24 May – 26 May 2019
Whitebottom Farm, Manchester, SK6 5JQ
The cream of the UK’s Country music talent, alongside chart-topping US Country stars from across the Atlantic.
Yes, another year and another Buckle and Boots Country Music Festival, here in Manchester.
The festival got off to a great start with a songwriter’s ‘In The Round’ session hosted by Tamara Stewart and Blake O’Connor from Australia and Jessica Lynn from New York, who has been hailed by press around the world as “Shania’s Successor.”
“That was my thoughts exactly. As this was the first time I had seen and heard of her.”
They all took it in turns to tell us stories about the songs they performed and from this taster, we were looking forward to seeing their full band set over the weekend.
After a short break, Backwoods Creek took to the stage and warmed everyone up as they rocked the house with songs from their latest EP ‘It’s About Time’, including “Drunk?!” a track that was composed by guitarist Jamie Wood & vocalist Yannick Van Riet and they had the audience clapping and singing along.
Next on stage was the fabulous Katy Hurt and her band, who have just finished a 50 date tour across the UK, US and Canada, but she still had ‘Unfinished Business.’ Keeping everyone clapping and dancing, this young lady is into her festival season now and if you get the chance to see her, you won’t be disappointed.
The Adelaides came next, and although a bit ‘too poppy’ for some, they showed us why we have been waiting so long for their debut single “Leave.” And now, after whetting our appetites with that and their live gigs, we look forward with anticipation to their debut album.
Unfortunately, we had to leave at this point, so missed Lewis Brice, who came over from America, in fact, just north of Nashville, but with a full day ahead tomorrow on two stages, we have a lot to look forward to.
We started today’s proceedings on the Main Stage with Tamara Stewart, who gave us some great songs from her latest album ‘The Truth, The Music & Me’. She has been touring the UK and her last headline show for 2019 is being held on 30th May at the London Irish Centre in Camden Chapel.
A short hop over to the Paddock Stage to see Emilia Quinn, and this young lady is one to look out for. Because she not only writes and plays her own songs but has a fantastic voice, which you can hear in her upcoming debut EP ‘Wrote Off’, which is soon to be released in June.
Back on the Main Stage, it was time to hear Blake O’Connor. We had a taster from Blake yesterday evening during the ‘In The Round ‘Session, but this set was phenomenal. At just 18 years of age, this young lad from New South Wales had the audience in the palm his hands and with that reaction, I’m sure this won’t be the last we see of him here in the UK. Blake was accompanied by the guys from Backwood Creek and the very talented Sarah Jory on the slide. Blake has a self-titled EP out now, plus will soon be releasing his new album ‘Everything I Feel’, which is expected in July, but you can pre-order now from Itunes and I for one will be adding it to my collection.
During a walkabout, Susanne and I bumped into a young American country music singer and songwriter, William Michael Morgan. Talking about how many US artistes love the British audience. Susanne had to ask, what is it that is so different about coming to the UK and he explained that “From the moment you stepped off the plane to the train ride, to the taxi, to the venue, everyone here is so welcoming and appreciating. And that is what we love about coming to the UK. Plus the British audience actually listens to the music.”
After a short break, The Martials took to the Main Stage. Now these guys are from the Netherlands, so not an act I have come across before, and to be honest, I wasn’t too impressed with their first number, but I was glad I stayed to hear more.
Following The Martials came Foreign Affairs from Bristol. Although only a duo, you would not know it from the sound they put out. With two guitars and a drum, brothers Adam and Lawrence Purnell is one act that I am looking forward to hearing more from. As they were even better than last year.
Another wander and we bumped into Canadian Country Singer Brett Kissel, who was also set to perform at this year’s event. After chatting a while, he gave us a few of his CD’s for airplay and as we will with many of the stars here, we will be scheduling an interview with him in the near future.
Next, a young lady that went down a storm last year. And this year was no different. Kezia Gill is one of the top British Country Stars, who lights up the stage with her energy and on this performance, it showed. For as soon as she walked on stage, she got the crowd going with some top vocals that are instantly recognizable. Backed by her ‘Old Boys’, she gave us familiar songs including ‘Mr Cash and ‘House of Cards.’
Following Kezia was none other than Mr ‘Body Language’ himself, Gary Quinn. Gary is one of the organizers of the festival and again with backing by Backwood Creek and Sara Jory, Gary didn’t disappoint, giving us a great set of covers and original songs. Kezia also returned to perform a duet with him, again bringing the house down.
At this point, the rain that had threatened all day started to drizzle, but the audience was too engrossed with the music to notice.
Alas, due to commitments, we had to leave early. But will return tomorrow for another full day of great music.
After the morning church service, we kicked off over at the Main Stage with Jess Ginty, a singer/songwriter from Manchester. Holly Rose Webber was scheduled to perform but unfortunately, she wasn’t feeling too good, so Jess stepped in at the last minute and did us proud with some acoustic numbers which was much appreciated by the festival-goers who turned out for this early noon spot. Hopefully, Holly is feeling better soon.
Next up was Danny McMahon, who really woke us all with an energetic spot showing us just how much he has improved from last year, although he was really good then. Danny has had several UK Country Chart hits since we last saw him and judging from this performance there’s several more on the cards for some time to come.
Next, a man I’ve been waiting to see with a full band, as I’ve only seen him on his own, and what a difference. Hearing Stevie O’Connor with a full-bodied sound of a five-piece behind him was brilliant. This was his first appearance at Buckle and Boots and boy did he give it some. The audience was with him from the start as he sang his own material, all of which went down well. Now known as the Stevie O’Connor Band, things are looking good since he has become a part of the Manley Hall Music Group (MHMG) who are a boutique record label and music management agency specialising in the development of Country and Americana music. Stevie has many festival dates lined up including the FSA Festival and Millport Country Music Festival.
Following Stevie was the very talented Izzie Walsh. A young lass who just gets better every time you see her and today was no exception. Performing many tracks from her back catalogue of self-penned music, it’s no wonder she is a firm favourite at the festival.
Over to the Paddock Stage next and another MHMG upcoming artiste was Alan Finlan from the south coast. If you like Luke Coombs, then this guy is for you as he has to look and the style, which is no wonder why a good crowd had come over from the Main Stage to see him and were fully entertained.
Shooting back to the Main Stage, we were just in time to catch Jake Morrell. Not an artiste I know, but one I will look out for in the future.
Before we called it a day, we managed to catch part of The Southern Companion’s set, which showed us why they are one not to be missed. With their musicianship and harmonies, they are reminiscent of The Eagles, which is by no means a bad thing.
Again too many acts on stage this weekend to mention, but they all gave everyone a fantastic time. These guys really appreciate their audience and as always, take time out to mingle with the crowd throughout the weekend.
Sadly, we had to leave due to commitments, but a big thank you as always to the guys at Buckle and Boots and all the acts that made for another great festival. Not forgetting the amazing stage and sound crew and runners who helped to make things go so smoothly.
The Buckle and Boots Country Festival is just one of the weekenders that take place here each year at Whitebottom Farm. The organisers and owners Karl & Jan Hancock, alongside daughter Laura and 5 time British Country Music Association Awards winner Gary Quinn are dedicated to making it as intimate as a festival can be. Bringing fans and artistes together for music, dancing, and laughter, which is why people come back year after year.
Hey ya’ll, if you like Country music, then give us a ‘yee-haw’ for Buckle and Boots Festival 2020.
(Watch slide or grab and scroll left to see photos)