you read that right) from The Hanging Stars. Since one of the best things about a festival is musical exploration, I’ll be pulling myself away from my tried and tested faves to hear (among others), Austin Jencks, Jaime Wyatt, Jessie Buckley (of the brilliant Wild Rose movie fame) and Ags Connolly (a UK artist everyone tells me I should’ve seen by now).
Work out how much I need to drink before Country Karaoke.
I think my rendition of Redneck Woman sounds brilliant in the shower, but I am not sure exactly how many shots it will take for me to attempt it in public.
Anyway, Id better crack o with all of this. Please say hi if you spot us there, and you can also follow Long Road moments on our Instagram stories.