HomeEF CountryWhat makes the perfect Country music festival? From the rising stars to...

What makes the perfect Country music festival? From the rising stars to the fantasy headliners!

We’re fortunate enough in the UK to have two established crowd-drawing country music festivals – the indoor Country 2 Country in March which takes over Glasgow, London and Dublin for a weekend (during rugby’s Six Nations tournament) and The Long Road, the outdoor festival in Rugby at the end of the summer. Buckle and Boots and Black Deer Festival keep the live Country and Americana music going through the summer, though It’s awful to learn of the festival calendar shrinking, with the recent closures from Tennessee Fields and Millport.

But with anticipation bubbling for Country 2 Country announcements during October’s Country Music Week, what exactly do country fans look for in an arena headline experience, aside from safety, pro-active security and decently-priced tickets? 

10. We listen intently to lyrics in the UK, so give us a decent back catalogue. We’ll learn all the songs. Minimum four albums and a couple of EPs; ideal if there’s a new album on the way. We’ll learn those songs, too.

9. Give us anthems and give us loud music , as well as ballads that we’ll stop (briefly) drinking for, so we can make memories that will see us through to the next festival. We want to feel the music reverb through our bones, feel hoarse with singing, and hear a plaid shirt button drop at the gut-punch songs.  

8. We need longevity from artists – maybe anyone who’s performed for at least a decade – ideal if we can watch them grow up the line up, from smaller UK festival stages. Imagine seeing a satellite stage artist headline Country 2 Country one day?  And it means we’ll have a decent wardrobe of memorable shirts to wear across the three days. My favourite clothes have many memories, stains and autographs. 

7. We need a cohesive slept-in-the-truck-in-the-early-days band. Solo headlines are oh-kay. But give us a bass, a couple of drum kits (if at all possible, ahem, Whiskey Myers)  ALL the guitars and ooh, fiddle and steel, please. We want to get lost in two hours of music (none of that ninety minute set list either; pay the curfew fines and reap the rewards in album sales).

6. We like change – do we really want to see the same artists headline again and again? We KNOW how many talented artists there are out there. They might not have the radio airplay and number one singles but we know every drum beat, bass line and guitar lick. 

5. Give us the anticipation. Drop teases on social media. Share artist information how you want; we’re all scrolling our screens and playing Fantasy Festival Line Up (there should so be an app for that) ahead of the confirmed artist line ups.  

4. We want a legend; Glastonbury can do it, so can C2C and TLR. Someone who’s going to make everyone nod and arm-wave in nostalgic bliss. We’re old enough to afford the VIP luxuries; we’ve been listening to country music a long, long time. 

3. Surprise us. It can still be done. Brad and the Mona conga?  Ed turning up to Luke’s headline slot in 2022? Oh, yeah, definitely livened up the end of the Sunday evening, when everyone’s reflecting on the imminent end of a fantastic four days of music.

2. We want homegrown on that headline stage. It wouldn’t be a UK festival if we didn’t want UK country musicians and songwriters on the stage. This is the special relationship we want fostered. Imagine Essex County or Morganway having room to breathe between energetic performances, on a big stage? Imagine a UK headline set? If it’s C2C we want to see The Shires, and it’s not a festival until we’ve seen Tim Prottey-Jones.  We want to see everyone’s heads turn when they hear Kezia Gill belt out the country blues and Danny’s vocals pop across a crowd. 

1. Ah, go on, then, give us a meet and greet opportunity (even though we appreciate that artists have so many commitments on their generous time before they hit the airports). How about a room for a crowd to listen to the artists’ press conference? We yearn to meet the artists that we love or get the chance to go behind the curtain and dig deeper into the inspirations behind our favourite songs on this side of the Atlantic.

Who are your fantasy festival headliners for C2C and TLR?

Must Read