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C2C: Country to Country 2020 – 10 pop up stage acts you should see

We list our picks for the artists not to miss on the outside stages this year.

Kyle Daniel
Credit: Kyle Daniel

There’s less than two weeks to go until C2C: Country to Country takes over the O2 for three days celebrating the best of country music.

Whilst many will be coming along to see the arena acts, we’d always encourage you to watch some of the artists on the pop-up stages as well. They run throughout the day – from around 1.30pm on the Friday and 10.30am on the Saturday and Sunday – and give you an opportunity to see some rising stars of the genre in a more intimate setting. Many artists have made their UK debut on these stages over the years and gone on to be hugely popular with audiences here, including Ashley McBryde, Lindsay Ell and LANCO.

You can see all the pop-up stage acts with your arena ticket (although some events, like the aftershow parties and Bluebird Cafe, also need a separate ticket). From the week of the festival C2C is also offering wristbands which get you access to all the pop-up stages for £20 a day – plus some stages, like the Big Entrance, ICON and Garden Stages, are completely free!

This year’s lineup is incredibly strong and it was very hard to cut it down to 10 – to be honest you could do a lot worse than just spending your whole weekend in the Indigo – but here’s who we think you should check out. You could be saying ‘I was there’ when they become stars of the future…

1: Kyle Daniel

We were won over by Kyle Daniel at Country Music Week last year and are thrilled he’s back for C2C. His raw, gravelly voice and personal songs have led to comparisons with Chris Stapleton, and he’s able to switch seamlessly between hard-rocking tracks like God Bless America (Damn Rock And Roll) and more emotional numbers such as That Somebody Ain’t Me. We think he could be one of C2C’s breakout stars so make sure you catch him over the weekend if you can.

See him at: Spotlight Stage, Friday 13th March; The Saloon (All Bar One), Friday 13th March; BBC Radio 2 Stage at Indigo; C2C Sessions – The Loft – Partnered With Country Hits

2: Kassi Ashton

Kassi Ashton made her UK debut as part of Country Music Week back in 2018, and now she’s bringing her own distinct blend of swagger, sass and feistiness to the O2 for C2C. Whilst songs like Violins and Taxidermy are sure to get the crowd singing along, she’s just as adept at delivering a heart-wrenching ballad like Pretty Shiny Things. Plus her quirky style means that her stage outfits are sure to be incredible!

See her at: Spotlight Stage, Saturday 14th March; C2C Official Aftershow Parties at Indigo, Saturday 14th March (separate ticket required); BBC Radio 2 Stage at Indigo

3: A Thousand Horses

If you like your country rocking, then A Thousand Horses are the band for you. We were seriously impressed with the energy and chemistry on display at their recent show at London’s 229 Club and they’ll definitely bring the party to C2C. With a new album on the way this year, expect to hear plenty of unreleased tracks as well as hits like Smoke from 2015’s Southernality.

See them at: BBC Radio 2 Stage at Indigo; The Saloon – All Bar One By Night, Saturday 14th March; The Town Square

4: Mitchell Tenpenny

Mitchell Tenpenny has been one of the artists UK country fans have been most excited to see come over here and he’ll finally be making his UK debut at C2C. His sound blends classic country with rock, pop, hip-hop and soul and when we spoke to him recently he promised us a fun, high-energy show. He’s definitely one of the most highly anticipated performers of the weekend and personally we can’t wait to to hear tracks like All On Me, Anything She Says (with a possible guest appearance from fellow C2C pop-up stage act Seaforth) and Can’t Go To Church live.

See him at: Spotlight Stage, Friday 13th March; C2C Official Aftershow Parties at Indigo, Friday 13th March (separate ticket required); BBC Radio 2 Stage at Indigo; C2C Sessions – The Loft – Partnered With Country Hits

5: Austin Jenckes

We were utterly wowed by Austin Jenckes when he made his UK debut last year. With a powerful, bluesy voice, impressive guitar playing and emotional, honest lyrics (plus songs that have been cut by the likes of Morgan Wallen and Lee Brice), he’s got potential to become one of biggest acts of the festival. Expect to hear tracks from his 2019 album If You Grew Up Like I Did, including the rocky, soaring We Made It, alongside moving ballads like Fat Kid and If You’d Been Around, a lovely tribute to his dad.

See him at: The Bluebird Cafe, Sunday 15th March, 1.00 PM (separate ticket required); CMW Hub – All Bar One; Garden Stage; C2C Sessions – The Loft – Partnered With Country Hits

6: Tenille Arts

Another breakout star of Country Music Week, where she made her UK live debut, Tenille Arts is one of several artists flying the flag for Canadian country at C2C this year. She impressed us with her powerful, emotional performance and engaging stage presence, and we’re sure she’ll bring more of the same to the O2 with her pop-leaning brand of country. Her latest album, Love, Heartbreak & Everything In Between, was released earlier this year, so expect to hear tracks from that as well as perhaps some well-chosen covers (Dixie Chicks anyone?).

See her at: BBC Radio 2 Stage at Indigo; The Town Square; CMW Hub – All Bar One; C2C Sessions – The Loft – Partnered With Country Hits

7: Caylee Hammack

Caylee Hammack is yet another artist making her UK debut at C2C and we can’t wait. With her distinctive sweet yet smooth vocals and an arsenal of catchy tracks like the singalong Family Tree, alongside ballads like Prechiatcha and bittersweet, honest new single Small Town Hypocrite, her lyrics are packed full of details and storytelling. We’re sure she’ll hold the O2 spellbound and she’s almost certain to become one of the most talked-about acts of the festival.

See her at: BBC Radio 2 Stage at Indigo; The Town Square; C2C Sessions – The Loft – Partnered With Country Hits

8: Filmore

Although Filmore is no stranger to the UK, having previously performed at the likes of Buckle & Boots, we can’t wait to see him back here to make his C2C debut. He’s been steadily building a fanbase with catchy tracks like Slower, Love That About You and My Place (a summer smash in the making) as well as more emotional songs like Heart’s Having A Hard Time, so we’re expecting big things from him. Plus you know the Indigo will go off when he plays London…

See him at: BBC Radio 2 Stage at Indigo; The Town Square; CMW Hub – All Bar One; C2C Sessions – The Loft – Partnered With Country Hits

9: Gabby Barrett

American Idol alumna Gabby Barrett is undeniably one of the standout new acts of the country scene, with powerhouse vocals and performance levels to match. Her debut single I Hope puts me in mind of Carrie Underwood’s Before He Cheats, whilst latest release The Good Ones is a heartfelt ballad dedicated to her husband. She’s sure to win over plenty of new fans at C2C and it’s a real opportunity to catch her before she goes on to be a huge star.

See her at: Spotlight Stage, Friday 13th March; BBC Radio 2 Stage at Indigo; The Bluebird Cafe, Saturday 14th March, 1pm (separate ticket required); CMW Hub – All Bar One

10: Willie Jones

Willie Jones was another performer who blew us away at Country Music Week last year, and now he’s back in the UK to perform at C2C for the first time. His sound combines country, soul, pop and hip-hop influences with rich vocals, and songs like Bachelorettes On Broadway and Down For It are certain to keep the crowd’s energy up throughout. He’s also a really entertaining performer so should deliver an exciting set that will certainly get people talking.

Catch him at: Spotlight Stage, Sunday 15th March; Official C2C Aftershow Parties at the Indigo, Sunday 15th March (separate ticket required); BBC Radio 2 Stage at Indigo

Honorable Mention: Noah Schnacky

Noah won us over with his infectious charm at C2C last year, so we’re glad he’s back performing at the festival again. His style mixes pop, country and a little bit of soul with smooth vocals and has an undeniable showmanship and stage presence that’s sure to win over plenty of fans. Expect to hear plenty of fun, catchy, romantic songs like Hello Beautiful, Maybe We Will and recent single I’ll Be The One as part of his sets across the weekend.

Catch him at: Spotlight Stage, Sunday 15th March; BBC Radio 2 Stage at Indigo

C2C: Country to Country takes place at the O2 Arena in London, the 3Arena in Dublin and the SSE Hydro, Glasgow from 13-15 March 2020. Tickets and information are available via http://www.c2c-countrytocountry.com.

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